REPORT FROM THE LEFT UNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE MEETING 29/03/09

ORGANISATIONS PRESENT; Green Left; Socialist Party; RDG; SA; CNWP; AWL;tUSP

Apologies: Clive Heemskirk

MAIN DISCUSSION ITEM – The "No2EU-YestoDemocracy" RMT Euro Election initiative

Neil Cafferky, from the Socialist Party National Committee led the discussion. He pointed out the Euro elections would be the first since the economic crisis. The BNP were likely to make gains. there was no independent working class voice until the RMT announced the initiative. The lindsey dispute showed how EU directives were being used against workers, and that where was a vacuum, the far right could move in. Euro elections were seen as a protest vote – in 2004, 30% of votes went to non establishment parties, mostly to UKIP, who were now in crisis – some of their support could go to the BNP. The RMT initiative provides an alternative for disllusioned workers, and any MEP elected would not take up their wages or expenses. The initiative intended to stand in 6 seats, including Wales, Scotland, NW, West Midlands (where Dave Nellist would head the list), and London (where Bob Crow would head the list). The campaign would raise the need for working class political representation, and the need to break the Labour link – and there would be d thePublic Meetings in every town/city.

The following comments were made in the discussion which followed:

It was likely that respect would be standing in London, and the left in the NW had agreed to support the Green Party – could the RMT initiative avoid clashes there?

The left should not support this initiative – it is not from the TU rank & file; there was no real consultation; the package came from outside the Union; the programme is not working class, and it blames EUethe EU rather than capitalism; its position on Europe is similar to that of the BNP and UKIP; it attacks the free movement of labour; it is not a serious campaign – it is not even using the freepost

The green Left supports the migration of workers and is against any restrictions

There is no democracy in the RMT cammpaign

The Green Left will be supporting left Green Party candidates like Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas

The CNWP supports the initiative but has some concerns – the phrase "social dumping" needs to be replaced; the Steering Committee needs to be broader; MEPs should take up their seats; there is too much nationalism. There are positives – it is an important independent trade union initiative. We should critically support.

The initiative is part of the movement towards a new left party

The RMT has stepped in because there has been no progress on the left, and to fill the vacuum the BNP might otherwise fill

The programme should have been discussed beforehand

There are divisions on the left over the EU

There are criticisms, but the positives outweigh them. It is an independent working class initiative, the first to challenge New Labour. All of its programme, except the reference to social dumping and restrictions on the free movement of labour, come within the 80/20 – opposition to racism, international workers solidarity, opposition to privatisation, nationalisation of the banks, energy companies and railways, keeping the NHS and Post Office publicamme

The progrogramme provides a good analysis of the BNP and the problems they pose: it should act as buffer against the BNP

The regional structures and Public Meetings could be used to speed up the process towards a new left party

It is not independent working class political representation because the politics and the way of working are not working class. It is organised by the TU bureaucracy and the CPB, not the rank and file

You can not cut across the BNP by taking over some of their policies as in the key points, which is what the media will home in on, as they did at Lindsey – the media will not look at the details of the policies, just the "big print".

We can not organise around policies which are about dumping foreign workers

You can not just select what you want from the programme

There involvemen of the SP has improved the programme and broadened the initiative – the AGS, Respect and Solidarity were at the last Steering Committeee

There may be an over emphasihs on the EU, but these are EU elections

This is not the alternative voice we had been waiting for to advance socialism and counterbalance the BNP

We should engage with the initiative, worts and all, as a short term campaign, try and influence it, and use it to build

The whole emphasis of the initiative's programme is wrong, blaming the structure of the EU for all our problems – the EU is not responsible for privatisation; it should be anti NATO and against troops in Iraq, not just anti EU militarism

The web site shows a number of good thngs, but not enouugh for the basis of a campaign – it's the headlines that matter

It is going in the wrong direction – there is no internationalism, no call for workers of the world to unite

