Socialist Resistance welcomes new electoral coalition

At the RMT organised conference on labour representation on Saturday (Nov 7) some of the organisations which had comprised the no2eu campaign during the European elections — the SP, the AGS and the CPB plus Bob Crow and Brian Caton in a personal capacity distributed a leaflet announcing the formation of an electoral coalition for the general election. It does not yet have a name or a platform and will concentrate on standing against cabinet ministers and ex-cabinet ministers.

Socialist Resistance welcomes this initiative. It facilitates additional left candidates in the general election and contributes to the overall intervention of the left in the election. We will request to become one of its participating organisations as we did with no2eu.

We urge the organisers, therefore, to go down the road of broader participation as far as its organisational structure is concerned. We urge them to issue an open invitation to all the organisations of the left, and of the trade unions and social movements, to become participating organisations with full rights to participate at all levels.

For the campaign to succeed maximum participation will be needed. That means full open and transparent democracy should be built into the campaigns both nationally and locally.

The Socialist Resistance executive committee published this statement on 11 November 2009.

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14 Comments on Socialist Resistance welcomes new electoral coalition

  1. not another one, they got hammered in the Euros and are back for seconds.It’s embarassing when they get less then 1& of the vote but hold themselves up as representing the left. ANd why are the SP always trying to start new parties – do they hate their own so much. Bunch of old white men…tragic

  2. Another dead end and damaging if there is every going to be a chance of a significant left in this country, which could actually challenge the status quo. The fact is that there are a lot of people with progressive politics in this country, and there is nobody we can vote for in most places. Did you notice us on the anti Iraq war demos? Do you care? No. People who wish to vote for, if not fight for progressive politics have no chance of political representation in this country at the moment. Its called being disenfranchised. You should be building a coalition with the greens and fighting for a left platform.

  3. “Vera”, it’s the Green party which rules out a national coalition with the left. Respect, which came out of the anti-war movement we all participated in, and others have been rejected time after time by the Green party leaders. We support local agreements (some local Green parties are not so bone-headed). Of course, we vote for socialists in the Green party. This new coalition increases the number of constituencies in which there will be a candidate who is both ecologist and socialist. And it won’t be a dead end: it will will hundreds of thousands of working-class votes, most of which would not go to mainstream Green party candidates.

  4. You don’t get it. You join the Green Party and fight for the politics and a coalition. The Greens are a movement and not everyone is a socialist or on the left, but the fact is that in England the Greens are the only significant party which is on the left. Please don’t stand your candidates against Greens. You did before. Because that means the progressive and “working class vote” as you put it is wasted. I can do without being patronised. There may be hundreds of thousands of “working class votes” but if we and the progressive middle classes you seem to ignore can’t achieve any representation and demonstrate that the voting system in this country has to change then we can spend the next 20 years going round in circles on demonstrations which are ignored by the powers that be and what is the point? Really? What is the point?

  5. Vera, it would be dishonest for us to join the Greens just to move it into a coalition with the left. The Green party doesn’t represent our politics best.

    Look at what happens when Green parties come into power in Ireland and elsewhere. It’s essential for the working class to speak with its own voice, because Green parties in power often ally with the right.

  6. Which party do you suggest the “working class” joins or votes for to speak with “its own voice in order to win any political representation at all? What is your definition of “working class” Does that include the following: all people in public sector jobs? all retired people who might or might not have been in public sector jobs, but are not rolling in money? all people who face discrimination in this society for reasons of race, class, age, (for and I repeat that one because age discrimination and the misery it inflicts on peoples last years is a dirty secret which is tolerated in this country and something the left including the far left generally ignores), gender/ sexuality; who do you suggest the many many people who are outraged by the attack on civil liberties that has been deepened under New Labour. And who do you suggest decent people of left wing inclination who left the Labour Party long ago with no political place to go vote for – and there were a lot of those. Personally it would make me very happy if even one Green MP’s was elected in the two constituencies in this country they have at least a chance. It might help shift the dead weight of New Labour on the left which has destroyed what little democracy there was in “Our Country”, because we need a movement to challenge the current voting system as a minimum, but if you stand candidates against the Greens in those constituencies you could scupper their chances of being elected there and thats unforgiveable in my book. You took votes off the Greens in the Euro elections and for what? And as the Greens have the most progressive policies of any mainstream party that can attract a substantial vote, apart from Respect in specific areas, then I think they’re not a bad choice for “working class” people, but you endorsed standing against them in the Euro Elections didnt you? Isnt it enough we’ve had to put up with the New Labour all these years?

