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If you think all the big political parties are the same - you're right! The bosses have got three parties - isn't it about time we had one of our own?
For the millions, not the millionaires!
The case for a new mass workers' party
Most of the realities that pushed our forebears into struggling for their own party –against enormous obstacles – are clearly present in New Labour’s Britain.
Perhaps the most important single issue is the attempts of big business to prevent working-class people from organising to defend their pay and working conditions.
The vicious legal repression of workers’ democratic rights to organise and strike was one of the main factors that pushed trade unions to support the foundation of the Labour Party.
Today, eight years into a Labour government, Britain still has the most repressive anti-trade union laws in the Western world.
These laws are designed to hamper and limit our right to defend our pay and conditions through the only effective means that workers have, industrial action.
However, despite the enormous hindrance of the anti-trade union laws, it is strike action, or the threat of strike action, which has proved the only effective means of preventing New Labour’s onslaught against the working class.
There a number of examples of workers – nursery nurses in Scotland, bus drivers in Stoke – who have been able to win victories as a result of strike action.
Civil servants, health and education workers have been able to force the government to make a partial retreat on its attempt to push the public-sector retirement age up to 65 just by threatening to take strike action.
Unfortunately, although the deal protected existing staff’s pension rights, it did not do the same for new starters.
This battle will have to be fought again in the future.
Nonetheless, one of the factors that prevents struggle being as effective as it could be is the weight of the anti-trade union laws bearing down on trade unionists.
But this did not prevent the Heathrow airport baggage handlers immediately acting in solidarity with the heroic struggle of the Gate Gourmet workers in 2005.
In this and other instances the potential power of the working class was demonstrated, as was the enormous difficulties that the government and big business face in using the law against determined action by workers, particularly where they have widespread support.
However, the anti-trade union laws will remain a major obstacle until they are swept aside by more widespread mass defiance.
In the past, Labour or even Tory governments could not so easily get away with the breadth and scale of attacks on the working class that New Labour have carried through.
Although the tops of the Labour Party were wedded to capitalism even before Blair, they were constantly looking over their shoulders at the workers who made up the Labour Party’s membership and answered attacks on their rights with mass resistance.
When in 1969, for example, the Wilson government attempted to introduce anti-trade union legislation (misnamed In Place of Strife) a series of strikes put the government under such pressure that the cabinet openly split and Wilson was forced to retreat.
Today, a new mass workers’ party could play a major role in bringing about the defeat of the anti-trade union laws, as the newly-formed Labour Party did a century ago.
Its elected representatives could use their prominence to explain the iniquities of the existing laws to wider layers of the population and to champion the cause of individual groups as a whole.
This alone would increase workers’ confidence to struggle.
At the same the party as a whole would lead the way in struggles and campaigns in opposition to, and defiance of, the laws.