Neither ITV nor MTV but RMTV, comrades

Everywhere you look there is more and more evidence of a war of position being fought by socialists in this country (the UK – where Thee Faction are currently operating). Not just frontline class politics stuff – strikes, demos etc. But a genuine attempt to establish a counter-hegemonic culture, to which we can all belong, in opposition to the prevailing culture as laid out by the ruling class. How do we do this? By offering a genuine alternative that is better than what the ruling class offers. In a piece we wrote on this blog a couple of months ago we explained how changes in access to the means of production have moved self-released records from the biro drawn sleeves and photocopied inlay sheets of the early 80s, to the sumptuously packaged, design classic that is Thee Faction’s At Ebbw Vale (which had its official release yesterday – go and buy it here). But it’s not just in music.

Cheap access to video equipment, and free access to internet broadcasting, means that capitalism has, foolishly, handed us the tools to fight back. Establishing a counter-hegemonic culture – fighting a war of position – has never been so easy.

So today we’d like to introduce you to our favourite broadcaster of the moment: RMTV. Yes, so fed up is the RMT (for our comrades overseas, the RMT is Britain’s largest specialist transport union, and our fastest growing union too) with the way the established, mainstream media reports it and its members, that it has established RMTV on YouTube. So ‘the media’ doesn’t get to mediate the story any more, putting its own spin on it. You want to know what the RMT’s grievance with tube bosses is? Go and watch the reports on RMTV. You want to know what the bosses’ position is? Go pretty much anywhere else. But it isn’t just a chance to equalise coverage, or set the record straight. Because the RMT are broadcasting news of other struggles too. Here’s a great example: RMTV’s coverage of the current FBU (the UK’s firefighters’ union) strike:

Now, firefighters are everyone’s friend. We know this. Why do we need alternative media to set the record straight on brothers and sisters who are willing to walk into burning buildings to rescure the likes of you and me? If the bosses plan to sack every single one of them, and then invite them to apply for their old jobs under completely different conditions, surely that’s the moment that society as a whole stands up and screams ‘enough’.

Well, it isn’t. The reason RMTV needs to broadcast reports like this is because organs of the ruling class, such as our old friend the Daily Mail, print reports like this. If you can’t bring yourself to go and read it, here’s a highlight or two:

The headline: Brave Men and Women Hobbled By Self-Interest. Need we say any more?

“The sorry truth is that, over the past decade, our public services have been increasingly run for the people who work for them, rather than those they serve.

And, bit by bit, firefighters, ambulance workers and police officers have been hobbled by those claiming to defend them while nurturing vested interests.

Witness the horrific evidence given by one survivor at the recent 7/7 inquest who told how firefighters and ambulance crews stood on the platform at Aldgate station apparently ’embarrassed’ by orders not to enter the tunnel for fear of a second bomb.

Victims died in agony during the delay. There was no second explosion. It was not lack of courage that stopped those officers but health and safety legislation, lobbied for by union bosses, foisted on frontline workers by senior officers fearful of being sued.

This culture of ‘risk assessment’, which measures risk against future legal costs, serves no one.

The men and women who work for our emergency services should be well equipped, properly trained and well paid.

But the first purpose of a public service must be to serve the public. At a time when all are feeling the squeeze we cannot be expected to sympathise with those ‘full-time’ firefighters who draw a salary from the public purse while also privately running accountancy firms and undertakers.

In defending the indefensible the FBU is placing the reputation of its members who keep the strike – and the lives of those they serve – under threat.”

Is there a single person not horrified by this piece of writing? It is, in almost every way, offensive to every working person. But, given that the Mail takes great pains, even in this piece, to pretend to see firefighters as heroes, it is quite incredibly offensive to our comrades in the FBU. And what does the Mail pretend is at the root of its disgust with firefighters?
“Now we learn that 1,780 of these officers hold second, and even third, jobs.”

Yup, that’s right. The Daily Mail, the paper most likely to sniff out the workshy, the idle and the scrounging, has officially come out against people working more than one job. Presumably if the firefighters were just sitting around at home watching telly there would be no need to complain. It is that they have the audacity to spend their spare time engaged in productive labour that really riles the wankers at the Mail.
As Billy Brentford notes, in a very personal line in I Can See The Future, from At Ebbw Vale:

“All the nurses and the firecrew, who kept me alive. They all have to get a second job to pay the rent – to survive.”

Two sides to every story, comrades, as Comrade Billy Bragg once told us. Luckily we now have RMTV to point that out. And Thee Faction to provide the soundtrack.
Finally, brothers and sisters, a quick plug for the RMT’s splendid Xmas cards. If you’re a socialist, and you’re going to send cards this Xmas, then you might as well make sure the proceeds go to a fighting union.
The RMT’s cards are ten for £5. Call the RMT Head Office on 0800 376 3706 with your credit card to hand.
There are other fighting unions, mind. If your union, or branch, is producing Xmas cards or other merchandise that good socialists might like to get their hands on, to help you keep the struggle going, do let Thee Faction know and we’ll spread the word. But the RMT got in first, so at least ten of Baby face’s comrades will be getting this lovely card this year.

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