a few weeks late i know but thought i'd republish the report from teh TUSC conference i attended written up by will. I hope it can help a few more people understand our aims and why we aer involved in TUSC and can hopefully get involved too.
The Conference morning session concentrated on the political context 12 months after the General Election, with Dave Nellist in the Chair. Hannah Sell (SP) argued that TUSC was establishing itself and had an important electoral role to play. Simon Hestor (SWP), the TUSC Agent in Tottenham, argued that socialists had an important role to play in the present capitalist crisis. TUSC could establish itself as a serious alternative. He was not sure TUSC should oppose Livingstone for Lord Mayor as he would be seen by the working class as the main opposition to Boris Johnson. John McInally (PCS Vice Pres) described how the PCS was balloting members on supporting anti cuts candidates. TUSC was a key element of the process that was unfolding, he argued.
A number of points were made from the floor, including:
■TUSC should contest all three aspects of the London elections – GLA, Constituency and Mayoral
■The mayoral elections enable political positions to be posted to every household via a booklet
■TUSC should build on what it has achieved so far
■It was important to campaign between elections, stressing the importance of fighting the cuts
■TUSC members should raise the issue of migrants rights in anti cuts committees, and support for migrants should be added to the TUSC policy statement
■London RMT members want to encourage left groups, TU branches and community groups to join them in building anti cuts electoral alternative that could become part of TUSC
■We need to involve service users more in the anti cuts movement
■We should move towards building a new Party and get national recognition
■The working class still votes Labour for class reasons
■The Murdoch crisis could yet force a general election
■Trade unions may want to stand candidates, not necessarily as TUSC
■We should aim to win seats despite the difficulties in doing that
■We need to grow and be open to others on the left
■Leicester Against the Cuts wrote to every candidate/party threatening to stand against any who would not oppose the cuts. They ended up standing 9 TUSC candidates as part of a broader coalition, and gained much publicity as a result.
■There is a need to expose Labour’s refusal to oppose cuts at Council level
The platform speakers summed up their positions and responded to the discussion.
The afternoon session was about building TUSC. Clive Heemskirk (SP) moved the Steering Committee proposals which reiterated the founding statement and that TUSC’s main aim was to provide an electoral title for orgaisations who wished to use it as part of a wider challenge. It went further by calling for a TUSC Conference before the end of 2011 to prepare for the 2012 Council Elections. It called for the Steering Committee to be enlarged to include a representative of independents through the TUSC Independent Socialist Network. The Steering Committee would also be able to include additional supporting political groups. It called for local TUSC Steering Committees to be established in areas TUSC would be standing candidates, and it stated clearly that these were interim arrangements and that discussions would continue on how best to organise TUSC as it developed, and this would be an agenda item at all future TUSC Conferences. Any prospective candidate would be asked to endorse TUSC’s Founding Statement and other relevant additional policy statements.
In motivating the proposals, Clive Heemskirk spoke of the need for a plan to develop TUSC. He argued for a wide electoral challenge. The national structure should remain federal, he argued, with individual trade unionists part of it as affiliation was not likely at present. TUSC was beginning to have an effect, with Milliband pulling out of the Durham Gala because Bob Crow had been invited to speak. He outlined why it was important for independent socialists to have a place on the Steering Committee. He concluded by saying TUSC was a work in progress, and at present it was particularly positive that the electoral title could be used by all socialists and anti cuts campaigners who agreed with the core policies. He was not opposed to the position being put forward by Rugby TUSC.
Pete McLaren moved the resolution from Rugby TUSC that Clive had referred to. It expressed satisfaction with TUSC’s performance in the Council elections, suggesting political foundations had been laid. Results showed there was support for socialist ideas, indicating TUSC had the potential to become a significant political force.
To build on these foundations, Rugby TUSC was suggesting that TUSC should campaign against all the attacks on the working class, including the cuts; that TUSC Branches should be built up and down the country; that candidates should be selected as part of preparing now for 2012; TUSC should work locally with anti cuts and community groups to provide a wide as possible challenge. The resolution concluded by suggesting TUSC should broaden out its structure at national level to welcome representation from local TUSC branches, trade union branches, political organisations and independents supportive of TUSC.
In motivation, Pete McLaren outlined what had been achieved in Rugby. TUSC had emerged out of Rugby Against the Cuts. This development was a result of Rugby Against the Cuts deciding to stand anti cuts candidates in all 16 wards where there was no anti cuts candidate. All retiring Councillors and prospective candidates were contacted, but none were prepared to sign the pledge against the cuts that was issued. A TUSC branch was set up, and seven candidates were selected. These included the Chair of Warwickshire FBU, the Rugby RMT Health & Safety Rep and the Warwickshire UNITE Youth Workers Secretary. In the event, Pete McLaren continued, TUSC averaged 7.2% across its 7 wards. Rugby TUSC candidate’s ratio to Labour votes was 1:4, compared to the TUSC national average of 1:10. Ten Media Releases had resulted in 12 press articles about TUSC, three radio interviews, two press letters about TUSC and two articles included on socialist blogs. There was now an active TUSC Branch with a contact list of 15 and plans laid for stalls and a Public Meeting. He then outlined the main points of the Rugby TUSC resolution, stressing that TUSC needed to build on the foundations it had laid – local branches should be set up, and they should campaign against the cuts and all attacks on the working class. TUSC should work within anti cuts committees. TUSC should also be built nationally and broaden its structures to welcome representatives of TUSC branches, TU branches, supportive political groups and independents, he argued. He concluded by stressing that the resolution did not suggest how groups and representatives could become a structural part of TUSC – this must be open for discussion. It could be a two tier structure – the SC much as now, and a National Council with reps directly elected from branches, organisations and the ISN – or it could be an enlarged SC with indirect elections – local branches elect two people to represent all branches; supportive TU branches elect two people to represent TU branches; political organisations elect two; ISN elects two, for example. He concluded by suggesting we use the TUSC Bulletin to debate the best method of achieving that level of representation.
Points made in the discussion included:
■Any organisation must be democratic, with the right to recall
■We must oppose all cuts
■The Labour Party was invisible on many anti cuts demonstrations
■We need to bring TUSC into daily struggles
■We need to stand as widely as possible and not worry about small votes
■We need to develop roots and build a national organisation with a national press strategy
■TUSC is a work in progress and its development will depend on objective circumstances
■There is a void on opposing the cuts that TUSC can fill – even the Green party, which is seen as anti cuts, has no actual strategy and, in Brighton, within the Anti Cuts Committee the Green party opposed TUSC’s ‘No Cuts’ position. Only one Green candidate supported an anti cuts pledge and, once elected, he withdrew his support!
■TUSC has huge potential. It can become professional and confident. The Bulletin already goes out to 1,500 supporters. There is more we could do to promote TUSC further – we should promote TUSC at every opportunity.
■We need to involve our supporters more
Clive Heemskirk replied to the debate. He agreed TUSC needed to develop structures, and he agreed with Pete McLaren’s motivation. Rugby was a model for others to follow, he suggested. We should stand widely. If there are TUs who want to stand candidates we should do our best to persuade them to stand as TUSC. He accepted we needed to use the national media. He again pointed at the success achieved in Rugby, and called on supporters to seize the opportunity.
Dave Nellist, from the chair, put both statements/motions to the vote. Both the Framework from the Steering Committee and the motion from Rugby were agreed without dissent as consultative/indicative votes dependent only on formal approval from the trade unions involved in the Steering Committee, in particular the RMT
Pete McLaren 18/07/11