PDF - Independent Socialist Network

Independent Socialist Network
Bulletin for activists № 6
The ISN aims to bring together socialists
and trade unionists, who are not members
of existing socialist groups, who think we
need a new, united working-class party
committed to arguing the case for
We share the aim of many socialists across
the country for the creation of a new
united socialist party. ISN members are
active in the Trades Unionist and Socialist
Coalition (TUSC) and in Left Unity (LU), as
potential stepping-stones towards a new
For Left Unity to play a key role in the
creation of a new mass working class party
it needs to outline a campaigning strategy
for the year ahead for itself as a party
based on a clear statement of socialist
aims. A set of focused Left Unity
campaigns is crucial to building the
confidence of the Party.
Alongside this, Left unity should
participate in building the broadest united
socialist challenge for the General
Election in May 2015. The ISN welcomes
the recent positive discussions between
Left Unity and TUSC about electoral
collaboration and hopes that this lays the
basis for a united socialist challenge in
TUSC aims to stand 100 General Election
candidates in 2015 (a target that it will
reach) and is also ambitiously aiming for
1,000 local election candidates. The ISN
hopes that all independent socialists in
Left Unity will see the enormous benefit
of the two organisations collaborating
across the country with other socialist
parties and local socialist groups to ensure
that come May 2015 the working class can
hear one clear socialist voice at election
time that it can vote for.
Date: Saturday 13 December 2014, 12 noon – 5pm
Venue: The Meeting Place, 2 Langley Lane, London SW8
 Ed Potts will introduce the British political situation as well as TUSC, Left Unity
and the ISN
 Will McMahon will open a discussion on ISN priorities for the year ahead
 Chris Strafford will speak on Podemos / Syriza / Die Linke – what do they
represent and how should socialists relate to them?
Pooled fare will operate. More details can be found at http://bit.ly/1wUr0St
Visit our website: http://www.independentsocialistnetwork.org
1. We stand for a mass socialist party, the aim of which will
be to bring about the end of capitalism and its replacement
by socialism.
2. Under capitalism, production is carried out solely to make
a profit for the few, regardless of the needs of society or
damage to the environment. Capitalism does not and cannot
be made to work in the interests of the majority. Its state and
institutions will have to be replaced by ones that act in the
interests of the majority.
3. Socialism means complete political, social and economic
democracy. It requires a fundamental breach with capitalism.
It means a society in which the wealth and the means of
production are no longer in private hands but are owned in
common. Everyone will have the right to participate in
deciding how the wealth of society is used and how
production is planned to meet the needs of all and to protect
the natural world on which we depend. We reject the idea
that the undemocratic regimes that existed in the former
Soviet Union and other countries were socialist.
4. The mass socialist party will oppose all oppression and
discrimination, whether on the basis of gender, nationality,
ethnicity, disability, religion or sexual orientation and aim to
create a society in which such oppression and discrimination
no longer exist.
5. Socialism has to be international. The interests of the
working class are the same everywhere. The mass socialist
party will oppose all imperialist wars and military
interventions. It will reject the idea that there is a national
solution to the problems of capitalism. It will stand for the
maximum solidarity and cooperation between the working
class in Britain and elsewhere. It will work with others across
Europe to replace the European Union with a voluntary
European federation of socialist societies.
6. The mass socialist party will aim to win support from the
working class and all those who want to bring about the
socialist transformation of society, which can only be
accomplished by the working class itself acting
democratically as the majority in society.
7. The mass socialist party will aim to win political power to
end capitalism, not to manage it. It will not participate in
governmental coalitions with capitalist parties at national or
local level.
8. So long as the working class is not able to win political
power for itself the mass socialist party will participate in
working class campaigns to defend all past gains and to
improve living standards and democratic rights. But it should
recognise that any reforms will only be partial and temporary
so long as capitalism continues.
An explanation by Pete McLaren, ISN rep on the
TUSC National Steering Committee.
There seem to be some misconceptions about
TUSC within Left Unity. It is important these are
corrected before members make decisions about
whether to be part of an electoral umbrella with
TUSC as is being suggested at Conference.
TUSC is neither monolithic nor centralist, being a
Coalition set up initially to enable socialists and
trade unionists to contest elections. Being a
Coalition means it can only act when all its
component parts are in agreement, and that
explains why there are a few issues where it
doesn’t have fully developed policies. But that
does not prevent its component parts from
promoting their own positions in addition to those
agreed by TUSC as a whole. What helps to unite
them is a shared aim of building a new, mass
socialist party
TUSC is organised at national level through Annual
Conferences and a National Steering Committee
which consists of the Socialist Party, the SWP, the
railway workers union, the RMT, and individual,
independent socialists through the Independent
Socialist Network (ISN). It also has the support of
a number of left trade union caucuses, including
the NUT and PCS, and, in a personal capacity, a
number of leading individual trade unionists
including the Prison Officers Association General
Secretary and the PCS Vice-President.
