The piece below is the main part of a very interesting letter that appeared in the current issue of the Weekly Worker newspaper in Britain. The author is a former member of the Socialist Workers Party in that country and was a member of one of the several significant groups of activists that left following the central leadership’s serious mishandling of rape accusations against one of that leadership’s members.
For a layer of SWPers the core problem was the wider, unhealthy, anti-democratic internal culture of a party which, while claiming to stand for ‘socialism from below’, has a long record of autocratic control from on high. The British SWP also has a long record of misjudging the dominant political mood, usually exaggerating the level of struggle and whipping up ‘the troops’ to simply get out there and do more, sell more newspapers and so on, rather than engage in clinical Marxist analysis of reality.
The writer of the letter touches, however, on several things that are widespread on the British left, far beyond the SWP. A couple of particularly interesting points are the way he establishes how little involved workers are in unions and union decision-making and how the affiliation to the British Labour Party of a layer of trade unions with substantial memberships does not reflect any enthusiasm for that dreadful party on the part of workers. Indeed, hardly any workers in these unions even voted in the LP leadership election, let alone for Jeremy Corbyn – the new LP leader who has been ridiculously ‘talked up’ by a lot of the left around the English-speaking world.
We’re running it because it has direct relevance to the current state of working class struggle in NZ – although British workers are almost fiery compared to the prevailing despondency in the working class here.
by Jara Handala
According to The Guardian, the Labour Party has estimated how devastating will be the cut in income if the anti-trade union bill becomes law this summer. Instead of detailing this, I just want to look to the future by examining the recent past and the present, to indicate that a mood for action is not to be expected if the participation rate in two important recent elections are anything to go by: perhaps 1.4% in the Corbyn election, 10.6% in the re-election of Dave Prentis as head of Unison – ie, abstention rates of 98.6% and 89.4%.
In the LP election 422,871 voted, 71,546 being affiliated supporters (the Weekly Worker reported this on September 17). These were members of affiliated organisations – mostly trade unions, but also the Cooperative Party (7,936 members – last annual report) and sectional groups. To vote all you had to do was request a ballot, and you could even vote online. So how many were eligible? Only 14 trade unions are affiliated to the LP, but the website doesn’t say how many people give money through their union. However, the 2014-15 annual report of the state certification officer says 4,954,606 members contribute to their union’s political fund (this as of December 31 2013). So (only) 1.44% voted Read the rest of this entry »