206 comments on “Eastleigh: Vote Labour

  1. Nick Parker on said:

    If I lived there I’d vote for Daz Procter, leading RMT seafarer, for a workers’ MP on a workers’ wage!

    If you wanna see what Labour will do for the South Coast, look at the savage cuts they’re making in Southampton!

  2. mark wright on said:

    there is no way i’d vote labour, not now not in 2015. despite them being not in government they to are a party of cuts as has been shown down the road in southampton where the council have carried on where tories left off. TUSC should be the vote for workers in Eastleigh a workers MP on a workers wage.

  3. how left is john o’farrell? remember reading his book on the rise of blairism many many years ago…

  4. It’s good O’Farrell has apologised for his ultra-left Brighton Bombing remarks, which were so silly.

  5. Paul Phillips on said:

    I’d rather vote for the principled Daz Procter of the RMT/TUSC rather than for a Labour Party which are making cuts up and down the country.

  6. jay:
    how left is john o’farrell?remember reading his book on the rise of blairism many many years ago…

    More left-wing than the Southampton councillors who also sought selection. But he’s still just a ‘Have I Got News For You’ media circuit regular.

    Which, given that the electors of Eastleigh are in all likelihood going to throw out the crooked yellow bourgeois and vote in the rabid MMR/autism conspiracy theorist blue bourgeois, is probably a good thing. It lets Labour try and muscle in, on what is essentially an intra-government struggle, by trotting out someone journos know and like.

    Additionally, his impeccably middle-class background ensures he won’t be driven out of Eastleigh by the burgher militia.

    Darren Proctor’s a good guy, but he doesn’t stand a chance. Even the Labour Party is too radical for the middle-England railway towns.

  7. Manzil: middle-England railway towns.

    Could you define what you mean by that term?

    Also, what about the National Health Action Party?

    I would have thought TUSC might have stood aside for them.

  8. Hch:
    It’s good O’Farrell has apologised for his ultra-left Brighton Bombing remarks, which were so silly.

    If it was ultra-left to feel disappointment Thatcher didn’t kick it, you’ll be shocked to know how big the ultra left was in Britain at the time.

    I know someone whose family – all solidly Labour, we’re not talking Wolfie Smiths here – who shared a celebratory drink with their neighbours when they thought Thatcher had been killed (which hen turned into a commiserative drink when they learned she’d survived).

    So the Daily Hurrah for the Blackshirts has been trawling through his book for lines of attack; I’m just surprised anyone on SU gives a shit. If anything, my major criticism is he’s just not that funny. (Mark Steel syndrome.)

  9. Hch:
    It’s good O’Farrell has apologised for his ultra-left Brighton Bombing remarks, which were so silly.

    Silly for an MP, but there’s no doubt that there were a huge number of people at the time and since who felt no quarms about expressing those views.

    I know plenty of otherwise law-abiding moderate and passive people who said how much their hatred of the IRA was compounded by their failure to kill Thatcher.

    Interesting that when the IRA killed Thatcher’s close confidant, Ian Gow the MP for neighbouring Eastbourne not that long afterwards, the Tories tried to play the anti-terrorist card by saying that a vote for anyone but the Tories was a vote for terrorism, resulting in a win for the Lib-Dems.

    For the avoidance of doubt my comments are not intended to be read as support for an act of political violence within the terms of British anti-terrorist legislation.

  10. jim mclean on said:

    LibDems 1/1
    Tories 6/4,
    UKIP 6/1,
    Labour 10/1

    All good socialists should vote Tory and create a revolutionary situation. Or just dont bother.

  11. #10. Vanya, you complete me. :P

    Vanya: Could you define what you mean by that term?

    Also, what about the National Health Action Party?

    I would have thought TUSC might have stood aside for them.

    De facto commuter towns, I suppose. Places that would shrivel on the vine without the ability for professional people to take the train into Southampton or Basingstoke to work, then return to their plush leafy neighbourhoods in the evening. Winchester’s another example. The idea of independent working-class politics never really caught on…

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s places with serious deprivation in Eastleigh (and Winchester!), just as there is throughout the supposedly affluent south. But the dominant political tradition is very much the unofficial Tory-Liberal alternation you see in most ‘rural’ and suburban areas.

    I’d have thought that TUSC would have stood aside for the National Health Action Party, as I’ve been repeatedly told the federal structure is to allow just such campaigns to work under its umbrella without having to sign up to the SP/SWP/SR brand of socialism. Campaigns arising out of Keep Our NHS Public have been specifically invoked in these hypothetical examples.

    But presumably (and absurdly) they would want NHAP to actually run UNDER the TUSC label (which I’m sure would be a tremendous asset…), which they’re evidently and quite legitimately not going to do – the NAHP appeal is that it’s fronted by nice spruced-up doctors that people who consider themselves very moderate and sensible could vote for.

    It’s also funny that I imagine the NHAP has wider public recognition already than TUSC has managed in how many years now?

  12. Even in solid Tory areas there is a solid base of real affection for the NHS and a distrust of the Tories’ intentions towards it. The NHAP has an outside chance of harnessing some of this in Eastleigh, getting a good protest vote and creating a bit of a stir come election night. Certainly it will get a good many more votes than TUSC, which will perform as embarrassingly badly as usual. I’m sure that Daz Procter is an excellent comrade but on this occasion at least (I’m being diplomatic) TUSC could contribute more to mobilising anti Tory sentiment by contributing its 50 or 60 votes to the NHAP.

  13. #13 Andy it was precisely because I was thinking of places like Swindon that I asked the question.

    #12 I would imagine that the SP would possibly see the NHAP as a popular front and insufficiently working class.

    It will be interesting to see how others on the left respond to this conundrum. Not sure how I would vote myself. I don’t make it a principle always to advocate a vote for a left of labour candidate, and in the absence of one either at all or that I think credible I would vote labour.

    The NHAP may be credible however.

  14. Andy Newman,

    Well yes, but just saying to Vanya that “it’s a town created or transformed by a line extension or new station” wouldn’t exactly tell you anything about why the politics of the place is so crap. Which relates to what effect the railway town model has on these places.

    That is, most locally employed people are essentially just a service sector maintained by and for the relatively privileged few who monopolise the inflated housing market. And, in days gone past, the direct role of the railway management in controlling the workforce through the ‘company town’ ethos.

    Or in short, because as localities, to the extent they are economically dependent on the status quo, they then become politically deferential towards it. Like tourist-funded seaside towns. Insecurity breeds accommodation.

  15. Manzil: Well yes, but just saying to Vanya that “it’s a town created or transformed by a line extension or new station” wouldn’t exactly tell you anything about why the politics of the place is so crap.

    I didn’t mean that. If Eastleigh is anything like Swindon (and I know it is, as my aunt lives there and is a Labour Party activist) then its historic role as a having one of the major rail works is a key part of the town’s indentity.

    Eastleigh is a railway town because it has a hundred year herritage of building trains and rolling stock

  16. Vanya: It will be interesting to see how others on the left respond to this conundrum. Not sure how I would vote myself. I don’t make it a principle always to advocate a vote for a left of labour candidate, and in the absence of one either at all or that I think credible I would vote labour.

    The NHAP may be credible however.

    All I’d say is, in Eastleigh of all places, Labour is not credible. If they seriously wanted to shake things up they’d have stood aside for the NHAP. It’s a by-election in a seat Labour’s not even going to win the day after the revolution: there’s no need for them to stand.

    O’Farrell coming third doesn’t change anything. A serious vote for an anti-NHS reforms candidate though? That would be seriously damaging to the government – to the Liberals who are already on the back foot and are especially vulnerable to the charge of collaborating with the dismantling of the NHS, to the Tories by reminding everyone what Cameron’s “no top-down reorganisations” pledge meant etc.

    It would exacerbate the divisions within the coalition and make this a POLITICAL campaign, whereas the Labour strategy of relying on a media-friendly offensive is just going to let the two wings of the government dust themselves off and write this off as a bit of an internal reorganisation…

  17. Andy Newman: I didn’t mean that. If Eastleigh is anything like Swindon (and I know it is, as my aunt lives there and is a Labour Party activist) then its historic role as a having one of the major rail works is a key part of the town’s indentity.

    Eastleigh is a railway town because it has a hundred year herritage of building trains and rolling stock

    And in the popular imagination, middle England tends to be in the bulky bit from the south-east to the midlands, but I wasn’t talking about it as a geographical conception…!

    Besides, although I accept your point in the case of Eastleigh, there are many “railway towns” that didn’t actually have anything much to do with industry itself, but were simply transformed by the development of the railways. I’ve never seen its usage limited to mean they just built the things.

  18. Manzil: It’s a by-election in a seat Labour’s not even going to win the day after the revolution

    During the 1950s, Eastleigh had one of the largest CLP memerships in the whole of Britain, I believe,

    Manzil: If they seriously wanted to shake things up they’d have stood aside for the NHAP.

    That is not a credible option for a party aspiring to government

  19. Manzil: I’ve never seen its usage limited to mean they just built the things.

    As someone who has lived in Swindon for 20 years, I can’t imagine the term “railway town” being used for anywhere where they didn’t actually build trains.

  20. Andy Newman: During the 1950s, Eastleigh had one of the largest CLP memerships in the whole of Britain, I believe,

    And I’m told the Isle of Wight CLP attracted hundreds of members to its GCs.

    But – and as a mad squatter on the far left, I have ALWAYS wanted to say this to someone, so thank you – you can’t live in the past. :P

    Today, I don’t believe there is any serious chance of a Labour MP in Eastleigh.

    Andy Newman:That is not a credible option for a party aspiring to government

    They didn’t stand against David Davis’s civil liberties campaign. They didn’t stand against Martin Bell’s candidature over corruption. And that one was during a general election! Blatantly it can be a credible option, unless Labour weren’t aspiring to government then? Tactical manoeuvres are legitimate, and public perceptions matter.

    People already trust Labour on the NHS. Those motivated at the next election by the issue of the NHS Bill will be voting Labour. There is no legitimate downside to using this ‘safe’ by-election to actually bring forward splits in the government and try and make it relevant to people outside of the Westminster bubble.

    But what I imagine Labour is absolutely terrified of is that people will not automatically and solely associate the issue of fighting this government’s agenda with supporting a Labour government, any Labour government.

    Success for the NHAP would actually increase the pressure on a Miliband government to completely reverse the attacks, rather than to simply reset the NHS back to the post-Blair period.

    Whereas insisting that everything must wait until Labour wins in 2015 (touch wood) is actually going to increase the difficulties of getting such a government to actually follow through on a progressive alternative to the coalition.

    Andy Newman: As someone who has lived in Swindon for 20 years, I can’t imagine the term “railway town” being used for anywhere where they didn’t actually build trains.

    If I had a ‘shrugging’ smiley, I’d use it. Turn it on its head a second: Doncaster and Wolverhampton were both incredibly important to the rail works (or at least, their rail works were incredibly important to them!). I’ve never heard them described as railway towns.

  21. Manzil: But presumably (and absurdly) they would want NHAP to actually run UNDER the TUSC label

    Manzil, you’re free to write what ever you like on the interweb but you could at least try to find out what TUSC is actually saying.
    It would only take a quick phone call to find out that
    1) TUSC has written to the NHAP asking for discussion and has not received a reply as yet, as far as I am aware.
    2) Organisations that are willing to sign up to TUSC’s very minimal no-cuts pledge are perfectly free to stand under their own name if they so wish.

    I dunno if all this stuff with the internal regime of the SWP has given you the wrong impression but I can assure you no one in the SP is going to bite your head off for asking questions. As the old ad used to say, It’s good to talk :)

    Vanya: I would imagine that the SP would possibly see the NHAP as a popular front and insufficiently working class.

    Not at all.

    “Explaining why health campaigners have taken the step to set up a new political party the website of the National Health Action party says: “none of the main political parties can be trusted with the stewardship of the NHS, because they all believe in using the flawed market model to deliver healthcare.”

    Socialists agree with this and campaign for a new mass workers’ party that can stand candidates who say no to all cuts – in the NHS and all our public services. We hope the NHA will coordinate with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to maximise opposition to the health attacks.”

    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/16075

  22. Neil: 1) TUSC has written to the NHAP asking for discussion and has not received a reply as yet, as far as I am aware.
    2) Organisations that are willing to sign up to TUSC’s very minimal no-cuts pledge are perfectly free to stand under their own name if they so wish.

    But surely, you could stand down in their favour without their agreement? After all you demonstrate here that you already agree with their polictical stance, so what is there to negotiate about?

  23. Manzil: If I had a ‘shrugging’ smiley, I’d use it. Turn it on its head a second: Doncaster and Wolverhampton were both incredibly important to the rail works (or at least, their rail works were incredibly important to them!).

    What proportion of the workforce were in the rail works? In the heroic period for Eastleigh and Swindon, that would have been probably 80% of the workforce; indeed in Swindon higher as even the civic functions of the town like parks, healthcare, library, public baths were all provided by the GWH, and were railway employees.

  24. Neil,

    Happy to be corrected! :)

    My comment about standing under the TUSC label was based on the explanation I was given as to the need for a federal structure – which was specifically related to possible candidacies arising out of Keep Our NHS Public, and which was based on “using TUSC as an umbrella”. If that doesn’t mean its name, what exactly is TUSC other than a legal fiction!

    Although given that NHAP has come out of an entirely different milieu than TUSC, it does seem a bit OTT to require them to adopt a no-cuts platform in its entirety before standing aside. Surely if they were prepared to do that they’d have said so already? And AFAIK the election leaflets are already being printed and Daz’s campaign is underaway.

    What we’ve ended up with, was two options:

    1. Acknowledging an Eastleigh by-election isn’t fertile ground – for the entire labour movement – and that the NHAP platform is likely to do better for an anti-cuts narrative than a through-the-motions third-place Labour campaign or an independent TUSC candidate.

    2. Actually standing against the NHAP, rather than helping them, because they don’t agree with the totality of the TUSC programme.

    (Why couldn’t we support NHAP AND call on it to oppose all cuts, and use campaigning to advance a that position?)

    I’m honestly not trying to slag off TUSC here – after all I argued further up that I don’t think even the Labour Party should be standing, if people are actually serious about shifting the debate.

    I just don’t think Eastleigh is going to provide the sort of receptive audience for socialist views that would justify a refusal to compromise.

    And I should add, no SP member has been anything other than friendly and polite to me personally, nor have I ever meant to suggest otherwise.

