Left Unity and TUSC

Will McMahon from Barnet Left Unity argues that if Left Unity and TUSC build a united electoral coalition for 2014 and 2015 it could lay the basis for a new mass party, and he poses some alternatives as to what that party might look like.

tuscSocialists face a major challenge in the next decade. While different fractions of the rich and powerful now have four parties doing their bidding: Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour and now Ukip, the working class, as a whole, has none. The socialist challenge is to create a nationally recognised alternative to the pro-capitalist consensus that currently exists. A party that is not simply against ‘austerity’ or ‘neo-liberalism’, but one that is determined to overturn the system that is the parent of both: capitalism.

Presently, with the privatisation of the welfare state going on before our eyes, the driving down of working class living standards and the prostration of the Labour Party in front of capital, the ambition of a nationally recognised socialist challenge that the working class leads may seem an almost unreal scenario. However, the emergence of new socialist and left formations across Europe in the last quarter of a century, as European social democracy has made its peace with capitalism, shows that such a step can be taken. True, these formations have different origins, ideological formations and trajectories, but the matter of their creation and impact on national political formations is without doubt.

As is known, there have been several attempts to create a new party of the left in England and Wales in the last twenty years: the Socialist Labour Party, the Socialist Alliance, Respect and most recently the existing Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. The first three attempt to form such an alternative has foundered at a crucial stage of development. At the heart of this failure was the belief that there was only one strategy that could succeed and that it had to be imposed to the exclusion of all others. As if one project was the bearer of all truth about exactly what kind of party should be created and over what time-frame.

The SLP was subjected to a version of this with Arthur Scargill’s ‘me, myself, I’ strategy. The development of the Socialist Alliance was straight-jacketed by the SWP in the first instance and later killed off by the rapid turn to Respect and ‘the united front as a special type’ as war approached. With the SWP gone, Respect itself then refused to countenance the emergence of an RMT led electoral coalition that became TUSC. These types of party projects, dominated by one of the small left parties or very singular individuals to the exclusion of all others, have failed.

The Labour Party has now moved so far to the right that socialists have been provided with yet another opportunity to build a new mass party that can put working class politics at the heart of national politics. In the last three years there have been three significant steps made towards the creation of a new mass socialist party:

First, was the decision by the RMT to back an electoral strategy to the left of Labour – the RMT is a democratic and radical union, and while its break from Labour was forced, its support for an electoral alternative is significant. It should be noted that there are also several trade union leaders of non-Labour affiliated unions who recognize that the space for a new party exists but have yet to be convinced there is a road map to it.

Second has been the capacity of TUSC to get credible votes in local elections (not withstanding some of its poorer votes). A series of three to five per cent plus votes in council by-elections, most recently in Southampton, in spite of the lack of serious organisational infrastructure at either local or national levels and a rather unwieldy name, indicates that the basis for an electoral vehicle for socialism still exists.

Third is the recent call by Ken Loach for the creation of a new mass socialist party (as outlined in his speech to the 11 May Left Unity meeting) that led to the development of the Left Unity project.

So, despite past failures, the idea of a new mass party might now take hold if we are careful enough to think through some past lessons and develop an open strategy to all those who are seeking to build a campaigning alternative to the left of Labour in England and Wales. Put simply, the kind of ‘my way or the highway’ thinking that governed the SLP, Socialist Alliance and Respect has to be abandoned in favour of an approach that I would describe as one of recognising that most of the left are now ‘adversarial allies’ in the formation of a new mass party of the left (a party, in my view, that should be explicitly socialist).

In this regard, the decision by the TUSC Steering Committee to write to Left Unity to request a discussion and the positive response from Left Unity’s National Co-ordination Group is to be welcomed, and could begin the start of a very fruitful process – if each side recognizes the others side’s genuine and legitimate presence in the political process. TUSC and Left Unity should become ‘adversarial allies’ on the path to a new mass party and should openly explore areas of both collaboration and contestation. Neither Left Unity nor TUSC are likely to be the finished article in the short term, nor do they represent the totality of the partners that could be involved, but such a collaboration could have a magnetic effect and draw more forces in.

There are lots of different issues to consider on how, as allies, we might get to our shared destination. Three crucial issues are: who else might be crucial partners in the process? What type of party are we trying to build?; and what role will elections play in the project?

Who are the other partners in the process?

Equally important in this process are the tens thousands of socialist and radical activists who are seeking an alternative to Labour to campaign for. While Left Unity has 8,000 signatures, this represents just a small percentage of those most likely to be involved in building the critical mass for building a mass party. It is unlikely that rooted trade unionists and community activists will join a project that has any of the traits of previous failures. The vast majority may only come on board if they see the prospect of an approach which is not dominated by a single individual (or individuals) or the far left organizationally or culturally, has a transparent democratic structure that allows multiple points of involvement beyond the local branch, and has a campaigning elan that can break through media indifference and makes the left wing perspective a voice in the mainstream debate.

Another partner, and almost as crucial, are the long standing local socialist and left organizations that have emerged over the last thirty years. To name a few: the Wigan Green Socialists, the Wellingborough Independent Socialists, the Walsall Democratic Left, Lewisham People before Profit; there are others who have held together local networks of socialists in the absence of a reliable national organisation over the last generation – Carlisle, Preston, Leeds and Rugby spring to mind. In this context the local TUSC and Left Unity groups represent only part of the patchwork of local socialist and left organization that will make up the grass roots driving force of a new mass party. No one who does the hard work locally, barring those in the ‘democratic centralist’ organizations, are going to be ‘told’ which body to get behind.

In addition, there are the actually existing small socialist groups. The Socialist Party, who stand in elections in Coventry as ‘Socialist Alternative’ (another part of the local patchwork) and have local groups throughout the country, similarly the SWP, and the smaller International Socialist Network, Socialist Resisistance, the ACI and others

All of these possible partners, alongside Left Unity and TUSC, would like to see the arrival at a mass party of the left in some shape of form over the next decade and, preferably, sooner rather than later. The debate is about how it might be possible to reach that destination.

There seem to me at least four versions of how a new mass party might look:

First, is a ‘broad left’ party that wishes to defend and rebuild the welfare state and is anti-austerity and against neo-liberalism. It is for a society based on equality and justice and against discrimination without raising a flag in support of one type of ideology or another. Respect at its height and its broadest took on this appearance, a sort of ‘small broad party’, (it never reached above 5,000 members) there was even a dash of ‘socialism’ in the mix.

Second, is a recreation of a mass party of labour through an alliance of the trade unions intent on resisting the capitalist offensive. The mass nature of the party is expressed through the affiliation of trade unions that have broken from Labour and want to develop an electoral alternative. This is a federated ‘clause four’ party based on the working class organised in trade unions – so, in the first instance, narrowed to that degree. In essence, this is the TUSC project and an attempt to re-create a new workers’ party with a socialist core.

Third, is a mass socialist party, built across all parts of the working class without privileging one aspect of working class organization over another. Membership would be drawn from the grass roots in communities, anti-capitalist and peace campaigns as well as trade union branches, it would fight for political leadership right to the top of the trade union movement. This party would draw to it all those who wanted a mass democratic, one person one vote socialist organization that would draw all sections of the working class into its orbit and be driven by mass campaigning. The keystone ideology would be socialist but there would self-evidently be a debate about what sort of socialism (just as it is possible to debate what sort of ‘left’).

Fourth, a long held strategy that awaits a cataclysmic split in the Labour Party under the pressures of an economic and social crisis. This strategy seems to me to be so unlikely (irrespective of the hopes vested in trade unions leaders like McCluskey by some) that it should be discounted for the purposes of this article.

The debate over what type of mass party will go on for some time. One matter is clear – none of the exisiting formations can claim to be the immanent crystallization of such a force. In the mean time the fight against capitalism and its latest progenitor, neo liberal austerity, go on. Battles both local and national are raging across the country with each anti-cuts campaign quite rightly trying to build the maximum possible unity against the cut that it is facing. It can make the hackles rise hearing Labour politicians defend their local fire station, while Miliband announces that he will not reverse the Coalition cuts if Labour are in power in 2015, but the strategy of the maximum unity against every cut is correct. The desire for unity against austerity in all its forms produce the enormous turn out at the People’s Assembly, irrespective of the core nature of the project itself. However, whatever the strengths of united campaigns against the cuts, they represent only half the picture in terms of fighting back against the capitalist offensive. In particular they do not answer the government question: what would you do instead? As it stands, and this side of a mass movement that poses the question of power, the only place where the strength of support can be tested for a governmental alternative to capitalism – a government in the interests of the working class – is at the ballot box – and it is this test that offers the possibility of building a space for a mass socialist alternative in the immediate period.

The mass party and the 2014 local and 2015 general election

A clear staging post on the way to a new mass socialist party establishing itself as a permanent feature in the national psyche will be the 2014 local and 2015 general elections. An electoral coalition made up of TUSC, Left Unity, local socialist groups and thousands of independent socialists, as well as the existing far left groups, that stood in over 120 constituencies in 2015, would begin to present itself as a national political alternative for the working class. The seriousness of such a project could draw to it tens of thousands of grass roots militants and campaigners alongside existing leaders of non-Labour affiliated trade unions.

It is possible that the RMT could sponsor candidates as part of a left coalition under the TUSC banner and mobilise its members behind them; in addition, local candidates could call on the branches of other trade unions not affiliated to Labour (eg FBU, POA, NUT, PCS) to support them.

On the ground it might be a patchwork of local alliances depending on local circumstances. Inevitably there would need to be negotiations where more than one probable candidate has backers and we would have to accept that not all negotiations would be successful.

Such an electoral coalition would agree a minimum programme based on a series of demands that would represent a significant step to re-ordering society in the interests of the working class and its allies.

Critically, the coalition would be focussed on a twin track strategy of creating a national media profile and energised local campaigning based on the minimum programme locally, networked through a digital communications strategy. Weeks and days of action based on specific themes would get media leverage and provide a focus for building the electoral bloc in the year before the vote. It would be forward looking and optimistic and reflect the diversity and complexity of the society in which we live.

