Thursday, 1 December 2011

Historic ?

Any socialist who has been around for a few years will have heard  the word 'historic' much used to describe things that almost certainly aren't.

Yesterday was one of those rare occasions when its use was actually justified. The biggest strike since the General Strike of 1926 - and perhaps most importantly the biggest strike since the Thatcher watershed. Having spent the day from  the early morning riding around visiting pickets in my borough, going on the central London demo and finishing  up with a shop stewards meeting in a pub in Whitehall - I'll happily confess that I was caught up in the euphoria of the day. And why not - there  is something qualitatively different about a demonstration of striking trade unionists - it means so much more than the usual suspects on a day out.

But the morning after is possibly the time for a bit of sober reflection: General strikes are a very big deal in this country: Rightly so when  2milllion plus workers are involved. And the idea of 'general strike' will forever be associated with that oh so un-typically 'British' moment when the country came close to revolution. But 24hour general strikes occur quite regularly in much of Europe. They are treated as ritualistic  fete-days for the labour movement. And we shouldn't be under any illusions that the TUC would happily adopt this European custom.

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