Britain: New government… the onslaught of cuts

Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party, gave a sober but inspiring analysis of the general election outcome on a London meeting of the Socialist Party. Hear his speech here (40 min, mp3-file).

Report by Paula Mitchell from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, about the event:

Packed out London meeting looks to fight against cuts

’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.

Hear Peter Taaffe’s speech here (40 min, mp3-file)