Delegates to the TUC Congress must oppose the GMB’s motion egging on the Tory government to continue and increase the supply of “moral, material, and military aid” to Ukraine. The NATO powers are flooding Ukraine with weapons not to defend it against “fascist and imperialist aggression” as the GMB motion claims, but to stick it to Russia and assert the “right” of the US to call the shots in Eastern Europe and indeed the whole world. This is what the GMB leaders want the TUC to endorse.
The working class must oppose any support to Ukraine — or Russia — in this war. A victory of either side will only mean enslavement of Ukraine to either the NATO imperialists or the Russian oligarchs. The only way out of this carnival of reaction is for the Ukrainian and Russian workers to unite against their respective rulers and kick NATO out.
The involvement of British imperialism has never done any good anywhere. Together with the US, Britain’s rulers stoked the fires of war by extending NATO to Russia’s border, and their policies since Russia’s invasion have only fuelled the current bloodbath. So, the GMB is right that workers should fight imperialism. Except that the imperialists are not in Moscow, but in Washington and in Number 10!
The British workers movement cannot strengthen its position at home unless it unconditionally opposes the machinations of the British bosses here and abroad. British capitalism has been on the decline for over a century, leaving the capitalists with little choice. The only way they can stay afloat is to turn the screw on the working class, driving down its standard of living while playing the role of the most loyal defenders of the US-dominated world order, on which their position rests. Thatcher waged war on Argentina before crushing the miners. Blair carried out privatisations and attacked unions while bleeding Iraq. Those union leaders who support the British imperialist policy in Ukraine are traitors leading the working class to defeat.
And this gets to the fundamental problem with the recent strike wave, which will be amply discussed during the TUC Congress. Let’s be clear: what you won’t hear at the Congress is that the strike wave was defeated and betrayed by the strategy of the union leaders. At every step, they sabotaged the movement and refused to organise a real showdown against the Tories and really turn this country around precisely because of their support to British capitalism. The push for support to Ukraine (and British imperialism) is cut out of the same cloth.
This is true not only for the right wing, but also for left-wing trade union leaders (in the RMT, NEU, etc). They claim to be for “socialism” and against British imperialism in words, but led the strikes to below-inflation pay deals, ie cuts, with exactly the same demoralising methods and strategy as GMB leader Gary Smith.
Now, these “lefts” are leading the charge against the GMB’s warmongering behind the Stop the War Coalition (StWC). It advocates that the TUC “take a stand for peace”, that is, that the Tories broker “peace talks, ideally preceded by a ceasefire” (Andrew Murray, Morning Star, 9 August). The only reason the British and US imperialists would broker a peace deal is if it would serve their predatory interests, which, in turn, would only sow the seeds for the next war.
The StWC strategy not only does nothing to bring lasting peace in the region, it also disorganises and sabotages the building of a real working-class pole against British imperialism. Furthermore, for all their talk against war, these left Labourites have no problem maintaining unity with the warmongers, in the name of the “broad church”. Warmonger and NATO lackey MP John McDonnell is a featured speaker at several TUC fringe meetings advocating “socialist policies” and “fighting unions”. Unite’s Sharon Graham, who supports imperialist sanctions on Russia, is lauded by the left as a great union “militant”. Basic political hygiene in the workers movement requires drawing a hard line against such open supporters of imperialism. But this goes against the very DNA of Labourite pacifists.
The open supporters of imperialism in the workers movement cannot be defeated with pacifist flowers. What is needed is a programme of class struggle against British imperialism, part of a broader strategy to win the class war. But this is precisely what all union bureaucrats — left and right — rejected during the strike wave, and what they still reject at the TUC Congress, whether they openly support British imperialism, or beg it to broker a peace deal.
If there is one thing socialists must get from this Congress, both from the debate on Ukraine and the lessons of the strike wave, it is that the revival of the British workers movement requires the forging of a new, truly socialist leadership of the trade unions. To advance this aim, we urge all working-class fighters to demand that the TUC stands:
- For workers actions against arms shipments to Ukraine!
- Russian, Ukrainian workers: Turn your guns against your own rulers!
- The main enemy of British workers is at home — the British imperialists!