Classic Trot manipulation in NSSN

49 posts / 0 new
Last post
Awesome Dude's picture
Awesome Dude
Offline
Joined: 31-07-07
Dec 13 2010 21:13
Classic Trot manipulation in NSSN
Quote:
IMPORTANT: The future of the NSSN: a statement from NSSN Officers and Steering Committee members

"We are drawing attention to the disastrous outcome of the Steering Committee of the National Shop Stewards’ Network (NSSN) meeting on Saturday 4th December.

The majority in the meeting, who were Socialist Party (SP) members, voted through a series of decisions despite the opposition of absolutely everyone else, of various political affiliations and none.

The meeting decided to propose that the anti-cuts conference being organised by the NSSN on January 22nd should set up an “NSSN All-Britain Anti-Cuts campaign” and the election of a committee at the conference, which would be separate from the existing NSSN structures. As supporters of the NSSN, we are aware that the NSSN and its supporters are already working, locally, regionally and nationally in opposition to the government’s attacks on our public services and jobs. The NSSN has an immense task in helping to build for effective action which can begin to beat back these attacks, although it is noteworthy that the original proposal put forward by the Socialist Party omitted any mention of the NSSN working to organise industrial action against the public sector attacks.

However, to agree that the NSSN has an important contribution to make to the anti-cuts movement is a long way from agreeing to the need for it to launch yet another national anti-cuts campaign. At a time when there is pressure for anti-cuts campaigns to work together – witness the protocol agreed between the Coalition Of Resistance and the Right To Work campaign; the forum on December 5th organised by Right To Work on working together; and the pending meeting called by the Trade Union Coordinating Group on December 14th – the creation of yet another group can only be seen as counterproductive. That the NSSN participated in the forum on December 5th and intend to take part in the meeting on December 14th stands in stark contrast to this move.

Attempts by non-SP officers of the Network to remove the most contentious aspects in advance of the Steering Committee meeting were unsuccessful. The proposals were the subject of a lengthy heated debate. Attempts to delete contentious parts of these proposals were defeated by the SP majority, with no wider support. Attempts to make positive proposals to work constructively with other anti-cuts organisations were defeated in the same way. The only real progress was the removal of a proposal that the NSSN should support anti-cuts candidates in local elections in May, a proposal which would have immediately wrecked the non-party and cross-party nature of the NSSN.

Launching a further national anti-cuts campaign, while obstructing cooperation with other organisations, would be a retrograde step, as well as changing the nature and direction of the NSSN. If the NSSN becomes controlled by one political party which is unwilling to work constructively with any other shop stewards in the network, we would see no point in further participation. Confirmation that this is the way the the SP intends to proceed seems to be borne out by events since the meeting of the Steering Committee – the secretary has unilaterally announced that only SP members will represent the NSSN at 2 forthcoming meetings discussing left/anti-cuts cooperation, with not even a pretence at consultation with non-SP officers .

We therefore urge the Socialist Party to pull back."

NB: A personal request from Dave Chapple, NSSN Chair: "We are circulating this statement throughout the trade union movement, especially activists in NSSN affiliated or supportive unions, to which, ultimately, the NSSN should be responsible. Please discuss it at your trade union branch or other union meetings. We need messages of support for this statement, but would also welcome questions and comments, sent to the address below. NSSN Officers and steering committee members listed are willing to attend trade union meetings to put our case, so please consider inviting us.

Finally, friends, our London conference on 22nd January gives us a chance to return the NSSN to a sensible consensus-based policy: please do your best to attend: a substantial turnout of mainstream trades union activists can ensure that the NSSN has a future: the Socialist Party alternative, as the 'trade union wing' of a small left group, has no future at all."

Awesome Dude's picture
Awesome Dude
Offline
Joined: 31-07-07
Dec 13 2010 21:19

There's a considerable group of 'anarchists' and 'syndicalists' working in the NSSN. They've spend sometime advocating as a network worth getting involved in. It rather seems to me that they've been used by the Millitant (Socialist Party), who all along controlled the network, to give it the sheen of non-sectarian respectability. The milli have now thrown off their sheeps clothing and are nakedly using it for what they really wanted to all along.

