Frat Cain


Normpolitik ...

(June 1965)

From Socialist Review, 1 June 1965, p. 3.
Transcribed by Ian Birchall, Nina Kidron & Richard Kuper.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

What about this norm then? They tell us that for the next five years or so the average rate of growth in output will be “something approaching 3½ per cent” (para 4 of Brown’s White Paper on Prices and Incomes Policy). They tell us that prices are to be kept stable (paras 6–8). So real wage increases will be equal to money wage increases which they allow at 3–3½ per cent per year (para 11). That is their norm – 3–3½ per cent per year real increase in wages.

Why then this fuss about the postmen’s 9 per cent, or the provincial busmen’s proposed 12 per cent? On their own reckoning these fall within the norm. Look at it this way. Prices have not remained stable. In twelve months they have risen 6 per cent, which means that all workers are entitled to an increase of that amount merely to keep level with last year’s real income. Add to that the 3–3½ per cent “norm”-al increase to make 9–9½ per cent, which by the same token is the increase all workers are automatically entitled to. Add to that – if you want to push things – another 2–3½per cent to cover the gap between negotiated rates and take-home pay, and you arrive at a grand total of 11–13 per cent or about 37s. 6d.–44s. on average in manufacturing. And this without the special cases envisaged in the Brown Paper.

Let’s get it then. True, we oppose their Brown Paper and all that goes with it. But if bargaining is going to be with reference to it, our trade union brass had better get what the prospectus offers and boast less about their sub-“norm”-al victories.

... And Realpolitik

The Legal Committee of the West German Parliament has been drafting a National Emergency Bill for more than two years. They have done so quietly, taking care to bypass the customary arrangements whereby other Members and outside expert bodies are kept informed of the trend in discussions. And no wonder. The Bill provides for complete Executive Government, for suppression of trade unions and the introduction of compulsory civilian service, for the use of the army against the home population, for the suppression of constitutional rights, etc., etc. – in the event of an Emergency. It is an atrocious Bill and one that the Government plans to enact in a hurry. So far the DGB (The German TUC) has confined itself to formal protests, while the SPD (German Labour Party) have kept mum in support. It has fallen to student bodies in the main, backed by liberal academics, to organize public protest.

A demonstration against the Bill was held in Bonn on 30 May. And others will be held. It would be of tremendous value to the organizers if they could receive cabled messages of support. Their address: Committee Against Emergency Laws, 6 Frankfurt/Main, Kurfurstenstr. 8, West Germany.

Last updated on 18 February 2017