Now is this possible? No doubt, there would be many difficult and complicated steps along the way, and while Left Unity and TUSC are only part of the mix, a collaboration between them in the 2014 local elections might lay the basis for a wider electoral coalition in 2015. It would demonstrate that although different strategies towards a new mass socialist party exist, it is possible to build a tactical electoral alliance that could bring about the conditions for the birth of that new party. An electoral coalition would begin to express a level of left unity in the interests of the working class that goes beyond any of the particular strategies currently on offer.

Of course, as has been pointed out elsewhere, given the desire to eject the present Coalition from power both 2014 and 2015 will be a tough election campaigns to fight and the results might not be what we want (in my view a median of 5 per cent would be a good result in 2014), but the main question would be have we, as adversarial allies, established the framework for the emergence of a new force on the left of British politics that can take the fight to a probable Lib-Lab coalition? If the answer to that question is yes then a first step to transforming politics in Britain will have been taken.


64 responses to “Left Unity and TUSC”

  1. Richard Murgatroyd says:

    Thanks for this Will. A lot of good sense here and obviously it would be crazy and sad if we can’t come to come to working relationships with other left groups in elections and work positively with each other in campaigns. In my opinion the ideal would be for all the existing left to dissolve themselves and form a new, democratic party with a realistic alternative policy offer but that isn’t going to happen

    However at this stage I remain to be convinced that close collaboration with TUSC (which let’s face it is dominated and directed by the leaders of the Socialist Party, notwithstanding the participation of some trade unionists in the RMT) is particularly relevant to our project.

    As you say in your article, most non-aligned socialists/greens out there (not to mention ‘ordinary people’) will not want much to do with the existing sectarian groups because they have either been there or are repelled by their dogmatism, archaic Wolfy Smith type language and methods of working. It’s hard for lefties like me to accept this but a lot of ordinary people actually find the image and language of the revolutionary left funny (still being clownish doesn’t seem to stopped Boris getting elected!)

    That goes some way to explain why the electoral fortunes of TUSC are so poor, membership of the existing left groups so tiny, their intellectual and cultural influence on wider society so limited.

    Anyway, to collaborate closely most of us would need some serious reassurance that the leaderships of the far left groups really are interested in promoting a broad based democratic party – whatever they might say in public. That is because we know what their agenda is:

    – maintain the existing position and power of the party ‘cadres’ (in normal language – ‘leaders’ ie themselves)
    – build and recruit more loyal cadres to the party
    – promote the policies of the party through adversarial ‘interventions’
    – win positions for party members
    – act as a faction using adversarial tactics within other organisations
    – if necessary dissolve or wreck any other left organisations that may serve as a point of attraction other than their own
    – encourage a culture of hyper activity (which is alien to ordinary people’s lives and in my opinion is actually psychologically unhealthy!)
    – eventually emerge as the vanguard of the international proletariat

    Moreover, the leaderships of these groups are in practice self-nominating and self-perpetuating. Their Central Committees close down discussion and criticisms from the rank and file of either the actions of leading individuals or policies, Above all they believe they have a monopoly of the truth, expel, ridicule or force out dissenting voices. As a result there is a constant turn-over of members and independent thinkers sooner or later leave.

    Many of us therefore feel that at their heart is a deeply elitist, top-down and undemocratic core that is the opposite of socialism. I can understood why this version of socialism developed in Russia, the USSR and China in the early half of the 20th century but it offers nothing for us now. But more specifically to your article Will it also makes it hard for us to trust that their declared intentions are genuine and that would have good intentions to the LU project which (hopefully!) is so different from the aims and methods I have set out above.

    As far as I can see that is why there is a clear majority of people in the left unity project who are happy for individual members of the SP, SWP etc to get positively involved and build this embryonic new party before we formally constitute ourselves. BUT are opposed to a federal structure that gives them any other leverage

    This is not paranoia but are justifiable fears based on the aims, tactics, methods and leaderships of these organisations and the personal experience of a large number of people. By the way we should have similar concerns about over-powerful charismatic individual leaders…?

    Apologies for the length of this post but I’ve spent a bit of time on this not to score pathetic polemical points but instead to explain hopefully in a friendly and honest manner why so many in left unity would be very wary of allowing any discussions with TUSC to have undue influence on our direction of travel moving forward. Can you reassure us Will that the methods and motives of the groups you discuss in your article have really changed? That history just won’t repeat itself as farce…?

    • Baton Rouge says:

      Richard the only way to insure that Left Unity isn’t hijacked by a bunch of sectarians, opportunists, centrists, careerists, procrastinators, Stalinists, professional disorganisers and other shysters is for it to do away with its foolish Mini Me New Labour style policy silos and adopt democratically at its founding conference in November a holistic, brief, popular Manifesto that can be used in day to day agitation and struggle and in elections for principled left unity and the transition to working class power and socialism. When the leadership start doing things contrary to the principles and pursuit of the realisation of the manifesto then you will know that it is time to walk. Without such a manifesto you will remain totally unaware of any opportunist horse-trading taking place.

      • Joseph Kisolo-Ssonko says:

        Baton – Don’t you think that it’s important that the contents of such a manifesto arises organically from the actual membership rather than being placed upon them from on high? If so then can you see why, even if you don’t agree, some people feel that there is not enough time for this to happen before the first conference?

    • John Penney says:

      An excellent response to Will’s article, Richard ! You have “hit the nail on the head” on all the key issues. The regular refrain of “Left Unity must create an alliance with TUSC”, is of course a “demand” based on a complete fiction, ie, that TUSC actually exists ! It doesn’t — its purely an election-time marketing “brand” (not even used in all areas) for groups like the Socialist Party and SWP. It builds no long term support base in local areas in between elections – it has no individual members, and of course it will fade away when the “parent organisations” decide on another set of “front” organisations when they’ve fallen out with each other once again ! No wonder TUSC’s electoral performance has always been so risible as to actually UNDERMINE the credibility of the radical socialist message amongst ordinary people seeking a progressive alternative to New Labour.

      A cobbled together alliance of the front organisations of the existing 5,000 or so activist radical Lefties in the UK (yep, it really is that small), is STILL only the same 5,000 or so Lefties – but this time deluding themselves that they are MUCH bigger – because they are all wearing umpteen “organisation hats” – and of course requiring a number of votes per Leftie within Left Unity – one as an individual LU member, and then one or two more for ones far Left organisation , another for TUSC, another for this campaign, and that campaign …..

      The point is that all this self deluding “bigging up” of the pitiful size of the Radical Left, need to stop. There are loads of ordinary people out there , potentially recruits for a serious, radical socialist, but not avowedly “revolutioner Leninist” political party . That is the large social grouping Left Unity must try to appeal to. The existing Far Left is very welcome too, as ordinary members, with no special privileges based on bogus front organisations. Nevertheless the sectarianism and “special language codes, and traditional wrecking antics of the Far Left within broad Left movements historically, actually makes the tiny forces of the Far Left a very UNATTRACTIVE partner in a radical Left party with ambitions to be a mass party of ordinary people. If Left Unity gets a degree of momentum behind it, the ever-growing open treachery of the Labour Party could give it growth potential (particuarly during a 2015 onwards “PASOK-style” Labour government ramming Austerity down our throats), similar to that experienced by Syriza in Greece. The Far left needs to “wake up and smell the coffee”, you need a genuinely credible dynamic mass radical party of the democratic Left much more than such a party will need you – and your endless tiny front organisations!

      • Ben McCall says:

        OMG, I finally agree with you John – yes Bazza, there is hope!

        Only a pedantic point, I disagree with the word “treachery” as it is one of the limited ultra left vocab (betrayal, sell-out, etc.) and is probably inacurate, as Labour if Labour is pro-big capitalist, neoliberal, etc. it can hardly be accused of treachery.

        More to the point – and sorry as I have said this before – but is it not arrogantly premature to aim to stand candidates in 2015? LU is not even a party yet. Yes we have active campaigners in our ranks, some of whom may have the track record of work with people locally to have a hope of getting more than the TUSCesque number of votes; but seriously, what is the point?

        This is the start of a long term process to transform society, to build “a genuinely credible dynamic mass radical party of the democratic Left” as you say John (if we decide that a party is the right form). If we had done that in 1988 and aimed for the election after next, ie. what became 1997, we might have avoided the abject warmongering horror personality cult of Blair.

    • cathal says:

      Are you comparing Trotskism to Maoism in that 4th to last paragraph? I think you need to revise your opinion of the SP.

      And this is the problem with us on the left, political point scoring and no beneficial debate just divisive untrustworthy scorn.

      Also TUSC has the full support and funding of the RMT not partial. More that what any other socialist party outside labour has achieved so far.

    • Baton Rouge says:

      Joseph: absolutely not. A manifesto or programme works only as a whole. An eclectic mess of policies agreeable to the lowest common denominator is a recipe for opportunism and anti-democratic horse-trading. You must have noticed how none of the apolitical sects have a programme only a vague `what we stand for’ page and of course the New Labour policy process is designed to create a schmorgasbord of contradictory policies from which the leadership can pick and choose or ignore as it sees fit. A programme democratically adopted by the organisation is the only way for the rank-and-file to exert democratic control on the leadership and the only way for the leadership to tell the rank-and-file what it actually stands for.

      • Joseph Kisolo - ssonko says:

        I don’t want the leadership to ‘tell me what it stands for’, I want us to decide together what we stand for. I guess if you don’t believe that it’s possible for coherent ideas to emerge from below ans think instead that they need to be fixed by leaders then we have a quite different idea of radical political possibilities.

    • Baton Rouge says:

      Joseph: I can see discussions with you will not yield much fruit. I certainly do believe that coherent ideas can emerge from below. The key here being coherent. Left Unity will fail straight away if it adopts a set of disparate policies that contradict each other. The policy forums are set up for a leadership to pick and choose according to what takes their fancy which is why I want the rank-and-file at Left Unity’s founding conference, after extensive pre-conference discussion allowing for amendments etc, to democratically adopt a manifesto that is holistic, socialist, popular and which points the way to the transition to working class power and socialism. Your eclectic pick and mix methodology smacks of New Labour and will give rise to a leadership disconnected from its membership.

