On Saturday morning, 200 members and delegates at the LRC conference in London passed a statement, moved by John McDonnell MP, from the LRC’s National Committee which included clear opposition to austerity “even in diluted form“, as well as support for the TUC’s “look at the practicalities of a general strike,” which it says “cannot just be wished into existence. It must be built, and politically prepared for.“
A panel discussion with Labour councillors from Broxtowe, Hull, Islington and Preston followed then discussed how Labour councils and councillors can resist the cuts (watch the video here). The conference agreed a strategy motion which some suggest is a softening of their previous position, others as a still principled but realistic anti-cuts position:
The LRC recognises that refusing to make the cuts is a strategy that Labour Councils will sooner or later have to face up to. We also recognise that one or two councils refusing to make cuts will not be able to take this government on and stand any chance of winning.
The LRC backs Owen Jones’s call for Councils to meet and coordinate a national strategy to fight the cuts including the setting unbalanced budgets. Councils who recognise that they cannot carry on indefinitely must show a lead in supporting such a strategy. The LRC agrees to campaign for national coordination by lobbying labour councillors and councils to commit to calling such a conference to take place as soon as possible.
At the national committee prior to the conference, some people present had argued that councillors who voted for cuts should be given no platform at the conference but this was soundly rejected.
After lunch, conference heard from Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against Cuts speak about the importance of equalities in our campaigning against cuts, and in an international session, from Raquel Garrido of Front de Gauche, Florian Wilde of Die Linke and Stathis Kouvelakis of Syriza. Amongst the international motions carried was one calling for “COSATU, the SACP, the YCL (Young Communist League) and Sasco (South African Student Congress) to break from the ANC and fight for the political and organisational independence of the working class.”
The conference also endorsed the decision of the National Committee to adopt Labour Briefing, following the Labour Briefing AGM voting to transfer to the LRC.
As well as discussing policy and constitutional issues (see resolutions booklet for full text of all motions and whether they were passed or not), conference also elected a new National Committee, and half of the Labour Briefing editorial board (the other half is delegated by the National Committee).
Members of ultra-left sects were defeated in these elections, including Stan Keable of Labour Party Marxists, Gerry Downing, formerly of the WRP, and Graham Durham of Socialist Viewpoint. By and large, this conference sees the consolidation of a pragmatic leadership, less susceptible to being overturned by its own ultra-left, and less equivocal about Labour, both of which are encouraging. However, it is also noticeable that the strategy statement agreed makes no mention of forming alliances with other organisations on the centre-left of the party. Instead, its emphasis is building the LRC:
In this period there is a huge opportunity to bring more people into struggle, to make the arguments for socialism and to build the LRC both inside and outside the Labour Party.
The question that remains is whether the LRC can build a stronger organisation on the Left without engaging more whole-heartedly with a broader alliance of Labour’s centre-Left.
In the LRC’s internal elections, rather bizarrely, one Liverpool branch of Unite (NW/0538) nominated its members for eight out of twelve places in the affiliate section of the executive (half of whom were elected) as well as to several other positions.
Full results of all elections are below:
Chair: John McDonell MP (unopposed)
Secretary: Pete Firmin / Andrew Fisher (unopposed)
Treasurer: Graham Bash (unopposed)
Graham Durham, 29 votes
Norrette Moore, 41 votes
Susan Press, 66 votes – ELECTED
Marshajane Thompson, 81 votes – ELECTED
National Committee Section B (individual members)
Andrew Berry, 48 votes – ELECTED
Gerry Downing, 17 votes
Graham Durham, 20 votes
Austin Harney, 40 – ELECTED
Stan Keable, 22 votes
Jenny Lennox, 56 votes – ELECTED
Rhiannon Lowton, 39 votes – ELECTED
Mike Phipps, 52 votes – ELECTED
*Susan Press, 51 votes, ELECTED VICE CHAIR
Francis Prideaux, 52 votes – ELECTED
John Sweeney, 22 votes
*Marshajane Thompson, 59 votes, ELECTED VICE CHAIR
Lizzie Woods, 61 votes – ELECTED
National Committee Section C (general affiliates)
Judy Atkinson, Sharon Connor and Maria Exall were elected unopposed to the reserved women’s seats, leaving three vacancies.
Kevin Bennett, 21 votes – ELECTED
Simon Crew, 7 votes
Patrick Hall, 11 votes
Alex Halligan, 13 votes
Gary Heather, 22 votes – ELECTED
Sacha Ismail, 8 votes
Jon Lansman, 15 votes – ELECTED
Nick Parnell, 8 votes
Jon Rogers, 20 votes – ELECTED
Steve Turner, 15 votes – ELECTED
John Wiseman, 22 votes – ELECTED
Phil Wiseman, 13 votes
National Committee Section D (equalities seats)
Thomas Butler, 47 votes
John Sweeney, 48 votes – ELECTED
Liam McNulty, 37 votes
Max Shanly, 44 votes – ELECTED
Labour Briefing editorial board
Graham Bash, 77 votes – ELECTED
Graham Durham, 33 votes
Andrew Fisher, 76 votes – ELECTED
Stan Keable, 22 votes
Mike Phipps, 51 votes – ELECTED
John Wiseman, 40 votes
In addition, nationally affiliated unions (ASLEF, BFAWU, CWU, FBU, NUM and RMT) are each entitled to two places on the national committee, local LRC groups one place and the LRC sister organisations in Scotland and Wales, one each.
For further details of candidates, elected or not, see the Elections Booklet.