Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Small but necessary beginnings

Went to the meeting of our new local anti-public sector cuts alliance last night:

There's talk of these alliances mushrooming into a movement to re-energize the Left - and  analogies are being made with the anti-poll tax movement of 20 years ago. Maybe. I hope so.

It's a fairly modest start at the moment but it's easy to forget that there was a definite period of 'phoney-war' before the anti-poll tax unions took off. And  that there were distinct differences of opinion - over non-collection by council workers, or a boycott of non-registration, until the clear non-payment platform emerged. Even then it wasn't until the court summons were going out and ballifs were calling that the movement really spread beyond the usual activist suspects. 

I imagine it may well be the same this time around. This is complicated by what has been done to the public sector since the last recession - the insidious and diluting rise of quangos, agencies and voluntary sector bodies has made it harder to  see where the services are actually coming from. And there's no denying the ideological triumph of private good / public bad' that has conned a layer  of working class people into being turkeys looking forward to Christmas.

But these complicating factors are eclipsed by the simple truth that inner city areas like my own, with industries long gone and a crumbling and overwhelmed social infrastructure, need public services. Desperately. Taking away what is already inadequate could just  be lighting the touch-paper that ignites a movement.

Until that happens it will be a case of patiently laying the ground work and getting the structures of resistance prepared - much as it was in the early days of the poll tax. This isn't necessarily going to be easy - if TUSC was euphemistically called 'a fragile coalition' - then this could be doubly so.

Even last night I saw Labour Lefts who were upset every time it was mentioned that it was a Labour council who would be administering the cuts, anarchists who were strong on community networks but flinched at the idea of a trade union sponsored conference, and of course enthusiastic Swoppies who  everyone else suspects will hang around  only until a better offer comes along from another campaign.

Maybe it's just  a case of keeping this hanging together for a few months - events have a knack of overtaking everything else...    

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