The first meeting of the Coalition of Resistance National Council was held on 15 January.
The main political blocs on the Council (which is over 100 people) are Counterfire (the key animating force behind CoR), Green Left and Socialist Resistance. There is a handful of SWPers, a few from Workers’ Power, individuals from smaller left groups and a scattering of independents.
The first session consisted of speaker after speaker making long, windy speeches that reminded us all that cuts were bad and that we needed to fight back.
My proposal that CoR support the National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts was voted down. I had sought to remove a line from CoR’s founding statement which committed CoR to calling a conference “to establish a united national campaign” on the issue of free education. This could easily be interpreted as an attempt to replace or replicate existing campaigns — hardly in the spirit of CoR’s aim to “supplement, not supplant” existing networks. But leading Counterfire member Lindsey German opposed the amendment and insisted the proposed conference would go ahead. Counterfire students, including ULU president Clare Solomon, have been prominently involved in NCAFC activity. Do they support NCAFC or don’t they? And if so, why the ambiguous wording that makes it sound as if they intend to set up a separate campaign?
An amendment that would’ve committed CoR to helping facilitate discussions about a united left challenge to the NUS leadership was also defeated, as it was apparently “not in CoR’s remit.” A mild proposal from Workers’ Power on working independently of trade union leaderships where necessary was also defeated. Following the national affiliation of Unite, COR seems concerned not to ruffle too many feathers in the left bureaucracies.
There was an enormous emphasis on building for the March 26 TUC demonstration. Fine – it needs to be built for. But the emphasis at times tipped over into fetishisation.
There also seemed to be confusion, never properly resolved, on exactly what CoR’s role was. AWL believes the movement needs a single, united anti-cuts campaign.