Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Socialist Party left out in the cold

Socialist Party logo Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)

Not so long ago the Socialist Party (Militant) started a campaign to demand the readmission of 75 of it's members back into the Labour with a petition that ended up being signed by mostly Socialist Party members. This campaign was quietly dropped as they realised absolutely no one was taking any notice of their nonsense whatsoever.

The SP has been in quandary about what to do with itself since the rise of Corbynism. Until Steptoe became leader the comrades were promoting their Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) as the alternative to the Labour Party. This consisted of an unholy alliance of the Socialist Party with their )highly discredited) arch-rivals the Socialist Workers Party and the RMT trade Union.

The TUSC has now seemingly stopped standing candidates as the SP turn their attentions to trying to elbow in on the rise of Corbynism. However their paper The Socialist announces that the TUSC will be meeting for it's annual conference on Saturday to discuss the future of their coalition. The key speakers will be Sean Hoyle (RMT President; Hannah Sell (Socialist Party) and Charlie Kimber (SWP).

They will be discussing the following resolution:

This conference re-affirms the support that the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition has given to Jeremy Corbyn against Labour’s Blairite right-wing, from his initial leadership election victory in September 2015 and during his re-election campaign in 2016. 

We recognise that his leadership of the Labour Party has opened up the political situation compared to the first five years of TUSC’s existence and that his defeat by the Labour right-wing would be a serious blow for the working class movement. 

TUSC was set-up in 2010, co-founded by the late Bob Crow, to enable trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists to stand candidates under a common anti-austerity and socialist banner, with an agreed minimum platform of core policies. Establishing an electoral coalition of this character, involving a mix of constituent organisations and individuals, was conceived as a step towards solving the vacuum of working class political representation that had existed since the triumph of ‘New Labour’. 

Clearly Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership victory, potentially a terminal defeat of New Labour, required TUSC to re-calibrate its electoral activity and conference supports the steps taken by the steering committee to do so. In the May 2016 local elections, for example, no TUSC candidates were even considered to be run without local TUSC groups seeking a dialogue with the sitting Labour councillor or prospective candidate on the critical issue of their preparedness to resist cuts to local council jobs and services. Conference calls on the steering committee to continue with this approach for the 2017 elections. 

We recognise that this will be more challenging in the 33 English county councils and unitary authorities with elections in May, only six of which have Labour-led administrations. That is not the case, however, in Wales – where right-wing Labour is the dominant force in local government – or Scotland, in a different political context and with councillors elected under a proportional representation system in multi-member wards. 

The preference vote system used in mayoral elections also makes it easier for TUSC candidacies to be supportive of Jeremy Corbyn’s antiausterity message while making sure that the Tories do not make electoral headway. 

Notwithstanding the differences between the various contests taking place in May, conference calls on the steering committee to ensure that, for whichever elections candidate applications are received, TUSC’s electoral interventions are part of a serious campaign against cuts to local public services and will strengthen the battle against the right wing in the Labour Party and the unions.

The TUSC attracts derisory votes wherever it stands and has lost many supporters on the ground to Momentum and the Labour hard left. The resolution shows that they really have no idea where to go with their outfit, though they remain hostile to the revisionist Jon Lansman. Militant guru Peter Taffe writes:

Recently, Momentum leader Jon Lansman shut down all of Momentum's structures and imposed a new constitution, with only a 'take it or resign' option to members and supporters. Overturning the original aim to bring people inside and outside the party together, membership of the Labour Party is now a requirement.

The change is dressed up as 'direct democracy'. The ground was laid by commentators like Owen Jones, presenting this as a battle between new fresh layers of people against "Trotskyist sectarian saboteurs".

'One member one vote' was a tool of the pro-capitalist right wing in the Labour Party to drown out the collective voice of trade unions and to set inactive, passive members against those who participate in meetings, debates and activity. The Momentum leadership are using it for the same purpose. It sounds very democratic, but in reality this 'direct democracy' means individuals clicking answers in response to questions set by the leadership, while the leadership do as they please with no democratic mechanism to hold them in check.

Momentum trailed this method when they decided their position on the EU referendum. An issue of such importance was decided by people individually sat at home under a deluge of capitalist media, with no alternative being put, no discussion or debate, clicking a yes/no answer.

The worst of the many problems with Momentum's new imposed constitution is the total sidelining of the role of the organised working class. Trade unions that affiliate to Momentum are collectively granted just six representatives on the new National Coordinating Group (NCG). Decisions of the NCG will be made by a simple majority. Thus the Fire Brigades Union, a militant, democratically-organised body representing tens of thousands of people, carries no more weight than individuals, and can easily be outvoted.

In complete contrast the TUSC (which does not allow for individual membership, just "supporter status" claims:

Contrast that with the consensus method of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which means that representatives of the RMT rail union on the steering committee cannot be bounced into accepting any decision that they believe would not be supported by their members or that contravenes the democratic decisions of their annual general meeting.

Anyone who has had dealings with the Socialist Party will know how devious they are in their wheeling & dealing and are notorious for their bureaucratic approach to politics. by "consensus" they mean a deal made in a smoke filled back room between the factions then presented to a formal delegates meeting where the assembled have preordained orders to toe the line. 

That's how they operate. Democracy is not part of the Socialist Party tradition. They have never tolerated dissent in their ranks, even splitting with their won founder Ted Grant whose breakaway group, Socialist Appeal remains quietly operating in the background waiting for godot it's moment.

Militant has not changed its spots, simply grown more deluded with it's own self-importance. Why the RMT still bothers with these petty sectarians is beyond belief. A waste of members money.

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