Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/593/8031
Discussing an election coalition
In an interview in the Saturday Times, Bob Crow, the general secretary of the RMT transport workers' union, announced that he has had informal talks with pensioners' groups, students' organisations, green campaigners, socialists and other union representatives to draw up a joint manifesto for a 'workers' alliance' to contest some seats in the forthcoming general election.
Speaking on the eve of the annual TUC, in Liverpool, he said that working-class voters had been abandoned by all the main political parties and as a result some were turning to the BNP. "We would be putting up policies that we believe people want. What our members vote for is their democratic right but we certainly can't just sit back and say 'vote Labour'."
On 12 September a meeting, sponsored by Camden 3 RMT Branch, was held on the future of political representation for the working class. Representatives from London RMT branches, the RMT presidential candidate and member of the Council of Executives Alex Gordon, along with the RMT Regional Organiser London Transport, Steve Hedley attended.
It was agreed that a campaign for an election coalition be taken to branches through a draft resolution. We need to get the democratic involvement of the rank and file in our union and in other unions. It was reported that as well as the RMT, the Prison Officers Association (POA) may be involved.
RMT activists from the Socialist Party pointed out that the Socialist Party would normally stand candidates in the general election but would fully support a democratic coalition of trade union, community groups, left Greens and Socialist candidates standing on an agreed minimum programme. No one group should dominate such a coalition and each group should be allowed to produce its own material as well as distributing the agreed manifesto and material.
The meeting felt that we are not strong enough to stand everywhere, as only the RMT is involved at the moment and maybe the POA (although there are moves within the Communications Workers' Union, especially in the London region). But some electoral challenge needs to be made.
A representative conference has been called by the RMT on Saturday 7 November in Camden, central London to discuss political representation. The meeting agreed to build support for this amongst activists in the RMT and in other unions.
John Reid, RMT, personal capacity
In The Socialist 16 September 2009:
No Job Cuts
War and occupation
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party review
International socialist news and analysis