TUSC starts to prepare for the General Election – and seeks discussions with Left Unity, reports ISN delegate Pete McLaren

REPORT FROM TUSC STEERING COMMITTEE 02/07/14
In attendance: Paula Mitchell (SP); Charlie Kimber (SWP); Mike Seargant (RMT); Pete McLaren (ISN); John McInally (PCS Vice-Pres); Dave Nellist (Chair); Clive Heemskerk (Agent)

LEICESTER COUNCILLORS
It was agreed Clive Heemskerk would attend a meeting of the Leicester TUSC SC to discuss how best to support the two ‘rebel’ councillors who now sat as TUSC councillors

SOCIALIST RESISTANCE Continue reading

Left Unity discusses left electoral challenges – but no decisions on them reached!

REPORT FROM LU NATIONAL COUNCIL 07/06/14
Compiled by Pete McLaren – with notes from Colin Piper (Emergency resolution taken late Saturday, and Sunday) – for the Independent Socialist Network
Chairs: Mathew Caygill (Leeds) and Liz Davies (London)
There were 51 elected members present.
The meeting began, as such left events do, with a number of procedural questions. Matthew Caygill, in the Chair, announced that the Disputes Committee was in on-going discussions with Glasgow South LU, and that therefore their motion on a certain lack of democracy within the LU in Scotland, calling for a meeting of all Scottish LU members, should be deferred. There was also a dispute as to whether the Glasgow branch had been formally set up. Matthew Jones, from Glasgow, argued that the motion needed to be dealt with now, as the next NC was not until September. As the Scottish referendum question was part of the issue, that would be too late. It was agreed by 30 votes to 12 with 9 abstentions to defer the motion.
The next issue Continue reading

For a united socialist electoral challenge – suggested branch resolution

Although the left in Britain remains small, efforts to bring it together and heal its divisions are an integral part of building it up on solid foundations. Left Unity’s policy, as voted for at the March conference, is that “Left Unity should open discussions with other left groups, coalitions and parties to avoid electoral clashes and move towards electoral pacts – with the initial aim of creating the largest ever left challenge in the 2015 General Election”. Left Unity’s goals therefore coincide with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) who have set down a significant marker by standing 561 candidates in the recent local elections, and who are now committed to building upon that in order to be even stronger next year. We feel that we have a duty to working class communities everywhere to present a credible, united socialist alternative for which they can vote and campaign. We urge you to show support for that aim by passing this resolution.

This motion was passed by Exeter Left Unity at its AGM on 11th June. A corresponding version for TUSC activists will follow.


This branch notes:

  • Left Unity has got off to a promising start, with over 2000 members
  • The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) stood 561 candidates in the May 22nd 2014 local elections, an achievement not seen in left-of-Labour politics since the end of the Second World War;
  • TUSC has written previously to Left Unity, offering temporary co-operation on the limited basis of support for an anti-cuts platform fully compatible with our party’s current policy;
  • As a party the time is approaching when we must decide which seats we wish to contest in 2015; as yet there has been no wide-ranging discussion as to how this may fit in with other socialist activists;
  • In several key areas, Left Unity and TUSC activists have been involved in supporting each other’s campaigns, electoral and otherwise;

 

This branch:

  1. Calls on the National Council as well as the party’s elected officers to facilitate a thoroughgoing debate on the potential for intensive and structured collaboration (as opposed merely to non-aggression) between serious forces on the left at the 2015 elections;
    1. the records of this and relevant communication to be promptly minuted and circulated to branch co-ordinators, as well as the general membership via the website.

 

  1. Affirms that while talks should be held at the highest level and take priority given the tight timeframe at hand, local activists in communities and branches are best placed to take the lead in determining the nature of co-operation far in advance, in order to present the most united and strongest possible socialist challenge at the 2015 elections.

TUSC Steering Committee reflects on progress made during election campaign and builds towards 2015

