Charting our future
Jack Conrad offers his recommendations for the November 21-22 conference
Alex Tsipras and Kate Hudson: lest we forget
Our standing orders committee finally put up the full list of motions and amendments submitted by Left Unity’s branches and members on the afternoon of November 16.1 The promised date had been November 13. As a result, neither the CPGB’s Provisional Central Committee nor the Communist Platform’s steering group has had the opportunity to discuss, let alone agree, solid voting recommendations. What goes for us probably goes for other organised tendencies. Given that the very existence of Left Unity hangs in the balance, the SOC’s delay is therefore to be regretted. Sober, well founded, far-sighted decisions require due time for collective consideration.
Consequently, I have been landed with the unenviable task of ploughing through the motions and amendments and passing judgement. With less than two days available to me - we go to press on Wednesday - it needs to be stressed that my comments are those of an individual. After consultations with other comrades a change here or there is quite conceivable. Nevertheless, we will vote as a bloc and if opportunities arise negotiate as a bloc.
I had another disadvantage, in that I did not know what the proposed agenda was (it came out on November 19 - after I had written this piece). The Communist Platform seems to have convincingly won the argument that the first day of the national conference ought to be given over to the Labour Party and the future of Left Unity. At least that is what the November 14 national council meeting backed. Moreover, the Communist Platform won an “overwhelming” national council vote in April 2015 extending the time of conference from one to two days, with one of those days being “dedicated to the constitution”.2 Our intention has always been crystal-clear: replacing the dysfunctional constitution with one that is fit for purpose. However, I know from barbed comments that behind the scenes there are moves afoot to overturn that decision. But does the standing orders committee agree? I rang the national office. No reply. I emailed the national office. Again, no reply.
Confusing matters still further, the SOC decided to mimic the practice of the trade union and labour bureaucracy and hold a branch ballot on which motions should be given priority (each branch had five votes). The sort of X factor popularity contest that prevented the Labour Party debating the renewal of the Trident missile system at the September 27-30 Brighton conference. Hardly a rational way of arriving at agreed tactics, strategy and structures.
Though I am unsure, one must presume that the SOC has listed the motions on the basis of some kind of popularity contest, but starting with the grouped question of the Labour Party and the future of Left Unity (there are five other groupings: EU referendum, campaigning, Left Unity constitution, emergency and other motions).
LU and Labour
Anyway, motion 1 comes from Kate Hudson and Andrew Burgin, respectively Left Unity’s national secretary and treasurer. It has to be said that their motion contains nothing bold, nothing original, nothing that amounts to a critical re-examination of Left Unity’s existing strategy. In essence it is a ‘business as usual’ motion. It begins with a routine welcome for Jeremy Corbyn’s “landslide victory”, along with the well founded claim that this “opens a new period of class struggle”. However, it has to be said that the operative conclusions are virtually non-existent. Faced with what they describe as an “historic opportunity”, comrades Hudson and Burgin propose to “develop our online journal”, cooperate with the development of Momentum, organise a talking shop conference in the spring and “reassess our electoral strategy” next year.
The main purpose of the motion is to “reaffirm” Left Unity’s political commonality with the Corbyn leadership around the usual environmentalist, feminist, socialist, ant-racist, etc, good causes. Comrades Hudson and Burgin also want to emphasise Left Unity’s commitment to the European Left Party (a strange concoction, uniting Syriza in Greece, Germany’s Left Party, Sinn Féin, the ‘official communist’ parties of Austria, Belgium, Finland, France and Spain, Communist Refoundation in Italy, Left Bloc in Portugal, the Danish Red-Green Alliance, et al3). The European dimension is positive, but the political foundations are shaky. Vote against.
Not a few comrades seem to have made the calculation that, because comrades Hudson and Burgin are the two leading personalities in Left Unity, their motion would be voted top of the pops. Therefore, so the reasoning goes, to ensure you get your viewpoint debated at conference amend the Hudson-Burgin motion.