TUSC has begun to open out and organise
democratically at local levels. It is TUSC policy for
there to be local steering committees or branches
and, thanks largely to the work of the ISN, there
are over 25 local TUSC groups up and down the
country. Every TUSC candidate is selected locally
before being endorsed nationally, a process in
itself which will lead to a significant further
increase in the number of local groups as TUSC
moves towards its goal of 100 General Election and
1,000 council candidates for 2015. Individuals can
get involved with TUSC through their local branch
or join through the ISN.
TUSC and Left Unity have a lot in common. There
is no reason why they can’t work in harmony
together for the General election and beyond.
Unity is Strength.
9. The mass socialist party will use both parliamentary and
extra-parliamentary means to build support for its ultimate
goal the socialist transformation of society.
10. All elected representatives will be accountable to the
party membership and will receive no payment above the
average wage of a skilled worker (the exact level to be
determined by the party conference) plus legitimate
Independent Socialist Network – Bulletin 6
At the heart of The Project is the attempt to make an
unashamed and clear case for socialist revolution in
opposition to the passing radical fads, a confused
reformism and the lingering tumours of Stalinism.
The magazine brings together a number of views and
analyses from within the workers’ movement about the
world we live in, our struggles, our daily lives and how to
build support for our ideas. With Marx we say that nothing
human is alien to us, so we will cover all aspects of our lives,
including art, culture and sport.
The Project is published by the Independent Socialist
Network. The ISN brings together socialists who want to
build a mass socialist party. We are independent in the
sense that we are not subject to the undemocratic
discipline of the leadership of any socialist group. We are
not independent in the sense that we share a common goal.
We are bound together in our determination to work for
the democratic and socialist transformation of society. We
see ourselves as part of the working-class movement and
work to see the working class in power. We see our status
as independents to be temporary. We are independents
who do not want to be independent. We want to be
members of a mass socialist party, based in and on the
working class.
We reject both Stalinism and Social Democracy. In their
different ways these twin political strands have served to
discredit the idea of socialism in the eyes of many working
class people, setting back the struggle of the working class
to emancipate itself.
Similarly, we reject the model of the various small (or less
small) socialist groups. We reject their interpretation of
‘democratic centralism’, which is more centralist than
democratic. We believe that all Marxists should be able to
co-exist within a single, united party with the right to
discuss and debate freely and openly.
In the modern world, particularly, in which most things are
broadcast via the internet within moments, when most
people are used to seeing internal factions of bourgeois
parties openly airing their disagreements in the media, it is
ridiculous to think that our differences can or should be
kept hidden from those we seek to influence.
We believe that the influence of socialists will grow when
we can show that we are capable of disagreeing and yet still
act together to advance our cause; when we can rid
ourselves of pettiness. The ISN is a place for serious
discussion among comrades on socialist theory and
practice, on our strategic goals and the tactics with which
to achieve them. No working-class organisation could exist
without differences. Disagreement is inevitable. It can
bring clarity and, through that, a greater unity.
We recognise that there are different political strands
within the workers’ movement. Some, such as Stalinism and
reformism, are alien ideas within our ranks and have to be
defeated. Many workers will come under the influence of
these ideas and Marxists have to argue their corner.
We think that there are some core ideas that are essential
for a socialist party. Those ideas are set out in the ISN’s
Statement of Aims and Principles (see opposite).
We will be addressing them in articles and discussions over
the next year, amending, deleting or adding, as and when
We reject the model that predicates its existence on
supposed ideological purity, leading to continuous splits.
This is particularly ridiculous when these differences relate
to issues of tactics or methods of work. This has more to do
with personal egos than any real need to separate.
Fundamentally we disagree with the approach of those
socialist groups who adopt a minoritarian, elitist view of
how socialist change will come about. These parties believe
that somehow a small party of a few thousand can leap to
the head of a mass movement and catapult themselves into
We believe that the socialist revolution must be the act of
the working class itself. It will not be the act of any
individual, or big leader, or parliamentary group, or small
revolutionary party.
We believe that the act of abolishing capitalism and
inaugurating working-class rule must be carried out by the
working class democratically, that is, acting as the majority
in society – or it will not be carried out at all.
To this end we need to build not a sect – not even a party
of tens of thousands. We need a party of millions, capable
of influencing millions more. This means beginning the long
task of reintroducing genuine socialist ideas into the
working-class movement.
