Socialist Party

 |  Mobile  |  26 March 2017 | 

Archive article from The Socialist Issue 334


Home   |   The Socialist 14 February 2004   |   Subscribe   |   News 

Join the Socialist Party   |   Donate   |   Bookshop   |   Print

 

Socialist Alliance Trade Union Convention

No way forward

ON 7 February around 700 activists attended a trade union convention on the political funds, organised by the Socialist Alliance.

Glenn Kelly (Socialist Party member and Unison activist)

The highlight of the conference was the speech by RMT general secretary Bob Crow. Following its historic conference decision the day before, the RMT showed that it would not be bullied by New Labour and overwhelming voted to uphold its decision to give its backing to the Scottish Socialist Party.

As Bob got up to speak the clock struck twelve (the deadline given by the Labour Party to back down). But this was no Cinderella running home to New Labour. Now, over 100 years after being a founder member of the Labour Party, the RMT has been expelled. There is no doubt that this is a new turning point in the battle for a break with New Labour.

Bob rightly listed the crimes of New Labour. And, whilst all credit must be given to him for not cowering in the face of their threats, he stopped well short of supporting disaffiliation and offering a way forward. In fact, he said that the RMT had sent its affiliation cheque to the Labour Party and it was up to them if they cashed it.

Reclaim the Labour Party?

The main debate was between those who called for the unions to "reclaim the Labour Party" and those who argued it was beyond redemption. Unfortunately, only one Socialist Party member was called, and that was to speak on the Hackney bins dispute. Without Socialist Party imput, that was the end of any clarity in the debate.

The 'reclaim the party' brigade could not offer a shred of evidence as to the success of their campaign. In fact, since the campaign was launched, the Labour Party has ignored conference decisions on pensions and voted through foundations hospitals and tuition fees - pushed through with the votes of union sponsored MPs. Even the expulsion of the RMT was moved and supported by the union reps on the NEC!

The truth is that reclaiming the Labour Party would take tens of thousands of union members (even if they were allowed) flooding into the party - and there is as much chance of that as Leeds winning the premiership.

I have no problem with those union members who want to stay in the Labour Party and try to reclaim it. But a minority has no right to chain the majority of us of to a party intent on continuing its attacks on workers and the unions.

Alternative position

But the alternative position put forward was equally fudged. One Socialist Workers Party (SWP) member after another attacked New Labour. However, they hid behind phrases like 'democratising the funds', without ever explaining what they meant. In fact, the SWP FBU delegate said that they "opposed disaffiliation in favour of democratisation".

This vacuous phrase means everything to all people and is used as a way of avoiding the issue and sitting on the fence. If unions democratise their funds, as the RMT effectively did, then they will, like the RMT, face disaffiliation from the Labour Party.

Those who say that it is not possible to reclaim the Labour Party are duty bound to put forward an alternative, yet none was forthcoming.

Bob Crow rightly drew parallels with debate in the unions 100 years ago, quoting from the minutes from his own union. But he failed to to draw the logical conclusions that then, as now, the role of a courageous union leader could be key. If the real awkward squad were to call a conference of union, community, student and youth activists to prepare the way for launching a new mass party, it would gain an enormous echo.

Home   |   The Socialist 14 February 2004   |   Subscribe   |   News 

Join the Socialist Party   |   Donate   |   Bookshop   |   Print

In this issue

RMT Expulsion Signals Time For A New Workers' Party

"Victims Of Cowboy Capitalism"

"Pinocchio" Blair's Lies Unravel


Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

Fighting Low Pay

RMT Makes Historic Break With New Labour

Socialist Alliance Trade Union Convention: No way forward


International socialist news and analysis

Pakistan's Nuclear Secrets Scandal


 


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

triangle23 Mar Jobstown Not Guilty: pics of London protest

triangle23 Mar Unite against terror, racism and war

triangle22 Mar Northern Ireland: divisive election a warning to the workers' movement

triangle22 Mar Battle steps up in general secretary election before start of voting

triangle22 Mar Tory splits brought to the surface - Corbyn must go on the attack

triangle21 Mar CPSA to PCS: Fighting the 'Moderates' and building a fighting union

triangle20 Mar March against racism: Refugee Rights has lively bloc

More ...

triangle28 Mar Bristol North Socialist Party: The French elections

triangle28 Mar Manchester Socialist Party: The history of the CWI

triangle30 Mar North London Socialist Party: Stop the education cuts

triangle30 Mar Bradford Socialist Party: The French election campaign

More ...

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

Archive

Archives:

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