Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 18 October 2003

The socialist - what we think

Socialist Alliance Trade Union Convention

MANY TRADE union branches recently received letters from the Socialist Alliance (SA) calling for support for their February 2004 conference entitled: 'Convention of the trade union left'.

Its stated aims are "to discuss the issues that have been dominating discussion in many trade union branches up and down the country: who should we vote for at the next elections? What can we do about the state of political representation for the trade union movement?"

What should be trade union activists' attitude to this? The Socialist Party believes the left in the trade unions need to come together to challenge in an organised way the pro-market, pro-Blair policies of the right-wing union leaders that still dominate many trade union head offices, particularly the TUC at Congress House.

But the primary responsibility for organising this surely lies with the new left trade union leaders, the so-called 'awkward squad' who were elected precisely because so many of their members were fed up with the 'social partnership', class-collaborationist policies for so long pursued by the right-wing.

Kick in the teeth

Regrettably, most of the new left trade union leaders are still arguing that it is possible to "reclaim the Labour Party". It seems that even the kick in the teeth the union leaders were given by Blair and company's dismissal of the vote on foundation hospitals at this year's Labour Party conference has not convinced them to change strategy.

So there remains an enormous vacuum on the left of British politics. The SA has already shown it is incapable of filling this vacuum. Unfortunately, the SA today has become little more than a front organisation for the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). The SWP's refusal to allow the SA to be an inclusive organisation, as predicted by the Socialist Party, has led to its withering on the vine.

The SA now bears no resemblance to the original conception of ourselves and others of a democratic, federally-organised alliance, popularising socialist ideas and arguing for the trade unions to play a central role in founding a new workers' party.

In fact the SA, by claiming to be the only left alternative to Labour, has provided ammunition to union leaders who want to keep the Labour link to attack the idea of a viable socialist alternative to the main capitalist parties.

Both CWU general secretary Billy Hayes and FBU leader Andy Gilchrist have pointed to recent poor SA election results as a reason why there is no alternative but to reclaim the Labour Party. Certainly it has been difficult to achieve an electoral breakthrough, particularly in council and Westminster elections with a first-past-the-post electoral system.

The Socialist Party, with a better electoral record than the SA (including four elected councillors), has always recognised that our results are just a foretaste of what could be achieved by a new workers' party, initiated and built by the trade unions.

The SA, however, by refusing to put their results in that context - and instead insisting that the unions' task is merely to support them - play into the hands of those opposed to breaking the Labour link.

Genuine choice

THERE HAS never been a greater need for a new workers' party to give a political voice to the trade unions and give a real choice to workers in elections. A genuine, broadly prepared convention of the trade union left on this issue could play a very useful role.

But it would need to be organised and built for, not in competition with but jointly with the trade union left organisations and other socialist organisations with trade union support, such as the Socialist Party (with 17 national trade union executive members).

It would also need to be a representative meeting (ie based on genuine delegations from trade union branches and shop stewards committees), with a clear aim to launch a wide-ranging debate throughout the trade union movement on how an alternative to New Labour can be built.

If, however, as all previous experience of the SWP-dominated SA suggests, the aim of this meeting is merely to attract trade unionists to the Socialist Alliance, it will not take the struggle for workers' political representation forward.

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

In The Socialist 18 October 2003:

United Action To End Low Pay

Save Our Health Service

London Workers Lead Fight For A Living Wage

Stand Together To Scrap The SATS

Socialist Party news and analysis

Can The Nasty Party Win Again?

Fighting Women's Oppression

Socialist Alliance Trade Union Convention


Apparently it's all my fault...

Socialist Party feature

More Jailings But Deeper Anger

Greater Dublin City Bin service shut down!

Anti Bin Tax Campaigns Thank Bin Workers; Call for End to Non-Collection and Jailings

War and occupation

Iraq's 'Liberation' Nightmare

Protest Against Warmonger Bush

Democracy And The Stop The War Coalition

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

World economy: Will There Be A Recovery?


ISR conference:

Stop Fees Now!

International socialist news and analysis

Bolivia: A Movement Of Insurrectionary Scale

California: Last Action Hero Will Let Down Voters

Nigeria: General Strike Suspended After Government Backs Down

Poland: An Explosion Of Class Struggle


Home   |   The Socialist 18 October 2003   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Socialist Alliance:

triangleAttitude to the Labour Party and the Left

Trade union:

triangleStrike wins biggest pay rise in ten years

triangle2018: more upheavals loom

triangleObituary: Derek Robinson, car workers' leader, 1927-2017

triangleNew play celebrates Grunwick strike


triangleCorbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangleWe must fight all council cuts!

trianglePacked Newham meeting against academies

Socialist Party:

triangleTeesside Socialist Party: 'Fake' Trump! What's really going on in the US?

triangleTheatre: 'Young Marx' shows growth in great platform for his ideas


triangleAfter the Unite elections - now turn outwards

Socialist Workers Party:

triangleUnison attacks Barts deal after failing to ballot their members for strike action

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



Corbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy



Victory! Trump's UK visit cancelled by fear of protests



NHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!



Carillion crisis: demand action to save jobs and services



Cabinet chaos as shambolic reshuffle underlines Theresa May's impotence



Sustained mass movement needed to stop Tories wrecking our NHS



Bigot Toby Young quits - now scrap the new uni regulator driving privatisation


Them & Us

Them & Us



Teacher recruitment falls by a third - cut workload, not funding


Fire service

Fire service victory



Rail: fares up, bosses' pay up - delays and cancellations up


Higher Education

Mobilise against rip-off executive pay



NHS in winter crisis as Branson creams off 1bn



Thousands live in tents and sheds - seize empty homes


Fat cats

Widening wealth gap, increase in poverty...make the fat cats pay

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

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

triangle17 Jan Corbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangle17 Jan NHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

triangle17 Jan We must fight all council cuts!

triangle16 Jan Home care workers to strike

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

triangle12 Jan Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangle12 Jan Mini-strike wave continues and intensifies

More ...

triangle23 Jan Bristol North Socialist Party: 'You can't have capitalism without racism' - was Malcolm X correct?

triangle23 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: How the Poll Tax was beaten

triangle24 Jan Caerphilly Socialist Party: The Carillion scandal

triangle24 Jan Cardiff Central Socialist Party: Carillion collapse - Watershed moment for public services

More ...

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



January 2018






















Platform setting: = No platform choice