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Bob Crow calls for new party

Jeremy Dewar, CNWP vice-chair & Workers Power 

“What our members’ don’t want to see is another Respect or Socialist Labour Party. They want to see a political party ­ and we’ve got to move towards it,” said Bob Crow to the second conference of the Campaign for a New Workers Party on 29 June. This is his most explicit appeal for a new party to date. The general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) was scathing of organisations and individuals ­ mentioning the Socialist Workers Party, George Galloway and Arthur Scargill ­ that grabbed control of new parties before they had rallied support in the working class. He emphasised that a new workers party needed to be “rooted in the community”.

He was no kinder to the Labour Representation Committee, which maintained that if John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn and other left MPs left the Labour Party they may lose their seats.

But as Crow pointed out, and Simeon Andrews of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) admitted, when the current handful of left Labour MPs have retired they would be replaced by loyal New Labour clones in any case. Crow warned that the unions could end up “going down the American route, where unions only deal with bread and butter issues, like pay and conditions, with no unions affiliated to any party”.

New move

John McInally Vice President of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) told the conference of a new initiative. Left PCS leaders, including general secretary Mark Serwotka, want to discuss standing trade union backed candidates against Labour in elections. They hoped other union leaders would join them and co-sponsor a conference later this year on the crisis of working class political representation.

As well as discussing the platform for a slate of workers’ candidates McInally suggested prioritising policies on pay, privatisation, war, racism and fascism ­ the conference could also address how to move towards a new party. While these were early days and there was opposition to the idea within the PCS, it was refreshing to hear both McInally and Crow stress the urgency the situation brought to the task.

The bosses and the Labour government will rain blows on our class during the economic crisis. Without our own independent party, resistance will be weakened. On the other hand, taking the first steps towards a new party could help generalise struggles and give them a political direction. The CNWP can use this opportunity to build local and regional groups open to everyone in favour of a new party.

Many striking workers on 16-17 July, militants at the Convention of the Left in September, and from shop stewards’ network will respond strongly to a bold and clear call. By involving as many workers and youth, who are already taking the fight to New Labour, in discussions of both the structure and policies of the new party we can ensure that it becomes a powerful fighting organisation from day one. We believe that it must become an anti-capitalist and a revolutionary party too.

This report was originally carried in Workers Power magazine

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