  2. jonno says:

    Is it possible to ask who is selecting the articles for publication on this site and its F/B site, I learnt in my politics course that who controls the communications of the organisation can shape its direction. So, is it one individual or a small group, what is the criteria for submission, are articles rejected, I think these issues are important in a democratic organisation

    With respect most of the main contributions have been from members of the small left grouplets, fellow travellers, or people who are profilic article writers on obscure sites elsewhere, while others seem to focus on global issues, we have a crisis hereas well, more articles on basic issues please. Lets hear also from those who haven’t has their voice heard yet.

  3. Will says:

    Hi Richard, thanks for taking to time to give a considered response…my first thoughts are…

    I think the way that all the far left groups organise and present themselves has pretty much failed and they need to rethink that (but that is their problem). I agree that we do not want a federated structure, I am very much committed to a one person one vote party and think, like you, people should be welcomed on that basis. If Left Unity can turn into a big membership organisation then it is inevitable that all different types of left wing activists will want to get involved – this is what has happened across Europe. That is why Left Unity’s structure needs to be as transparent and democratic as possible.

    For me the involvement of the RMT in an electoral coalition is a really important thing, as is creating a coalition for the local left formations and the tens of thousands of individuals to get involved – they may not want to join either Left Unity or support the TUSC federation – they might support such an electoral initiative though…that Left Unity and TUSC could play a role in bringing about by setting an example of collaborative work.

    The point about TUSC is that it has an established record of electoral work with mixed results (similar results as eg. the Greens and Ukip had when they were starting up). In my view as a supporter of both Left Unity and the RMT led TUSC (I am on the TUSC national steering committee as a rep from the Independent Socialist Network), it would be a mistake to say Left Unity is going to stand where it wants irrespective of other groups’ past activity or for TUSC not to reach agreement with new entrants to electoral work. I also think that Left Unity building an alliance with the RMT for 2014 local elections and 2015 General would strengthen Left Unity and the left in general. A pretty basic set of common demands would help an electoral coalition; it should be a pact – but not a merger with TUSC, or anyone else, of any sort.

    Last, my experience of being a member of a far left group (until 1995) and having worked with them in the Socialist Alliance, Respect, TUSC and now Left Unity is that the only way to have the discussion about re-assurance about their role is as a part of a very public dialogue – organisation to organisation – rather than in a ‘smoked filled room’. Far left groups have a mix of people in them and they can be won and lost to a much bigger project, so our approach to them should be open and honest – then, like in Europe, some might get involved in a way that you would want.


    • Baton Rouge says:

      Will forget it. TUSC is a front for the SWP and the SP who will not stand under their own banners a) because they don’t believe in their own politics and b) they wouldn’t want the electoral commission pooring over the real books. If TUSC got its hands on Left Unity it would destroy it very very quickly. I would urge the individual members of TUSC to jump ship and put their energy into Left Unity. Help build something political and open and if it ends up being another self-serving sect then help to destroy it.

      • John Blackwillow says:

        Firstly, you are incorrect in stating that TUSC is a front. We are a political left coalition of trade union members, ex-Labour members and yes, we make no secret of it, members of the Socialist Party. We have no association with the SWP, both their methods and general attitude are very much against what we stand for. As for a unified left movement, I fully support the idea and say so to fellow TUSC members. Your dismissive tone suggests that what you accuse us of, wanting control, is more about your own insecurity than anything else. @blackwillow1

  4. Baton Rouge says:

    Richard this is the sort of resolution and manifesto I’d like to see adopted at the founding conference. The main reason the left invariably capitulates to the right is lack of programme a) that it believes in and b) by which the rank-and-file can hold them to account:

    This founding Conference of Left Unity resolves to adopt the following manifesto for directing its day to day work in the class struggle and for use in any electioneering and united front work. Conference further resolves that should this manifesto be adopted no individual resolutions contradicting it can be passed. We refuse to swap an integrated, holistic manifesto for an eclectic fudge or mess that can be the only result of policy forum silos replicating the cherry picking methodology of New Labour whose leaders opportunistically choose from a variety of self-contradictory policies depending on their most immediate horse-trading needs or which one best capitulates to the capitalist system:

    A manifesto for a principled Left Unity and for the transition to working class power and socialism.

    Some preamble about recent developments then the following points but written better:

    1. End the bail out of the bankrupt banks. Nothing can be achieved as long as our politicians insist on liquidating centuries of accumulated wealth, debasing the currency and destroying the balance sheet of the state in order to bail out the billionaire and corporate speculator creditors of the parasitical City. Take their deposits, staff and estates into administration to for a National Bank that can lend at base rate to small business and facilitate social investment in accordance with a democratic plan and the principles of sustainability.
    2. Defend all necessary and desirable public spending and raise sufficient taxation to pay for it.
    3. An immediate regime of full employment by sharing the available productive work. All school and college leavers and unemployed who cannot find their own job must be bought into the workforce with each on the minimum of a trade union living wage.
    4. Socialise and democratise the global and national cash-hoarding, asset-stripping, job-slashing, profiteering monopoly corporations and their surpluses. Replace shareholder of Old School Tie or Politician-appointed managers and leaders who treat British industry and serives as a personal trough with worker-elected managers.
    5. Replace the union with a federation of sovereign British nations and the North of Ireland and re-negotiate the founding treaties of the EU in accordance with socialist principles such as an EU-wide living wage and full employment to prevent the misery of mass economic migration to replace the neo-liberal ones that have torn the EU apart and which have seen the re-emergence of `axis’ and `allied’ style block in Europe once again.

    Some brief closing observations.

    • Rob Marsden says:

      Baton, a fine example of why Left Unity should NOT simply adopt a short off the peg ‘manifesto’ straight from the top of your own head.

      There is nothing here on women, nothing on the environment, nothing on racism, nothing on immigration, nothing on LGBT issues, nothing on youth, nothing on war, nothing on the monarchy and hereditary privilege, nothing on disability, nothing on education, nothing on civil liberties, nothing on democracy… etc. etc.

      That is precisely why we do need policy making forums and a thorough debate throughout the proto-organisation. Socialism is about bottom-up democratic participation and we should start as we mean to go on rather than adopting a narrow straitjacket to close off further discussion!

      • Baton Rouge says:

        Marsden: A lot of that stuff can be incorporated into position documents and where we stand statements or individual motions as I said below. By the way the manifesto isn’t off the top of my head or off the peg but I can see that you are more intent on boring potential voters and or followers or members to death with a highly prescriptive catch all unreadable piece of sect junk that means nothing to no one and doesn’t actually say what Left Unity would do with power. As for your policy making forums they are a joke designed to give the leadership the ability to opportunistically choose their own policies from a menu.

  5. Bazza says:

    Some really good responses Richard etc and it seems so many from outside seem to know what”s best for us!
    Interesting as someone on the left of labour I will have to decide if LU is my ONE party (unlike others) and what will be the litmus test for me will be if my group or LU in general is willing to get out on esates and knock on doors and talk to and recruit working class people or is it just all talk? I think we need to focus on building LU as a left wing socialist party with a grassroots bottom up democratic structure. From what I have read on this site so far their is a lot of fresh thinking, imagination and creativity and I believe we are becoming light years ahead of all the tiny and irrelevant ‘bourgeois socialist’ factions. A few years ago we witnessed the victory of advanced capitalist liberal democracy over not socialism but ‘bourgeois socialism ‘(top down, run by elite undemocratic central committees, vanguards, cadres,secret police etc). I remember reading Paul Frolich ‘s biography of Rosa Luxemburg and here I learnt that the early socialists from Lenin, Trotsky, to the mass murderer Stalin etc all believed in a bourgeois socialism. As a w class independent (hopefully critically thinking) socialist human I think we need to focus on building us. With best wishes.

  6. After last Saturday’s extremely successful Peoples Assembly, the elephant in the room is whether TUSC candidates in next year’s local elections will be building further the national and local Peoples Assemblies as a central part of the campaign around an alternative to the main parties?

    The RMT supported last Saturday’s event. The SWP were in favour of building it though they didn’t participate in organising it (because they have their own project, the misnamed ‘Unite the Resistance’). Socialist Resistance sponsored the Peoples Assembly and was heavily involved from the start, but ridiculously they are not allowed to have a vote inside TUSC.

    But … the increasingly sectarian Socialist Party didn’t support the Peoples Assembly and counterposed their own front project (the ‘National Shop Stewards Network’) meeting next week.

    Under an utterly bizarre structure, the SP have a right of veto inside TUSC, so even if all the other organisations want to issue a declaration of support for the Peoples Assembly and campaign around it, the SP can ensure TUSC is paralysed and not able to act.

    I think it is right that assuming Left Unity agrees to stand in elections that it seeks electoral pacts with all the significant left parties, including TUSC, Respect, Plaid Cymru (now led by Leanne Wood of course – a very significant left winger), and also left wingers in the Green Party such as Caroline Lucas MP, and, on a few occasions, even some on the left in the Labour Party too, such as Jeremy Corbyn.

    But that doesn’t clear up the problems that TUSC’s mode of organisation brings with it. And as with the previous Socialist Alliance project, the SP have retained their own electoral umbrella, so that if they don’t like any agreement TUSC makes with another party to give their candidates a clear run in a locality, they can just stand anyway – as they did against John McDonnell in 2001!

    The problems in constructing pacts are far greater than Will alludes to because of the sectarianism of some of the forces.

    Will’s article is also extremely limited in its approach and presentation of alternatives. The equation of a ‘broad party’ with Respect, for example, is incorrect – the key problem in Respect was not that it was too broad or not committed to socialism enough, but that it was not democratic – the membership were simply not involved in decision-making, which always came down from ‘on high’ or through squalid deals between key individuals and groups.