  25. Andy Newman,

    Okay, fine. But you’re saying that railway town being used in the sense I used above – as broadly synonymous with a commuter town but derived from the expansion of the railways – is unacceptable?

    Because other than perhaps Crewe, basically only Swindon or Eastleigh would BE a railway town in the historic sense, in the entire country.

    I genuinely don’t understand the problem.

  26. Manzil: other than perhaps Crewe, basically only Swindon or Eastleigh would BE a railway town in the historic sense, in the entire country.

    Now you get it :)

    Manzil: Okay, fine. But you’re saying that railway town being used in the sense I used above – as broadly synonymous with a commuter town but derived from the expansion of the railways – is unacceptable?

    It is not a usage I am familiar with, and I am not sure that the railway has been the decisive factor in generating commuter towns for many a year.

  27. Manzil: I genuinely don’t understand the problem.

    I am just being pedantic, but as you were discussing not just anywhere, but specifically an historic Railway town, Eastleigh, in the same narrow sense that Crewe and Swindon were; then it was unclear what point you were making when using “railway town” in the broader sense to mean “commuter town”; especially as the political landscape of a railway town that manufactured locomotoves and rolling stick, was typically maninly labour voting manual workers; whereas the conclusion you were pointing to was the opposite.

  28. uncle albert on said:

    Andy Newman,

    “vote Labour”

    Well, you would say that wouldn’t you!

    I resigned from the LP last autumn, on discovering Andy Burnham’s role in founding NHS Global. Since then I’ve joined National Health Actin Party.

    And I’m looking forward to visiting the constituency to campaign for NHAP.

    Here’s Doc Iain Maclennan, the NHAP candidate:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSzOxvRlbNM

  29. My local community party, Lewisham People Before Profit are giving strong support to the Health Action Party, along with many local health campaigners. It is a terrible mistake for TUSC to stand in this election and they will get another terrible vote. I am increasingly coping to the view that TUSC is a real mistake and hopefully the shockingly low vote (again less than 1%) will concentrate minds into linking with the much more inclusive and broader developments that are emerging on the left.

  30. uncle albert on said:

    Nick Long: People Before Profit are giving strong support to the Health Action Party, along with many local health campaigners

    Good to hear that.

    Interesting to note how leaders of the main political parties all declare their support for a health service ‘free at the point of use’, more relevant is a health service ‘free at the time of need.’

    Here’s an example of ‘free at the point of use’ USA-style:

    http://today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/free-health-clinic-239226.aspx

  31. Gavin Marsh on said:

    Interesting comments regarding the situation with NHA party and TUSC. As I understand it TUSC did approach NHA without response for whatever reason and of course this election was called at such short notice that there was barely time to try and sit down and chat about the the possibility of standing a single candidate. I personally think the development of NHA is very positive and shook the candidates hand on Saturday. He was understanding and sympathetic as to why TUSC were standing. The response that TUSC ae getting on the streets is very favourable and supportive. The vote is likely to be small and no-one involved in the campaign would suggest otherwise. However that is not the only consideration. It is important to popularise and build support for an alternative to the austeriy consenus and that is independent of whether a person votes for a candidate or not. Also many of the people we are meeting and who sympathise will still not bother to vote and that is entirely understandable. However we are in it for the long haul. Eastleigh Constituency has a sizeable working class population, not to mention young people and college students. In central Eastleigh there are pocket of deprivation in the top 20% bracket nationwide. We fully intend to use this campaign to reach out to these communities and work with them to build an anti cuts network that can begin to organise local resistance. It should also be remembered that there will be local elections in Eastleigh in May and perhaps therin lies an opportunity for TUSC, NHA and other independents to sit down together and aggree on a common platform.
    Regarding the credentials of the labour candidate, I debated in a hustings with him and the others yesterday and I was quite surprised. I was expecting a passionate, witty and lively opponent. He was a pale reflection of that. I said hello to him afterwards and wished him well but he was surrounded by a group of people. If I had to hazard a guess I would say he is on a tight rein with little scope to speak honestly about what he thinks and feels. Subsequently he looks drained of energy and life.
    fraternally,
    Gavin

  32. #34 It would be ironic if a letter from TUSC accepting SR into their ranks crossed in the post with this decision :)

    On the other hand, SR are probably relieved not to be in a position of feeling obliged to support TUSC in this situation so a win win situation all round?

  33. uncle albert on said:

    Gavin Marsh: he [O'Farrell] is on a tight rein with little scope to speak honestly about what he thinks and feels.

    I had an identical experience with Bristol’s Labour Mayoral candidate Marvin Rees. And judging from the photo at the top of this thread it seems as if Ed has now been programmed to replicate Blair’s defensive ‘Double Hand Slice’ gesture.

    Let’s hope Andy doesn’t also succumb, Stepford Wives-like, when his PPC opportunity comes a-knocking…

  34. #34. Thanks for commenting, Gavin.

    If there is a genuine attempt to actually organise in Eastleigh and this is considered merely the launching-pad for that, I can see the logic to it, although I still disagree with the efficacy of a TUSC candidate.

    What I don’t think would be good for the Left, however, is if an essentially paper candidate (due to the constraints of time and resources – no offence intended!) then leads to a whole series of paper candidates in the locals, and this is somehow viewed as a qualitatively advance. Beyond a certain point don’t we have to accept that TUSC is a house without foundations? Even you acknowledge that much of the anger you observe isn’t being mobilised into actual political support. Why not? Something is wrong here.

    Isn’t the danger that, rather than popularising an anti-austerity message, repeated rejections of TUSC only confirm the sense of fatalism amongst people who might otherwise be receptive to the Left.

    Vanya:
    #29 Are you trying to compete with George Hallam?

    :D

    I’d have thought my use of the phrase “middle-England” to preface the term might have allowed one to infer I wasn’t talking about rolling stock, (or, y’know, that the subsequent explanation of my intended meaning would have been sufficient follow-up to any misunderstanding) but evidently not.

  35. Manzil: They didn’t stand against David Davis’s civil liberties campaign. They didn’t stand against Martin Bell’s candidature over corruption. And that one was during a general election! Blatantly it can be a credible option, unless Labour weren’t aspiring to government then? Tactical manoeuvres are legitimate, and public perceptions matter.

    The difference is that NHAP can’t win; whereas davis and Bell were shoe-ins to win. Labour would look weak standing down for NHAP, they looked magnanamous standing down for Bell and davis.

    Labour will get far more votes than NHAP in Eastleigh, and spoilt ballot papers will get more votes than TUSC.

    Eastleigh matters for the next General election, because labour needs the practice of fighting what are potentially three way marginals in the South – if the Lib Dem vite collapses, we cannot afford the Tories to be the only winners.

  36. Andy Newman: The difference is that NHAP can’t win; whereas davis and Bell were shoe-ins to win. Labour would look weak standing down for NHAP, they looked magnanamous standing down for Bell and davis.

    Labour will get far more votes than NHAP in Eastleigh, and spoilt ballot papers will get more votes than TUSC.

    Eastleigh matters for the next General election, because labour needs the practice of fighting what are potentially three way marginals in the South – if the Lib Dem vite collapses, we cannot afford the Tories to be the only winners.

    Actually in the case of David Davis, I think Labour looked self-interested: worried about highlighting their own authoritarian streak, and scared of giving Davis undue publicity. But that’s besides the point.

    Your argument essentially confirms what I suggested: the interests of the Labour Party and the interests of those determined to stop and reverse the NHS reforms overlap but are not identical.

    And, within the margins where they diverge, quelle surprise, Labour have chosen Labour.

    Yet, in this case, the Labour Party is putting its own short-term interests ahead of the cause it supposedly champions. And it is doing so in a way that, perhaps counter-intuitively, will likely undermine the longer-term prospects of mobilising the popular NHS “lobby” behind the Labour Party and forcing the leadership to adopt specific progressive policies they will find it difficult to retreat from.

    The Tories will be the only winners. Eastleigh is not going to be a marginal. At best it will see a more equal (and equally useless) distribution of anti-Tory votes between Labour and the Liberals.

    Labour is simply allowing this to be a business as usual by-election that everyone will have forgotten about in a month. Another sorry chapter in the long tired saga of corrupt professional politicians, and a wet dream for leader writers interested in coalition infighting.

    I actually have more respect for what Gavin outlines than O’Farrell’s by-the-numbers role.

    Oh well, he can be back on the telly in a fortnight.

  37. uncle albert: it seems as if Ed has now been programmed to replicate Blair’s defensive ‘Double Hand Slice’ gesture.

    He’s holding back the adulatory masses.

  38. Manzil: Your argument essentially confirms what I suggested: the interests of the Labour Party and the interests of those determined to stop and reverse the NHS reforms overlap but are not identical.

    no – because a Labour victory at the next general election is in the interets of not only the whole left, but of society

  39. Andy Newman,

    No yourself. :)

    I already addressed that, and in what I thought was a quite constructive way:

    People already trust Labour on the NHS. Those motivated at the next election by the issue of the NHS Bill will be voting Labour. There is no legitimate downside to using this ‘safe’ by-election to actually bring forward splits in the government and try and make it relevant to people outside of the Westminster bubble.

    But what I imagine Labour is absolutely terrified of is that people will not automatically and solely associate the issue of fighting this government’s agenda with supporting a Labour government, any Labour government.

    Success for the NHAP would actually increase the pressure on a Miliband government to completely reverse the attacks, rather than to simply reset the NHS back to the post-Blair period.

    Whereas insisting that everything must wait until Labour wins in 2015 (touch wood) is actually going to increase the difficulties of getting such a government to actually follow through on a progressive alternative to the coalition.

    Or again:

    Yet, in this case, the Labour Party is putting its own short-term interests ahead of the cause it supposedly champions. And it is doing so in a way that, perhaps counter-intuitively, will likely undermine the longer-term prospects of mobilising the popular NHS “lobby” behind the Labour Party and forcing the leadership to adopt specific progressive policies they will find it difficult to retreat from.

    The interests overlap. They are not identical. In this case, the party line in defence of O’Farrell’s kamikaze candidature is an impediment to progressive politics.

  40. Vanya: #34 It would be ironic if a letter from TUSC accepting SR into their ranks crossed in the post with this decision

    I gave a big snort there. It was disgusting and glorious.

    It might be worth it to see a repeat of the soul-searching over Respect standing in Scotland. I like Socialist Resistance, but damn, lighten up. Not everything is of world-shaking importance.

  41. Gavin Marsh on said:

    #38

    Hi Manzil,

    thanks for your comments. You have raised pertinent points that deserve some thought and response

    Time and resources are an issue as you quite rightly point out. So at this stage it is really a question of engaging with people. It is a very useful experience because you can gauge where they are coming from, sense of confidence and awareness of their own power to change things (apologies if any of that sounds patronising-not intended).
    It is a really frustrating situation politically at present. If I had any real confidence of a genuine shift towards the left within the labour party, I would be in there fighting alongside those stalwarts who have remained and are doing what they can to influence the party.
    At the same time many within the labour party and unaligned socialists and activists can rightly point to, at best, a modest development of TUSC.
    I sincerely hope that we are laying down some roots for future developments, whether that be via TUSC or some new alignment as yet to be formed. I personally think your challenge “Beyond a certain point don’t we have to accept that TUSC is a house without foundations?” is a legitimate one to make.
    I believe we are emphasising the essential nature of there being foundations established. And I am not interested in trying to exaggerate or be dishonest about where we are at the moment.
    There probably won’t be any immediate change of fortune in relation to votes for TUSC, but I do think that the work we are doing here in Eastleigh like that in Southampton is building the basis of a strong, organised group of activists.
    Able to respond to, intervene in and perhaps coordinate local struggles that will certainly develop on any number of issues in the near future.
    It is very helpful to be challenged around this and believe me I do not have all the answers by a long chalk.
    This is where I have decided to put my energy and time for the moment.

  42. Andy Newman: Labour would look weak standing down for NHAP, they looked magnanamous standing down for Bell and davis.

    I don’t think Labour were doing davis a favour were they? Surely they and the lib dems didn’t stand in order not to give him credibility making the by-election a complete farce.

    On the other hand Lab and Lib Dems not standing against Bell was what *gave* him credibility, and it was in both of their interests to do so in order to help toxify the tories more generally.

    The other case is Richard Taylor who won the seat first time with the help of the lib dems who could not win the seat but knew it would give Taylor the kind of momentum he needed to win and so didn’t stand in his favour. They regretted it and stood against him next time, but it was the LD’s who helped create a credible independent candidate (on a vital local issue).

    It’s not in Labour’s short term or long term interests to stand down for NHA this time because a) NHA will not win their deposit back while Labour should be able to pass the 20% barrier no problem, vacating the election makes no sense and b) Labour hardly want to create the impression that there are people out there who are better fighters for the NHS than them (even though the record of PFI and outsourcing is pretty shoddy).

    O’Farrell is a nice, likable bloke and the House of Commons would be better with him in it, so I’d probably vote for him – but I don’t think his kind of world weary pragmatism would mark a particular break with the current Westminster consensus.

  43. Marxist Lennonist on said:

    Labour weren’t as bad as they could’ve been in the Davis by-election, wasn’t there talk of either Labour or the Sun(!) standing a 7/7 survivor or a soldier against Davis on a platform of supporting the 45 days detention he was opposing?

  44. Marxist Lennonist: wasn’t there talk of either Labour or the Sun(!) standing a 7/7 survivor or a soldier against Davis on a platform of supporting the 45 days detention he was opposing?

    the Sun did stand a candidate – Miss Great Britain (don’t think she’d fought in any wars though). 2.2% they got.

  45. Marxist Lennonist on said:

    jim jepps,

    Wow I didn’t realise that. I seem to remember their search for a suitable anti-terror candidate fell through, didn’t know what their plan B was…

  46. Andy Newman on said:

    Caroline,

    So how you *feel* is more important than what provides the best context for the left, and what is in the best interests of working people.

  47. i dont think it would be in national healths interest to do a deal with tusc. a , tuscs vote is to small. b, national health is aiming its self at tory and lib dem voters in order to hurt the government.

  48. jim jepps: I don’t think Labour were doing davis a favour were they? Surely they and the lib dems didn’t stand in order not to give him credibility making the by-election a complete farce.

    Correct – it has all disappeared down the memory hole for me.

  49. Gavin Marsh: I personally think your challenge “Beyond a certain point don’t we have to accept that TUSC is a house without foundations?” is a legitimate one to make.

    It is more like an attempt at camping where all you have is the guy ropes, but no tent, no pegs, no groundsheet and no pitch to put it on.

