Well done to all who took strike action today

Over 2 million workers went on strike today, according to the BBC. And if they say 2 million, then it must have been far more.

Prime Minister David Cameron got it completely wrong, trying to dismiss the day of action as a “damp squib”. Damp it may have been, said Caroline Penn on Twitter, but she didn’t see a squib all day!

Turnout in Brighton was fantastic, with the biggest demonstration and rally I can ever recall. There was great turnout by Labour and Green councillors, and in spite of Warren Morgan dismissing Caroline Lucas as a “no show”, she made a great rallying speech that was incredibly well received. Her appearance on the news was uncompromisingly positive on behalf of those on strike.

But the credit must go to the Unions who organised the day ever so well. Particular congratulations to the GMB who stood out from the crowd, and what a crowd it was. The GMB’s flags were fantastic, and the highlight for me was the wonderful Scottish piper.

The only disappointment was the failure of the leadership of the Labour Party nationally to support the strike. Yes, the position they took up to and until yesterday was not unreasonable, saying that they opposed the need for a strike and that both sides should seek a resolution.

But today, of all days, the Labour Leadership should have come out unconditionally in support of the strike, condemning the government for failing to engage meaningfully to prevent the strike. What a boost that would have given the day of action, and it would have signalled that Labour opposes the Tory and Lib Dem austerity measures that are putting so many people on the dole.

Until Labour nationally offers some leadership, the party locally will continue to see Caroline Lucas hoover up further support.

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14 Responses

  1. Did the Labour and Green Councillors who supported action today hand back a day’s pay too? The workers had to, losing a day’s pay before Christmas.

  2. Great turnout in Brighton, and good support from most of the public as well. It was disappointing that the organisers would not allow the Labour Party to have a speaker on the platform. I noticed that Caroline introduced herself as ‘MP for Brighton’. Perhaps we now live in a one party City!

  3. Thought the march was colourful. Nice to see collective action. I think if it had been held in the summer it would have rivalled Pride!

  4. Good orginal post and a good day all round. Great support from the public and from the attendant police, too.

    I thought Caroline Lucas said ‘an’ MP from Brighton but … whatever. There is no comparable Labour MP for Brighton, and Slimon Kirby was never likely to turn up, was he?

  5. It was a great day and a powerful signal that public sector workers aren’t going to shut up and put up with measures that will see some up to 25% worse off by the end of this parliament.

    I have to say I appreciated the fact that Dr. Lucas (who did refer to herself as the MP for Brighton) resisted the urge to use her address to take political potshots at the Labour leadership.

    I think, however, that the focus on whether Ed Miliband voices support for the strike is a perfect example of the left falling into a trap set by our adversaries. A right-wing media has built that issue up into something they hope will help divert the wider public’s view from the larger ones at stake.

    To my memory no Labour leader has ever outright supported a major strike, still less a public sector one. This stems back to the other non-issue of how warm his words may or may not have been over the Occupy movement. A few on-the-record supportive words may make us at the grass roots feel better and more comfortable, but they don’t win parliamentary majorities. I’d rather have a Labour government than have Ed playing to the gallery.

    • But there is temerity here Tim. The corner into which unions heve been pushe d requires defenders from a party created to defend the working class.
      Also so much dis and misinformation exists. My daughter must pay 3% more with the Coalition proposals but is already in a money purchase scheme rather than a final salary one despite being a public sector worker. She had no choice but to join the inferior scheme offered at the time she joinded a couple of years ago. Being in a money purchase scheme is a double whammy-increased deductions from an already low salary and a fund losing value because of stock markets.

      The lesson of the Greek bailout is that if you protest enough you effect favourable changes- isn’t that all our unions are trying to do?

  6. Disinformation is, in this dispute and in the whole deficit-reduction saga, a political weapon the Coalition has wielded expertly and ruthlessly.

    I and every Labour member I have spoken to are 100% behind the unions and the strike yesterday – and I’d be very surprised if Labour wasn’t the best-represented non-trades union organisation in the marches and rallies across the country.

    The point still remains, though, that Ed Miliband and the rest of the leadership’s prime responsibility is to promote the interests of working people in parliament, as you correctly say. They have been doing this more and more forcefully as time and the dispute have dragged on. Indeed, Ed’s comment yesterday: “I’m not going to condemn public servants who feel they’re in an impossible position. It is the government’s failure that has led to today’s strike,” is probably the furthest any Labour leader could have gone.

    I’m sorry to say that the lesson of the Greek bailouts, however, is that all the protest in the world won’t save you from the imposition of historic levels of austerity and an unelected government. Let’s hope that this country’s organised workers can offer a different one.

  7. The lesson of the Greek bailout is that when it comes to protecting people from the horrors of neoliberalism, you can’t rely on established parties who brought the crisis about to provide solutions.

    • Unless you’re in Germany, most of Scandinavia, The Netherlands or any other of the countries around the world who, even now, seem to be chugging along fairly contentedly.

      I bet I can guess which non-established party *you* reckon would be up to the job, though.

  8. @ c
    no pay will be deduced by the Council in February, further to action by the Leader.

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