Rallying, electioneering, and striking

[Monday]

Yes, rallying. That’s what the stock markets are doing, we are told. Don’t panic.

But all is not well. Employers are not looking to increase employment, which is a sure sign that the internal British economy doesn’t look stable from the bosses’ perspective, either.

Note that Brown’s response to the crisis was less than ebullient:

I think that the important message to be sent is we have done everything in our power to maintain the stability of the British economy.

So there’s no casue for celebration, the crisis isn’t over.

For exegises of the current events and the background to the “credit crunch”, check out these articles: Worldwide market panic compels central banks to intervene
by Patrick Martin from the World Socialist Web Site, Financial crisis rocks stock markets by Keith H from Permanent Revolution, and BANKERS PANIC! – It’s the survival of the fittest as bankers call in debts from The News Line.

Will Brown call an election any time soon? If the polls are to be believed, New Labour would win easily, and there’s no sign of Dangerous Dave to capitalise on the market volatility. (I thought he would have made something more of the credit crunch, like a photogenic trip to visit evictees in the US? Maybe that’s a photo opertunity too far…)

A capitalist New Labour supporter, Swraj Paul, has offered to pay off the party’s debts if Brown calls a spring election, reports Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News:

Lord Paul is Gordon Brown’s biggest donor. The party hasn’t yet asked him to fund an election – snap or otherwise – but he told Channel 4 News he’s ready to dig deep. Which is just as well, since Labour reported debts of £24m at the end of last year.

There are signs that Brown was planning on a general election this year: the Guardian has calculated that he has already spent £39bn since becoming Prime Minister. This figure was reached by costing the forty oral and verbal announcements he has made since July. The “bounce” doesn’t last even if you spend billions on creating it, and as Newman notes:

The polls tell a tale of two leaders; David Cameron put the Conservatives out in front when he became Tory leader in December 2005 and the Conservatives didn’t really look back until June this year when Gordon Brown became Labour leader. Now his party is on the up and up; but pollsters say don’t count on it yet.

Jim Callaghan was the last Labour prime minister to take office midway through a parliamentary term. He could have called an election in the Autumn of 1978. He bottled it and a year later lost to Margaret Thatcher.

Gordon Brown is too cautious to gamble all on an election he risks losing, but he’s mindful enough of the lessons of history to avoid outstaying his welcome.He’s already planning for an election, appointing a cabinet minister to co-ordinate a campaign, and a businessman to work on party finances, membership and organisation.

On the postal dispute, the CWU called off Friday’s strikes and when the Executive have entered secret talks with Roybal Mail. Not a good turn of events; the leadership will be eager to end the dispute.

On Monday, CWU workers in Crown Post Offices walked out in a separate dispute over the privatisation of services.

The PSC’s leader Mark Serwotka has called for joint action with the CWU, but as yet there is no organisational co-ordination between public sector unions to defeat the government’s neoliberal policies…

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