  50. jim jepps: Labour hardly want to create the impression that there are people out there who are better fighters for the NHS than them (even though the record of PFI and outsourcing is pretty shoddy).

    On the other hand, I suggest you read the discussion on this point in Eric Shaw’s brilliant book “Losing labour’s soul, New Labour and the Blair government 1997-2007″

    After 1997 the NHS had the largest and most sustained increase in funding in its history. recruiting 193000 extra staff, including 23000 more doctors, 67900 more nurses, 26500 more therapists and technical staff and 71700 more clinical support workers.

    In 2005 the independent audit by the Kings Fund concluded that “Long waits for treatment have been virtually eradicacted … the government has reversed a previously inexorable upwards trend in the numbers of people waiting for treatment – the first time this has been done since the NHS was founded ”

  51. : Gavin Marsh, you say to Manzil:

    ‘I personally think your challenge “Beyond a certain point don’t we have to accept that TUSC is a house without foundations?” is a legitimate one to make.’

    If you think it’s a legitimate point, and therefore concede it’s a possibility then I really can’t see why you would stand other than in places where you thought you had a chance of making a serious impact, or where you had a candidate with some serious history or base (eg Coventry or Preston (where the candidate doesn’t even stand as TUSC).

    You don’t need a political party to get activists together, you need an information network.

    All that standing in elections
    under a banner that had no relevance, and is completely unknown, to the huge majority of people, which has no sense of permanence and which gets derisory votes does is demoralise people and massively plays down the level of support for progressive social and economic policies.

    And I mean no disrespect to those involved, particularly not to good trade unionists who have a hard job to do at the best of times.

  52. Vanya: All that standing in elections
    under a banner that had no relevance, and is completely unknown, to the huge majority of people, which has no sense of permanence and which gets derisory votes does is demoralise people and massively plays down the level of support for progressive social and economic policies.

    or …. hypotheticaly, the SP leadership realise that TUSC has run its course, but having marched their troops to the top of the hill don’t want to march them down again. However, engineering a few misguided election candidacies might lead to the RMT withdrawing, in which case the SP can declare the initiative failed despite their own best efforts.

  53. Vanya: All that standing in elections
    under a banner that had no relevance, and is completely unknown, to the huge majority of people, which has no sense of permanence and which gets derisory votes does is demoralise people and massively plays down the level of support for progressive social and economic policies.

    A number of assertions masquerading as fact here.

    Over the last 14 years or so I’ve been involved in a number of election campaigns (Parliamentary, local, european, city wide) in three different countries. Some were victorious, most were not.

    In my own experience the most demoralising elections results were ones where there was an expectation that a candidate would win but fell short by a narrow margin. Similarly if a campaign was to unrealistically hype the chances of a candidate who then went on to get a very low vote, although thankfully I’ve never experienced that campaigning for the SP/CWI!

    Where campaigns are realistic about what votes can be achieved in the circumstances and are clear that it is laying the foundations for future campaigns then generally I find that demoralisation can be minimalised. Of course people can be disappointed by a very low vote but that’s a long way from demoralised. I say this as some one who’s expereinced both emotions at different points in my life :)

    Gavin’s contribution has put forward a very realistic, both in terms of what can be achieved now and what potential there may be in the future, perspective for TUSC standing in the election in Eastleigh.

    I think you are contradicting yourself Vanya when you say on the one TUSC is completely unknown to people and then on the other say it massively plays down the level of support for progressive social and economic policies. Surely it would have to be well know to do that.

    In my view TUSC is a great asset to promoting genuinely progressive policies not least thanks to the fact that one of the main reference points for workers struggle in this country, the RMT is fully involved and is running one of it’s NEC members in this election.

    TUSC is not at all saying the NHAP should stand aside for it. It’s notable that on the ground in Eastleigh Gavin has pointed out that NHAP and TUSC rub along just fine. Perhaps the obstructive role TUSC allegedly plays is more in the minds of commentators far removed from what is actually happening?

    Andy Newman: or …. hypotheticaly, the SP leadership realise that TUSC has run its course, but having marched their troops to the top of the hill don’t want to march them down again. However, engineering a few misguided election candidacies might lead to the RMT withdrawing, in which case the SP can declare the initiative failed despite their own best efforts.

    Bless your cotton socks Andy you do say say some silly things sometimes!
    The SP have engineered Daz Proctor, an enormously experienced trade union militant from the shipping industry and RMT NEC member, to stand so as to get a derisory vote in order to drive the RMT out?!?
    That’s exactly the sort of tin-foil hat conspiracy theory that you’ve been castigating other groups for in other threads.

  54. Neil: Bless your cotton socks Andy you do say say some silly things sometimes!
    The SP have engineered Daz Proctor, an enormously experienced trade union militant from the shipping industry and RMT NEC member, to stand so as to get a derisory vote in order to drive the RMT out?!?
    That’s exactly the sort of tin-foil hat conspiracy theory that you’ve been castigating other groups for in other threads.

    I was obviously being cheeky there.

    I cannot see the RMT continuing to support TUSC though further derisory votes, as it is damaging their own credibility

  55. Neil: Perhaps the obstructive role TUSC allegedly plays is more in the minds of commentators far removed from what is actually happening?

    I think irrelevant is the word, not obstructive

  56. Neil: I think you are contradicting yourself Vanya when you say on the one TUSC is completely unknown to people and then on the other say it massively plays down the level of support for progressive social and economic policies. Surely it would have to be well know to do that.

    No, what I said was that getting derisory votes in elections plays down the level of support for those policies, not that TUSC does it deliberately. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you genuinely misunderstood my point.

    Neil: thanks to the fact that one of the main reference points for workers struggle in this country, the RMT is fully involved and is running one of it’s NEC members in this election.

    Well if he gets the kind of vote I predict that’s something else that will be played down as well as a consequence.

    I have every respect for the RMT, and particularly for their right to use their political fund and the energies of their officers as they see fit, but I simply don’t think that this kind of election campaign is the best way to promote either their brand of politics or the cause of trade unionism.

  57. I think the problem is that TUSC and the SP has a fixation now for elections when in the past Militant had a more rounded out position and understood the limitations of electoral politics and saw the need to build the movement as the main priority including giving critical support to even right wingers in the Labour Party at the time. including even canvassing for them.
    The big change is the Tusc/SP would never support a Labour Party candidate or a Green Party candidate even if they were on the left as the dogma about building a workers party and exposing Labour and the Greens as capitalist parties is one of the first steps to building the workers party that will come out of TUSC.
    As was said earlier – you have to sign up a full programme of TUSC to get any real endorsement and especially be a pary or group ‘based on the working class’ so i really don’t think given the nature of the National Health Action Party that is was really going to get an endorsemnent from TUSC – even if it wanted it.

  58. Just to add, i hope TUSC/SP and the RMT get back on track so to speak and recognise that their tactics are not working and not now or in the future unless they reach out and be part of campaign to build the left and the anti cuts movement – we need you comrades!

  59. Neil,

    Aim low, achieve your goals, avoid disappointment, as the saying goes.

    I can understand the point about the TUSC using these campaigns as a stepping stone, but as far as I can see, the idea doesn’t reconcile with the reality, as a lot of TUSC candidates seem to be purely paper candidates.* Conversely, campaigns like Lewisham People Before Profit appear to have made much more headway along these lines. Indeed, to me they suggest that, rather than attempt to form a national party, a network of (unaligned/semi-aligned) local anti-cut campaigns might provide a better nucleus, if only because there’s more freedom to incorporate local issues into the campaign, which could well yield some very positive results in council elections especially.

    *Whenever I see the local SP members with their stall, stuff about the TUSC is notable by its absence. And when I’ve asked, the responses have been lukewarm, despite my enquires being of a positive nature – I initially had high hopes for the TUSC and was interested enough to consider joining. Perhaps their disinterest reflects the fact that I was asking as an unaligned individual, with the TUSC not being particularly interested in this demographic? Seems self-defeating to me – as if their idea of creating a new mass party doesn’t really extend beyond an alliance of the ‘Trotskyist’ left.

  60. Neil,

    It’s not exactly helpful to criticise someone for ‘assertions masquerading as facts’ and then counterpose your own assertions based on anecdotes.

    I have regularly felt demoralised by the successive failures of Left candidates to put in credible appearances in elections. I know of many such people who have. Vanya is undoubtedly speaking from personal experience. When, on the other hand, Respect made its targeted intervention in the general election, despite not winning the three seats, I did not feel demoralised. Nor was I demoralised by Peter Cranie’s failure to stop Nick Griffin’s election as an MEP. I felt disappointed, which is considerably different: it leaves open hope for improvement, and the motivation to be part of that.

    The problem with suggesting that these paper candidatures are actually ‘promoting genuinely progressive policies’ is that, even if we unconditionally accepted your proposition, why hasn’t this led to a greater mobilisation IN FAVOUR of those policies? What is the point of a propaganda effort that does not actually translate into a higher degree of political organisation and public support?

    As Vanya said, you don’t need a political party to promote the kind of campaign that Gavin is suggesting TUSC wishes to build in Eastleigh subsequent to this by-election.

    So if TUSC is not successful as an electoral project (either in terms of winning seats or qualitatively improving the social weight of the anti-cuts Left), nor is it a necessary or even helpful tool in building up awareness and organisation in deprived communities, why stand?

  61. stephen marks on said:

    Indeed. I don’t see how whatever positive achievements there may be to TUSC’s work could not have been better achieved by a broader anti-cuts campaign using elections and by-elections to demand of all candidates to state where they stand on the cuts and on a specific programme of opposition. Whether you like it or not, elections are by nature competitions and by standing you throw your hat into the ring and are seen as doing so.

    A ridiculous vote makes you look ridiculous, and slotted in with the Monster Raving Loonies and other nutters. That doesn’t mean that getting elected is the only game. Both Respect in the past and UKIP on the right have got respectable votes even without winning and made the big parties take notice. But votes which consistently underestimate the degree of support for politics to the left of labour just encourage disillusion.

  62. stephen marks on said:

    Manzil,

    Indeed. I don’t see how whatever positive achievements there may be to TUSC’s work could not have been better achieved by a broader anti-cuts campaign using elections and by-elections to demand of all candidates to state where they stand on the cuts and on a specific programme of opposition. Whether you like it or not, elections are by nature competitions and by standing you throw your hat into the ring and are seen as doing so.

    A ridiculous vote makes you look ridiculous, and slotted in with the Monster Raving Loonies and other nutters. That doesn’t mean that getting elected is the only game. Both Respect in the past and UKIP on the right have got respectable votes even without winning and made the big parties take notice. But votes which consistently underestimate the degree of support for politics to the left of labour just encourage disillusion.

  63. Manzil: , on the other hand, Respect made its targeted intervention in the general election, despite not winning the three seats, I did not feel demoralised.

    I think to be fair there was dmeoralisation at the first Respect NC after the election, depsite some good political analysis; and for me it marked the time to join the Labour Party.

    Manzil: Nor was I demoralised by Peter Cranie’s failure to stop Nick Griffin’s election as an MEP. I felt disappointed,

    I was cross that the farcical No2EU effort confused the message of how to defeat Griffin.

    Manzil: why stand?

    Institutional reasons I suspect, as long as TUSC constinues, the SP get to sit at the table with Alex Gordon and Bob Crow and feel important

  64. George Hallam on said:

    Feodor: Conversely, campaigns like Lewisham People Before Profit appear to have made much more headway along these lines. Indeed, to me they suggest that, rather than attempt to form a national party, a network of (unaligned/semi-aligned) local anti-cut campaigns might provide a better nucleus, if only because there’s more freedom to incorporate local issues into the campaign, which could well yield some very positive results in council elections especially.

    Aside from incorporating “local issues into the campaign” LPBP is very broad grouping with a ‘problem-based’, rather than ‘ideology-based’, approach. For this reason we don’t define ourselves as a ‘Left’ group. This creates tensions at times since many of our activists would describe themselves as ‘Left’. On the positive side it has meant that we have been able to concentrate on concrete issues and activities that mobilise support, rather than arcane disputes.

    I should also point out that LPBP fully supports the policy platform of TUSC.
    http://www.tusc.org.uk/policy.php

    In the GLA election our material urged for people to vote for the TUSC list.

    I think a lot of our activists were disappointed that TUSC didn’t stand a candidate for the Mayor of London.

  65. @ Gavin Marsh

    Best of luck to you Gavin, hope it goes as well as can be expected! I think your comments have been realistic and grounded and your patience does you credit – we’re all well aware that TUSC is unlikely to make any serious breakthrough for the next couple of years – until we have a Labour govt ramming austerity down our throats as opposed to the Tories… The most recent TUSC campaign I’ve been involved in was the Rotherham by election, and although our vote was small, I feel like we put down some roots. It’s the first time I’ve worked day-to-day with SWP members, unaligned activists and trade unionists on a TUSC campaign, and I think one of the really positive things about that was it meant that the beginnings of a TUSC branch was established, and a network of TUSC supporters who have continued to campaign together against local cuts. Get as many votes as you can in Eastleigh – but have one eye of after the election, and trying to build the foundations for future campaigns.

    @ Andy Newman

    Andy, for an alleged Labour Party member, this is a crap post. VOTE LABOUR! Is that all you can say? Nothing about the candidate (other than that he’s a good bloke), nothing about why we need a Labour MP in Eastleigh, just nothing really. You spend all your time talking about the real left (the legitimate reporting on the SWP’s problems turned into obsessive gloating weeks ago), and you almost never blog about Labour. For someone who insists that the Labour Party is all there will ever be, you’re curiously silent on what they’re actually up to. Is it because the Labour Party’s active membership is now nothing more than a few grumpy old codgers reminiscing about the glory days of Wilson and a faceless mass of principle-free students looking for parliamentary careers and safe seats? And do you base your entire political perspective on Francis Fukuyama’s “The End of History”? I dare you – do a post reviewing Red Ed’s leadership, or the bringing back the 10p tax rate. Make the case for Labour instead of slagging off everything else.

    Oh, and I’m sorry Neil got to call you a tin-foil hat conspiracy theorist before I did, genius! :)

    On the NHAP, as Neil has pointed out, we’d love to work with them if we had common ground but they haven’t as yet responded to us. I find people’s attitude surprising though – the same people dismissing TUSC as irrelevant seem to think that the NHAP will get a far superior vote. At this stage they are a purely single-issue party, though of course I’d welcome them taking steps to become an anti-austerity party in their own right. Isn’t this the first time they’ve stood? What do we know about how many people they will have on the ground to canvass? If they do I suspect it will be because they have “national health” in their name, and it’s quite possible people will be unaware of who they are and will decide against voting for them.

