REPORT FROM LEFT UNITY NATIONAL COUNCIL JULY 17th 2016

There were 25 members present. Doug Thorpe took the chair

PRELIMINARY REPORTS/ITEMS

Andrew Burgin paid a moving tribute to former NC delegate Matthew Caygill who had sadly passed away recently.

The NC agreed to endorse comrades in Greater Manchester involved in a broad anti-cuts campaign that included standing a candidate in the Mayoral elections

It was agreed to set up a Standing Orders Committee

POST REFERENDUM DISCUSSION, including Corbyn, Tory leadership, rise in racism

Felicity Dowling lead the discussion. She outlined how split the Tory party now was, with the elite being in crisis. The £ was weak. The new Government was to the right of Cameron’s

Andrew Burgin spoke about the reactionary nature of the majority Brexit campaign, blaming immigrants for our problems and lying about increased money for the NHS. Although four million people had called for a second referendum, that would not help in the present situation which already seemed fairly confused. The key for the next period would be defence of migrants and freedom of movement. Brexit was not a cry from the oppressed. 70% of young people, trade unionists and black people had voted Remain. There had been a massive increase in race and hate crimes since June 23

John Pearson moved the Stockport motion which noted with concern opposition to freedom of movement from Unite’s Gen Sec Len McLuskey and Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson along with a recent statement from John McDonnell on the Brexit negotiations which did not insist on freedom of movement. The motion called on the LU to vigorously oppose any policy changes which did not support the principle of freedom of movement.

Steven King introduced discussion points about developments within the Labour party. The left was taking control, he argued, hence a possible right wing coup. The right was attempting to exclude 200,000 members from taking part in the leadership ballot. A major witch-hunt had started, and Momentum might be proscribed. The Labour party was now a mass party: this could benefit campaigning, although many new members were inexperienced. If Corbyn wins the election, there could be a civil was inside the party.

The following were amongst points made in the excellent discussion that followed:

§ The Tories were not weak, and further privatisation was likely

§ The UKIP led Brexit campaign was racist, hence the rise in racism. The far right has been strengthened

§ We need to be aware of UKIP’s neo-fascist populist policies

§ Freedom of movement should be throughout the world, not just within Europe.

§ Historically, the left has opposed freedom of movement

§ The Referendum result does not give the Government the right to take away our freedoms and rights

§ We must work for unity across the left and not attack Lexit supporters

§ Jeremy Corbyn is saying little about immigration

§ LU members should not be encouraged to participate in the leadership election

§ The Brexit vote was not necessarily a racist vote, although the Brexit campaign was driven by racists

§ A further economic crash was possible with a corresponding rise in racism

§ We must engage with both sides of the left EU debate

§ In terms of the Labour party, we must defend Corbyn

§ The Labour party remains undemocratic and capitalist, with no change in its support for austerity despite what Corbyn stands for. He actually wrote to Labour councillors suggesting they shouldn’t oppose cuts

§ There was still no campaigning within the LP, just internal faction fighting

§ Labour could split whatever the result of the leadership election, although trade unions will try and prevent that.

§ There was evidence Momentum was not allowing LU members to participate

§ LU should favour a split in the LP as a step towards forming a new workers party

Following the discussion:

· The Stockport motion was unanimously agreed

· Fighting austerity and racism were agreed as priorities

· It was agreed LU members should not be encouraged to participate in the LP leadership election

INTERNATIONAL DISCUSSION, INCLUDING WORKING WITH THE EUROPEAN LEFT

Kate Hudson introduced the discussion by describing what was likely to be presented to the annual Euro Left Political Forum. A number of conferences and meetings were also being organised. We should use such opportunities to influence the European Parliament before it makes its final decision on the terms of Brexit, she argued. It was hoped the UK could host a conference of the European left in the autumn. She expressed concern that some Euro left parties, like Die Linke, were implementing cuts.

Following discussion, it was agreed to update and re-print LU cards in many languages, and that standard motions for conferences should be drawn up

LU ANNUAL CONFERENCE – October 29th, Liverpool, with workshops, training and discussion at a non-decision making second day (October 30th)

The timetable drawn up by the EC was agreed with a couple of amendments as follows:

Deadline for motions and Commission reports: September 16th

Motions circulated to branches: September 26th

Deadline for amendments and emergency motions on the Jeremy Corbyn situation post leadership ballot: October 14th

Motions and amendments published for conference: October 24th

REPORTS

Trade Union Commission

Concern was expressed about trade union involvement of LU members outside of local TUCs and, separately, a report that LU conference policy was not being implemented on rank and file trade unionism and LU caucuses within them. It was agreed documents which were presented to the Commission should be circulated to the NC before the issue about conference policy could be discussed

Membership

Andrew Burgin reported this stood at 1230, with some growth during the Referendum campaign but some fluctuations due to those joining the LP and those returning from it. It was agreed the Membership Leaflet should be updated.

CONCLUSION

Despite a lower than usual attendance, the standard of political discussion was high. The session spent discussing post referendum developments was particularly enlightening and informative, with a variety of views being expressed in a comradely manner. What was disappointing, apart from the attendance, was the fact that only five delegates were women, and the audience was white and largely over 50 in age terms. Whilst those factors are not uncommon at left meetings at present, they are disappointing given Left Unity’s laudable attempts at promoting genuine equality of opportunity, and need to be addressed.

Pete McLaren 02/09/16

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