The following is an open and public letter from members of Unite’s United Left grouping to members of the Socialist Party who are standing candidates against Labour candidates in marginal seats in the forthcoming General Election.
While Unite policy is to support Labour, in fact to do all we can to elect a Labour Government, your organisation has decided to stand candidates in the forthcoming general election. Of course that is your right; we are a trade union not a political party, we do not have any disciplinary means to force you to support union policy and rightly so.
Within the UL there is then a clear political difference; on the one hand the majority, working for a Labour victory who are also intent on developing the left within the Party and your goal, of standing candidates in the election as part of becoming the political alternative to Labour. In our view a big claim for some 1,000 – 2,000 people, whose track record in elections is derisory.
While we know we can’t dissuade you from standing candidates we consider you have crossed a line by standing candidates in marginals. We would ask you to withdraw your candidates from the 100 Labour must win marginals. In our view standing in these seats is a breach in a working class front against the Tories.
You are not a rival to Labour. While Labour are standing to win every seat and form a Government, you know very well you will not win one seat let alone form a government. Rather your goal is to recruit to, and make propaganda for your organisation.
By standing in marginals you are not just ‘building the party’ you are also taking votes from Labour – those who vote for you, and those you influence not to vote Labour. While the numbers you convince will be small, in such a tight election where every vote counts you must realise it may mean Labour losing seats, in effect allowing seats to be won by the Tories or their partners in crime the Lib Dems.
The logic of your position goes further; it is to argue, where there is no SP candidate, workers should abstain. If of course we have misunderstood your position then why are you fielding candidates in marginals Labour can win?
The only rationale for this cavalier attitude is because you believe there is no difference between Labour and the other capitalist parties. This is blind sectarianism, yet Labour is supported by nearly every union, and unions are the mass organisations of workers, do the unions not count for anything?
We urge you then as fellow UL members to reconsider standing in marginals and so not breaking the front against the Tories.
Tony Woodhouse UL, Chair Unite Executive Council
Mark Lyons UL, Vice Chair Unite Executive Council
Martin Mayer Chair Unite UL
Terry Abbott UL, Chair North-West Regional Committee
Dick Banks UL, Chair North-East Regional Committee
Liam Gallagher UL, Chair Unite Ireland
Mike Jenkins UL, Chair Unite Wales
Jim Kelly UL, Chair London & Eastern Regional Committee
Gordon Lean UL, Chair South-East Regional Committee
Kev Terry UL, Chair South-West Regional Committee