Left Unity elects a majority of women

Women strikers in Dagenham 1968

Women strikers in Dagenham 1968

Left Unity’s first national meeting has elected 60% of women to the directly-elected section of its new National Co-ordinating Group, reports Kate Hudson.

During an enthusiastic and exuberant – and occasionally fraught – first national meeting, Left Unity agreed the composition and procedure for electing its first National Co-ordinating Group, and promptly elected a majority of women in its directly-elected section.

After some discussion the following proposal on the composition of the new Group was agreed:

  1. Local group reps elected by the local groups, one per group, where the group has at least 5 members and has had at least one minuted meeting. As groups develop they will be added.
  2. 10 people elected by the meeting
  3. Those 10 to comprise at least 50% women

A proposal to delete point 3 was overwhelmingly rejected. But in the event, no gender adjustment needed to be made to the election results, as six women and four men received the highest votes from a field of around 30 candidates in an open nomination process.

Those elected (in alphabetical order) are: Andrew Burgin (M), Terry Conway (F), Merry Cross (F), Felicity Dowling (F), Guy Harper (M), Kate Hudson (F), Chris Hurley (F), Salman Shaheen (M), Bianca Todd (F), Tom Walker (M).

Gender balance, as part of our work against all forms of discrimination, is an important element in our ongoing discussion about the type of organisation that we wish to build/develop. Thanks to leading disability activists among our numbers, we are also working to facilitate the participation of disabled members and supporters. As we progress, our aim is to be inclusive of, and towards, all communities.

This election result is an important first step in the right direction. Our intentions must be made real, and this outcome gives me confidence that we can do it.




11 responses to “Left Unity elects a majority of women”

  1. Liz Gray says:

    I was sorry not to have been elected but it looks like a good group

  2. Rupert says:

    Great that women are so involved and in the majority. However, this is obviously not a photo of the LU national meeting yesterday! Will Left Unity release figures of those attending?

    I understand 30 put their names up for election to the steering committee. We’re told of those elected but not of those who were not elected. Umm, in open union elections we are given the full picture. even SWP and SP members are.

    Increasingly, Left Unity is NOT giving the full picture.

    Those you try and circumanvigate – the SWP and the Socialist Party give far more of the full picture. If Left Unity stands a fig leaf of a chance, you’ve got to be really honest and give us the full picture.

    I think you are trying to circumnavigate the existing Left. But you are fools in appealing to the Left Fragments when the real problem is the Labour Party. Unless you look to the Labour Party discontents LU is lost.

    You’re also lost if your members/supporters are not in unions or local campaigns.

    I want you LU folk to prove me wrong – but not one of you is in my vibrant and vital anti-bedroom tax campaign.

    You’ve arrived on the back on supposed crisis of the left. Now you are the crisis. You have to be truthful – you have to propose why you providing “unity” to the existing left – SWP and SP – with numbers far, far bigger than yours.

    • Felicity Dowling says:

      Rupert We don’t know each other. I’m sorry you feel like that about Left Unity but we are only just starting. I am most definately involved in the bedroom tax campaign and so are others. Which is your anti bedroom tax campaign Please send a link. Right here in Liverpool people are very jealous that outside organisations don’t muscle in on their campaigns.

    • Bianca Todd says:

      Hello Rupert.

      You should see that the article on the election results give the information you sought into the “election”.

      Whilst I might not be part of your vibrant and vital anti bedroom tax campaign, you will see that within Northamptonshire I have played an instrumental part in the development of our own vibrant and equally as vital anti-bedroom tax campaigns, additionally I am involved with the peoples assembly and unite the union.

      I agree that the trade union and those 3 million lost labour voters are essential to the Left Unity Movement, rest assured that we share some of your views as to the starting points. However we are at a beginning of a journey, not the end.

      Let us hope that this journey provides a platform of social change that we are crying out for.

