The prospect of the RMT launching a nation-wide European election bid from the left is certainly an exciting one, and has already generated some discussion and speculation. The report below from Pete McLaren is of last weekend's CNWP steering committee meeting that went out on the Indie SA discussion list. Needless to say the process is far from finished, so readers and comrades ought to keep that in mind.
I want you to be the amongst first to hear some potentially quite exciting information.
It was announced at the CNWP Steering Committee on Sunday that the RMT are putting up the money to stand TU/left "lists" in every Euro constituency. Their main reason is to ensure left opposition to the BNP. They invited the Socialist Party, Communist Party and a handful of left Trade unionists to a meeting last weekend to announce this. They presented a list of their 10 key demands, which concentrate on rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, opposing racism and fascism, opposing privatisation, opposing EU militarism, restoring democracy to EU states (whatever that means), defending manufacturing and keeping Britain out of the eurozone. I know the SP have asked for an 11th point on internationalism, partly to counteract the largely anti EU stance of the RMT.
The RMT are calling this a platform for the election, not the start of a new party, and that whatever regional organisations are put in place, that will all end the day after the Euro Elections. However, the initiative is independent and trade union based, and we could keep the momentum going after June 4th even if the RMT will not not do so.
The SP have asked for the group organising this initiative to be broadened, and this was backed by the CNWP today, along with general support for the project as an independent TU challenge. As I understand it, the RMT organising group has already agreed to support Rallies or Public Meetings in every region. The RMT are discussing media publicity.
I suspect that this will be a left anti EU TU programme, and I suspect there will be a lack of democracy about how candidates are selected and the manifesto agreed - but I could be wrong. The registered party name is "No2EU-Yes2Democracy", which I think could send out the wrong message - the very word "socialism" should have been included, for a start. The politics behind this was described today as 'Trade Unions against the EU constitution' , with some left politics against privatisation added.
CNWP Steering Committee members, whilst welcoming the initiative, were critical of its probable programme and its concentration on the EU, and the lack of democracy so far.
There is even an idea at present that anyone elected under this banner would not take up their seats - this is already being challenged within the group around the RMT.
This is an evolving process, and hopefully there will be changes, with some democracy and accountability, and a more progressive programme. But, in any case, I do think the initiative offers real possibilities. There will be a momentum created in every region, with the left working together and structures may well appear on a regional basis. These do not have to disappear after the elections just because the RMT leadership wants them to. The initiative could become a step towards a new left party. The Rallies could be used to push that whole process forward.
As long as the politics are within the 80/90% we can all agree upon, I think this could open up real opportunities. I may be wrong. I had no idea this was coming, although those at the the LULC will remember that Rob Griffiths did say that the CPB was discussing with others the possibility of standing a TU/left list in two constituencies. I guess this is what he was referring to. It has now multiplied!
The Socialist Alliance will get regular updates from the SP and CNWP on further developments, so I will keep you informed.
Interesting times, maybe!
Photo by Marc Vallée