    Building a democratic broad left and socialist party is a much more sophisticated and complex process than Will’s crude stereotyping of potential pathways. His preferred formula of a party built ‘without privileging one aspect of working class organization over another’, for example, is in danger of rolling back the benefits of self-organisation of women and other oppressed groups. This would be a step backward for Left Unity, which from its initiation has taken the welcome step of beginning to tackle some of these issues, by, for example, supporting the automatic representation of women in all decision-making bodies. The involvement of both individual trade unionists (and potentially trade unions) and self-organised groups, including creating opportunities for women and other groups to organise and be represented inside the organisation, is a major challenge that we need to tackle by careful planning, discussion, and, above all, democratic decision-making. TUSC is highly problematic in this regard as despite the formal affiliation of the RMT and representation on its steering committee that it is claimed marks it out, rank and file RMT members have no role or say within TUSC at local or national level.

    It is good that the Left Unity website has published Will’s article for discussion, but it is a highly inadequate approach and we will need a much more serious strategy than the one he lays out.

  7. Jay Blackwood says:

    It seems to me that the key phrase in Will’s article is this:

    “It is possible that the RMT could sponsor candidates as part of a left coalition under the TUSC banner”

    Beneath the fluff, Will is essentially arguing for Left Unity, before it’s even established itself as a party, to place itself “under the TUSC banner”. That is, the banner of a vanity project run by the SP and SWP, which has consistently failed to have an impact, and which remains (despite RMT involvement) nothing more than an electoral front for these two small, authoritarian “revolutionary” groups.

    Suicide By Sect doesn’t hold many attractions for me, I’m afraid…

  8. Baton Rouge says:

    As well as the adoption of a manifesto for domestic use such as the one I have outlined very roughly above of course I would like to see Left Unity discuss and vote on resolutions on the major global issues of the day such as:

    1) The Arab Spring (unconditional support but with an understanding that only with the Arab labour movement at the head of the secular and democratic forces can it succeed;

    2) Palestine – unified (Israel, Gaza, West Bank) secular Palestine that takes full cognisance of the interests of the refugees;

    3) Syria – legitimate manifestation of the Arab Spring. End the West’s vicious arms embargo on the secular and democratic forces, down with Assad;

    3) Global warming;

    4) Attitude to unions and labour party;

    5) China – need for political revolution against the Stalinist usurpers;

    6) Socialist feminism;


  9. Will McMahon says:

    Hi Jay

    To be clear on my view.. I am not arguing that LU places itself under the TUSC banner…I would oppose that as it would trap what could be a dynamic a one person one vote organisation in a slower moving federation. In fact I am arguing that LU should have its own electoral banner, the sooner the better in my view, and there should be an electoral pact and we should encourage the RMT to support both LU and the pact (whether as TUSC or as an independent trade union).



  10. Jimmy Haddow says:

    Harry Blackwells’ contribution is a piece of sectarian nonsense that beggars belief. He says “But … the increasingly sectarian Socialist Party didn’t support the Peoples Assembly and counterposed their own front project (the ‘National Shop Stewards Network’) meeting next week.”

    Ignorance is no excuse for not telling the truth; the reality is the National shop Stewards Network was initiated by the RMT in 2006, the Network has held six national conferences, each attracting hundreds of rank-and-file activists. The Network was initiated by the RMT and now also has national support from PCS, CWU, NUJ, NUM, POA and BFAWU as well as many branches, trades councils, and so on. Shop stewards and workplace representatives from across Britain came together in July 2007 to launch the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN). The Network’s founding conference resolved to rebuild the strength of our working-class movement from the bottom up by creating local, regional and national networks to put elected reps and shop stewards from different unions in permanent contact with each other. The NSSN have subsequently held five further conferences, which have gone from strength to strength, as well as organising local events.

    Organising mutual solidarity when trade unions are in dispute will be at the heart of the NSSN work, and has done extremely successfully especially over the Blacklisting scandal. The NSSN will also share information to develop ways of successfully resisting attacks on our union rights, jobs, pay, conditions and pensions. The NSSN aim to build a movement that can help sweep the anti-union laws off the books and make them inoperable in the meantime. Bringing new blood into the trade union and labour is vital so the NSSN will encourage younger workers, agency and migrant workers to join their unions, organise in their workplaces and become reps themselves.

    So the reality is the annual conference of the NSSN that is organised on the 29th June, and leafleted during the PA event, was decided months in advance even before the so-called organisers of the People’s Assembly had the germination of the idea to call a so called People’s assembly. The conference on 29th June will include main sessions on resisting the cuts but also workshops on defending the NHS, organising in the workplace, housing, organising the unorganised, fighting blacklisting etc. It’s open to everyone in the unions and all those fighting these brutal cuts. It is at Camden Centre, Judd Street, London WC1H 9JE, London, near Kings Cross, and starts at 11am. Speakers include: Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary; Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary; Steve Gillan, POA general secretary and Tommy Sheridan, Scottish anti-bedroom tax federation chair.

    Another sectarian diatribe from Harry Blackwell is this: “Under an utterly bizarre structure, the SP have a right of veto inside TUSC, so even if all the other organisations want to issue a declaration of support for the Peoples Assembly and campaign around it, the SP can ensure TUSC is paralysed and not able to act.” Mistruths, Mistruths, Mistruths…..

    This is not the first time that lefts, such as the ex-leaders of the Socialist workers Party around Counterfire who are involved in the PA, have sought to create a new left force. We have seen previous attempts to form a left party: Scargill’s ill-fated Socialist Labour Party and the Socialist Alliance that Ken Loach was involved in. These failed, either because of sectarianism – the completely intolerant approach of Arthur Scargill – or the equally narrow and ultimately opportunist approach of the SWP in the Socialist Alliance and in Respect.

    Learning from this, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which was launched in 2010, which developed out the coalition that fought the June 2009 European elections, is the first serious attempt to create the foundations of a new movement expressing the voice of the working class for their own independent party. It is in the best traditions of the labour movement with a federal constitution, and, moreover, unlike other attempts, is firmly based in the trade union movement.

    TUSC as the name says is a coalition. They have written to Respect, the National Health Action Party (launched in May 2012), the SLP, the Communist Party (CP) – and, most recently, Ken Loach around the initiation of the LU– inviting them to discuss participation in TUSC, or at least electoral collaboration. The National Health Action Party and the SLP have not responded as yet. Respect replied but declined the offer even of exploratory talks. The SLP and Respect, unfortunately, share the ‘dissolve into us’ ultimatory stance of the Greens. Two meetings at least have taken place with CP officers and they provided a guest speaker to a 2012 TUSC conference, but they have not taken up the offer to join TUSC, at the moment, with the full rights of a participating organisation and a place on the national steering committee.

    What is the problem here? It is not a question of TUSC being ‘narrow’ and ‘non-inclusive’, or that the Socialist Party allegedly ‘dominates TUSC’. The coalition is based on agreement on a quite limited core programme, although with a clear socialist clause for democratic public ownership of the banks and major monopolies, supplemented by policy statements for particular elections. Every TUSC candidate is asked to endorse these before they are issued with the legally necessary ‘certificate of authorisation’. Beyond that, however, candidates are responsible for their own campaign. So far over 580 candidates have stood under the TUSC umbrella. Only two applications to be a TUSC candidate have been turned down: one who planned to stand against a member of the RMT’s parliamentary group; another, a last-minute candidacy opposed by his union’s branch chair (with no time available for the steering committee to mediate).

    Organisations’ rights are protected by the federal, ‘umbrella’ character of TUSC. If the CP, Respect, etc., were to join the RMT, the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers’ Party on the TUSC national steering committee, their rights as autonomous organisations would be fully guaranteed – including standing candidates under their existing registered names, to produce their own independent material in elections, etc. The rule that the steering committee has to operate by consensus means that no organisation – or leading trade unionists participating in a personal capacity, with their ‘unofficial’ union constituency – could ever be ‘bounced’ into lending their name and authority to an action taking place under the TUSC banner. The TUSC rules encourage the establishment of local steering committees or branches to be organised on a similar inclusive basis. How more open and ‘pluralist’ could it be?
    I would say TUSC is more open and pluralist than the LU and/or the People’s Assembly at this moment, but they are work in progress and have only recently been formed, while the NSSN and TUSC have been going for a few years now. Now the question I would like to pose who are the ones being sectarian when there were two democratic working class organisations already on the scene and the other members of politically left organisations want to set-up their own front parties.

    The fact is that after the Labour Party began its rightward shift, the Socialist Party was the first Left organisation in Britain to recognise the need for a new party to provide political representation for workers; something we have been calling for since the mid-1990s and something that the so-called leaders of both the PA and LU have tentatively recognised that reality now but refused to accept it over the past 20 years.
    The Socialist Party will argue in the Pas, and I suppose also with LU, the urgency of developing an anti-cuts challenge, on the electoral field to all the Mainstream Cuts Parties, such as Labour and here in Scotland the SNP, but the Socialist Party also have to point out that the PAs have an inbuilt obstacle to this path because of the stance of their leaders. A new mass workers’ party, when it’s formed, may well have a membership with a similar diversity of views to the thousands who attended the 22 June PA – ranging from advocates of a redistribution of wealth under capitalism, to those who have drawn the conclusion that capitalism can no longer deliver decent living standards for the majority in society and so must be removed.

    Such a party will be a great step forward if it promotes workers’ interests and has a structure that allows democratic debate and decision-making. The election of delegates to committees at each level of the party would be vital to enable the necessary decisions to be made – and those who make them would need to be fully held to account by the membership. It will also need to be rooted in the trade union movement, as the key vehicle of struggle for the millions of workers in Britain. It is they who have the power to lead the way in bringing the ruling class to its knees and to challenge the system that exists in its interests.

  11. Miguel says:

    I think this is a very informed piece that clearly outlines options and view points. The project is one that needs thinking through. In a curious way whilst the objective is to create a progressive and critical left that can exert pressure and bring the rich traditions of the left into the political in a new and novel way, I do believe that many are looking to LU not just as a ‘traditional’ party and a new leadership structure but as a radical, innovative space which is a bridge across various left traditions. It would be about coordinating political action, critical reflection and cultural engagement. Lets get on with an open membership based party built on what Ken Loach has called for, on what Ralph Miliband wrote about as a left alternative to Labour, and what peace campaigners for class, social and global justice are looking for.The discussion in LU is miles ahead of the usual ”we have a line and an answer to everything”. I don’t know if we will win elections or not, but its time to create an organised coordinating and plural space that inherits the emancipatory traditions of the left without the cult leaders or media facing/egotistic individualists. This is a historic moment for the left. Time for a leap of faith!

