Scottish Left Project backed by Syriza
THE STUC Conference by day is motions, amendments, and speeches. Then repeat that process for about eight hours of the day, on hundreds of issues. Afterwards, trade unionists go off in to the night, most settling for a social put on by their own trade unions with a nice buffet and lots of drink. Some want a few more gatherings, and head for fringe meetings put on by various campaigns and organisations.
This year, for the first time, there was a fringe meeting organised by the Scottish Left Project, a group of campaigners that emerged out of the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) to attempt to build an electoral coalition in the 2016 Scottish elections from the radical left.
Cat Boyd, trade unionist and RIC co-founder, laid out the vision for the sort of coalition the Scottish Left Project is trying to promote.
Boyd said: “The forces behind RIC – socialists, trade-unionists, community activists, greens, anti-Nato nationalists – if it banded together it could quickly finish off Labour as the party of the trade union movement, and it could become Scotland’s second biggest force – a pro-independence left pressure point on the SNP in the parliament.”
“The forces behind RIC – socialists, trade-unionists, community activists, greens, anti-Nato nationalists – if it banded together it could quickly finish off Labour as the party of the trade union movement.” Cat Boyd
Jonathon Shafi, another prominent RIC activist, said Scottish politics and the independence movement needs renewed diversity to stop it going “stale”.
“Jim Murphy could call for a revolution and no one would believe it. Labour’s decline is irrevocable and terminal.
“The SNP is putting progressive ideas on the agenda. But the SNP need to feel pressure from the left, and the Labour party can’t and won’t do that.”
John Davidson, Scottish Socialist Party member and PCS organiser, said new parliamentary representation was needed to give the trade unions its own “voice” again in Scottish politics.
“The trade unions don’t have a voice. We need a parliamentary vehicle that can represent us and our values.”
A message was read out from Syriza Scotland, the Scottish branch of the Greek party currently leading the Greek anti-austerity coalition government, saying that they and their party supported the call for a left coalition in Scotland for the 2016 elections, and would support steps to build that.
“Syriza are supporting what we’re doing, there’s a motion going to Quebec solidaire, the Quebec radical left party, and we’re in discussions with Podemos.” Jonathon Shafi
“Syriza are supporting what we’re doing, there’s a motion going to Quebec solidaire, the Quebec radical left party, and we’re in discussions with Podemos,” Shafi said.
“The movements in Greece and Spain need a bit of back up from Northern Europe, the onus on us to try and do that,” he added.
A discussion took place of how to renew and re-invigorate trade unions.
Davidson said that he believed trade-unionism was “in crisis”, and a new radical organising model that mobilised the grassroots of the trade-union movement was needed to revive it.
He added that the trade unions in Scotland “should be granted their own form of home rule”.
“Scottish workers are the best placed to decide what’s best for trade unions in Scotland, and therefore they should make the decisions over trade union policy in Scotland.” John Davidson
“Scottish workers are the best placed to decide what’s best for trade unions in Scotland, and therefore they should make the decisions over trade union policy in Scotland,” he added.
Boyd concurred with this, saying that while disaffiliation from the Labour party was a harder argument in England, in Scotland “trade unions could move to a position where they back candidates outside the Labour party. Candidates could be supported based on the extent to which they sign up to trade union politics.”
Picture courtesy of Sarah Collins