Thursday, June 12, 2008

Workers face breadline Britain

Campaign for a New Workers' Party Conference
Sunday 29 June 2008 11:00am - 5:00pm
South Camden Community School, Charrington Street, London NW1
Book tickets now at

We’ve had a New Labour government for eleven years. Eleven years of war, tax increases, pay restraint, cuts and privatisation for most of us, and eleven years of nirvana for the super-rich. The richest 1,000 people in Britain’s wealth has more than quadrupled since New Labour came to power – it has gone up by 15% just since Brown took over as prime minister.

No wonder New Labour’s poll ratings have been plummeting and Brown is so unpopular. For the first time since 1997 the nightmare scenario of a return to a Tory government is a real possibility. Millions of working class people who remember the Thatcher years are rightly horrified by the idea of a Cameron-led government.

The Campaign for a New Workers’ Party doesn’t want a return to a Tory government either. But nor do we want to spend our lives having to choose between two virtually identical parties for the super-rich – like trying to decide whether you would rather suffer from cancer or heart disease.

That is why we are campaigning for the trade unions in Britain to stop funding New Labour, and to begin building a party that actually stands up in working class people’s interests. Since 1997 trade union leaders have handed over more than £100 million of their members’ money to New Labour. New Labour have taken the money and kept on kicking trade unionists in the teeth. Enough is enough!

So far over three thousand people have signed up to support the Campaign for a New Workers’ Party. However, we need to do more. The need for a mass party that stands for the millions not the millionaires is more urgent than ever. A political voice is desperately needed for the millions of public sector workers battling against the government’s pay freeze, for local communities trying to stop their Post Offices or hospitals closing, for anti-war and environmental campaigners.

If you agree, come to the Campaign for a New Workers’ Party conference. The conference will discuss resolutions from local CNWP groups and affiliated organisations on the way forward from here.

From 11:00am - 12:30pm before the opening of the CNWP conference proper, the CNWP is hosting a discussion on the way forward for the left and the fight for a working class political voice.

Speakers confirmed so far include:

  • Bob Crow RMT
  • Dave Nellist Campaign for a New Workers' Party
  • Simeon Andrews Labour Representation Committee
  • Rob Hoverman RESPECT
  • Dave Church Walsall Democratic Labour Party
  • Mike Davies Alliance for Green Socialism


Nick said...

The Shell tanker drivers should be fully supported in their industrial action. In 2007, Shell made an annual profit of £13.9 billion. This was at the expense of workers who haven't received a real-terms pay increase for 15 years. But also the wider working-class population paid for this through inflation-busting price rises for petrol and diesel.

The Government, instead of talking about taxing the price of petrol, should increase taxes for multinationals like Shell. If they cry foul, or try to pass the cost onto ordinary drivers, we should nationalise these companies and run them under the democratic control of workers and consumers. After all, it's workers and consumers that rely on the fuel that's produced to get by or get around.

Unfortunately, none of the mainstream parties would be willing to do this. Labour and the Tories certainly won't and, as for the so-called alternatives, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesperson actually worked for Shell as a chief economist!

Unfortunately, UNITE union leaders who represent these workers give millions of pounds a year to the politically and financially bankrupt Labour Party. Instead they need to raise the call for a political alternative prepared to speak up for these workers, one that campaigns for a publicly-owned energy sector as part of a democratic socialist society.

Phil said...

Looks like a good conference line up re: the debate. It's a shame a comrade from the Green Left in the Green party isn't on the panel though.

Pete Firmin said...

There's not much point in organising a debate if the chair then only calls, with one exception, floor speakers who she knows to be CNWP supporters. As an LRC member I had my hand up to speak from the start, but the chair persisted in ignoring me.
Makes you wonder if all the fine words about "trust", "dialogue" etc weren't rather hypocritical.
But then the organisers really didn't expect anyone to turn up for the debate who wasn't already a CNWP supporter - I was expected to register for a conference I had no intention of attending and to pay the same rate as those attending the conference.
Bit of a sham really.

drewish said...

I think Simeon Andrews from the LRC (speaking in a personal capacity) left us in no doubt that he thought we needed a political party outside of Labour and that New Labour could no longer be reclaimed for the left. It seems that this position is not a majority one, however, within the LRC - but the increasing bankruptcy (literal and metaphorical) of New Labour may change this.

Dave Nellist referred to the efforts which were made to include speakers from as many groups as possible from the floor - but I sympathise, as someone else who was waiting unsuccessfully to be called to speak. However, the schedule was extremely tight - a lot to be discussed and debated in a very short time and it was impossible to let everyone speak.
I do not think there was any conspiracy not to let LRC members contribute from the floor.

Pete Firmin said...

Drewish, that hardy explains how come the chair knew everyone, except one, that she called by name. If a conscious effort was being made to call different opinions from the floor then she would have been calling people she didn't know!

Tom said...

Hi Pete,

out of interest are there any moves by the LRC to engage with and host debates under the banner of the LRC over building something outside of Labour where the CNWP will be invited to speak?It would give a good chance for LRC members to show their committment to "trust", "dialogue", etc.


