Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/601/8337

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 November 2009

RMT conference on political representation

The RMT transport union hosted an open-to-all conference on the crisis in working class political representation on Saturday 7 November. This followed the overwhelming backing given at the RMT's annual general meeting in July to the union's participation in the 'No2EU, Yes to Democracy' European election coalition, and a decision at that meeting to continue the discussion on the lack of working class political representation.

Judy Beishon

During recent months the participants in No2EU have been discussing whether another left coalition can be put together to stand candidates against the main parties in next year's general election (see last week's The Socialist).

Some leading individuals in the RMT are involved in these discussions, including general secretary Bob Crow, but as they are participating in a personal capacity, Saturday's RMT-hosted conference was not designed to discuss any specific proposals.

However, those who have been discussing a new coalition distributed a short text, stating: "As a minimum, we intend to stand against as many current cabinet ministers as possible, together with other ministers and prominent ex-ministers who have been complicit in New Labour's anti-working class policies". This would be "as a federal coalition under a common name, with a steering committee of participating organisations and trade unionists that operates by consensus".

Platform speakers at the RMT-hosted conference included trade union leaders Brian Caton, Bob Crow and Matt Wrack; Dublin Socialist Party MEP Joe Higgins; Jeremy Corbyn MP; and Socialist Party councillor and secretary of the Campaign for New Workers' Party (CNWP) Dave Nellist.

Joe Higgins

Joe Higgins emphasised that it would be futile to look to any of the Labour or Social Democratic parties across Europe for political representation for working class people, so alternatives have to be built.

Bob Crow criticised the TUC for failing to counter government attacks on working people (including on the postal workers), and said the choice between the cuts programmes of the main parties is that of dying by being "knifed to death or stabbed to death". "I want my own political party that's going to go out there, roll its sleeves up and fight for the principles we stand for", he added. And he went on to say that he is supporting, in a personal capacity, a coalition to fight the general election.

There were a number of useful interventions from the floor, including from the North West No2EU candidate Roger Bannister, who explained why No2EU had been right to stand against the British National Party's Nick Griffin.

The conference was a welcome forum, and although no votes were taken, the attitude of most of the 350 people attending seemed to be firmly in favour of a new coalition along the lines already being discussed.

The following day, at the Socialist Party's Socialism 2009 event, there was a forum on political representation attended by 200 people, with invited speakers from the Green Party, Respect, the Labour Representation Committee, the RMT and the Alliance for Green Socialism.

Dave Nellist and other Socialist Party members spoke in the forum, as some of them had also done at the RMT conference the day before, arguing that as the key forces for building a new mass workers' party have not yet fully materialised, in the meantime a coalition of general election candidates standing in the interests of working class people would be an important step forward.

The Socialist Party recognises that many workers may vote Labour in the general election as the 'lesser evil' to the Tories, in the absence of an established left alternative. But this is not a reason to delay creating that alternative; on the contrary it is a reason to speed up the process of building it.

Although the Tories may be worse, another Labour government will also make severe cuts to the public sector and launch other attacks on workers' living standards.

At both events over the weekend, the issue came up of how a new coalition should relate to the few left-wing Labour Party MPs, including John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn. As a number of participants in the pre-coalition discussions oppose standing against such MPs, the coalition will not do so.

Unfortunately these left MPs have not used opportune moments in recent years to leave Labour, to help spearhead the development of a new workers' formation.

The Socialist Party is campaigning for the building of a mass workers' party which would, in fighting for a national profile, attempt to stand in every seat.

When such a party exists, or to help with the process of building it, some of the remaining left Labour MPs may leave Labour to participate in it, which would be welcome.

The question of exactly when they should break with Labour is a tactical question though, linked to gaining maximum support from workers, and clearly the months before a general election might not be the best time.

However the ground has to be prepared by the left generally for convulsive events after the election, when the need for a new formation will be even more sharply posed.

The make-up, policies, name and structure of a new coalition to stand general election candidates have still to be agreed; discussions are on-going to try to involve as many trade union representatives (even if in a personal capacity), anti-cuts campaigners, environmentalists etc as possible.

But with the general election at most just six months away, time is short, so the advice offered by Joe Higgins when he spoke, to allow the maximum time for establishing the new coalition, was very important.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 11 November 2009:

Fight for real jobs and free education


War and occupation

End the war in Afghanistan: Bring the troops back now!


Socialism 2009

Socialism 2009: An excellent weekend!


Postal workers strike

Postal workers force management back


Defend the four campaign

Unison witch-hunt: Defend the Four campaign gets a boost


Campaign for a New Workers Party

RMT conference on political representation


International socialist news and analysis

20 years after fall of Berlin Wall, capitalist triumphalism turns rotten

General Motors - no to 'divide and rule' in Germany

Ireland: 90,000 march against government cuts

United Socialist Party congress delegates defy difficult conditions in Sri Lanka


Socialist Party workplace news

Leeds bin strike - week ten

London bus strike

Strikes force concessions

Steelworkers get organised and score a victory over bonus payments

Fujitsu

College strike


Young People

Big business fights for fees: Students must fight back

Internationally young people fight for their rights


Socialist Party review

Reclaim the game by John Reid

Anti-fascists tactics - What happened in Newport?


 

Home   |   The Socialist 11 November 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

RMT:

triangleRMT strikes against removal of train guards spreads

triangleGig economy exploiter Uber loses London licence

triangleEscalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap

triangleNSSN lobby of the TUC 2017: rank-and-file solidarity to smash the pay cap

triangleTories weak: time for the TUC to act

Labour:

triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleTories torn - bin them now

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

Election:

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangleThe Tories must be driven out

triangleGermany: Election results in political earthquake

Socialist:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

triangleSocialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

Socialist Party:

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

No2EU:

triangleObituary: John Pickett - 1954-2017

Bob Crow:

triangleThe left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate

Dave Nellist:

triangleWho's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights

John McDonnell:

triangleThe end of the Tories?

Brian Caton:

triangleTransgender woman locked up in male prison

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

19/10/17

North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

18/10/17

Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?

18/10/17

Leeds

Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

18/10/17

Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

18/10/17

PCS

Balloting members on the pay cap

18/10/17

Art

'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

18/10/17

Council

Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

18/10/17

South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

18/10/17

NHS

Uprising to save the NHS!

18/10/17

Socialism

Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

18/10/17

East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!

18/10/17

North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

18/10/17

BAE

Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems

18/10/17

Schools

Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

18/10/17

Swansea

Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2