  66. @George Hallam

    You weren’t the only ones disappointed that TUSC didn’t stand a candidate for Mayor, especially given that it would have meant we got some tv advertising time as I understand it. I think it didn’t happen because there was some reluctance to stand against Livingstone, who is certainly seen as to the left of most of Labour by a lot of people.

  67. George Hallam: In the GLA election our material urged for people to vote for the TUSC list.
    I think a lot of our activists were disappointed that TUSC didn’t stand a candidate for the Mayor of London.

    Well given that the SP refused to support Livingstone against Johnson it certainly would have been logical for them to advocate TUSC doing just that.

    And it wouldn’t have stopped those who were lukewarm about Livingstone giving him their 2nd preference votes either.

    But who am I to say?

  68. Andy Newman:

    George, so what is youradmirably pedantic view on the meaning of the term “railway town” (see above for context)

    Seek help. :P

    Re: Peter Cranie, yes that was another case, a more serious one I think, of TUSC actually getting in the way of its own supposed agenda of building up a more influential radical voice in the public sphere.

    I’m not for one moment saying that an ‘information network’ is a substitute for a political organisation – I earnestly want to help build a party of the broad left – but just because one adopts a party-type model doesn’t mean it has to be imposed uniformly across the country.

    As to your own experience with Respect, would you accept that the conditions that led you to join Labour are not necessarily permanent? I think Socialist Action’s piece on left unity aptly summarised the situation facing socialists today, particularly with regard to the necessary attitude towards Labourism.

  69. @ Feodor

    On almost all SP leaflets the TUSC logo and information about TUSC appears. I appreciate it’s hard to see evidence of TUSC campaigning, particularly if they aren’t in your area, but we don’t stand paper candidates and always do our best to canvass, leaflet and campaign with our limited resources and numbers. Setting up local TUSC groups is really the only way to go beyond this and it is something that people are considering, but I think the initiative needs to come at the local level first.

  70. @ Manzil

    Don’t forget that No2EU wasn’t TUSC! It was already in motion, set up by the RMT, before they asked us to help. No2EU had problematic elements to it but I think for the SP it was a case of trying to be practical, and it has led to TUSC being established, which I’m happy about.

  71. George Hallam on said:

    Andy Newman: George, so what is your admirably pedantic view on the meaning of the term “railway town”

    I doubt your motives for making this the invitation, but I don’t like to disappoint.

    I am reliably informed that American usage of the term ‘Railroad Town’ is for settlements that developed due to the arrival of a railway.
    Quote:
    In the 1860′s and ’70′s, “every temporary terminus of track laying became a city; wicked, wonderful and short-lived”, wrote a former railroad agent in Harper’s Magazine of one such place at the end of track in western Kansas. The town of Coyote consisted of “canvas saloons, sheet-iron hotels, and sod dwellings, surrounded by tin cans and scattered playing cards”. Its main street, known as “Rat Row”, was temporary home for a gang of Irish track laborers whose behavior was described in shocking detail. The writer found that “the Pacific railways have been responsible for more and worse towns than any other single cause.[49]” From the start, the railroad towns were despised for their unimaginative appearance. “Dropped at random upon the flat and featureless prairies along our western railroads”, the new towns were predicted to be failures. “In the ordinary course of civilization, such characterless sites are not the ones to which populations cleave[50] “, wrote an unrelenting critic in The American Architect and Building News.
    Unquote
    http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/essays/1801-1900/the-iron-horse/railroad-towns.php

  72. Sam: there was some reluctance to stand against Livingstone, who is certainly seen as to the left of most of Labour by a lot of people.

    Was the reluctance because a lot of other people saw him as being to the left or because those who were reluctant saw him that way?

    If there was reluctance to stand against Livingstone and it was because he was seen as being to the left then surely he should have been supported?

    What annoys me about all this is that we’re talking about a victory for one of the most reactionary obnoxious figures in the Tory Party and one of the most high profile political positions in the country.

  73. Sam,

    Sorry, that was an oversight. Too many mentions of TUSC weighing on the brain. :)

    In any case, despite it being an RMT initiative (I’ll take your word for it, I don’t know how it originally came about) I disagree with its decision to stand there. It very much smacks of the Left List in 2008. There was, after all, no guarantee that No2EU WOULD develop into something more. At the time it was a hastily-established top-down electoral initiative that didn’t justify threatening the anti-fascist strategy.

    It may have been a case of being practical, but I think any potential benefits it saw in maintaining that connection with the RMT was massively outweighed by Griffin’s election. I’d happily trade the emergence of TUSC, given its limitated success, for the BNP MEPs losing their platform and resources.

    Also, do you see any substantive differences between No2EU and TUSC?

  74. @Manzil

    Well, I think the original no2EU as put forward by the RMT had some nationalistic elements. We argued successfully to change some of the platform but were stuck with the name, which a lot of SP members didn’t like. It was initiated purely to contest the Euro elections as well, so obviously doesn’t have as rounded out a platform as TUSC. Neither did it have the federalist structure that the SP argued for, which leads me too…

    @Vanya

    I don’t want to go into detail here sorry Vanya. I think it’s best if I just say that a lot of SP members didn’t see why we shouldn’t also stand against Livingstone, but the structure of TUSC means that any group on the steering committee can veto standing, and some in TUSC probably do see Livingstone as more left wing than the average Labour candidate.

    That said, while I would have seen no problem in standing against Livingstone, if we had people like you would probably have blamed TUSC for BoJo getting in :)

  75. Nick Long: I am increasingly coping to the view that TUSC is a real mistake and hopefully the shockingly low vote (again less than 1%) will concentrate minds into linking with the much more inclusive and broader developments that are emerging on the left.

    I must say Nick I was surprised to read that you are increasingly coming to the view that TUSC is a mistake. As far as I can understand from reading your comments here over the lifetime of TUSC you’ve always thought TUSC was a mistake.

    I’m sure you will recognise that getting a new national electoral organisation or coalition off the ground is not the easiest thing to do. I well recall your sterling efforts to set up the National Network of Progressive and Socialist Parties (NNPSP)in 2010.
    I believe you later modestly decided to call it the People Before Profit Network? Reading over the minutes of that meeting in Rugby you kindly sent us I notice it was decided to set up a website with a view to growing the organisation. However it appears People Before Profit Network hasn’t really taken off, perhaps underlining the difficulties of setting up such organisations?

    As for 1% votes first of all I think that’s a bit of a distortion to imply TUSC regularly gets 1%. Also getting 1% doesn’t necessarily mean the campaign was a waste of time or demoralising.

    I think the campaign People Before Profit ran in the Feltham by election in 2011 was worthwhile despite the fact you ended up with .55% of the vote. It doesn’t strike me that George Hallam was demoralised by the result. He’s still fighting the good fight and good luck to him.

    Finally I think it would be useful for the purposes of the discussion to point out who exactly these “more inclusive and broader developments” actually are? As I’ve pointed out before TUSC has already made efforts to have dialogue with NHAP.

  76. Manzil: At the time it was a hastily-established top-down electoral initiative that didn’t justify threatening the anti-fascist strategy.

    My mea culpa is that I supported No2EU in that election although the official position of Respect in the North West was to support the Greens. In fact a big part of the anti-fascist strategy was Respect’s decision not only to stand down but to put out leaflets specifically calling for a Green vote.

    My mistake was based on the fact that I was at the time impressed by the central involvement of the RMT, and that’s one of the reasons I can see now why that involvement is not a guarantee of significant levels of support. I was also influenced by the support coming from the M Star which I thought might translate into a bit more significant union support that might make a difference.

    How wrong was I!

    The main difference between TUSC and No2EU that I can see is that the Morning Star has been replaced with the SWP.

  77. Neil: Finally I think it would be useful for the purposes of the discussion to point out who exactly these “more inclusive and broader developments” actually are? As I’ve pointed out before TUSC has already made efforts to have dialogue with NHAP.

    I suppose in a sense it’s a question of why people aren’t making efforts to have dialogue with TUSC. It’s not considered to be a neutral “umbrella” for everyone to shelter under, because it blatantly isn’t and is instead seen to be part of the endless road to a “new workers’ party”, but nor is it just a reflection of the SP or the SWP, with whom people could deal on equal terms. TUSC assumes its own de facto pre-eminence without having justified that with a record of success.

    On another topic, I’m told the Callinicos-supporting (and CC petition-signing) SWP organiser JW in Portsmouth is intending to come and campaign for TUSC in Eastleigh? That should be fun.

  78. Vanya: My mea culpa is that I supported No2EU in that election… How wrong was I!

    Say ten Hail Mary’s, attend two self-criticism circles and don’t do it again. :)

  79. Sam: That said, while I would have seen no problem in standing against Livingstone, if we had people like you would probably have blamed TUSC for BoJo getting in

    No I wouldn’t, because I would assume that once the negligible first pref votes for TUSC had been counted, a significant proportion of your 2nd pref votes would have gone to Livingstone, particularly if so many of the people you were trying to reach, not to mention some of the people you were working with, had ‘illusions’ in him as being to the left.

    In so far as I think the SP or anyone else in TUSC actually count sufficiently in terms of influence, I wouldn’t blame you any more for BoJo than I already do.

  80. Bob Crow made it clear at a TUSC public meeting in Hackney last night that RMT will generally support TUSC candidates but not automatically, even though he is on the Steering Committee. RMT will also support Labour candidates where they feel that is justified, including John McDonnell who convenes the 30 strong group of RMT-sponsored MPs and is extremely active on transport issues – so there’s no chance of a repetition by TUSC of the farce of the Socialist Party standing against McDonnell, as they did in 2001. He also said that the RMT would support community based anti cuts candidates. This confirms the RMT approach to TUSC, which is that their engagement with TUSC is time-limited and not a blank cheque; see:
    http://socialistresistance.org/3957/tusc-conference-report

  81. Manzil: It’s not exactly helpful to criticise someone for ‘assertions masquerading as facts’ and then counterpose your own assertions based on anecdotes.

    Vanya’s assertion was that the only outcome of a low vote was demoralisation whereas mine was that a low vote can have all manner of different effects depending (although not exclusively) on how people involved in it or voting for it understand the purpose of the campaign. I think that’s a more balanced perspective on election campaigns by smaller parties and organisations.

    I don’t mind people from other parties or political traditions criticising TUSC, they are entitled to their point of view. That said I do think there’s a great deal of myths going around about TUSC. Chiefly that TUSC votes are always ‘derisory’.
    Lets be clear in some areas TUSC has got very small votes. In others it has got middling results and in a few places (Liverpool Mayoral election, Newcastle) it has got very good ones. I think TUSC is in a position no different to where the Greens or UKIP were when they first started standing widely. Both of those organisations got plenty of ‘derisory’ votes on their way to becoming credible national electoral organisations.
    For people to only concentrate on the very low votes to the exclusion of all other factors is as ‘derisory’ as it would be for me to claim the one or two very good results TUSC has gotten means it is on the edge of a break through nationally.

    As for the RMT losing credibility I think this is overblown. Have the low votes TUSC got in some areas effected the RMT’s ability to prosecute industrial disputes on Tyne and Weir Metro, or London Underground or the shipping industry? Not that I’ve noticed.

    Did it prevent the famous motion 5 at the TUC calling for it to look at the practicalities of a General Strike being passed?
    Not at all, despite the fact the General Secretaries of the union that proposed it (POA Steve Gillan) and seconded it (RMT Bob Crow) both sit on the TUSC steering committee.

    As for Andy’s increasingly clownish utterances on the matter, well what can I say? Do you really think experienced industrial militants like the leadership of the RMT aren’t already well aware that they are likely to get low votes the first time they stand? Do you think a low vote is going to make them roll over and cry into their beer, you know, like they do all the time as soon as they encounter any difficulties with London Underground management or Boris Johnson?

  82. uncle albert on said:

    Sam: Feel free to educate me

    Far be it for me etc.

    As I understand it TUSC is a coalition between the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party who, for some reason, don’t want to stand under their own names.

    As someone who isn’t a Trotskyist, I find the ‘revolutionary’ attitudes of these two groups somewhat beyond the pale. And to form an alliance with a group like the SWP, which recently advised its members to “drive the police out of our estates and off our streets.” would be an open invitation to ridicule and humiliation.

    Any party hoping to achieve political credibility would, in my personal view, be well advised to steer well clear of such nonsense.

  83. Neil: Do you really think experienced industrial militants like the leadership of the RMT aren’t already well aware that they are likely to get low votes the first time they stand? Do you think a low vote is going to make them roll over and cry into their beer, you know, like they do all the time as soon as they encounter any difficulties with London Underground management or Boris Johnson?

    You know as well as I do that RMT’s commitment to TUSC is contingent, and that they have already said they will move on if further trade union support is not forthcoming.

    Alex Gordon, speaking on behalf of the RMT, in the first session dropped a bit of bombshell. He had said that objective conditions for building mass left-wing parties are difficult. There is a deep instinct to vote Labour as lesser evil among working class voters. He said that the RMT is determined that TUSC would continue to have a federal structure, a view that was repeated throughout the day by RMT speakers.

    He said that the current situation, in which the RMT was the only union officially affiliated to TUSC, is very unsatisfactory. TUSC supporters who were present and were members of unions had to redouble their efforts to get their unions to affiliate. He explained that this means affiliation of the entire union, not just the support of individual EC members.

    His insistence that TUSC needs to win more support in the unions was followed by very clearly expressed warning that the RMT will not stick around as the only affiliated union in TUSC. He demanded that socialists deliver broader support in their unions if his union is to remain in it. Just so there was no room for doubt he said twice that the RMT would walk away if this did not happen. This bombshell was dealt with by being ignored for the rest of the day.

  84. Neil: I think TUSC is in a position no different to where the Greens or UKIP were when they first started standing widely. Both of those organisations got plenty of ‘derisory’ votes on their way to becoming credible national electoral organisations.
    For people to only concentrate on the very low votes to the exclusion of all other factors is as ‘derisory’ as it would be for me to claim the one or two very good results TUSC has gotten means it is on the edge of a break through nationally.

    That’s a reasonable position to take – but only if you feel that TUSC has the potential to emulate (and ideally out-perform!) the Greens or UKIP.

    I think a broad left party that is relatively successful and influential (at least within the labour movement itself) could potentially develop even under the difficult circumstances we currently face.