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Dec 14 2010 14:10

Sorry comrade, but it's not clear who issued the statement above. Is it a group within the NSSN?

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Dec 14 2010 14:37

by non-SP people on the NSSN steering committee: http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2010/12/14/future-national-shop-stewards-network

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Dec 14 2010 16:01
Entdinglichung wrote:
by non-SP people on the NSSN steering committee: http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2010/12/14/future-national-shop-stewards-network

Ok, so this was put up on another Trotskyist site (Alliance for Workers Liberty). On face value then, it seems like a fight between two trotskyist groups. I don't know this is be factual, but from appearance sake.

So..... it's be good to hear from anarcho-syndicalist participants in the NSSN on the situation.

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
Dec 14 2010 16:13

Dave's been pretty sound whenever I've dealt with him, if he's part of the complaints it's probably for a reason.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Dec 14 2010 16:16

the SP have always been the biggest group in the NSSN, as i understand it the broadly 'syndicalist' participants have been aware of the danger of manouvrings like this but judged it worthwhile being involved so long as it wasn't simply a trot plaything.

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Dec 14 2010 17:47
Quote:
: It was put up several places. While there may well be elements of a Trot fight, it has fuck all to do with AWL.

Wouldn't know that, I'm from across the pond.

cantdocartwheels's picture
cantdocartwheels
Offline
Joined: 15-03-04
Dec 15 2010 00:09

i dont see any point in caring about swp vs sp fights like this, whatever ''national anti-cuts campagn'' they set up its going to be balls anyway, just leave them to it. AFAIK the decent stuff syndiclaists have done in the NSSN have involved explicitly avoiding getting drawn into these sort of pointless political slogging matches and just focusing on direct action and organisng around concrete issues rather than rather stale and empty platforms like said anti-cuts campaign would mostly be.

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Dec 15 2010 17:40

the SP's reply: http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=7373 sad ... someone should force SP & SWP to merge

Awesome Dude's picture
Awesome Dude
Offline
Joined: 31-07-07
Dec 15 2010 22:31
Quote:
We hope all supporters are building for the Conference, where Dave Chapple and others, will be able to put their case. We believe that the active fighting campaign of NSSN – shown in action on the TUC lobby, and on the October 23rd demos - will be supported.

For a principled active intervention in the coming battles!

Linda Taaffe
Rob Williams
Bill Mullins
NSSN Officers, representing the majority of the Steering Committee

Dave Chapple and syndicalist company will go to that conference and ,IMHO, will lose to a 'packed' vote.Those NSSN Officers quoted above are all SP hacks. The SP dominated the whole thing from the start with it's ability to 'volunteer' administrative staff (it's full-time cadre) to help run the network and 'lend' it's printing capacity (from it's own print press as any respectable Trot outfit would have). It also has an extensive (and rather impressive) indusrial network of shop stewards.

They made a horrible tactical error by 'siding' with the SWP. It's now become a nasty Trot factional fight and it will be difficult for the Dave Chappel/syndicalist corner to stand as the Independent voice of reason. The SP has expertly used 'democratic' proceedure to it's advantage. A lot of people (of the libertarian variety) fail to see you don't have to have total control of something to still be in control. You only have to look at the number of 'anarchists' in AWL initiatives.

The question is when,why and how should libertarian communists and syndicalists become involved in Trot initiatives?...because there's always the likelyhood of losing at times when it really matters. The same goes for the local anti-cuts alliences/groups and 'national' student groups.

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Dec 16 2010 13:15

from the new WW: http://cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004214

This mode of behaviour is already well beyond a joke. Three anti-cuts fronts, all mouthing commitments to unity while stubbornly undermining it; all criticising control-freakery while surreptitiously clinging to private ownership of their members’ political work; the obligatory reference to Monty Python’s Life of Brian (splitters!) no longer cuts the mustard, now that reality has outdone fiction in its absurdity.

donnacha.delong's picture
donnacha.delong
Offline
Joined: 7-08-09
Jan 23 2011 23:26

The syndicalist faction didn't "side" with the SWP, they sided with us. As of the last elections to the steering committee, the syndicalist faction was the second biggest. So, what exactly were we supposed to do when both factions disagreed strongly with what the Socialist Party were doing? Tell the SWP that we didn't care that they were going to vote with us in a pointless bit of sectarian ideological purity?

