REPORT OF THE LEFT UNITY MEETING OCT 11 LUCAS ARMS
PRESENT: Green Left (Tim Summers; Andy Hewett); Workers Power (Richard Brenner, Luke Cooper); RDG (Steve Freeman); AGS (Eddie Adams, Mike Davies); Socialist Alliance (Gerry Byrne, Pete McLaren); tUSP (Bob Archer); Socialist Party (Greg Maughan); CNWP (Terry Pearce); Respect (Will McMahon); Left Alternative (Explo Nani-Kofi); CPGB (Peter Manson); Toby Abse (observer)
APOLOGIES – AWL; Dave Church (DLP); Andrew Fisher (LRC); Steve Ballard (tUSP); Chris Ford (LRC)
It was agreed that Gerry Byrne would chair, and that Pete McLaren would write up and circulate the report
DEVELOPMENTS SINCE THE JULY 5 MEETING
The Editorial in Saturday's Morning Star was welcomed. Under the heading 'The Left's Opportunity', it had lambasted the Labour Party and called for left unity and an end to the divisions on the left.
There were a number of contributions about the deepening economic crisis, the attacks on the working class this would lead to, and the need for the left to unite and respond.
Reports from the Convention of the Left differed. Some felt the positives outweighed the negatives – although there had been no agreement to form a new party, there had been a number of calls to do so. The Convention had been participatory in the way many sessions had been run, but the whole event had been stage managed with the Interim Statement being presented rather than debated. This Statement included the phrase 'We are not saying that this means the construction of another political party'.
It was agreed to see what came out of the Recall Event on Nov 29
SUBMISSIONS AND COMMENTS FROM ORGANISATIONS ON COOPERATION AND UNITY WITH OTHER GROUPS - as agreed at the July 5 meeting
Four written submissions had been circulated, as follows:
Green Left – called for the formation of a Left Unity Liaison Committee
Socialist Alliance – called for the formation of a Left Liaison Committee. Supports the CNWP
AWL called for left unity in action
RDG called for a mass workers party, inclusive and democratically organized – a republican socialist party.
At the meeting, other organisations present gave their views:
AGS – Environmental issues should be a pillar of any new party; the party should be socialist and not dominated by any group
SP – Support a new workers' party and therefore launched CNWP.
tUSP – Opposed to electoral clashes
CNWP – In favour of building a new party as well as developing the widest unity on the left
Left Alternative - In principle against electoral clashes. Have a conference on Nov 8 and will report back
WP – Labour can not be reclaimed. A new mass working class party is needed, avoiding the mistakes of the past. Supports the CNWP
Respect – Need to do our best not to clash electorally. Unity in action is vital
CPGB – Need to start from the unity of Marxists and left groups: unite around the 90% we agree on
It was agreed organizations would go back and discuss left unity further.
BECOMING A LEFT LIASON COMMITTEE
a) Proposal from the SA and the Green Left
The SA suggests that this Left Unity initiative becomes a Left (Unity) Liaison Committee to have dialogue on the unity process as it unfolds
b) Resolution from the RDG
This meeting recognises the current crisis within the financial system has created a real and serious danger of an economic depression over the next year. Working people will be made to pay for this through redundancies, mass unemployment, wage cuts, house repossessions, price and tax increases and cuts in social services.
In these conditions it would be a betrayal of the working class if the socialist movement remains divided into rival organisations competing with each other. Workers and trade unionists will have rightly have no confidence or trust in such a movement.
This meeting therefore recommends to our organisations the setting up a committee with the provisional name “Liaison Committee for One Left Party” (the actual name to be decided at its first meeting). This committee will be charged with promoting the aim of one party. It will facilitate as a matter of urgency a national discussion and debate among all socialists committed to this aim, and taking all practical measures to facilitate the creation of one party.
Amendment to RDG Resolution from AGS:
'Replace "crisis within the financial system has" with "triple crises of finance, resources and environment have"
Amendment to RDG Resolution from Pete McLaren on behalf of the SA:
Delete Para 3 and replace with "This meeting therefore resolves to set up a Left Unity Liaison Committee, with the main task being to promote the aim of creating one left party if organisations agree.”
AVOIDING ELECTORAL CLASHES – Resolution from the AGS:
"That all groups represented here – with the necessary exception of those such as The Labour Representation Committee and Green Left which are just factions within other electoral parties – agree to avoid electoral clashes with each other and commit to resolve any potential electoral clashes by negotiations in good faith on a common sense basis."
These items were taken together. The resolutions and amendments were moved. In the discussion which followed, there was general support for the SA and Green Left proposal that this Left Unity initiative becomes a Left Unity Liaison Committee. Three organizations – Respect, Left Alternative and tUSP needed confirmation from their members. On the RDG resolution, organizations who commented felt their members were unlikely to support the call for this body, at this stage, to promote the call for one left party – working more closely together was felt to be the immediate priority for the left. There was agreement in principle with the AGS resolution to avoid electoral clashes, with the SA, SP, AGS, RDG, CNWP, GL and CPGB in complete agreement with the resolution, whereas tUSP, Respect, Workers Power and Left Alternative were in principle against electoral clashes but would need further internal discussion before any commitment to the resolution could be made.
During the discussion, the Left Alternative representative protested about his organization being referred to as Left Alternative/SWP. He was assured they would not continue to be referred to as such.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTIVITY/FURTHER DISCUSSION
The Workers Power representatives moved the following resolution:
"Following the Convention of the Left in Manchester, we will work towards Conventions of the Left and
the Workers Movement in London and other regions to discuss the capitalist crisis and resistance to it"
There was further discussion about the Manchester Convention, with mixed views as above.
The resolution was agreed without dissent, although it will need confirmation from within
organizations. There was agreement from representatives present to go ahead, and for this to be an
agenda item at the next Left Unity meeting
The meeting was informed of a NSSN Demo on Monday October 13th outside the Bank of England with
the slogan “Workers will not pay for the crisis”, and of direct action on the same theme on October 31st,
details to follow – this later date being a follow up to the demonstration held on October 10th.
DATE OF NEXT LEFT UNITY MEETING – This was agreed as Saturday January 31st 2009, 1 – 3pm, Lucas Arms
ACTIONS GENERALLY AGREED (with a few organizations needing internal endorsement, as above)
1. THIS LEFT UNITY INITIATIVE WILL BECOME A LEFT UNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE
2. AGREEMENT IN PRINCIPLE TO AVOID ELECTORAL CLASHES WITH EACH OTHER
3. START TO BUILD REGIONAL CONVENTIONS OF THE LEFT AND THE WORKERS MOVEMENT TO DISCUSS THE CAPITALIST CRISIS AND RESISTANCE TO IT
4 THE NEXT LEFT UNITY LIAISON MEETING WILL BE SAT JAN 31st, 1pm, Lucas Arms
Pete McLaren 20/10/08
Report from Left unity meeting October 11 2008