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Posts Tagged ‘Trade Unions

TUC, to Campaign against “damaging right-wing agenda behind Brexit and supports a confirmatory public vote on any deal or no deal with a remain option.

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The TUC Puts Words into Policy.

Motion passed at TUC yesterday.

Composite 04 Brexit

Congress recognises that the promises that were made during the EU referendum campaign are now distant memories, and that a Tory no-deal Brexit looms on the horizon – with potentially devastating results for workers in the UK.

Congress notes that the Tories have so far miserably failed to negotiate a Brexit deal that protects our jobs and our rights.

Congress notes with concern that Brexit, especially under ‘no deal’, would hit the NHS hard, with new immigration hurdles deterring EU healthcare professionals from coming to the UK to work in the NHS and the deep risk of wholesale privatisation flowing from a trade deal with the Trump White House. Congress fears the agenda of many Tory MPs is to enter into a devastating trade deal with Donald Trump which will reduce our rights and standards and leave our NHS and agriculture vulnerable to predatory US companies.

Congress believes too many Tory MPs are unwilling to defend the Good Friday Agreement which has brought peace and prosperity to Ireland. A hard border will have a devastating impact on the lives of people on either side of it.

Congress condemns the Tory government’s plan to categorise migrant workers earning less than £30k a year as ‘low skilled’ and allow them to stay in the UK for just 12 months. We will not let right-wing politicians and bosses divide our class. We will fight shoulder-to-shoulder with migrants to stop any attacks on them.

Congress will campaign against the damaging right-wing agenda behind Brexit and supports a confirmatory public vote on any deal or no deal with a remain option. Congress will continue campaigning for reforms to help build a Europe for the many through solidarity across borders.

Congress also supports a general election as a matter of urgency so that the British people can elect a government committed to ending austerity and building a new economic settlement that leaves no-one behind.

Mover: Musicians’ Union
Seconder: Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association
Supporter: Royal College of Midwives

   Carried.

It passed almost unanimously, with only the RMT transport workers’ union delegation voting against it.

TUC Congress demands Brexit referendum with option to Remain

The Morning Star was compelled to note,

Reiterating the TUC’s official position in support of a second referendum, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Whatever happens, we will fight for our jobs, we will fight for our rights and we will fight for public services.

“Even if there is a no deal, and I will do everything I can to stop that, that won’t be the end of it — it will just be the beginning.

“Because working people did end up paying the price of the banking crash.

“I think there is no appetite among working people to pay the price for a no-deal Brexit.”

Be warned though, the  Morning Star indicates,

 

On the issue of Brexit the current manoeuvres in Parliament will give the opportunity for an emergency motion that could help to stop the lemming-like rush to the Remain cliff.

Andy Bain is the Communist Party of Britain’s industrial organiser.

It was clear that the TUC would pass policy, however much the result of compromise, to oppose not just a Hard Brexit but to support a third referendum.

Hence this disingenuous  attempt yesterday by the pro-Brexit Morning Star to wriggle out of TUC policy before the vote was taken.

It argues against Labour’s position of stopping No Deal.

A pincer movement in which Labour is trapped between rival political forces which fetishise Brexit and divorce it from the political, economic and social crisis which created it must be met by a massive mobilisation to fight for a Labour government whose mission is to deliver the radical change its programme outlines.

Pacts based on stopping “no-deal” that shackle Labour to parties of the status quo, that are intrinsically hostile to any fundamental shift in wealth and power to workers and that have been complicit in the devastation of our communities by austerity, the relentless rise of child poverty and the fire-sale of our public assets will bury our movement’s message and hand Boris Johnson the narrative he craves, as the man who defied Parliament and fought to implement the 2016 referendum decision in the face of Establishment sabotage.

Polls suggest that despite purging his parliamentary party and losing Commons vote after Commons vote, Johnson’s strategy is paying off with a growing lead over Labour.

Our movement should throw aside parliamentary games designed to trap the Labour leader and demand an immediate election to unseat an illegitimate government and replace it with a socialist one.

The stakes could not be higher for our movement

There is no doubt that some people would just wish all the business of opposing Brexit would just go away and we could get back to unity around left folk politics.

 

But note this:

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Written by Andrew Coates

September 9, 2019 at 5:34 pm

Union Leaders Step in the Right Direction to Shift Labour’s Policy Against Brexit.

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UNITE Makes Welcome Step Towards Action to Deal with this.

The Morning Star, Monday, 

Editorial:Beware misleading narratives on Labour

Momentum activist Holly Rigby made a convincing case today that a second referendum could mean the end of the Corbyn project even if Labour won an election. But winning that election would be far harder if Labour decide to take on the Tories as the party of Remain.

Remain supporters claim that the public’s position has shifted significantly on Brexit, but evidence suggests otherwise.

The European elections were a disaster for Labour and the Tories, but the Brexit Party topped the poll. Arguments that if you compile all the pro-Remain parties’ votes they outmatch the Leave ones depend on how you define those categories. Even if Labour is counted as a Remain party for the sake of the experiment, the difference in tallies is marginal and becomes meaningless when we consider that two-thirds of eligible voters stayed away.