    The material basis for such a party, representing the interests of the overwhelming mass of the people, not to mention specific contemporary conditions (the ongoing systemic crisis in the global economy, the complete exclusion of the working class from political representation let alone power etc.) mean that a force to the left of social democracy has significant potential.

    But I think there are serious faults with the model that TUSC represents, concerning how the Left organises and presents/expresses itself, not to mention how it relates to both the existing state and to identifiably working-class or progressive forces to the right of Marxism (i.e. the vast majority of them).

    Also, genuine question: where were the one or two very good results?

    ANON: More debate here:
    http://socialistresistance.org/4755/support-the-nhap-in-the-eastleigh-election

    Just got around to looking at this. Very sensible perspective. Agree with it completely.

  85. Andy Newman,

    I don’t at all deny what Alex said at the TUSC conference. I do think though that, again, TUSC’s detractors are only looking at one side of the coin and not the broad view of how the RMT operates in TUSC.

    First of all Alex warned that the RMT would walk away if more trade union support was not forthcoming. At no stage has he or Bob Crow or either of the two RMT NEC reps (Sean Hoyle & Darren Ireland) on the TUSC steering committee say the RMT would walk if TUSC got low votes.

    Does Alex’s expression of frustration represent a step back in the RMT’s committment to TUSC?
    Not in the slightest. Rather than hurl criticisms they have rolled up their sleeves and come up with a plan themselves of how they will build trade union support for TUSC. The RMT have begun to set up a trade union forum to push for support in other trade unions for TUSC, such as access to the political funds of trade unions, pulling together NEC members of of unions not yet supporting TUSC with a view to winning those unions to supporting TUSC and so on.
    For the avoidance of doubt this work is not being undertaken by SP members in the RMT but by NEC (or Council of Executives, to give it it’s proper title) member Darren Ireland. It is a serious campaign by the RMT leadership that they view just as important as their campaign against the McNulty report, EU liberalization laws, for trade union freedom etc.
    Are these the actions of a union that is on it’s way out of TUSC? I don’t think so.

    Further to that theme, I notice our anonymous fried from Socialist Resistance gave a very one sided report of the excellent meeting we had in Hackney last night.
    Strangely enough s/he fails to mention that over half the meeting was turkish and kurdish, thanks to the close cooperation of Day-Mer who are part of the local Hackney TUSC steering committe, that Bob Crow was keen to emphasise that he was speaking on behalf of the RMT as full members of TUSC, not in a personal capacity, that the RMT were proud to have Daz Proctor representing TUSC and the RMT in the election and they were putting £1,000 into the campaign.

    Seems odd for someone from an organisation that loves to claim it is the very acme of ‘openness and inclusivity’ to be so one sided.

    If I didn’t know any better I might conclude s/he was selectively quoting in order to promote factional ends. Surely not?

  86. Neil: Not in the slightest. Rather than hurl criticisms they have rolled up their sleeves and come up with a plan themselves of how they will build trade union support for TUSC. The RMT have begun to set up a trade union forum to push for support in other trade unions for TUSC, such as access to the political funds of trade unions, pulling together NEC members of of unions not yet supporting TUSC with a view to winning those unions to supporting TUSC and so on.
    For the avoidance of doubt this work is not being undertaken by SP members in the RMT but by NEC (or Council of Executives, to give it it’s proper title) member Darren Ireland. It is a serious campaign by the RMT leadership that they view just as important as their campaign against the McNulty report, EU liberalization laws, for trade union freedom etc.
    Are these the actions of a union that is on it’s way out of TUSC? I don’t think so.

    From where I sit, there seems zero prospect of success for that; but we will wait and see.

  87. Sam:
    On almost all SP leaflets the TUSC logo and information about TUSC appears…

    I don’t doubt you’re better informed on this issue than I, but I’ve just had a quick rummage through the SP newspapers I’ve kept, and while I haven’t kept many of the leaflets that came with them, none of them said anything about the TUSC. Indeed on most of the leaflets the SP name/logo doesn’t even appear. These are all circa 2011-12, btw.

  88. George Hallam on said:

    Neil: I think the campaign People Before Profit ran in the Feltham by election in 2011 was worthwhile despite the fact you ended up with .55% of the vote. It doesn’t strike me that George Hallam was demoralised by the result.

    We stood in Feltham and Heston as an experiment. We were completely unknown and it was a short campaign. The hope was that we could win votes on the name: ‘People Before Profit’. I was not demoralised by the result, just wiser. It takes time to build a base.

    Experience keeps a dear school but fools will learn in no other.

  89. George Hallam on said:

    Neil: Lets be clear in some areas TUSC has got very small votes. In others it has got middling results and in a few places (Liverpool Mayoral election, Newcastle) it has got very good ones. I think TUSC is in a position no different to where the Greens or UKIP were when they first started standing widely.

    I think this is a reasonably objective view.

  90. Neil: Further to that theme, I notice our anonymous fried from Socialist Resistance gave a very one sided report of the excellent meeting we had in Hackney last night.
    Strangely enough s/he fails to mention that over half the meeting was turkish and kurdish, thanks to the close cooperation of Day-Mer who are part of the local Hackney TUSC steering committe, that Bob Crow was keen to emphasise that he was speaking on behalf of the RMT as full members of TUSC, not in a personal capacity, that the RMT were proud to have Daz Proctor representing TUSC and the RMT in the election and they were putting £1,000 into the campaign.
    Seems odd for someone from an organisation that loves to claim it is the very acme of ‘openness and inclusivity’ to be so one sided.

    But have you decided whether to let them in or not?

  91. Neil:
    Andy Newman,


    Further to that theme, I notice our anonymous fried from Socialist Resistance gave a very one sided report of the excellent meeting we had in Hackney last night.

    Seems odd for someone from an organisation that loves to claim it is the very acme of ‘openness and inclusivity’ to be so one sided.

    If I didn’t know any better I might conclude s/he was selectively quoting in order to promote factional ends. Surely not?

    I was just repeating what Bob Crow said about the RMT and its role in TUSC, as that was the discussion. Was anything I reported inaccurate?

    If you want to start a discussion on Hackney, that’s fine by me. The meeting had many excellent contributions on the cuts and the fight against austerity, none of which are relevant to determining the electoral future of TUSC.

    Since you accuse me of being selective, maybe you can be the first person from the SP to explain in public why one socialist organisation thinks that the best way of building a broad socialist party is to exclude other socialist organisations from participation? As far as I’m aware all members of the SP are completely selective as to reporting their reasons for this. Go on, let it all out – you know you want to!

  92. Just got a tweet saying Ladbrokes have shortened the odds on the LDs holding this seat. Can’t believe any majority of voters anywhere are going to vote in those fuckers again. Quite possibly quite a few Tories are still planning on switching to Ukip.

  93. Sam64,

    I was quite surprised Farage didn’t stand. Was an opportunity for him to seize the moment and he’d be a winner so long as the UKIP vote was anything other than tiny.

  94. redbloodblackflag on said:

    mark wright:
    there is no way i’d vote labour, not now not in 2015. despite them being not in governmentthey to are a party of cuts as has been shown down the road in southamptonwhere the council have carried on where tories left off. TUSC should be the vote for workers in Eastleigh a workers MP on a workers wage.

    Do the workers want independence, or do they want dependence on the state? Who cares if they’re a “party of cuts” ? All of the things they’re “cutting” are paid for by “the workers” in the first place (extracted from their production via “taxation” in this case). Granted, “austerity” in this sense (cutting “social program funding” but continuing to “tax”) is a sham, but that doesn’t change that “social programs” do very little to help “the worker” since the worker is the one who is paying for them by having their wealth demanded from them (“taxation”) in the first place. That is, the state social programs are not voluntary, and the wealth extracted by the state could have stayed in the workers pocket, possibly removing the need for the “social program” altogether.

    The state has never been a friend to labor.

  95. ANON: Since you accuse me of being selective, maybe you can be the first person from the SP to explain in public why one socialist organisation thinks that the best way of building a broad socialist party is to exclude other socialist organisations from participation? As far as I’m aware all members of the SP are completely selective as to reporting their reasons for this.

    If I was being charitable, I’d suggest it was because they don’t want it to be a ‘broad socialist party’ and think that too much of a Trotskyist get-together would scare off Bob Crow.

    If I was being honest, I’d say it’s out of an unfair dismissal of Socialist Resistance as somehow less significant than the SP and SWP (as opposed to the Left being equally insignificant…).

    That said, I can’t see why SR wants to join the damn thing.

    The discussions with the Anticapitalist Initiative group that SR have been posting on their website are interesting, and I think getting drawn into TUSC would be a step backwards compared to that.

  96. redbloodblackflag: Do the workers want independence, or do they want dependence on the state? Who cares if they’re a “party of cuts” ? All of the things they’re “cutting” are paid for by “the workers” in the first place (extracted from their production via “taxation” in this case). Granted, “austerity” in this sense (cutting “social program funding” but continuing to “tax”) is a sham, but that doesn’t change that “social programs” do very little to help “the worker” since the worker is the one who is paying for them by having their wealth demanded from them (“taxation”) in the first place. That is, the state social programs are not voluntary, and the wealth extracted by the state could have stayed in the workers pocket, possibly removing the need for the “social program” altogether.

    The state has never been a friend to labor.

    What do we want?

    FULL COMMUNISM.

    When do want it?

    TIMETABLES ARE BOURGEOIS.

  97. ANON,

    You were being entirely selective. Why is mentioning Bob’s backing of candidates other than TUSC relevant but his statement of support for Daz’s campaign and putting £1,000 into the campaign not so?

    As for TUSC ‘excluding’ Socialist Resistance I think you’ll have to clarify what you mean by exclusion?

    As far as I am aware four members of Socialist Resistance have already stood as TUSC candidates.

    Can you name the Socialist Resistance members who have been refused authorisation to stand under the TUSC banner by the Steering Committee?

    Can you name any of the local TUSC steering committee groups that you have been excluded from?

    Can you name any of the TUSC campaigns run by other component parts of TUSC that your activists have been excluded from?

    If any of the answers to these questions are proving particularly taxing here is a hint, the number is roughly the same shape as an orange.

    My understanding is that despite being open to SR to participate and run their own candidates in whatever fashion they see fit (subject to signing up to the very minimum TUSC program) SR is peeved that it cannot participate on the TUSC steering committee with a full veto similar to the RMT, SP etc.
    My understanding is that the SP has offered to allow SR to attend and participate in the steering committee but with out a veto which seems fair to me given the size of SR relative to the other participating orgs with a veto.
    I believe the threshold for participating in the SC with a veto for a political organisation is for that organisation to have 1000 members. Perhaps that is a bit steep as the Fabian society had a veto on the old LRC federal body with roughly 880 members. Maybe even in these modern times something like 500 would be more appropriate?
    I understand SR is not yet at that height but perhaps when SR grows some more and gains some places on union NEC’s etc there can be a review of the decision. Do you have any sort of time scale for when you might hit 500 members?

    Your comrade Liam Mac Uaid (Dia dhuit Liam!) counter poses the democracy in the NHAP to that in TUSC:

    “Another good thing about it is that anyone can join, even if they are members of organisations, and immediately has the right to vote.

    “Full membership of the party is open to all who share its aims, subject to a subscription that has been decided by the executive committee. Full members may attend and speak at meetings of the party and also have the right to vote at the AGM.””

    Could you let us know how SR’s application to sit on the NHAP executive committee is proceeding?

    A final word on selective reporting. You seem to take great pride in the report of the TUSC national meeting. Prominence is given to Alex’s comments regarding other unions, which is fair enough I suppose.
    Still I would be interested in hearing your insight into the editorial process at work at Socialist Resistance that led to them omitting to report how one of your own members at the conference fiercely attacked the intervention of Alan Thornet into the meeting. How was it he characterised it again? Like kicking someone’s door in, punching them in the face, then pissing on the roses, I think was how he put it?

  98. Bourgeois states are bourgeois, you’ve got me there.

    Neil,

    So… why can’t they be on the steering committee?

    I imagine the membership difference between the SWP, the SP and SR is a lot smaller than between any of them and the eighty thousand members of the RMT.

  99. redbloodblackflag on said:

    If the bourgeoisie controls the state, how are you going to get your politicians to change this? Voting? How’s that working out for you?

  100. Well I’m sure that Neil’s explanation is accurate viz a viz SR’s non inclusion on the steering committee.

    And if you’re going to run an organisation in that way I suppose it makes sense.

    After all there surely has to be some threshold, or you can imagine who else would be able to veto the whole operation. Not mentioning any names, but they are getting a lot of publicity on other threads.

    It does seem strange that SR think it’s okay to be involved in an organisation mainly based in England, whose candidates they won’t guarantee to always support (even in England), which organises in Scotland and is dominated by 2 parties whose Scottish sister organisations took the side of a certain former guest of the BB house and of Her Majesty at the Bar-L.

    But I’m sure that’s all dialectical eh?

  101. Tony Collins:
    Good old Neil, friendly and welcoming as ever.

    I try my best, although I suppose I don’t use the normal terms of endearment for folks on this blog like ‘idiot’ and ‘cultist’ so I can see how some comrades might feel I’m not warm and cuddly like this blogs proprietors.

  102. #113. Yes that’s exactly what I’m arguing. In fact I think we can get the Tory Party to do it if we ask very nicely. (How’s the complete and immediate abolition of the state “working out for you”?)

    Vanya: Well I’m sure that Neil’s explanation is accurate viz a viz SR’s non inclusion on the steering committee.

    And if you’re going to run an organisation in that way I suppose it makes sense.

    After all there surely has to be some threshold, or you can imagine who else would be able to veto the whole operation. Not mentioning any names, but they are getting a lot of publicity on other threads.

    If all that matters is the supposed social weight represented by various small groups, then what the hell are the SWP or SP doing on this steering committee? All power to the RMT, surely?

    Unless, of course, you happen to think that this ‘federal’ stuff is a waste of time, that a broad left has to be just that and make the case for socialism and for democratic, socialist organisation. And that we shouldn’t assume that Bob Crow represents the entirety of his union any more than Dave Prentis does UNISON.

  103. Gavin Marsh on said:

    Cheers Andy

    It is more like an attempt at camping where all you have is the guy ropes, but no tent, no pegs, no groundsheet and no pitch to put it on.

    As a matter of fact I prefer free camping with just a bivvy bag. Saves on weight and you can pitch anywhere.

  104. uncle albert on said:

    Feodor: I was quite surprised Farage didn’t stand.

    Reckon he’s now shown himself to be more mouth than trouser – can’t help wondering if Cameron has given him the wink for a safe Tory seat in 2015.

