I’d really like you to read this. It is Naomi Klein gently broaching what I am about to tackle with you, in her speech to the new Canadian super union.
Your behaviour the other day was unacceptable, but the demonstration of it was useful. I thank you for the interaction, especially as we have reached a turning point where austerity reaches it’s political limits. I believe the use of social media by unions, was built on the back of claims of wishing to oppose austerity before you all worked entirely to shut up anyone who understood it when discussion threatened the culture preserved around the TUC and Labour Party. You initially pretended you wished to be part of a wider debate which is how you ended up on my facebook.
You posted on facebook, that you were heading to the TUC to ask for ‘United Action Against Cuts’. I responded by explaining that ‘cuts’ was a facile term for a very clear economic and social policy transformation program that was now more than three years old, a mere continuation of a direction of travel that has been unchallenged for over 30 years. It had been delivered by an archaic simplistic and obsolete tribal political media debate that stunned and excluded most of us. Austerity has never been about simple ‘cuts’, wherever it has been used, and here we imposed it on ourselves without being forced to.
That the few people who had not been able to articulate their understanding of this pattern, could now do so, and that debate had moved a long way since we accepted Labour’s parameters for discussing what was happening to us. With the internet we don’t need you to have that debate. We are a generation whose lives were shaped by the privatisation, deregulation and exploitation of crisis and our political educations were in global politics. The No Logo generation. We didn’t join cults like the socialist party and the SWP because anyone with half a brain could see they existed as an electric fence to discredit real discussion about society and the economy. Besides we have social skills and the toxicity of those cultures was a cautionary tale to educate us about our past.
I believe I pointed out that trade union inactivity caused by the TUC’s umbilical link to the Labour Party had been damaging, given EVERY major TUC event leveraged on the back of austerity has been used entirely to give Labour an opportunity to score a political point this shouldn’t have been a surprise. That it had become apparent since the People’s Assembly had been used to marginalise unemployed and disabled activists and provide political collateral for McCluskey and Jones, a week after McCluskey et al confirmed that Labour’s identical version of austerity was their preferred line, even after the poorest people in the country had been defrauded and disenfrachised by Unite’s community membership scheme, that there were serious problems in our old Labour movement culture. Problems we all assumed had been dealt with in the eighties. That the TUC had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to make sure the austerity you exploited, which we felt as our daily lives, went unchallenged. And you planned on spending hundreds and thousands more on massaging your own egos and giving old lefties days out.
We saw the list of so called Working Class Candidates Len McCluskey fraudulently sold as bringing life to democracy, we watched the deals being done over Falkirk(evidence of wrongdoing withdrawn is not the same as vindicated). Watching a zombie Trade Union culture sell austerity and package us as the ‘poor’, using your own sexist and racist constructions of who we are, so we could be hit under facile soundbites about greedy bankers and mean tories, had educated us. Watching you cheer each other on, and bare your teeth to any threat to your echochamber, had moved debate forward. I was trying to be helpful alerting you to this.
I advised you that you may be wise to warn the TUC that people now see the Unions as a problematic political culture that needs deconstructing so we can start to address what has happened. A blockage in democracy that directly disenfranchises us. I may have mentioned the cost of Dave Prentis and Unison declaring that austerity was fine if it focused on Unison members. The cost being social care, adult services, childrens services, local democracy, the expansion of serco and G4S, the rolling back of equality for working class women and a vast body of professional knowledge drowned out by the narcissism of small lefty difference, I don’t believe I went into the reality of the suffering this has caused, or mentioned how people pay for your lefty bullshit. Having sat with a drunk union bureaucrat laughing about how everyone knew the problem with Unison but it didn’t matter because it was low paid women, and having spent hours on the phone hearing other unions explain that this was perfectly acceptable because solidarity….I know this is a problem you are aware of.
I don’t know if you are aware how few PCS members subscribe to the nostalgic woundlicking eighties fetish community preserved at the top of the Union tree, never mind understand their dues and their collective voice are used to maintain that. As a member of the socialist party, I understand why this would not be something you wanted to acknowledge. I know that when I was a PCS member, we by necessity understood the trajectory of welfare reform, the impact on the economy and people, and have watched the financialisation of our benefits system, and delivered it. Very few are PCS members because they are a member of a fictional left maintained in an obsolete and toxic echochamber behind closed doors. The unemployed you claim to speak for are often sanctioned by PCS members. Your facile lefty rhetoric exists solely to drown out the nuance of what they understand while they are hit and prevents questioning about the effect on the economy of having no functioning means of collective bargaining. When you ask Ed Miliband if he opposes ‘the cuts’, you already knew the answer because what just happened was merely an escalation of what PCS member have been delivering since 1997 under Labour and the Tories. To ask that question demonstrated you are not fit to represent those people.
