The Socialist Workers Party has three members on the NEC as part of the Left Unity slate – Sue Bond, one of the National Vice Presidents, Andy Reid, and Paul Williams.
Paul Williams is a serious trade union militant who AWL supporters suspect was placed on the NEC slate to stiffen the backbone of the SWP NEC members (for instance the then SWP NEC members, including Sue Bond, had supported the calling off the planned jobs, pay and pensions strike in 2005).
Whatever the case, the fact is that the SWP’s PCS members have pretty much supported the approach of the NEC to national pay and the other big issues affecting members throughout the years Left Unity has controlled PCS. In membership meetings SWP PCS members have repeatedly argued that the Left Unity/ Democracy Alliance is the right leadership to take PCS through the “big struggles ahead.”
They have repeatedly argued that that we either have a public sector fight back or there is nothing we can do – a recipe for years of doing nothing unless there is a dramatic increase in the strength of the serious Left across the public sector unions. Indeed SWP comrades in PCS have repeatedly publicly argued that the big lesson of the Miners' Strike of 1984 is that no one union can take on the state and win – no matter what the industrial issue, the political climate, and so on and so forth.
This puts them to the right of the General Secretary who, formally at least, argues that whilst a united public sector fight back would strengthen us all, PCS can and must win its own dispute on its own if need be. The SWP comrades have supported the NEC’s clearly hopeless policy of one day strikes separated by months, with members simply not being told what is happening in negotiations, or spun a line on the negotiations. On the key issues of pensions, jobs, pay, election and pay of full time officials, it is difficult to think of a distinctive SWP line from that of the PCS leadership.
Yet on its website, arguing that “the PCS had a chance to say that it was standing up to say workers won't pay for the crisis—this opportunity has been missed”, The SWP say, “The question of leadership is absolutely critical at the moment. We could have had nearly half a million workers on strike against Brown's pay policy over the next week. Instead we have none. That is not something that is inevitable, it is about political leadership.”
The fact is, however, that when the Left Unity elections come round in the New Year, determining who will be on the NEC slate, the SWP PCS members will not be running an alternative slate on an alternative programme for PCS members against the real leadership in PCS – the Socialist Party and its allies. Instead SWP comrades will loyally argue for all the current NEC members Left Unity/Democracy NEC members to be nominated in the subsequent PCS Branch AGMs. The SWP comrades will not be drawing any practical conclusions for their work within PCS from their analysis.
Despite the Socialist Worker website, the current PCS NEC will remain the right “political leadership” for PCS SWP members...unless the best elements of the SWP in PCS are persuaded that principled people draw practical conclusions from their analysis and that now means openly fighting for a different leadership in PCS. PCS activists should be putting that challenge to SWP brothers and sisters in PCS.