Hence we have these five amendments or sets of amendments.
The first, 1A, is from Stockport branch. The comrades want to ensure that there is “no question of Left Unity declining to contest seats identified by our branches, wherein Labour candidates will not publicly pledge to vote against cuts”. The motivation is obviously sincere, but the politics are localist, short-sighted and lack tactical acumen. Standing against official Labour candidates under the new circumstances of the Corbyn-McDonnell leadership is surely inadvisable at least at the moment. Better to raise the demand for automatic reselection in the Labour Party. So vote against.
York (1B) calls for Left Unity to “play an active role in building Momentum”. It is hard to object. Vote for. The same goes for 1C from West London. The comrades are pleased by the establishment of Momentum, want to encourage Left Unity members to join and seek to ensure Momentum is “an open, democratic organisation”. Vote for.
Amendment 1D comes from Edmund Potts and Nick Wrack of the so-called Independent Socialist Network. Basically the comrades are intent on beefing up the socialist credentials of the Hudson-Burgin motion. The comrades are also right to pour cold water on Labour’s founding “values” and the experience of past and present ‘radical left’ governments in Europe. From Mitterrand to Tsipras, they have been “marked by failure and disappointment”. Vote for.
Motion 2 from Haringey also welcomes the election of Corbyn and wants to “work with the left at all levels of the Labour Party to build joint initiatives where our policies overlap”. Its call for this to take organisational form has, of course, been overtaken by events: ie, the foundation of Momentum. However, what distinguishes the Haringey motion 2 from the Hudson-Burgin motion 1 is that it contains a plea for Left Unity’s “national committee” (sic) to “explore” the “possibility” of affiliating to the Labour Party. This smacks of a platonic, not an active, approach to me. The perspective of fighting, agitating, campaigning is missing.
It is clear that motion 2 has the backing of Socialist Resistance. This represents another one of those abrupt political about-turns by SR. Not so long ago the comrades were worrying over the success of the Corbyn campaign and warning about the dangers of fostering illusions in the Labour Party. Anyway, until the “terms of affiliation” have become clear the Haringey comrades want Left Unity to continue as “currently constituted”. Vote against.
Amendment 2A was agreed by Camden and Islington and originates with SR’s Terry Conway. The aim amounts to little more than updating motion 2 by adding some pedestrian remarks about building and becoming involved with a “democratic” Momentum. While we want motion 2 to fall, if it goes through it would be strengthened somewhat by 2A. Therefore vote for it.
Motion 3 is from Pete Green, Salman Shaheen, Tom Walker, Rachel Godfrey-Wood and Carla Willig. The comrades propose to “dissolve” Left Unity “as a political party” and reconstitute it as a loose “network”, working mainly but not exclusively within the Labour Party. It should be pointed out that comrades Green and Shaheen are principal speakers and comrade Walker is our media officer. Frankly, however, theirs is a liquidationist perspective … and comrades Godfrey-Wood and Willig have already resigned from Left Unity and joined the Labour Party. At least 300 others have done the same thing, including members of our executive committee: eg, Luke Cooper and Liz Davis.
Motion 4 comes under the names of Jack Conrad, Tina Becker and Sheffield. Here are the unmistakable politics of the Communist Platform. Uniquely this motion is based on a long-term, strategic approach to the Labour Party. It is not just about welcoming the election of Corbyn or jumping onto the Momentum bandwagon.
Our perspective is to transform the Labour Party into a permanent united front of the working class. Towards that end we seek to break Left Unity from all the halfway-house illusions, opportunist attempts to chase the Greens and adaptations to petty nationalism. Instead Left Unity should commit itself to the “project of transforming the Labour Party into an instrument for working class advance and international socialism”. Organisationally the Labour Party must become the “umbrella organisation for all trade unions, socialist groups and pro-working class partisans”. Towards this end we want Left Unity to “demand the complete elimination of all undemocratic bans and proscriptions” and seek affiliation to the Labour Party.