The whole point of the NSSN was to create a network of trade union activists. Syndicalists hoped the parties could do what they promised and leave the sectarian divisions outside the door. Of course, they couldn't, the SWP split off first and set up RTW and basically lost interest in the NSSN (obvious from how few people they sent to the meeting yesterday). Yesterday, the SP decided, basically, that they didn't want anyone else involved and packed the room to force through another fucking ineffectual hierarchical anti-cuts coalition (while the kids of the NCAFC and UK Uncut are running rings around them).

We need a version of what the NSSN was supposed to be, something to link up trade union activists beyond their unions, something to help rebuild radical trade unionism again across the country - because, like it or not, without it there's no hope of stopping this government (local groups are fantastic, but they don't have the ability to mess things up by some co-ordinated strike action). That means, sometimes, we have to hold our noses and work with people we don't like.

Awesome Dude's picture
Awesome Dude
Offline
Joined: 31-07-07
Jan 24 2011 10:03
donnacha.delong wrote:
We need a version of what the NSSN was supposed to be, something to link up trade union activists beyond their unions, something to help rebuild radical trade unionism again across the country - because, like it or not, without it there's no hope of stopping this government (local groups are fantastic, but they don't have the ability to mess things up by some co-ordinated strike action).

I completely agree with you on the points above comrade. I think Syndicalists should hold an conference open to all syndicalist tendencies to discuss future possibilities. This should be conducted with a view to working with radical unionists in an open network (not just limited to TUC shop stewards). The agenda should include a political discussion about what syndicalism is and it's relevance to today's struggles. There should also be a discussion of tactics and who we should and should not work with.

Earlier last year I went to do a union course at unite union's heathrow office. There I met young workers new to unionism. What struck me, whilst having conversations between breaks, was their discovery and readiness to use tactics I could only describe as coming straight out of a syndicalist text book. They were doing syndicalism without syndicalists and are unfortunately stuck under the unite union leadership. During the course the tutor kept telling the workers that they should not use these tactics because they would be breaking the law. We need a way of reaching out to workers like that to assist them in understanding why those tactics work so well and supporting them against the union leadership when they do so. I think the recent attacks on the ability to take legal strike action opens up the possibility for direct action. This is what we should be enthusiastically cheer leading.

donnacha.delong wrote:
That means, sometimes, we have to hold our noses and work with people we don't like.

Working with people we don't like is different from working with people who are going to fuck us over. Trots have a clear track record of controlling manipulative behaviour when working with others.Your right we sometimes have to hold our noses and work with bastards like them, but it should be with a clear understanding from the outset.

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
Jan 24 2011 11:16

It's particularly annoying that it turned out like this because the NSSN would have actively done better in the cause of fighting cuts simply by doing what it was already doing. As it is the SP have destroyed a useful structure to create a useless sectarian "campaign" (rhetorical circle-jerk) group.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Jan 24 2011 13:21

a lot of this seems to parallel DAM's experiences in rank-and-file networks in the 1980s, which lead to a rejection of 'lowest common denominator' networks as inevitably prone to such sectarian manouvrings. SolFed has had sort of 'one foot in' involvement in the NSSN but i don't think anyone is surprised by this - it was always going to happen sooner or later, the worth of the NSSN was in what else could be achieved in the shadows of Trot power-plays, so to speak.

DAM wrote:
That is not to say that the 'left' has not tried to get over the problems posed by the dominance of the reformist trade unions. Since the war they have attempted to organise 'rank and file' groups in the unions. These have taken various forms, for example Flashlight and Building Workers Charter have set up around the National Rank and File Movement of the '70s, and of course there is the broad left. But the very nature of these groups, and of the politics of those who have tried to organise them, has meant that these groups were also doomed to failure.