What a difference a day makes!

The BBC today, Tuesday,

Trade union leaders have reached a common position on Brexit following a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn.

The bosses of Labour’s five-biggest affiliated unions back a referendum on any deal agreed by the Tory government or a no-deal exit from the EU.

They are calling for voters to be given the option to remain in the EU and expect Labour to formally back remain.

If Labour wins power in a general election, they want a “confirmatory vote” on any new deal negotiated.

However, Labour’s stance in a referendum campaign in these circumstances would “depend on the deal negotiated”.

The Guardian, reporting on the events,

Labour is poised to declare it will campaign for remain in a second referendum on any deal put to parliament by a Conservative prime minister, after trade union leaders including Unite’s Len McCluskey backed a change of policy.

The joint position agreed by the unions on Monday would not commit Labour to an explicitly pro-remain position in all circumstances: unions also agreed Labour should seek to deliver a Brexit deal if the party won an election before the UK left the EU.

That Labour deal would also be put to a public vote, but the party would not commit to campaigning for remain against its own Brexit deal, throwing into doubt what Labour would offer in any snap election manifesto.

One senior shadow cabinet source described it as a significant win for remain campaigners, despite the potential lack of clarity.

“Unions have backed a referendum on any deal this parliament and Labour campaigning for remain – that’s a big victory. What’s in a manifesto is a debate for another day,” the source said.

Barring any major intervention, the surprise consensus among trade unions including Unite, GMB, Unison, Aslef and Usdaw is likely to force any remaining sceptics to agree to the new position when the shadow cabinet meets on Tuesday.

Several shadow cabinet sources said the policy had the hallmarks of being approved by the Labour leader’s office and said it “would not be watered down” – though some shadow ministers are likely to push for an even stronger position.

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, who has regularly clashed with Jeremy Corbyn over the party’s Brexit position, tweeted: “Remain is who we are. Our values are remain, our hearts are remain. Today is a step in the right direction but members and supporters are clear that any kind of Brexit gives us less than we have now and Labour should not support it.”

 

More reaction:

Anti rootless cosmopolitans had their say:

The declaration includes the principle of negotiating a new Brexit deal should Labour win an election and then, no doubt in the belief that this will be achieved with all the advantages that a Jobs and Rights Brexit could obtain, according to some (that is, pro-Brexit forces in UNITE), be then put to the electorate.

Looking at this in more detail:

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Politics Home picked this up:

However, the door has also been left open to the possibility of Labour campaigning for Brexit if it wins a snap election and then manages to negotiate its own deal with Brussels.

..

The first one states: “The Labour Party should confirm that whatever deal is negotiated by the new Tory Prime Minister or an exit based on no deal should be put to the people in a public confirmatory vote.

“The options must be: 1) accepting the deal or a Tory no-deal in the knowledge of its terms; 2) Remaining in the European Union.

“In this event, the Labour Party should campaign to remain in the European Union.”

However, the second scenario envisages a snap election in which Labour’s manifesto would commit to renegotiating the Brexit deal.

If Labour won and reached a new agreement with Brussels, that would also be put to the people in a fresh referendum.

The options would be to either leave on the terms agreed by Labour, or staying in the EU.

Bizarrely, the trade union document leaves open the option of Labour possibly campaigning against its own deal.

It says: “The Labour party’s campaign position on such a ballot should depend on the deal negotiated.”

A Labour source insisted the party had not agreed on a formal Brexit position.

“Jeremy is working to unite the party and wider labour movement around a common agreed position,” said the source.

This Blog is not convinced that UNITE has wholly abandoned this position,

A Brexit that works for working people

Unite’s campaign for a jobs first Brexit

Or this,

UNITE has not posted anything on the above Brexit Check site since April.

It is to be strongly suspected that some will attempt to weave this stand on Brexit into the Labour negotiation, no doubt in the belief that the Party has superpowers to agree on a form of left Brexit, Lexit.

Between 18,000 and 30, 000 marchers in Paris for ‘Day of Action’ called by Union Federation CGT, and some of the Gilets Jaunes.

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Radical Left Says: neither Macron nor (Gilet Jaune Leader) Drouet.

Today,  following the appeal, principally by the left-wing trade union federation, the CGT (Confédération générale du travail), a Day of Action was held in France.

A response the “pseudo” national debate launched by President Macron work stoppages and marches have been held demanding (for the CGT),

  •  an increase in the minimum wage, the Smic of 20% (1800 euros gross),  and all wages and pensions as well as social minima (that is social security payments).
  •  equal pay for women and men.
  • a tax reform with a more progressive income tax and reduced VAT on basic necessities, the restoration of wealth tax and greater taxation of higher incomes and capital ownership.
  • control and conditions of public aid to large companies.
  •  the development of public services.
  •  respect for public freedoms, such as the right to protest challenged by the government.
  •  strengthening collective rights and guarantees, unemployment rights, social security, including retirement.
  • fair and supportive plans for ‘ecological transition’ (measures to make reduce carbon emissions and other green policies).