  12. Ray G says:

    Jimmy Haddow

    The NSSN and TUSC projects sound all very reasonable as you have described them. However, you need to realise that people have legitimate suspicions, outlined very well by Richard Murgatroyd, about the main left party involved in TUSC – the Socialist Party (previously Militant). I can confirm his analysis of this groups way of working from my own experience of being in it for eleven years.

    Unfortunately this party has a thoroughly deserved reputation for going off and setting up separate campaigns, controlled by them, or taking over existing campaigns and freezing out all other trends of opinion. Can the SP give a guarantee that in every locality it will participate in, and co-operate fully with, broad anti-austerity campaigns and not set up rival campaign groups under their control? Will it join in with local People’s Assembly groups or set up their own alternatives in each area to pursue a sectarian agenda?

    These are the real questions that need answering. The issue of election deals with this or that slate is much less important at this stage because the basis for standing should be a campaign on real issues in a community. If SP cannnot work with the rest of the left in a campaign against austerity, what basis willl there be for a joint election campaign. The basis for joint work should be trust and respect and real unity in active campaigning not a cynical electoral lash-up.

  13. roy says:

    Last night TUSC received 22 votes in a working class seat in Plymouth – Labour won with 1,247 vote. The Health concerned party also won a seat in Wyre – easily beating Labour candidate.
    If Left Unity want to build and be seen as a body that the serious left can work with (those at the People’s Assembly for example) and become part of. They should beware of linking up with TUSC, even some of the so called ‘Independent’s within TUSC – who are electorally obsessed and sectarain to both the Labour Left and Green Party and will turn Left Unity into another Sect. Left Unity in my view needs to sign up to the supporting the ‘best placed left position’ where a sober assessment of the best placed left is undertaken – so look in the Labour left, Green, Natiobnal health Party, Salma Yaqoob if she stood, Galloway, Dave Nellist, SNP, Plaid should be considered – that way Left Unity wil promote unity in practice on the left and help build a united movement as called for by the People’s Assembly.
    Great care will be needed in dealing with self declared best place left canddiates in TUSC as some of thse people do like to build themselves, including spinning the size of their Left Unity ‘party’ or support in the community.
    Ignoring their distraction speaking as a Green Party member, I would support Jeremy Corbyn and others in the Labour Left – possibbly not Diane Abbott thor.

  14. Jimmy – TUSC/SP got 22 votes (0.8%) in a council by-election in Plymouth last night, following on the 30 votes they won in Salford last week. UKIP came second in Labour-held seats both times with votes in the 20%+ band.

    Concentrate on the real issues of building a united left and stop the grandstanding.

    TUSC is electorally incredibly weak and the NSSN was turned into a sectarian project of the SP. No one can join TUSC as an individual and the only left group that has asked to join since it was formed in 2010 is Socialist Resistance, whose application took 3 years to be considered and even then they only got ‘non-voting’ status. Little wonder that no-one is flocking to its ‘here today gone tomorrow’ banner. Even the SWP didn’t stand a single candidate under the TUSC umbrella last month – their sole candidate in the local elections stood for a different electoral grouping. The RMT have said publicly that it isn’t automatic that they will support TUSC candidates and they do intend to support candidates of other parties, including Labour.

    I’m sure that there will be discussions between Left Unity and TUSC but TUSC are not in a position to dictate the terms here.

    • Baton Rouge says:

      People are rightly criticising TUSC as a front for a couple of self-serving divide-and-rule from below sects but at the same time lauding Peoples Assembly which is a grotesque piece of substitutionism by the people who turned the StWC from 3 million anti-war marchers to 200 demonstrators outside the US embassy demanding the right of Gadaffi to flatten Benghazi unhindered. It is run by the sect boss of all sect bosses – John Rees – and will not only be little more than a launch pad for a few fake lefties, careerists and bureaucrats but a genuine obstacle in the struggle against working class directed austerity. We do not need so-called `broad’ parties, i.e. apolitical parties, we need principled parties because as sure as eggs is eggs it is only principles that are going to get us through the coming economic catastrophe. The founding conference in November needs to democratically adopt a holistic manifesto of transitional demands for the transition to working class power and socialism or itself degenerate into a sect or the plaything of opportunists.

  15. Jota says:

    TUSC have had good results and awful results.

    Almost 5000 votes for Liverpool Mayor candidate, beating the Tories and Ukip and just behind the Greens (a party with a national profile and recognition). Almost 2000 votes in Doncaster, easily beating the Lib Dems. A town coucil seat won in Maltby.

    Of course you can find derisory votes. Rest assured the Left Party will get some derisory votes too. Either you take the view that low votes will happen while you try to build a left alternative to Labour or you fool yourselves that you have a special magic which those backward paper-sellers will never have. I don’t find the magic bean option realistic, nor its smug proponents very attractive.

    The Socialist Party has been a vehicle for many socialists to try to advance the cause of socialism in Britain and internationally – to typify them as a bunch of evil robots as some commentators seem inclined is amusing at best, deeply sectarian at worst.

    The major flaw of TUSC, in my view, is not its federal structure – a feature that I find attractive after witnessing the SWP take-over and winding up of the Socialist Alliance (something that some around Left unity should feel some shame around), but the decision of the SP and others to fail to really make TUSC a practical reality – perhaps though sectarian self-interest or, more likely, through an accurate judgement on the wider appeal of a broad-left project.

    Left Unity is a hugely welcome development – but some participants need to be more honest about its core. Is Socialist Resistance a far better thing than the SP, or for that matter, the SWP? Is Workers Power? Or any of the other leninist grouplets pretending not to recognise each other in Left unity?

    Left Unity should aim for, what for it, left unity. The first step toward that is to work out how to work with others trying to build some sort of left unity, such as TUSC and its components. ‘Left unity, but not with you other lefties, because you won’t renounce your own organisation and join ours as individual members (despite the years or even decades devoted to it)’ is an absolute joke.

    That you can’t join TUSC as an individual except through the ISN, is silly. But the same was true of the Labour Party for many years after the formation of the Labour Representation Committee.

    Some people around here should stop jumping up and down about sectarians if they are determined to act in such a sectarian way. Phew. Who knew I still cared about all this stuff?

  16. Jay Blackwood says:

    I agree with the comments about TUSC made by other posters above. Any front organisation run by the SP and the SWP, for all the good work their militants do in the unions and campaigns, should rightly be treated with suspicion. Far more important is appealing to people who currently situate themselves on the far left flank of Labour, or see themselves as “Old Labour”; and appealing also to those who currently vote Green on the basis that they’re the “only alternative” to New Labour.

    Ray, Roy and Harry have eloquently expressed their reasons for distrusting the SP. Don’t forget that the other component of TUSC is the SWP, whose modus operandi is well defined here:



  17. Jim Osborne says:

    Jesus…the more of these “debates” I read….and it is impossible to plough through the whole turgid swamp until the end….the more I despair at the prospects for Left Unity. I joined it in the hope of enjoying some new ideas but it is just another case of sectarian left organisations knocking lumps off each other. When are all you guys going to broaden your intellectual horizons?….there is a whole new world of stuff out there….the New Economics Foundation being an example. Have a look at Tom Powdrill’s blog “Labour and Capital” which is seeking to alert the left to the potential that taking democratic control of financial markets has for social change….aye its strange stuff to dogmatic lefties but this sort of intellectual challenge is what the left needs to engage with. Check out Scotland’s “Jimmy Reid Foundation” website too. Close the Marxist-Leninist Old Testament and start writing a whole new chapter in socialist thinking for the 21st century.

    • John Penney says:

      It is undoubtedly the case that too many of us on the Left are stuck in language codes and imagery and interpretations of society and past history which don’t really help us to “move on” to assess and respond to the critical challenges of today.

      However there is also nothing new under the sun about ideas of “shareholder democracy” generally, or the Labour Movement trying to use its pension fund shareholdings to influence the behaviour of corporations for the public good. Sadly in a globalised capitalist world where the richest 10% and their agents massively predominate in the control and ownership of shares, and financial instruments generally , and where they have directly or indirectly “bought” the major political parties and regulatory institutions – it is a complete liberal reformist fantasy to think there is any genuine “route to greater control” of the chaos of international capitalism to be grasped through “shareholder democracy” campaigns.

      We undoubtedly do need to engage in “intellectual challenge” on the radical Left – but not by falling for fantasy , essentially Liberal capitalist , “solutions” which only aim to “blunt the teeth of the global capitalist tiger”, rather than resolutely combatting its power through nationalisation, progressive taxation, and regulation and democratic national planning, and then moving to “kill the crazy beast” entirely through a democratic socialist society. That aim remains as valid as it was in the 19th and 20th centuries. Liberal reformism has no more to offer us in the current world capitalist crisis than the sterile old dogmas of small sect “Leninism”.

    • Ben McCall says:

      Agree in part Jim. Actually, in between the tedious 57 variety cock-fights, are some very human, new and very interesting/useful contributions. Can we look forward to yours in the future?

  18. Jimmy Haddow says:

    Actually I agree with what a lot of what Jota has said in his contribution above! The absolute self-righteousness, haughtiness and ultimately sectarianism from certain quarters of the Left Unity are astonishing, considering these people want unity on, and of, the Left. And they have the audacity to accuse the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party of being dogmatic, intolerant and narrow-minded.

    Nevertheless, while Jota articulates his point of view by saying “The major flaw of TUSC, in my view, is not its federal structure – a feature that I find attractive after witnessing the SWP take-over and winding up of the Socialist Alliance (something that some around Left unity should feel some shame around), but the decision of the SP and others to fail to really make TUSC a practical reality – perhaps though sectarian self-interest or, more likely, through an accurate judgement on the wider appeal of a broad-left project.”

