By Jonathan Isaby
In politics it is always a good thing to know thine enemy. And a political enemy of any right-thinking Conservative is the recently-elected General Secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey.
The latest issue of the Left-wing weekly, Tribune, carries an interview with him and it is well worth reading.
Citing Tony Benn and Michael Foot as his political heroes, he uses the interview in particular to try to articulate what he means by the "alliance of resistance" against the Coalition Government he has previously spoken about:
“It means linking together with community organisations, church organisations, with academics and as well with trade unions, to form that resistance. We are facing the most ideological attack on the social architecture since the welfare state was created 60 years ago. So we have to go through the process first of all in exposing what this Government is intending to do, informing our members of the issues and the alternatives, and mobilising in a way that makes politicians sit up and take notice.
“It’s not just good enough to say that cuts are morally and economically wrong. We have to put forward an alternative, because our members have been drip-fed for over 15 months that there is no alternative. At the last general election, all three main political parties put forward a cuts agenda. We’ve got to demonstrate that when a nation is in debt, there are three ways you can deal with that debt. You can have a tax agenda or you can deal with it through tax and economic growth. It is in the concept of tax and economic growth that we should be projecting in a much sharper fashion. We need to be saying that there is no need for this attack on the welfare state and the fabric of society".
"We must also win the intellectual argument for the economic alternative to the cuts agenda. That’s the task before us in the TUC. This is a watershed moment for the TUC and, as the country’s biggest union, we would want to play a central role in that process.”
“It’s a question of not ruling anything in and not ruling anything out, as far as I’m concerned. We have to raise the consciousness of people. Raising the consciousness of people, exposing what is going to happen will, I believe, tap into the anger that is out there. We need to channel that anger in a way that manifests itself in the most effective way. So I think this is a rolling campaign, raising the consciousness, making certain that the demonstration on March 26 is a huge success, making certain that we play our role in the hundreds of cuts committees that are being formed and seeing where that takes us.
"On co-ordinated industrial action, I wouldn’t rule anything out. From Unite’s point of view, anybody who wants to engage in a fight to save their livelihood and their jobs and conditions will get 100 per cent support from us, from the leadership. The concept of a wider co-ordinated approach is something we will need to look at and judge, along with our sister unions, as the situation unfolds."
He claims that he doesn’t believe "we should indulge in a campaign to bring down the Government" but goes on to suggest that "like any government in history, if there is sufficient mood and anger among the people, and they don’t take heed of that, they will be responsible for their own destruction."
McCluskey also has the nerve to compare his campaign to that of those who brought down the Berlin Wall, saying "when people power is strong, anything can happen".
He also makes clear that he wants a lot of bang for the considerable bucks his union gives to Labour:
"If there are some people in the party who just see us as a cash cow, the dotty aunt and uncle who should be kept in the attic and just brought out to sign cheques, then that’s not going to happen. We want to make certain that our views and beliefs and listened to."