Entre 18 000 et 30 000 manifestants à Paris.

Le Monde reports:

For the “mardi de l’urgence sociale” called by la Confédération générale du travail (CGT), Solidaires, Force ouvrière (FO) and some representatives of the Gilets Jaunes there were 160 marches across France. There were a few work stoppages (a small number of railway services were affected, 5% of teachers went on strike), some Radio France programmes were disrupted and two to three hundred drivers of VTS (a category of taxis, véhicules de tourisme avec chauffeur) joined the day of action. Groups of students and lycéens also responded. Despite a call for airport workers to follow the movement the Aéroports de Paris maintained aeroplane flights.

Gilets jaunes, étudiants, retraités... Plusieurs milliers de manifestants ont défilé ce mardi à Paris à l'appel de la CGT. / © Alain Jocard / AFP

France Info. 

Across the county a number of roundabouts and roads were blocked by Gilets Jaunes and trade union activists.

A number of tens, though minor, confrontations with the police took place across France.

More details of the effects here: Les autres secteurs touchés

Left parties and groups joined the appeal for the protest, Attac, the fondation Copernic, the banlieue collective La Vérité pour Adama, former Socialist Party Presidential candidate, Benoït Hamon’s Génération·s, Jean Luc Mélenchon’s  La France insoumise,  the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste )NPA_ and….. Mélenchon’s  personal faction, the Parti de gauche.

Libération states that Philippe Martinez, the secretary general of the left CGT union federation, emphasised the convergences at work between the unions and the Gilets Jaunes, at least in in certain areas. He remains nevertheless very cautious when it comes to engaging the CGT in a rapprochement on a national scale, pointing in particular to the presence of the extreme right in the demonstrations. “This movement has allowed us to build collective action, and has moved in the right direction” he has recently declared ( Gilets jaunes, gauche et syndicats : «On a intérêt que ça prenne» )

 

Gilets Jaunes and the Crisis in France, a Left Analysis.

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The Politics of the Barricades Reborn?

“Toutes les grandes crises que connaît le pays prendront la forme d’une tension entre ceux d’en bas et ceux d’en haut et d’un process des élites gouvernantes.”

All the big crises that the country has experienced have taken the form of tensions between those at the top and those at the bottom, in the shape of an attack on the governing elites.

Jacques Julliard  La faute aux élites. 1997.

On ne donne rien si libéralement que ses conseils”.

Nothing is given so freely as advice.

La Rochefoucauld. Maxims. 

In France, between October and October 2018 the pump price of petrol rose by 15% and diesel (used by many motorists) 25%. Taxes make up 60% of cost of fuel. While presented as part of a “Green transition” plan most of the money goes to general public finances. In May an on-line petition calling for a reduction in these increases had attracted 220,00 signatures by October. On the 10th of October there was a call to block the country’s road system. Social Networks carried videos backing action. By the 17th of November there were 300,000 people across France protesting against the price rises.

Every account agrees that the Gilets Jaunes were initially self-organised through Face Book, Twitter, and self-made Videos. The demands of the movement, which have spiralled in all directions, began to focus on high taxes and the erosion of the purchasing power of ordinary power. To which have been added the decline in the public infrastructure of La France périphérique, precarious working conditions, and, above all, the call for the President Emmanuel Macron to resign. Demands for a special national conference, whether as an Assembly on Fiscal issues, or a ‘Grenelle’, that is a wide-ranging agreement on the pattern of the 1968 union-government negotiations, to resolve these difficulties, have emerged.

Neither the Web, nor efforts to designate spokespeople for the Gilets Jaunes, have enabled the movement to cohere around an agreed structure. There are groups out at roundabouts, tollbooths, and demonstrators. There is a far-right presence, and the “people from somewhere” often show support for the Rassemblement National of Marine Le Pen. There was a strong presence of ‘nationalists’ during Saturday’s violent demonstration on the Champs Élysées. 

The left has shown sympathy for the demands of the movement. Lundi Matin, linked to the comité invisible which believes in a coming insurrection, gave support. Their affinity mouvance is said to be have engaged in some of the street fighting. The widely respected group, Verité pour Adama (after the name of a young person killed by gendarmes in 2016), with wider backing, has attempted to waken the banlieue to the revolt. To join the main march they mobilised a few hundred people in central Paris. Across the country there are reports of left-wing activists joining Gilets Jaunes actions, either on their own initiative, as part of the strategy of La France insoumise to “federate the people” around their own movement, or from other, much smaller, left wing organisations.

Protest Spread.

Following the government’s climb-down Lycéens and students have protested against Macron’s education ‘reforms’, often amid violence. As with Saturday’s protests the forces of order have reacted with a heavy hand. Farmers are also out on the streets. Many groups, though not, as yet, people in the workplaces, have seen in Prime Minister Édouard Phillipe’s announcement of an end to the fuel price hike an opportunity to press their case. The CGT has announced a national days of action and demonstration with a list of demands, on the 14th of December.

The French left has suddenly discovered a long history of popular uprisings that began with protests against taxation. The burden of the 17th century paiement de la dîme’ has nevertheless little in common with today’s tax regimes.