    I do not necessarily agree with the way the situation has been framed. I do not deem the Socialist Party has not made “TUSC a practical reality”, after all we are continually being condemned by all so-called Left flavours for taking a “sectarian attitude to TUSC” and for standing candidates in elections and superficially not getting a very good vote means that we are seriously taking TUSC as a practical reality, but in context with the election and post-election objective conditions. Jota correctly suggests that TUSC has had some very good electorally votes and some not so good votes. That is in nature of election campaign that is in today’s objective circumstances.

    The objective situation determines the subjective responses of the electorate and the understanding of this process on the part of the working masses, what Marxists call the ‘political consciousness’, the understanding of the working class, actually lags behind the real objective situation that exists. Never in history has the gap – the ‘scissors’ – between the objective situation of capitalism in crisis and the outlook of the working class, its absence of its own organisation, particularly political mass parties, been so evident. Given the relentless capitalist propaganda barrage, the reality of neo-liberal policies over 30 years and the absence of a political and economic alternative, it is inevitable that there is still, despite the severity of the economic crisis, a residual acquiescence to the ‘market’, and things will get better in the future, even amongst the working class. Even after 6/7 years from the economic crash many are stunned by the economic collapse. There is even a lingering view amongst many workers that the present crisis is temporary, that it will all be over soon and we can then return to the sunny, economic uplands. This is reinforced by right-wing and timid trade union leaders who seek to hold back the legitimate class anger of workers, especially after the TUC capitulation in December 2011 after the workers’ struggles up to the brilliant 30 November industrial action against the Government.

    The reality is if the Left Unity had started 3 years ago and developed into some sort of Left Political Party by now they would be in the same position in the electoral field as TUSC; and if any of the sectarians in the Left Unity cause consider different then they are politically and socially naïve at best and political deceivers at worst.

    One of the sectarians above and Jota mentioned that individuals cannot join TUSC; which is not particularly accurate. The TUSC national steering committee agreed in June 2011 that individual members would have an elected place on the committee through a ‘TUSC Independent Socialist Network’, duly filled at its inaugural meeting in October that year. Nobody has been excluded from a local group, or prevented from setting one up. The fact is TUSC, and for that matter Left Unity, People’s Assembly, et al, are work in progress that will evolve with the changes in the objective conditions having a greater impact on the working class of Britain; in other words those scissor tips, between the objective and the subjective political consciousness will begin to close and the electoral results will begin to grow bigger. And I believe that will take place after the next election under the new government. That is only if the members of TUSC are out in the estates and streets campaigning on the issues like the bedroom tax and the other austerity cuts that the capitalist system is throwing at the working class. If one does not carry out the “culture of activism” along with having a social programme to eradicate capitalism, which TUSC has and Left Unity has not at this juncture, then no Left political party will grow. However, I am sure that the Socialist Party will be doing all these things and building TUSC at the same time whether supporters of Left Unity, and the People’s Assembly, want to be involved with us in an electoral united front or not.

    • Ray G says:

      Yes but again – Will the TUSC/Socialist Party people be campaigning jointly with the rest of the left, – and thereby sowing the seeds of real unity, or will it be off on its own splitting every campaign.

      This question needs an answer before purely electoral unity can be considered.

  19. Bazza says:

    Good point Jim – I am trying to move the debate into the 21stc – my favourite journal is New Left Review which usually stimulates your thinking but I also get Red Pepper, New Internationalist and even look at New Statesman. I am on the left of Labour and in no group and it is likely that I will be joining LI. I am also a w class social housing tenant who was the first in my family to go to Uni. Went to a lecture last year by Dr Ha Joon Chang who said we should all read financial pages newspapers which I have done ever since and I recommend Guardian’s – you see rich in their parallel universe and it gives you ammunition and stimulates thinking. Instead of organisation practice for the conditions for the early 20thc it’s time to address the 21stc! I believe a grassroots bottom up approach is the way forward! With best wishes!

  20. Bev Keenan says:

    The issue with the way this thread has developed is that it has become completely focussed upon the electoral route to fighting austerity (planned poverty/neoliberalism). I am not against standing candidates in elections when there is a coherent robust? message to deliver. We need to be straight with people, standing under an umbrella that covers a coalition of views does not spell a clear message. There are no quick fixes, to creating a mass party.I think that the way forward, is unavoidably, to build from below, by not fudging what we stand for and making links at local community level with other people who agree with the approach of campaigning together locally on local and national issues.We need a network of like minded people, we are not yet in the position of appealing through the electoral route to a mass of people!!! We need a little bit of clicktivism to unite people locally in activity, and a whole lot of meeting each other and then perhaps groups sizes and the size of Left Unity will grow towards a mass party.

    • Felicity Dowling says:

      Thanks for this contribution Bev.
      Each time I go to meetings at the moment or do stalls or other street campaigns I hear terrible tales of people experiencing dire poverty, or real cuts in working conditions. An alternative is badly needed but our alternative cannot be just electoral
      Will started an important discussion. We are in new territory. This is not a re run of earlier campaigns. While a capitalist political party can be put together overnight at a dinner party, a workers’ party is not built on election manifestos, but on a proven record of struggle. It is not going to be easy. The following is from a statement discussed and agreed at Liverpool Left Unity:
      “We have need of a new political formation –
      • Which organises amongst working class communities and others, reflecting the needs of the 99%, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.
      • Which rejects austerity, capitalism, war and environmental degradation.
      • Which does not discriminate against or oppress any person regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, marital status, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion, age, disability or union membership .
      • Which advocates socialism; adopting again the original socialist demands ‘to secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry based on the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange’.
      • In so doing, laying the foundations for a greater democratisation, greater equality of our society and our institution and transforms our economy in the interests of the majority.
      This organisation should also recognise the shared interests of the workers across the world and offer solidarity to workers in struggle across the world”.
      Organising in working class communities does not preclude electoral tactics but elections are only part of a strategy. Establishing political activity in local areas by local people and linking those struggles at city and national levels is as important. Re-building traditions of solidarity and joint action is essential. Spreading the idea that another world is possible is critical.
      Lessons need to be learned from some of the struggles of the social movements in South America, and in South Africa today.
      There are factors that make today different from other situations when the left have put up candidates include:
      • The complete open goal policy of Labour. They will not articulate opposition; a panda would make more effort.
      • The lack of any media putting forward or giving a platform to any opposition and the impact this is having in disorienting the class. Large numbers of workers believe the Tory lies and support the campaign against benefit claimants for example.
      • The extent to which workers are suffering; low wages; in-work poverty, stripping out working conditions, appalling benefit conditions.
      • The blatant attack on women and children economically and in the media representations.
      •The poverty of the leadership in the unions.
      • The cockiness of the enemy; their intention openly declared to continue with Austerity for years.
      • The world situation.
      • The unsettled economic situation.
      Francis O Grady from TUC described how the TUC did a survey where they paid the surveyors to explain basic facts about benefits before they asked questions about people’s opinions. This radically changed the responses. They presented this to labour but labour would not respond to it. They continue to tail end reactionary ill-informed opinion.
      We have to be the people, the organisation,that gives this alternative explanation. One that assists those people fighting to defend their rights, to improve their lives and those of the communities they live and work in.
      As Bev said it will take time and effort to build an organisation that people will vote for. We would have to earn those votes in struggles and by having clear, well presented, aims and policies

      • Bev Keenan says:

        Thanks for this Felicity I have cut and pasted a copy and hopefully at some point in the near future we can use it as a basis to discuss what we stand for in our own group.

  21. Jim Osborne says:

    John Penney may be right to say that “shareholder democracy” does not offer a way to get control of international capitalism….but it is too early to say since it has not been properly explored so far. In fact to describe it as “shareholder democracy” is to over simplify and caricature the matter. I dont know if JP has ever carried out an objective analysis of shareholdings but it doesnt look like it as he just throws up a random reference to the richest 10% controlling them. Where does that come from? The reality is that pension funds own something like 20% of UK plc and that is a massive chunk owned ultimately by working people of the country….with another chunk owned by foreign workers through overseas pension funds. A “scientific” approach is essential….if anything Marxism is supposed to be an objective, scientific philosophy of revolution and social change…..JP seems to prefer the easy way of sticking to myth and prejudice…..not the best way to find a way forward..
    If Ben, or anyone else is interested in seeing what contribution I wish to make, feel free to email me at jim.osborne@talk21.com and I’ll send you my piece on Scottish independence “Building a New Scotland” (its too big to post here)….and before anyone says it, dont dismiss it as a piece of reactionary nationalism until you have read it and recognise that the principles could be applied to the UK as a whole or to anywhere else.
    I am more than happy to make my contribution…I just dont feel very much at home in Left Unity at the moment but I am prepared to give it a chance before I throw in the towel.

    • Richard Murgatroyd says:

      John Penney is right, as Jim acknowledges, that ‘shareholder democracy’ will not in itself reign in international capital, but Jim’s suggestion should certainly be considered as part of the answer. A whole range of policies will be required to do this. Its a bit like renewable forms of energy like wind – they are good, but in themselves would only be truly effective as part of varied mix of energy sources

      In many earlier posts John you have, if I understood you right, argued that LU has to begin by identifying a mixture of realistic radical ‘reformist’ demands and policies that would appeal to a mass audience and fundamentally challenge capitalism. Totally agree with you on that, as I usually do on other things by the way. But why can’t Jim’s suggestion be part of that radical programme?

      Wouldn’t that be true of many ‘reformist’ suggestions that have and may be put up on this site. Especially when our Policy Commissions are up and running. If we are going to encourage LU to be a place where people, especially ones new to politics who might not have the confidence of us experienced hacks, feel comfortable to raise new ideas I think we should try and avoid pigeon-holing them as ‘fantasy’, ‘liberal reformist’ etc. It puts people off – both readers and potential contributors.

      That would also help us judge suggested policy ideas on their own merits, rather than type-casting them as a particular type of politics, be it ‘reformist’, ‘ultra-left’ or whatever.

      • John Penney says:

        A fair question, Richard Murgatroyd. Why, given that I do indeed think that a radical (rather than “revolutionery”) Left Party like Left Unity has to embrace a wide range of essentially radical “reformist”, or radical “defensive” policy measures/objectives in order to have any chance of building a serious mass base; do I attack some specific concepts , like “shareholder democracy” campaigns, as diversionery and irrelevant ?

