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Irrelevance of bureaucrats evident at Merseyside anti-cuts march

December 11, 2010

On Saturday 11th December, the Merseyside Public Sector Alliance – fronted by the Merseyside Trades Council – called a march and rally to “fight” the cuts. The Liverpool Solidarity Federation joined the march as part of a ‘Radical Workers’ and Students’ Bloc’, calling for the workers movement to follow the example of the student movement – by leaving their official leadership behind.

As expected, what we saw on the day was a march from A to B, with the speakers at the end only serving to utterly defuse any radical spirit the event may have had and hasten the rally’s dissolution. It shows that the official trade union movement refuses to learn from the student rebellion.

If opposition to the government’s austerity agenda is to have any success, it will be because resistance remains organic, continuing to grow and evolve. It must be a widespread fightback based in our workplaces and campuses, as well as in the streets, acting in solidarity with fellow workers and communities fighting these austerity measures all over the world. This is emphatically not what Merseyside TUC and its national parent organisation are offering.

Among the rank-and-file of the trade unions, we saw a different story. SolFed activists were able to mingle amiably with workers from various trade unions – most notably PCS, whose pickets we have already supported – and spread our idea of a movement genuinely led from below, thriving without hierarchy or formal leadership.

What we found was a movement largely ready for a serious fightback, but demobilised by a bureaucracy that is fond of lofty rhetoric but not of matching it with action. This is not to say that there is any kind of groundswell of anarcho-syndicalists waiting to be “activated.” Rather, activists have seen first hand the fruits of top-down organisation and the authoritarian left, and there is a general feeling that things out to be done differently.

Another positive of the day was that one speaker was a seventeen year old girl from Kirkby, who spoke honestly of her experiences in a struggling working class family and how austerity will affect her. She represents the growing class consciousness that the government’s attacks are raising in the youth. The same defiant spirit that made the student protests into a genuinely working class outcry, rather than the hissy fit of posh kids demanding a free ride that the media presented.

All-in-all, being able to spread our message across the workers’ movement and to meet new comrades and contacts helped us to make a negative into a positive. The workers movement needs anarchist ideas and methods more than ever if we’re to beat the cuts, and the reception we got today suggests that – even if this march was everything we expected and less – the bureaucrats and official “leaders” may well have had their day.

  1. December 11, 2010 11:10 pm

    I was on, and covering as a pro photographer, the trade union march today here in Liverpool , 1000 plus people and great atmosphere, but it was all preaching to the converted – afterwards about a dozen students, broke away and stood outside Vodafone with a loudhailer talking about the tax dodges and it seemed to be a million times more effective at getting their message across than earlier – interesting times

    Photos here

  2. Wolfy permalink
    December 27, 2010 1:32 pm

    “it seemed to be a million times more effective at getting their message across than earlier ”

    That’s a bit over the top, David. Most shoppers (not to mention the shop workers themselves) are probably bemused at the sight of largely middle-class, SWP students types causing a racket outside Vodaphone stores. Direct action is a much better tactic than mere marches, but it would be better to use it directly against the company’s management in their headquarters.


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