I went to the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition conference yesterday.
I'm totally on board with the TUSC project. Intellectually - because I see it as a necessary part of the process of getting a new workers' party off the ground. And emotionally because after the best part of thirty years swimming against the tide of Tories, bigots and other arseholes I'd rather work with people whose values I more or less share rather than seeking some kind of ideological purity.
The trouble is these people can be rather hard work: And this was much in evidence yesterday. The SWP were generally conspicuous by their absence - and sending only a sprinkling of people confirmed that at the moment their enthusiasm for TUSC constitutes no more than keeping a watching brief. The Communist Party of Britain at least made their reservations open - although in the truly bizarre way of declaring that we should not write off the possibility of Labour being transformed into a socialist party until the next election. And a certain member of Socialist Resistance behaved with the persecuted hysteria that confirmed the python-esque stereotype of the Far Left in his ability to pick an argument in a telephone box. More positively on the other hand the Independent Socialist Network and the Socialist Party are clearly committed to TUSC - and to the credit of both were very careful to express their differences with each other in a fraternal and respectful way. And most significantly of all - the RMT couldn't disguise their impatience that other unions couldn't just follow them in breaking with Labour and signing up to a new party.
I knew what I was in for when I went, so I wouldn't describe the experience as depressing, but after six hours in the conference I did have a numb arse and a distinct sense of wading through treacle to get to a far off prize.