  105. uncle albert: Reckon he’s now shown himself to be more mouth than trouser – can’t help wondering if Cameron has given him the wink for a safe Tory seat in 2015.

    Possibly.

    If UKIP’s vice captain is representative of the rest of the leadership, then it’s a party whose appeal is wide, but only an inch deep – Farage is their only credible figurehead, he should be trying to get into parliament as often as possible. RESPECT is similar, but I think beneath Galloway they do/did have a wider talent pool.

  106. Tony Collins: Good old Neil, friendly and welcoming as ever.

    Neil: ANON,

    .My understanding is that the SP has offered to allow SR to attend and participate in the steering committee but with out a veto which seems fair to me given the size of SR relative to the other participating orgs with a veto.I believe the threshold for participating in the SC with a veto for a political organisation is for that organisation to have 1000 members. …

    Your ‘understanding’ is inaccurate. I suggest you check the information you are being given.

    If you read the reports of Pete Mclaren from the TUSC Steering Committee on the Independent Socialist Network site, you will see that, according to Pete:

    1) The Socialist Party indicated to the TUSC Steering Committee that it wished ‘to veto’ the membership of Socialist Resistance.

    2) It was the RMT, not the SP, who proposed membership of the Steering Committee without ‘right of veto’ for Socialist Resistance; it was stated that this was because the RMT wishes to establish a mechanism whereby new organisations could join TUSC. According to the reports, the SP decided not to exercise their ‘right of veto’ against the RMT proposal.

    3) There is no size of membership limit on the right of organisations on the TUSC Steering Committee to exercise the ‘right of veto’ – the Independent Socialist Network have 30 members, the SP 1,000, the SWP 2,000 and the RMT have 80,000. All have equal rights. Socialist Resistance indicated in its presentation to the TUSC Steering Committee that it had over 100 members, over three times the size of the ISN.

    You are welcome to attempt to correct any factual inaccuracies here about what is reported on the ISN website.

    Far from being ‘peeved’, SR is unable to express a view on the apparent proposal to offer a place on the TUSC Steering Committee without the right of veto, as the secretary of the TUSC Steering Committee has yet to write to it advising of its decision. Since SR does not agree with the notion of federalism or the so-called ‘right of veto’, then various responses are possible once a proposition is made. The idea of ‘second class’ status on an arbitrary basis (none of the socialist organisations on the TUSC Steering Committee are qualitatively different compared to the RMT) is questionable if TUSC wishes to establish a democratic mode of functioning – something that is essential if a new party of the left is to be constructed. Taking three years to consider the application of one small socialist organisation for membership of TUSC, means that it may take a long time before TUSC can vie for the position of trying to create a ‘British SYRIZA’ as desired by the RMT.

    Furthermore, as the report on the SR website indicates, at the TUSC conference the Chair Dave Nellist, explained that it was not possible to take votes, including an indicative vote on Socialist Resistance’s application for membership, as members of the SP were in a majority at the Conference. This implies that every member of the SP has identical views on how TUSC should be built and on SR’s application, or indeed on any other matter put to the Conference. Unlike the SP, but like the Bolshevik Party, members of SR are permitted and encouraged to express differences in public, as can be seen by the exchanges on the SR website and in meetings. You are welcome to disagree with the tradition of the Bolsheviks.

    The tone of your comments reveal how far the SP has yet to go before it is capable of playing a major role in building a new party of the left and welcoming debate and alliances with other forces. Sadly, your previous walkout of the Socialist Alliance, and the more recent walkouts by your fellow travelers in Ireland and Greece from the United Left Alliance and SYRIZA, do not indicate that you have (yet) learned as an organisation any lessons about how to work constructively with other organisations with different opinions to your own. Alternative ways of organising to debate differences and attempt to resolve them have been being explored in the joint meetings of SR, the ACI and the ISN in Manchester and London recently, in a day school organised by SR in London last year with representatives from Britain, France and Denmark, and in the recent development of the Left Unity discussions initiated by Kate Hudson and Andrew Burgin. You can catch the videos and summaries of these presentations and meetings on the SR, ACI and Left Unity websites. The SP needs to learn from these debates if it is to move forward.

  107. Vanya:…
    It does seem strange that SR think it’s okay to be involved in an organisation mainly based in England, whose candidates they won’t guarantee to always support (even in England), which organises in Scotland and is dominated by 2 parties whose Scottish sister organisations took the side of a certain former guest of the BB house and of Her Majesty at the Bar-L.

    But I’m sure that’s all dialectical eh?

    You are incorrect in your assertion. TUSC do not organise in Scotland and have never stood candidates there. Unlike Respect, there is no clause in a ‘TUSC constitution’ saying that members have to support its candidates. Bob Crow indicated he wouldn’t automatically support all TUSC candidates, even though he was a member of the Steering Committee.

  108. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    http://www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk/about-us/110-what-we-stand-for/456-successful-and-inspiring-socialist-party-scotland-conference

    As I said on another thread I was at the Socialist Party Scotland conference last weekend and I post a report of the conference to show what the Socialist Party is doing. However I would like to make a comment on ANON in post 122 who said “TUSC do not organise in Scotland and have never stood candidates there.” S/he is politically mistaken on that account.

    The complicating, and positive, factor of the national question in Scotland makes the building an independent organisation for working class representation slightly different to England and Wales. The reality is that the CWI/Militant has, uniquely on the British and International Left, explained that Labour, which always had a pro-capitalist leadership, is no longer a worker’s party at its base. The traditional workers party in Britain was transformed during the late 1980’s and especially following the collapse of Stalinism in the early 1990’s, into an out and out capitalist party. The eradication of the socialist Clause 4 of the Party’s constitution and the rise of New Labour were definitive reflections of this process. This was accompanied by a sharp turn to the right to embrace neo-liberal policies by the leadership, the emptying out of the working class membership from the party and the systematic expulsion of the socialist left – in particular the Marxist wing of the party organised around the Militant newspaper.

    The potential for a new mass workers party to undermine support for the SNP and Labour is significant. Even back in the early 1990’s there was a big space to the left of Labour and the SNP – who stood way to the left compared to where they are now. The Scottish members of Militant, after a democratic discussion with in the all British Militant and the Committee for a Workers’ International launched Scottish Militant Labour in 1991 and Militant Labour in England and Wales a year later. SML, whose leaders and activists formed the backbone of the mass anti-poll tax campaign, made spectacular advances in elections in 1992 – winning four council seats in Glasgow in first past the post elections – trouncing both Labour and the SNP in the working class schemes of the city. The initial impact of the Scottish Socialist Party, based on the successes of SML, in 1999 and 2003 also demonstrated the scope for building a mass working class alternative to both Labour and the SNP.

    It is no coincidence that the highpoints of support for SML and later the SSP saw the nationalists lose significant support to the socialist Left. The criminal throwing away of the potential to develop the SSP and build on its success was down to the SSP leadership who had abandoned Marxism after their split from the Committee for a Workers’ International in 2001. They’re catastrophic role during the Tommy Sheridan court case, which resulted in a split, led directly to the collapse of the SSP vote that went largely over to the SNP in 2007.

    The collapse of the SSP was indeed a setback in building independent working class political representation in Scotland. It was absolutely correct to attempt to salvage something from the wreckage of the SSP through the launch of Solidarity, rather than cry in to our beer as many of the Left did, and which the CWI have participated in from2006. Solidarity has not developed following the loss of Tommy Sheridan’s parliamentary seat in 2007, the perjury inquiry and court case and then his jailing in 2012.While participating in Solidarity and supporting Tommy Sheridan in his legal battles the Socialist Party Scotland, which is what the name the CWI members started to call themselves from early 2010, have also encouraged wider electoral challenges. We helped initiate the Scottish TUSC for the 2010 Westminster elections, the anti-cuts coalition electoral bloc with George Galloway in Glasgow in 2011 and the Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition which stood in the 2012 local government elections.

    It is correct to adopt flexible tactics, one of the hallmarks of Marxism and the Socialist Party, despite the caricatures that are written about the Socialist Party, given the complications that have existed on the left in Scotland over the past period. Underpinning all our tactical discussions is the need to develop, encourage and build independent working class political representation as a step to a new mass workers’ party in the future. The timing of the emergence of a new mass or semi-mass party is not certain. But it would be foolish to view the current situation statically and one sided and draw the conclusion that this will necessarily be a slow process.
    The emergence of a new party will require moves by a significant section of the trade unions, linked to the anti-cuts movement and socialists in the direction of the creation of a new party. The decision of the PCS trade union to support anti-cuts and pro trade union candidates under certain circumstances is a step forward and should be built on in other trade unions. The RMT decision to give its full support to TUSC is also important. The scale of the crisis and the growing working class response to the austerity measures are creating the conditions for a new party. At some stage in the not so distant future there could be a re-formation of the Scottish TUSC once again as a means to facilitate the building of a new political Party for working class representation.

  109. Who in the RMT wants a ‘British SYRIZA’?

    If they do they clearly weren’t paying attention to the lecture on the big business EU at the political school!

    In regards to my RMT branch and TUSC, a south Manchester based SWP activist, who has stood under the name socialist alliance and RESPECT previously, came along to our branch meeting and gave us a load of crap about being really excited about this once in a lifetime left unity project. It might just be a personality thing with this particular bloke, but his whole happy clappy patronising approach and the bollocks he was just a local teacher who was inspired to stand when he heard about TUSC-not that he is a long term SWP activist who stands in the name of which ever way the wind is blowing this week.

    I fear the future looks bleak for the TUSC project, particularly if other candidates are as fond of treating local trade unionists like a bunch of idiots.

  110. ANON: You are welcome to disagree with the tradition of the Bolsheviks.

    Gosh. It is the tradition of the Bolsheviks, you say. Well that settles the question once and for all, doesn’t it.

  111. ANON: Socialist Resistance indicated in its presentation to the TUSC Steering Committee that it had over 100 members

    ANON: like the Bolshevik Party, members of SR are permitted and encouraged to express differences in public

    I may have missed the similarity here. Was the Bolshevik party also comprised of about 100 ineffectual, pension age, hair-splitters?

  112. Jimmy Haddow: The complicating, and positive, factor of the national question in Scotland makes the building an independent organisation for working class representation slightly different to England and Wales.

    Setting aside the issue of England for one minute. Do you really think that Wales does not also present a “national question”. Wales is a nation. Indeed levels of self-identity as being distinctly Welsh, as opposed to British are higher than the proportion of Scots with similar self-perception.

    So the only explanation I can see for you counterposing Scorland with “England and Wales” is because your left group choses to inconsistently organise seperately in Scotland, but not seperately in Wales. So you are preceiving the entire question of national identity within the UK through the bizarre criteria of how a small left group choses to organise itself!

  113. ANON: The Socialist Party indicated to the TUSC Steering Committee that it wished ‘to veto’ the membership of Socialist Resistance.

    Perhaps the SP think that the SWP can carry their own bags?

  114. Andy Newman:
    I may have missed the similarity here. Was the Bolshevik party also comprised of about 100 ineffectual, pension age, hair-splitters?

    Sorry, WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT HAIR-SPLITTING, Andy?

  115. Manzil: Sorry, WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT HAIR-SPLITTING, Andy?

    The Labour Party is a broad churech that tolerates people who use the term “railway town” in both the correct, and incorrect ways. I feel so at home

  116. Manzil,

    BTW to return to this important theme, don’t you think that someone from Detroit would have a better claim to defend the term “Motor City”, than , for example, a commuter suburb that has a lot of car parks?

  117. George W: a south Manchester based SWP activist, who has stood under the name socialist alliance and RESPECT previously, came along to our branch meeting and gave us a load of crap about being really excited about this once in a lifetime left unity project

    “OK, twice. Twice. An opportunity like this only comes along twice in a… well, OK, three times. Yeah, three. There weren’t any before that, were there… no? no, thought not. So, three times… but the thing is, this is the really good one. So really when you think about it, it is once in a lifetime, because those others didn’t work out, whereas this one definitely will. So it’s quite exciting. Any questions?”

  118. Andy Newman: Perhaps the SP think that the SWP can carry their own bags?

    This is the first time in a while I’ve laughed at any of the comments!

    On the question of Wales though Andy, whilst it is clear that a seperate Welsh national identity exists, I don’t think that you can suggest that makes Scottish and Welsh nationalism comparable. I’m of Welsh parentage and have a lot of family there, and I think Welsh nationalism is understood far more in cultural terms than in political terms, which is not the same thing. In Scotland there has been a widespread rejection recently of the Westminster parties; that phenomenon hasn’t been recreated to the same degree in Wales.

  119. Sam: In Scotland there has been a widespread rejection recently of the Westminster parties; that phenomenon hasn’t been recreated to the same degree in Wales.

    I don’t think that stacks up, not only with the far from inconsiderable support for Plaid in some areas, but that the Welsh Labour Party, especially under Rhoddri Morgan, put – in his words – clear red water between Westminster and Cardiff. The One Wales agreement which led to the Coalition government had a distinct political aganda seperate from England, and there has been inceasing policy divergence, especialy over education, and PFI.

    A disctinctly different political climate is also reflected in Wales having the only Labour government in the UK – which is itself a national particularlity.

  120. So does the veto on the TUSC national committee depend on meeting a threshold of 1000 members or not? Either ANON is telling the truth or Neil.

    On another point, why does a network of ‘independent’ socialists get to affiliate as an organisation?

    Surely if they’re ‘independent’ they’re just individuals who represent nobody but themselves individually? Or have I missed the point?

  121. Andy Newman: I don’t think that stacks up, not only with the far from inconsiderable support for Plaid in some areas, but that the Welsh Labour Party, especially under Rhoddri Morgan, put – in his words – clear red water between Westminster and Cardiff. The One Wales agreement whichled to the Coalition government had a distinct political aganda seperate from England, and there has been inceasing policy divergence, especialy over education, and PFI.

    A disctinctly different political climate is also reflected in Wales having the only Labour government in the UK – which is itself a national particularlity.

    But you’d agree that Welsh support for Labour, who are pro-devolution but anti-independence, is far greater than in Scotland? What I mean is that the Welsh seem to be satisfied with the current political settlement, whereas there is a large amount of support for full independence in Scotland.

  122. Sam: I’m of Welsh parentage and have a lot of family there, and I think Welsh nationalism is understood far more in cultural terms than in political terms, which is not the same thing.

    Certainly its possible to find all sorts of people in Wales who are keen on the culture but not particularly politicaly active. Never the less Welsh nationalism has found a political expression and a significant one in PC.

