Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Without a candidate - what does the left have?
I spent this evening at two meetings.
The later (or latter?) was a meeting of the left caucus of members of the UNISON National Executive Council (NEC) about which I shall not blog, having previously promised not to do so.
I'll blog further tomorrow after the NEC Committee meetings which should begin to develop an assertive and effective response to the catastrophic outcome of the General election (about which we may have spoken already!)
The earlier (or former) meeting - to which I was late - was the Left Forum meeting, convened by John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn. This was attended (when I got there) by a couple of hundred people.
These were, by and large, good people amongst whom I felt at home, albeit the relative inadequacy of the gender balance of the meeting was exceeded by the failure sufficiently to reflect ethnic diversity - and I didn't feel old in that company.
Sensible left wingers, such as Peter Firmin of the Labour Representation Committee, and Walter Wolfgang of the Labour Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, gave voice to the views of rank and file Labour Party members - including the view (which I share) that there ought to be a Labour leadership contender from amongst the greatly diminished ranks of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs.
There was, however - rightly - considerable support from those at the meeting for the thesis advance by John McDonnell in the link above (that our priority is to campaign for social justice). It was, in some ways, a strength that the meeting brought together Labour members with those outside the Party.
In other ways, though, it was a weakness that the meeting spent considerable time in which a majority Labour Party audience listened to unconvincing arguments that socialists should abandon the Party.
Plainly anyone who thinks that the dismal election results for "TUSC" justify trying to split - or replace - the Labour Party is delusional. The same description could be applied to those who think that the results of the General Election should encourage "left-wing" anti-Labour candidates generally.
Before UNISON activists seek to cease the "Labour link" we should remember why trade unions need a political voice, and consider how we maximise the effectiveness of the voice we have. We are about to receive a lesson in the impact which Parliament can have on our ability to organise.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.