ISN Bulletin 4: LU September National Council

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Agenda and Papers for Left Unity national Council meeting September 20th

Left Unity National Council Meeting Saturday 20 September 2014 12-5pm

Quaker Meeting House, 40 Bull Street, Birmingham B4 6AF

AGENDA

  • Minutes of the June NC meeting and matters arising.
  • Decisions from EC meetings for approval by NC.
  • Political context discussion and campaigning priorities.
  • Election sub-committee report and any related motions.
  • Branch motions to NC.
  • LU Wales Constitution for approval.
  • Conference preparation report.
  • Membership report.
  • Finance report.
  • Branch Development report.
  • Paper from Disputes Committee
  • Correspondence
  • Agenda item 1: Minutes of the June NC Meeting and matters arising

    Left Unity National Council  Saturday 7th June 2014 – London

  • The meeting agreed not to take the Glasgow South motion following a request from the Disputes Committee that this was a case in process.
  • The meeting agreed to take the internal election report on the Sunday owing to officer availability.
  • The meeting agreed to take a motion tabled by Joana R Continue reading
  • An invitation to all independent socialists to the Independent Socialist Network AGM

    The Independent Socialist Network AGM will take place on Saturday 4 October from 12 noon to 5pm at The Meeting Place, in Vauxhall, London SW8 1GB. A map for the venue is here: http://bit.ly/1ciS7LP  The AGM is open to all independent socialists – those who are not members of existing socialist and Marxist groups.
     
    The ISN has a seat on the national TUSC Steering Committee and is working to ensure there is the most united socialist challenge in the upcoming general election, ISN supporters are also campaigning in Left Unity to that end. This work is connected to longer term aim of the creation of a new mass socialist party and we have launched a web magazine called The Project (see http://www.socialistproject.org/ ) to help independent socialists debate the way forward to the new party we all want to see.

    This AGM comes at a critical point on the road in both the build up to the 2015 elections and the formation of a new mass socialist party. All independent socialists are invited to come and join the debate about how we can build socialism in Britain and build the ISN as a non-sectarian project for independent socialists in TUSC.

    • Let us know that you are coming to the AGM by e-mailing: wsmcmahon@yahoo.co.uk
    • The ISN Steering Committee welcomes contributions of no more than 1,000 words on the two debates on the agenda below. Please send all contributions to wsmcmahon@yahoo.co.uk by 9am on Saturday 27 September if you want your contribution circulated in advance.
    • There will be a pooled fare adjusted for those on low incomes. Please book your train as soon as possible to keep the pooled fare low.
    • Remember: only ISN members can vote at the AGM. The difference between being an ISN member and an ISN supporter is explained here: http://bit.ly/1pO7eQO
    The agenda
    12.00 – 13.30      Building Socialism in Britain – the 2015 General Election and beyond – Nick Wrack
    •          How can we rebuild support for socialist ideas?
    •          What long run strategy is needed to build socialism in Britain?
    •          What role do elections play in building socialist ideas and what should we do in the 2015 General Election and beyond?
    14.00 – 15.30      Building the Independent Socialist Network – Will McMahon
    • How can we build a local campaigning presence for a new mass socialist party?
    • How can the ISN develop as part of developing a mass socialist party?
    • How can we work both in TUSC and Left Unity?
     
    15.45 – 17.00    The Next Steps, including a discussion on our journal, The Project, and elections to the ISN Steering Committee

    The present Steering Committee looks forward to meeting you. If you have any questions about the day then please e-mail wsmcmahon@yahoo.co.uk

    Details of LU Policy Conference Nov 15th

    Not sure if LU members have received this information on the LU Policy Conference scheduled for November 15th.  It came as part of a memo about the September National Council meeting sent to NC members.  Please note in particular the Conference deadlines.  The NC agenda will include reports from the EC meetings, discussion on a draft electoral strategy, and autumn campaigning, including mobilisation for the TUC demo on 18th October.  It is now too late for new motions, although the motion calling for a united left electoral challenge has been submitted

    Pete

    POLICY CONFERENCE

    The next Left Unity Policy Conference will take place in London on
    Saturday 15th November. The conference will receive reports from policy
    commissions including international/solidarity, education, environment and
    social security. Branch motions in these areas will also be debated. The
    conference agenda will also include the safer spaces policy and the
    Disputes Committee standing orders.
    The Standing Orders Committee has agreed the following timetable:
    October 9th: deadline for submission of motions and policy documents to
    the Standing Orders Committee
    October 13th: circulation of these to branches
    October 30th: deadline for submission of amendments and composites to the
    Standing Orders Committee
    November 10th: All conference material on website with Standing Orders
    Committee Report
    November 15th: Conference

    All submissions should be made to standingorders@leftunity.org
    If you have any queries, please contact me at info@leftunity.org

    Best wishes,
    Kate Hudson
    National Secretary

    TUSC Steering Committee continues its General Election plans

    Report from the TUSC Steering Committee, 27th August 2014

    PRESENT:  Mike Sargent (RMT); Paula Mitchell (SP); Pete McLaren (ISN); Charlie Kimber (SWP); Will McMahon (ISN); Clive Heemskerk (Nominating Officer); and Dave Nellist (Chair).

