The involvement of the Liverpool
Dockers comes from the large number of political and trade union
groups who use the CASA (The Dockers Building in the Liverpool city
centre). Who constantly raise the issue of the lack of political
representation for the labour and trade union movement? To the point
were there is real sense of despair & frustration that we no longer
have a political voice.
when Tony Mulhern and John Kennedy and others from the Liverpool 47
Surcharged Councillors approached us to ask if we could jointly
analyse the question of whom in to days society represents the
political views of the working class we were only too ready to agree.
What followed was a series of joint meetings at which the following
issues were discussed.
Firstly we knew that there had
already been plenty of debate and in the case of Respect actual
development on the subject of a new party, with some excellent
conferences, rallies and meetings organised by the traditional left
wing parties and groups like ‘Reclaim the Labour Party’, ‘Left Unity’
and ‘Respect’etc. But we wanted to start something on a more local
grass roots level with a broader base. i.e. Trade unions, community,
ethnic and student groups.
Secondly we said that we didn’t want
to re-run the struggles of the Dockers or the 47 councillors, as just
and correct as those fights were, they are now in the past and the
biggest problems that we as a class face now is what is happening
today and what is going to happen in the future. Instead of looking
back we agreed to utilise the organisational skills and political
endeavour that went into the campaigns of the Dockers and the
Liverpool 47 by leading off the debate in Liverpool, on the issue of a
also had an in-depth discussion on comparing what has happened in the
past regarding the landmark campaigns organised by the labour and
trade union movement to what is happening today.
For example during the 1950s Suez
Crises. The 1960s CND & The Vietnam War. The 1970s Big Industrial
Disputes against the Government economic policies (wage restraint).
The 1980s Right to Work Campaigns, & The Miners Dispute, and the
1990’s Poll Tax Campaign and Liverpool Dockers Dispute etc.There was
always a limited mechanism for working people to air their grievances
either through the branch structures of the trade union movement or
the political structures of the constituency Labour Party. Whilst you
could argue that these procedures were far from perfect, an issue that
gained mass and popular support at the national level of the Trade
Union movement or reached the floor of the Labour Party Conference it
was usually acted on, albeit in a watered down fashion.
None of that happens now; you only
have to look at the massive turn-out for the anti-war rallies. The
magnificent coalition that was built from that movement brought
together Trade Unions, CLP’s, all the Socialist Parties along with
Ethnic and Community Groups to form a mass opposition to war, but who
on a political basis spoke for them. It certainly wasn’t the Tories
and never will be as they will always put profit before peace and
human suffering. The Lib Dems skirted with the idea of becoming the
voice of the people but quickly ducked for cover when the media barons
turned on them. And what about the Labour Party who came to power on
the backs of the millions opposed to war, did take any notice of the
peoples voice --- NO!
The same can be said for Tuition
Fees, Privatisation, and Anti-Trade Union Laws, Pensions etc. This
Labour government take no notice of the feelings, views or wishes of
the working class man or woman and because of that millions of people
are left disenfranchised.
We also had some discussion on the
role of our Trade Union leaders, especially the new ones. You could
say that our Trade Union leaders still have a direct input into the
leadership of New Labour and its policies, but you could also argue
that this is only lip-service for the millions of pounds that the
trade union movement give to the Labour Party. In truth Blair and his
government jump to the tune of the right wing press like the Sun or
the establishment of self interest groups like the Countryside
Alliance or the fuel protesters, but will do little or nothing when
millions of ordinary men, women and children ask for a better way of
So the intention of the Campaign is
to start a positive debate on the political representation of the
Labour and Trade Union movement. We except that this will lead to
arguments in terms of the best way forward i.e. do you fight from
within to reclaim the Labour Party or is that idea now well and truly
over and if so what are the alternatives.
The conclusion that the Liverpool
Dockers and the Liverpool 47 Councillors came to was that the only
credible option is to try and create a New Party that will represent
the needs and aspirations of working class men, women and children
like our forefathers had to do over a hundred years ago.
So far we held five open meetings and
have been able to draw-in support from the TGWU, RMT, GMB, UNISON, FBU,
UCATT, UNISON, Socialist Alliance, Socialist Party, SLP, Liverpool
Community Labour Party, Unite, Merseyside Pensioners, Merseyside TUC,
the International Socialist League and Workers Power. Also very
welcomed representation from outside of Liverpool has came from the
Scottish Socialist Party, South Wales NUM the London Support Group and
Northern Ireland ATGWU.
At present we are involved in a
series of sub-committee meetings as we try to move from a ‘Campaign’
into ‘Party’ and as you will no doubt understand this is proving to be
the most difficult issue that we have faced so far. Although it has to
be said that for the first time in many years there is a real desire
and unity amongst the different groups to make sure that this
initiative as far as Merseyside is concerned is given every
opportunity to succeed.