Brothers and Sisters, Comrades and Friends,
We must do a Corbyn in the Trade Unions if the movement that sparked by Corbyn’s election in September 2015 is to advance now.
The Officers have decided that it is far too long since its AGM last January, the question of the Unite General Secretary has just been finally decided in favour of Len McCluskey against the right-winger Coyne.
Almost all of the trade union bureaucracies (with the honourable exception of the FBU), voted to block open selection and to force through the new nomination system for future leadership elections at Labour’s conference at the end of September. This is an outrage and opposed to Unite’s Conference policy.
Make no mistake, it is the working class itself and the inevitable return of its militancy that these bureaucrats fear. They are a separate social layer from the working class they proport to defend, their interests are to defend the capitalist system itself and their corrupt relationship with it. However, they are working class leaders and therefore must defend the interests of workers to some extent or they will be replaced by more militant leaders. It is to this contradiction the Grass Roots Left addresses itself and aims to exploit by building a militant mass grass roots movement in Unite and in all unions eventually.
The importance of having a platform that all elected candidates of a Grass Roots Left are committed to should be obvious. The aim would be to stop the constant problem of people being elected on “left policies” and then them turning right and kicking those who elected them in the teeth: the Derek Simpson syndrome. Accountability to the grass roots is crucial, and withdrawal of electoral support an important method of control. But far better is only electing those with a proven commitment to the grass roots of the union.
It is necessary to reject what is called the syndicalist version of the grass roots where a group seeks to educate, mobilise and agitate for industrial action whilst not standing for any union position at all on the basis that power always corrupts. This outlook results in a division of labour, the bureaucrat is safe in his office and the grass roots mobilise the members when necessary as an adjunct to the bureaucrat, whilst bitterly criticising the corruption of the bureaucrats in their propaganda.
Of course, we will critically support left candidates who are not our members and do not support our full platform on the basis of the united front tactic against the right bureaucrats. This is because such candidates talk more left, proclaim to be on the side of the workers more than the pro-boss right bureaucrats and it is necessary for the grass roots to learn about these in the practice of the class struggle. For instance, if Jerry Hicks was not standing in the 2013 Unite election it would have been correct to support Len McCluskey, despite his fake leftism and hypocrisy, because whilst we may understand this well the ordinary membership do not and will not until they begin to struggle themselves in strike actions, occupations etc.
And we make no apologies for supporting Ian Allinson in April 2017, as he represented the struggles of the grass roots.
So, it is not a question of electing better leaders but of mobilising the grass roots to fight for their own interests by defeating the bureaucratic opponents within the trade unions.
Whilst our first priority is to build a Grass Roots Left in Unite we are for such structures in all unions. We welcome as members all trade unionists committed to the grass roots principles like the building workers and others to facilitate the formation of grass roots organisations in their own unions.
Model Motion to the GRL Relaunch on 20 October Gerry Downing.
This branch of Unite the Union condemns the behaviour of our union’s delegation to the NEC of the Labour party in the month of September.
The manoeuvring to stifle debate on open selection ensured, that what should be a basic democratic right for constituency Labour party members, to vote for who their prospective parliamentary candidate is, has been denied.
This is at odds with the policy of our union in relation to mandatory reselection adopted at conference, the supreme policy-making body of the union.
Instead of supporting open selection, that would have been in line with Unite policy the delegation chose instead to support a position that was a compromise that offered an improvement on the corrupt trigger ballot system.
The difficulty that remains with the trigger ballot system, (albeit with a lower threshold of a third instead of a half), is that MPs hostile to the party's leadership will be left in place to undermine the party without being answerable to the membership.
There have been no detailed assurances so far that unions will not affiliate ghost branches on mass to prevent a trigger ballot being called.
It has not been made clear if Labour party branches in a constituency AND/OR affiliated organisations constitutes the whole that the third is derived from
Furthermore, it must be made clear on what basis a branch meeting is quorate when a meeting to decide on triggering a ballot takes place.
That anti-Corbyn MP's will be allowed to remain in place, capable of ensuring that a future Labour government can be prevented from implementing significant reform is deeply disturbing.
That such elements could play an instrumental role in bringing a radical Labour down from within would render the entire work of the anti-austerity movement meaningless.
This branch, therefore, calls on Unite the Union’s Executive Council to ensure that our delegation to the Labour party NEC urges that the question of open selection is revisited at the earliest opportunity.
Gerry Downing GRL Secretary