July 2014: TUSC starts to prepare for the General Election – and seeks discussions with Left Unity, reports ISN delegate Pete McLaren
REPORT FROM TUSC STEERING COMMITTEE 02/07/14
In attendance: Paula Mitchell (SP); Charlie Kimber (SWP); Mike Seargant (RMT); Pete McLaren (ISN); John McInally (PCS Vice-Pres); Dave Nellist (Chair); Clive Heemskerk (Agent)
It was agreed Clive Heemskerk would attend a meeting of the Leicester TUSC SC to discuss how best to support the two ‘rebel’ councillors who now sat as TUSC councillors
Their letter of resignation from the TUSC SC had been circulated. Its reasons were the emergence of Left Unity which SR felt was broad based, socialist and democratic, unlike TUSC with its federal structure and lack of individual membership. It recognised the ISN had been set up to represent individuals, but felt that independents would get no representation if they didn’t agree with ISN policies. SR also expressed concerns about the policy of TUSC standing as widely as possible.
These arguments were countered at the meeting. TUSC branches were now developing, and the federal/consensus position meant no one organisation could use its numerical superiority to dominate. It was agreed to respond expressing the SC’s disappointment with the decision and the reasoning given
It was announced by Mike Seargant, RMT, that there had been a recent unanimous RMT Conference decision to continue fully backing TUSC
PREPARATIONS FOR THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION
Proposal for a National Election Fund
There was a lengthy discussion about whether or not this should fund the deposits of the 89 General Election candidates needed for the media threshold, and whether or not TUSC should aim for at least that number and a corresponding number of Council candidates, especially in those 89 constituencies – 1,015 candidates in total. It was felt PPC’s needed to provide additional information, including local campaigning and how they would raise additional funds towards the £1,500 needed per constituency for printing and free post delivery. It was generally thought having such a fund would help build momentum for both the General and Council elections. National donors would be likely to respond to a national appeal. The RMT expressed enthusiasm for supporting locally funded candidates whilst accepting the need for national funding. The SP reported growing enthusiasm for mounting a strong General Election campaign. There had already been 10 meetings in London since May 22, with local TUSC groups emerging in a number of areas including Enfield, Barking & Dagenham and Bromley. We should consider requesting PPC nominations from TUSC groups, Paula Mitchell added. The RMT reported TUSC groups were being set up in Kent.
It was agreed that the SC would launch an appeal for a National Election Fund to finance the TUSC 2015 election campaign, including possible payments towards the costs of parliamentary deposits. It was also agreed that constituent organisations should discuss what the target amount for the appeal should be, with the aim of reach agreement at the next meeting.
a) ‘Appeal for Candidates’ broadsheet
It was agreed to produce an A3 broadsheet appealing for candidates, with the content to be agreed through e-mail decision if possible to ensure the earliest possible production.
b) Letter to Labour PPCs
A draft letter for use by local TUSC groups and trade unionists in seeking a meeting with Labour PPCs was circulated. It asked for responses on trade union rights, restoration of public services and benefits, a living wage and public ownership. Charlie Kimber, SWP, suggested it also include a question on public sector pay. This was agreed, and the amended draft was endorsed by the SC
c) Approaching other organisations
A draft letter to Left Unity was circulated. It specified the need to discus next year’s elections, and promoted the TUSC view that that there should be as wide as possible a challenge from trade unionist, socialist and anti-austerity candidates in both elections. (It should be noted that Left Unity’s March Conference agreed to create the largest ever left challenge in the 2015 General Election).
The draft letter went on to suggest that TUSC’s preferred position would be for LU to become a participating organisation in the TUSC coalition, on the same basis as the existing constituent organisations, with SC representation. LU would still be able to produce its own material in election campaigns; stand candidates, under its registered electoral name – but stating they are part of the TUSC campaign, for example, for negotiating purposes with the broadcasting authorities; and generally be responsible for its candidates’ campaigns, subject to candidates endorsing agreed TUSC core policy statements.
Otherwise, TUSC suggested, there could be alternative arrangements, including the creation of a new umbrella coalition registered with the Electoral Commission, with LU to suggest names and details on how a new coalition involving autonomous organisations would function differently to the way that TUSC functions.
The letter concluded by saying that decisions on these questions were not necessary before any discussions took place, and suggested an early meeting would help clarify what needed to be done to build the most effective challenge possible to the establishment parties, in 2015 and beyond.
It was agreed the letter be sent with the addition of the phrase that TUSC was committed to the broadest possible united left challenge. It was further agreed to draft similar letters to the CPB, Respect, the SLP, the National Health Action Party, the AGS, and Tower Hamlets First, and to inform left TU leaders TUSC was making this effort to achieve a united left challenge.
d) Process for updating the TUSC General Election platform
It was agreed that the 2015 General Election platform would be a main agenda item at the next SC meeting. Constituent organisations were asked to submit proposed amendments to the 2010 platform, and its preamble.
NEXT SC MEETING
Agreed as Wednesday August 27th