It is not about workers running their industries or environmentally friendly production

The EU was formed as a bosses market, not to advance workers unity

The left has never explained why it opposes the EU which is why this initiative is causing problems

The programme is too nationalistic, but we should give it critical supporNeil Cafferky replied to the debate, and made the following points:

The SP is also critical of the initiative, and there was a large internal debate before it was agreed to support

The decision to stand was taken far too late, and as a result there has been a lack of democracy within the initiative

Internationalism should have been spelt out more, butr it is a campaign forns the European elections

To the RMT

THE PEOPLES CHARTER – a set of poltetical deds being drawise then up by a number of left TU leaders and a selection of teerthe political left (includicame I

CPB General Secretary Robert Griffiths, one of the forty individuals drawing it up, introduced the Charter. He outlined the history behind it. The CPB had called for alternative policies to be drawn together in July, and in Septembger leadners of the RMT, POA and FBU sent out invitations to meet and discuss the way forward for the left. The Peoples Charter developed ticalgroup drawing up the Charter had not been democratic or broad enough. The Charter would be launched in March, and he hoped the left would unite behind it.

The Charters from the AWL, Workers Power and RDG were motivated. In the general discussion, many felt that the Peoples Charter was a step forward in that its proposals were broadly supportable, and it had significant left trade union support. However, it failed to address the question of government. How would the political demands it was making be implemented? How could the Charter help change society? Organisations also wondered how it could be amended. There was some support for a suggestion that the left generally backs the Charter whilst calling for it to also address the crisis in working class political representation. Others were not so sure.

ELECTORAL CLASH AVOIDANCE

Organisations present had already committed to clash avoidance. It was hoped Respect would also agree, especially as they had decided to stand aside in the NW to avoid any clash with the Green party. The CPB announced they were considering standing lists in Wales and the East midlands

THE RECENT WAVE OF UNOFFICIAL STRIKES

The following were amongst the points made in a lively discussion:

There was concern about the media labeling the strikes as “British jobs for British workers”

The actual demand was for a TU register of workers, and for labour to be drawn from that pool

There was a danger of increased patriotism, if not racism

The appeal we should make is the Marxist phrase “Workers of the world unite – you have nothing to

loose but your chains”. Our slogans should be “No Job Cuts; No Pay Cuts”

We should support workers in struggle whilst opposing any racism and challenging the BNP

DECISIONS MADE

1. THE PEOPLES CHARTER

It was suggested that organisations discuss The Peoples Charter, and report back their position on promoting it or otherwise. Those oranisations who wished to do so would intervene at the launch of the Charter in March

2. POLITICAL CHARTERS/KEY DEMANDS FROM LEFT ORGANISATIONS

It was agreed to collate the various Charters into one document. Steve Freeman (RDG) offered to do the collation. Charters/Key Demands had so far been received from the SWP, AWL, CNWP, Workers Power and RDG, in addition to The Peoples Charter

3. THE ENVIRONMENT

It was unanimously agreed to support a proposal from the AGS that "The issue of the environment should be a pillar of any new joint organisation"

4. AVOIDING ELECTORAL CLASHES BETWEEN THE LEFT

It was agreed to continue pursuing this objective

5. FINANCIAL APPEAL TO FUND 'LEFT LISTS' IN THE EURO ELECTIONS WHERE THERE WAS NO SOCIALIST CHALLENGE TO THE BNP

It was agreed that the Socialist Alliance considers how it should promote this appeal while other organisations discuss their attitude towards it

6 AIMS OF THE LEFT UNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE

It was agreed that A Discussion Paper on possible aims of this Liaison Committee be circulated to organisations prior to a discussion on such aims at the next Left Unity Liaison Committee Meeting

NEXT MEETING

It was agreed that the Left Unity Liaison Committee would meet again on Saturday April 18th, 1pm at the Lucas Arms

Pete McLaren 02/02/09

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