2010s >> 2018 >> no-1369-september-2018

Cooking the Books 2: Gizza’ job

‘Corbyn woos the working class with state aid pledge’ was the headline in the Times (25 July) reporting his speech launching the Labour Party’s ‘Build It In Britain’ campaign.

Over the years the working class has been wooed with all sorts of promises, and a promise to subsidise their jobs is as good a vote-catcher as any. It is of course understandable that workers should want to keep their job as it’s the source of their income. Under capitalism, those who are not owners of means of production, i.e., the vast majority of us, are forced to go out on to the labour market and try to sell our mental and physical energies to some employer to get money to buy the things we need to live. It’s a degrading position to be in, having to beg for a job and then plead not to lose it. But that’s the reality of capitalism.

It also sets worker against worker in a competition for jobs. ‘Build It In Britain’ is the same as saying ‘Don’t Build It Abroad’, a less crude version of Gordon Brown and the BNP’s ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ (the only difference between Brown and the BNP was over the definition of a ‘British Worker’). In other words, give the job to workers in Britain, not to workers in France or Germany or Italy or wherever. Meanwhile across the Channel the French Communist Party continues its campaign of ‘Produisons français’.

And workers can’t be too choosy about what their job is. Larry Elliot, the Economics Editor of the Guardian, opened his commentary on Corbyn’s speech:
‘Jeremy Corbyn wants new support ships for the Royal Navy to be built in British shipyards.’

Is this the same Jeremy Corbyn as the long-time anti-war campaigner (CND, Stop the War)? Yes, it is, he really did say:

    ‘Take the example of the three new Fleet Solid Support Ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Why is the Government sending a £1 billion contract and all the skilled jobs, tax revenues and work in the supply chain to build those three ships overseas when we have the shipyards to build them here?’

And, continuing to play the patriotic demagogue, he went on to complain that between 2014 and 2017

‘the Ministry of Defence awarded contracts elsewhere worth over £1.5 billion pounds even though we are under no obligation under either European or international law to open up defence contracts to overseas bidders.’

He didn’t mention Trident but the unions representing shipyard workers want these nuclear submarines too to be Built in Britain.

The speech was delivered at a site owned by the EEF. Until 2003, when it rebranded itself, the EEF was known as the Engineering Employers Federation, notorious over the years for opposing strikes and organising lockouts. This must tell us something about what to expect from any future Labour government. They won’t be opposing the employing class, but running the system in their interests. It’s not as if we haven’t seen this before.