If the write-up in the Financial Times is anything to go by, yesterday’s co-ordinated fightback was a success. Quoth the FT:
A wave of industrial action hit the UK on Thursday, closing or disrupting a third of all schools in England and Wales as the first national teachers’ strike for more than 20 years coincided with stoppages by street cleaners, college lecturers and the coastguard.
The Socialist Worker gets to the heart of the dispute:
The issue of pay has united workers from several trade unions to fight back together. But pay is just one factor fuelling growing anger across the country.
The strike takes place as the government is in disarray, after its attacks on working class people have produced a level of anger that means today is the biggest blow yet to the attempt by Gordon Brown impose below inflation pay on millions of public sector workers.
As John McDonnell says, the Brown administration is in a position of weakness:
It is becoming increasingly clear that this Government is close to a political tipping point. New Labour continues to alienate section after section of our support and the political situation is now perilously close to being irretrievable. By turning on its own movement and supporters New Labour is handing government over to the Tories.
McDonnell and the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs are usually alone in opposing New Labour, but the threat of losing office has given the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party a shock, and more are willing to resist New Labour’s unpopular policies.
If Labour does badly in the local elections next week, there could be a crisis within the Westminster party. Already bruised by the doubling of taxes on low-paid workers, the leadership be forced to give up on plans to introduce 42 day pre-charge detention for terror suspects, something which is entirely counter-productive to combatting terrorism.
The crisis would be as much within the New Labour clique as the wider party – the possibility exists that those who were loyal to Blair during his tenure as Prime Minister will field a candidate against Brown in a leadership contest.
In which case, would the socialist and social democractic factions of Labour be able to overcome their differences and field a pro-worker candidate?