        The simple answer is that some policy suggestions build on and reinforce the already emerging diverse struggles against the hydra-headed “Austerity Offensive”, and hence draw more and more ordinary people into confrontation with the capitalist system itself. In contrast some other suggested policies and ” systems of ideas” simply serve to DISTRACT ordinary people from the real “conflict points” of the current capitalist offensive – into sterile and futile “campaigning backwaters”. Campaigning on fundamentally “liberal capitalist” issues like enhancing “shareholder democracy” are futile areas of activity, not only incapable of achieving any significant shift in the behaviours of Pension funds or big corporations – but the ideology behind campaigns like this simply reinforces the false idea that there is some sort of long term reformist route to a capitalism which somehow can be persuaded to work in everybody’s interests – rather than that of the superrich.

        There are many other irrelevant, divisive, and sidetracking areas of possible campaigning for LU that have either already been raised on this discussion site, or certainly will be eventually, eg, demands for the replacement of our existing bourgeois democratic electoral system by some kind of “direct democracy” using the internet; or the demand that Left Unity should support immigration controls, “because it would strengthen trades union bargaining power”. Then there are the anti “fractional reserve banking” enthusiasts – whom we haven’t seen yet , but probably will !

        I’m afraid that if everyone , regardless of their political background, is to be free to put up their favourite idea, no matter how far outside of any recogniseable connection to the radical Left SOCIALIST tradition these ideas are, then those of us who wish Left Unity to be a radical party of the anti capitalist Left will also feel free to dissect and criticise the political origins, potential for furthering (rather than sidetracking) the actual anti Austerity struggle ,and real world implications of these policies .

        That’s the nature of genuinely open debate. Not all ideas are equally valid. Frankly some are rubbish. If people can’t stand the heat of debate, they shouldn’t put up their political proposals for robust and honest analysis and debate. I certainly claim no protection from robust “peer group review” for my own ideas and proposals.

    • John Penney says:

      Sorry Jim Osborne, but your statistics, as well as your politics, are pure wish-based fantasy. Here are some real hard stats on current share ownership of “UK PLC”:

      “Key Points to Ownership of UK Quoted Shares 2010

      •At the end of 2010 the UK stock market was valued at £1,777.5 billion.
      •Rest of the world investors owned 41.2 per cent of the value of the UK stock market at the end of 2010, up from 30.7 per cent in 1998.
      •Other financial institutions held 16.0 per cent of the value of the UK stock market at 31 December 2010, up from 2.7 per cent in 1998.
      •UK individuals owned 11.5 per cent of the value of the UK stock market at the end of 2010, down from 16.7 per cent in 1998.
      •At the end of 2010, insurance companies held 8.6 per cent and pension funds held 5.1 per cent by value. These are the lowest percentages since the share ownership survey began in 1963.
      •44.9 per cent of the shares by value were held in multiple ownership pooled accounts where the beneficial owner is unknown. These have been allocated to sectors using further analysis of share registers; updating the previous allocations which date from 1998. ”

      As can be seen clearly, Pension Funds own only 5% of UK PlC shares, not the 20% you claim (to support your “shareholder democracy” idea). It’s an irrelevantly small figure – and impossible to “get hold of” on behalf of the Labour movement to have any impact of UK company behaviour. Of course very little is actually known about the actual ownership of most “UK PLC” shareholding , given the overseas-based anonymous company structures that the global supperrich use to hold their shareholdings. A recent study of wealth in the USA concluded that the top 1% American supperrich actually owned 50% of the shares in “USA PLC” !

      The point of course is that “pro-working class shareholder democracy” campaigns simply cannot work, and are a complete distraction from the real struggles of ordinary working people against the current capitalist Austerity Offensive. There are simply no credible mechanisms within capitalism whereby shareholdings can be used as a weapon to force companies to pursue socially progressive policies. Capitalism is interested only in profit rates . Nothing else, full stop. The company which pursues “socially responsible” objectives rather than profitability will simply be eaten alive by its more profit-oriented business competitors. The idea of a “socially responsible capitalism” based on everybody being a “shareholder” – is a very, very, old Liberal illusion, not anything even remotely new or innovative. It was always a fantasy – and certainly bears no relationship to the reality of globalised monopoly capitalism today. We need to work together to kill the beast, not waste our time trying to make it cuddly and caring !

  22. Hoom says:

    I’m not militantly anti electoralism. But we should only stand if we a) have a base in the area already and b) there’s actually a demand for us to stand. Without that, it’s pointless.

    • Ben McCall says:

      Agreed Hoom – check out the previous discussion on elections in April.

  23. Jim Osborne says:

    I will have to concede John Penneys statistical point about the ownership of UK plc….the 20% of 10 years ago has declined significantly….pension funds have de-risked their investment portfolios during the financial crisis and shifted investments out of equities into other assets ( such as bonds)…but that does not negate the argument about the key role of pension funds and the ordinary people who own them. I did say to describe the point as “shareholder democracy” is too simplistic and a caricature. The point is that pension funds are strategic investors in the economy….in companies via shares or through bonds (basically lending to companies), through infrastructure investments etc. Pension funds are potentially a major source of capital for the renewables revolution we need and these funds need to be brought under greater democratic control through reform of their governance so that they serve the needs of their members and society more widely instead of bring ripped off by the financial elite. The left needs to understand finance or how the f**** do we ever expect to be able to run a country?

    • John Penney says:

      Sorry Jim, the radical Left actually understands only too well how capitalism works – particularly its ruinously irresponsible financial sector ! Its YOU who doesn’t understand the stats, or the unstoppable, profit-driven, dynamic of the system – which makes it impossible for a “socially responsible” globalised capitalism ever to emerge via “reform” measures.

      I’m afraid the Pensions Funds are just too totally integrated into the overall capitalist system, and their shareholdings too insignificant, for these institutions ever to have a major reform role within the overall rapaciously chaotic system. ” A reform of governance” certainly aint going to do it ! Nationalising the Pensions Funds, and banks, and closely directing their activities within an overall long term national (and international) plan – now that sort of “reform of governance” would make a difference ! Bit more than your idea of a “reform of governance” though I suspect !

      The point you need to grasp, Jim, is that capitalism is, and always will be, an anarchic, greed-based , economic system – run in the myopic short termist interests of the superrich. The only way to even moderately “rein in” the worst excesses of the system is via a radical programme of wide-ranging nationalisation, with swingeingly progressive taxation, national and international regulation, and long-term (democratically-based)integrated “command planning”. And the only way to stop the superrich eventually reversing all this “reining-in” (as the last 30 years of neoliberalism undid the entire postwar regulatory framework) , is to eventually replace capitalism itself with an international socialist system.

      Maybe your ideological outlook isn’t really in tune with a radical LEFT party , Jim ? The Liberal Democrats though have been banging on about “social market capitalism” and “shareholder democracy” for decades !

      • Ben McCall says:

        Come on John, get off your high horse pardner. Just because Tom has gone all quiet (actually I’m worried about him – hope you’re OK Tom?) there’s no need for you to take on the piece of work mantle.
        Yes we know all that, but why then has the left so miserably failed to win the battle of ideas? One of the many reasons is that they come across as bleeding know-alls who don’t listen, but “The point you need to grasp, Jim …” and dismiss them if they disagree. We know that this is also a soul-numbing phenomenon within the left.

        ‘Nationalisation’ may be right for a whole range of industries, but – like stalinist ‘socialism’ in the East – actual experience of it, in the UK, as workers and citizens was not great. Despite what my lovely old comrade Sam Watts (in Ken’s film) says about how getting a council house transformed his life, many peoples’ later experience of social housing in the UK is mixed, with a lot very bad.

        Of course you are not advocating that sort of nationalisation, but that is one of the reasons why people don’t buy it: “Oh aye, it will all be sooo different if we vote for you!” The challenge for the left is partly to be present a vision of ‘another world is possible’, of course, but to plausibly describe, in a host of creative ways, how we would get from here to there. And without the only option being to “fight it out on the streets, like every point of political principle, in a revolutionary way”, to quote our ludicrous Liverpool LUers.

        Having read a lot of what you’ve written, I think if you held your knee down I think you’d find that Jim and others you’ve given the pompous Penney treatment to, don’t deserve dismissal and not that much separates us.

  24. Infantile Disorder says:

    Just by reading this thread, one can see why any attempt to create a new party of the left is doomed.Reminders to people ?- TUSC at the Eastleigh by -election polled less than the ” Elvis is Still Alive” candidate.As for the tired and lame ‘ millions of workers straining at the leash’ to walk out and take action but are held back by treachorous leaders, please give me a break..Due to lifestyle changes , strike action of one or two days maybe at a push. Go into a full week and then a second week- forget it.Spontaneous walk outs and eruptions, to test and break the law?Minimal.People seem to forget that the TUC ever since its formation has contained a large chunk of ‘ conservatism’ and the large element of conservative voting working class of England is still prevalent today>Trade Union membership and density is at levels akin to 1918- but the difference is then there were the areas of mines, ship building, steel works and other mass production sites to organise.Today, service sectors dominate, and the majority of work processes are individualised.So we are left with barely 24% unionisation and 76% non unionised.
    There has got to be recognition of the Post-industrial age we now live in> An age dominated by finance capital and the City of London.Both of which Marx had very little to say .So who and where are the grave diggers of Goldman Sachs?The loose and mobile coalitions of peoples having a ‘go’ in different parts of the globe, do not require endless meetings, discussing irrelevent minutiae.Nor do they ‘ outsource’ their opinions/thinking processes to a governing clique a la democratic centralism……………………

    • Ray G says:

      You make a good point. The ‘treachery’ model whereby the ‘masses’ are held back by conservative TU leaders is not by any means the whole truth. TU members themselves often do not want to take action, or feel it is a waste of time and money. Even in the miners strike, most workers did not come out on strike to support the NUM.

      As well as pressurising union leaders we have to undertake the much more difficult painful, patient work of winning WORKERS to our views.

