Monday, 30 September 2013


Don't be fooled by the Labour weathervanes...

As the New Labour weathervanes whizzed round 180 degrees at the Brighton beaches last week, trying to face the same way as majority public opinion, announcing popular promises that fly in the face of their earlier track record, some people might have fallen for their trick: vote to stay in the UK in 2014, vote for 'Red' Ed and a Westminster Labour government in 2015, and live happily ever after.

Not any more!

Enemy within!

One in three Scottish households, shuddering in fuel poverty, will cheer the threat of a 20-month price freeze, reject the blackmailing of the Big Six profiteers with their threats of an investment strike, power cuts and general mayhem - and ask where the mainstream media screams about "holding the country to ransom" and "the enemy within" have disappeared, since they trot out such diatribes every time miners or other workers dare to defend their communities from destruction. 

And those of us in the broad-based Trade Unionists for Independence (TUFI) will still ask why Labour doesn't just declare for democratic public ownership of this blackmailing, profit-crazed cartel of energy giants - because you can't control what you don't own!

Labour's belated abolitionists

Scottish working people will mightily cheer the pledge to scrap the bedroom tax. But we will still ask why Labour did nothing to expose and resist it's introduction at Westminster a year ago; failed to pledge its abolition when it was imposed 6 months ago; why for months Labour councils refused to even ban evictions and indeed issued eviction notices in North Lanarkshire; and only eventually got round to announcing their new policy of abolition long after the SSP, SNP, Greens and even the LibDem conference had all done so.

Political weathervanes rely on people having short memories. They can't be trusted. Labour announced this in large measure to con people into 'waiting for a Labour government' at Westminster to banish the bedroom tax - to vote NO in 2014 and leave the entire welfare system in the tender hands of Westminster, just forgetting that successive Labour and Tory governments have hammered the poorest and cut public sector jobs through their savage cuts.

Gyrations on Royal Mail privatization

But for anyone teetering on the brink of voting against Scottish self-government, surely Labour's gyrations on public ownership of Royal Mail is a loud, rude awakening?
Trade Unionists for Independence (TUFI) - founded 15 months ago - has consistently stated (including in our Statement of Aims) that we are not out for independence just to swap flags and emblems, but to give the Scottish working class majority their first EVER real chance to elect a government with the powers AND the political will to stand up for the working class, through measures such as "reversal of all privatization and outsourcing".

Tory theft for private profit

The Tories are rushing through privatization of Royal Mail, threatening the universal service, six-day delivery, rural services, and the jobs, conditions and pensions of postal workers. There is no excuse for this, as Royal Mail makes hundreds of millions in profit, (£403m last year), which could be invested in genuine modernization.

So TUFI - which includes our affiliate, 4,000-member Scotland no 2 branch of the Communication Workers Union - welcomed the announcement of Alex Salmond that a post-independence government would bring Royal Mail back into public ownership. 

That makes at least the SNP, Scottish Socialist Party and Greens on the side of public ownership and of the CWU union, whose members rejected privatization by 96%!

Deterrent to criminal profiteering

Imagine the joy of most working people when the UK Labour conference in Brighton added its voice to the call for renationalisation of Royal Mail, assuming the Tories and LibDems ram it through regardless?
Of course some of us who've been around a while, with good memories, didn't forget that it was the Westminster Labour government of Blair, Brown and Mandelson that first tried to privatize Royal Mail, only retreating in the face of strike action by the CWU, and general public outcry.

Nevertheless, the UK conference of Labour adding its voice to the declaration of future renationalisation was a powerful warning to the profit-hungry vultures hovering to pick apart the body of the universal service, devouring the profitable bits, tossing aside the likes of rural services. A deterrent to criminal profiteering at public expense.

Labour spits on its own conference

Well, it would be, if decisions at Labour conferences meant anything! 

Before the trade union delegates who moved the motions for taking back Royal Mail (and the railways) into public ownership had returned to their seats, 'senior figures' in Labour's leadership were briefing the media that a future Labour manifesto for 2015 would NOT include these policies. Just like numerous similar conference decisions had been ignored by the Labour leadership in the past.

And now we have it out in the open. Labour's Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna‏ has spelt out unequivocally that Labour will NOT reverse privatization of Royal Mail.

Chuka Umuna: Labour will NOT reverse privatization on Royal Mail

Solidarity with strikers

TUFI is committed to building solidarity with workers taking action against attacks by the UK government - in this instance, 120,000 postal workers, across Scotland, England, Wales and N Ireland.

Our solidarity knows no national boundaries. 

Can the same be claimed by the poisonous cocktail of Tories, LibDems and Labour in Better Together? Or even Gordon Brown's 'United with Labour' wing of Better Together? Are they out denouncing privatization of Royal Mail, pledging solidarity with strikers, promising to take the service back in 2015?
No, the only sure route to saving this (and other) services from being plundered by the profiteers is to combine international solidarity with fellow trade unionists alongside campaigning for Scottish independence as a means to an end: to win the powers and a government of the left with the willpower to save our public services, through their return to public ownership where they've been privatized.

Legal strangulation of workplace rights

And we haven't even mentioned the fact Labour conference never even committed to repeal of the vicious anti-union laws, being added to day and daily at the current Tory conference. 

The Tories are using their Blue Jamboree in Manchester to announce plans to treble the membership threshold required to seek union recognition; abolish the 'deduction from wages' system of collecting union membership subs in order to hamper the unions' functioning; scrap facilities for elected union shop stewards and reps to represent members; charge 'market rates' for union accommodation for meetings; in addition to the insurmountable hurdles of fees for Employment Tribunals recently added to the most oppressive anti-union laws in Europe.

These laws - ushered in by Thatcher, retained by 13 years of Labour governments, added to already by Cameron, Clegg and Cable - are designed to prevent unity and solidarity in workers' self-defense, and in action to save public services. But a Westminster Labour government after 2015 is set to keep them.

Workers: join TUFI

It is time more trade unionists and trade union branches followed the road of the 4,000-strong CWU Scotland no2 branch, by joining TUFI, fighting for a workers' vision of what we want in an independent Scotland, helping to liberate working people from the suffocating stranglehold of Westminster regimes (whether Tory, LibDem, New Labour, UKIP, or any combination thereof).
A Scotland with a Charter of Workers' Rights as part of a written constitution, matching at least the best of any in Europe. A Scotland that protects and expands public services and taxes the obscenely rich and big business to help fund them. A Scotland for the millions, not the millionaires.

Don't be conned by the Labour weathervanes; they don't even listen to their own party members!

By Richie Venton, Trade Unionists for Independence (TUFI) steering group

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