There is no attempt to prettify Labour’s rotten history:
Ideas of reclaiming the Labour Party and the return of the old clause four are totally misplaced. From the beginning the party has been dominated by the labour bureaucracy and the ideas of reformism. The party must be refounded on the basis of a genuinely socialist programme, as opposed to social democratic gradualism or bureaucratic statism.
We also make clear that our aim should not be a 2020 Corbyn election victory and a Labour government that seeks to save capitalism from itself. That would only create disillusionment in the working class. No, Labour “should only consider forming a government when it has the active support of a clear majority of the population and has a realistic prospect of implementing a full socialist programme”. This cannot be achieved in Britain “in isolation from Europe and the rest of the world”.
Obviously this motion deserves support.
Motion 5 from Fred Carpenter and Fred Leplat welcomes the “stunning victory” of Jeremy Corbyn. The comrades wish to see Left Unity fighting for and defending a government based on Corbyn’s anti-austerity, anti-racism, anti-war and other such clichés. There are no criticisms. No warnings. No concrete demands. Sadly, the lessons of Syriza have not been learnt. Vote against.
However, comrade Carpenter appears to have come to recognise that motion 5 is bland, trite and tailist. So, together with Roy Wall, he submitted an amendment to his own motion. 5A proposes six supportable priority demands, which should “form the programme of the next Labour government”. Eg, “Repeal of all anti-trade-union laws. For the right to strike.” Whatever my reservations, such demands ought to be supported. Vote for amendment 5A.
Motion 6 from Waltham Forest and Lambeth does contain the perspective of constituting Left Unity as a Labour Party affiliate. However, it ends rather oddly: “If accepted as an affiliated society, LU will make its first priority to ensure that all Labour Party branch meetings are fully accessible.” Yet, as we have pointed out to the comrades, Labour’s national executive committee is already obliged, under clause VIII 3E, to ensure that members are not “precluded” from meetings and events “because they cannot gain access”. A similar formulation can be found in clause VI 4.4 Whether or not this is the practice in every branch I could not possibly say. But, surely, as amendment 6A from Teesside and Sheffield rightly says, our “first priority” ought to be “transforming the Labour Party into an instrument for working class advance and international socialism”. Vote for motion 6 … if 6A can be agreed.
Norwich’s motion 7 is worthwhile. The comrades do not wish to see LU “dissolved”. Instead we should work closely with Labour’s rank and file, firstly in democratising the annual conference and secondly in getting rid of “all prescriptions preventing political groups who have their own programme affiliating to the Labour Party”. Good. Vote for.
Motion 8 is written by Steve Freeman and Russell Caplan. The comrades think that Corbyn’s victory has pulled the rug from under Left Unity’s feet. They are not wrong. However, they seek to remodel LU along the lines of Rise in Scotland. It other words, an English version of left nationalism. Reject.
Lambeth’s motion 9 “welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s victory”. It contains some good points, but it is spoilt because, while it wants to encourage unions such as the RMT and FBU to affiliate to the Labour Party, it also seeks to “abolish” clauses in the Labour Party constitution which prevent affiliates from supporting “other workers’ parties in elections” (note, the RMT has actually backed Green candidates as well as the dead-end Scottish Socialist Party). No, it is right that affiliates to the Labour Party are constitutionally barred from backing those standing against Labour candidates. We, on the other hand, look towards the day when the CPGB is a recognised affiliate and we have Labour-CPGB candidates and Labour-CPGB MPs and councillors (the case in the early 1920s). So vote against motion 9.
Stuart King and Simon Hardy seek to correct their own motion with amendment 9A. Instead of calling for Left Unity members to join the Labour Representation Committee, they want them to join Momentum. A necessary update.
