WEDNESDAY’S twin votes at the Labour Party conference against NHS privatisation emphasised for all to see just how great is the isolation of the Labour government in its own party.
In fact, this just reflects the hostility of the working class and the majority of the middle class to NHS privatisation.
The UNISON resolution calling for a halt to NHS privatisation was carried by a show of hands with only a few hands raised against, while the NEC statement supporting the government’s NHS policy was defeated in a card vote.
Only the bosses and the Tories now support this privatisation policy, so now is the time for action to press home the huge advantage the trade unions have gained.
This advantage is based on the massive hostility there is in the working class and the middle class to NHS privatisation, and the heroic two 24-hour strike actions carried out by workers at the five NHS Logistics distribution centres.
A failure to act by the trade unions will only convince the government, and the big international drug companies that stand behind them, that they can do anything they like regardless of whether they have the support of the people or not, as they did during the Iraq war when they ignored millions of demonstrators.
The trade union leaders must be forced to take action, and the millions of members of the trade unions must both demand official action and begin that action themselves.
The millions of rank and file trade unionists who are furious at Labour’s privatisation drive must take inspiration from the actions of the London dockers in 1972, after the Tory government of the day jailed five dockers under the anti-union laws for picketing the Midland Cold Store.
The rank and file dockers picketed out industry after industry, and forced the TUC to call a 24-hour general strike, at which the Tories surrendered and let the dockers out of prison.
This was an unofficial movement that forced official action.
If the trade union leaders refuse to organise action, NHS Logistics workers must occupy their distribution centres on October 1 to prevent them being handed over to the anti-union DHL, and call on the entire trade union movement that voted down Labour’s policy on privatisation to take strike action in support of them.
This is the way forward in the defence of jobs, wages and basic rights.
A general strike must be organised to defend the NHS, starting with the defence of NHS Logistics.
Since the government does not listen to the workers, and will not back down, despite its isolation, it must be brought down and replaced by a workers government that will carry out socialist policies.
This means keeping NHS Logistics in the NHS, ending the drive to privatise the NHS, and terminating the existing contracts of the privateers.
Central to carrying through this programme of action is the building of a new leadership inside the trade unions, one that is not frightened of using the great strength of the working class to defeat the bosses and go forward to socialism.
The situation of the present leadership of the trade unions is that having won a great victory at the Labour Party conference based on the hostility of their members to privatisation, they do not know what to do about it.
They instinctively want to pause, stop, have talks, and dilly-dally, to allow the government time to manoeuvre and reorganise.
The reformist trade union leaders fear nothing like winning, and what their members will demand of them if they do win.
Only a Marxist leadership which recognises that capitalism has reached the end of the road, and that what is required is a great workers’ revolution that will replace it with socialism, can win any of the struggles that are emerging.
Only the WRP is building the Marxist leadership that is required. Join it today.