Saturday, 2 July 2011

Liverpool Against The Cuts

At the end of the march on June 30, I found myself chatting with a few people - including members of the Socialist Workers Party - who were canvassing to get people to sign up to Liverpool Against The Cuts. These conversations made me realise that I had over-simplified the issue around the founding of the group. In particular, the power plays at work.

Reporting back from a J30 strike meeting on Monday, I noted that I had received a leaflet branded with Liverpool Against The Cuts. This was, I thought, quite dodgy in that it was written from the perspective of an organisation already in existence, and had the Socialist Party's grubby paw prints all over it. Clearly, they - through theof domination of Trades Council - had a vision of how LATC would run and didn't want anything as pesky as an open founding meeting to supper that.

However, it became more complex when I realised that it was now the SWP who were giving out leaflets. They have long been rivals to the SP and the two groups have an ignominious history when it comes to cooperation.

According to one, the leaflets came about because Liverpool Trades Council was simply unwilling to move in terms of promoting either the meeting or the organisation it is being called to establish.

Whilst they hadn't budged, it had been the SWP - along with a full-time Unite organiser - who had knocked up leaflets and been holding stalls to promote it. This made sense, as the Trades Council appeared to view itself as the "umbrella group" LATC is being established as. If it doesn't promote the meeting, and only those who are already inclined to their way of thinking (as is likely anyway with the mid-week date), their hegemony remains unchallenged. I've heard from some quarters that this is largely to keep the SWP out, but experience of the Peoples' Assembly tells me that it's not just the SWP they want to keep out but anybody who threatens that hegemony.

This isn't to ascribe benevolent motives to the SWP, either. Their long history tells me that they will want to dominate it just as much as the SP/Trades Council. So, what we face is the prospect of the would-be vanguards of the left fighting to control a new front, as those of us who genuinely want Liverpool Against The Cuts to be an open, democratic umbrella watch it become another Unite Against Fascism or National Shop Stewards Network.

That said, I still intend to argue for a campaign built upon Liverpool SolFed's proposals (PDF). The aim of these is to make it as broad-based and democratic as possible, leaving no single group in charge and neutralising the threat of being demobilised from above.

The meeting will be on Wednesday 13 July at a venue to be confirmed.