Wednesday, 29 June 2011

A good strike (for Ed, that is)

Ed Miliband has done the second smart thing in less than a week by explicitly not backing the impending public service strikes on his personal blog yesterday, as we suggested might be a good course of action here last week.

Hell, if we keep this up, who knows what could happen. We might get elected.


  1. Go ahead, be a scab.

    F*ck off and join the Tories - if they'll have you.

  2. Oh my. I seem to have picked up a troll. Pray, troll, tell me more of your wisdom.

  3. Problem is, if the leadership of our party doesn't make an argument in defence of collective bargaining, the right to take industrial action, and to take strike action as a last resort - no one else will.

    And if our leadership does not argue that the last Labour government reformed pensions in the public sector, that Lord Hutton's report for the coalition proves this is the case - no-one else will.

    What strikes me (no pun) about your article is that it avoids the question of power. If Labour and its sister parties internationally have struggled to win and hold office nationally during the past century for more than a few years it's partly because little-l labour has struggled to secure a place within society.

    In our party, we find it difficult to talk about power without getting angry. And no wonder, there's lots at stake.

    I think the difference in perspective is summed up in this exchange between Pascal Lamy (no radical, he) and Peter Mandelson, reported by the late Robin Cook.

    Lamy: Historically, the success of social democracy in the past century
    was to promote a compromise between labour and capital, between the state and the market and between commercial competition and social solidarity. Globalisation has unhinged the balance by taking away all the domestic levers by which we maintained the compromise.

    Mandelson: Globalisation offers all the best the world can offer. We must not sound as if we believe there is a tension between labour and capital, or competition and solidarity.

    Lamy: Yes, but that is what I believe.

  4. Interesting points. Re "collective bargaining, the right to take industrial action, and to take strike action as a last resort", I'd have to say that it seems fairly clear that these are not under any serious threat. Cameron would need an awful lot more mandate (at least a second term without coalition) to get through any radical union reforms. So our defence of them is right, but unnecessary.

    In the sense of little-l labour (sounds like Jamiroquai got there first) struggling to secure a place in society I think, on the contrary, they found a place and then working- class largely became middle-class, changing the nature of the game for the next generation.

    On power, our traditional problem is always the left preferring protest to power, and the centrists always being accused of betrayal for preferring a package that the public can actually engage with. But ultimately, without power we are pointless, as are all political parties.

    The Lamy/Mandy exchange is poignant, because it does, as I think you're implying, highlight the tension at the heart of the modern European left. Problem is, Lamy's world is dying.

    Cf. practically all other European left parties: we are still, despite our multiple current failings, in significantly better shape.


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