“The workers... united... will never be defeated” was the cry that went round central London on Saturday as the TUC mobilised hoards of Community Space Challenger Coordinators, Assistants to the Regional Diversity Strategists, shop-stewards, press officers and the rest of the normally invisible back end of the public sector. Suddenly they have realised that the party is over and the real world of sustainable public spending is calling. Needless to say they don’t like the hangover.
Given the crowd was generously put at at 250,000 by the police, you would have thought that workers, united, would be celebrating, yet as the dust settles from the march, their cause is damaged, their organisers humiliated and the other 99.9% of the population left confused at how they could be so naive.
You can see Ed Miliband’s logic. On Friday the left was tacitly united from the purple clad union marshals to the careerist Young Labour posse, through to the cutely radical and idealist hippies over at UK Uncut. Here was a chance, which he managed to prang by wearing a suit and giving a poorly judged hyperbolic speech, for him to be seen a figurehead of a movement of opposistion.
Yet by Sunday the opposition to the government spending cuts has been left in tatters. Welcoming the self-indulgent extremist trust-afarians from UK Uncut into the fold has blown effective opposition out of the water. Despite high praise heaped on them from the Labour Party and the Guardian it was only a matter of time before UK Uncut came unstuck and their more militant friends unleashed the destruction they they have been itching for since their youth wing trashed Millbank.
Last night a spokesman for UK Uncut repeatedly refused to condemn Saturday’s violence. While she was keen to promote the “Creative Areas” she was focusing on - protesting through art. Her dangerous and militant tendencies shone through though when she was so seemingly oblivious to the concept of property rights and the rule of law. Though given that Uncut claims to be run through a non-hierarchical consensus structure, they might want to rethink how they choose their mouthpieces.
For the TUC and Labour not to see this trouble coming and not publicly distance themselves from UK Uncut before Saturday is their own sorry fault. Labour and the Unions cannot and should not moan as they cannot have their cake and eat it. Either they are the movement that they were so keen to stress they were, or you are divided with deniabilty. They tried to have it both ways on Saturday and look what happened.