"Philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point however is to change" - Karl Marx

This blog is my interpretation, I will do everything I can to change the world along those line

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Disunite Left

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.


  1. I have met Hicks, he is an unprincipled opportunist who brought the capitalist courts into union affairs. His flouncing out is only a symptom of the wider malaise on the real left in Unite-both sections. Rob Williams and perhaps one of the excellent female comrades, perhaps a Polish comrade, who have played such an excellent role in recruiting migrant workers, would be the best bet for a revolutionary pole of attraction in Unite. It surely needs a real, rank and file left.

  2. Yes I have only seen Hicks once and that was at the Rob Williams camapign meeting in Swansea, he did strike me as an ego-maniac and not that great a left, however he does seem to have some base of support and Unite is in dire need of a rank and file movement. He wouldn't be my personal preference but we do have to work with the forces around us

  3. fair.the problem of broad lefts has always been the question of officials. Do you support the view they should be kept out of them?

  4. I think that the model of Left Untiy in PCS is correct, as far as I know FTO's are eligiable to attend and join Left Unity but do not have voting rights, I think thats the best way forward

  5. lets lay off left unity as a model. It is riddled with major problems

  6. Well I don't know all the facets of Left Unity and I don't claim it to be a model broad left. My point was that in terms of its attitidude to the participation of FTO's it is the correct model

  7. yes, it is certainly better. I am struck by the similarity with the unemployed workers union developments-do we let employed workers in, vote etc? could they play a similar role to FTOs in the sense of being a little bit more conservative when the question of occupying job centers arose? and yet without support, particularly of financial kind, the UWU will not get off ground. For that we need employed workers support, we need official union support, and we need the assistance of FTOs in the big unions like Unite.

  8. not sure I don't know alot about the unemployed workers union, I will find out more and also read up o the jarrow marches etc and no doubt that will formulate a later blog post

  9. cool, well I plan a post on the subject myself so look forward to it. Least there are unemployed rumblings, outside of the initiatives of the socialist left.


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