REPORT OF LEFT UNITY NATIONAL COUNCIL MEETING APRIL 13 2019

A report by Pete McLaren

There were ten NC members present

DISCUSION ON THE PRESENT POLITICAL SITUATION

Points made during the discussion included:

§ Low pay has become a crisis

§ Education is seriously underfunded but Academies make profits

§ The NHS is on the verge of collapse

§ The state is treating immigrants even more unfairly, it now becoming common to demand proof of UK citizenship/residence before providing health treatment

§ It’s becoming difficult to get people active, and any resistance is unfocused

§ We need to discuss Ireland and the border question. Republicans are pushing for a referendum on a united Ireland

§ We need to be vigilant about the activities of the far right in upcoming elections

§ Left nationalism is a serious problem, and we’ve got a job to do as internationalists to counter it. Left nationalism is playing into the hands of reaction

§ Left Unity is trying to be political in a non-political period

§ Claimants face further attacks with the Tories looking at trialing new work capacity assessments

§ We need to do more to raise awareness about environmental issues

§ We must challenge the Labour party on its unconditional support for maintaining a nuclear deterrent

§ We must continue to work within the European left, and use that arena to combat left nationalism

§ We have to challenge the left, including the Labour party, on its support for Brexit. Why is Labour working to get Teresa May’s deal through??

INTERNAL ELECTIONS REPORT

Kate Hudson reported that all eight officer posts had been elected unopposed. Eight of the fifteen NC posts had been elected unopposed, leaving seven vacancies. No one had been nominated to be members of the Disputes or Appeals sub committees.

It was agreed to elect NC members to these two sub committees. This produced the following:

Disputes Committee – Pete McLaren; Bob Whitehead; Bianca Todd (Doug Thorpe in reserve)

Appeals Committee – Jim Hollingsworth; Pam Stevens; Dave Landau

ELECTION OF EC

Bob Williams-Findlay, Len Arthur and Doug Thorpe were elected to join the officers to form an EC

DATES FOR NC MEETINGS

The next three NC meetings were agreed as June 8th, July 20th and September 14th (provisionally), all to be held in Birmingham

LEFT UNITY CODE OF ETHICS

Bob Williams-Findlay motivated his Paper on the need for such a code, suggesting that many internal disputes developed around the way people conducted themselves. During a discussion it was suggested any Code should be what we aspire to, not a set of rules. Such a Code was agreed in principle, with the author and National Secretary to refine it in line with the discussion

ANNUAL CONFERENCE, SATURDAY JUNE 29th, LIVERPOOL

Final date for motions was agreed as May 18th, and June 8th for amendments. A Conference Arrangements Committee was elected, being the National Secretary, Nominating Officer and local members in Liverpool. A Standing Orders Committee was also elected, being Len Arthur and Doug Thorpe. The main themes for Conference were agreed as the rise of the far right and the need to fight back; fighting austerity; the environment and peace; women’s rights and disability resistance. Training Courses on becoming a Mackenzie Friend and Disability Resistance would be offered for those staying over on the Sunday.

The start time for conference would be agreed after looking at travel implications, and a crèche would be organised if necessary. It was also agreed to invite the exiled ex-President of Ecuador to address conference and/or issue a statement

EUROPEAN LEFT PARTY

It was announced that a European Left Conference was taking place in Barcelona 13th – 15th December. Three pre-conference committees existed and each one included LU representation. They were a Political Document group, Statutes group, and Evaluation and Evolution. The Left Manifesto for the European election was being launched in five days.

EUROPEAN FORUM

It was announced that this was taking place between November 8th and 10th in Brussels. Around this item a discussion took place about a report from Joseph Healy on Another Europe is Possible, centring around a campaign for a second referendum. In the discussion it was suggested that LU supports candidates in the European elections who were close to our policies. It was felt the Green Party may have better policies on freedom of movement than Labour. However, it was also considered important to return as many Labour MEPs as possible to join the Euro Left and prevent the right/far right being the largest bloc in the new European Parliament.

Separately, it was agreed to support LULA through the Brazilian Solidarity Group

NO PASSARAN CONFERENCE REPORT

Kate Hudson reported that over 400 had attended. LU had helped to organise it. The aim had been to strengthen opposition to the far right across Europe. There had been wide representation from across Europe. The conference needed to be followed up, she suggested. The conference had been informative. Apparently, Polish fascists had held demonstrations in Britain and sent videos back to Poland. The need to leaflet communities before marches against the fascists start was felt important, as was the need in Britain to oppose the Football Lads Alliance.

MEMBERSHIP

It was noted that no Membership Secretary had been elected. Barbara Senegal had agreed to continue to process membership in the interim. It was reported LU membership was now just below 500.

DISPUTES

Pete McLaren made the point that Stuart Richardson had been expelled without having been given an opportunity to appeal. Bob Williams-Findlay read out a statement from Birmingham LU branch explaining that bullying and harassment had been dealt with by the branch by suspending the individual. A condition of that suspension was that Stuart Richardson did not operate as Left Unity within Birmingham – but he did – so, following communication with the National Secretary, and a meeting with the NC appointed Disputes Committee, it was found by that Committee and subsequently the NC that he had broken the constitution and he was therefore expelled. A grey area was that during the branch suspension period Stuart had engaged in LU activities – but the branch could not bring that forward because the July NC took the decision to expel him. This fact was still on the table.

Notwithstanding the point made that Stuart had been given no right of appeal under the LU constitution, it was agreed that he was no longer a member but could appeal to conference. It was agreed the National Secretary remind him of that right.

CALENDAR

A number of events were flagged up:

May 11th – National Palestine Solidarity Demo, London

May 11th – International Women’s Day Strike in Liverpool

May 14th –Parliamentary meeting with MPs about the crisis in social care

September 7th – Wigan Diggers Festival

October 5th – National Meeting on maternity cuts, Friends Meeting House, Liverpool

April 2020 – Tom Jones (Welsh International Brigade) Festival – donation of £50 agreed

Pete McLaren 29/05/19

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