Oct 29 2013

SOCIALIST UNITY – THE RCN ASKS 12 QUESTIONS

The RCN has been involved in preliminary discussions with Frontline, the International Socialist Group (Scotland), individual members of the International Socialist Network and Defense of Our Party faction in the SWP, as well as other individuals mainly from an SSP background. Frontline  published the views a number of socialist organisations, which we reposted at http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2013/06/10/socialist-unity/. Stemming from these initial discussions, the RCN has framed 12 questions, which it has sent out to those organisations participating in socialist unity discussions. We will post each response as receive it. We would like to thank Alister Black of Frontline (http://www.redflag.org.uk) and James Foley of the International Socialist Group for the first responses to our questions.

 

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 1. ALISTER BLACK OF FRONTLINE  REPLIES TO THE RCN’S 12 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROSPECTS FOR SOCIALIST UNITY

 

1.     After the demise or major setbacks for Left unity and Socialist unity projects in these islands (SSP, Socialist Alliance, Respect, Forward Wales, United Left Alliance-Ireland), there have been a number of new initiatives recently – the Peoples Assemblies, the proposed Left Unity Party (LUP) and the Socialist Unity Platform (SUP) and International Socialist Network/Socialist Resistance/Anti-Capitalist Initiative (ISN/SR/ACI) unity proposals. However, these have mainly been confined to England and Wales. Why do you think things are less advanced in Scotland at the moment?

The Scottish political environment is now very different to that in the rest of the UK state. The left has faced the problems of its own fractures but also of the ascendance of the Scottish National Party. The left lacks credibility but also has been slow to recover from the self-inflicted wounds of the last few years. At the same time the SNP has presented themselves as social-democrats through reforms such as free prescription charges and abolition of tuition fees (whilst being very friendly to union-busting big business outfits like Amazon).

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Mar 25 2013

RED BAITING AND SLURS

The SWP Central Committee has tried to draw a hard line between recent events inside the party and the wider Socialist and Trade Union movement. The SWP CC has made two arguments to defend the indefensible. The first is that  affairs inside the SWP are a purely internal matter,  and of no concern to other Socialists or trade unionists. Secondly, that those Socialists who do raise the issue in public are not living ‘in the real world’ where nobody cares about such ‘small matters’.

However, the issue has been raised in the election for  UNITE’s General Secretary – the largest union in these islands (UNITE also covers the whole of Ireland). The SWP CC can hardly claim anymore that the party’s internal affairs are not an issue ‘in the real world’, nor that it is a ‘small matter’. The SWP CC’s  behaviour has been raised in a particularly despicable manner by Broad Left incumbent, Len McCluskey. Below, we post the reply by Rank and File challenger, Jerry Hicks.

Furthermore, other trade unionists do have a real interest in questioning  the indefensible behaviour of the SWP CC. If anyone examines the signatories of the statement of SWP members in support of the CC, they will find that quite a few invoke their particular trade union membership, e.g. BECTU, BMA, EIS, FBU, GMB, NUJ, NUS, NUT, PCS, PROSPECT, UCU, UNISON, UNITE, USDAW. If the sort of allegations raised in the SWP were to be raised in any trade union against one of its officials, and swept under the carpet in a similar manner, there would quite rightly be outrage. Socialists should apply higher, not lower standards in their conduct, than those found elsewhere. 

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Mar 25 2013

BLACKLISTED JERRY HICKS CANDIDATE FOR UNITE GENERAL SECRETARY SPEAKS OUT

Emancipation & Liberation has been giving its support to Jerry Hicks, the rank and file candidate for the General Secretary of UNITE. In this article reprinted from the rank and file Siteworker bulletin, Jerry attacks the current UNITE leadership’s ‘Johnny-come-lately’ attitude towards the pernicious system of blacklisting, of which Jerry has himself been a victim.

thBlacklisting of workers is a ‘National scandal’ and the scandal is that it has gone on for so long and not enough was done by those shouting the loudest now.

