REPORT FROM ISN MEETING 20/07/13
There were 13 members present.
HOW DO WE PUT SOCIALISM AT THE HEART OF LEFT UNITY?
Nick Wrack opened the discussion. He spoke of the need to work within LU to build support for socialist views, and, to this end, he argued for the setting up of a Socialist Platform within LU to promote socialist ideas in the lead up to, and at, the November founding Conference.
Points made in the discussion which followed included:
▪ Left Unity (LU) is a positive development, and all its supporters are on the left
▪ We do need a party – a socialist party – with a leadership that is accountable
▪ We need to overcome some of the past legacies of socialist projects, such as authoritarianism
▪ The June LU NCG meeting was much more positive, and less sectarian, than the first national meeting in May
▪ It is positive that LU and TUSC have finally arranged a date to meet together
▪ Healthy relations between the SP and LU are developing at local level
▪ It is important we use class language whilst being sensitive to those not used to it
▪ We must argue for genuine democracy within LU
▪ We must get involved with local issues and push socialist ideas within them
▪ Outside events will determine whether LU will take off
▪ We can win LU supporters over to socialism at the November Conference – a vacuum exists
▪ The policy commissions provide a real opportunity for debate and we should encourage involvement
▪ We need national LU leaflets for local use
▪ We should be trying to win trade union members, not TU leaders, to LU
▪ There is insufficient communication within LU about local groups and their meetings
▪ Of the 9,000 who have signed the petition for a new party, less than 1,000 have taken part in any LU activity. There has been little attempt to get the other 8,000 involved
▪ We need to find ways of reaching people and address how to encourage LU supporters to attend meetings
▪ There are issues to be resolved about how local LU groups relate to local TUSC groups where they exist, and vica versa
▪ We need to be prepared in case we need to try and keep socialists in both LU and TUSC together at some stage in the future
Nick Wrack replied to the discussion, suggesting there was a complete lack of strategic thinking on the left. Did we know what we were doing, or why? We get involved in trade unions and anti cuts groups, moving from one thing to another. We need to link all this activity to a common goal and argue for socialism at every stage. We need to build a movement that links all the campaigns together and work to build a society where the campaigns we promote are no longer needed. We need to intervene with genuinely socialist ideas at every opportunity, he concluded.
It was agreed that the ISN would participate in a Socialist Platform within LU, Nick Wrack to draft and circulate a founding statement
REPORT FROM THE TUSC STEERING COMMITTEE
Pete McLaren reported from the June and July SC meetings. There had been two main issues – the EU elections and LU. On Europe, the June meeting had shown there was considerable agreement between the ISN, SR and SWP about the xenophobia likely to surround the EU elections and the dangers of any reference to ‘No2EU’ in any electoral title, as this would be make it hard for voters to differentiate between UKIP and any left coalition using the title.
The Steering Committee had agreed in June to press ahead with attempts to persuade others that TUSC should be the ‘electoral umbrella’ for both the European and Council elections, which would take place on the same day. Subsequently, the July SC meeting heard that discussions had made it clear there was no consensus for TUSC to have that umbrella role. ‘No2EU’ had been re-registered, with the rest of the name likely to be ‘Exit with socialist policies’ or ‘Yes to workers’ rights’.
Regarding LU, the June SC meeting had once again discussed the correspondence it had received, and it had been agreed to write again proposing a formal meeting to discuss collaboration, especially over elections.
This meeting had now been scheduled for July 24th, and all TUSC partner organisations, including the ISN, could be represented. He ended his report by describing the Survey he had sent out, as the recently elected TUSC Local Group Development Officer, to ascertain the level of local TUSC group activity by contacting some 70 Election Agents from areas TUSC had contested. Initial were promising.
The following were amongst points made in the discussion which followed;
• TUSC has achieved some reasonable by-election results recently, including 5% in Brighton, increasing its share and coming 3rd ahead of the Tories
• We need to be more careful where we stand, but we can still intervene where we don’t stand
• The talks between LU and TUSC should be about more than just clash avoidance, as important as that is
• Despite the weaknesses TUSC has in terms of democracy, it does have a healthy relationship with the trade union movement
• TUSC is not really doing that well in elections, and it has not moved forward. It remains undemocratic and has attracted few new forces
• What is the point of TUSC being an electoral coalition if it does not stand in elections, specifically the Euro elections?
