Saturday 13th July saw Leeds Socialist Party host a day school on new workers parties. The day school came in the wake of the eruption of the attack by Ed Miliband on Unite and his proposals to alter the trade union link with the Labour Party, which formed part of the backdrop to the opening session, introduced by Socialist Party National Committee member, Mike Forster.
Iain Dalton, Leeds North Socialist Party
The discussion reflected upon the impasse which Unite’s strategy to reclaim the Labour party has reached with the weight of the Labour bureaucratic machine coming down on it. As Mike commented, in an interview revealing what even pro-Labour figures believe about workers attitudes toward the Labour Party, GMB secretary Paul Kenny commented that the Labour Party will lose 90% of its funding from that union if Milibands proposals go ahead. One comrade also commented how the previous day a Labour Party member of 64 years standing came up to our stall and said he was going to tear up his membership card.
Significantly he also commented that “We have been campaigning for our members to join Labour for a very long time and I have to say we have not been knocked down in the rush.” The process of re-establishing independent working class political representation can be a complex one, with false starts in Britain such as the Socialist Labour Party, Socialist Alliance and Respect, although it was pointed out that this occured with the formation of the Labour Party’s forerunner, the Labour Representation Committee by the trade unions in 1900.
Whilst the Socialist Party has welcomed the 8,000 who have signed up in support of Ken Loach’s appeal for a new workers party, and seeks discussion with the Left Unity which it has born, we think the establishment of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) with the full participation of the RMT union is a significant step forward and the discussion focussed on what recent developments mean for TUSC. Mike urged comrades to read the recent article in Socialism Today by Clive Heemskerk (http://socialismtoday.org/169/tusc.html) and also the recent articles in the current issue of the Socialist.
The session was followed by commissions on the Rise and Fall of the Independent Labour Party and New Workers Parties in Europe which attempted to draw lessons of the experiences of the formation of and the challenges faced by those organisation.