  25. Jim Osborne says:

    Still haven’t seen much from you John apart from a few slogans….may be appropriate for a left which has no vision beyond permanent opposition but we actually need a left with a vision with which it can lead a new form of society…..it has to say what it is for not just what it is against and you are just against everything…..if you dont like it you just stick an insulting label on it. The left has been spouting your sort of stuff since I first got involved in left politics 40 years ago….hasnt led the people out of domination by capitalism yet. Left Unity is a project for a NEW party of the left not a rehash of the failures of the last 2 generations.

  26. Justin says:

    Standing on a reformist platform in an undemocratic electoral system is only going to lead to demoralisation when the inevitable result is 1% or just above because we are squeezed by the Labour vote.*

    How about this? I would suggest standing in the European elections as there is a modicum of proportionality in that election. I would suggest either London or North West, or both? Getting an eighth of the vote would get an MEP of LU in those areas, not as impossible and masochistic as standing in locals/gen. election at the moment,(the left, I think, is too weak to even consider that at present). Personally, I’d rather this be on a revolutionary Marxist basis, but I’d support left-reformist platform in the Euro-elections, albeit, critically. The point is, people are more likely to risk voting for us in the European elections, that calls for democratisation:

    Real powers to parliament and abolishing NATO,
    EU [Federal]bureaucrats, richer countries supporting poorer countries,
    Europe-wide levelling up, living wage,
    scrap the CAP,
    free urban transport,
    high quality education and housing,
    Europe-wide industrial trade unions ect.


    * The other problem with this is that our disproportional electoral system makes it impossible to unite reformists with revolutionaries anyway.

  27. Jimmy Haddow says:

    (“)Transport union RMT delegates meeting at their national conference discussed the continued attacks on jobs, pay, pensions and the horrors of privatised and casualised transport industries. Central to these problems is the need to build a political movement that will support workers’ rights and provide a clear alternative to the failed policies of the current Con-Dem and previous Labour governments.

    The debate this year on continuing support for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) bought out many of these issues and overwhelmingly rejected the call to return to supporting the Labour Party. Motions supporting TUSC from London Underground Engineering branch and Neasden branch were moved by Socialist Party member Lewis Peacock: “We don’t have a voice, it is necessary to build and develop the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.”

    Paul Reilly explained how support for TUSC was growing. He had stood previously as a lone candidate in Nuneaton, but twelve candidates stood this year. “The Labour council is making the cuts worse than the previous Tories. We didn’t win, that will take time. We need an alternative,” he explained. Two delegates spoke against the motion, raising criticisms of TUSC’s share of the vote and the obstacle of ‘first past the post’ to justify a return to supporting Labour.

    These points were strongly answered by delegates such as Bill Rawcliffe, sacked Jarvis worker who had suffered at Labour’s failure to save 1,500 jobs at Jarvis, when in government. “The Labour Party is dead as far as socialism is concerned, it is rotten to the core.” Bill called on delegates to continue supporting TUSC. An attempt was made to undermine the democratic credentials of TUSC and the involvement of RMT members by arguing against “a blank cheque to support TUSC candidates”.

    Speaking on behalf of the Council of Executives, Bob Crow reminded delegates that RMT support for TUSC candidates was subject to the backing of RMT branches and regional committees and that the Labour Party had removed all democratic structures to change policy. As the general election approaches, renewed calls will inevitably surface over support for “lesser-evilism” and backing Labour. The decisive vote of two thirds of RMT delegates showed that determined support continues for the building of a real electoral alternative that will “put forward the alternative to cuts and win the arguments” which will build for future electoral success for TUSC.

    Reflecting the interest and support for TUSC, close to half the conference delegates attended the TUSC fringe meeting to hear Southampton rebel councillor Keith Morrell who later spoke to the full conference.(“)

    Source: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/772/17042/03-07-2013/rmt-reaffirms-support-for-the-trade-unionist-and-socialist-coalition

    Also a report from National Shop Stewards Network seventh annual conference:

  28. Nigel says:

    Yesterday revealed two rattled Parties who have been exposed as bedfellows in a long standing ‘you scratch my back ‘ arrangement .Cameron & Murdoch both Relished in underhand Exsposure of others for their own purposes but in typical Media Fashion both parties played the Injured Innocent.
    Forget the old hat labelling of Left or Right ,Cameron displayed his total fear at PMQ’s yesterday of Unions becoming a force to redress the Balance between his Totalitarian Policies and Fairness .
    Blair & Mandleson stole the Labour Parties traditional role of representing the Working Class and gave Tory Policy an open Playing Field .Milliband to keep his Tory agenda has had Labour central Office Vet any future candidates .Murdoch similar to Milli & Cam is blaming anyone for his Failings .
    Democracy is a Balance and all the above three are totally against that .Evil will not prevail .

  29. Jimmy Haddow says:

    Harry Blackwell comments on the 28th June that the “TUSC/SP got 22 votes (0.8%) in a council by-election in Plymouth last night, following on the 30 votes they won in Salford last week. UKIP came second in Labour-held seats both times with votes in the 20%+ band.”

    I would like to offer an Election report by the Plymouth TUSC candidate, Ryan Aldred, who is also a Socialist Party member:

    (“)On Thursday 27 June I stood as a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate in a byelection in Plymouth’s Southway ward. The byelection followed a Tory councillor being removed for lack of attendance. Less than 30% of the electorate turned out to vote suggesting that a big majority of people do not see the ballot box as an effective way of affecting change at this stage.

    Those who did vote sent a clear message to the Con-Dems. The Tories were relegated to third place with 16% of the vote. The Liberal Democrats only managed less than 3% of the vote coming fifth, behind an independent candidate who opposed party politics and received 10% of the vote.

    The seat was won by Labour who got 43% of the vote. It is clear from this result that Labour is looked to as a way of resisting austerity by some. However, Labour in councils across the country continues to implement policies like the hated bedroom tax and leader Ed Miliband has said that a future Labour government will not be reversing the cuts.

    Reflecting the bankruptcy of the main parties Ukip came second with 26.4%, a result it has achieved by posing as a protest vote against the main three parties. Yet, all of the Ukip supporters I spoke to during the counting of the votes revealed that they were with the Conservatives for decades before defecting. Ukip members have expressed racism, homophobia and aggressive nationalism and they also support cuts and tax breaks for the richest. They offer no alternative to working class people.

    This was the first time we stood a TUSC candidate in this ward. We received 22 votes and had some modest but important successes that can be built on in the future. Many people helped out by sharing campaign literature in their workplaces. My statement in the local newspaper gained 114 ‘likes’ online compared to the statement from Ukip’s candidate which received one. The Socialist Party is a constituent part of TUSC, along with the RMT transport union and others. Through the many discussions and our campaigning we met a number of people who are willing to get involved with future TUSC work and are considering joining the Socialist Party. Next spring 18 seats will be contested in the 2014 local elections giving all Plymothians the chance to vote – we plan to have a strong TUSC stand then.(“)

    Source: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/17054/03-07-2013/election-report-from-plymouth

    • Ray G says:

      Jimmy – all these links you are sending in are very illuminating, but what I want to know most urgently is why there are now TWO anti-Bedroom Tax campaigns in Waltham Forest, conducting activity separately from each other.

      After campaigning in my own local group a new activist told me about another event organised by a different campaign that I had no knowledge of.

      What did your hero Marx say about parties that put their own interests before those of the class as a whole – the definition of sectarianism.

      We can either campaign together or look ridiculous separately – you choose.

  30. Infantile Disorder says:

    Is there anyone else on this thread who thinks trying debating with the Socialist party is more akin to debating with Jehovah Witnesses/Flat Earthers?Some appallingly arrogant, patronising and insulting comments earlier on about ” entering working class estates…..” similar to missionaries being sent to civilise parts of the world.I am on my ‘working class estate ‘ now, having been working with groups of women desperately trying to keep family, neighbourhood and community together. They do not need reminding how bad things are as they’live’ it every minute of every day….Their anger will be seen next week in a series of direct actions/confrontations against the local authority……..from closing community centre to bedroom tax evictions, to non payment of community charge…….They do not need to be given Marx/trotsky to read/ After all actions speak louder than words

    • Felicity Dowling says:

      Infantile disorder
      “Is there anyone else on this thread who thinks trying debating with the Socialist party is more akin to debating with Jehovah Witnesses/Flat Earthers?Some appallingly arrogant, patronising and insulting comments earlier on about ” entering working class estates…..”

      Please can we leave the insults directed at fellow anti capitalists out of this important discussion? Debate, don’t insult.

      • Ben McCall says:

        Yes, stop insulting Jehovah Witnesses and Flat Earthers, Inf’ – JehWits have many more members that the Socialist party and are much more culturally diverse. And what harm did the FlEas ever do? Stopped them sailing off to conquer new lands and become imperialists. Whereas those SP blighters even turn scousers dull and po-faced.

  31. Martin Balmer says:

    And if I could add, debate , and don’t insult my intelligence by patronising working and non working women and men

  32. Roy Wall says:

    I am in favour of openness. Why does someone hide behind the name “Baton Rouge” and make too many responses here? Does this secretive person use other pseudonymns in order to make even more contributions?

    The question is whether the Labour Party remains a workers party. The LP continues to speak in the name of the working class, but does it still base itself on the working class? The outcome of Milliband’s response to Falkirk should determine this.

    IF the LP bureaucracy effectively breaks with the trade unions, it will be necessary to build a new workers party. Above, we are treated to various sorts of sectarian ideas as to what the programme of Left Unity should be based on. I think that we should instead be guided by Marx’ words in his “Critique of the Gotha Programme”:

    “EVERY STEP OF REAL MOVEMENT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN A DOZEN PROGRAMMES. If, therefore, it was not possible – and the conditions of the item did not permit it – to go beyond the Eisenach programme, one should simply have concluded an agreement for action against the common enemy. But by drawing up a programme of principles (instead of postponing this until it has been prepared for by a considerable period of common activity) one sets up before the whole world landmarks by which it measures the level of the Party movement.” [Marx’ emphasis]

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