|NCP leader Andy Brooks at the New Worker stall|
By New Worker Correspondent
ONLY 15 per cent of the proposed cuts from the Con-Dem Coalitions have been implemented so far and the labour movement must prepare its strategy to raise the fight against the rest being implemented.
This was the main theme behind debate at the annual conference of the Labour Representation Committee, which filled London’s Conway Hall last Saturday.
John McDonnell MP and chair of the LRC opened the meeting by moving the national committee statement and paid tribute to the campaigning work against the cuts by a number of organisations that the LRC has supported.
These included Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Black Triangle, who have “revitalised the disabled movement” and given inspiration to many others in refusing to accept the cuts and taking the fight to agencies like Atos, which are doing the Government’s dirty work.
McDonnell also praised the Right to Work, Fight Workfare, National Union of Students, the Right to Protest, the pensioners’ Fuel Action, UK Uncut, Occupy and the squatters’ campaigns.
And of course he praised the unions for their role in the fight against the austerity cuts.
He warned of battles to come in this “triple dip recession”: more housing benefit cuts, the bedroom tax; these cuts are creating anger and resentment but these feelings need to be harnessed and resistance mobilised to build confidence.
“There is a lack of confidence that leads to timidity and even cowardice among certain union leaders.
“The LRC is a moral force; we draw a line in the sand and say: ‘This far and no further’. We must set the terms of the struggle. We cannot have Labour representatives implementing the cuts.
“This is a battle between the capitalists and the ruling class and we are not going to pay for their crisis.
“These cuts are decimating our communities and we need to build our campaign against the cuts in the communities.”
He also called for support for the industrial struggle: for jobs wages, pensions and condition and spoke of the need to challenge union bureaucrats who are reluctant to act.
“The motivation is coming from those who have most to lose,” he said a spoke of the battle of cleaners with various employers for a living wage in London that he had been directly involved in supporting. “These workers are the most oppressed but most courageous,” he said.
He ended with references to the international struggle and added: “We are not just fighting for office but for systemic change”.
McDonnell also won a loud cheer when he called for a campaign against the pay-day loan shark companies “with their bullying bailiffs”.
The conference debated a number of resolutions and agreed to organise a coming together of Labour councillors to debate the most effective strategies in combatting the cuts.
There was some heated debate among councillors present – some of whom had refused to vote for cuts and found themselves expelled from the Labour Party for doing so. Others argued that more could be done for the community by staying in office and making initiatives that support and strengthen communities.
There were also calls for more emphatic support for a general strike against the cuts and the only measure that will really shake the Government.
The New Communist Party tabled a motion against landlordism, which called for a campaign to “cap rents, not benefits”. It was passed overwhelmingly – as were most resolutions.
In the afternoon international visitors reported on the struggles against the austerity cuts in France, Germany and Greece and two comrades from Columbia reported on the devastation being wreaked on indigenous communities by imperialist mining companies.
Other major speakers included veteran Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn MP and Fire Brigades Union leader Matt Wrack and the conference concluded with the traditional singing of the Red Flag.