MOTION TO SLN MEMBERS’ MEETING: THE COST OF LIVING CRISIS AND THE LEFT
1. The Truss government has plunged Britain into a deep political and economic crisis. The labour and trade union movement can take advantage of this, but only if we step up the mass strike and solidarity action began this summer to a scale that can bring down the government.
2. The Truss government was put in place by a relatively small number of Tory Party members and is only backed by a minority of Tory MPs. The government’s real base is in the most predatory sections of finance capital, like hedge funds, private equity and other speculators. Once in office the government has moved to reward its backers its already infamous “mini-budget” – a £45 billion raid on state finances to fund tax cuts for the rich.
3. The reaction by financial markets has been savage. Runs on the pound and sales of government debt (“gilts”) forced the Bank of England into an eyewatering £65 billion emergency action try to stabilise the currency and to prevent pension funds, heavily dependent on gilts, from collapsing. The Chancellor Kwarteng is now threatening cuts in benefits and public services to stabilise markets and pay for the tax cuts.
4. The political effect is a collapse in electoral support for the Tory Party and a serious chance the government will fall with the Labour Party seen as the only alternative. This is what made the destruction of Corbynism an imperative for big business and the establishment. The recent Labour Party conference also underlined the efforts of the ruling class to suppress political debate and socialist activity both in the Labour Party and society more generally.
5. All over the country we see a rising tide of action with trade unions like the CWU, the RMT and others fighting inflation and the cost of living crisis. So far we have mainly seen one day strikes except on the docks and the barristers.
6. The Truss government wants to tighten the already draconian anti-union laws forcing more ballots and requiring a minimum service level during strikes – effectively reducing strikes to demonstrations. They will try to keep the working class divided by launching ever more heartless attacks on the rights of refugees. At the same time employers, doubtless in close co-ordination with the government are moving to destroy workplace organisation – Royal Mail has announced it wants to tear up every agreement it has with the CWU and effectively to remove recognition from the union.
7. Under these conditions of a frontal assault on the entire living and working conditions of the working class including layers which have seen themselves as above the class struggle the strategy of one day strikes by each union which occasionally coincide as on 1stOctober can only be seen as inadequate.8. With the ruling class divided, the middle class in uproar over mortgages and pensions and the working class seething with rage at rising prices and falling real wages, if a real lead were given by the labour and union leaders, who can doubt millions would answer the call? We fight for:
a) Strike together: indefinite strikes for above inflation pay rises – unions should bring forward their pay claims and link them into a simultaneous mass strike across the public and private sectors
b) Demand the TUC call a general strikec) Action councils in every town, city and borough: bring together the hundreds of thousands signed up to Enough is Enough, Don’t Pay, People’s Assembly, Acorn, rank and file trade union members and campaigns into unified groups to support the strikes, build protests and help build a movement for a general strike
9. Now more than ever the working class needs its own politicalparty – following the call of Ken Loach, the Socialist Labour Network aims to organise an all-Britain conference of working class organisations, including trade unions, local cost of living groups, tenants’ campaigns, ex-Labour Party members and socialist groups to discuss the formation of a new mass political party of labour.