The TUSC differs in one respect from the other gatherings we have seen in recent times as they have the official backing of the RMT union under Bob Crow plus grandees of the PCS union.
John McInally, PCS vice-president, questioned what the trade unions get from their support for pro-big business Labour. He also said that "those who sneer at TUSC are prepared to tell us what's wrong and why, but not what to do about it other than to vote Labour. That's not a policy, that's an abdication of responsibility."
No votes were taken, and I wondered why I had been given a voting card when registering!
Sue from Gloucester spoke and argued why you might not need a TUSC branch to do good TUSC campaigning work. In fact, she said, in Gloucester there was no point in having a TUSC branch because it would just be the socialist party members meeting in another guise. This unintentionally gave the game away and reminded me of exactly the same kind of contribution from some of the more unguided SWP members in the Socialist Alliance that had many non-aligned and independent people shaking their heads more than a decade ago.
The TUSC is actually planning to try and contest enough seats in the May local elections in order to get electoral coverage from the BBC. Since there are 4,000 seats or so up for grabs that means having to stand over 625 candidates. Dave Nellist informed the 200 or so assembled comrades that 400 "potential" candidates had been identified which left the hall "buzzing" according to the bloated report that appeared on the Socialist Party website.
The TUSC is of course the love child of the Socialist Party and Bob Crow (RMT) that has attracted the support of the Socialist Workers Party and a tiny group known as the Independent Socialist Network. Nah not heard of them either but apparently were established to enable people who were not in the SP or SWP or RMT to actually be a part of the TUSC as you can't actually join this outfit as an individual. Don't get that either..
Except the whole idea is for the Socialist Party to bureaucratically manipulate the TUSC, which it has great experience of both from its' Militant Tendency days and of course currently in the PCS union. They are none to keen on other Trotskyite grouplets joining up either. Socialist Resistance got short shrift from the SP and was allowed only to observe at the TUSC National Council and wasn't able to vote. The result? They buggered off to new pastures and entered Left Unity when it set up as a new party.
Socialist Resistance of course had previously been buried in George Galloway's misnamed Respect Party. Make your minds up comrades..
Meanwhile back in the conference hall we hear from a leading Socialist Party enforcer:
Actually one thing we got from Labour in the PCS union was a reasonable pensions deal which was almost immediately removed by the coalition government that came in while McInally and his mates were out collecting a mere 0.04% of the vote at the last general election.
Under the leadership of the Socialist Party the PCS union has become weaker than at any time in either it or its' predecessor unions history. Well done comrades (not).
Not all is well in the TUSC as the conference seemed to be more of a rally than any kind of decision making forum. Pete Mclaren asked:
Will McMahon wanted to open up membership but wrote that:
I'd almost forgotten the Socialist Alliance, long time gone now. Finished when the SWP eloped with Gorgeous George. Wonder what ever came of that coupling......
Thing is that Leninist parties like to be in control and the Socialist Party are certainly the archetypal followers of Lenin.
The TUSC with no internal democracy, controlled by crazed ideologues and union wreckers is hardly likely to ever present a credible threat to Labour, but it will still do some damage nonetheless. Why? Simply because it is a distraction from working in real politics and some of these people like John McInally and his mate Chris Baugh (PCS Assistant General Secretary) have already wrecked the largest of the civil service unions.
Their antics can only help the Tories.
These people handed the PCS unions head on a platter to Francis Maude.
Enough of this foolishness already.
There is only one party for trade unionists, that's the Labour Party.