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



Gilchrist says it how it is

Firefighters’ leader Andy Gilchrist has displayed immense political courage by placing the nature of New Labour right at the centre of his members’ strike for a decent wage.

Gilchrist says that the government  “ensured and provoked a strike” and that it is the right time for the trade union movement to consider whether it should still fund the Labour Party. He is willing to work to replace New Labour with what Gilchrist calls Real Labour.

The FBU general secretary has also pointed out that while New Labour will not fund a compromise settlement with the firefighters, it has put a £1 billion aside for the Anglo-American war against Iraq, in which innocent men, women and children will die.

It is a fact that a war is already under way in Britain – a class war in which New Labour  - representing big business and finance - intends to defeat and destroy the FBU as a prelude to imposing conditions that will eventually lead to the privatisation of the fire service.

New Labour had plenty of time to settle this dispute before the strikes began. It chose not to. The government could have endorsed the deal reached between the FBU and the employers but chose conflict instead. New Labour is now preparing new laws to ban fire strikes and to force amalgamation with the ambulance service.

The course of the dispute has come as a great shock to many trade unionists and especially their leaders. How can a trade union function if one side rejects the idea of a negotiated settlement? The answer is, it can’t. That is why the very future of trade unionism as well as its relationship to Labour is at the centre of the pay strike.

We have argued for many years that New Labour, as a party then as a government, was not a drift to the right but an entirely new political body. It is dedicated to upholding the interests and rule of the global corporations and financial markets. That is why it will bail out the bankrupt nuclear generating industry at a cost far in excess of what it would take to pay firefighters. This is a capitalist government pure and simple.

The entire public sector is undergoing preparation for either total privatisation or “pubic-private” partnerships where shareholders get rich at the taxpayers’ expense. In London, fire engines and uniforms are already owned by a subsidiary of British Gas.

So when an anonymous minister says the strike is also “a political battle about the future direction of the country” he is absolutely right. That is why in challenging New Labour we must open up a discussion on alternatives to an economic and political system driven by profit and commercial considerations.

Gilchrist says he has no “nostalgic romanticism” about Old Labour (which was in office in 1977/78 when the FBU last went on strike)  but wants a party based on “real social progress, on real justice for working class people and indeed on for fairness for all”.

These aims are not possible to achieve as reforms within the world of globalised capitalism, where governments and states are pawns of corporate power. We need a party that is prepared to challenge for power itself. The experiences of the FBU and the preparations for war should tell us that the days of compromise have long disappeared.

The vast majority in Britain are disenfranchised politically by an undemocratic political set-up. The discussion has to begin on creating new forms of political representation.

So far this is an unequal war. The FBU stands alone in taking on New Labour. This cannot continue if the conditions are to be created for defeating the government. Gilchrist must follow up his important statement with a direct appeal for other trade unions to take strike action in support of the firefighters.

Trade union leaders are falling over themselves to say that this struggle involves the entire union movement etc., etc. But New Labour is not frightened by rhetoric. We repeat: placing fear of the anti-union laws and protection of assets before support action undermines the firefighters. Other unions must heed what Gilchrist has said in deeds not words.

Movement for a  Socialist Future
December 1, 2002