Join Labour? No, vie with UKIP

Submitted by Matthew on 21 October, 2015 - 12:26 Author: Colin Foster

The TUSC electoral coalition, mainly organised by the Socialist Party, will continue to stand candidates against Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

A member of the Labour Representation Committee (a Labour left group) reports: “It was confirmed to us that TUSC would be standing candidates... in the coming local elections in May 2016. They also said they would oppose trade unions re-affiliating to the Labour Party, and were against re-joining the Labour Party”.

The Socialist Party’s line is that TUSC should contest council seats, wherever they are able, unless the Labour candidate commits to oppose all cuts.

The SP is right to oppose all cuts, but instead of working with others on the left — and mainly, now, within the new Corbyn Labour Party — to assemble an effective force against cuts, they use the “oppose all cuts” formula as a sect badge.

In January 2011 they used the National Shop Stewards Network, which they control, to set up a new “national anti-cuts campaign” counterposed to the Coalition of Resistance, People’s Assembly, Right to Work, Unite the Resistance, etc. on the grounds that those groups are allegedly not as strongly anti-cuts as the SP. The new “campaign” never did much, but its launch did disperse almost all the non-SP people previously active in the NSSN.

The drift, never clarified, was that it was wrong to join campaigns opposing one lot of cuts unless they are equally intransigent against all other cuts. (The SP suggest that their forerunners, Militant, didn’t make cuts when they led Liverpool Labour council in 1984-6. In fact they did).

In 2001, when the SP were in the Socialist Alliance, they rejected the view of everyone else in the SA (including AWL), that the SA should target its candidates so as not to oppose left Labour people or run a risk of letting in the Tories. The SP insisted on running a candidate against John McDonnell in the 2001 general election, and the rest of the SA had to refuse to back that SA candidate and explain we backed McDonnell.

The Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) is also in TUSC, and less gung-ho than the SP about TUSC candidates against Corbyn-Labour, but the SP has the decisive voice. The RMT rail union is affiliated to TUSC; it is not reported as having been represented at the meeting with LRC.

The smaller Independent Socialist Network seems unhappy with this TUSC policy, and also with TUSC policy on the European Union.

TUSC emerged from a “No2EU” slate in the 2009 Euro-election. On 8 October TUSC declared, under the headline “Socialists to challenge UKIP for Exit EU crown”, “that it would officially register as an exit campaigner in the forthcoming referendum on EU membership”.

No2EU has denounced “the so-called ‘free movement’ of labour” in the EU and “the social dumping of exploited foreign workers in Britain”, which is really a would-be “left” way of vying with Ukip to capture anti-migrant votes. TUSC has toned down that stuff; but in the 2010 general election leading SP and TUSC campaigners explained to us that it was deliberate that they said nothing on migrant rights.

That is not a constructive left-wing alternative to the battle inside the new Corbyn Labour Party.

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