      • paul gascoigne says:

        your mistaken Bianca its 5m, and you never got your way with labour so left in a huff, what have you don’t for the anti-bedroom tax campaign, your playing on your grandads trade union serve himself record and with the same as McCluskey because he supports your family pet project,

  3. Paul Stygal says:

    Rupert, I fear you are somewhat mistaken. It isn’t a steering committee as the group are not empowered to steer, but merely to co-ordinate. The elected members of the co-ordinating group will stand only until the next national meeting in Autumn. As to those attending, although not individually counted by me, I would estimate there were around 100 attending (apparently 55 groups were represented) and there are a couple of photos on the Left Unity Southend Facebook page – there may be more on others. You say “Increasingly, Left Unity is NOT giving the full picture.” Why increasingly? We have no full picture to give yet! Left Unity has only been going for 9 weeks and other than that reported by Kate Hudson, the only resolution that we took was to allow time for issues to be discussed more fully in local groups, in order that reps attending the next national meeting have had the benefit of a local discussion to guide their vote. Over half of Saturday’s meeting was taken up with oral reports from local group reps and it was clear that though many were in other organisations, there were also many who were politically active but not in any organisation. From my perspective, the general consensus seemed to be, a real need to be open and democratic and inclusive rather than exclusive. Although time is short, we must allow time to get everything right in order that Left Unity doesn’t fall by the wayside, as previous attempts by other organisations have done. Other than a local anti cuts org (and a union), I am not in any other organisation, but have a fervent desire that Left Unity succeeds in becoming the Left voice that people so badly need in opposition to the present Tory and ‘Tory light’ Parties!

  4. I’m pleased this is the outcome. I’m glad women felt confident enough to put themselves forward too. In Doncaster, we have an activist base that keeps growing, but most importantly it is led by women and activities are attended by more women than men. As a result we have lots of men active, who are great examples of the slogan, “men of quality, have no issue with equality”. We also have LGBT individuals coming to the meetings and people of ethnicity. We are proud of this, Jerry Hicks, commented that he was really pleased with how many women were at the meeting he spoke at. I thanked him for noticing, but pointed out it has taken a lot of hard work and bravery on the part of everyone to change the way socialist activities are organised in our town. It partly had to change because women and children were taking the hardest hits regarding the cuts, and when we wanted to organise ourselves, be it in parties, community groups or in unions, we were told all the time how far we could go, by men who had other agendas, like pleasing the local labour group! It felt like you were being treated like a child. Fighting for women’s job and services has meant challenging sexism that exists inside our movement and challenging it hard.
    For me this is just how it should be, in a town like Doncaster where the UNISON local government branch has four male conveners and 80% of its membership is female, you have to start asking questions and fast. Asking questions often makes you unpopular, but only with the right people. I have to say i’ve had wonderful support from male activists, who just has much has me wants to fight oppression. Those who can’t go along with this much needed approach fall by the wayside, as that should be too.

  5. Doug says:

    Oh dear. Soggy right-on politics are not going to attract working class people. So, is it intrinsically good that there’s a majority of women? What if working class men are not represented but middle class women are?

    • John says:

      Hey Doug,

      What’s the soggy right-on politics? Left Unity isn’t just about making sure there’s at least 50% women running the organisation, that’s just one thing you’ve focused on. I’m not sure what you mean by middle-class either, but having ‘middle-class women’ doesn’t preclude having working-class men, or working-class women. :/

      On attracting working-class people, if there was a formula that worked that we all knew to use, we’d probably be trying it. I’m not aware of it existing. Of the current left parties (if we leave aside Labour and Greens), there isn’t a party bigger than 2,000 tops paper membership. This may indicate that the current selection of left parties are deeply unattractive to working-class people.

      IF you have any suggestions as to how to solve the problem you pose, I’m sure LEft Unity would love to hear it. It’d like to know, because I don’t know the answer to your problem either.

  6. Paul Gascoigne shame on you for descending into personal attacks on people working so hard to build a new Socialist Party while still doing a days work and a commitment to their family. This new National Co-ordinating Group should be given the 100% support of every supporter of Left Unity (can we have membership very soon please)- they and we have a long hard road ahead of us with many pole no doubt trying to distract us along the way. So long as we appeal to working people and support them in struggle with a clear Socialist programme we will gain support and have no need to fear the dead hand on some tiny weeny groups or individuals with their own axe to grind.
    Well done to all those elected – you have my full support.

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