Tyneside debates: “Can the left unite?”

Submitted by Newcastle on 30 July, 2009 - 6:15 Author: Ed Whitby

About 60 socialists, activists and trade unionists attended a Tyneside Socialist Forum open meeting about left unity on 15 July.

The timing of the meeting wasn't ideal, as most students had left for the summer, but still the organised left turned out (Socialist Workers Party, Revolutionary Communist Group, Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, Labour Representation Committee, as well as Green Party). Trade unions were also represented including PCS, Unison, and Unite. Although the Socialist Party could not attend No2EU was represented by the RMT Regional Organiser.

The lead off by two older comrades, Dave Ayers and Dave Harker, about the 1972 builders strike and the Shrewbury trials, was not linked to left unity and possibly a bit too long, although interesting.

But the meeting was well chaired, and most people spoke. People wanted unity and were sick of the wasted opportunities of the last few years. Many spoke of the crisis and the environment as the big threat. Others felt we needed to look at standing candidates straight away. There was discussion of support from PCS, standing Keep Metro Public candidates in a by-election soon, and the next local elections.

The majority were individual campaigners or non-aligned. The meeting felt positive. The work which has been doing to support the Vestas workers went down well. A couple of people bought Solidarity specifically to read about the Vestas campaign. We got a group photo of us shouting "occupy" for the Vestas campaign.

Most of the people from different currents went to the same pub afterwards, which again is a sign that people are starting to engage more on the left.

A follow up meeting is planned for August. We will continue to support campaigns such as Keep Metro Public; the Welfare Rights Campaign; anti-BNP campaigning, including a coach to Codnor; and support for Vestas workers.