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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 May 2010

Packed out London meeting looks to fight against cuts


Listen to Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary, speaking at the meeting


'Standing room only' does not quite convey the 13 March London Socialist Party meeting where 150 people poured in to hear party general secretary Peter Taaffe and Unison general secretary candidate Roger Bannister. People stood, sat on the floor, or were on chairs that lined the front of the room on either side of the top table and snaked out of both doors and down the corridor.

Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party secretary

The meeting was called to discuss the outcome of the general and local elections and to prepare for the battles to come.

But to start, the meeting praised the work of Ian Page and Chris Flood, who up until election day were Socialist Party councillors in Lewisham. They, along with the third Socialist candidate Jess Leech who was also present at the meeting, achieved our highest ever votes. But those votes were not enough to overcome the working class' fear of the Tories and its vote for the 'lesser evil' of New Labour.

Ian and Chris read moving extracts of the many messages of support that they received from people in Telegraph Hill ward. One supporter said: "the unintended consequence of people voting against the Tories has been to lose the only real alternative." But, as Ian explained: "I was going to say 'we'll be back', but actually we're not going away."

The new government and the onslaught of cuts about to be unleashed on working and middle class people mean that there inevitably will be struggle, which raises the question of what leadership will be needed for such struggle. Roger Bannister laid out the need for a fighting leadership in the public sector union Unison, including united action between public sector unions, and a severing of the link with the Labour Party.

Strategy needed

Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party, gave a sober but inspiring analysis of the general election outcome, the unstable anti-working class 'ConDem' government coalition, and the necessity to develop a strategy to successfully fight cuts. This includes the need for a massive united public sector demo, called by and properly built for by public sector trade unions, as a step towards united strike action.

The meeting heard from Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates Onay Kasab and Nancy Taaffe. Both had found a fantastic reception to our ideas on the doorstep, on stalls and in hustings. Kaz, one of four socialists banned from office in Unison, explained that the Greenwich Unison branch, now scandalously taken into regional supervision to allegedly 'improve' it, has been told there will be no branch meetings and no branch committees. But, incredibly, a Labour Link meeting was organised - only two people went to it, one of whom went in order to cancel his Labour Party membership! Yet over 60 union members were at a TUSC launch meeting.

Nancy explained that new Labour councillors were elected due to opposition to the Tories. However, Labour councils will also face ferocious battles against attacks on jobs and services. Socialists, temporarily squeezed in the vote, are with the majority and will be at the front of those battles.

Two people at the meeting joined the Socialist Party while 20 others were interested in joining.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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In The Socialist 19 May 2010:

Action needed to save our services


Workplace news

Vote Roger Bannister in the Unison general secretary election

British Airways: Another intolerable court judgment


Youth fight for jobs

Youth need job creation, not job slaughter


Socialist Party election analysis

Time for the fight of our lives


Socialist Party news and analysis

Building Coventry Socialist Party after the election

Support for socialists Ian Page and Chris Flood

Packed out London meeting looks to fight against cuts

Fast news


International socialist news and analysis

Initiative for a week of European-wide protests

Italy: ControCorrente socialists support CWI

Thailand's government orders bloody crackdown on protesters

Kazakhstan: "Thanks comrades for support"

USA: Putting forward a Socialist Alternative in Seattle


Marxist analysis: history

The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution by Harold Isaacs


Obituary

Peter Hadden - an inspiring life for socialism


Socialist Party workplace news

Communication Workers Union conference: Hands off Royal Mail!

Defending the postal service

Bus workers gear up for action

RMT ballots Tube Lines workers

National Shop Stewards Network conference: International rally planned


 

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