Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Unity against the Tory attacks on the jobless

Much of the public debate about the Tories' proposals to force jobless people to work for nothing has missed the point. It has concentrated on whether or not this will "help" people who are out of work get the hang of how to work. But of course the Tories and their Lib Dem stooges couldn't care two hoots for the unemployed - that's not what it's about.

The reason why there are more people out of work now than a couple of years ago is not down to a sudden loss of the "work ethic" by poor people, a pandemic of laziness, or an increase in the appeal of trying to scrape by on a pittance. It is because employers decided to cut millions of jobs and we largely failed to stop them.

While we havejobless people who are desperate for a job and unable to get one, why should any of us complain if there's a small minority who aren't? They're giving those that are keen to work a better chance.

And of course that's a clue as to why the Tories are really proposing all these attacks on people relying on state benefits. This cabinet of millionaires wants to increase profits for themselves and their mates by driving down wages for people in work. And the more people who are desperately competing for every job, the easier that will be.

That's why it's vital that none of us fall for the divide-and-rule arguments pumped out by the Tories and their friends in the media, trying to encourage those of us lucky enough to be in employment to blame those who aren't. Instead we need to recognise that every campaign to defend state benefits is a campaign to protect our job security and our pay and conditions. We need unity against the cuts, not scapegoating of the poorest in society.

I'm delighted that the Right To Work campaign has produced a petition against this work-for-nothing scheme. It should be used in workplaces, not just amongst the unemployed.

1 comment:

Leigh Wilks said...

The media assault on those who are opposed to these cuts has been relentless. And people like the firefighters, where bit-part privatisation is putting the very safety of the public at risk, and the students of the NUS who are facing massive debts if this Government's policies continue, have been demonised by the corporate media. "We're all in this together" has been the mantra of both the Cameron Government and its friends in the media.

Despite what the media is telling them however, most people recognise that they are not responsible for this state of affairs, and know that the people who ARE responsible for it have actually benefitted from the situation, e.g the "nationalisation" of RBS. The addition of independent news via the net and the networking possibilities of the digital age means coordinated resistance to these attacks is possible (though the security services may well be watching every move).

The anger of the students is palpable and understandable and the key to true resistance is in the linking of the student struggle to the struggle of the trade unions. Public opinion is changing about these cuts, despite what the media keep telling us, and that is a problem for them that could work to our advantage.

It feels like a similar atmosphere just prior to the Poll Tax - a foreboding of struggles to come and of both the opportunities and dangers that this entails. These are exciting times, but they are surely also dangerous ones. We are facing a possible winter of discontent, and the TUC demo in March will be crucial. But the TUC must not be allowed to put a brake on the anger of the labour movement. At a future point in time, that may not be possible. We CAN stop these cuts, but only with coordinated and organised resistance.