What is Left Unity?
Left Unity is a broad coalition of Socialist PCS Members, who stand together on a democratically elected slate in Elections, and work together to pursue a pro-workforce, member driven agenda within PCS in HMRC.
What is a “Caucus”?
We use the term “Caucus” to refer to meetings of the Left Unity Members of the GEC – we try to hold these before each GEC meeting, to discuss and decide a collective stance on issues affecting PCS Members.
Isn’t that a bit like a political party within the Union?
Yes, to be perfectly honest, it is a lot like that. In a large, nationally spread Union, things can go one of two ways – either a secret old boys’ network that encourages voting for “the right sort” of candidate, without ever openly discussing why, or by open groups, like Left Unity, forming and supporting candidates in elections then working together thereafter.
So who is in Left Unity?
Lots of people, from a variety of political backgrounds, all across the UK. Some are in political parties, others are independent socialists who believe that Left Unity is the best way to ensure that Members run the Union.
So who decides Left Unity Policy?
Left Unity Members elected onto the GEC absolutely commit themselves to doing the best they can to deliver PCS Conference policy. Additionally, there is an annual Left Unity Conference that decides our slate of GEC Candidates (with every R&C Left Unity Member entitled to vote and stand), elects our Steering Committee, and which decides policy positions that we support.
What is a Steering Committee?
As well as the GEC slate, the Group LU Conference elects a steering committee, which runs Group Left Unity between Conferences, produces the Broadside newsletter and offers support and advice to the GEC Caucus.
So the Steering Committee don’t tell Left Unity GEC Members what to do?
No. They advise, but they do not have the right to instruct elected GEC Members to do anything.
So what if a Left Unity GEC Member disagrees with others in the GEC Caucus?
Members who disagree with the caucus have every right to exercise what is called a right of tendency. This means that they are asked to explain a disagreement they have with the majority, but they cannot be expected to vote against their conscience.
So what makes Left Unity different from other Groups within the Union?
We represent the broadest alliance of Socialists within PCS in Revenue & Customs Group, both geographically and in terms of political diversity.
Over the years there have been various groupings of varying political hues within PCS. Traditionally, those who were roughly in-line with the right-wing of the Labour Party, particularly during the Blair years, formed an organised group within PCS. However, their approach to Trade Unionism, which was largely sympathetic to management, was exposed as being incapable of protecting the terms & conditions of PCS members and as such, that particular grouping has ceased to function for several years.
Similarly, there are currently “independent” candidates running slates in R&C, which are connected to a small ultra-left grouping within the Labour Party. Whilst some of these candidates are unarguably socialists and often support Left Unity positions within PCS, the broader faction – as evidenced by their conference motions & regular statements – argue that PCS should throw all of its weight into campaigning for the Labour Party. Whilst Left Unity has many members who are active within the Labour Party, as a grouping we believe first and foremost that we should pursue PCS members’ bargaining aims with the employer, rather than trying to use PCS as a vehicle to elect Labour MPs.
Are all of the Socialists in Revenue & Customs in Left Unity?
No, within Revenue & Customs there have been a few attempts in recent years by small groups of candidates to run together, but none of these has had a transparent membership structure like Left Unity, nor a membership base like ours. We believe that healthy elections are a sign of a healthy Union, and welcome a variety of candidates from all backgrounds standing, but firmly believe that our platform, outlined elsewhere on this site, represents the best way to protect and advance the interests of PCS Members in Revenue & Customs