REPORT: TUSC STEERING COMMITTEE May 28, by Pete McLaren for the ISN
This was another well-attended and representative Steering Committee meeting with positive outcomes
LOCAL ELECTIONS 2014, AND PREPARATIONS FOR 2015
(i) Elections Report
Clive Heemskerk spoke to his circulated report. TUSC had made considerable progress, standing 553 candidates, representing the largest left of Labour challenge for over 60 years. There was a breadth to the campaign in terms of involvement from both trade unions and left organisations. TUSC obtained 64,098 votes in the Council elections, at an average of 3.4%, with a further 3,933 votes from the 3 mayoral contests. There were some noteworthy results, including the re-election of Southampton rebel Labour councilor Keith Morrell as part of TUSC, Dave Nellists’s 30% in Coventry and 20% in one Salford ward. He outlined how UKIP had impacted on TUSC’s vote, and also how the media had constantly refused to include TUSC, showing the importance of reaching the media threshold in future. The BBC had used TUSC’s non-standing in the Euro elections as an excuse to exclude TUSC from coverage.
The following were amongst comments made in the lengthy discussion which followed:
• We need to keep promoting the need for local TUSC groups and to do more between elections
• We should discuss the merits of standing as TUSC rather than TUSC Against Cuts
• We did well to field 553 candidates, and the reasonable results show the potential
• Not standing in the Euro elections affected TUSC’s results
• Results were quite reasonable given the political context: a low level of class struggle compared to when these seats were contested in 2012, and the emergence of UKIP. TUSC is clearly up and running
• Politics is volatile and the mood could quickly swing our way as it has done for the left in Spain and Greece
• The left is too fragmented and needs to get its act together. TUSC is the only organization attempting to do that. There needs to be just one organization on the left contesting elections, and we should take the high ground on that. Maybe a Conference of the left should be organised
• Standing so many candidates can lead to some low results
• TUSC suffers from being a Coalition not a Party. The best left results in Europe were achieved by Parties
• We should aim for at least 100 General election candidates and thus 100 local TUSC groups
(ii) Letter to candidates and agents & approaching other organisations
A draft letter to TUSC’s candidates and election agents was circulated. It congratulated them on this year’s achievements and suggested preparations start for the 2015 General and Council Elections. It suggested TUSC groups lobby Labour PPCs over the Trade Union Freedom Bill and stressed the importance of TUSC being organised locally, offering SC speakers for local meetings where requested.
Points made in the discussion included:
• We should aim to stand Council candidates in every ward within a Constituency we are contesting, and aim for the 15% media threshold of 1,000 TUSC candidates
• We need early discussions with other left organisations likely to have candidates. We must promote unity and avoid clashes
• Our strategic position should be that TUSC will be standing in both the General and Council elections
• Establishing local TUSC groups must be a priority. They should function by consensus to avoid any one component part dominating
• We can give guidelines for local groups as to how they could move forward
• We must involve local trade unions and build roots within communities
• We should make clear our total opposition to UKIP and refer to their policies as racist
• We may need to concentrate our resources and not necessarily stand so widely
• TUSC may not be the final answer, but it is an electoral coalition that works at present
Following the discussion, the following actions were agreed:
• Send the letter to candidates and agents as circulated with additions requesting that local groups
begin general election planning now re: finances and personnel; an appeal for standing orders be
included in the letter; and that plans for 2015 be reported to the steering committee before our next
meeting.
• To continue with approaches to other socialist and anti-austerity organisations conducting electoral
activity that are not currently within the TUSC umbrella to ask them to become participating
organisations or at least come to an electoral arrangement for 2015.

(iii) Preparations for the 2015 elections
It was agreed to set up a sub-group to bring proposals to the next meeting, including a list of local councils with elections in 2015 and suggestions on how TUSC’s general election ‘core policies’ platform, prepared for the 2010 contest, should be updated for 2015. Nick Wrack and Clive Heemskerk were the initial volunteers for the sub-group but other steering committee members were invited to come forward.

COMPOSITION OF THE TUSC STEERING COMMITTEE
It was agreed to invite the left members of the NUT NEC who might wish to participate in TUSC to select representatives from amongst themselves to sit on the TUSC steering committee. It was further agreed to invite the Turkish-Kurdish socialist organisation DayMer, to the next SC meeting to present their case for representation on the SC.

LETTER FROM LEICESTER COUNCILLORS
A letter was circulated from two Leicester city councillors expressing a wish to set up a TUSC group on the council. It was agreed that Dave Nellist and Clive Heemskerk should contact them for a meeting, with Cllrs Keith Morrell and Don Thomas to be involved if possible.

OPEN LETTER FROM THE INTERNETIONAL SOCIALIST NETWORK WOMENS CAUCUS
An ‘Open Letter’ had been sent to TUSC four days before polling day asking the steering committee to repudiate its decision to issue a Certificate of Authorisation to the RMT Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley to stand as the TUSC candidate in Newham council’s East Ham South ward.
The SC agreed to take no action on this except to re-affirm in the minutes that clauses 3(i) and 3(iv) of the TUSC rules state that candidates who are members of organisations participating in the steering committee “can expect to have their nomination papers for elections authorised by the coalition nominating officer as TUSC candidates if they so request”, subject to the steering committee operating by consensus having “the final say on all coalition seats and candidates”, which was the procedure followed in this case.

DATE OF NEXT STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
This was agreed as Wednesday 2nd July, at Unity House, 4pm

ISN meeting on Elections and Scottish Independence: 21st June

All independent socialists are invited to attend the next meeting of the Independent Socialist Network taking place on Saturday 21st June at 12 noon at The Meeting Place, 2 Langley Lane, London SW8 1GB. It a short walk from Vauxhall tube. Vauxhall tube is ten minutes from Euston and Kings Cross and 2 minutes from Waterloo.  The map for the venue is here:  http://bit.ly/1n4ywHF. The venue is on the ground floor and accessible. As always, some travel expenses will be covered by a pooled fare – which enables members and supporters from further afield to attend.

