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Successful launch for United Left
Over 250 Unite members attended the launch rally of 'United Left'. In numbers, therefore, this was a successful start. It showed the enthusiasm to build the left amongst large sections of Unite and to discuss socialist policies.
Joint general secretary Tony Woodley, who opened the rally, called on the Labour government to use the 'n-word' - nationalisation - although when he explained he was in negotiations regarding the threatened closure of a car plant, he just urged the government "to do the right thing" - whatever that was.
John McDonnell, a left Labour MP also addressed the rally and declared that he wasn't a Keynesian but a Marxist, and put a radical programme forward to deal with the crisis. But in reality, there is no chance of New Labour carrying this out.
Rob Williams, convenor at Linamar Swansea and a Socialist Party member, pointed out in a rousing contribution that this was a programme for a new party not New Labour! Unfortunately, John ducked this point saying the issue of a party was not the main question at the moment.
Several members also raised the dangers of a rise in racism and the BNP in the current economic crisis, particularly following their by-election victory in Swanley. Paul Astbury, one of the Liverpool 47 disqualified councillors and a building worker, urged a mass mobilisation for a counter-demonstration to the BNP in Liverpool as a practical step to fight the racists. (Subsequently the march was called off.)
Despite the left leaders' attempts to build consensus, there will be political differences in the new organisation. Supporters of Derek Simpson were in the audience, as were Jerry Hicks, who is standing against Simpson for general secretary, and many of his supporters.
This reflects the difference within the left between those who favour a largely electoral machine resting on the bureaucracy and those who want a fighting left organisation. That will be the key debate in United Left in the months to come.
In The Socialist 25 February 2009:
No Job Cuts
Campaign for a New Workers Party
International socialist news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news