Unions and 'left' politicians backing a national unity project is a bad idea, actually

Not long ago Britain’s large trade unions seemed to be waking up, finally. There was even talk of a general strike. The RMT’s Mick Lynch was making fools of sneering, posh journalists. And strikers were enjoying huge public support.

Yesterday the Queen died in Balmoral. And the impact upon the left’s own ruling class was almost immediate. Union after union cancelled planned strikes. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) cancelled its (literal) congress.

Even left-wing MPs in the Labour Party took to grief-posting about a woman of astonishing inherited wealth:

But one Twitter user captured the tone exceptionally well:


Embarrassing to say the least. At worst, this sudden urge to back what is self-evidently a national unity project could derail or diminish the entire movement. But it also speaks to the deep conservatism of both the Labour Party and the mainstream unions. In truth this is them doing what they do.

And there is more to come. The mourning period will bleed into the Remembrance period and then into December’s World Cup. Three courses of nationalist bread and circus.

It is one thing to adapt comms and strategy to the death of a figure like the Queen. Doubtless there are many people in trade unions whose politics extend to monarchism. And these decisions might well keep the press off your back. But to simply pause the struggle in a period of resurgence seems like capitulation.

And let’s be clear, capitalists certainly won’t be taking a break for the coronation. And it’s not a truce if only one side holds fire.


Some people have correctly pointed out that the activities which have been cancelled are those which benefit workers. Football, for example, as well as strikes. Work, of course, will continue.

Strikes, one Twitter user pointed out, are not meant to be exercises in deference to unelected power. They are by nature subversive:

Some found a degree of humour in the decision:

Class war

The weird outpourings and the decisions to stop industrial action – even as the October energy price hike draws near – are instructive. The mainstream unions and Labour politicians are part of the system. They have good spells, but they startle easily. Workers should never lose sight of these limitations.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Dan Marsh, cropped to 770 x 403, licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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