As Alexis Spire points out in the latest le Monde Diplomatique, outsourcing means that large numbers of workers are nominally self-employed (as in the UK), and have to pay for themselves. Reliant on their own transport they would find it hard to see why their means of getting to work should be a source of state revenue. A ‘far-away’ government, which seems to offer little in the way of public services across large swathes of the country, imposes charges on people who see little in return. To add to this tax offices are less and less accessible. One asks how people in France would react to the virtual disappearance of physical contact with HMRC. (2)

Before tax revolts become the left’s favourite new social movement it is nevertheless important to see some difficulties here. To begin with in 1953 Poujadisme started with small businesses revolting against tax inspectors verifying their accounts. Jean-Marie Pen began his political career as a Parliamentary deputy for this movement which won 52 seats on 11,6% of the vote in 1956. Echoes of the less than progressive aspect of this early ‘populism’ can be seen in Gilets Jaunes demands for less frequent strict MOT tests, raising rural speed limits, the – to their admirers marginal – racist incidents which have come to wider attention, and the enthusiastic backing from le Pen’s daughter Marine le Pen.

As the quote from Julliard reminds us, complaints about French governing elites are far from new. Today we have those who talk of “post-democracy” the detachment of polities from the masses reinforced by Macron’s neoliberalism. In the era of Donald Trump’s broadsides against globalism it is hard to imagine that opponents of the liberal ‘progressive’ (Macron’s self-description) centre are invariably to be welcomed.

The real problem is that Emmanuel Macron came to power after a political earthquake in 2017 marginalised all the traditional political parties. His own movement-party, la République en Marche (LREM), ”  centrist, liberal and social-liberal” was only founded in April 2016. It is made up of politicians from the centre right, the  right wing of the Parti Socialiste, a dash of ‘personalities’ and a lot of newcomers. It has definite campaigning experience in the grass-roots, but little experience of long-term local political implantation.

On the left opposition la France insoumise )FI) is a body linked together, like the Gilets Jaunes, by the web (I received an electronic appeal to ‘vote’ on their European programme a few days ago). It, like LREM, is a movement around a Leader, not a democratic party. Both the President’s effort to negotiate with the thousands of visible Gilets Jaunes factions, and FI’s efforts to speak on behalf of le Peuple, start from a position of outsiders trying to direct the political theatre.

Unity Against Macron’s Arrogance is not a Strategy.

Some of the best, and realistic, accounts of the present crisis have come from those with little stake in the state system or on the bigger parties of the left. They have indicated that, perhaps in a more acute form than in the UK trade unions, where activity is at low ebb, syndicates have been weakened in recent years, as the failure to push back Macron’s labour reforms and his liberalising plans for the rail system illustrates. The violent acts on Gilets Jaunes marches were no doubt made worse by the absence of traditional union or left stewarding. There is little coherence on a left which may well end up presenting over 7 different lists for next year’s European elections.

The way in which the present movement has tossed aside what local campaigns have been built going to help those trying to push them in a left direction. With the demands of the Gilets Jaunes moving like a buoy tossed by the sea in all directions, it is hard to see that either following them (suivisme) or trying to channel them, is going to work.

More fundamentally, how can any the left’s fight against austerity meet demands meet the call for fewer taxes? 

In these conditions who can be surprised to hear calls for the tax burden to be relieved by cuts in state spending, that is real neo-liberalism, from former Prime Minister and right-wing politician Édouard Balladur  – this morning, on Europe 1.

*****

(1) Page 52. Jacques Julliard La faute aux élites. Folio. 1997.

(2) Aux sources de la colère contre l’impôt. Alexis Spire.  December 2018. Le Monde Diplomatique. 

(3) Histoire de l’extrême droite en France. Michel Winock Seuil 2015

Written by Andrew Coates

December 7, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Morning Star Warns Against Trade Union Influence and Support for a People’s Vote on Labour Brexit Policy.

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Blairites and Tories in backing a “people’s vote.”

UNIONS could undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s agenda for change if they back a referendum on the EU exit deal, Mick Cash warned today.

TUC 2018 Backing ‘the people’s vote’ could undermine the Corbyn project

RMT’s Mick Cash issues warning against joining the Blairite’s call.

The piece notes (see above) that “delegates at TUC Congress voted to ratify a general council statement saying the option of a “final say” referendum should not be “ruled out.” and the general union GMB has publicly backed a vote on the Brexit deal, but other unions would prefer to push for an early general election.”

Mr Cash warns, in the light of this decision, against the TUC and trade unions having an influence on Labour Party policy on Brexit.

“The RMT leader said the labour movement should refuse to “line up” with Blairites and Tories in backing a “people’s vote.””

Mr Cash, whose union represents transport staff, seafarers and oil workers, said: “We need to understand those in the Westminster bubble are calling for a people’s vote for the sole reason of a second referendum on the EU. They are your Chuka Umunnas, your Chris Leslies, your Peter Mandelsons your Tony Blairs, the Lib Dems.”

