ON the eve of the TUC Congress, the TUC leader, Brendan Barber, has issued a call to the Brown government to tax the rich.
There is as much chance of Brown carrying out this policy as there was of the energy companies agreeing to Brown’s requests that they should rebate back to their much-exploited ‘customers’ just a tiny fraction of the massive profits that they have been making to help the workers and the poor get through the next winter.
The reason that the TUC leader has rediscovered this ‘old Labour’ demand is his growing fear that the massive inflation of the cost of living will very shortly result in massive strike actions that will be completely out of the control of the trade union bureaucracy.
Barber’s solution to this crisis is to make his demand while doing nothing to remove the Brown leadership of the Labour Party. This leadership made the point publicly, over 10 years ago, in May 1997, that it was a businessman’s government and would have no truck with the demands of trade unions. They have been proving this every day since May 1997.
Barber’s position is that of the majority of the trade union bureaucracy.
UNISON’s Prentis says there is no point in getting rid of Brown since Miliband or another would do no better.
UNITE’s Simpson has put the matter even more directly, exposing to the light of day the stinking demoralisation of the trade union bureaucracy.
He said in Sunday’s ‘Observer’ that if it came to a choice between Miliband and Cameron, the Tory leader, that Miliband would take the country back to the ‘failings of Blairism’ and could be a worse choice as Prime Minister than the Tory leader.
He added: ‘We might as well elect Cameron. We might be better off with Cameron.’
He asked, ‘Why should we elect a young fresh face when we have already got one in Cameron with policies that are not dissimilar?’
Here the trade union bureaucracy reveals that it intends to stick with Brown, however much he stabs the unions in the back, and that it is resigned to the return of the Tories, rationalising that Cameron might do more for trade unions than Miliband.
Simpson has exposed the rotten essence of the trade union bureaucracy. It refuses to fight and remove Brown, which it has the power to do, through mobilising the working class.
It refuses to take the struggle forward. It is becoming more and more resigned to a return of the Tories, since it recognises that Brown’s determination to serve the bosses will lead to a Tory return.
It knows that with Cameron at the helm, the Tories will seek to complete the Blair-Brown programme of privatising the NHS, education and the entire public sector, and smashing the Welfare State.
It operates within the political fraud that it is possible to change the policies of the Labour Party and the government, without changing the leadership of the Labour Party.
The TUC Congress must reject this fraud and reject the demoralisation of the trade union leaders who prefer to go backwards not forwards.
Congress must adopt a socialist programme and decide on action to achieve it.
That the TUC leadership is opposed to such action is obvious, and will become even more obvious as it seeks to defeat the POA motion for a series of one-day general strikes until the anti-union laws are smashed.
The time has arrived for action, and the trade unions must take action to defend jobs, wages and basic rights, which is exactly what the working class wants.
The Congress must therefore carry the POA motion for general strikes and clear the way for action to bring down the Brown government and bring in a workers’ government, barring the way to any return of the Tories.
This TUC Congress will be a historic one.
It must adopt a socialist programme and organise action to fight for it. There is no other way forward except resolving the crisis of capitalism with a socialist revolution.