• We should be working to merge the best practice of TUSC to that of LU
REPORT OF THE RECENT NO2EU MEETINGS, and INTRODUCTORY DISCUSSION ON THE POLITICS OF THE EUROPEAN ELECTIONS
Nick Wrack reported from the recent meetings of former No2EU partners and TUSC. He began by describing the re-introduction of ‘No2EU’ as an example of the lack of strategic thinking on the left he had referred to earlier. Despite all parts of TUSC saying that it was a step to a new Party, it was now to be abandoned for a major election. No2EU had led to TUSC, which should have then been opened up, with membership introduced as LU already plans to do. Establishing local TUSC groups, which at last seems to be beginning to happen albeit on a limited basis, will be held back by not being able to join. Now, instead of TUSC standing in the EU elections, it will be ‘No2EU’ – an massive opportunity missed. It is crazy that we will not be standing in the two elections – European & local government – being held on the same day under the same name.
The European elections will be dominated by reactionary anti-immigration and xenophobic policies. There clearly needs to be a socialist intervention in the EU elections to counter the racism.. It should be used as an opportunity to have a campaign for socialist ideas, laying the basis for future work and standing in future elections. –
Some are calling for an all-party campaign to withdraw from the EU, along with right-wing parties who would be calling for withdrawal. They think that in this way NO2EU could get state funding for its involvement in the referendum. Nick had objected to this at the last meeting, explaining that the working-class had completely different objections to the EU from the Tory right and UKIP and should not participate in a cross-class campaign.
Instead of standing under the auspices of ‘No2EU,’ we should be campaigning around the slogan ‘No2Austerity-for a Socialist Europe’. The issues are capitalism and austerity, not the EU per se. We should campaign on welfare and jobs, and opposition to austerity and, as part of a campaign for a socialist Europe, TUSC could have stood on this basis at least in a couple of regions on a socialist platform.
Standing in elections is a tactic which we should use to help in the building of a new mass party. We are putting down a marker for socialism, not to provide a gravy train for any left MEPs. We must question and argue against those on the left who claim to be internationalist but in reality support a British road to socialism. Some of the policies that have been proposed, including work permits, cannot be supported.
Points made in the discussion which followed included:
▪ The term ‘No2EU’ is totally wrong and is being seen as supporting UKIP’s position on Europe
▪ If we leave Europe it will be because UKIP want to, and not on any of our terms
▪ We should argue that standing in the EU elections is not about electing anyone, it is to have a platform against UKIP and all other expressions of racism
▪ We need to be in the EU to change it
▪ We should say what we are for – a socialist Europe. If that happened, the EU would fall apart
▪ We need to talk directly, ourselves, to the RMT, and encourage dialogue between the RMT and LU
▪ It may not be viable for LU to contest the Euro Elections. The main battles will be in the Council elections where we must fight the pro-austerity and racist policies of UKIP
▪ It would be very different if a coalition of European left parties was calling for an end to the EU
Following the discussion, the following proposals were agreed unanimously:
Will McMahon to represent the ISN at the meeting between TUSC and LU on July 24
Nick Wrack to represent the ISN at the ‘No2EU’ meeting on August 5
Nick Wrack to draft and circulate a Paper to the ‘No2EU’ meeting from the ISN around the slogan ‘No2Austerity-for a Socialist Europe’, also outlining why the title on the ballot paper should not be anything that suggests that an exit from the EU could solve the crisis we face.
PROPOSED PUBLIC ISN FORUM on ‘What kind of Party to the left of Labour do we want?
Will McMahon outlined how we could host a debate on what kind of new party with ACI, the SP, SR, CPGB and others. Unions and LU could also be invited to contribute. We could also hold day schools on related topics including the EU and economic policy. It was suggested we promote the fact that the ISN is the only bridge to both TUSC and LU.
It was agreed that Will McMahon cost and circulate proposals for a series of debates and/or forums.
NEXT ISN MEETING – agreed as Saturday September 14th
Pete McLaren 28/07/13Tweet