A growing movement?
Has there ever been a time where there were so many demonstrations, rallies, protests and pickets? In the past there have been huge movements, of course, but never this variety of action.
Working people are waking up to what this government is doing to their lives and communities. While there are some mass demonstrations – all the signs are that March 26 will be memorable – it is the plethora of actions which is unique.
The new media has allowed activists to communicate simply and regularly, reversing the difficulties created by the breakdown of industrial Britain and communities.
So every day, somewhere in the country, something has been organised and we can follow it on the internet.
But as exciting as this development is, it is still a comparatively small minority who use the net this way. The majority rely on traditional media, which means they are being kept in ignorance as newspapers and broadcasters ignore most of what is going on.
There was plenty of coverage of the early demonstrations against the trebling of tuition fees but only because of the tiny amount of violence. Similarly the actions of UK Uncut get covered as invading banks or Topshop makes good pictures.
Meanwhile the Tory spin machine has whirred into top gear. Cuts to vital council services are dismissed as being justified because a few senior officers earn more than the prime minister.
The way round this is to combine the advantages of new media communication with the good old traditional ways of informing and enthusing members. Facebook and the internet provide fantastic opportunities but they can’t replace the tried and tested methods, as Jo Phillips and I point out in our book Why Join A Trade Union?
Our aim is to explain to non-members as well as inactive members why joining and taking part in union activities is today as vital as it has ever been. The struggle against government, employers and the right-wing press goes on and we need every weapon in the armoury, old as well as new.