Just as the student movement reaches Day X, the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) has set out the agenda for its anti-cuts conference on 22 January. On 4 December, the NSSN steering committee agreed that the conference will launch the 'NSSN All-Britain Anti-Cuts Campaign - unions and communities together to save jobs and services'.Don't you think the name kinda rolls off the tongue?
That now makes three national anti-cuts campaigns, each lining up - entirely coincidentally - with three revolutionary organisations. The SWP's Right to Work outfit. The Counterfire-sponsored Coalition of Resistance. And now the NSSN/SP-backed NSSNABACC-UCTSJS. I suppose you could make it four if you count the internet-based but extremely effective UK Uncut website/blog.
The point is ... well ... what is the point of having yet another anti-cuts group? We are told there is little evidence of democracy in the SWP's Right to Work. Plus ça change. (Though, to be fair, the SWP/RtW has done an excellent job mobilising people and assisting the radicalisation of thousands). And the Coalition of Resistance? Apparently the prior existence of the NSSN and its "successes" are enough to justify the formation of another campaigning body with its own steering committee, round of meetings and conferences, and timetable of activity. I love revolutionary replication.
I have another, alternative idea. Some may call it foolish. Others devilishly daring.
How about trying to unite things under one clear and unambiguous banner? I'm lukewarm on the name, but the Coalition of Resistance is not dominated by Counterfire in the same way RtW is by the SWP. It has a higher media profile than the Trotskyist-sponsored alternatives. Some of its leading figures have name recognition beyond the far left/activist milieu and, in the person of Clare Solomon, a militant alternative to the supine NUS leadership under Aaron Porter. To top it all off its founding conference was packed with "normal people" and not party members shipped in from all over to make it look more significant than it actually was. It's not perfect by any means, but CoR is far better placed than anything else to cohere the anti-cuts movement.
So why don't the revolutionary left actually do something revolutionary by pooling their strength and pulling in the same direction for a change. Is it too much to expect?