Barber-ed retorts

Apologies for the excruciating pun, there.

A little bit of comparing and contrasting.

Tom Mellen in The Morning Star, writes:

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber called for a national debate on inequality on Friday after warning that Britain has a growing group of “soar-away super-rich” who are cut off from the rest of society.

Mr Barber also warned that “simmering resentment” among millions of public-sector workers over pay could cause clashes with the government.

In his New Year message, he called for more help for workers at the bottom of the heap and faster progress on the government’s pledge to end child poverty as well as making workplaces fairer.

Mr Barber observed that “simply closing the non-domiciled loophole would raise enough to halve child poverty.

“No-one particularly enjoys paying tax, but it is the price tag for a civilised society and it’s about time that we had a proper debate about whether those who can afford it are paying their fair share,” he declared.

Mr Barber pointed out that, “if the super-rich and big companies are not paying their fair share, it means that the rest of us, including small and medium-sized businesses, are paying too much, that public services are not getting the growth they need and that we do not have the resources to end child poverty.”

He insisted that vulnerable workers should have their rights properly enforced, while “abuse and exploitation” of agency staff should end.

Mr Barber attacked the government for planning to limit pay rises in the public sector to 2 per cent a year over the next three years, noting that “the arguments for doing this do not stack up and the risks are big.

“It does not just threaten the recruitment, retention and morale of public servants but will damage an industrial relations system that has minimised conflict in the public sector,” he predicted.

Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths applauded Mr Barber for “identifying the problem,” but he wondered: “What is the point of further debate?”

Mr Griffiths observed that, according to the office for National Statistics, “500 of Britain’s 700 biggest companes pay little or no tax on their enormous profits and the richest 10 per cent own three-quarters of the country’s wealth.

“We need a wealth tax on the super-rich and a windfall tax on banking and oil super-profits,” he insisted.

So, a gentle response from the CPB.

Now, here’s The News Line‘s editorial, titled “Barber’s two ‘big worries’, the crisis of capitalism and workers’ anger!“, pulls no punches:

BRENDAN Barber the TUC general secretary in his New Year message confesses that he has two ‘big worries’ for the year 2008.

He said ‘2008 may be a rocky year. After a decade of steady economic growth and stability, prospects for the economy are distinctly uncertain. The full effects of the credit crunch triggered by irresponsible lending in the USA sub-prime mortgage market have yet to work their way through the economic system. Northern Rock has already been taken in its wake.’

The implication is that Northern Rock is only the first to go.

After years of denying that there was such a thing as a crisis of the capitalist system, he is now at a complete loss about what to do about it when it stares him in the face. He certainly does not propose a socialist alternative. He does not mention the word ‘socialism’ in his entire New Year message.

All he can write is a plea for more regulation: ‘For many years we have been told that over-regulation and red tape are the biggest barrier to economic growth. Yet the biggest threat to the world economy has come from a failure to regulate the US mortgage market, and its biggest victim here flows from a regulatory failure in UK banking system oversight.’

He actually thinks that the crisis of capitalism is a product of a lack of government inspectors!

Inspectors cannot prevent or resolve the crisis of capitalism. The only way to do this is to expropriate the capitalists and the bankers. That means nationalisation and the advent of a socialist planned economy, with workers management of industry. But this is anathema to Brendan Barber.

He continues that ‘My other big worry is the simmering resentment across the public sector at government pay policy. Public servants have already suffered a cut in their living standards this year.

But the government is planning a further three years of reduced living standards.’

Note, his worry is not about the government policy, but the response of the working class to it!

His answer is not to take on the government and smash the policy, but to plead for ‘more help for those at the bottom . . . We now have a growing group of the soar-away super-rich. . . . This is why I hope that in the year ahead we can have a proper debate about tax. We need a campaign for fair tax.’

It is the old bankrupt Kinnock battle cry of tax the rich, to try and prevent the massive anger in the working class over Brown’s wage cutting policies exploding into mass strikes and revolution. It is a cowardly evasion of the issues involved.

In fact, the bosses, are being driven by the developing crisis to attack the jobs, wages, and working conditions of the working class. Far from taxing the rich they are everywhere increasing the taxation of the poor.

The job of the TUC is to provide leadership in this struggle to the working class to defeat the bosses and the bosses Brown government to go forward to a workers government and socialism. Barber has no intention of providing such leadership.

He showed where he stood on this issue when he sold out the sacked Gate Gourmet workers, alongside their union leader Woodley.

Now both face a much bigger struggle on the UK’s airports where BAA workers are due to take strike action to defend their pensions, and the BAA bosses are preparing to bring in replacement workers and to sack the strikers, in another Wapping.

Barber and leaders like Woodley and Brendan Gold have no answer to this bosses attack except to equivocate, preliminary to capitulating.

The TUC must tell the BAA bosses that the introduction of replacement workers will be met by the TUC calling a general strike to defeat the BAA and the Brown government that is supporting the bosses.

Barber and Woodley are incapable of leading this struggle, where socialist policies and the struggle for socialism are vital. They must be forced to resign and be replaced by real leaders at once.

Chance, as they say, would be a fine thing…

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