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(en) Catalist #8 Autumn 2003 - Freesheet of the Solidarity Federation-International Workers Association - Editorial

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 20 Oct 2003 15:41:34 +0200 (CEST)

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From the new website for the south west branch of the solidarity federation (england)
http://www.solwest.org.uk/index.html - Catalist #8 - the original and pictures at:
http://www.solfed.force9.co.uk/PDFs/cat8.pdf - Its time - to stop - paying - for pain

The historic decision by the
RMT to allow Branches to
financially support other parties
has certainly upset the Labour party,
which is dependent on union money
for its survival. Given that it looks
certain that Scottish RMT branches
will vote to support the Scottish
Socialist Party (SSP) at the next
election there is now every chance that
the RMT - one of the founders of the
Labour Party - will finally cut its links
with Labour.
The decision has been welcomed by
people across the union movement and will
only fuel the groundswell of feeling
amongst many unions to follow the RMT
example. Here at Catalyst, we view unions
paying funds to Labour as the equivalent to
paying someone to beat you up. However,
while we welcome moves to cut the link
with Labour, we are concerned about where
the union money will otherwise end up.
In the RMT, a lot of effort has gone into
trying to stop union money going to Labour,
but little thought has been given to what
else to do with it. At the RMT conference,
amid the uproar at dumping Labour union
money, it was promised to just about
anyone, from Ken Livingstone to George
Galloway - just as long as they were not
New Labour.
The danger is that the union money will
simply end up funding yet another "left"
party, such as the SWP or The Socialist
Party (the militant tendency). The unions
built the Labour Party as a means of helping
workers, only to end up one hundred or so
years later with the current cold shower in
the form of the Blair government.
Do we really want to repeat the same
mistakes again? For years, the Socialist
Party (then Militant) argued that we should
change Labour from within; now they are
saying that the unions can no longer use
their affiliation to influence Labour
Governments. In fact, even a cursory look
at past Labour governments demonstrates
that, once in power, Labour always acts in
its own interests and not the unions or the
working class. This is not because the odd
Labour Party leadership sold out the
workers; it is because of the very nature of
political parties.
Political parties exist outside of the
economic day-to-day struggle of the
working class. They are elite organisations
that claim unions should limit themselves to
economic struggles such as pay and
conditions, and leave the politics to the
more sophisticated politicians. This is
deeply insulting to the rest of us, but that
isn't the worst of it. Time and again, from
the Bolsheviks in Russia to the Labour
Party here, we have seen that, once in
power, politicians of any ilk start acting in
their own interests, primarily by ignoring
the interests of the working class and
pandering to anything which might help
them get re-elected or, better still, promoted.
Why do we need politicians?
We don't. In fact, they are the last thing
we need. The failure of the union
movement in Britain is that they have left
politics to politicians instead of constantly
fighting for political alternatives as well as
economic gains. They got by in the boom
years of the 1960s, but when capitalism
goes into slump, real political alternatives
are needed. Without them, the unions are
left stranded or, worse still, helping to
impose bosses cuts in order to keep
companies afloat.
The millions of pounds of members'
money should not go to the politicians. It
should be used to help organise resistance to
capitalism. Why is it that union members
taking strike action have to rely on
donations when the unions are awash with
money? This is just one use - there is a
desperate need for money to help workers in
all sorts of ways to take action against the
bosses. Support, solidarity, literature,
organising, direct actions all are easier and
more effective if funds are made available.
The crucial reason why the unions have
no imagination about using the political
funds themselves is that they have yet to
come to terms with the fact that the day-to-
day struggle is part of the wider struggle for
a better world. Workers' organisations have
to be overtly political - the struggle for a
better future is the task of the workers
ourselves, and cannot be left to any
politicians, however `socialist' they sound.

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