And, although it has its weaknesses, the Glasgow South motion 10 can be supported. The comrades want an end to standing candidates against Labour and call for Left Unity to maintain its structures, produce a paper to “aid organisation, political education and debate” as part of an effort to draw together “a Marxist current” within the Corbyn movement. However, there is no position on fighting for affiliation. A correction proposed by amendment 10A from both Teesside and Sheffield.
Motion 11 from Southwark tells us that there will be a referendum on the EU “by the end of 2014”! Ignore the typo. True, the EU is reactionary and anti-working class. But a Britexit vote would not serve the cause of either the working class or socialism. On the contrary, it would be a “triumph” for the Tory right and Ukip. Based on a lesser-evil politics, the comrades therefore want a ‘yes’ vote’. The same goes for Croydon (motion 12). Give them both a ‘no’ vote.
Incidentally, in 11A, Nick Wrack, Soraya Lawrence, Nick Rogers and Edmund Potts - leading members of the Independent Socialist Network - have tabled a series of corrections to motion 11. Comrades Wrack and Potts, in amendment 12A, give Croydon’s motion a good socialist conclusion. But their ‘yes’ is still politically unacceptable.
We in the CPGB oppose all programmes that propose or imply a British exit from the EU. A spectrum that goes from the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain to Nigel Farage’s Ukip. However, David Cameron’s negotiations with other member-states are predicated on rolling back rights, gains and possibilities. To vote ‘yes’ is not to vote for the status quo. It is to vote for Cameron.
Motion 13 comes from Dave Landau and Will McMahon - also prominent members of the Independent Socialist Network. Presumably the existence of two opposing ISN motions indicates a schism within the ranks. Otherwise one would expect that the minority would abide by the majority vote … but meanwhile exercise their right to openly criticise what they think is wrong. That at least would be the practice in the CPGB. But then we adhere to the principles of democratic centralism.
The Landau-McMahon motion is now acceptable, as far as I am concerned. Yes, there is some innocent guff about “human rights”, but the overall thrust is on the ball. Voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in 2017 is a “false choice”. Etc, etc. I am glad to say the comrades agreed to the amendments proposed by the Communist Platform via the Sheffield branch. So out went the old title “Active abstention campaign for EU referendum’ and in came “Active boycott …” Marxist terminology normally treats ‘abstaining’ to be a passive stance and ‘boycott’ to be an active one. The comrades also agreed to change “forces of production” for “means of production”. The comrades had demanded the “public ownership” of the “forces of production”. In terms of Marxist ABCs the forces of production refer to machines, land, roads … and labour-power. Were the comrades really proposing to nationalise labour-power? Surely not. That would amount to state-organised slave labour. Anyway vote for motion 13.
We now come to the SOC’s third grouping - and, I would guess, motions that are in danger of falling off the agenda due to tight time constraints. At a quick reading motion 14 from Waltham Forest and Hackney/Tower Hamlets seems to be a standard condemnation of the government’s attitude towards and treatment of migrants. Vote for it on the basis of elementary principle. Ditto the west London amendment 14A.
Brighton and Hove’s motion 15 condemns the government’s Trade Union Bill (yes, yes, vote for it). The Teesside amendment 15A calls for Left Unity to “support the Right to Strike campaign and the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom”. Given that there are four or five separate campaigns against the Trade Union Bill, I would have thought that we should be seeking unity. But vote for it unless we hear good reasons to the contrary. West London’s amendment, adding the legal right to strike, etc, should likewise be supported.
Bath and Somerset (motion 16) rejects any Left Unity election pact with “other parties or organisations”. Politically inept. Reject. Croydon (motion 17) demands that Left Unity ends its legally registered relationship with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. The Croydon comrades are right … Tusc is a failed, misconceived and doomed Labour Party mark II project, established by Peter Taaffe and his Socialist Party in England and Wales. Vote for motion 17.
