Kevin Courtney, Deputy General-Secretary of the NUT, spoke at a meeting at the Marxism Festival a few weeks ago. Below is a summary of what he said.
The Con-Dem government have flawed economic policies: they are destroying the welfare state and cutting jobs when they should be investing and creating jobs to help the economy grow. But the key question is 'how do we stop the cuts, job losses and privatisation?', not 'How do we stop the Con-Dems?' because this might lead people to think voting Labour is the answer. Also, we must start from were people are at, and for most people, that is concern about their pay, pensions and so on.
We need to answer some specific questions around the issue of pensions such as 'Are public sector pensions unaffordable?' The 30 June strike has begun to answer qustions like this. Cameron said there is a form of pension 'apartheid' and uses this to remove people's rights. This is disgraceful. Actually the fight against apartheid in South Africa was about improving people's rights. Also, we must never forget that the Tories treated Mandela as a pariah and wore t-shirts at Henly Regatta saying 'Hang Nelson Mandela'.
Mass mobilisation really matters. More than 100,000 people were involved with demonstrations on 30 June and the teaching strikes alone were twice as big as in 2008. ACT, the secondary headteachers union are looking to ballot their members as well as the National Association of Head Teachers.
The Tories' policy is to freeze pay while inflation rises and increase pension contributions taking 13% out of six million public servants' spending power. This does not help the economy at all.
Sir Philip Green paid himself £1.2 billion in dividends in 2005. He then gave it all to his wife and she paid no tax because she is not registered as resident in Britain for tax purposes. He has now become a 'cuts adviser' for the government. We (the workers) are all in it together, but not with George Osborne.
See also 'How can we beat the Con-Dems? (part two)', a response to Kevin Courtney.