For a one day general strike

Paul Holborough

The following is a transcript of part of the discussion at the RMT conference on working class political representation. Paul Holborough is a leading member of the Socialist Workers Party. You can read our account of the conference here


Comrades, the decision of the RMT to call this meeting today is a very important initiative and I was particularly stuck when Bob Crow mentioned the need to build united shop stewards movements.

Im old enough to remember and I am reminded of the brilliant shop stewards organisation, the liaison committee for the defence of trade unions, and when in 1970 the liaison committee called an unofficial strike against the industrial relations act of nearly 600,000 people. Which then kicked off the campaign which led to the ignominious defeat of the industrial relations act and the defeat of the Tory government.

Comrades, I believe that that is the sort of model and that is the sort of organisation that embodies the desperate desire for unity that exists in our class today. Whether it on the issue of pensions would it not be the case the trade union leaders, like Bob and others lead the way and call for a one day general strike the response to that would be utterly overwhelming.

I believe that in the spirit of unity one of the messages coming out of this conference is that it is not just pensions and not just privatisation it is the all important date of March the 18th the national demonstration against the third anniversary of the war and I believe that we have to represent those people, those millions of people,  that feel shut out of the political system and therefore speaking as a member of Respect I put it to you that on May the 4th we already have in place a number of candidates up and down the country that will be campaigning on that issue.

I respect the views of others in this room that believe that respect is not the way forward but comrades I would put it to you that the ship has already left the port and it seems to me that whatever the shenanigans inside Big Brother [hubbub] the demands and the social content, they would be wise to vote respect against the war, against privatisation, in support of the trade unions.

Those demands are as relevant today as before the Big Brother programme started and therefore I would ask for all of your support, whatever your views, to ensure that the maximum number of Respect and left wing candidates are elected on the fourth of May




Jan 2006

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