Phil said...

Pete, the chair was able to call everyone by name because conference operated with a speaker slip system. Did you hand yours in?

Pete Firmin said...

Phil, that's news to me - there was no speaker's slip in my pack, it wasn't mentioned on the door or by the chair. Not much point in having speaker's slips if you keep it a secret.

Tom, that's a bit of an evasion - the CNWP didn't organise a proper debate, so the LRC should....
Drewish,just because Dave Nellist said efforts were made to include speakers from as many groups as possible from the floor doesn't make it true. I repeat, if that was the case, how come all bar one of the floor speakers were supporters of the CNWP?

Tom said...

Hi Pete,

It wasn't an evasion and I never said that the CNWP did not organise a proper debate. It was a genuine question.
My impressions of the LRC at the moment seems that it's more wedded to 'my Labour party, right or wrong' type of thinking and sees itself in competition with and hostile to groups like the CNWP. I would like this view to change but until we start to see some action by the LRC to build "trust", "dialogue" etc, I doubt it will.
So while you may complain that as an LRC member you, along with many others, didn't get into a very tightly packed debate, at least there was actually an LRC member on the platform who was advertised as such and allowed time to give their views which is more than I see coming from the LRC.

Of course I could be wrong. Are there any moves by the LRC to engage with and host debates under the banner of the LRC over building something outside of Labour where the CNWP will be invited to speak?

Pete Firmin said...

Further thoughts on the "speakers slips" issue. If there were speakers slips, why was the chair asking people to raise they hands and "keep them up and I will make a list". Surely, with speakers slips, she would simply have read out names. She was definitely looking around the room for people to call.

I don't think many LRC members take a "my party right or wrong" attitude. Which doesn't mean that most don't see the need to continue to work in the Labour Party. Not the same thing at all. It is therefore not surprising if they see an organisation which calls on unions to disaffiliate as hostile. There are so many issues on which we could work together (I'm sure I don't need to name them), yet you always seem to put up this barrier.
If we want a real debate, at which members of all views are present and proper discussion happens from the floor, it would be better if such a debate were to be organised by several forces rather than just one. My personal opinion, of course.

ks said...


the speaker slip system is a bit undemocratic, it's a favourite trick of the swp in fact!

i hope that it wasn't intentional that you were not called - or worse still an attempt at stage managing.

another possibility is that the chair thought that the lrc had already had their say with the invited speaker simeon andrews.

in a debate however i'd argue that it is good practice to allow minority opinions the chance to come back, so personally i would have allowed an lrc speaker back in (whether you or another cde).

anyway in short(!) i've no idea what the reasonings were. why don't you write to the chair and ask them?

alternatively, write down your planned contribution, and submit it to the cnwp blog, then the cnwp could reply, and it would start a discussion that way, and cdes could also add comments on it.

i realise that's a bit late... but nonetheless it's a way forward.

comradely greetings,


Tom said...

Hi Pete,

there are already plenty of areas where left-wing Labour members and those of us outside the party work together at a grass roots level, union branches, pay campaigns, civil liberties, stop the war, etc. The problem isn't that we're not working together to solve on these issues, the problem is that without a working class voice in politics these issues will be treated with contempt. A very broad coalition worked well together and brought over 2million out on the streets but it didn't stop the war because that was decided in parliament where there is a real lack of a working class voice. It's in the attempt to answer this lack that the LRC seems more than hesitant to work with people outside of Labour.

The funding of Labour by the unions is a massive issue as the union leadership seem happy to keep funding Labour without hesitation or question no matter what Labour does. Much of it goes to reelecting neoliberal MP's and funding election campaigns for anti-working class manifestos. The LRC may disagree with with the call for disaffiliation but what is it's alternative? The current form of union funding for Labour is failing in every respect. Freeing up the political fund for use by left-Labour MP's and left non-Labour candidates makes sense.

Personnaly I think the LRC could improve its posistion by doing serious campaigning* on two things.
a) An immediate losing of trade union funding for those MP's who don't follow union policy (like the GMB has recently done but stricter)
b)Unions political funds should be made available to non-Labour left election candidates who agree with union policy whilst the union itself makes no formal moves to disaffilate. (the thinking being that if all the major unions did this then Labour could not afford to kick them all out as it did with the RMT)

The LRC could also admit that in many constituencies its members would be better off campaigning and voting for the socialist candidate (from whatever party) rather than the Labour party. I know it can't say this publically in a document but it could say this privately to the rest of the left or in ways that don't count as official announcements.

At the moment as long as the choice is with "lets keep giving large sacks of cash to the Labour party and hope the neo-liberal leadership in the party spends it wisely" approach of the union leaders or the "disaffiliate and use the political funds for something else" approach of the CNWP I think the CNWP will continue to win the argument.

*by serious campaigning I mean raising it at union branches, taking motions to union conferences on it, making it a serious part of your demands, naming and shaming crap MP's who should lose the money, etc.