96 years later, another general strike?
The official mourning for QE2 is now over. So political life is back to normal? Well no, not for MPs, who’re still off work! But in a ceremony which says it all about the rituals of Britain’s “constitutional monarchy”, this week ordinary Members of the House of Commons were lining up to take a new oath of allegiance to the King - even though they don’t have to.
The front benches already swore this voluntary oath during their special Saturday sitting, when fawning speeches were made about tea with “her majesty”. The oath obliges MPs to “be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles, his heirs and successors, according to law” (and most ask “God” to help them!).
Does this make any sense? Charles’ first act as he slipped straight into his mother’s place without a pause (the queen is dead, long live the king!) was to swear his allegiance to parliament - promising his subservience! What an absurd contradiction! In fact, it’s largely down to the “unfinished” English revolution, which may have instituted a republic in 1649 and executed King Charles 1, but left the aristocracy intact and thus free to plot a return of the monarchy. Yes, unlike the French revolution 150 years later, which guillotined the whole lot of them, ensuring they were gone for good!
That said, English parliamentarians of the time decided to have it both ways - so while restoring a King in 1660, they retained the supremacy of the same Parliament which republican Oliver Cromwell had won for them!
So now we come to our side of the class divide. And we certainly don’t want to be back to “normal”. A start has been made to reinstate our strikes: postal workers will go out on the 30th September and 1st October and railway workers on the 1st October. That said, how will we hold to account the union leaders, who, in that incredible display of disrespect towards members, took a unilateral decision to suspend all strike action for the duration of the 10-day festival of ruling-class grief?
Postal leader Dave Ward wrote that “the union”(?) decided to call off planned strike action “out of respect for [the queen’s] service to the country and her family”! As for Mick-”the-working-class-is-back”-Lynch, his excuse was that the RMT had to join “the whole nation in paying its respects to Queen Elizabeth”.
As if the queen ever served the working class! Her job was precisely to help maintain the pretence of “national unity” (thanks Mick!) in order to keep social peace! That’s the use-value of the monarchy! And indeed, the queen deserves the gratitude of the wealthy class for succeeding so well for the past 70 years!
But their long spell of good luck may be over. The late queen was born in the year of the last general strike - 1926. Maybe the year of her death will see the next one? Of course, that’s up to the rest of us: not Mick nor Dave, but those already fighting on the ground and all the brothers and sisters who will join us!