Just a few thoughts on the now infamous United Left meeting which only took place yesterday. Although I am not a member of Unite and so wasn't in attendance I feel it is my duty as a marxist to give my thoughts on the matter. From my limited experience involved in the Usdaw broad left (The Usdaw Democrat) I can quite clearly see that there are many complicating factors and difficult tactical decisions to be made. I think its important however to have some positive proposals on the way forward as most of the posts of Socialist Unity are simply about the blame game.
It is quite clear that the outcome of the meeting with McCloskey the current Deputy General Secretary as the official candidate of the Broad Left is not good for genuine lefts in the Union. It is also clear that rules of United Left membership were followed too ridgidly in the light of recent developments which have brought radicalised workers into the United Left. That however is the crux of the problem, why would the broad left want to keep out these new activists?
The answer is of course that despite the name there is very little that is left about the United Left, with many full time officials in attendance, the same FTOs who did nothing to support workers at visteon or the construction industry and who had to be dragged along by Rob Williams in his employment dispute. Unite needs a drastic change in leadership and this will not come from the Unite Left.
The actions of Jerry Hicks and his supporters are questionable, but not neccessarily wrong. There is of course occasions where it is principled to walk out of such meetings as this. As I do not know the exact details of the build up to the meeting and the meeting itself I will not make a judgement. I will say however that Hicks does seem to have been discredited by walking out several times and that if planned to walk out he should have co-ordinated it better with other genuine left forces. It is also clear that If Hicks and his supporters stayed in the meeting and voted for Rob Williams it still would have not changed the outcome.
That of course is the real problem, how can the union offer a left leadership to sections of workers involved in huge struggles to come when the United Left is putting forward the current leadership as the new leadership.
The solution to me has to be a brake away from the United Left of the SP, SWP, CP, AWL, Hicks and his supporters and the new layers of radicialised workers at Visteon and in the construction industry along with other genuine lefts for a fighting right and file left challenge. Not only should this new block contest the electoral positions of the leadership but it should play the role of leading the struggles of the workers where the leadership will not.
As far as I can see there are already obvious candidates which come to mind both Rob Williams and Jerry Hicks. Despite Hicks polling well in the previous election against Simpson it has to be acknowledged that his moment to a certain extent has passed. Rob Williams on the other hand played a superb role of solidairty amongst Visteon workers, in reality playing the role the Union leadership should have done. Also the struggle for Rob's re-instatement was inspirational and unlike Hicks in a similiar situation was able to win his battle. It would therefore send a much more positive message to new radicalised activists if Rob Williams was the candidate.
This will obviously require further discussions amongst genuine lefts in Unite, of which I will not be a part of although I will continue to comment on it but my suggestion is for genuine lefts to brake from the Unite Left and form a fighting broad left with Rob Williams and the GS candidate and Jerry Hicks as the DGS candidate.
I look forward to hearing other comrades thoughts on the matter.