There will be two main sessions, both with time for discussion:
1. Sandy McBurney of Glasgow will introduce his perspective on the Scottish independence debate.

2. Edmund Potts will outline his views on this year’s local elections, as well as electoral prospects for the socialist left in the run-up to 2015 and beyond.

There will also be time allocated to discuss the work of the ISN and its activities in TUSC & Left Unity.

Please confirm attendance via our facebook event, or if this will be your first ISN meeting please give Ed a call on 07541 937755 or email on edmundpotts *AT* gmail.com

ISN Meeting on Europe and Ukraine: 26th April

The meeting takes place next Saturday, 26  April, at 12 noon until 5pm at The Meeting Place, 2 Langley Lane, London SW8 1GB. It a short walk from Vauxhall tube. Vauxhall tube is ten minutes from Euston and Kings Cross and 2 minutes from Waterloo.  The map for the venue is here:  http://bit.ly/1n4ywHF. The venue is on the ground floor and accessible.
There will be a pooled fare.
The day will have a two part agenda. The first part will focus on two inter-related debates on the left. The debates are
1) The Ukraine: what should the socialist response be?
2) Europe: what should the socialist strategy for Europe be?
The day is open to all independent socialists. We welcome contributions on both of these issues in writing and on the day.
The day will also discuss the outcome of the Left Unity policy conference (you can find a copy of the ISN bulletin distributed at the conference held today here: http://bit.ly/1jGPv13), the TUSC local election campaign, our new journal ‘The Project’ and plans to build an ISN regional contacts network.

Edmund Potts – TUSC Candidate for Polsloe, Exeter

As part of the drive for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to achieve ‘fair’ media coverage by standing 625 candidates, I will be standing for election in the Polsloe ward of Exeter City Council.

The Southwest in general and Exeter in particular need a socialist alternative at these elections, and that’s why it’s especially important that we give people the opportunity to vote again and again for candidates standing on a platform of ‘No cuts to vital public services’. It has a particular resonance locally given the attack on youth services by Tory-controlled Devon County Council, and their decimation of funding for the Women’s refuge in Exeter. There’s real anger out there, and we need to give that a voice.

Together with comrades from the local branch of the Socialist Party of England and Wales (standing as TUSC) and with the mutual support of local Left Unity members (one of whom will stand as LU), we’ll be contesting at least 9 wards throughout the city, out of 13 in total.

This will be the biggest left-of-Labour electoral challenge since the Second World War, and I think with some patient campaigning work we can make it a [modest] success and lay the foundations for a serious socialist challenge at the next general election.

I see the Exeter campaign as an example of how co-operation is a vital next step towards uniting the left. I think this sort of joint work needs to be emulated nationally, in whatever form local activists see fit. Left Unity and TUSC really have very little to disagree about, and together could be far more than the sum of their parts. This year I’m standing under the TUSC umbrella and am a member of the ISN and Left Unity; next time around it’s my aim to be a candidate of a new mass socialist party, the product of unity between both organisations.

TUSC Steering Committee endorses more candidates, agrees further discussions with Left Unity, and agrees plan to gain further Trade Union support following Collins

REPORT: TUSC STEERING COMMITTEE April 2, from Pete McLaren for the ISN
Please note – the number of TUSC candidates for May 22 has risen from the 440 mentioned below to 560 as of April 16th
IN ATTENDANCE: Mike Sargent (RMT); John McInally (PCS); Hannah Sell (SP); Pete McLaren (ISN); Alan Thornett (SR); Charlie Kimber (SWP); Clive Heemskerk (Nominating Officer); Dave Nellist (Chair).
BOB CROW
Dave Nellist opened the meeting with a tribute to Bob Crow, including comments on the vital role Bob had played in initiating TUSC – and sustaining it in its four years of existence – as a step to attempting to resolve the crisis of working class political representation. Mike Sergeant reported that this year’s May Day march on May 1st will be dedicated to the memory of Bob Crow and his trade union and political legacy.
LOCAL ELECTIONS 2014
Clive Heemskerk reported that, with the applications before the meeting, TUSC had reached 440 candidates (see note above) standing across 76 councils. Continue reading

Local activist elected to national position in new left party

A media release from Rugby TUSC

Pete McLaren, Secretary and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), has been elected to the National Council of Left Unity, a new socialist party set up as the result of an appeal by film maker Ken Loach for such a new foramation last year

“Although only formally launched last November, Left Unity already has nearly 2,000 members and is growing by the day,” Rugby TUSC spokesperson Pete McLaren informed us. “I am delighted to have been directly elected by the membership to one of the 15 positions on the National Council. I stood on a bold socialist platform, stressing the need to organise the political fight back against austerity, promote socialism and combat UKIP. I also promoted my positions in, and support for, TUSC.

