No magic bullet
Mickey Coulter reports from the Yorkshire regional committee.
Regrettably, the February 28 Yorkshire regional committee meeting of Left Unity, held in scenic York, cannot be described as positively as the previous meeting in Sheffield, or the inaugural meeting in Leeds. Reduced attendance from fewer branches resulted in just four delegates and three observers.
Business began with updates on the activity of branches in the period since the November regional committee meeting. The split between the two Leeds branches has moved on by a microscopic degree, with one branch (allegedly dominated by Workers Power) apparently now referring to itself as Leeds Central, rather than simply Leeds. Meanwhile, Leeds North had held a reasonably successful meeting in support of the Keep the NHS Public campaign, with around 25 attending.
Comrades from York branch seemed upbeat, having added a couple of new faces to their number, while Sheffield has set up a Left Unity student society at the university. I reported that, although things have been a little quiet since the new year, our AGM is to be held shortly and on March 14 we have organised a public meeting on Greece and the European Union, when the speaker will be LU national council member and Morning Star journalist, Joana Ramiro.
Reporting on recent national meetings he had attended, Matthew Caygill told a familiar story: overpacked agendas and executive meetings which go over the same ground for the benefit of EC members who have been rotated in. The lack of political direction of the organisation as a whole was brought up in relation to this and a York comrade commented that the current balance between leadership and democracy seems to hamper efficient organisation.
When I commented to York comrades that I disagreed with their decision to support non-working class candidates in the shape of the Green Party in the upcoming general election, they mostly took it in good spirit. But for Garth Frankland of Socialist Resistance this was indicative of simple wrong thinking on my part. “Your problem,” he told me, was that I didn’t “think like a Left Unity member” (or rather how he thinks a Left Unity member should think). I replied that this was an Orwellian idea, which implied that there was a prescribed way of thinking for all of us. Comrade Caygill seemed to agree with our SR friend, but when others took my side he performed a rapid about-turn and told comrade Frankland that perhaps it was a bad thing to say after all.
Comrade Frankland was also in fine form later, when he started another intervention with: “Listen to me, young man …”! Again, those in the room who could be described as ‘left of Labour, but not Marxist’ found this immensely patronising. Perhaps they also found it ironic that the Communist Platform supporter at the meeting had turned out to be cordial and comradely, unlike those most opposed to our supposedly sectarian wrecking activity. Later on comrade Caygill restated his suspicion of the ‘secretive’ CPGB, with its collective decision-making and disciplined actions, finding it out of place in a party like Left Unity. He criticised comrades like me for always needing to be told what to do and think.
The Greens came up again later, in relation to the LU officers’ ‘Appeal for an alliance against austerity’. One York comrade said that the Green Party stood in positive contrast to the Marxist sects. Indeed, it was almost as though Marx and Lenin were reaching out from their graves to keep their followers stuck in the distant past. Comrade Frankland went on to comment that every organisation coming out of Trotskyism - including his own - has failed completely, and that reaching out to new forces, especially the 60,000-strong Green membership, was of key importance. Apparently that is why it is correct to call for a Green vote.