    TUSC’S REGISTERED DESCRIPTIONS

    A briefing paper had been circulated on relations with the independent anti-cuts councillors in Leicester and Hull.  It was agreed to endorse the arrangements regarding next year’s elections outlined in the report and, arising from this, to add Leicester Independent Councillors Against Cuts as a TUSC registered description.  This would be used with emblem No 3, TUSC Against Cuts

    DISCUSSIONS WITH OTHER GROUPS

    It was hoped that, by the next meeting, separate proposals for Daymer and TUSC supporters on the NUT executive to select representatives from amongst themselves to sit on the TUSC steering committee would have been confirmed

    PREPARATION FOR THE 2015 ELECTIONS

    (i) Directory of seats

    Clive Heemskerk had circulated a ‘Directory of local councils with elections in 2015 and parliamentary constituencies’, and it was agreed to send it to TUSC election agents, and to place it on the TUSC website.

    (ii) ‘Appeal for candidates’ broadsheet

    The TUSC A3 broadsheet appealing for candidates to come forward for 2015, circulated before the meeting, was agreed with some drafting amendments, for an initial print-run of 30,000.

    (iii) Amending the TUSC parliamentary candidate application form

    The draft of a new TUSC parliamentary candidate application form, circulated before the meeting, was agreed after a couple of wording amendments and will be posted on the website.

    (iv) Follow-up to the proposal for a National Election Fund

    There was considerable discussion about the need for a national appeal, to pay, amongst other things, for any TV broadcast, as well as the need to encourage local fund raising towards the £1,500 minimum each TUSC Parliamentary candidate would need.  After hearing from constituent organisations it was confirmed that a 2015 National Election Fund would be launched, including for national publicity costs and possible payments towards parliamentary deposits, but with details to be finalised at the next meeting.

    (v) The 2015 election platforms

    The 2015 local election core policies platform was agreed as it appeared in the draft ‘appeal for candidates’ broadsheet.  It was agreed work needed doing on updating the general election platform: this would be an urgent priority at the next SC meeting.

    (vi) TUSC election conference

    It was agreed that a TUSC election conference similar to this year’s format would be organised for either the 24th or 31st of January.  Clive Heemskerk was authorised to book a venue and produce an initial notice leaflet before the next SC meeting.

    DISCUSSIONS WITH OTHER ORGANISATIONS

    (i) Correspondence with Left Unity

    Left Unity’s reply to TUSC’s letter of July 7th was circulated to the meeting.  In it, LU Nat Sec Kate Hudson explained that LU would be prepared to meet with TUSC once it had developed its electoral strategy, but only to discuss clash avoidance, not to be part of a left coalition as TUSC had suggested.  There was some discussion on the implications of this, especially as it was LU Conference policy to be part of the largest possible left challenge in the General Election, and that LU had never, at any level, rejected the possibility of being part of any left coalition. It was felt every effort should be made to make the left more united. Following the discussion, it was agreed to send a response that, while welcoming LU’s intention to “avoid standing in the same place where possible”, expressed our disappointment that they were “not planning to enter into any electoral coalition” either through participation in TUSC or the creation of a new umbrella – with the aim to send an agreed text to Left Unity before their national council meeting on September 20th.

    (ii) Letter to Tower Hamlets First

    A draft of a letter to Tower Hamlets First to explore the possibility of opening a dialogue with them – circulated before the meeting – was agreed without amendment.

    FINANCIAL REPORT

    The finance report circulated at the meeting was agreed.

    DATE OF NEXT MEETING

    It was agreed that the date of the next Steering Committee should be Wednesday 1st October, at Unity House, with a 4pm start.

    Pete McLaren 30/08/14

    Notice: Independent Socialist Network 2014 AGM 12 Noon Saturday 4 October 2014 Central London

    The Annual General Meeting of the Independent Socialist Network will take place on Saturday 4 October at 12 Noon at The Meeting Place in Vauxhall, London.

    All independent socialists are welcome.

    Voting will be open to ISN members. You can join the ISN here: http://www.independentsocialistnetwork.org/join-network/

    More details to follow.