    Its hard to see Labour in Wales adopting the positions it has were it not for the fact that its rightly attuned itself to the national mood in Wales.

  123. This is true – I’m not denying that the way in which Welsh Labour has orientated itself has contributed significantly to the less militant political expression of Welsh identity. PC obviously does have real support, but – correct me if I’m wrong – it’s far less committed to independence than the SNP, no?

  124. Sam: PC obviously does have real support, but – correct me if I’m wrong – it’s far less committed to independence than the SNP, no?

    Given that they just elected a leader, the socialist Leanne Woods, on the exlicit basis of campaigning for independence, then I think your contention is hard to reconcile with the known facts.

    Sam: the Welsh seem to be satisfied with the current political settlement,

    The ink isn’t even dry on the current political settlement, as the referrendum for greater powers for the Senedd was only won within the last two years. The overwhelming YES vote suggested that they certainly weren’t complacent about the constitutional relationship with Britain.

    In any event, the argument for a seperate national organisation does not require that there is a political demand for independence – the Welsh have clearly articulated a national identity, and currently choose to express that by political union with the UK

    The argument that there is national politics in Scotland, but not in Wales is muddle to say the least

  125. Jimmy Haddow: The traditional workers party in Britain was transformed during the late 1980’s and especially following the collapse of Stalinism in the early 1990’s, into an out and out capitalist party. The eradication of the socialist Clause 4 of the Party’s constitution and the rise of New Labour were definitive reflections of this process.

    I think this rather a profound thought.
    Although, if Jimmy were to be quite consistent with the Militant ‘tradition’ – which it abandoned to form the Socialist Party – he perhaps should have done all he could to have strengthened ‘Stalinism’ the better to butress Militant’s chances of preventing the transformation of the Labour Party into an out and out capitalist party and assuming its leadership.

  126. ANON: trying to create a ‘British SYRIZA’ as desired by the RMT.

    George W asked you who in the RMT wants a British Syriza. You responded with a link to an interview with the RMT president where he states just that, in a personal capacity.

    However, you say the this is something desired ‘by the RMT’.

    I personally am favourable to Syriza. If I lived in Greece I would vote for them be a member if that is possible for non-Greeks (don’t know the rules) and actively support them.

    One of my few major differences with George and his party is that they support the KKE and defend its sectarianism. I respect the KKE I think they are very wrong in their approach.

    And if I thought that something analagous to Syriza was possible in this country I would be very keen on the idea, although I am sceptical because of the very different political traditions and history.

    So when people talk up the possibilities I would like them to be accurate. So, is this interview with the RMT president in personal capacity the only evidence you have that this is something desired by the RMT as a union? If not, what else can you give us?

  127. Vanya: Flattery will get you nowhere

    But have I told you that red looks really good on you. ;)

    On Welsh vs Scottish nationalism. I think there are significant differences. I wouldn’t like to speculate too much, but I think most (?) people in Wales, while wishing to have more power over national politics, nevertheless think union with England is more beneficial than independence, mainly because Wales wouldn’t be a strong nation-state in its own right.

    Paradoxically, pro-union attitudes are stronger in the the south, where Wales is economically strongest – i.e., Plaid does very poorly in Cardiff and Swansea. The key factor here is that there is a language element that is far, far more important than in Scotland, with the hinterlands being where you’ll find Welsh spoken most.

    Our national ambitions are fulfilled when we trounce the English in rugby. I think we’d accept an occupying English army so long as we beat them in the Six Nations on a yearly basis! ;)

  128. Andy Newman:
    Manzil,

    BTW to return to this important theme, don’t you think that someone from Detroit would have a better claim to defend the term “Motor City”, than , for example, a commuter suburb that has a lot of car parks?

    I cannot believe I am actually (still?) discussing this, even if it has descended into rather enjoyable semi-ironic self-referential performance art. :)

    To answer your question, absolutely.

    And if, despite the eclipse of the US auto industry, the “motor cities” were transformed, by the existence of large car parking facilities (does the US have ‘park and ride’ schemes?), into areas that are politically and sociologically skewed against the Left, creating a reputation for themselves as socialist kryptonite, then I would hope – in discussions specifically pertaining to that – you would accept a parallel albeit secondary use of the term “motor city” to describe them. (You mad bastard.)

  129. Manzil: You mad bastard.

    The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?

    Alice: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.

    ;)

  130. Also I would be grateful if someome could confirm who is right about the existence of a threshold of members required for an affiliated organisation to have a veto on the TUSC national committee.

    And can someone confirm whether TUSC do or do not organise in Scotland?

    And can ANON advise as to whether TUSC organising in Scotland would be a problem for SR? Given that they stated in the leaflet given out at the Respect conference when they walked out that they did not believe that parties based in England should organise in Scotland.

    Finally, before SR walked out of Respect on the basis of the decision to organise in Scotland, did they clarify with anyone what attitude would be taken to members in England (and Wales) who wanted to support the SSP in elections North of the border?

  131. Btw having re-read my humourous(?) response to Feodor, I should point out that it was not meant to imply that I am someone who holds any leadership position within Respect or speak for anyone but myself.

  132. #150 I think you and Andy should meet at Eastleigh railway station with your thermos flasks, marmite butties, notebooks and anoraks.

  133. Don’t pretend you wouldn’t come along, Vanya. :P

    Vanya: And can someone confirm whether TUSC do or do not organise in Scotland?

    “(ii) To this end, TUSC will endeavour to co-ordinate challenges in the local elections that will take place in England, Wales and Scotland in May 2012. We will organise a conference by the end of 2011 open to local TUSC steering committees, delegates from trade union branches, and other local groups who are planning to stand candidates in the 2012 local elections in England and Wales, and will back any efforts by TUSC supporters in Scotland to organise a similar event to prepare for the Scottish council elections.

    (iii) TUSC supporters in Scotland shall continue to organise autonomously, with their own Scottish TUSC Steering Committee.”

    http://www.tusc.org.uk/framework.php

    Seems so. It’s not that TUSC doesn’t organise in Scotland on some principled basis: it’s just even more insignificant north of the border than down here.

  134. Vanya:
    Btw having re-read my humourous(?) response to Feodor, I should point out that it was not meant to imply that I am someone who holds any leadership position within Respect or speak for anyone but myself.

    I always assumed you were George Galloway. :(

  135. Manzil: Is that from Alice’s Adventures in Swindon? Or the sequel Through the Railway Town?

    The novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NIghttime really does include a schematic of Swindon railay station

  136. #155. ” I’m not quite sure what level of reality I’m supposed to be operating on…”

    Vanya:
    #150 I think you and Andy should meet at Eastleigh railway station with your thermos flasks, marmite butties, notebooks and anoraks.

    Incidentally, on Monday, I spent two hours locked on a train at Eastleigh station (for a journey that typically takes ninety minutes total and doesn’t usually stop at Eastleigh…) because someone had the bad manners to have a life-threatening medical emergency and then a broken-down freight train blocked us in.

    I never want to see the fucking place again. Let the Tories have it.

  137. Feodor: But have I told you that red looks really good on you.

    On Welsh vs Scottish nationalism. I think there are significant differences. I wouldn’t like to speculate too much, but I think most (?) people in Wales, while wishing to have more power over national politics, nevertheless think union with England is more beneficial than independence, mainly because Wales wouldn’t be a strong nation-state in its own right.

    Paradoxically, pro-union attitudes are stronger in the the south, where Wales is economically strongest – i.e., Plaid does very poorly in Cardiff and Swansea. The key factor here is that there is a language element that is far, far more important than in Scotland, with the hinterlands being where you’ll find Welsh spoken most.

    Our national ambitions are fulfilled when we trounce the English in rugby. I think we’d accept an occupying English army so long as we beat them in the Six Nations on a yearly basis!

    This is a far better summation of what I’m trying to say; Welsh Nationalism is definitely there but it has very different characteristics to its Scottish equivalent.

  138. Sam: think most (?) people in Wales, while wishing to have more power over national politics, nevertheless think union with England is more beneficial than independence, mainly because Wales wouldn’t be a strong nation-state in its own right.

    But, we could observe that opinion polls consistently show that “most (?) people in Scotland, while wishing to have more power over national politics, nevertheless think union with England is more beneficial than independence, mainly because Scotland wouldn’t be a strong nation-state in its own right” (see what I did there)

    Wales has a distinct and particular national political culture, and the argument for a seperate Welsh organisation should not be predicated upon the issue of independence, but on the fact that Wales is a nation.

  139. Sam: Welsh Nationalism is definitely there but it has very different characteristics to its Scottish equivalent.

    You are confusing a number of different issues that are best kept seperate. i) the existance of a national culture and distinct civic and political institutions; ii) national consciousness; iii) political expression of national consciousness; iv) political institutions on a national basis; and v) political aspirations to devolution or independence.

    Suggest you read Otto Bauer’s book on Social Democracy and the National Question, and Neil Davidson’s rather useful theoretical introduction to “The origins of Scottish Nationhood” (certainly the best book ever to have come out the SWP)

  140. I know not many people come on this blog as often as I happen to be doing at the moment, so I can appreciate that I shouldn’t expect instant satisfaction, but I think some clarification on who’s got it right on this 1000 members threshold question would be helpful.

    Bearing in mind that people approach trade union branches asking for support for TUSC, and taking into account my own experience of a member of the SWP who I had worked with quite closely insistently telling me I should leave Respect and get involved when one of his comrades was standing for parliament under the TUSC banner, I think questions as to its functioning and decision making should be clarified.

    I’m not going to pretend that the answer will make me feel more positive about TUSC one way or the other, but it perplexes me when people apparently representing organisations (as opposed to random anonymous individuals) make incorrect statements that are verifiable.

    So who’s right about this? You can’t both be.

  141. Vanya:
    I know not many people come on this blog as often as I happen to be doing at the moment, so I can appreciate that I shouldn’t expect instant satisfaction, but I think some clarification on who’s got it right on this 1000 members threshold question would be helpful.


    So who’s right about this? You can’t both be.

    There is no threshold currently.

  142. Manzil:
    Don’t pretend you wouldn’t come along, Vanya.

    “(ii) To this end, TUSC will endeavour to co-ordinate challenges in the local elections that will take place in England, Wales and Scotland in May 2012. We will organise a conference by the end of 2011 open to local TUSC steering committees, delegates from trade union branches, and other local groups who are planning to stand candidates in the 2012 local elections in England and Wales, and will back any efforts by TUSC supporters in Scotland to organise a similar event to prepare for the Scottish council elections.

    (iii) TUSC supporters in Scotland shall continue to organise autonomously, with their own Scottish TUSC Steering Committee.”

    http://www.tusc.org.uk/framework.php

    Seems so. It’s not that TUSC doesn’t organise in Scotland on some principled basis: it’s just even more insignificant north of the border than down here.

    It was the ‘Scottish Anti Cuts Coalition’ who stood in the local elections in Scotland in 2012.
    http://www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk/news-a-analysis/scottish-politics/358-scottish-anti-cuts-coalition-to-stand-in-2012
    http://www.scottishanticutscoalition.org.uk/

    Modesty seems to have prevented them updating their website with the results or any activity since.

    TUSC is a largely amorphous description or flag of convenience. The claimed three best results for TUSC in the local elections in 2012 were all achieved by candidates who did not stand as TUSC.

  143. ANON,

    Not to labour the point, but in that case… why do you want to be on its steering committee??

    Because they say you can’t?

  144. Here is TUSC’s constitution which explains the federal voting system of the SC and it’s (limited) powers: http://www.scribd.com/doc/126419813/TUSC-Constitution-2012-13

    I have to hold my hands up here and say I was mistaken about the 1000 members threshold. My mistake comes from the fact that there is a structural review of how TUSC works. One of the proposals floated by the Socialist Party is to have a 1,000 member threshold. I confused the two in my own head. Apologies for the confusion.

    The structural commission report includes submissions from Socialist Resistance and can be read here: http://bit.ly/YmXfEq

    In answer to Vanya’s understandable scepticism that the RMT supports the formation of a British style SYRIZA I believe ANON is basing this on a single throw away remark by incoming RMT President Peter Pinkney on the AWL’s website.

    I suspect ANON has used his/her famous deductive skills to conclude that this is the position of the RMT and that the “exclusionary” behaviour of the dastardly Socialist Party is obstructing their support for a British style SYRIZA. If ANON has time to read the constitution s/he will note that far from having doubts about getting involved in TUSC, Peter Pinkney is now one of the delegated representatives from the RMT Council of Executives to the steering committee of TUSC.

    Despite the fact that there is no formal numbers threshold I still believe SR is too small an organisation to wield a veto in the same fashion as the SP and the SWP, never mind the RMT.
    This does not at all exclude you from participation in TUSC as I have already outlined (and to which you have completely ignored).

    Yes the ISN is much smaller than SR. That is a necessary compromise in order to create some sort of mechanism for democratic input for individual members without completely watering down the federalist structure. Given that the forerunners of SR were complicit in destroying the internal democracy of the Socialist Alliance through a premature move to one member on vote (in reality handing a block vote to the SWP CC, not the smartest of moves for our self proclaimed ultra-democrats!) you should be more aware than most of the importance of a federal structure at the early stage of TUSC’s formation.

    Your criticisms of the Socialist Party internal democracy are laughably crude and misinformed.
    The Socialist Party isn’t at all bothered about members having different points of view as this very thread demonstrates. In the past when the SP or the CWI have had disagreements there have been full rights for minorities to express their views without any fear of bureaucratic measures being taken against them. Our ex Scottish comrades didn’t even agree with the very idea of an independent revolutionary organisation but they were able to communicate their ideas to all in the international (and to give the SSP comrades their due, the CWI minority in Scottish Militant Labour were accorded similar rights)
    Where the CWI differs from the USFI is that both sides will strive to win the other to their perspectives through a process of discussion and debate. (A full record of some of those disputes including the “Scottish debate” can be read here at marxist.net) Their is nothing anti-democratic or “sectarian” in that, spurious references to the Bolsheviks notwithstanding.

    As far as your criticisms of our co-thinkers tactics abroad in broader formations go, I think they betray a very shallow political mindset indeed. Rather than engage with the very serious issues the CWI in Greece and Ireland are attempting to deal with you seek to dismiss them as “sectarianism”

    In Greece the CWI section Xekinima calls for a vote for Syriza and participates in the structures to a certain extent but are not full members. This is a reflection of the complicated attitude of Greek workers to Syriza where it is seen as the best electoral weapon to strike at austerity BUT is also viewed with extreme scepticism by Greek workers for a whole number of reasons too numerous to list here. Nevertheless Xekinima is at the moment spearheading the Initiative of 1000 which is bringing together the left wing of SYRIZA and elements within ANTARSYA.

