REPORT FROM THE LEFT UNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE MEETING 31/01/09
ORGANISATIONS PRESENT; Green Left; Socialist Party; CPGB; RDG; SA; CPB; AGS; CNWP; Workers Power; AWL
Apologies: tUSP; Wil McMahon (Respect); Explo Nani-Kofi (Left Alternative)
GENERAL DISCUSSION ITEMS
RMT CONFERENCE ON WORKING CLASS POLITICAL REPSENTATION AND CONVENTION OF THE LEFT RE-CALL EVENT
Reports from both events were circulated and discussed. There was general disappointment that the left TU leaders were playing a waiting game and not building a new party to give the working class political representation. It was also thought that, although there was a possibility that the unity through action perspective from the Convention of the Left could, in the long term, help in the process of building something new on the left, the Convention was unlikely to achieve much in the short term. It represented low level left co-operation at best, and most organisations felt little of substance had so far emanated from it.
THE PEOPLES CHARTER – a set of political demands described by the speaker as having been drawn up by a number of left TU leaders and a selection of the political left (including Respect and the CPB)
CPB General Secretary Robert Griffiths, one of the forty individuals drawing it up, introduced the Charter. He outlined the history behind it. The CPB had called for alternative policies to be drawn together in July, and in September leaders of the RMT, POA and FBU sent out invitations to meet and discuss the way forward for the left. The Peoples Charter developed from that. The aim was to get one million signatures by the next General Election, and this process could help create the climate for a new party, he felt. He accepted the group drawing up the Charter had not been democratic or broad enough. The Charter would be launched in March, and he hoped the left would unite behind it.
The Charters from the AWL, Workers Power and RDG were motivated. In the general discussion, many felt that the Peoples Charter was a step forward in that its proposals were broadly supportable, and it had significant left trade union support. However, it failed to address the question of government. How would the political demands it was making be implemented? How could the Charter help change society? Organisations also wondered how it could be amended. There was some support for a suggestion that the left generally backs the Charter whilst calling for it to also address the crisis in working class political representation. Others were not so sure.
ELECTORAL CLASH AVOIDANCE
Organisations present had already committed to clash avoidance. It was hoped Respect would also agree. It was reported that Respect had decided to stand aside in the NW to avoid any clash with the Green party. The CPB announced they were considering standing lists in Wales and the East Midlands
THE RECENT WAVE OF UNOFFICIAL STRIKES
The following were amongst the points made in a lively discussion:
• There was concern about the media labeling the strikes as “British jobs for British workers”
• The actual demand was for a TU register of workers, and for labour to be drawn from that pool
• There was a danger of increased nationalism, and even racism
• The appeal we should make is the Marxist phrase “Workers of the world unite – you have nothing to
lose but your chains”. Our slogans should be “No Job Cuts; No Pay Cuts”
• We should support workers in struggle whilst opposing any racism and challenging the BNP
DECISIONS/SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER ACTION
1. THE PEOPLES CHARTER
It was suggested that organisations discuss The Peoples Charter, and report back their position on promoting it or otherwise. Those oranisations who wished to do so would intervene at the launch of the Charter in March
2. POLITICAL CHARTERS/KEY DEMANDS FROM LEFT ORGANISATIONS
It was agreed to collate the various Charters into one document. Steve Freeman (RDG) offered to do the collation. Charters/Key Demands had so far been received from the SWP, AWL, CNWP, Workers Power and RDG, in addition to The Peoples Charter
3. THE ENVIRONMENT
It was unanimously agreed to support a proposal from the AGS that "The issue of the environment should be a pillar of any new joint organisation"
4. AVOIDING ELECTORAL CLASHES BETWEEN THE LEFT
It was agreed to continue pursuing this objective
5. FINANCIAL APPEAL TO FUND "LEFT LISTS" IN THE EURO ELECTIONS WHERE THERE WAS NO SOCIALIST CHALLENGE TO THE BNP
It was agreed that the Socialist Alliance considers how it should promote this appeal while other organisations discuss their attitude towards it
6 AIMS OF THE LEFT UNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE
It was agreed that A Discussion Paper on possible aims of this Liaison Committee be circulated to organisations prior to a discussion on such aims at the next Left Unity Liaison Committee Meeting
It was provisionally agreed that the Left Unity Liaison Committee would meet again on Saturday April 18th, 1pm at the Lucas Arms
NB This has now been booked – please contact me within the next few days if the date is not suitable for your organization.
Pete McLaren 04/02/09
Left Unity Liaison Committee Jan 31 2009