Part six. The Tories are pushing full steam ahead with many of New Labour's least popular policies. Now it's time to fight back, explains Dave Semple.
[This is a guest post]
Prior to the election, I wrote a piece asking people to support TUSC - the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. In the immediate aftermath of the election, like so many others, I was buoyed by what seemed a shocking victory by Labour - yes the vote had been slashed and the parliamentary majority had been lost, with Labour dropping to second-party status but it didn't quite feel like a defeat.
Despite my previous resignation of Labour membership, despite the constant barrage of attacks by the tabloids and despite Lib-Dem pre-game triumphalism about a drop to third place, Labour defied expectations and I was euphoric. This was supplemented by the electoral annihilation of the BNP across Barking and Dagenham and other areas, whatever our rational selves were saying about the unsustainability of such a rout.
Yet that initial euphoria has since given way, as it would have had Labour stayed in government. Thousands of us watched David Cameron's journey to Buckingham Palace, dejectedly staring at our screens while the Prime Minister to be went inside, and was saluted by the Palace guards as he came out. We felt bitter and angry, for despite everything, led on by Left Lib-Dems, we'd hoped for a Lib-Lab pact.
However unrealistic, these were the hopes of a million people around the country. However much we knew in our hearts that the Libs and Labour would immediately set to writing their own 'austerity' package, something inside us rebelled at the idea of a Conservative government. And the last two months have proved that our hope was the correct one - as the swingeing cuts and millions of projected job losses testify.
The one positive aspect to the situation is a resolute hardening of attitudes against the Liberal Democrats. People who might once have considered voting or even joining them have been pushed away by the Lib-Dem decision to go into government with the Conservatives. The phrase 'the Left', after so many embarrassing urgings to vote Lib-Dem by various bloggers and pundits, can now refer only to a backbench rump in Labour, and the socialists.
What's the next step? We already know that the Tories are pushing full steam ahead with many of New Labour's least popular policies. Except they're going further. So the part-privatisation of Royal Mail is now wholesale privatisation of Royal Mail. The public sector is going to haemorrhage jobs - against which dubious OBR predictions, of economic growth to pick up the slack, will not count for much. Communities and workers are in for a battering.
So the fightback must begin. This week Bob Crow, leader of the Railway, Maritime and Transport union called for a General Strike. The distance between where we are now and the actualisation of such a demand is incalculable. We have the institutional conservatism and bureaucracies of the unions to overcome, we've got some sort of mass political organisation to forge (or reforge, in deference to the Left still in Labour) and we've got millions to mobilise.
All very pie-in-the-sky you might say, and you'd be absolutely right. But the alternative is ensconcing ourselves in comfy armchairs to watch as Labour's 'leadership' attempt the obscene tactic of outmanoeuvering the Tories from the Right.
We must realise that the only thing which will stop the government and its partners in Europe dragging our countries to the right by further destroying the unions and communities through increased casualisation of labour and decreased redistribution of wealth is the solid kick in the groin that simply standing up and refusing to go along with it delivers. So, all out, all out. Or else the next stop, after another 18 years of Thatcherism, is New Labour Mark II.
Dave Semple blogs at Though Cowards Flinch.