Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Jerry Hicks and Passionate Speeches

This is the first time I’ve heard Jerry Hicks speak at length. Why do people who have to shout in order to deliver a message put it down to passion? Shouting your message instead of delivering it in a moderate volume doesn’t make your message or the messenger more passionate; no, it makes the messenger sound like a shoutey person.

Good speakers deliver their message in a number of ways. But, ultimately the content of the message will rise above the volume of the voice or the rhetoric therein; and, the message itself will win or lose support.

Having sat through 11 minutes of Jerry Hicks delivering a largely negative message I remain unconvinced that he can deliver anything progressive to the running of an organisation as large and complex as Unite. Jerry appears to be stuck in a groove of his own making. The one message he continuously tries to deliver is one which trade unionists, let alone the workforce of the UK, is not ready for – a General Strike.

There are 28 million workers out there; 6.5 million of whom belong to trade unions – mostly in the public sector. Those millions currently working in the public sector are scared stiff of losing their jobs. Rather than preparing to go out on strike for their jobs they are looking at ways to stay in employment; and, who can blame them when the alternative is so bleak. If made redundant they’ll receive a pittance; not for them some massive payoff that will at least keep them financially insulated for a few years.

I wish I knew the answer to getting our Comrades motivated; to instil in them a sense of let’s-get-out-and-fight. People talk of the Poll Tax Riots and how that moment in history forced a Major u-turn in Tory policy. The Poll Tax was a great unifying injustice. It hit us all up and down the country; this drew us together as a class.

Although, the cuts that are with us and those to come over the next few years will affect us as a class, they’ll attack disabled people, elderly, kids in inner city and rural schools, single mothers, people in low paid public sector jobs ad infinitum, they’ll not focus in the same way as the Council Tax did.

The cuts, though universal in nature, will not necessarily be applied universally. For instance, my child is grown, so the education cuts won’t impact on me in the same way they will friends with kids at school. Conversely, care packages won’t directly affect most of my friends as they have no use for these services at the moment; yet, my standard of living, and probably health, will plummet should I lose the care I currently receive.

While we can all point to a service or services whose withdrawal or cutting will make life more difficult; the overall affect will be spread around. Just as Lindsey, Visteon, Vestas and the current BA disputes were or are not the rallying cry for a General Strike we must nonetheless build and organise for the propitious day when we can in solidarity and commonality all down tools and walk.

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