The longest picket line I’ve ever seen

Both the striking workers and desperate migrants at Calais need our solidarity, writes Colin Frost Herbert.

The longest picket line I’ve ever seen. Or rather the longest effects of a picket line. The news cameras pan back to show a helicopter view of the Kent countryside and three miles of two lines of parked juggernauts stretch back into Battle of Britain land. This is a successful strike. So successful the ruling class can’t talk about it. Won’t talk about it. Virtually all that is mentioned is the 4,000 immigrants trying to steal a UK entry on the back of it. That is another, though not unrelated, tale to be talked about later. First the strike.

The strike will not stay this way. Immensely successful, but not won. To win it needs spreading. Pickets need to fly internationally to spread the industrial chaos. Two things: one, the ferry workers win and secure their jobs; two, the sharp teeth of wildcat strikes are bared for all (or many) to see. How the rich are pushed back, even if not beaten, rushes back into 1950s focus.

To spread, the strike needs arguing. The strike needs supporting. Collections made, workers visited, arguments had. France, UK, and beyond.

The ruling class know all of this. If the strike does not spread, the assassins are creeping about. The action must be stopped, the industrial disruption must be broken. This is the agenda of the rich on all sides of the land mass, on top as well as beneath the English Channel. One side or the other will win. We can effect the outcome.

The 4,000 immigrants are the thin end of a third-world wedge. Three quarters of the world lives at the level of the 15th century. News pictures show the desolation of these lives on every front – housing, medically, militarily, and so on. This section of the planet can see the TV-view of the industrial world, six centuries ahead. Die in barbaric poverty or gain a bit of the everyday landscape where ordinary folk make it into their 80s? I know which I would choose.

The long-term answer is to turn every liveable quarter of our globe in to a healthy and secure environment. There is a job to do. Industry needs to turn its productive sparkle to this task. Will the rich re-jig the machinery? No. We need to win control of the controls and release capitalism’s magic to build a world fit for all. This argument needs to be continually made. The Calais immigrants are on our side. They need supporting against the barbarism of the rich. They are knocking on the door of everybody’s future. If that future is not built, the one that steps in to its place would make slipping back in to the 15th century a luxury.

In the very early 1970s I remember reading that with the agricultural technology then available, the world’s population could be fed eleven and a half times over. 45 years on, productivity does not walk backwards. The potential for change, buried in the stomach of the beast, is rumbling. It needs releasing.

Show your solidarity. Join the demo in Kent tomorrow, Saturday 1st August.


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