Sunday, 1 February 2009

Reactionary Little Shit

Over the last decade, some right-wing Labourites, such as Roy Hattersley, have appeared relatively less right-wing as New Labour moved even further to the Right, and these old Labourites struck up a critical position that was marginally to the left of Blair and Brown. The same cannot be said for Frank Field. He was a reactionary little shit back then, and he appears no different today. He accomplishes the, not very easy task, of being a critic, of Brown's right-wing politics, not from the left, but from the even further right.

Today, on the BBC News, he was spewing forth another particularly vile load of reactionary, nationalist bilge in response to the strike at oil refineries and other facilities around the country. See Oil on Troubled Waters . In part, couching his argument in pseudo radicalism, he argued that the strikes being undertaken now, and the arguments being used, by the strikers, would be echoed in most other European countries. Even were that true, it would not make the arguments being employed any less reactionary. If it is true, then the logic of Field's argument is that we should expect to see, getting on for more than a quarter of a million, British workers abroad in Europe being told to pack their bags and head back to sign on the dole in Britain!!!!

But, Field went on when asked about Brown's notoriously jingoistic comments about "British Jobs for British Workers", to argue that he hoped that that was precisely what Brown meant, whereas Brown and his coterie have been trying to say that all it meant was training British workers to be able to take up an increasing number of skilled jobs that he hoped would become available. He might have meant that, that might be the context of those words, but in an atmosphere of rising nationalism, racism, and hostility to foreign workers, reflected in the growing support of the BNP, Brown must have known, that by using such words, and using them so ambiguously, they would be understood in precisely the way they are being used now.

And, typical of the duplicity of those like Field, who raise these arguments but, who shy away from accepting responsibility for the logical response to them, he tried to say that this should not at all mean any hostility to all those immigrants who have settled in this country. But, how else can anyone take the slogan, "British Jobs for British Workers"? It is bound to be understood by ordinary workers in precisely the way it is being put forward now, and the way that the BNP and other Nazi groups will use it, that is to mean if you weren't born here, you are taking our jobs, so piss off!

This dispute does pose difficult questions. Socialists do not support bosses using cheap labour to undercut Trade Union rates. In so far as any strikes are based on trying to ensure that this company pays Trade Union rates then it is progressive. At the moment, that is not the focus of the strike. Even that argument is one that requires some discussion. As I said in my previous blog on this, if these workers were working at Trade Union rates in Italy producing say shoes, we would not call for boycotts of shops selling those shoes even though Italian union rates might be less than British union rates! That would just be a form of protectionism that led us to line up with our own bosses against foreign workers,and which would make it more difficult for those foreign workers to apply the pressure to raise their wages. In a global labour market the best, the fastest means by which workers in low wage economies can bargain for higher wages is if the demand for that labour rises quickly.

The real answer here is the establishment of European wide Trade Unions, and for the establishment of Europe wide Trade Union rates of pay for different jobs, and for co-ordinated action by unions across Europe for their implementation as well as for common rates and conditions for pensions, and benefits. It requires a closer unity of workers across Europe, and that will mean a closer political unity of Europe itself, because common benefits etc. will require common European fiscal and monetary policies. We need a United States of Europe.

In the short term, the real problem for the workers on strike is not that they need these particular jobs, but that they need jobs in general. I gave some solutions to that in the last blog, but there is another obvious solution, which links to those solutions. Last week Shell announced its profits for last year. Record profits equal to $31 billion. See for example here . Not just Shell, but all the big oil companies, like Total, have made similar huge profits. Although those profits declined at the end of the year, as oil prices fell, they are still massive, and as oil prices rise again they will become even more massive. Out of all those billions providing a few million pounds to enable workers in depressed areas, to provide work for those protesting, who need jobs, would not be missed. Instead of focusing their attention on "British Jobs for British Workers", which necessarily attack our fellow workers from abroad, the strikes should focus on these oil companies and their profits, should demand they hand over some of that profit created by the workers of the world, back to some of those workers in order that they can establish co-operatives producing useful work and products for their local communities.

Workers of the World Unite

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