How to screw things up SWP style

Joint leader of the union Unite Derek Simpson has been in heated debate with British Airways boss Willie Walsh, the latest meeting taking place while Walsh reports BA annual losses of £531m and Unite accusing the airline company of promoting a culture of ‘intimidation and fear’.

The ash in the atmosphere and the recession have hit the company hard, but the fresh set of contracts drawn up by the company with lowered wages are one reason why strike action continues, and why Simpson and Walsh continue talks on the legitimacy of industrial action.

There is no question that Simpson and TonyWoodley – also joint leader of Unite – are holding their own against a man who, if rumours are correct, seeks to vilify the striking workers at Bassa union agitated by Walsh’s tactics and other staff who have, in Simpson’s words, been suspended for the “most trivial” of matters.

Simpson yesterday made note that: “The cabin crew are not industrial hotheads or head-bangers – they are decent, intelligent people and it is a measure of just how desperate the situation has become”.

Most people would hope that the talks go on fine and that some good conclusions can emerge at the other side. But there is a large spanner in the works. According to a report by the BBC, as talks between Woodley and Walsh were picking up, a sizeable number of the 200 ultra-left Socialist Workers Party disrupted talks, many of whom were visibly laughing at what they were doing.

Woodley, speaking of the storming which took place on the 23rd floor of the Acas building, has said:

“I am very angry about this. Those people are idiots. We were making progress and they have ruined it. We have wasted an afternoon and an evening.

“The talks have not broken down they have been broken up by a bunch of idiots.”

The stunt has been perceived by many to be for publicity and not to try and influence the ongoing talks between Unite and BA. It has also been described as an “own goal” and a “cynical stunt“.

One member of the SWP interviewed by the BBC showed notable naivity of the subject:

BBC reporter: Do I rightly understand that the talks have now broken down, or they’ve stopped, because you guys have interrupted the meeting?

SWP activist: I should hope so.

see also: Dave Osler; John’s Labour blog; Shiraz Socialist; Andy Newman


2 Responses to How to screw things up SWP style

  1. harpymarx says:

    In the words of that great intellectual Stewie Griffin, ‘What the deuce’? Certainly that’s how I reacted when I saw the reports. Who made the SWP leader? I wouldn’t mind if the BA workers were leading the protest but it was a SWP stunt (I recognised many of the people in the video as SWP). And it is something, their MO, the SWP have done before which has pissed off activists. Did they feel better when they left, feel that it was only 1 barricade short of the revolution, that they mistook Acas HQ for the Winter Palace?

    Absolutely crazy stunt and that’s what the SWP do, they see a struggle and try to take it over without any care or consideration about the rest of us.

    • I certainly don’t like this idea that Dave Osler mentioned on his blog entry of the events, what SWP founder Tony Cliff used to call ‘substitutionism’ (doing for the working class, given the nature of the party’s membership, that stands in for us middle class educated people know what the working class want more than they do themselves). A lot of those people just looked like they were having fun and mucking about, and that would’ve been ok and forgotten about any other talks, but that was not their 1789!

      Stewie Griffin – always a good source

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