You sell them out while they are being coerced into doing the inhumane and while they face being attacked for the effects of these policies. You sell out the millions of people they serve and you remove all chance of a democratic voice for any of them. Because you are afraid they know more than you, and they do.
As Naomi Klein points out, most of us are more than familiar with the pattern of privatisation, deregulation and exploitation of crisis because of our lives. We avoided the socialist party and SWP cults because we have fully formed political consciousnesses based in reality not labour movement fiction. That the money we paid to unions was used to preserve that dogma, has been a shock to many of us.
You may not know how nasty the misogynist, racist hard left attack dogs are, but I can tell you, the silly wee hard left boys willing to swarm and attack have teeth. And they especially like baring them at women, but then you’ve been around long enough to know that. You surely know, with master press managers like Serwotka and Simcox, that your presence in media debate is quite important, what I don’t think you understand is that the internet exposed your culture as well as exposing the impact of you misusing the platform you occupy to facilitate tribal obsolete debate. Time has passed since austerity began. and that time has been a learning experience even if you are still stuck on the same record you played in 2010.
When you respond to a perfectly valid critique of the effect of your culture on us, with a reflex smear, lying about what was said to you, you show you cannot function in a wider debate and will bite to protect your self image, and bite those who pay for it. The abusive behaviour demonstrated was called gaslighting, it is regularly used by your colleagues and is the cultural trademark of the left half of our narcissistic political culture. Owen Jones and Sunny Hundal excel at this. It’s how you maintain the echochamber that is blocking up political debate so we can be hammered.
IF I could refer back to the Naomi Klein speech We are not in a rerun of the seventies and eighties. I mentioned that the creation of a welfare dependent workforce effectively made Trade Unions obsolete, government can now tinker direct with the labour market using our benefits system. That is a fact. Your new reality. As we all face the rubble of neo liberalism, we need to critique the political structures that delivered it and prevented challenge, and that means critiquing the so called trade union movement and the self identifying tribe of ‘the left’ as well as ‘the right’. This, while globally, a new union movement appears, formed from grassroots and not wasting time with archaic lefty nonsense.
The working class did not sit around waiting for a left wing culture who became a cautionary tale, we got on with it. The absence of any organisation fulfilling the role of a collective voice of the labour market means we live in a country with 5.5million zero hours contracts, while union rhetoric prepares to treat these people as scabs who undermine the fixed but diminishing workforce. The deskilling which started at the DWP in 1997, has spread everywhere. The cumulation of the flaws of the post war settlement, including the trade unions and Beveridge’s destructive system are at the root of the mess we now have to clean up. We have to do this while waiting for the final crisis which will push us to the debate that will allow this.
The expansion of welfare has suppressed wages to the point where our economy is in deep trouble. Those the labour movement despise, the women, the carers, the unemployed, are still lined up to take the pain and your indifference means the economic problems developing under that demonisation are undiscussed. The expansion of welfare relied on the indifference and blindness of your union culture and as a result our economy is buggered and you have no purpose. People paid for this in horrible ways.
Social Attitudes surveys show that the government can no longer sell the demonisation of benefit claimants, and we need to have a grown up conversation about what is happening. The UN have spoken up about the effect of the spare room subsidy on people in the UK.
The conversation that now needs to happen includes right, left, and the majority outside that. It involves analysing intersecting inequality, examination of the intersection between social policy, politics, the economy and society. It doesn’t involve union fantasies of a working class who are white, male and never were. You don’t have the insight or reflective ability to take part in that conversation if that is how you responded to me. If you read Naomi Klein, she talks about old trade union structures respecting that they need to start listening. I think she is talking about the bullying behaviour that you demonstrated. My daughter is only seven and she knows sticking her fingers in her ears does not make things go away.
Naomi Klein talks about building out of the rubble of neo liberalism, and that is what many of us now face and are doing. With our communities, our families, our friends, with others who share our problem, and with new media tools. Three years of your noxious trade union bullshit preceding the disintegration of the trade union link with Labour and the exposure of the rot at the heart of your culture is part of that. The debate that your facile lefty nonsense drowned out is more important than your self image and requires the participation of many perspectives. Perspectives who come together to share knowledge and build understanding. When you suggest that only organisations you recognise may participate, you show yourself as unable to contribute.
As shock doctrine undoes itself, with each shock consolidating lifetimes of personal economic, political and social policy history, I would suggest if you want to be part of the debate, you decide what you want. If you want to behave like that as your organisation becomes irrelevant that is ok. We don’t need you and you failed. We do need to address your failure and the consequences.
PS My language was mild given the anger that exists towards your culture and the seriousness of the consequences of you failure. You may have t get used to hearing swearing if you continue to behave as you do. Do not confuse being useless with having no effect. The above is a paraphrasing of what I was trying to get across to you.