May 26th, 2010
So, to recap: last Saturday, at the end of the Right to Work Conference, coincidently held close to where British Airways was “negotiating” with the unions, several hundred or so people went from the conference to the negotiations to show their support for the airline workers and ended up shouting at BA boss Willy Walsh, with the union leaders looking on in annoyance, while . Cue much pearl clutching from Andy Newman and co, convienced that this would finally be the end of the SWP (joy!) but also mean the ultimate failure of the negotiations, union militacy in general, the socialist project and world revolution (oh noes!).
The whole controversy is remarkably silly, but to be expected from people for whom that bit from Life of Brian about the Judean People Front isn’t satire, but an instruction manual..
Back in the real world it’s clear this stunt didn’t matter much one way or another. It didn’t “disrupt” the negotiations as overblown rhetoeric had it immediately afterwards, but neither did it achieve anything else, other than provide a show of moral support that might have been better expressed differently. I do worry about the attitude of people who think a stunt like this is inherently wrong and counterproductive, or who worry too much about how “the rightwing media” or “the bosses” will spin this, or who get outraged at the “disrespect” shown to union bosses. It reminds me of those liberals who back in 2002/2003 were too good to join antiwar protests organised by giant puppet making hippies.