    In Ireland very serious issues arose, most prominently in regards to unprincipled political alliances with a known tax dodger from the construction sector but also where agreed upon courses of action were not being carried out. The SP in Ireland was eventually left with no option but to separate itself from this.
    In you’re eyes I know this is probably the height of sectarian.
    Doubtless if the ultra democrats of the USFI had been in the position of the SP in Ireland, you’re solution would have been to create a minority tendency that was perfectly ok with tax dodgers.

    I’m sure that’s what the Bolsheviks would have done.

  145. Vanya: Bearing in mind that people approach trade union branches asking for support for TUSC, and taking into account my own experience of a member of the SWP who I had worked with quite closely insistently telling me I should leave Respect and get involved when one of his comrades was standing for parliament under the TUSC banner,

    I think the comrade from the SWP may have been over egging things slightly. There is no obligation on you to leave Respect if you wanted to help out in an election campaign by TUSC. As the four members of Socialist Resistance who ran under the TUSC banner demonstrates, you wouldn’t even need to leave Respect to stand under the TUSC banner.

    I’m not saying you should leave Respect by the way, just trying to clarify what the position is.

    I would like to see closer co-operation between TUSC and Respect where possible. Ultimately it would be good if Respect were on the TUSC SC with full veto rights.
    This would not mean Respect would have to give up its name when standing in elections. The SC would have no power to impose candidates on it or pull a fast one on Respect since Respect would be able to veto anything it didn’t like.

    I know the comrades in Respect have chosen a different paths. That is their right and I wish them the best of luck but if they do change their minds then the door to discussions with TUSC is always open.

  146. Manzil:
    ANON,

    Not to labour the point, but in that case… why do you want to be on its steering committee??

    Because they say you can’t?

    It does smack rather more of Graucho than Karl. I wouldn’t join a coalition that would have me as a member.

  147. #170 My only knowledge about TUSC and Respect is that we have supported TUSC candidates from time to time, including David Henry when he stood in Eccles/Salford in the last General Election.

    The SWP member was indeed over-egging things and his motives were clearly hostility to Respect as I believe he had hoped I would have gone with them when they split, so that was not really particularly relevant to the discussion.

    My main problem with TUSC is that I simply don’t see it as having a future. I see no prospect whatsoever in the absence of a major split in the Labour Party of any significant unions getting involved, and I don’t think the unions currently have sufficient political or social weight to attract anything but a miniscule vote in elections.

    The key thing with the unions is to raise their profile, get more people to join them, build up organisation and nurture militancy when it shows its head. The question of how they are represented politically is way behind that in importance. That’s why you support McCluskey for leader of Unite presumably.

    Putting the unions first in terms of political organisation is putting the cart before the horse.

    On the other hand, giving prominence to leninist sects and professional independents isn’t going to do it either.

  148. Andy Newman: and the world’s best national anthem

    Best national anthem?
    Undoubtedly ‘Auferstanden aus Ruinen’ both musically and lyrically.
    Secondly, La Marseillaise here sung by Vincent Niclo and the Red Army Choir
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bccO9akVDaY
    or in this recent version with the l’Internationale
    http://78.pcf.fr/35657
    Strong contender is the Soviet national anthem here in its most compelling version sung by Paul Robeson
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtU3vUOa2sw

    he also does a good English language version of Land of my Fathers
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziJoep1cDlY

  149. Nick Wright,

    I agree Auferstanden aus Ruinen is an outstanding song. And the best ever anthem. Fortunately we got to hear it frequently at the Olympics.

    But anthems of currently existing states : Wales (and when we finally adopt Jerusalem, England)

  150. Vanya: My main problem with TUSC is that I simply don’t see it as having a future. I see no prospect whatsoever in the absence of a major split in the Labour Party of any significant unions getting involved, and I don’t think the unions currently have sufficient political or social weight to attract anything but a miniscule vote in elections.

    Very interesting point.

    I believe I read that only some 500,000ish members of UNISON pay into the affiliated fund, and only a small number (something like 1 in 3?) of new members opt into it. But obviously these people haven’t all been flocking to a socialist alternative. Of the 700,000 who don’t pay the APF, how many of them are militants, and how many are apolitical, disillusioned or actually to the right etc.

    I do think it’s worth trying to build a left party, but it’s not just a question of the working class lacking political representation – if that were the only problem, we’d be sorted. There would have been the eruption of such a force regardless of the mistakes of tiny socialist groups. The problem is in the loss even of trade-union consciousness, not that people have outgrown the limitations of Labourism and are massively radicalising. There is a lack of self-conscious working-class agency.

    A reformed left would need to focus on the minority who ARE receptive, work as a smaller gear within the labour movement cog, present serious leftward pressure on the mainstream of the labour bureaucracy etc. I think talk about a workers’ party, ‘new’ or ‘mass’ or whatever, is setting ourselves up for failure. Without wishing to ape the SWP comrades, we DO need an “interventionist” party (I wish there was a way of making that sound less patronising, but the only alternative is the mental “combat” party rhetoric).

    The problem is, the best means of getting that is to chuck overboard all this bureaucratic, sectarian baggage, and try to be the best part of the workers’ movement. That doesn’t mean giving up radical socialist policies; the very minimum called for in the current crisis is just that. But we do need a realistic assessment of the left’s strength and of its need to sensibly handle forces to our right – not only in the Labour Party but the trade union leadership also. It is a sad fact that most people objectively or potentially on ‘our side’ do not agree with us. Or necessarily even know we exist!

    And at the moment, I think that’s a good thing: because if the existing left groups were sizeable and influential, what sort of state would we be in now? Not one I’d particularly want to live in. And if the fuck-ups of recent years, the people who did know about rightly wouldn’t touch us with a bargepole.

    A left that was serious about unity and maximising our influence would recognise the vital tasks in front of us, relating to anti-austerity campaigning or shop-floor organisation or whatever, require more than calls for a 24-hr general strike. They are the interests of the working class as a whole and not of small factions: they should not be the property of those factions. “In the middle of the fight, we learn how we must fight.” At the moment, we’re not fighting. Fighting implies the other guy knows he’s in a fight.

  151. John Haylett on said:

    Andy Newman: But anthems of currently existing states : Wales (and when we finally adopt Jerusalem, England)

    My choice would be England Arise, the best version of which, in my view, was recorded by the Glasgow YCL Choir, which included Jack Bruce, about half a century ago.

  152. Manzil: Er. Okay

    Another version went something like this.
    (it was a very drunken night)
    Opgestaan ​​het uit ruïnes
    en die toekoms in die gesig staar
    Laat ons U dien vir die goeie,
    Duitsland, die Verenigde vaderland.
    Ou ellende is om te oorkom
    en ons hulle oorwin verenig
    Omdat ons so moet slaag,
    [So] que le son nooit so mooi
    skyn oor Duitsland
    skyn oor Duitsland.

  153. jim mclean on said:

    On the National Anthem question. The Big Yin
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9nnnM-__JQ

    With ref to Eastleig. Labour vote holding up, UKIP making advances which may save the Libdem’s asses.

    With references to Railway towns.
    Wiki list

    Craven Arms
    Crewe
    Darlington
    Didcot
    Doncaster
    Eastleigh
    Newton Abbot – GWR
    Rugby,
    Sheringham
    Shildon
    Swindon
    Toton
    Wolverton
    York

  154. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    I have read the excellent and diplomatic responses and contributions by Neil and Gavin Marsh on this thread. Maybe something I should reflect upon on instead of my ‘bull-in-the china-shop’ tendency that I have sometimes in my contributions. Here are two articles from this week’s Socialist, one written by Gavin Marsh about the events in Southampton Council and the other about the Eastleigh byelection and again Southampton Council. Interesting reading!

    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/16143

    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/16190/20-02-2013/fighting-for-a-real-alternative-to-cuts

  155. uncle albert on said:

    Latest reports suggest Labour is going to finish fourth behind UKIP. It increasingly looks like the only positive outcome can be a substantial vote for NHAP.

  156. 190
    Come off it, NHAP is an irrelevance. What would be a success for you? 3% of the vote, 1% of the vote?

  157. prianikoff on said:

    Was the timing of the court case against Huhne’s ex-wife and attendant leak of phone-calls just a coincidence?
    The latest news on the economy won’t help the Tories, so Labour are certainly in with a shout.

    Labour’s candidate John O’Farrell, in his book “Things can only get better” wrote:-

    ‘In October 1984, when the Brighton bomb went off, I felt a surge of excitement at the nearness of her demise and yet disappointment that such a chance had been missed.
    ‘This was me…..wishing that they had got her.
    “Why did she have to leave the bathroom two minutes earlier?” I asked myself over and over again.’

    I wonder what he’s saying about the cuts?

  158. prianikoff on said:

    #177 Manzil

    “It is a sad fact that most people objectively or potentially on ‘our side’ do not agree with us. Or necessarily even know we exist …
    at the moment, I think that’s a good thing”

    In which case, you ought to write a lot less.
    Or, even better, nothing….

  159. prianikoff:
    #177 Manzil

    “It is a sad fact that most people objectively or potentially on ‘our side’ do not agree with us. Or necessarily even know we exist …
    at the moment, I think that’s a good thing”

    In which case, you ought to write a lot less.
    Or, even better, nothing….

    Way to just ignore my point. Been stalking me any more, you little creep?

    If you think socialist politics would be anything other than harmed by a more prominent or influential role for groups like the present SWP leadership, with all the sectarianism, contempt for democracy, revelling in impotence, role-playing of 1917, dry scholastic recitals of dogma, etc. that that involves, then you’re deluded as to how irrelevant the Left has made itself to the very people it needs to win over.

  160. uncle albert on said:

    Matty: What would be a success for you? 3% of the vote, 1% of the vote?

    It’s all about making the privatisation of the NHS a major focus during the 2015 general election campaign. In the context of the Eastleigh by-election I’d say the best way to further that priority is to vote NHAP. NHAP is only an irrelevance if the privatisation of the NHS is an irrelevance.

  161. uncle albert,

    Although I agree with you, in many ways it’s too late.

    The established parties have made this a thoroughly apolitical by-election. The Tories have their hands busy trying to hide their reactionary walking gaffe of a candidate, the Lib Dems are giving Tammany Hall lessons in how to mobilise a local machine, and O’Farrell is… presumably still running?

    Given the limitations of a short campaign and the difficult starting-point, the NHAP, short of being given a free run, was never going to make an impact electorally. Its near-certain it won’t now. So it can’t make the point in terms of votes. The emphasis should have been on focusing the actual campaign on this one issue, forcing the government parties to respond to it. But it enjoyed neither widespread support from non-party or left activists, nor any serious accommodation from Labour.

    The opportunity to magnify attention on the NHS has been thoroughly missed.

  162. uncle albert on said:

    Manzil,

    Sure, by condescendingly opting for the show-biz candidate Labour substituted celebrity for policy and now, for the wrong reasons, this seems to have back-fired on them – hence Murphy’s opportunist headline-grabbing ‘name streets after heroes’ intervention.

    But, if the next general election is to be a contest between Labour and Tories, of crucial interest in this by-election will be how votes are divided up between non-establishment parties, particularly (for the left) if as has been suggested, Labour finish in fourth place.

  163. Double Karma on said:

    Manzil: It’s also funny that I imagine the NHAP has wider public recognition already than TUSC has managed in how many years now?

    The NHAP was only formed in May 2012, where as TUSC was formed in 2010 for the General Election.

  164. What is that long ago? Damn, but of course it was. One of the our city’s Labour MPs hung on by 192 votes, and TUSC polled 168. Too close for comfort. Given the incredibly small opportunities offered by TUSC at the moment, the much larger opportunities to do damage just aren’t worth it.

    @ uncle albert. I’d not seen that! Cringe-worthy. Murphy is an arse.

  165. uncle albert on said:

    Manzil: Murphy is an arse.

    His attempt to use the armed services for political gain is off-putting but his ‘Blair on testosterone’* approach to international affairs is a major concern.

    Jim Murphy, as a senior member of the shadow cabinet with strong support from the influential, undemocratic Progress organisation, will be within shouting distance of the leader’s chair if/when Ed throws the towel in.

    * http://www.labour.org.uk/how-the-uk-responds-to-extremism-in-north-west-africa-and-beyond,2013-02-14

  166. jim mclean:
    LibDems 1/1
    Tories 6/4,
    UKIP 6/1,
    Labour 10/1

    All good socialists should vote Tory and create a revolutionary situation. Or just dont bother.

    Er, no, a Tory win, and thus precipitating a collapse of the coalition government is not a revolutionary situation. According to the Economist, most voters seem to favour the Lib Dem candidate, the Tory candidate is rather hapless.

  167. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    http://networkedblogs.com/INCLj

    Socialist Party to hold annual congress as world crisis deepens – capitalists internationally and in Britain have no answers!

    Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary, said:
    “The byelection in Eastleigh shows that the big three parties of capitalism have run out of ideas.

    “The Tories are still pushing their austerity agenda in spite of the fact that the loss of the AAA credit rating has shown that even on their own terms it’s not working.

    “And Labour, which wants ‘nicer’ cuts, has resorted to standing a comedian in the election. The political pygmies who lead the three main parties of capitalism don’t mention the catastrophe facing working people and have no answers.

    “The only candidate putting forward a real alternative, Daz Procter as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), supported by the Socialist Party, was shamefully ignored by the media.

    “The Socialist Party says capitalism is finished as a system that can provide a future for workers and youth; socialism is the way forward.”

  168. SussexLabourLeft on said:

    More southern discomfort

    Eastleigh by-election

    Lib Dem 13,342 votes (32.05% of the vote excluding 90 spoilt ballots) – duly elected
    UKIP 11,571 (27.80%)
    Con 10,559 (25.37%)
    Lab 4,088 (9.82%)

    Notable others:
    Peace Party 128 (0.30%)
    National Health Action 392 (0.94%)
    TUSC 62 (0.14%)

    English Democrat 70 (0.16%)

    Others = x

    Votes cast : 41616
    Spoilt ballots:90

  169. brainwash on said:

    The end of TUSC. Beaten by the Elvis Peace Party , Baccy and Crumpet Party and the Monster Raving Loony Party.

  170. Nik Nak on said:

    And beaten by the number of spoilt ballots too. But at least they don’t cost £8 each in lost deposits.