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



A moment of truth in the fight against New Labour

The decision of the FBU to suspend strike action in order to try and reach a negotiated settlement through the arbitration agency Acas, coincides with a moment of truth for firefighters, their union and everyone else in opposition to New Labour.

What seemed to firefighters a perfectly legitimate pay claim based on research by independent consultants, has assumed a character during just 10 days of strike action beyond anything they might have imagined at the outset of the dispute.

By putting its entire political and economic strategy on the line, New Labour has defied the FBU and its supporters to challenge its legitimacy as a government. The alternative is stark: accept a small pay rise plus substantial cuts or return to work empty handed.

A number of trade union leaders, include the TUC general secretary John Monks, have recognised the significance of the conflict. But none have so far offered any real support, even when presented with the opportunity, as the RMT was over safety on the Underground. The Tory/New Labour anti-union laws frightened the RMT leaders into abandoning even a ballot on industrial action let alone going ahead with a strike.

The government has at its disposal the machinery of state, most of the media and the right-wing in the TUC.  It has an evil spin machine which weaves lies by the minute. Without the support of sympathetic unions - which without a call from the FBU leaders for solidarity action is unlikely to materialise - the conditions do not exist for firefighters on their own to beat New Labour.

Actually defeating Blair and his government implies a number of things that by their nature extend beyond the confines, organisation and outlook of trade unionism even at its most militant.

Andy Gilchrist, the FBU general secretary, went some way towards acknowledging this when he rejected New Labour’s whole philosophy and called for “Real Labour” to take its place. His political courage brought down upon his head vitriolic attacks from the media as well as the government because he dared to question the basis of New Labour.

New Labour is a big business government that hates the trade unions. In the one-party state that is Blair’s Britain everyone is expected to know and then accept his or her place. If that means the destruction of the fire service in the name of “modernisation”, then so be it.

The capitalist globalisation process has turned parties like New Labour into managing agencies of corporate interests and exposed the parliamentary process as an undemocratic fraud. That is why every challenge to the status quo, no matter how modest, raises the issue of political and economic power.

Firefighters rightly want their contribution to society recognised with a living wage; they want some control over changes to their working practices so that they are not made at the expense of either their jobs or the communities they serve. What they want is not on offer in a country dominated by commercial considerations and profit margins.

We have to remake society for it to be something like what firefighters and other working people want. In place of the rule of the global corporations and financial markets, there is a need for democratic control, ownership and decision-making. Only such a society can solve pressing world issues in a peaceful way rather than through military aggression, as is about to happen in Iraq.

This is one way of describing what a “Real Labour” party might have as its objectives. The FBU leaders have performed a great service by showing how their members’ interests are inseparably linked to wider political aspirations. That is something to build on as the debate gathers pace on what is to replace New Labour and what kind of society we want to live in.

Movement for a Socialist Future
December 3, 2002