Last month the Camden No 3 (London Underground) branch of the RMT rail workers’ union passed a motion advocating the union run a slate of candidates in the 2008 London mayoral and Greater London Assembly elections.
More recently the same branch passed an amendment to its own motion which broadens out the proposal, and Neasden branch passed a longer version with a preamble (see below). All should be discussed at the RMT's London Transport Regional Council on 27 September.
These motions will be opposed by people from the group around Bob Crow who want to create a purely-RMT slate focussing solely on the issue of Tube privatisation, and by the SWP, who do not want anything to get in the way of Respect. We’ll see what happens.
Meanwhile, activists in other unions, anti-cuts campaigns, left groups and so on must begin to raise similar demands in their own organisations. A broad working-class challenge in the London elections, backed by the RMT, would be a step forward for winning an effective working-class voice in politics.
Preamble passed by Neasden branch
This branch believes that changes in both the policy and internal structures of the Labour Party over the last decade and a half have been a major set back for working-class political representation in this country; and that in this situation, it is left to the unions to begin to reconstruct a working-class political force. We therefore advocate that the RMT takes the initiative in the creation of a slate of independent working-class candidates in the upcoming GLA and London Mayoral elections, to give working-class Londoners a chance to express their opposition to the various political representatives of business and vote for a positive alternative.
Section passed by both Neasden and Camden No 3
To be effective, such a slate would need to
a) Draw in, or at least attempt to draw in, broader forces than just the RMT, by approaching other unions, anti-privatisation and cuts campaigns, tenants’ organisations, socialist groups and so on.
b) Develop a manifesto which speaks to the many different issues facing workers, working-class communities and oppressed groups in London, such as education, the health service, housing, a living wage and trade union rights — while of course making the demand for a 100% publicly owned, democratically controlled, integrated and cheap public transport system central. A broad focus will make the challenge stronger.
This branch therefore asks that the union issue a call for such a slate of candidates and approach other unions and campaignin groups in London.