  7. Vera,

    I don’t think the left, or anyone else for that matter, should join the Greens unless they think it’s a worthwhile party that’s basically going in the right direction. Obviously I hope every member ‘makes it their own’ and tries to help improve it but I really would rather people didn’t join if they didn’t believe in the party’s aims and objectives.

    Voting for and cooperating with the Greens – yes of course – actually joining, ummm, no thanks. I think the Greens are much better off having friends outside the party than entryists inside it.

    Admin,

    it isn’t actually true that a national left coalition has been “rejected time after time by the Green party leaders”.

    Factually speaking there was one approach (just) before the euros in 2004 for a joint list with Galloway heading the list in London and Lucas in the S. East which would have meant the Greens lost an MEP, this idea was rejected for a number of reasons and the SWP members in charge of the negotiation (John Rees and Nick Wrack if memory serves) immediately after that meeting issued a press release denouncing the Green Party and calling off further talks.

    This strengthened the hand of the right of the Green Party and wrecked any chance of creating a space where cooperation could develop over the long term. In hindsight it’s clear these ‘negotiators’ had no intention of doing anything that threatened their hold over ‘their’ organisation.

    That was the first and last time a formal proposal has been made to the Greens.

    That did not prevent local deals being made in the 2005 general election and 2006 local elections in London, for example. All those deals took place independently of the national leaderships of any organisation, not just the Greens, because they came from building up trust and cooperation on the ground.

    Nor has it prevented very welcome support for Green candidates by some parts of the organised left in the 2009 Euros or the fact that the Greens have stood aside in three target Respect constituencies for the coming general election. All with the approval of the ‘bone headed’ national leadership.

    If you want a hard-left / Green Party fusion then you’ll be waiting a long time. If you want meaningful and effective co-operation then it’s on the table right now. I hope people on the far left don’t try to fuck it up by making it a point of honour to denounce the very people you’re starting to win respect from.

  8. Vera I think you misunderstand the position we took in the Euro-elections. But first, I suppose there are some different reasons why we say working class – and maybe we are not using the right phrase there for it to explain to you what we mean. But here’s something I wrote to a friend today:

    – We think that classes are defined by having distinct relationships to
    the process of production. Because of that, we don’t think the middle
    class really in a class. It’s a cultural position. We say there are two
    main classes in the world: the capitalist class, who live mainly from
    the value generated by working people, and the working class, which
    mainly gets less than the full value of the value it creates. So most of
    the middle class works, and is dependent on selling its labour power. So
    we say that the middle class is generally a layer of the working class
    – By working class we also mean politically working-class. Because the
    end of the exploitation of the working class would mean the end of class
    society, we think that the set of politics that represent the objective
    interests of the working class also represent the long-term interests of
    all society.
    – We also want a party that’s based on working class organisations. We
    want community organisations, trade union branches, tenants associations
    and others to affiliate to a new party and to develop a delegate-based
    structure to hold them accountable. Respect was set up like this – as a
    united coalition of parties and organisations. It was only last weekend
    that it changed its name from ‘coalition’ to ‘party’.

    So, when we say working class, we mean people in the social class that relies on the sale of its labour power rather than the capitalist class that lives on the profits extracted from others. That includes public sector workers, people who reply on their pension and the vast majority in Britain.

    We’re in the Respect party. It’s a green and socialist party that stands clearly against racism and Islamophobia. We think people on the left should join that and, if they support another party, they should promote deeper discussion and joint work with others on the left. So, we don’t think it’s the only party that get a left vote. The Green also get a left vote, and we vote for the Greens where they are the best placed candidate to the left of Labour. We’d also like to see there being more left wing Green MPs, and we don’t support standing against them.

    In the Euro elections, Respect did not stand against the Greens. We campaigned for the Greens in the North-West. That’s the only place where the Respect vote could have had an impact on the result. Elsewhere, Respect didn’t take a position in the elections. We left it up to people on the ground to decide who to vote for.

  9. Jim, thanks for that: I didn’t know that the Greens had only been approached once, and in a clumsy way. It’s funny how one can pick these things up. Does the national leadership sign off these local agreements? Aren’t the Greens running against against Respect in Tower Hamlets?

