The reason for this frantic red-baiting is the spectacular success of the broad campaign against workfare. It’s a scandal that unemployed people are being forced to work for free. And millions can see that. The Tories—already in trouble over the NHS—found another key part of their project stalling.
Within days bosses were running scared. Tesco and other major firms pulled out of the scheme. The Tories were left isolated and defensive—and they did not like it one bit. That’s why they launched a smear campaign against the protesters. Tory minister Chris Grayling made baseless accusations about protesters hacking his email.
The bosses also fell out with each other. A Daily Mail front page featured former Marks & Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose telling firms to “show some backbone” and stand up to the protests.
But many companies realise the campaigners reflect a wider mood. Most people are rightly suspicious of companies whose only interest lies in making money. In Grayling’s own words, “This is part of a broader anti-capitalist trend in our society.”
If a few protests can push the Tories back, think of the possibilities when millions of workers take mass action together. Look at the magnificent strike by 2.6 million people on 30 November over pensions. It was the biggest in decades and proof of a rising mood of defiance. The victory won by electricians this week against construction companies intent on cutting their pay is another indication of our power. Organising in the workplace is organising where we are strongest. When public sector workers go on strike, we don’t see David Cameron and his cronies collecting the bins or teaching in schools. They can’t replace us. Now unions are planning a strike on 28 March. If workers beat the plans to slash their pensions it will be easier for all of us to stop all the other attacks.
We want to bring down the Tories. But we also have a wider vision. We are on the side of workers everywhere, whether in Greece or Egypt or Britain. We think capitalism is what brings us crisis, poverty and war. We want to abolish that system and build a socialist society—driven by the needs of the many, not the profits of the few. This is the Socialist Workers Party’s agenda. It’s not secret. We declare our views every week in Socialist Worker, which we sell on high streets across the country.
If you like what you’ve heard then we hope you become a regular reader. And if you agree with it, we hope you will join us.
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- For more on the Workfare campaign see the Right to Work website.