Grass Roots Left (GRL), which emerged from Jerry Hicks’ campaign in the Unite General Secretary election, has officially launched itself as an organisation.
A meeting of around 40 activists on 7 May decided that their main focus initially would be organising within Unite but that they hoped to help build similar groupings within other unions too.
The existing broad left caucus in the the union, United Left, is closely linked with the dominant (now, after the general secretary election, more heavily dominant) section of the Unite bureaucracy. However, a large number of good rank and file reps and activists continue to support and identify with the United Left. Most GRL supporters were not keen to acknowledge this fact (highlighting instead the more indefensible bureaucratic behaviour of United Left officials) but Jerry Hicks effectively acknowledged it in saying how highly he regarded Rob Williams (despite him supporting McCluskey in the election).
The Grass Roots Left’s strength is in its avowed commitment to independent rank-and-file organisation, union democracy and militant action.
Its weakness may lie in a reluctance to work with others in Unite (particularly some activists who supported Len McCluskey) who share a similar perspective.