Our task is to make socialist ideas popular. We can do this
only by stating those ideas openly and patiently explaining
why they should be supported. There are no short cuts.
Nothing will be achieved by watering down the ideas, or
hiding them. To do that would be to build on sand.
As our contribution to that task the ISN is launching a new
journal called, simply, The Project.
The Project represents a modest step in taking forward the
struggle for a mass, democratic and socialist approach to
become the dominant trend within the workers’
We are re-asserting the view that socialist change can only
be the self-emancipating act of a politically aware working
class, organised in mass parties of millions; that our road to
socialism is democratic – not in the constitutional or
parliamentary sense but in the sense that only through the
active participation of workers empowered with
unrestricted access to ideas, debates and arguments, and
possessed of the ability to elect and control their leaders
can a force for real social change be built.
We welcome submissions from across our movement that
address the struggles we face. If you would like to submit
an article please send a brief outline to our editorial
team: [email protected]
If you would like to collaborate in our project, in whatever
way you think possible, please get in touch.
Independent Socialist Network – Bulletin 6
Compiled by Pete McLaren, member of the ISN SC, and directly elected delegate to Left Unity NC
The Conference has been organised into Sessions, the
first 5 on Saturday November 15, Sessions 6 – 15 on
1. Environment
2. Crime & Justice
3. Social Security
4. Education
5. International
6. Miscellaneous
7. Safe Spaces and an alternative
8. Disputes Committee, Standing Orders &
9. Constitution and Democracy
10. Equality
11. Fighting austerity
12. Electoral strategy
13. Party and organization
14. Constitutional amendments
15. Housing
Sessions consist of branch and individual motions on
various areas within that section, and any
amendments to them. A number are prefixed by a
Commission report on that topic.
We have decided to concentrate on Electoral strategy
because of the proximity of the General Election, and
the decision from Left Unity’s March Conference to
become part of the largest ever left challenge for the
General Election
Five motions have been submitted under this heading,
all having direct relevance to the General Election in
2015. The policy on the General Election, adopted at
LU’s March policy conference, states, “Left Unity
should open discussions with other left groups,
coalitions and parties to avoid electoral clashes and
move towards electoral pacts – with the initial aim of
creating the largest ever left challenge in the 2015
General Election.”
Motion A in this Session, from Nottingham LU, calls for
a joint election platform between LU and the National
Health Action Party where individuals are members of
both. Nothing much wrong with this, although the
NHA is largely a single issue party run by doctors, and
tends to have few policies outside of its excellent
defence of the NHS.
Motion B ‘Electoral Unity, Trade Unionist and
Socialist Coalition (TUSC)’ is proposed by Glasgow
South LU, Loughborough LU and Pete McLaren,
seconded by Ed Potts and Mike Thomas.
It recalls the policy agreed in March (see above),
demands structured collaboration with the rest of the
left for 2015, and suggests such collaboration could
include becoming part of an electoral coalition with
TUSC and others. This could mean LU standing
candidates under its registered electoral name, but
stating they are part of the TUSC campaign, or as ‘Left
Unity-Trade Unionists and Socialists’. Both options
would contribute to the total needed by TUSC for
national media coverage. It also calls for a Conference
of the Left to discuss a united socialist electoral
Amendment B1, from John Tummon and Alison
Treacher, deletes the need for LU to work with TUSC
to gain the media coverage and, in promoting an
alliance with the Green Party, ignores the Green’s
support for austerity measures when in power.
Amendment B2 from Pete Green and Phil Pope deletes
reference to the policy agreed in March, provides no
strategy for working with TUSC, and doesn’t make
sense – what would the “records of this and relevant
communication” refer to?
In Motion C, Leeds and Lambeth LU call for LU only to
stand candidates if it has democratically agreed a
manifesto through a policy and delegate conference.
Amendment C1 from Tom Walker sensibly suggests
the manifesto consists of already agreed Conference
Motion D, from Alison Lord and Joana Ramiro, would
seem to be stating the obvious in calling for LU to be
against the endorsement of abusers as electoral
candidates. It would appear to be a much more
objective and balanced position than that put recently
to the ISN AGM, although it is still not absolutely clear
that the motion accepts that the presumption of
innocence is an important principle of justice which
must be defended at all times. Motion E, ‘Electoral tactics where LU is not standing’,
moved by Richard Brenner and Joy Mac, calls for a
Labour vote in the General Election in every
constituency where LU does not stand candidates, or
where there are no explicitly working class and
socialist candidates. This ignores Labour’s intention to
continue with the policies of austerity and cuts, attack
those on welfare, privatise health and education,
bomb Iraq and restrict trade unionism – the same
neoliberal/capitalist policies as the Tories!
Independent Socialist Network – Bulletin 6
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