Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/843/20095
A working class party needed
Paula Mitchell, Socialist Party Executive Committee
The RMT's national council of executives recently gave the union's official backing to a first tranche of TUSC candidates standing in May's general election. The decision to endorse Tony Mulhearn, Dave Walsh, Ted Woodley, Paul Reilly and Glen Hart means that these candidates can now receive financial support from RMT branches.
At the same time, in a further sign of the fracturing of British politics, RMT president Peter Pinkney has announced that he is standing for the Green Party in Redcar in the general election.
The pattern of two-party politics in Britain is breaking up. Anger at austerity and declining living standards is increasing the distrust of all capitalist politicians. The betrayals of Labour in particular, carrying out Tory cuts in councils and pledging further austerity in government, mean that while many working class people will not vote at all, others are looking at alternatives.
The Scottish referendum and the Greek elections show that when people see a way of expressing their anger they grasp it. But the route to creating a viable working class-based alternative will not be straightforward. Working class people, including trade unionists, will test out different ideas and options.
It was a big step forward when the late Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, co-founded TUSC in 2010. But even Bob spoke at the Green Party conference in 2003 and voted Green in 2004.
However, he then drew the conclusion that it was necessary to create an explicitly working class, trade union orientated banner under which elections could be contested. TUSC has been officially supported by the RMT since 2012 and this was unanimously confirmed at the union's AGM last year.
Aware of the potential for a mass anti-austerity force to develop, the millionaire press has deliberately built up 'safe' alternatives. In the last couple of years the channel of choice has been Ukip - increasingly the Green Party is also being promoted.
It is no accident that when the previous RMT president Alex Gordon stood for TUSC in 2012, or when the assistant general secretary of the union and 53 other members of the RMT stood 2014, it was met with a wall of media silence.
Unlike the Green Party, in which the RMT has no formal role, the union is officially represented on the TUSC committee with a veto over policies and candidates. The Socialist Party looks forward to continuing to work with the RMT on the TUSC committee and with the many RMT members who are standing as TUSC candidates this May.
- For more on the Greens see www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/841/20002
In The Socialist 11 February 2015:
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