In other words the Left Against Brexit, part of the campaign for a People’s Vote, and the much broader section of the Labour party in the over 200 Consistencies which have backed motions supporting Labour for a People’s Vote, are all in the ‘Westminster bubble”.

Worse it seems we are acting to thwart Jeremy Corbyn.

He said these politicians “want us in the EU so that the EU can stop Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for nationalisation and for state aid and for workers’ rights.”

He stormed: “We, the trade union movement, will be lining up with people who are seeking to force the hand of Jeremy Corbyn and with people who want to attack the socialist leadership of the Labour Party and who want to attack socialist policies.”

The RMT is not affiliated to Labour.

In the 2009 European Elections they aligned with fringe groups (such as the Communist Party of Britain and the Socialist Party) to stand against Labour as No2EU – Yes to Democracy

The won a handsome 153,26 votes nationally  – below 1%.

In 2014 they got 31,757 – 0,2%.

The Morning Star then cites the opinion of another union leader.

Citing something they call the “consensus position” they refer to Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.

(he) told the hall: “I understand the argument for a so-called ‘people’s vote’ on the deal — not on leaving the EU. That people’s vote has already happened.”

Can the People can only vote once?

No: because,  McClusky adds,

He said the referendum option “must be left on the table,” arguing: “Let’s focus on the prize — sweeping this government away in a general election and giving a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn the chance to repair two wasted years of Tory wrangling.”

The article tries to marshal another recruit to their fading cause:

“…public sector union PCS leader Mark Serwotka argued: “We are not with Chuka Umunna, but neither are we with Jacob Rees-Mogg.

“We are an independent working-class movement.”

As the PCS is also not affiliated to the Labour Party it is by definition independent of the debate at the Labour conference.

Addressing Congress earlier in the day, TUC leader Frances O’Grady described EU laws as “the rock that national laws and union agreements build on.”

She said the TUC would “throw its full weight behind a campaign” for a “popular vote” if the government “come back with a deal that doesn’t put workers’ first.”

Communication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward said he wanted “a people’s government” rather than a “people’s vote,” warning: “We have got absolutely no reason to support a second referendum that re-runs the debate that divides our country at the moment.”

Royal College of Midwives policy director Jon Skewes suggested an election was unlikely, arguing: “They will change the guard rather than do that.”

At a fringe meeting, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union official Sarah Woolley said: “We need to embrace that the UK is leaving the EU. A decision was made and we need to be proactive and make sure that our members are protected.

“The only thing that is certain is that next April we won’t be a member of the EU.”

She said unions should threaten PM Theresa May with a general strike “if you are not going to do the deal we want.”

No doubt a helpful suggestion.

We shall contact Seamus Milne again offering the services of the Ipswich workers’ militia to help ensure workers’ defence,  but what of the People’s Vote?

Mick Whelan, who leads train drivers’ union Aslef, told the same meeting that the EU Fourth Rail Package could enforce British-style privatisation across Europe.

“We don’t apologise for being protectionist about where we want to be for our railway,” he said.

Was the nationalisation of the East Coast line stopped by EU rules?

And what business is it for Brexit protectionists what policy the EU adopts?

And economist Costas Lapavitsas, a former Syriza member of the Greek legislature, said: “There’s a considerable ignorance in this country about what the European Union is.

“[The] Maastrict [treaty] basically created a union which is a neoliberal machine.

“We need an internationalist position on this … but internationalism of labour is not the same as internationalism of capital.”

An “internationalist” position is precisely the Left Against Brexit’s position.

What is the opinion of union members?

Perhaps the Morning Star could have asked McDonnell to explain why he wants a debate that answers the concerns of this section of the ‘Westminster Bubble’?

Here is the ‘Blairite’ Labour for a People’s Vote motion,

Oppose Tory Brexit and win a radical Labour government

This CLP supports the earliest possible election of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. The current government is putting Tory Party dogma first, not jobs first – and they have no mandate for their agenda.

We note and support Labour’s six tests for Brexit, which aims to ensure that the post-Brexit settlement preserves the benefits we currently get from collaboration with Europe, defends our rights and protections, and delivers for all parts of the UK. It is increasingly clear that the Tories’ Brexit deal will fail these tests.

We believe that only Labour can lead the British people into a progressive and economically sound relationship with Europe.The Brexit deal being pursued by Theresa May is a threat to jobs, freedom of movement, peace in Northern Ireland, and the future of the NHS and public services. Tory Brexit will wreck the British economy, will commit us to a series of long-term trade deals which will enforce American-style deregulation, and will undermine the rights, freedoms and protections currently enshrined in EU law. All of this will bind the hands of a future Labour government, and will make it far harder for us to deliver on our promises.

We therefore urge Labour to oppose the Tories’ destructive Brexit and unite the country behind a radical vision for the future. In government, Labour could rally left-wing parties across the continent, and create a Europe for the many, not the few.

The social problems that caused the Brexit vote – inequality, declining public services, falling pay, a lack of quality affordable housing, and so on – will be made worse, not better, by Tory Brexit and the continued austerity that would result. The problem is the policies of the political establishment, not immigrants, and the solution is a radical social and economic programme.