“Left Unity and TUSC are part of the same left movement to build a new socialist party, and I see both as stepping stones towards that party Continue reading

The ISN & its Project

The ISN brings together socialists who want to build a mass socialist party. We are independent in the sense that we are not subject to the undemocratic discipline of the leadership of any socialist group. We are not independent in the sense that we share a common goal. We are bound together in our determination to work for the democratic and socialist transformation of society. We see ourselves as part of the working-class movement and work to see the working class in power. We see our status as independents to be temporary. We are independents who do not want to be independent. We want to be members of a mass socialist party, based in and on the working class.

We reject both Stalinism and Social Democracy. In their different ways these twin political strands have served to discredit the idea of socialism in the eyes of many working class people, setting back the struggle of the working class to emancipate itself.

Similarly, we reject the model of the various small (or less small) socialist groups. We reject their interpretation of ‘democratic centralism’, which is more centralist than democratic. We believe that all Marxists should be able to co-exist within a single, united party with the right to discuss and debate freely and openly. In the modern world, particularly, in which most things are broadcast via the world wide web within moments, when most people are used to seeing internal factions of bourgeois parties openly airing their disagreements in the media, it is ridiculous to think that our differences can or should be kept hidden from those we seek to influence.

We believe that the influence of socialists will grow when we can show that we are capable of disagreeing and yet still act together to advance our cause; when we can rid ourselves of pettiness. The ISN is a place for serious – and sometimes sharp – discussion among comrades on socialist theory and practice, on our strategic goals and the tactics with which to achieve them. No working-class organisation could exist without differences. Disagreement is inevitable. It can bring clarity and, through that, a greater unity.

At the same time, we recognise that there are different political strands within the workers’ movement. Some, such as Stalinism and reformism, are alien ideas within our ranks and have to be defeated. Many workers will come under the influence of these ideas and Marxists have to argue their corner.

We think that there are some core ideas that are essential for a socialist party. Those ideas are set out in the ISN’s statement of Aims and Principles (previously The Socialist Platform). We will be addressing them in articles and discussions over the next year, amending, deleting or adding, as and when agreed.

We reject the model that predicates its existence on supposed ideological purity, leading to continuous splits. This is particularly ridiculous when these differences relate to issues of tactics or methods of work. This has more to do with personal egos than any real need to separate.
Fundamentally we disagree with the approach of those socialist groups who adopt a minoritarian, elitist view of how socialist change will come about. These parties believe that somehow a small party of a few thousand can leap to the head of a mass movement and catapult themselves into power.

We believe that the socialist revolution must be the act of the working class itself. It will not be the act of any individual, or big leader, or parliamentary group, or small revolutionary party.

We believe that the act of abolishing capitalism and inaugurating working-class rule must be carried out by the working class democratically, that is, acting as the majority in society – or it will not be carried out at all.

To this end we need to build not a sect – not even a party of tens of thousands. We need a party of millions, capable of influencing millions more. This means beginning the long task of reintroducing genuine socialist ideas into the working-class movement. Our task is to make socialist ideas popular. We can do this only by stating those ideas openly and patiently explaining why they should be supported. There are no short cuts. Nothing will be achieved by watering down the ideas, or hiding them. To do that would be to build on sand.

As our contribution to that task the ISN is launching a new journal called, simply, The Project. The Project represents a modest step in taking forward the struggle for a mass, democratic and socialist approach to become the dominant trend within the workers’ movement. We are re-asserting the view that socialist change can only be the self-emancipating act of a politically aware working class, organised in mass parties of millions; that our road to socialism is democratic – not in the constitutional or parliamentary sense but in the sense that only through the active participation of workers empowered with unrestricted access to ideas, debates and arguments, and possessed of the ability to elect and control their leaders can a force for real social change be built. At the heart of The Project is the attempt to make an unashamed and clear case for socialist revolution in opposition to the passing radical fads, a confused reformism and the lingering tumours of Stalinism.

The magazine brings together a number of views and analyses from within the workers’ movement about the world we live in, our struggles, our daily lives and how to build support for our ideas. With Marx we say that nothing human is alien to us, so we will cover all aspects of our lives, including art, culture and sport. We aim to learn from the past to inform our practice. We do not claim to have all of the answers – some can only be provided by the struggle itself – but offer a space for a real exchange on the way forward.

We welcome submissions from across our movement that address the struggles we face. If you would like to submit an article please send a brief outline to our editorial team: editor@socialistproject.org

If you would like to collaborate in our project, in whatever way you think possible, please get in touch.