Saturday, 6 September 2014

PCS and the cult of the personality

One of the more disturbing elements of the far left is their propensity to turn their leading figures into "demi-gods" and revere their writings into almost, if not actually religious texts. The most obvious manifestation of this is the use of Marx, Engels and Lenin as a "holy trinity" regardless of sect then followed by the prophets Trotsky or Stalin or Mao depending on their "sectual" preference.

Even today it can be seen in the reverence made due to Fidel Castro or more blatantly the hereditary Kim clan in North Korea. In the past amongst the tiny Trotskyist sects such deference has been paid to the likes of Gerry Healy and Tony Cliff to varying degrees.

Such cultism has never ended well.

An element of this exists inside the PCS union in the from of guru Mark Serwotka, its ultra-left General Secretary. Even in past faction fighting between the two main left-wing groups (the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party has led to them claiming the approval of the Serwotka.  

Serwotka was once quite close to the SWP, though not a member. He sided with them against Galloway when Respect split asunder. Once happy to appear at SWP events and lend them a quote or two for their dreadful Socialist Worker rag, this more or less came to an end as a result of the "comrade delta" affair. Martin Smith was once an activist in the Passport Office in CPSA days. The influence of the SWP isn't what it used to be (and quite rightly so) as so much of the left, feminists in particular have turned against them.

Mark Serwotka remains a major figure in far left circles and is facing re-election again. Until recently it wasn't clear whether he would do so due to his health problems, known by activists but now firmly in the public domain as the result of a piece in the Guardian.

I sincerely wish Mark all the best and hope his treatment goes well. Political differences should not be allowed to cloud basic human concern and this must be a difficult period for him and his family.

However this election should be about the role he has played in frankly taking PCS to the political sidelines with quite a number of major blunders and misjudgements under his and the collective leadership of "Left Unity".

PCS has been pulled so far to the left, even most of the other trade unions find the union somewhat difficult to deal with. One of Serwotka's main desires is to create a new overtly far left socialist party to supplant Labour. The left even managed to push through a policy that laid the grounds for such an outcome by agreeing to "support or stand candidates" in "certain circumstances". 

This has yet to be implemented but ties between the main leaders of PCS like SP members Janice Godrich (President), Chris Baugh (AGS) and John McInally (VP) do in practical terms align the union with the tiny and electorally unsuccessful Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

During the Pensions campaign the isolation of PCS became somewhat obvious with other unions complaining about the "behaviour" of PCS representatives (which of course the "Grandees deny..), but on the eve of the Olympics when Serwotka threatened a strike in the Border Agency on the basis of just 11% in favour all patience with the union was lost.

Not only were other union leaders angry but the Sword of Damocles was finally brought down by the Government on not just PCS, but all the other civil service unions. The harshest attacks on union activists ability to organise were implemented through severe Facility Time cuts. Even now the end of "check off" threatens the financial and membership base.

PCS has never been so weak and Mark Serwotka along with his allies have to take responsibility for their role in giving the Tories an excuse to implement these attacks.

If the Tories get elected again, the civil service unions will face renewed assaults and yet the PCS leadership dominated by the ultra left of which Serwotka is a part will not be working for a Labour victory.

Mark Serwotka has proved himself a false messiah.

The old left has failed the members, but given the state of internal politics there may not even be an election anyway.

The future of PCS is not bright.

If it has one.

No comments:

Post a Comment