Wednesday, 2 October 2013
TUSC and its future direction
I’ve felt for some time now even when I was still a member of the socialist party which in all honesty runs TUSC politically for the most party along with a few key trade unionists on the left anyway. I have felt TUSC has stagnated and failed to develop as I was told at the start that it would start to. Now I’m not inpatient or unrealistic to think we’d have a fully working mass new workers party in4 years of TUS being around but the general lack of debate, discussion on the project seems concerning for someone who would like to see the left get its act together sooner rather than later. For me when I was standing for TUSC it felt like a banner and not much else there is very little in the way of an organisation as such. The idea that TUSC can be the new workers party is very hard to believe at this stage. I constantly read in the socialist and tweets by various SP members that we need to build TUSC but I don’t see anyone even talking about building TUSC let alone actually trying to do so. For me it seems like a half way house in many ways a whole reformist platform which trade union figures and leaders can feel comfortable with. It is designed with the idea to try and entice trade union leaders like the Len McCklusky’s and Billy Hayes’s of the world over from backing the labour party. They have created a mirror of the early labour party and if various big 3 trade union leaders came over to TUSC one day they would be the ones in control not the workers and any ordinary member if there would be a membership by then. This is all hypothetical of course as TUSC and its steering group as its interestingly called as there is not much steering that goes on I must say has blocked attempts for TUSC to develop into anything bigger blocking off attempts for new groups to get involved such as Socialist resistance. Whilst I am no fan of their politics it seems foolish to not allow them in. Talking of membership it always is a thorny issue with TUSC being hugely opposed to any form of membership system at this stage they say. When the time is right I was always told while never given a time or a situation where membership may become necessary. Presumably no time soon I assumed. TUSC independent or the ISN as they call themselves have all but abandoned TUSC not for good but for now as they do not feel TUSC is growing, developing or even wanting to. They have tried their luck with Left Unity which at least has a membership system all be it a little odd and skewed at this point as its all before the30th November founding conference where we will start to see more about Left Unity develop. It is a crying shame that TUSC seems to be just an election front for the likes of the socialist party and the RMT it could be so much more if it opened up and reached out to groups like UK Uncut, boycott workfare and so on. There are enough people angry with the system today out there to start to form something on the ground. Talking of on the ground TUSC regularly complains about a lack of media coverage I’ve suggested a press officer in the past to contact various local and national media outlets to drum up support for TUSC yet I’m not sure if there is any movement on this proposal at all at this point. I was constantly told TUSC is a working progress and is not the finished article but for me the frustrating part was and still is to be honest the lack of any will to move it forward and try and build it. It felt like we were constantly waiting for the bigger unions like Unite and others to come join in then we could have our new workers party. Labour mark 2 if you like. As that is how it felt we were holding out an olive branch to the union bureaucracy constantly and not looking to go too far in front of them constantly. In reality TUSC consists of just the socialist party, a half-hearted Socialist Workers Party and a handful of others. The union leaders The Socialist party talks about are mainly Socialist party members, and Bob Crow is not exactly confident his union will agree to back it in future election as at a national TUSC meeting last year where it was told this wasn’t a voting conference the RMT representative Alex Gordon at the time said they may not stick with TUSC forever and a day waiting and waiting. This is reflected in TUSC’s basic and rather reformist programme to be honest. It’s vaguely social democratic with a few radical sounding ideas thrown in but it’s very sparse and basic and low on the details. Maybe for good reason I don’t know again to appease various union leaders I imagine to not scare them off but the socialist party claims to be Marxist and for a socialist society yet all it push’s for within TUSC is mild reforms to capitalism and a bit of nationalisation thrown in for good measure. All very uninspiring if we are honest. While it is true TUSC’s results in elections have been poor on the whole and dismal in others there has been a few decent results like Tony Mulhearn in Liverpool mayoral election got 5000 odd votes and Mary Jackson in Doncaster got about 2000 odd but most results are 1% to 9% and the odd one a bit higher clearly having no national profile or any way of getting through to people this is not going to change anytime soon I’m afraid. As for next years prospects I feel ill at the thought that TUSC or certain parts of TUSC are again putting their weight behind the No to EU banner once again playing into UKIP’s hands with a nationalist rhetoric that ill be hard to separate on the doorsteps where next year I would expect UKIP to do very well next year in the European elections if not win them out right actually. But what kind of workers’ party does the Socialist party want? Something pretty similar to what comrade Rob Griffiths of the old Morning Star CPB favours: i.e., a Labour Party marks two. The SWP is all for halfway houses too, but does not think the Socialist party trajectory is realistic. No meaningful layer of trade union bureaucrats is about to abandon Labour in order to set up another version of it this side of the 2015 general election. I would say TUSC has a long way to go and may not be the answer long term but please we do not need another labour party the one we got at the momentous bad enough making a safe space for various union bureaucrats is not my idea of a new workers party and I think workers need a party of their own still which they do not have.