The eurozone crisis was one of the main debates at the Labour Representation Committee conference in London on 19 November 2011. A motion from AWL urging Europe-wide workers' solidarity against capital, to remake Europe, and rejecting "anti-euro" or "anti-EU" stances as diversionary, was carried. We hope this will be the starting point for the LRC initiating a serious debate in the labour movement and on the left about the necessary response to the European-wide capitalist crisis.
Unison activist Jon Rogers, in the closing speech of the event, said that the conference, like many LRC assemblies before it, had been marked by lively debate on international issues "between those who historically have been on opposite ends of the ice-pick". (His reference was to the Stalinist murder of Leon Trotsky in 1940, with an ice-pick).
Rogers was right - with the qualification that several activists who would think of themselves as Trotskyist went with the Stalinist lines.
The internationalist motion on Europe was carried by only a small majority (72 to 60). On Libya, the conference carried an outspokenly Stalinist motion from the New Communist Party (a splinter from the old Communist Party, formed in 1977 by a faction round Sid French which had been in opposition since it objected to the CP criticising the USSR-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968).
The motion denounced the Libyan revolution as an affair of "reactionary stooges", depicted as somehow simultaneously pawns of NATO and militants of Al Qaeda. The NCP speaker praised the "progressive" regime of Qaddafi and expressed a wish that nothing similar to the Libyan revolution would happen in Syria.
The motion was carried (79 to 48, with 39 abstentions) only because many in the conference who would identify as Trotskyist (Socialist Appeal supporters, for example) voted for the Stalinist motion or abstained.
Sacha Ismail, Joe Flynn, and Dan Rawnsley were however able to speak against the motion.
The LRC conference provides one of very few arenas, these days, where such issues can be debated openly. And the LRC is growing - membership up 10% over the last year - though more slowly than is needed, and surely must be possible, with the increased left ferment created by resistance to the Tory cuts and the influx of new members to the Labour Party.
A shortcoming of the LRC so far has been that it does not have much "executive function". Almost all LRC members have their main political activity somewhere other than in the LRC. It has no office, its two joint secretaries are people with many other commitments, and its committee is weak. Campaigning initiatives associated with the LRC generally depend for an executive function on the personal office of John McDonnell, the left Labour MP who has been the LRC's chair since its founding in 2004.
Two initiatives at the conference may open new possibilities. One lunchtime caucus, initiated by Broxtowe (Notts) Labour councillors Greg Marshall and Andrea Oates, started to organise a network of Labour councillors committed to vote against cuts. Another initiated a new LRC youth and student group.