Since the war this has taken the form of trying to build rank and file groups within the unions. This task has been undertaken by various political groups from those set up by the CP in the 1950's and 60's, eg Flashlight and Building Workers Charter through to the SWP-dominated rank and files of the 70's and of course the militant-dominated Broad Lefts. Needless to say, such Marxist groups were not slow to manipulate rank and files for their own ends, even if this was to the detriment of those rank and files and the workers involved.

(...) The manoeuvering of the Marxists should come as no surprise because they all saw rank and files not only as recruiting grounds but also as a way of increasing their influence in the unions. This followed from their political theory, that the unions were the place where workers organise at an economic level, whilst the 'more advanced' would wish to organise on a political level and join their organisation. (...) It would be a mistake, however, to put down the lack of politics simply to the Marxist influence. Instead we should look at the nature of rank and file groups themselves. They were not made up of masses of ordinary workers but trade union activists who were members of political groups with axes to grind, sinking their political differences to the lowest common denominator, that is militant trade unionism.

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Jan 24 2011 16:40

I always loved the DAM..... getting back to basics.....

Anyway, can someone post some links to the event in question? Even if leftwing links.

Thanks!

donnacha.delong's picture
donnacha.delong
Offline
Joined: 7-08-09
Jan 25 2011 01:12

The propaganda:
http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/653/10926/12-01-2011/nssn-debate-the-way-forward-for-the-anti-cuts-movement

A pretty good write-up from AWL:
http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2011/01/22/sp-sets-its-own-anti-cuts-movement

This one from Red Pepper is a bit lacking in detail, but the comments are... interesting!
http://the-workers-united.blogspot.com/2011/01/shop-stewards-network-splits-over-anti.html

There are a few more blogs about it - for and against. I'll write up my own version of events tomorrow (probably).

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
Jan 25 2011 10:08
Quote:
Name for me one conference or meeting where one side has 75%+ of the vote but both sides of the debate get equal number of speaker from the floor or where both sides jointly share? The NSSN conference was a model of democracy in the labour movement.

Aw bless, he really thinks his audience is a bit thick grin.

posi
Offline
Joined: 24-09-05
Jan 25 2011 10:22

According to the AWL link the SolFed comrade is the only non-SPer not to resign?

Ed's picture
Ed
Offline
Joined: 1-10-03
Jan 25 2011 12:32

Just quickly, Right to Work are an SWP front, right? Who are Coalition of Resistance? I'm losing track of all these organisations...

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 25 2011 12:36
Ed wrote:
Just quickly, Right to Work are an SWP front, right? Who are Coalition of Resistance? I'm losing track of all these organisations...

set up by Counterfire (Rees/German)

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Jan 25 2011 14:30

Thanks for the links comrade!

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Jan 25 2011 18:24
posi wrote:
According to the AWL link the SolFed comrade is the only non-SPer not to resign?

SolFed has a member on the executive committee?

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Jan 25 2011 18:59

Yes.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Jan 25 2011 19:04
Chilli Sauce wrote:
posi wrote:
According to the AWL link the SolFed comrade is the only non-SPer not to resign?

SolFed has a member on the executive committee?

from your local? confused

Ed's picture
Ed
Offline
Joined: 1-10-03
Jan 25 2011 20:21

Nah, he's moved now.. but Chilli does know him..

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Jan 25 2011 20:33

Ed, you were on the NSSN exec?! eek

Seriously tho, the only person I can think of is a particular rail worker?

Red Marriott's picture
Red Marriott
Offline
Joined: 7-05-06
Jan 25 2011 20:42

Participation in this leftist-dominated crap seems like non-sectarianism gone mad.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Jan 25 2011 23:38

I think this was always a risk and I can remember people telling me a while ago that basically it was a question of whether the SWP or the SP took it over and ruined it. If such a group is worth having then how can it be organised to avoid it being taken over and ruined?

donnacha.delong's picture
donnacha.delong
Offline
Joined: 7-08-09
Jan 26 2011 01:54
Chilli Sauce wrote:
posi wrote:
According to the AWL link the SolFed comrade is the only non-SPer not to resign?

SolFed has a member on the executive committee?

They did, but he's resigning as well, as are the L&S members. If you need a hint, he's not very happy with his union's Gen Sec or President.