“In January 1649 England was declared a ‘Commonwealth’. It was destroyed by Cromwell’s counter-revolution. Yet it remains an historic marker for democratic revolution and an inspiration for today.”
The Republican Socialist General Election Campaign for Bermondsey and Old Southwark 2015.
This daring and principled initiative – a matter of ‘honour’ we hear – has not been universally welcomed.
faction statement, March 26,
The Constitution section on Tendencies states that “Tendencies have a right to be heard, to organise meetings, to produce literature, to distribute materials at LU meetings and, in general, to try to influence and/or change party policy, but must not do so in the name of LU or any of its constituent bodies”. At the initial conference, it was made clear from the acting transitional leadership body, in response to either the CPGB or some other group, that this included the right to criticise LU from the outside. This surprised me, and many others, at the time
Since Steve’s candidature is aimed solely at bringing to the rest of the Left and the wider public the argument for incorporating socialist republican principles into policy and practice, his campaign is therefore one of critical support for the LU candidate.
The history of Left participation in elections shows that the chances of either candidate getting more than 1% of the vote are slim indeed, so in what way will LU be harmed by this? At this stage in LU’s growth, electoral participation is purely about raising the profile of socialist arguments against neoliberal orthodoxy (austerity, war, smashing the public sector, etc) and there is no reason whatsoever to imagine that Kingsley Abrams’ campaign will be harmed in respect of his or the LU branch’s ability to raise an anti-capitalist profile. Kate might argue that the electorate will be confused by both Steve and Kingsley standing as rivals, but the same is the case in all of the seats where LU / TUSC are standing as rivals to the Greens, which is why I voted against LU standing in Stockport (In the event the vote went against me [3 for standing, 2 against and 2 abstentions]. The reality is that confusing the electorate only matters when a party has a chance of making a political breakthrough, which is plainly not the case in Bermondsey.
Section 3d, as Kate has interpreted it, could be used against any LU member who, like me, reserves the right not to support an LU / TUSC candidate under the circumstances of a very split local vote.
I think she would have a hard time proving a breach of the LU constitution, because a) there is a contradiction between the section she wants to use and the section on Tendencies and b) because section 3d of the constitution has nothing to say on circumstances in which a candidate is standing for an electoral alliance that includes LU and an outside organisation; you would have to convince the Disputes and Appeals bodies that 3d was clearly meant to cover electoral alliances as well. Good luck with finding evidence for that!
The fact is that many LU members have felt uncomfortable about LU standing on a joint electoral platform with TUSC for a variety of reasons, including its dubious commitment to gender equality and its economism. Basically, you are asking the organisation to privilege LU’s relationship with an external organisation over its relationship with an internal tendency.
Now the CP says the RSA comes down to English Nationalism, backed up by the usual Trotskyist hack, John Penney This is the CP’s analytical conclusion after reading through a statement which makes several references to the need to bring the lessons of Scotland to England; i.e. the Scottish democratic revolution.
Which part of the dictionary did they use to reach this, I wonder?
As a member of Left Unity, the Republican Socialist Tendency and the Republican Socialist Alliance and who has argued for months that my local branch should not be standing against the Greens, I find myself in agreeing with the suggestion of Dave Church, who told the last RSA meeting that no organisation on the Left should stand candidates anywhere unless and until they know through polling that their local, grassroots work has built up at least 5% of the vote.
For months now I have been challenging Trotskyists within LU to show me the strategic political arguments for electoralism and the silence is deafening – there is clearly nothing but habit & hope (both misplaced) that this will miraculously ‘increase our profile’. It never does – you can count on one hand the number of times more than 1% has voted for a Left candidate. LU has degenerated into one not so big ball of internal wrangling around the leadership’s consistent attempts to expel people with whom it disagrees or whose actions it finds disagreeable. The 10,000 who signed up for a new party of the Left have, as Mark says, taken a look at LU and gone with the Greens. LU has missed the boat in recruiting the people who have been politicised in the course of this parliament; the project of left unity has instead become a paper exercise of a joint venture with the suddenly well heeled SP and SWP; crucially, it does not involve having made any sustainable inroads into the mass of people.
As John Pearson has shown on the Unoffical Left Unity Facebook page, the case against Steve is thin at best but, behind it, lies a much more important issue – the culture of puffed up leftist wrangling over things that will not matter within months and don’t matter at all to the people we need to be attracting to create a socialist movement. Electoral initiatives are mostly a diversion, anyway, and one that always takes the left back to square one. What irony if this turns out to be the issue that buries LU. For the umpteenth time, can anyone tell me the political theory behind the left participating in elections, how it fits into political strategy and the evidence that it does this.
Caliphate John and the Republican Socialists, what a combination!
Tummon seems to be arguing simultaneously that the left (that is, the non-Labour left) should not stand against the Greens, that the left should not stand if they are likely to get less than 5% (which would mean nearly everywhere, if not everywhere), and that cde Freeman should stand because he is in “critical support” of the candidate he is opposing.
Oh and why should they present candidates in elections anyway…????
Poor old Steve Freeman…. Will he now face the full might of the “the principles and guidelines of behaviour set out in the safer spaces policy (appendix 1)”? Will he follow Kate’s well meaning advice?
“I urge you to withdraw your candidacy and support the ‘Left Unity – Trade Unionists and Socialists’ candidate, Kingsley Abrams, who has been endorsed by Southwark branch and Left Unity national council.”
Looks like expulsion….
Bo ho. VOTE LABOUR! Back the Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory !