HomeLatest NewsPreparing for a general election challenge: Convention update

Preparing for a general election challenge: Convention update

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An initial agenda has been agreed for the 3rd of February ‘Convention to Organise a Working Class Challenge at the General Election’, with seven organisations now committed to attending and others still consulting members through their appropriate structures.

The premise of the Convention has always been that a general election challenge by trade unionists, socialists and campaign groups to Sir Keir Starmer’s new New Labour party is a politically legitimate goal to organise towards.  So a debate on whether there should be candidates standing against Starmer’s Labour at all will not be part of the agenda. 

But the scale and character of the challenge, including whether a common stand is feasible or desirable and how it would be organised, are matters for discussion.  And that’s what the Convention agenda has been set to achieve.

The Convention will start with an opening session in which campaign groups and socialist organisations considering putting up candidates in the general election will be able to explain their broad position and take questions on their approach.  It will also be open to any independent socialist candidates who, like the former Labour MP Emma Dent Coad, have already declared that they are intending to stand.

Then the Convention will get down to detail, debating propositions tabled by the Convention Arrangements Committee (and any amendments or alternative proposals received) under six headings: the ‘fair media coverage’ target; the attitude to left-wing Labour candidates; a common name on the ballot paper; the minimum policies that candidates would have to support; the right to campaign independently within a common challenge; and decision-making going forward.

To help progress the discussion a pre-Convention questionnaire has been prepared based on the six propositions down for debate.  The propositions allow for a binary ‘agree or disagree’ answer, but there is also the opportunity to suggest amendments or alternative proposals which could then be moved and discussed at the Convention under the relevant agenda heading.  The questionnaire is available at https://www.tusc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Questionnaire.docx and replies, including amendments or alternative proposals, must be sent in by Friday 26th January for them to be included in the Convention paperwork.

Representation and registration

The Convention is being held in Birmingham on February 3rd, at the Carrs Lane Church Centre, B4 7SX (a five minute or so walk from New Street station) from 11am to 4-30pm.

In-person attendance at the Convention is open to the following:

● Every campaign group or socialist organisation that is considering supporting or standing candidates in the general election, who can appoint up to ten delegates to represent their organisation at the event.

● Any individual member (attending in a personal capacity) of a trade union national executive committee, section or group executive committee member, or elected union branch officeror workplace rep, can also attend with voice.

● Every resigned-from-Labour or independent socialist councillor can attend on the same basis.

● All individual members of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) will also be able to attend with voice.  Individual members of TUSC are those who have joined TUSC (see https://www.tusc.org.uk/join/) but who are not members of one of the TUSC component organisations or organisations otherwise represented at the Convention.

There will also be Zoom available for visitors, who are asked to pay the same registration fee (£5 waged or £2 unwaged or low-waged) as in-person attendees to help meet the costs of the event.

The registration form is available at https://www.tusc.org.uk/convention_registration_form/

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