We must make the election of a radical Labour government our first priority.

We note that given the Fixed Term Parliament Act, the most likely route to a general election before 2022 is the collapse of the government’s Brexit agenda. This motion supports all available avenues to bring down the government: voting down the EU exit deal in Parliament, calling for a snap election, and a popular vote on the deal.

We note and support the 2016 Conference commitment to a public vote on the Exit Deal so the people have the final decision on whether to accept the government’s deal or to stay in the EU.

We call on the Labour Party to:

1. Oppose any Brexit deal that does not satisfy Labour’s 6 tests.

2. Call for an immediate general election, and make a manifesto commitment to call a public vote on the Brexit deal with an option to remain in the EU if the public rejects it.

3. If we cannot get a general election, to campaign for a public vote on the deal with an option to remain in the EU; and following a defeat for the government, to call for an immediate general election.

4. To place radical social and economic policies at the heart of our programme of government – taxing the rich and big business to pay for better public services, rapidly expanding common ownership, abolishing anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment.

Delegates from this CLP to Labour Party conference should vote in line with this policy.

It is far better to back the Labour for a People’s Vote motion than the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy one, which many believe is more subtle attempt to ward off commitment to opposing Brexit.

Brexit: living standards and jobs must remain Labour’s priority

Conference notes:

1) that following the UK/EU talks on 16/17 August the government still has no agreement on departure terms from the EU, despite the departure being scheduled for March 2019.

2) on 23 August the government started publishing some ‘technical notices’, advising people what to do in the event a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit.

3) the 6 August publication of ORB’s poll, indicating disapproval of the government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations has reached an all-time high of 76%.

Conference deplores the Prime Minister for prioritising negotiations within the Cabinet over those with the EU and her ministers for talking up the possibility of a ‘No-Deal’.

Conference notes any agreement the government negotiates is unlikely to protect the economy and people’s rights.

Conference continues to support Labour’s six tests, the commitment to a customs union and seeking full access to EU markets.

Conference calls on the Shadow Cabinet to continue with its policy of securing living standards and jobs, which requires free trade between Britain and the EU.

Conference agrees that Labour should vote against any agreement the government reaches with the EU which does not secure this objective, and how Labour achieves its objective should be decided in light of the situation at the time of the conclusion of any agreement negotiated between the government and the EU. At this stage in the UK/EU negotiations Labour should not exclude in advance any means or tactics to prevent a Brexit outcome which hurts jobs or living standards.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 11, 2018 at 12:09 pm

Burston Rally 2018: a Report.

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Ipswich Trades Council’s New Banner on the Burston March.

The annual Burston Rally (“to commemorate the longest strike in history and to celebrate the people who continue to fight for Trade Union rights, working class education, democracy in the countryside and international solidarity” on Sunday was well attended (See: Eastern Daily Press. Burston Strike School Rally in Norfolk.)

Eastern Daily Press.

Arriving on the full Ipswich/South East Suffolk Coach the Village Green was already full of stalls.

There were all the main trade unions and linked organisations – Norwich Trades Council had an impressive display – a long list of Norfolk and Suffolk Labour parties (although many IPswich Labour councillors were apparently filling out the sparse ranks of a local Temperance event in Alexandra Park), and campaigns (Amnesty, Palestinian Solidarity, Norfolk anti-fracking group) and fringe groups, such as the Communist Party of Britain,  the SWP the Socialist Party and the Jewish Voice for Labour.

In the morning we were entertained by bands and by the comedian Kate Smurthwaite.

Trade Unionists, such as Sean McGovern (UNITE) angrily attacked the anti-Labour media campaign, and concentrated on the injustices faced by the disabled, and the hard time imposed on workers and consumers by those in charge of the privatised public services.

There was comradely atmosphere, only occasionally spoilt by SWP activists attempting to gather support for their ‘Defend Jeremy Corbyn’ petition, and to raise backing for their autumn anti-racism demonstration.

It was noted that a Momentum group, calling itself  Norfolk Momentum, displayed material in support of a policy backed by other break-away bodies, such as Camden Momentum, against Labour’s National Executive taking a position on the 4 September, to oppose the adoption of the  International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Anti-Semitism (IHRA definition) of antisemitism.

I bought the highly recommended  The Village in Revolt: The Story of the Longest Strike in History.  Shaun Jeffery.

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I also got  the – very far from esteemed  – Britain in the World Front, Palme Dutt, (1942) from the CPB bookstall.

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The march, around the village in the tracks as the original school strikers’ first protest, was enlivened by trade union bands.

In the heat of the early autumn sunshine we returned to hear the afternoon addresses to the crowd.

Mick Cash (RMT) followed earlier speakers was rightly angry at the way the media had run down Jeremy Corbyn, stirred up division in the Labour Party, and diverted attention from the disaster of privatised companies. Concentrating on the policies of his rail union he called for nationalisation and a the creation of a genuine public transport service.

It was unfortunate that a divisive speaker from Jewish Voice for Labour (recently founded – 2017)  was called.