     

    Schools, Tunnels, Rockets – and terrorising the Palestinian people

    That famous first casualty of war is these days sustained before the first rocket is launched. The truth of the most recent Gaza incursion is now a prisoner of war in Israel, and its release will take some time. Purportedly because the tunnels have now been destroyed, a truce of sorts has been concluded. As was once said of the Romans, ‘They make a desert and they call it peace’.

    After operation ‘Cast Lead’ in late 2008/early 2009, in which UN shelters and stores, schools, hospitals, ambulances, and a university were bombarded and civilians were targeted by the Israel Defence Force (IDF), there were recriminations and investigations, and we can expect these once again. The investigation of themselves by the IDF will once more find honest mistakes, unavoidable collateral damage and Palestinian perfidy of ‘human shields’. In the recently concluded military operation, named with breathtaking chutzpah, ‘Protective Edge’, over 1,900 Palestinians have been killed, more than 73% of them civilians and some 450 of them children. Three United Nations schools were bombarded in Gaza over ten days by the IDF − with civilians sheltering in them.

    It is a war crime to target a school like that, to target civilians deliberately, to target a hospital, to target ambulances. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned the most recent school bombardment as ‘a moral outrage and a criminal act’. Some, apparently unconditional, supporters of the Israeli state would say that this is failing to recognise Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’. Yet any such right is heavily circumscribed in international law by the boundaries of proportionality and the duty to protect civilians. Not even Israel’s staunchest ally, arms supplier, and frequent user of that phrase, the United States, will defend the attacks on schools, hospitals and UN shelters.

    We have heard so much about the tunnels and the rockets from Israel’s official spokespeople. The killing of children and other civilians is rationalised by Israel’s need for defence against them. This well distributed mantra is part of ‘Psyops’: the psychological operations that are part of modern warfare and amount to what used to be called propaganda. In World War 1, tunnels were used to plant mines under enemy lines; such is a tunnel that needs defending against. These Palestinian tunnels have no such offensive purpose: at least there has never been any evidence that they do. The only ones detonating high explosives in them have been the IDF. The Gazan tunnels have a far more plausible explanation. Gaza is under blockade – unlawfully, as it happens, but very effectively – by land and sea. How then, can sufficient means of living be brought in? That’s what the tunnels are primarily for.

    The other purpose of the tunnels is defensive. Consider a comparison. It is a fairly well known fact that Havana is underscored by a complex of tunnels: a legacy of Cuba’s constant threats and indeed attacks from the USA. It’s a strategy the Cubans learnt from the Vietnamese experience of defending themselves from the same aggressor. In both cases, the tunnels were defensive. Cuba was hardly going to attack its neighbours through them! There were even provisions for classrooms and crèches. Perhaps the Palestinians will in future need to put their schools underground if their children are to be safe from missiles and shells? I am not saying that the Palestinian tunnels have not been used to move and store weapons (as Cuban ones also have been); it’s logical that they would be. I am arguing that their purpose is quite obviously defensive, and it is the defence of a people under encirclement, blockade, and repeated attack. Israel, that is to say, is not defending itself against tunnels.

    Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ from rockets is also a complete red herring. For all of 2014 to July 14, there had been but one person killed by a rocket launched from Gaza, and he was a non-Jewish casualty, a Bedouin. Twelve people had been killed over that period by (presumably more accurate) mortar fire from Gaza: eleven of them military targets and one a non-Jewish casualty: a Thai worker (http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/rocket-deaths-israel.html).

    This whole military operation has had little in reality to do with tunnels and rockets. It has been about destruction – unlawful under international law – of Palestinian civilian infrastructure, once again to destroy the viability of any Palestinian state. Just look at what has been destroyed above the ground. It has been about terrorising the Palestinian people. It has done so very successfully, but it has manifestly not succeeded in destroying their will.

    Scott Poynting

    Professor in Criminology

    University of Auckland

    scott.poynting@auckland.ac.nz

    Is austerity an act of violence?

    The following event hosted by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies might be of interest to ISN supporters and members

    Violence in society in peacetime is often thought of as being mainly inter-personal. This event will discuss how the period of austerity has produced structural violence that is experienced by both communities and individuals. It will focus on the health service, housing, poverty and also on the impact of austerity on violence against women.

    The four speakers at the roundtable will be:

    Dr Sarah Steele – Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, Queen Mary, University of London
    Dr Vickie Cooper – Liverpool John Moores University
    Ewa Jasiewicz – Fuel Poverty Action
    Heather McRobie – Open Democracy
    There will be four introductions of 15 minutes followed by a discussion about whether this form of social harm might be better understood as a form of violence in society created by austerity.

    For more details visit:http://bit.ly/1pZ8UaS

    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