ONE Liam Halligan in The Sunday Telegraph has just announced: ‘Get ready for 1970s-style mass strikes.’
He writes: ‘So don’t be surprised if workers increasingly challenge below-inflation pay offers … After all as the OBR recently remarked, the UK is facing the biggest drop in living standards since the 1950s.’
He adds: ‘As I have written before, Britain is at a turning point – politically and economically – not dissimilar to the late 1970s.’
He notes: ‘Since March 2021, the TUC has logged at least 300 disputes across different industries, with more and more workers rejecting pay offers lagging behind a soaring cost of living.’
He warns: ‘Spiralling food and fuel costs mean, in the coming weeks, however justified the UK’s sanctions on Russia, such sanctions will start to be questioned.’
He adds: ‘But be in no doubt, the cost of living squeeze is extremely serious,’ and concludes, ‘industrial relations are about to get a lot more nasty.’
However, today’s crisis is many times more revolutionary than the struggles of the 1970s!
These developed, after the huge oil price rises caused by Israel’s defeat in the Yom Kippur war prepared the way for the 1984-85 miners strike, when the whole of the capitalist state, police and troops, had to be mobilised to fight a year-long war with the miners, who returned to work without an agreement. Then in 1986, there was the printers strike that turned Fleet Street upside down till the launch of the Poll Tax finished off Margaret Thatcher. 1990 saw her tearfully being shown the door at 10 Downing Street.
PM Major did not close the pits till a number of years later!
In fact, Thatcher’s war with the miners was a planned operation. The discovery of North Sea oil saw the bosses acquire billions, and they were able to build giant coal stocks, in the UK and abroad – the whole year of the miners strike did not see a single power cut.
Central to this was the fact that Thatcher established a special relationship with the Russian leader Gorbachev that saw Polish coal used for strikebreaking.
Thatcher was also the darling of the military whose Falklands war victory saw the troops return to Southampton with banners urging railworkers: ‘Call off the rail strike or we’ll call an airstrike.’
It was under these favourable conditions that Thatcher ignited the miners strike, but it was still a very close run thing, and led to the would-be dictator being forced out of office by the massive opposition to the Poll Tax. She definitely didn’t save British capitalism, she simply postponed its demise!
Today’s struggle sees UK capitalism much weaker, with its main target not the trade unions but Russia! The ruling class fears that the advance of Russia and China signals that their role in the world is coming to an end.
Out of desperation they have launched a sanctions war against Russia whose by-product will be gigantic food and oil price increases in the UK and worldwide.
Boris Johnson, the leader who treated the Covid lockdown with contempt is now the leader of the ‘Glory to Ukraine’ brigade, that insists that to keep the Ukrainian fascists in power the UK working class will have to accept gigantic food and oil price increases and mass poverty.
What is being launched by PM Johnson is a plan that the working class will have to pay the full costs of Ukraine’s fascist war with Russia.
That the UK working class will decline to do so and hit back with mass strike actions to defend its jobs, wages and conditions is obvious.
In fact a strike wave is developing. The working class will come out in its millions to support the TUC march on Parliament on June 18th.
The TUC must be made to call a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government and a planned socialist economy.
This will create the conditions to fight for the victory of the World Socialist Revolution through the replacement of the rule of the Russian and Chinese Stalinist bureaucracies with rule through workers Soviets. Only the WRP and the Young Socialists fight to overthrow the rotten capitalist order in the UK as a prelude to the victory of the World Socialist Revolution. Join us today!