Anyone can stand about waving placards and acting tough in front of a handful of people. Anyone can shout, anyone can be the big shot when protected by a line of police. That’s easy. Been there, done that. It makes you feel good, but what has actually been achieved by trading insults with fellow working class people?
Whilst we must never, ever be complacent regarding fascism we must be clear; there will always be a hard core of unreachables on the far right who are full of self loathing and take it out on others. Nick Griffin springs to mind. But we are no where near the 1936 Battle of Cable Street situation where the working class had to come our en masse to see off a 3,000 mob led by Oswald Mosley as they attempted to intimidate Jews, Irish and trade unionists in the East End of London. If that time comes, then it will be the fault of the left and if it comes down to it we will have to mobilise. But it should not, and will not come to that if we do what we should be doing.
The Labour Party nationally, and through the actions of Hull City Council where cuts were implemented with no resistance and no campaigning from the majority of the Labour Group let the working class down. We heard the mantra of Pickles coming up in his limo to take control of the Council. This would never have happened if the Labour Party nationally had backed Labour Councils to organise a mass campaign. Even if they had be forced to toe the line, at least the people who they were meant to represent would have feeling that there had be some effort made, there was a sense of fight. Instead we heard the frankly offensive and mendacious sound bite which chilled so many people to the bone; “Compassionate cuts”
We saw a mass roll over and this is what can, if unchecked fuel the extremists. They can ask; “Where were the Labour Party when you needed them?” The answer could well be for the majority of Labour councillors, “Working our butts of for our constituents at the Guildhall”. Fair enough, but this isn’t what the public see and hear.
Where the councillors got out, held public meetings and asked what the people wanted, the answer was overwhelming. They want a Labour Party that will stand up to this Cabinet of Millionaires and desperados in London. They want to see and hear their leaders speaking out in public, at meetings and rallies, and in the media. That way the national Party will be forced to listen.
Bottom up pressure will make the Front Bench act. We did it with the initial Bedroom Tax protests where those hard working councillors and MP’s in Hull felt supported and vindicated by the turnout. Liam Byrne came to Hull to launch the fightback. Why? Because of the determination of the Labour Group to defend their communities, and the outpouring of grassroots defiance from the people of Hull. It was the Labour Party at its best, and should be a template going forward.
We need to pressure Ed Balls to reverse the Tory cuts. We need to campaign to prove the deficit is a lie, and austerity is a tool to destroy the living standards and aspirations of the working class. It is a tool to make us grateful for what we have, and to blame fellow workers for what is going on. All themes from “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” written a hundred years ago.
Campaigning, and graft are the way forward. Leafleting when it’s freezing cold, doing street stalls in the rain, organising petitions. That’s what will see off the EDL and persuade those workers who are hurting that there is an answer and it’s name is Socialism.
Let’s be clear. Anyone who came out in good faith today, good luck to you. But it’s the day to day to day grind that counts. We can and must make a difference because this few years is a watershed and a chance for us to make the case for what we believe in. The fascists have nothing to offer, but only if we prove this to be true.