Glasgow South (motion 18) seeks a common front with Spain’s Podemos, Germany’s Left Party and Greece’s Popular Unity (the leftish split from Syriza) with a view to fighting austerity on a European scale. Contradicting their own motion 10 (see above), the comrades envisage a “single slate” of candidates alongside these soft-left outfits in EU elections. Strategically incoherent. Vote against. Stockport’s amendments 18A (pro-Syriza) and 18B add nothing. Vote against.
Haringey’s motion 19 on the struggle of the Kurdish people is in essence a paean to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and its offshoots. Hence the touching faith in the “self-organisation” in Rojava (in northern Syria). Despite that, the call for ending the British government’s categorisation of the PKK as a terrorist organisation ought to be supported. Ditto motion 20 from Leeds North and East demanding an end to the ban on the PKK and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Sheffield branch, along with Mike Macnair and David Isaacson, want solidarity with the Greek people against the institutions. However, they criticise Left Unity’s “illusions” in Syriza (motion 21). This is a Communist Platform motion and it clearly deserves support. Cambridge (amendment 21A) wants to distance Left Unity from the austerity-enforcers of Syriza (good), but repeats the exact same mistake of old by sowing illusions in the Popular Unity split. Vote against.
Haringey (motion 22) is a gutted version of ours. If ours falls we shall nevertheless vote for it. Southwark amendment 22A is pro-Popular Unity. Vote against. Cambridge 22B is also pro-Popular Unity. Once again vote against.
Motion 23 is from the CP, as championed by Teesside, Yassamine Mather and Sheffield. Crucially the motion reiterates Left Unity’s (contested) stance of opposing all imperialist military interventions in the Middle East. There is also an attack on pacifist illusions in general: “It is the duty of socialists to connect the popular desire for peace with the aim of revolution. Only by disarming the bourgeoisie and through the victory of international socialism can the danger of war be eliminated.” Our Teesside and Sheffield comrades (amendment 23A) have added useful updates (the Iran deal) and minor corrections to motion 23. Vote for.
Next we come to our policy on prostitution. Stockport (motion 24) advocates the reactionary ‘Nordic model’ (oppose). The LGBT caucus, Lambeth and Croydon are for the ‘New Zealand model’ (critically support). We oppose state bans, we support self-organisation. Support Waltham Forest (amendment 25A) - ie: “Disabled people should be financially supported for the extra cost incurred due to health and/or social restrictions.”
Motions 26 to 30 are highly unlikely to be debated. Therefore, given my time restraints, I shall simply skip them.
While the same almost certainly goes for motion 31 from Brighton and Hove, I think it is worthwhile repeating my objections. The comrades condemn the “capitalist idea” that “everyone should be expected to earn a living”. No, this is not a capitalist idea. The capitalist class does not “earn a living”. They ruthlessly exploit the labour of others and live off surplus value. But there is a socialist principle that everyone should work (if they are able). As Lenin bluntly put it in his State and revolution (1917), “He who does not work shall not eat.”5 A phrase directly borrowed from St Paul: “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”6 The early Christian church practised a primitive communism, which was why it was presumably plagued with parasites.
However, the target of modern communism is the idle rich, those living off inherited wealth, etc. They should make a socially useful contribution. As to the Brighton and Hove comrades’ second motion on social security (32), because it is based on exactly the same misconception, we will vote against. Motion 33 - again Brighton and Hove - ought to be supported. Scrap the council tax and meanwhile reinstate the 100% rebate for those on the lowest incomes. Liverpool (amendment 33A) is uncontroversial. Support, if we ever come to it.
Motion 34 agreed by Waltham Forest is a rather eccentric call for “research and policy development” into welfare policy. Refer to national council.
Ray Campbell and Chris Hurley (motion 35) want Left Unity to establish a “street band”. Brilliant. Well comrades, just do it. Birmingham (motion 36 on assisted suicide) - support. Ditto Waltham Forest 36A.
