The Socialist

The Socialist 5 January 2011

652

The Socialist issue 652

We'll resist Cameron's 'hard times'

NSSN anti-cuts conference: Trade unionists to debate the way forward

A real strategy to fight the cuts


March together, win together: students and workers join the demonstration in Manchester on 29 January

29 January demonstration in Manchester: Students and young workers unite


2011: a year of sharpening struggle


Rail operators profit from commuter misery

Northern Ireland water crisis: Privatisation agenda wrecks service utility

NHS cutbacks - health bosses and government to blame

Tommy Sheridan trial - guilty verdict is a sham

Private ownership, public pollution


Fight the NHS pay freeze!

Heinz strike again

Birmingham bin workers fight back

More pay strikes at Newsquest papers

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition conference on 22 January 2011

Trade unions must fight for agency workers' rights


Tribute to John Macreadie, trade unionist and socialist fighter

Grunwick: leader of historic strike dies


Fela! the musical

 
 

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Conference: 'The crisis in working class political representation'

But no progress towards a new workers' party

The rail union RMT-organised conference to "discuss the crisis in working class political representation" which took place on 10 January, was initiated by a resolution passed at last year's RMT conference.

Jane James

Unfortunately, the meeting did not bring any closer the setting up or even the first steps towards a new workers' party. Neither were there any clear proposals to ensure that there will be candidates standing in the next election committed to supporting working class and trade union demands.

At the first RMT conference on political representation three years ago, the idea of a shop stewards' network, rather than starting to build a new workers' party, was put forward by RMT general secretary Bob Crow.

At Saturday's conference Bob Crow re-asserted that the Labour Party cannot be changed. A new workers' party is needed but it may not happen for a number of years.

This time round the 'People's Charter', which contains demands on the economy, jobs, housing and public services, was put up as the alternative to a new party.

Communist Party member Mary Davis invoked the courageous struggles of the Chartists and their huge petitions as the way forward today. She argued that a new party will only bring about disunity whereas people can unite around the Charter.

John McDonnell MP spoke about the trade union co-ordinating group launched at the TUC last year to bring together the trade union-sponsored MPs, which may lead on to a new workers' party.

Right now he argued there is not sufficient support for a new party and the Labour Representation Committee have agreed to stay in the Labour Party.

He also said there would be a slower pace in the process of building a new party due to the splits in previous attempts.

Socialist Party members replied to these arguments. John Reid (RMT) proposed that 10 to 15 seats be contested in the June elections. It would be criminal to wait for five or ten years before building a new party. A new party would not just be for elections but would be a voice for working class people.

Dave Nellist explained that Chartism was before working-class people were given the vote and that although there is a role for petitions, political action and power are also needed. He proposed a national conference be organised to discuss standing candidates and how to build a new party.

Rob Williams answered the sceptics in the room who complained about a weak left and no support for a workers' party. "There is a constituency for a new party": he said, "look at the Gaza demonstration today - many people, including youth are prepared to take action yet not one political party has organised it. If there was a new workers' party on the demo people would join".

While many in the room said they felt it was a difficult period for the working class and the left, Rob reminded everyone that it is capitalism that is in trouble.

Jared Wood (RMT) explained that he did not want a charter imposed from above but one that was open to discussion. We should indentify trade union candidates to stand in the elections.

Bob Crow in his summing up explained that this meeting was not called to launch the charter and there would not be another conference. He said factories are closing, so we can't sit and discuss the content of the charter.

In contrast to many at the meeting, the Socialist Party sees the question of how an independent voice can be created for the working class in Britain as an immediate and urgent issue. This is why the Socialist Party, along with others, is working to build the Campaign for a New Workers' Party.

Around 120 attended the conference, most were members of different left groups and parties. A third left the hall in the afternoon to attend the Gaza demonstration.

While disappointed once again by the fact that at this stage no left trade union general secretaries are prepared to put their weight behind the building of a new party, the Socialist Party will continue to argue for the need for working class representation, while building support for socialist ideas among working class people and youth.


In this issue


National Shop Stewards Network

We'll resist Cameron's 'hard times'

NSSN anti-cuts conference: Trade unionists to debate the way forward

A real strategy to fight the cuts


Socialist Party youth and students

March together, win together: students and workers join the demonstration in Manchester on 29 January

29 January demonstration in Manchester: Students and young workers unite


Socialist Party feature

2011: a year of sharpening struggle


Socialist Party news and analysis

Rail operators profit from commuter misery

Northern Ireland water crisis: Privatisation agenda wrecks service utility

NHS cutbacks - health bosses and government to blame

Tommy Sheridan trial - guilty verdict is a sham

Private ownership, public pollution


Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

Fight the NHS pay freeze!

Heinz strike again

Birmingham bin workers fight back

More pay strikes at Newsquest papers

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition conference on 22 January 2011

Trade unions must fight for agency workers' rights


Obituaries

Tribute to John Macreadie, trade unionist and socialist fighter

Grunwick: leader of historic strike dies


Socialist Party review

Fela! the musical


 

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