Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stop the Cuts with a General Tea Break

[Update: the protest suggested here works equally well for any other issue, such as dissatisfaction with the tax arrangements in the UK, Trident, &c]

Just to clarify, the GP Conference in Birmingham wasn't all darkness and frustration. 

I went to the fringe on "How can the GP fight the cuts?" called by the GPTU group.

The speaker was Rob Johnson, a West Midlands UNISON Organiser, and a Labour PPC and supporter. He spoke well about the devastation that Gideon is about to unleash, and how we need to form a wide alliance. Inspiring. Any questions?

There followed a series of diatribes against NewLabour from members of the Green Left and others.

So much for solidarity. I used to wonder if I should join Green Left (and if they would allow me) but I don't think I'll bother.

I proposed the idea of a General Tea Break as a form of solidarity-creating direct action against the cuts.

What the Cleggeron is proposing to do to the UK people is truly damaging and ideologically driven.
  • The cuts must be stopped.
  • Petitions and demonstrations, though necessary, are not sufficient.
  • Strikes are unpopular, and damage the economy still more.
  • A General Strike would be effective, but the people are not yet ready for it.  They may be in a year or two, but by that time the damage will be done.
  • Therefore, let us start with a General Tea Break. Here's the plan
Every Monday morning, at 9 am, cuts activists meet up at work at the water cooler or someplace, and talk about the cuts for 5 minutes. That's all. Talk about the cuts for 5 mins. Anyone who comes along "Hello, we are just discussing the cuts. What do you think". 
After 5 mins they get to work. 
As numbers gather, the time slowly extends.
If management comes and says "Why aren't you at your stations?"  the response is "We are talking about the cuts. They are going to wreck this country, do you not agree?We were just going back to our stations, but since you are here, we would like to know what you think? Do you think it will end up with a General Strike?"

Management will get the idea, as soon as they realise it is happening in other companies. They will realise we are tooling up for a General Strike, on the QT. They will have a word with the Treasury, which will have to calculate on the economic costs of a General Strike.

I do not promise that this will stop the cuts in their stride, but it is a useful weapon. The thing is, it is so small (5 minutes, growing) that waverers will be encouraged to join. It could go viral.

Anyway, it was well received by the meeting, two commenter mentioned it, (which is like getting a ReTweet) as did Rob Johnson who actually said he would take it forward.

Once again, creative thinking may be seen as intrinsically wrong by some in the GP policy community, but not by all other groups. 


Teresa said...

I chaired the meeting. The speaker = Rob Johnson, a West Midlands UNISON Organiser, and a Labour PPC and supporter. I and others spoke with him after the meeting and he agreed it had been really good. Labour's record and current attempts to reclaim the left did get some serious stick, and not just by GL members. Politically, is that not pretty mainstream in the party? Similarly, it is possible for someone to argue vociferously for a position and not be in GL, like the young man in the workshop for C12 whom you asked if he was GL (he isn't)! It is possible to work in solidarity against cuts and also argue passionately for Green politics - something all members should work to do within and without the party. I'm looking forward to putting the ideas of the very positive meeting into practice with any and all who wish to be involved.

DocRichard said...

Hello Teresa

Thanks for the info, i have added it to the post.

Yes, I was a bit hasty with the young man, due to adrenaline (a few minutes afterwards, the virus which I had been suppressing with vit c broke free into my blood stream, causing fever, an interesting observation which I would put down to adrenocortical activity arising from the workshop. All the people going down with #gpconf fever can blame me. My bad.)

Yes, they can argue passionately for green politics, but the meeting was about forming an alliance against the cuts. Let's hope we can do something to stop Gideon in his tracks.

Unknown said...

Am I being thick? where is the money to pay for public service of any kind with the national debt being in the state it is in? should we just spend and take the same journey as Greece?

DocRichard said...

Yes, we do have a problem, but Osborne's depressive, (see here )
reaction will make things worse - drive us deeper into recession, reduce the tax take, deepen the deficit, vicious spiral.

Greece's spending was much worse than ours. They used false acounting, and tx avoidance is a national pastime. Despite what Osborne says, Britain is about seventh in line to be attacked by the market sharks - behind such luminaries as Japan and the USA.

By the time they get to us, the world economy will be in ruins anyway.

In which case we will have to rebuild. That is another blogpost - How To Rebuild a Collapsed Economy.