July 14, 2010

As the cooling winds of austerity move in across superheated Britain, one gallant group is arming for war. The large trade unions, headed up by the so-called “€œAwkward Squad”€ of leftist leaders, are on the move.

It is time, the Awkward ones believe, for another Hunger March, another General Strike, another Grunwick. It is time for new Scargills to arise from the ashes of the labour movement, and man the barricades against the stormtroopers of the Tory regime. It is Marx against Gradgrind, flat cap against top hat, Doncaster against Eton, Walthamstow Dogs against Royal Ascot, football against croquet, egg and chips against funny foreign food.
The carking Bob Crow of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) spelt it out in his carefully retained Shadwell accent. The self-proclaimed “€œcommunist stroke socialist”€ wants “€œgeneral and co-ordinated strike action…in the teeth of fiscal fascism.”

Mark Serwotka of the Public and Commercial Services Union wants “€œa massive campaign of resistance against…the deepest, most damaging public spending cuts since Margaret Thatcher sharpened her axe.” And Dave Prentis of UNISON has threatened “€œstiff resistance…just one of many fights that face us.”

These Marxian maquisards have assembled a “€œwar chest”€ of £25m. It makes one’s heart swell with egalitarian ecstasy to see all these poor man’s Parsifals girding their loins to slay the myrmidons of Diabolic Dave (Cameron, not Prentis)—on behalf of a generation of honest-toil-begrimed equality monitors, swimming pool beauty therapists, Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Officers, Healthy Schools Advisors, and Sustainability Engagement and Events Officers.

How insensitive, then, of the Taxpayers”€™ Alliance (those Poujadiste running-dogs) to choose such a moment to release The Trade Union Rich List. The capitalist lackeys have identified “€œ38 general secretaries and chief executives of trade unions whose annual remuneration package is in excess of £100,000.”

On this roll of honor are one David “€œDave”€ Prentis (£127,436), one Mark Serwotka (£111,112) and one Robert “€œBob”€ Crow (£105,679). It is so unfair to highlight the gross disparity between such salaries and those of the workers represented by these idealists.

” Far from helping the workers, too many trade union leaders are instead helping the politicians to export British jobs to the world and to import the world into Britain.”

It is not as if the union members do not get value for money. In recent decades, the unions labored 24/7 to safeguard British jobs, preserve shipbuilding and manufacturing, improve local communities and generally better the lives of British workers. To see how successful they have been in these endeavors, just look around.

Their left-field methods have been the key to their achievements—give support to a Labour government or parties even further Left wedded to free trade, outsourcing and mass immigration; ignore dry socioeconomic analysis in favor of satisfying resolutions about sexism, racism and Iraq; write for the Guardian and reluctantly accept management-scale salaries. One wonders when rank-and-file union members (many of whom do useful jobs) will realize just how successful their delegates have been.

But for the moment, the downturn is allowing these functionaries to present themselves as crusaders for social justice “€œin the teeth of fiscal fascism”€ (fascists are of course well known advocates of shrinking the state). Unbeknownst to them, the union leaders”€™ wild speeches may even be encouraging anarchists further down the food chain who would like to exploit the downturn to bring about Athenian-style uprisings, complete with democratic shopping and the detonation of a million People’s Petrol Bombs.

The rankly partisan carks of all the Crows are distorted, diminishing echoes of a failing tradition—destroyed as much by Labour as by the Tories. A whole segment of England has been laid waste—with all its family traditions, economic security, local identity and pride, racing pigeons and pints of mild, Low Church respectability, brass bands and hand-sewn union banners that combined the iconography of class and nation. The tough, proud class of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning has become the class of The Royle Family—welfare-dependent and TV-enthralled, living on sink estates beset by crime, with no real hope for the future other than maybe one day being able to leave England for ever.

Faced with this devastation, all the “€œAwkward Squad”€ is offering is more of what is already offered by their supposed Labour friends and supposed Tory enemies. Far from helping the workers, too many trade union leaders are instead helping the politicians to export British jobs to the world and to import the world into Britain. But it seems what interests them most of all is helping themselves.


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