PRESENT: CNWP (Terry Pearce); RDG (Steve Freeman); Socialist Alliance (Toby Abse, Pete McLaren); tUSP (Steve Ballard); Socialist Party (Clive Heemskerk); CPGB (Peter Manson); Workers Power (Marcus Seal)
APOLOGIES – DLP; Gerry Byrne (SA)
It was agreed that Pete McLaren would chair
REPORT FROM DECEMBER 19th MEETING - agreed as correct
TRADE UNIONIST AND SOCIALIST COALIATION
Clive Heemskerk (SP) reported that the TUSC had been launched and was now up and running. 24 candidates had been endorsed, including 6 from the SWP. A Steering Committee had been set up in Scotland. Local campaigns were in the process of affiliation. The CPB had decided not to continue participating, as had the AGS despite the SP and AGS attending each others NEC meetings, and an offer for the AGS to stand under their own name as part of the Coalition, or for a variant of TUSC to be registered with 'green' added. The RMT had decided to campaign for their Parliamentary group of MPs whilst, at the same time, leaving it open for RMT Branches and Regional Councils to apply for authorization to support and fund TUSC candidates.
He explained that TUSC was different to No2EU, which had the official backing of the RMT. However, the debate was more concretized in the TUs than with No2EU. Labour was already worried – there were indications that Labour supporters were organizing within the unions against TUSC. He concluded by suggesting that TUSC was a modest but important step towards filling the vacuum in terms of working class political representation.
In the discussion which followed, the, SA, tUSP and CNWP expressed their concerns that they had not been invited to join the TUSC Steering Committee despite their support for the Coalition. In addition, the following points were made:
- There is a lack of openness and transparency about TUSC discussions
- The programme is a step forward from No2EU
- The left should support these steps towards building a Coalition
- Trade Unions still feel that opposing Labour will let the Tories in
- TUSC should push the need for workers MPs on a workers wage
- There are concerns about the lack of a national convention and meetings behind closed doors before a launch announcement was eventually made
- TUSC asks organisations a series of questions before considering affiliation – why does it matter how many members an orgaisation has, how many TU exec members it has, what its record on electoral support is, or whether it supported No2EU? How do these issues impact on our ability to take part?
- If organisations can not join the Steering Committee, we should establish a representative socialist body to represent such supportive organisations whilst promoting TUSC
- The AGS should be exposed for their continued failure to support left unity and coalition projects
- TUSC is a step forward but it needs be inclusive
- The programme is a compromise – the crisis of Parliamentary democracy should be included
- TUSC has the potential to help build a new workers' party
- As long as organisations accept the common programme, they should be allowed to join TUSC
- We should look to having as many candidates as possible given the recession and anger about Iraq
- TUSC could end up taking a purely trade unionist approach whereas the admittance of left political groups could provide a balance
- There is a problem if the RMT does not want left groups on board
Clive Heemskerk responded to the discussion. He explained no national funding would be available for constituency challenges. Organizations can be involved – the first 24 candidates approved by the TUSC steering committee included members of four different socialist organizations (and members of none). But TUSC was more than an exercise in left unity – it was pushing forward the need for working class political representation within the labour movement. The SWP had been admitted onto the TUSC steering committee because of their size, and six proposed candidates from the SWP had been endorsed as TUSC candidates. The Steering Committee now consisted of the SP and the SWP and, all in a personal capacity, Bob Crow and Craig Johnson (RMT); Brian Caton (POA); Chris Baugh and John McInally (PCS), Nina Franklin (NUT) and Nick Wrack (Respect). The Steering Committee was scheduled to meet on Thursday, and he concluded by suggesting the LULC could become a type of 'shadow steering committee' for TUSC – a forum for discussion which could be fed back into the TUSC discussions.
This suggestion was taken up by the meeting. The following points were made
- Smaller organisations standing candidates could attend the LULC rather than the TUSC Steering Committee
- The LULC could have an influence and report to the TUSC Steering Committee
- The LULC could become the socialist wing of TUSC
The following were agreed
v The LULC would meet more regularly to hear reports from TUSC which Clive Heemskerk agreed to make
v Clive Heemskerk would take any concerns raised by the LULC back into TUSC, thus giving left organisations a voice
v This two way process to be augmented by dialogue between Pete McLaren, on behalf of the LULC, and Clive Heemskerk on behalf of TUSC between meetings when necessary
v The LULC would meet again on Saturday March 6th, 2 – 4pm, Lucas arms
REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST CONVENTION – SAT Feb 13 11.45am London South Bank University
Steve Freeman (RDG) reported that the Convention was now sponsored by the SSP, SA, LRC, Green left and DLP. A number of speakers had been confirmed, including Colin Fox (SSP), Robert Griffiths (CPB) and Peter Tatchell (Green party) but he was awaiting confirmation from TUSC. He reminded the meeting that organisations not on the platform would be able to speak from the floor. He would be proposing a further Convention, and a Republican Socialist election pledge.
The Meeting finished at 5.15pm. The next meeting was confirmed as Saturday March 6th, 2pm, Lucas Arms
Pete McLaren 08/02/10
Report from Left unity meeting February 6 2010