The wildcat sacking of 900 staff at the Lindsey oil refinery shows that the neoliberal counter-revolution is in full swing.
There will no doubt be many among the Counter-Revolution's Bought Priesthood who will say that this is a Good Thing - those who have built careers by fostering hatred of organised labour. They will be delighted that this has happened at Lindsey, the place where their Counter-Revolution was faced down earlier this year. There is nothing that the powerful, any particular group of the powerful, hate more avidly and fear more deeply than the organisation of those who would stand in their way.
That was the motivation behind the crushing of the Warsaw Ghetto, the crushing of the Prague Spring and the crushing of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. The UK has seen the same crushing, albeit in a very British, for which read half-assed, pantywaisted, fair trade, and crush-lite, kind of way - the crushing of union power under Margaret Thatcher.
One wishes Baroness Thatcher a speedy recovery from her recent injury - yet one does not wish to see her absolved by history for a rule characterised by her party's active desire to separate citizen from citizen. A close relative recently attended the dinner held in Glasgow to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her accession to power. Their description of it was evocative of a scene in a movie in which members of a former ruling party, long out of power and still unpopular, got together to chew the fat and have a knees-up.
The movie? 'The Boys from Brazil'.
The Thatcher government was not forward-looking, but incredibly regressive. In her excellent book 'A Very British Strike', concerning the General Strike of 1926, Anne Perkins quotes from a book written by an Establishment shithead called Sir Philip Gibbs in 1923. Gibbs's case was that the spirit of national unity fostered by the Great War had all been well and good, but times had moved on, and it was time to get back to business; as Gibbs put it -
'Back to cheap labour. Back to discipline'.
Those who make such remarks of course believe that they discipline, they are not disciplined; and in the same way as the apparently quite bloodthirsty Winston Churchill would have been keen to inflict violence on anyone he perceived to be threatening his constituency's interests, there would have been those in the Conservative leadership c. 1984 who would not have been happy until striking miners had been shown receiving the coup de grace in the back of the head on The Nine O' Clock News.
If people are free, they are free to organise in groups. Any attempt to restrict what the rights of groups can do is an assault on fundamental freedoms. The union reforms passed by Thatcher, and unchanged by Tony Blair, were such assaults on fundamental freedoms- pure Friedmanism, economic liberty (a term which should by now be synonymous with pillage) deemed to be of vastly greater importance than political liberty.
On Question Time last night, it was stated that British Airways has asked staff to work without wages for a month. Staff who might be affected should remember the General Strike's slogan - 'Not a minute on the day, not a penny off the pay'. Having been treated as little more than liabilities and costs for so long, they should have little reason to co-operate with any plan that now treats them as assets.
And if BA seeks to solve the problem by ditching refuseniks in the hope that Poland's still got an unemployment problem, I wouldn't bank on it staying in business for long. Do such companies actually think they have a right to stay in business? It's a tough world out there, don't you know...