Ructions behind the scenes in election talks

Submitted by Matthew on 8 October, 2009 - 3:10 Author: Jack Yates

On 2 October, an internet report claimed that the Communist Party of Britain (Morning Star) had split. CPB general secretary Rob Griffiths and Morning Star editor John Haylett were reported to have quit and started forming a new organisation.

This move was said to have been prompted by a decision by the CPB executive to withdraw from the talks for a “son of No2EU” slate for the general election which have been under way since June, betweeen the CPB, leaders of the rail union RMT, the Socialist Party, and the Alliance for Green Socialism.

The post-No2EU attempt to organise a left challenge to Labour at the next general election, however, seems to be proceeding, with or without the CPB. On 19 September, Bob Crow was interviewed in the Times and claimed he had been meeting with union leaders, socialists and other campaigners to plan a “workers’ alliance” for the election. We are told that a public launch of the No2EU successor organisation is likely within the next few weeks.

On 7 November, the RMT is sponsoring a conference on working-class representation, or rather a rally: it will not feature motions or take binding decisions.

Meanwhile, the SWP has called its own meeting to discuss left electoral challenges on 31 October, inviting the Socialist Party, Respect, the CPB and the Barrow Socialist People’s Party (a left split from the local Labour Party, with some councillors) to participate.

What all these initiatives have in common is extreme murkiness. RMT members know nothing about the talks since June. Neither the Morning Star nor The Socialist has given any report. It makes New Labour look positively transparent and democratic.

Griffiths and Haylett are said to be at odds with others in the CPB who want to emphasise a vote for Labour candidates in the big majority of constituencies at the general election and shy away from too close a link with the SP.

A split in the CPB will not automatically reduce all tensions in any future coalition. Griffiths and his followers are still significantly at odds with the likes of the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (who now seem keen to be centrally involved). Writing in the Morning Star, Griffiths has used a variety of formulations, from a catch-all appeal for general “left unity” to calls for the left to stand candidates against only the most egregious of Labour candidates.

Contrast this view to the Socialist Party’s blanket condemnation of the Labour Party and the SWP’s weather-vane prognostications of mass extra-Labour movements and you can see the potential stumbling blocks.

An open, democratic regroupment of socialists is what we need, not this sort of backstairs intrigue.

• The initial web report:

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