He outlined his group’s position on the Israel Palestine conflict.

While people are dying in next-door Syria, amid mass murder and torture, and millions have been made refugees this appeared as if it were the sole issue in the Middle East.

Denouncing Israel, whose policies he compared to apartheid, he advocated opposition to  the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

There were other contributions, more in line with labour movement traditions of unity.

The best speaker of the day was, without a doubt, John McDonnell.

Beginning with references to the Middle East (though not Syria) he called for justice in the region.

But the heart of his talk was – and the words are weighed – a brilliant outline of Labour’s plans to bring serious change in the economy and public services, from education to local government.

McDonnell pitched his plans as an effort to transfer wealth and power to ordinary people. His plans for nationalisation, of the utilities and transport, did not include a return to old style Morrison-style administration, but democratic bodies under Parliamentary, consumer, worker and community control. Tackling ‘Magic Money tree’ – that is the money pumped out to tax shelters on the Paradise Islands – would provide some of the basis for the funds the project would need.

Finishing, the Labour Chancellor raised the issue of a People’s Vote on Brexit. After cries from the audience in support of the campaign against Brexit (there were campaigners for the Left Against Brexit present all day), McDonnell defended the Labour Line of attempting to defend the best possible deal that could be got at present. He added, that while the best People’s Vote would be a ballot  to remove Theresa May, he did not rule out a future referendum on EU membership.

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John McDonnell hears the Tendance Line.

To  the chagrin of those trying to divide the labour movement this has just been published,

John McDonnell says he expects Labour’s ruling NEC will adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

The shadow chancellor said he hopes the Party can move on from the bitter row which has dominated the news over the past few months

John McDonnell says he expects Labour’s ruling NEC to adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism after a crunch meeting.

The shadow chancellor said he hopes the Party can move on from the bitter row which has dominated the news over the past few months.

He told BBC Radio Kent: “I think what will happen, I’m hoping what will happen is exactly what people are saying is an acceptance of the IHRA definition and examples, that’s what people are pressing for.

“But also to ensure, exactly what Rabbi Sacks said yesterday, that there’s freedom of speech so people are free to criticise Israel and its policies free to advocate the rights of the Palestinians but at the same time make sure it’s done in language that’s acceptable.

 

Socialist Party (former ‘Militant’) Makes Public Dispute Between Leading Members in the PCS Union.

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SP Makes Public PCS Row.

This Blog has little time for the politics of the Socialist Party.

They are centred on the lingering influence of a certain strain of Trotskyism, one based on assembling ‘leadership’, through a variety of bureaucratic ‘fronts’.

These include  the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) and by its preponderant influence in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) which stands candidates in Parliamentary and local elections – or stood candidates, and, perhaps will again….

A few years ago Andrew Murray, then in the Communist Party of Britain, now in Labour, described very accurately this strategy as

…trying to create a shadow labour movement around itself, with its own electoral front, its own shop stewards’ network etc.

Left Unity or Class Unity? Working-Class Politics in Britain. Andrew Murray. Socialist Register. 2014.

More recently the SP has become Jeremy Corbyn’s best friend even, by attempting to create a New Workers’ Party through TUSC,  to have helped him gain the Labour leadership through standing candidates against his Party. It has also – though few will have heard of this – campaigns to be a Labour Party ‘affiliate’.

They regularly offer Corbyn friendly advice:

Corbyn must end false unity with Labour’s right. Tories and Blairites must go. General election now!

(The Socialist 4th August 2018)

The Socialist Party is also noted for its unrelenting backing for a “Socialist Brexit” as part of its strategy to build a socialist Britain, a wish-list of nationalisations, and legislation through a truly sovereign Parliament, under Socialist (that is, their) leadership.

One aspect is particularly controversial on the left.

The socialist and trade union movement from its earliest days has never supported the ‘free movement of goods, services and capital’ – or labour – as a point of principle but instead has always striven for the greatest possible degree of workers’ control, the highest form of which, of course, would be a democratic socialist society with a planned economy.

It is why, for example, the unions have historically fought for the closed shop, whereby only union members can be employed in a particular workplace, a very concrete form of ‘border control’ not supported by the capitalists.

September 2016.

The group has, with other forces hostile to the EU, promoted resolutions in the labour movement calling for some kind of ‘Socialist Brexit’ – though how this can come about in the absence of ‘socialism’ is not clear.

Faced with the reality and costs of Brexit (above all a ‘No Deal’ Exit) few people now believe in the prospects for a “Socialist Brexit” any more than they do in a “People’s Brexit’.

Even fewer pay much attention to the idea of putting immigration and borders under ‘workers’ control’ or in terms of the ‘closed shop’ these days.

But….

The SP has members in a number of trade union positions as their upbeat report on the 2018 UNITE conference indicates,

The executive committee statement on the European Union was passed and rightly defeated motions explicitly calling for a second referendum. This superseded a motion moved by Socialist Party member Kevin Parslow from LE/1228 branch which called for a socialist Brexit in the interests of workers.