Millions of people would be forgiven for thinking that the illegal blacklisting of 3,200 construction workers has suddenly been discovered. Yet it has been the worst kept secret for over two decades that those who spoke up with concerns for Health and Safety on construction sites or defended wages and conditions were punished and denied employment. Brave people paid a heavy price as each year, each month, each day brought more discrimination – more lives were being wrecked, houses lost to repossession, stress induced ill health, heart attacks and even worse.

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Mar 08 2013

REPORT ON TWO ONGOING INDUSTRIAL STRUGGLES AND CAMPAIGNS

In 2011 the RCN organised the Third Global Commune event around the theme  ‘Trade Unions – Are They Fit For Purpose?’ Speakers were invited to put forward  a rank and file, Minority Movement, independent trade union, and autonomous viewpoint (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2011/02/11/report-of-the-third-global-commune-event/).

Since then Emancipation & Liberation have been reporting on various industrial struggles. Here we draw attention to the Lewis Cleaners Strike which has been organised by the Industrial Workers of Great Britain on independent union lines, and we update the Jerry Hicks election campaign within UNITE, which is organised on rank and file lines.

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Jan 31 2013

Rank and filer, Jerry Hicks contests Broad Leftist bureaucrat, Len McCluskey in election for UNITE general secretary.

Unite is currently holding an election for its General Secretary in which there are only two candidates. The nomination period began on the 1st January ending on 15th February. Each candidate requires 50 Branch Nominations to contest the election.  In 2010 Jerry Hicks secured 52,527 votes and beat 2 senior officials when runner up to Len McCluskey. McCluskey has called a snap election for the position of UNITE general secretary, designed to keep him in power for the indefinite future. He is the only candidate, but rank and file candidate Gerry Hicks is battling for nomination.

Jerry Hicks, rank and file campaigner in UNITE, out campaigning

Jerry Hicks, rank and file campaigner in UNITE, out campaigning

There is no mandate, renewed or otherwise unless the 1.5 million members get to vote!

We are at the end of Week 3 with 4 weeks left in the nomination period for Unite General Secretary. 30 Branch Secretaries have contacted me to say we have their nominations.

This is great news, and there are sure to some more that we are not aware of. However we expect a large number of ‘strike outs’ where nominations are ruled invalid for various spurious reasons, which means we really need more like 60 or 70 nominations to be sure of being on the ballot paper and thereby giving all the members a say in who is to be their General Secretary.

Please find 2 attachments: 1] The latest press release, which is an account of the recent London Construction branch nomination night. It goes a long way to showing the efforts being made to stop us getting the 50 nominations we need. Take this as a compliment, but we will need to be extra careful about who is voting! Card checks are a good way, as Wednesday night confirms.

2] A collection sheet to help with donations for our campaign.  
3 years early, fast tracked ‘unfamiliar faces’ and now the snow! 
Getting 50 Nominations won’t be easy, but imagine how we will feel when we do?!

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Oct 08 2012

SCOTTISH SELF-DETERMINATION AND THE ‘ACTUALLY EXISTING’ LABOUR MOVEMENT

A response to the Red Paper Collective’s

Power for Scotland’s People – A labour movement view

The ‘Independent Scotland Debate’ was organised by the Edinburgh Peoples Festival on September 9th. 86 people attended this well-conducted event in the Out of the Blue Centre in Leith. The speaker supporting independence was Kevin Williamson of bella caledonia, who argued from a Left nationalist perspective. The speaker opposing independence was West Lothian Labour MSP, Neil Findlay. Neil is also a member of the Red Paper Collective [1] (RPC), which includes British Left unionists in the Scottish Labour Party and the Communist Party of Britain [2]. Supporters of the RPC handed out their pamphlet, Power for Scotland’s People – A labour movement view [3], to elaborate on the points Neil made in the debate.

This website has already posted critiques of Left nationalist approaches to the SNP government’s 2014 referendum [4]. This posting is a critique of the British Left unionist approach outlined in the RPC’s pamphlet [5].

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