The Teesside, Sheffield, Mark Lewis, Ben Lewis motion 37, on the standing army and people’s militia, cannot be opposed by any consistent democrat. In reiterates the left’s historic objection to standing armies and support for the “armed people”. The Teesside and Sheffield amendment (36A) reinstates the call for a “well-regulated” militia. Either way, as the motion explains, this principle “will never be realised voluntarily by the capitalist state”. It has to be won. The original inspiration is the 1689 English Bill of Rights and then the second amendment to the American constitution agreed in 1791. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels unproblematically upheld that principle, as did the Second International from left to right.
In other words, it was not only Vladimir Lenin, Karl Kautsky and Rosa Luxemburg who supported replacing the standing army with a people’s militia. So did Eduard Bernstein: ie, in his Evolutionary socialism. Even Natalie Bennett’s Greens want to scrap the standing army and replace it with a militia of some sort. Left Unity would do well to stop fearfully putting this question to the bottom of the agenda and grasp the nettle. I doubt we will do so in 2015.
Croydon’s motion 38 calling for the abolition of the monarchy adds nothing new to Left Unity’s existing positions (37). It cannot be opposed … but it is really necessary? Surely not. Norwich (motion 39) wants a nice, additional, referendum question in 2016 or 2017. Oppose. It should also be said in passing that under most circumstances Marxists strongly object to referendums. They are fundamentally anti-democratic. That is why they are the favourite device of dictators and demagogues. Eg, Louis Bonaparte, Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler.
Steve Freeman and Russell Caplan want to abolish the acts of union between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (motion 40). Does that mean they seek the re-establishment of the Irish, Scottish and Welsh feudal monarchies? Probably not. No, the motivation is clear. Instead of the working class in Britain unitedly fighting for a federal republic and international socialism, the two comrades want the break-up of Britain into separate capitalist states. Oppose.
Liverpool (motion 41) calls for support for the junior doctors. Surely unanimous. Southwark enthuses over the forthcoming Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament demonstration on Trident. Again, yes, yes, yes … but do we really need such a motion? Dave Kellaway and Fred Leplat (motion 43) oppose foreign interventions in Syria. Obviously, again support. Does this represent a contrite Socialist Resistance reconsideration of their previous urging for (pro-Kurdish) western intervention in the Middle East? I very much hope so.
There is also a rather long list of disallowed motions but they come with no covering explanation. Nonetheless, I was told at the last national council meeting that various comrades had simply sent in their motions … too late.
Teesside, Jack Conrad et al front the Communist Platform’s alternative constitution (motion 44). Compared with the current, unworkable, 6,000-word version, it is mercifully brief, coming in at just fewer than 900 words. Obviously that word count goes beyond the SOC’s ridiculous 500-word limit. Nevertheless, the alternative constitution has the great virtue of simplicity, transparency, flexibility and practicality. Support motion 44 and a constitution fit for purpose. It would mark a small step in the direction of becoming a Marxist party, along the lines of classic Marxism (eg, the German SDP, the Russian RSDLP, etc).
There is a closely related code of conduct (motion 45). This is the exact same text which won the most votes at last year’s LU conference. But not an absolute majority. This time we need to give motion 45 a thumping majority - that is, if we want Left Unity to survive and thrive. Birmingham (amendment 45A) might appear politically correct to some. But it is an intersectionalist wrecking operation and so must be rejected. Amendment 45B (Liverpool) is another attempt to sneak through the twice-rejected ‘safe space’ nonsense into the constitution. Reject. Ditto amendment 45C, proposed by John Pearson and Graham Gifford. We do not need a “working party” to reconsider the constitution. No, we need the workable constitution proposed in motion 44.
Motion 46, as proposed by Tom Walker and Salman Shaheen, is unnecessary, given motion 45. Ditto the routine ant-racist, anti-oppressive, etc tropes of motion 47 from Waltham Forest. Any problems there might be of sexist bullying, homophobic diatribes or promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are covered by motion 45. Motions 48 and 49 are designed to reduce Left Unity’s top-heavy superstructure. Better dealt with by motion 44.
