Our Say

After G8 and the London bombings - the way forward

London terror attacks condemned

After Live 8:
from pressure to action

The G8 summit and political power

Make the G8 leaders history

A sham election

10 good reasons to boycott May 5

Don't be blackmailed into voting

Reject ‘dependency’ politics

No votes for New Labour!

Parliament seals its own fate

A secret policeman's government

Vote for "none of the above"

How to remember the victims of the tsunami

A state of crisis

New Labour and the big lie

Yasser Arafat - a revolutionary life

After the US election

Blood on New Labour's hands

Butler and weapons of mass deception

With 'leaders' like these, who needs enemies?

How to meet the threat from the right

Barbarians at the gate

Torture, values and lies

The silence of the lambs

War crimes in Iraq

The slaughter in Madrid

The unfinished business of the miners’ strike 1984-85

L’état – c’est New Labour

The death of liberal democracy foretold

Hutton washes the state whiter than white

Top-up fees and the market economy

Our challenge for 2004

New Labour's march to a police state

Bush & Blair - partners in crime

London Region revolts against FBU leaders

Postal workers in the front line

No turning back

Where we go from here

Stop the War Coalition leaders and political fabrication

Regime change begins at home

Blood on New Labour's hands

There's more involved than just Blair

New Labour, lies and spies

Firefighters should reject deal and disown leaders

BECTU vote on New Labour link a step forward

Time runs out for FBU leaders

New Labour's one-party state

The blind alley of crude anti-Americanism

Occupation of Iraq - time to move beyond protest

War is a test for principles

Iraqi defiance shocks and awes

FBU leaders who backed capitulation should resign now

Down with New Labour's war - for regime change in Britain

FBU at war with New Labour

New Labour, not just Blair, is the target

50 years since the death of Stalin - an assessment

FBU finds itself in Precott's trap

War is Peace - Blair's fictitious 'push for peace'

15/2: Global marches put power on the agenda

Crisis of globalisation behind attack on Iraq

Tell it how it is

An injury to one is an injury to all

War plans expose fraudulent 'democracy'

A 'regime change' in Britain is the answer to war on Iraq

FBU needs a new strategy

Challenging New Labour

A moment of truth in the fight against New Labour

Gilchrist says it how it is

Time to defy the anti-union laws in support of the FBU

FBU must ask for solidarity strikes

FBU leaders must ask for support now

New Labour provokes confrontation

Italian police attack No-Global movement

New Labour declares war on FBU

Don't let the FBU fight alone

UN writes a blank cheque for war

Blood on Putin's hands

Unions must support firefighters with action not words

Support the firefighters - defeat New Labour

Bush-Blair war agenda revealed

Seeing through New Labour's weapons of mass deception

The US media and the new garrison state

The BEGINNING of Politics

How technology could
free humanity

'Terminator' engineering: A threat to humanity

The future is socialist

Asylum legislation fuels racist attacks

Road map to the future

E-mail to hear about site changes, placing 'update' in body of message



FBU leaders who backed capitulation should resign now

The decision of the Fire Brigades Union delegate conference to throw out a "final" offer in defiance of their own leadership shows that firefighters remain as determined as ever to win their claim and resist plans to undermine working conditions fought for over many decades.

This is more than can be said for the majority of the FBU leadership. The capitulation of the national executive by 12 votes to 6 on the eve of the conference deserves nothing but contempt from a membership that has backed the struggle without weakening for almost six months.

Andy Gilchrist, the FBU general secretary, claimed that the FBU could become the first casualty of the war on Iraq if it continued with the strike campaign. This use of the war as a cover for retreat failed as dismally as the bureaucratic attempt to swing a last-minute deal on delegates.

Gilchrist mistakenly identified his own lack of resolve with the mood of the membership. They, unlike he, cannot afford to spend £800 plus on a restaurant meal. Firefighters have no other choice but to persevere. They can’t afford to lose the conditions they’ve won and can’t live on the pay they earn.

This is why firefighters cannot accept changes that would take the fire service back to before 1939, with locally-determined conditions and standards as prescribed by New Labour “modernisation”.

There are now two wars being waged by New Labour which have the same content. The first is against Iraq, fought on behalf of transnational corporate interests. The second is against the FBU and other trade unions that defy the New Labour agenda of imposing a commercial, cost-driven framework on public services as a prelude to privatisation.

The FBU struggle has proved such a long one precisely because there is no compromise between what the union stands for and what the Blair regime wants. Public services are in danger so long as we have a New Labour government driven by big business interests.

Gilchrist and the executive majority are not prepared politically to challenge the Blair government and to raise the issue of an alternative. This is despite the fact that most FBU members clearly want to end the union's affiliation to New Labour. These leaders should do the honourable thing and resign now and make way for those who are prepared to defy the government.

Meanwhile, the membership should accept the recommendation of the special conference and reject the deal, which is not worth the paper it is written on. When the conference reconvenes it has to have a strategy for continuing the campaign. This should include a call for solidarity strikes from other unions, support for the struggles against the invasion of Iraq and immediate suspension of the union's affiliation to New Labour.

The question of an alternative to New Labour is not a long-term issue in any sense. We can't make progress while it stays in office and all efforts must be directed now towards the building of an alternative movement by the labour and trade union movement. The absence of any immediate alternative cannot become an excuse for political inaction.

Leading firefighters have sponsored the Voices for the Future/Beyond New Labour conference in London on April 12 and we urge as many to attend to help shape the political future in Britain. Themes of the conference include:

  • Going beyond New Labour - the alternatives
  • Learning from the anti-war and firefighters' struggles
  • Building a democratic, not-for-profit society
  • Making the right to vote count with real accountability and control

Email voices@socialistfuture.org.uk for more details

Movement for a Socialist Future
20 March 2003