|Year 2005 No. 50, April 18, 2005||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBBOOKS||SUBSCRIBE|
MG Rover Collapse An Election Issue:
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MG Rover Collapse An Election Issue:
The appointment of receivers for MG Rover is the ultimate stage of the legalised theft of the surplus social product produced by the Longbridge workers.
Whether nationalised or privatised, car production at Longbridge over the past 100 years has seen the workers producing cars in good faith, while others have played fast and loose with the wealth they have created. Whether their fate has been decided in Germany, Shanghai or even in Westminster, the workers interests have been left out of account. And not just the workers interests, but the concerns of the regional economy and the national economy have not been considerations. Instead of these legitimate concerns being addressed, especially in the last period since BL was again privatised, the issue has been the right of the monopolies to compete in the global market. It has now become clear that when the government backed a rescue package for the Phoenix Consortium, the Towers 4 saw the opportunity to enrich themselves at the expense not only of the workers but of the needs of the economy. The government, at the very best, sat back and did nothing. At worst it has been culpable in deliberately presiding over the wrecking of the manufacturing industry in the West Midlands, just as it has been happy to do with all other manufacturing sectors. Its justification has been the importance of the knowledge-based economy, the need to compete in the global market and so on.
Summing up the experience of the Longbridge workers, it can be seen that the issue is that they have had no say in deciding their own fate. It is this which has to change. They have been promised so much, they have had to fight for their interests continually. Now they have to sum up that they must participate in building an organised resistance to the anti-social, anti-worker offensive of the monopolies, and give rise to their own spokespeople. In this respect, they have to work to build an organised force that is going to end the rule of the big parties who are together pushing the anti-worker, anti-social offensive, and select their own worker politicians who will represent this organised force.
One of the planks of New Labour in this election campaign has been that the government has built up a strong economy. Clearly it has to be asked: under what definition is an economy under which so many are being thrown out of work, and with an escalating knock-on effect, strong? If an economy cannot produce for the good of its own workforce, and provide for the vulnerable, if it is at the whim of the monopolies or decisions made half-way across the globe, then to call it strong is simply playing with words. But this is the nature of the aim set of competing in the global market. It is not acceptable! The social product which the workers produce must be under their control, and the people be placed in the position of being able to decide on the direction of the economy and the disposal of this social product.
All the big parties, together with the bourgeois media, and with the compliance of the trade union leaders, have adopted the outlook of the collapse of Longbridge being like a natural disaster, out of anyones control, which called for the suspension of electioneering out of respect for the afflicted. If this were the case, why do the working people need a government which calls on the labour movement to put their faith in it and then can do nothing to resolve the problems of the economy in their favour? This is of a piece with Tony Blair saying that of course the government can do nothing to change the difficulties of modern life.
The demand of the workers is for an alternative to this absurd, anti-worker and anti-social approach to the issues of the economy, and the bowing down to all the demands of the monopolies and their rich parasitic executives and financial institutions, together with their outdated dogmas and immoral practices. This alternative is one that serves both the producers of the wealth and the public good as a whole. The very idea that workers should be cast on the scrapheap with barely a penny, no pension and with no more than a chance possibility of a livelihood, while devastation faces an important region of the country, must be challenged head-on and declared a crime.
The Longbridge workers have for decades defied the attempts of the government and the monopolies to cast them aside and marginalise them as little more than a cost on a balance sheet. Now is no different. The collapse of MG Rover is neither a natural disaster nor irreversible. A scientific pro-worker and pro-social approach to the economy is demanded. Coupled with the spirit of the workers to resist this frontal assault on their livelihoods, this approach can and must give rise to an alternative plan for production, for a harmonious strategy and economic plan which serves the social economy. Such an approach entails and requires the conscious participation of the workers, who have all along produced the value on which the international financers and captains of industry get fat.
The destruction of centres of production like Longbridge and the West Midlands as a whole, as well as other centres like the North East of England, with its attendant crisis and economic chaos, cannot be considered as acceptable, as normal or beyond the ability of society to prevent. On the contrary, it is the economic system which puts the right of the monopolies to compete globally as the primary, or even the only, motive or yardstick of the strength or success of the economy which is causing such devastation and wrecking of the livelihood of the people.
The car workers, along with all concerned working people, must get together to discuss these problems and work out what action to take and what proposals to put forward, and persist in the struggle for their own livelihoods in their own interests and those of the local and national economies. They have to recognise that the monopolies who have appeared on the scene as white knights, and the government which serves the interests of these monopolies, are not the ones whose wisdom will sort out the problems of the economy and the interests of the producers. The demands of the global market are not the criteria on which a course of action which favours the workers and their collectives will be found.
The time has come for the workers to get organised to turn things around and take political affairs into their own hands. The time has come for the workers to decide to determine their own fate. The time has come for the workers to declare the exercise of the primacy of monopoly right as a crime against the workers and the economy.
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