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RMT conference defies Starmer and backs Jeremy Corbyn to stand in the next election

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The annual general meeting (AGM – conference) of the RMT transport workers’ union, held in Bournemouth from 26-29 June, agreed to back Jeremy Corbyn if he decides to stand in the next general election, including as an independent candidate.

Jeremy was formally debarred from standing for election as a Labour candidate by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) at its meeting on March 28th, in a motion presented by Sir Keir Starmer. The only way now for him to retain the seat he has held for 40 years will be to stand against the ‘official’ Labour candidate and, if he does so, he will now have the full backing of the RMT.

The AGM resolution supporting Jeremy, which we publish below, came from the union’s London Underground Engineering Branch. This was the old branch of the late Bob Crow, the RMT general secretary when the union was expelled from Tony Blair’s original ‘New Labour’ party in 2004, who went on to become the co-founder of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in 2010.

The AGM delegates decided not to embark on a full review of the union’s political strategy as proposed in another resolution – suggesting a special general meeting be held “in good time” for the general election which may be as early as next spring – but union branches can still support ‘under rule’ other trade union and socialist candidates who will be standing alongside Jeremy if he does decide to run.

Every day that passes confirms how closely tied Starmer’s Tony Blair-style ‘New Labour’ is to the capitalist establishment and its interests, in opposition to the interests of the working class. The RMT AGM decision in defiance of Starmer points to how our side needs to step up its preparations for the fight back. ■

The text of the resolution from the LU Engineering Branch agreed by the AGM:

Support Jeremy Corbyn for MP

This RMT AGM notes the announcement by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer that Jeremy Corbyn will not be allowed to defend the Islington North seat, that he has held since 1983, at the next general election.

This RMT AGM believes that:

● This is an utterly undemocratic act, removing Jeremy’s right to take part in a selection contest.

● Jeremy Corbyn has been a consistent supporter of RMT members taking action and RMT policies such as the renationalisation of the railways and the repeal of the Tory anti-union Trade Union Act.

● As with Jeremy’s suspension from the Parliamentary Labour Party, this is a political statement by the Labour leadership, moving the party to the right politically, proving its credentials to big business and the capitalist establishment.  It follows the refusal of Starmer to support striking workers, and the sacking of Sam Tarry from the shadow cabinet for speaking up for union action from the picket line.

● It is confirmation that, under Starmer’s leadership, Labour does not represent the interests of workers and working-class communities.

● Therefore, workers need political representation that supports their action against the cost-of-living squeeze, and stands for policies such as re-nationalisation, opposition to cuts, and for the repeal of the Tory anti-union laws.

Therefore, this RMT AGM agrees to instruct the union NEC to:

● Give full support to Jeremy Corbyn, and to campaign for his re-election as the Islington North MP if he decides to stand in the next general election, including as an independent candidate.

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