LRC commits to build Defend The Link "as widely as possible"

Submitted by AWL on 23 November, 2013 - 6:02

The annual conference on 23 November 2013 of the Labour Representation Committee, a Labour left grouping launched in 2004 by John McDonnell MP and supported by the affiliation of six trade unions, voted to build the "Defend The Link" campaign "as widely as possible".

It also passed a motion from AWL for an "internationalist campaign in the European elections", based on the LRC's policy passed in 2011: "In or out, the fight goes on"; "For a Workers' Europe".

The motion committed LRC to campaign for "cross-European working-class and socialist struggle", for social and democratic "levelling-up" across Europe, and for a European workers' government.

The motion was somewhat weakened by an amendment which replaced its sharp statement "that advocating withdrawal from the EU or anything like that undermines this fight" by a call for a debate across the LRC about what position to take in the event of an in/ out referendum.

A grouping most vocally represented by Brent activist Graham Durham contested the election for the new LRC position of "political secretary" and moved an emergency motion for LRC to affiliate to the Unite Grass Roots Left group around Jerry Hicks. Leeds Unite activist Dave Kirk spoke against the GRL affiliation, which was heavily defeated; friends and members of the AWL voted for Pete Firmin, who won the political secretary election by a large margin.

Vicki Morris was elected to the LRC committee. Liam McNulty was defeated in the vote for youth rep on the LRC committee, but activists at the conference thought that the successful candidate, Tom Butler, will want to develop LRC Youth on open and campaigning lines.

A motion on Syria which claimed that "despite previous brutal pro-imperialist tyranny by Assad, defending Syria's national sovereignty demands the victory of the Syrian National Army" in the current civil war was defeated. Speakers against it included Becky Crocker and John Moloney.

RMT activist Tony Byrne moved a successful motion that LRC should launch an active campaign, together with the rail unions and CWU, for the Labour Party to pledge to implement Labour conference decisions for the re-nationalisation of rail and the Royal Mail.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, addressing the conference, struck a sombre note, saying that he thought any concerted trade-union action over the next year unlikely.

The LRC has had a difficult year, with internal strife, with some leading activists stepping back for personal reasons, and with John McDonnell, who is still a leading figure in it, out of action for much of the year through ill-health. The conference got maybe 150 people, fewer than in other years. Let's hope the decisions help the LRC regain momentum.