Socialist Party members have big impact as Unite conference kicks off

The Socialist 4th July 2018.

While claims about their great influence in UNITE can be taken as a case of the mythomania many see as a trait of some types of Trotskyism  there is little doubt that the Taafites (as they are known, after their decades long leading Cadre)  are important in the largest civil service union, the PCS.

There is much to say on this but one thing should not be doubted: they are serious people who, by the majority of accounts, have played a largely positive role in keeping this union going.

Attentive readers will have noted that the first sentence of this post says the “politics” of the SP,  not the People.

Now there is a really deep dispute between the SP and “a small number of Socialist Party members” over the election for Assistant General Secretary.

Over the last week a number of posts have circulated on Facebook about this.

In fact the Scottish wing of the Socialist Party issued this statement in May:

Threat to unity of PCS left – Support Chris Baugh’s re-election as AGS

Given that the players in this row centre around  Mark Serwotka, one of the best known figures in the labour movement, this disagreement, which appears to herald a split in the SP, is of wider importance.

Now according to sources a new group, Socialist View, has been formed – a breakaway from the SP.

Socialist View’ (SV) has been launched by those in PCS who are supporting the candidature of Janice Godrich for assistant general secretary against Socialist Party member Chris Baugh who is the incumbent and has been in office since 2004. We believe that this is a further divisive step in splitting the left in PCS, following the announcement of Janice’s candidature at PCS conference in May, which for many delegates overshadowed the launch of the strike ballot on pay.

 

PCS: the real issues at stake

The dispute within the left of Britain’s largest civil service union raises key issues for the whole labour movement. Above all, the need for democratic, lay-member control of fighting trade unions. HANNAH SELL and ROB WILLIAMS explain the background to the current situation in the September issue of Socialism Today.

For a decade and a half the leadership of the civil servants’ union, PCS, has been dominated by the left. Both the senior elected officers and the majority of the NEC are members of Left Unity (LU), the broad left organisation in which the Socialist Party plays a leading role. But at this year’s PCS conference, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, launched a campaign to support Janice Godrich, currently union president, for the position of assistant general secretary (AGS), in opposition to the incumbent, Socialist Party member Chris Baugh, who has held the position since 2004.

Of course, within a democratic left any individual, including those in key positions, has every right to stand for any position. Nonetheless, PCS activists were rightly concerned by this development. This was partly because such a divisive campaign was irresponsibly launched at the same time as the start of a major battle to try and win a ballot for national industrial action over pay. And because they understood that it could lead to a serious rupture on the left, which might weaken the union’s fighting capacity.

Of course, within a democratic left any individual, including those in key positions, has every right to stand for any position. Nonetheless, PCS activists were rightly concerned by this development. This was partly because such a divisive campaign was irresponsibly launched at the same time as the start of a major battle to try and win a ballot for national industrial action over pay. And because they understood that it could lead to a serious rupture on the left, which might weaken the union’s fighting capacity.

Mark Serwotka had previously approached the Socialist Party, giving us an ultimatum that, if we selected Chris Baugh as the Socialist Party’s nominee for the LU candidate for AGS, he would put forward another candidate, and that his preference was Janice Godrich, a fellow Socialist Party member.

It has since become apparent that Janice had already agreed to this proposal and was determined to press ahead, regardless of the outcome of discussions in our party. As is our tradition, the Socialist Party had a comradely and democratic internal discussion, with both sides listened to and given equal time to put their views. An overwhelming majority agreed that Chris should stand. Unfortunately, a small number of Socialist Party members, including Janice, disregarded the party’s decision.

Mark Serwotka initially attempted to argue that his opposition to Chris Baugh was personal. However, it is not credible to suggest that such a serious conflict could develop for purely, or even primarily, personal reasons. To date, Mark has refused to engage in a debate about his political criticisms of Chris, something he would correctly demand of any left standing against him for general secretary. We, however, conclude that potentially serious political and industrial differences lie behind these events, as will become clear as the debate over the LU AGS candidate unfolds.

This is a very long and serious article.

But the conclusion is clear enough.

Of course, there are numerous good left activists in PCS who are not members or supporters of the Socialist Party, many of whom support Chris for AGS. And, unfortunately, Janice Godrich agreed to be Mark Serwotka’s preferred candidate to replace Chris despite being a member of the Socialist Party. Nonetheless, being part of a Marxist party – with a programme for the transformation of the union movement, and of society – has aided Chris and others in standing firm under considerable pressure.

Not for nothing did MI5’s Subversion in Public Life organisation – for monitoring ‘extremists’ in the 1980s – consider us the “most threatening Trotskyist group in Britain” in the civil service. It said our “greatest strengths” were our clarity of ideas and “the dedication of its members” to fighting for the interests of the working class.

We call upon all rank-and-file PCS members not to go down the dangerous road represented by Janice Godrich’s candidature for AGS, and to support Chris Baugh and the Socialist Party’s well-tested methods of building open, democratic, fighting broad lefts as a lever to transform the trade union movement. This discussion has relevance not just for PCS members but for every trade unionist and worker.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 24, 2018 at 6:04 pm