Motion 50 is against a full day debating the constitution. Reject. Motion 51 is against the 500-word limit. We in the Communist Platform favour and practise brevity whenever possible. But in the spirit of elementary democracy the Teesside motion must be supported. After all, one can easily envisage a question, a situation, a dispute that requires not under 500 but over 5,000 words.
Leeds North and East (motion 52) amounts to a McCarthyite code of conduct. The comrades demand that members of minority factions “do not promote the politics and practices of another organisation … in public, in branches, in the open social media”. Horrible, unacceptable, totally misdirected control-freakery. A recipe for witch-hunts and a police regime.
Let me briefly dwell on this. It is right that Left Unity requires those such as the Communist Platform not to present themselves as Left Unity. We have no problem with that. And I am sure that Workers Power, which I understand to be the main target of motion 52, would agree. Workers Power - now reflagged in the Labour Party - seems to have infuriated the likes of Mathew Caygill in Leeds (who, like me, is one of Left Unity’s 15 directly elected national council members).
But, surely, those who have a minority viewpoint have the absolute right to “promote” their own politics and principles while carrying out LU activity “in public, in branches, in the social media”. As long as it does not disrupt an agreed action, what is the problem?
There are many opinions within Left Unity. Some amount to just a lone individual - in other words, a sect of one. Others are sects of two or three. However, much larger, albeit undeclared, factions exist. Eg, those grouped around the Hudson-Burgin leadership. Then there is the Communist Platform, Socialist Resistance, Workers Power, the Independent Socialism Network. All are organised on the basis of definite principles. Indeed, whenever possible, the CP prepares, votes and argues as a disciplined bloc in branch meetings, regions, national conferences, the national council, etc. No secret.
If the comrades in Leeds North and East had their way, we would presumably be reported for expressing our unacceptable views at branch public meetings organised to discuss … Greece, the EU, Corbyn’s campaign, Israeli elections, etc. In my Camden and Islington branch no-one who attends can have the slightest doubt that myself, Moshé Machover and other CP comrades are promoting our own distinct principles. Terry Conway of SR does the same. So does Dave Landau of the ISN … comrades, it is called politics.
And what about Leeds North and East? The fact of the matter is that its majority is in national terms a tiny minority. The comrades have a distinct - in Left Unity terms a distinctly rightwing - orientation. Not a few of them used to operate under the banner of the Alliance for Green Socialism. Nevertheless, despite the hypocrisy, the comrades ought to be allowed to organise, promote their principles … as long as they do not disrupt agreed actions. Anyway, if it comes up, reject motion 52.
I am not really sure what Southwark motions 53 and 54 are about, but it all seems very much tinkering. Refer back to the national council. Croydon and Southwark (motion 55) appears to be a factional hater’s charter. Vote against. Motion 56 and its amendments are again mere tinkering. Reject.
Croydon (motion 57) proposes to have “all-year-round” electronic voting on proposals. A plebiscitary travesty. Reject. Moreover, Croydon (58) wants Left Unity members to be obliged to support LU candidates. This is surely directed against the idiotic Steve Freeman’s ‘Republican Socialist’ campaign in the May 2015 general election. Though he is a Left Unity member, he stood against Kingsley Abrams (jointly backed by LU and Tusc). We support the spirit of the motion. But the problem is already more than covered by motion 45.
Motion 59 from Croydon seeks an end to individuals members voting at conference and going over to a delegate-based one. Given our shrinking membership, not exactly timely. Reject. Motion 60, again from Croydon, needs a bit of explanation. Without that, refer back to the national council. Motion 61 - ‘Policy, perspectives and priorities’ from Phil Pope and Gemma Brown - appears too prescriptive to me. It clearly has some good points … but better to refer back to the NC or even the SOC for consideration. Motion 62 - again Phil Pope and Gemma Brown - seek to tidy up the existing constitution … again refer back if it survives.