Sunday, 11 April 2010

InVinceCable we shouldn't trust

Aside from making the argument against voting and for self-organisation, my commentary on the General Election was going to be minimal. There really are more important things with which we should concern ourselves, such as the fact that vicious cuts in welfare, jobs, and public services are looming, whoever wins. But, in a campaign to determine the exact degree to which the working class is fucked over, I thought that the InVinceCable campaign deserved a special mention.

According to its own blurb;
The idea of Vince Cable as the best candidate for chancellor is gaining widespread public support. In a survey conducted last week by MSN Money, 23% of respondents felt that Vince Cable would make the best chancellor (second only to Richard Branson with 29%). Alistair Darling and George Osborne received 7% and 8% of the vote respectively.

The InVinceCable We Trust campaign is evidence of single issue campaigning made possible by the emergence of the social web. The campaign has a single focus, promoting the view that Vince Cable is the politician most qualified to be chancellor of the exchequer following the election.
Yes. Really.

Cable gained popularity as the interim leader of the Liberal Democrats, particularly for his "Stalin to Mr Bean" jibe at Gordon Brown. He is, in essence, the icing on the cake of the "Lib Dems are better than the Tories or Labour" myth promoted by middle class liberals. To the Tories' nasty, they are nice. To Labour's authoritarianism, they are liberal. In the midst of which Cable is the straight-talking antithesis of Brown and Cameron.

It's all bollocks, of course, and no self-respecting anarchist or socialist would be taken in by such tripe. However, for the moderates of the liberal "left," I'd like to take a sledgehammer to this notion of the Lib Dems and Cable as anything other than a third wing of the Anti-Worker, Pro-Business Party.

The most obvious place to start is with the disillusionment that Jim Jepps suffered over at Liberal Conspiracy. Jepps was "genuinely shocked" at Cable's position on industrial disputes. This came out during BBC Radio Four's Any Questions. According to the transcript provided by a commenter, Cable came out in favour of using toughening industrial relations law in order to strongly curb industrial action in "essential public services." Though he didn't openly say that he would ban strikes, this overtly pro-business stance amounts to the same thing when combined with the existing precedent of court intervention to prevent action.

He backed this up in print during the British Airways strike, writing a polemic for the Daily Mail which makes a pretence towards "balance" whilst using common tabloid falsehoods in order to attack BA workers. He offers two small paragraphs in concession to the workers' side of the dispute, but this is encased in clich├ęs about "militants," "union barons," who "wrecked" "strike-prone" industries. Not to mention the absurd implication that the only fault with management and bosses in the past was that they weren't "skilled in human relations management."

This is no recent flirtation with anti-worker politics, and it is not all down to Vince Cable. The Lib Dems' record towards the working class is not a positive one at all.

Last year, they led the way in calling for a public sector pay freeze and cuts to public sector pensions. They have long supported tougher anti-union laws, including the right of government to ban strikes if they are deemed to be "against the national interest." It was Lib Dem councils in Leeds and Liverpool who used scab labour against the bin workers' strike. Lib Dems in Wales criticised Welsh assembly Members from Labour and Plaid Cymru for doing the honourable thing and refusing to cross a PCS picket line. And, taking the lead from Cable with BA, Liberal Democrat Jenny Randerson attacked the since-banned RMT strike as "disastrous news for the travelling public" and called for it to "be averted" with no heed whatsoever to the reason it became neccesary in the first place or to the interests of the workers.

Whether or not Vince Cable is more qualified than George Osborne or Alastair Darling for the position of chancellor is irrelevant. If he is, all it means is that he is most qualified to wield the capitalist wrecking ball against the working class. InVinceCable is nothing but an astroturfing operation run by PR professionals to obscure that basic fact.