Monday, 27 May 2013

The TUSC joins UKIP in a carnival of reaction

The failing flagship project of the Socialist Party, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is set to try and revive its' fortunes by intervening in the European elections next year. They will be joined in this with the support of Bob Crows RMT union, though what their members will actually make of this is another matter.

The Socialist Party along with a number of other organisations (including the rump Liberal Party amongst others) contested the last Euro elections under the No to EU banner, which as I recall was not taken seriously by the electorate coming behind the virtually non-existent  Socialist Labour Party led by Arthur Scargill.

Apparently the name being mooted for this new project in some quarters is the rather unwieldley ‘Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts-No2EU No to Austerity’. Not very snappy or memorable except to inveterate "Trot Watchers". Efforts are being made by the Socialist Party Grandees to get the Communist Party of Britain on board. At least they'll get the backing of a daily newspaper in the form of the dreadful Morning Star, circulation not really worth bothering about.

In an unrelated development they have managed (or allowed) the remnants of the old International Marxist Group now known as Socialist Resistance on board the TUSC steering committee. Although this is "without the power of veto" afforded to the other groups that form the coalition of the absurd.

However all is not well in the TUSC camp. The establishment of the Left Unity project has attracted a lot of attention from non-aligned socialists and activists that the SP has longed to draw into their orbit. It is currently difficult to see where LU is going. Despite obtaining some 8000 "likes" on Face Book this has only currently resulted in just over 1,000 people turning up to their meetings with some of the 90 groups being admitted to be "one one bands".

A lot of people confine their "activism to the keyboard" these days it would seem.

It isn't possible for individuals to join the TUSC, though you can "sign up" as a "supporter" pay your dues and not get any say in what the organisation gets up to. In order to do that you have to join one of the constituent organisations, three of which (the Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Resistance) are tiny, very dictatorial groups that would force you to "toe the line" they want regardless of how anyone else might feel.

The alternative to this is to join the Independent Socialist Network (not to be confused with the recently established International Socialist Network set up by dissidents from the SWP). They have their own website where you get a better "flavour" of what is actually going on inside the TUSC.

There was quite a discussion at the meeting of the last TUSC Steering Committee in which according to the ISN version of events included the following points:

  • It is ridiculous that it is still not possible to join TUSC – we must push for individual membership
  • The ISN had hoped TUSC would be a stepping stone to a new Party – that is now not looking likely
  • TUSC being an umbrella group for trade unions is even less likely now that LU has been launched

There were others, these are the pertinent ones that caught my attention.

Nick Wrack a leading figure in the TUSC has this to say about the marriage of the TUSC and No 2 EU brands:

I thought it would spell the death-knell of TUSC if this proposal was implemented, as TUSC would fail to appear in major elections, with a section of the left contesting the elections yet again with a change of name. This continues to be my view, notwithstanding the suggestion from Clive Heemskerk to marry the names of No2EU and TUSC in the electoral description, which seems to be a marriage made in hell.

Some comments from ISN supporters suggest the ISN may end up throwing its lot in with Left Unity at some stage in the future. Neil Williams argues that:

...a real problem for the Left in general (and if any kills of TUSC this is likely to be it). Can you imagine an anti EU campaign with the title “Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts-No2EUNo to Austerity’ – bloody daft to say the least. We have to be seen to be different, Socialist and internationalist on this issue and not line up alongside UKIP and the right wing of the Tory Party in some sort of imaginary “little England” sort of fantasy where we can cut ourselves of from the rest of the world and have no relationship with workers in Europe who are fighting like us against austerity – it is this urgent need for unity of working people across Europe that we should emphasise in any campaign. I for one will not be joining a “No2EU Mark 2″ campaign (the first one was very badly run campaign anyway) nor should the ISN.

The only reason I can see for the ISN to even consider remaining in TUSC for even a few more months would be to encourage talks between TUSC and Left Unity and the RMT and Left Unity. TUSC under the control of the SP and the inaction of the SWP has no future and we have seen no real attempt by the key players in TUSC to change anything – its one reason that so many Socialists are turning to Left Unity ....

Of course at the end of the day this matters little when the Euro elections actually take place. The anti-European vote will go en-mass to the UKIP, the "little-Englanders" of the far left won't even manage a "shoe-in" with the electorate. So they shouldn't in my opinion.

One of the reasons the Tory right wing and UKIP supporters hate the EU is that membership affords certain rights to workers under European legislation. All that would be lost at a time when there is a major offensive against trade union and workers rights under the current Coalition Government.

According the TUSC comrades leaving the European Union will lead to some kind of socialist Nirvana. The heck it won't! 

Leaving the EU would take this country into a reactionary circus, let alone the economic downturn that would inevitably  come with departure.

The EU is not perfect, there are huge problems with the way it is structured and controlled but it does represent a small step forward to a more united world. The economic crisis has seen the revival of petty nationalism across many European countries. UKIP is the manifestation of this process in Britain, there are other examples such as the rise of Catalan nationalism in Spain.

Withdrawing from the EU would be a backwards step and the far-left have shown themselves to be unable to adapt to the modern world. But then that should be no surprise to anyone as they continue to bang on about the failed ideas of long dead Russians.

Time to move on comrades. There is a real world out there. Join it.

Hat tip: 

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