    Lots of questions: we should just interview you for our website.

    Duncan.

  10. This new coalition of no name,no platform, and very little time to roll out their programme, wii be an inhibitor to the unity approach of other comrades on the left.
    They had a go at the Euros and failed and you read here about giving them another attempt. It is foolish and a false sense of loyalty to “personal capacity comrades” of the Trade Unions and the Labour Party.
    They are so new to the voters, who will see them as not cutting their teeth or earned their spurs in advancing the aspirations of the working class and their allies.
    We can do less with their disruptions and more with working with the clothe available.

  11. Now this is what I call an interesting thread – at long last some debate is starting, albeit rather belatedly given the time frame that is left for the general election.

    On the one hand, I do see Vera’s point – namely that the bourgeois left must be recognised as an important electoral factor – and indeed there has at some point to be a difficult period of ‘realignment’ between the working class left (the Crowites 😉 and what we could call the Monbiotites. This is clearly going to be a very complicated progress.

    On the other, to be honest, FOR NOW I don’t see your problem. Why don’t you guys try to turn these cultural cleavages to your electoral advatage?

    In constituencies where there is a more bourgeois inclined elect-orate, I don’t see why the traditional left should not be able to support the Green candidate (if he/she sports left-wing creden-tials).

    In turn, constituencies which are culturally dominated by the working class should be left to the Crowites and the Greens have to be made to accept that – I am not fully in the picture about the English Greens anymore but I doubt wether they will EVER be able to attract the quantities of northerners disappointed by New Labour – they just don’t address the bread and butter issues.

    An why this negativity against the Crowites – I have my doubts too but at least these guys are going out and try to get something started!

    Greetings from Germany, T

  12. No2EU was a backward looking group that was probably decisisive in allowing the BNP to win its second seat in the NW.
    There is a need for a braod coalition of greens and socialists within and outside the Labour and Green parties. This would be no less than a Gramscian strategy of trying to unite a counter-hegemonic bloc around a minimal shared platform. This does two things together, 1) it clarifies and develops vision, ideology, sense of direction, hope and purpose – making this into something that goes beyond the sectional interests of the component parts of the coalition (e.g. debt relief activists, green activists, trade union militants, community activists, peace activists, internationalists, feminists, etc etc.) making something superordinate – capturing the popular imagination in a way that none of the progressive movements have managed to do since 1948 (but look at places like Ecuador, Bolivia). 2) It creates that living, shifting and mobilising alliance that can make change, moving beyond the sectional interests, transcending both the electoral focus and single issue politics.
    So what is the minimal shared platform? I’d suggest 1) real action on climate 2) opposition to the war/occupations 3) redistributive policies 4) defence of public services 5) anti racist / anti fear politics 6) solidarity with the global poor.
    The best way forward would be to establish a virtual list – a bit like the ‘back the left’ initiaitive, but broader including the left social democrats of Compass. The point isn’t that they are bourgeois politicians but that at this stage there are enough points of agreement (with at least some of them) to establish the basis for a virtual coalition. Virtual of course because prior to any realignment party members can’t come out and say they are supporting candidates of other parties.
    Maybe the Crow initiative has some role in this too but they really need to wake up to the 21st century (like some of you trots!).

  13. Hi Mark. We’re part of Respect, which supported the Greens in the North West during the Euro elections. Even the Greens don’t claim that NO2EU harmed it: take a look at Jim Jepps’ articles.

    But I agree with you on the idea of a common platform. How about the Peoples Charter?

    Duncan.

  14. The People’s Charter is OK so far as it goes but a) it is over-focussed on the UK and b) it marginalises the ecological crisis. It isn’t a manifesto so there isn’t space to develop a politics within it, but I’m left with te impression that it hasn’t made the break from unsustainable economic models. We know capitalism is up against its internal contradictions but it is also up against the planet’s limits too – its external contradiction and a socialist platform needs to articulate this clearly and persuasively with a clear sustainable framework.
    It won’t have mass appeal as it stands I’m afraid because it hasn’t really found a way of comunicating a vision of a better life.
    As for the NW Euro election result – you are probably right – having looked again at the figures – No2Eu’s derisory vote wouldn’t have accounted for the margin between greens and BNP, but it easily could have had the proportions been slightly different. We can’t afford that kind of deluded grandstanding again.

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