Progressive United Left Scotland places itself outside of the United Left

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Statement from United Left NCC

It is with great sadness that the United Left National Coordinating Committee (NCC) acknowledges that Progressive United Left Scotland has excluded itself from the United Left.

This is due to the gravity of recent actions involving the PULS leadership which led to an investigation conducted by a panel from the UL’s National Coordinating Committee (NCC). The panel yesterday reported its findings to the full NCC, which decided, after a full and open discussion, to uphold the conclusions of the report – that the PULS leadership has infringed the UL Code of Conduct by: “Knowingly, recklessly or in bad faith publishing false or misleading information relating to any aspect of the UL or its supporters.” The panel decided that this meant that PULS had excluded itself from the United Left.

(NB: The UL Code of Conduct was agreed by the NCC IN November 2019 and endorsed by the PULS delegates at that NCC.)

It was also noted that the most recent action taken by PULS was the formation of an ‘alternative left group’ within Unite which aims to undermine and offer an alternative to, both the national United Left (UL) and our democratically elected candidate for General Secretary in this year’s election, Steve Turner.

Despite every effort of the NCC to bring about a satisfactory conclusion to their grievances, the PULS leadership have:

  1. Consistently acted in a way that has sought to undermine the national UL, the democratic principle of collective decision making, the UL national constitution and rules.
  2. Demonstrated a complete disregard for, and a refusal to abide by the result of the national UL hustings at which Steve Turner was democratically elected as the UL candidate for General Secretary (GS). 
  3. Acted against the interests of the national UL to establish an alternative left organisation within Unite, encouraging others across the union to align themselves with the group and supporting an alternative candidate for GS (the losing candidate from the hustings).
  4. Refused to accept the collective authority and decisions of the NCC, despite having legitimately asked for and received scrutineers’ reports from both the NCC and Independent balloting company providing the information requested by PULS following the hustings; including regional voting breakdowns, timings of votes being cast and the legitimacy of those balloted being members of the UL.  

Given the above, the decision of the NCC is that the on-going actions of the PULS leadership have been completely unacceptable and contrary to the United Left Code of Conduct.

Their actions are intolerable within a democratic, national left organisation and as such have led to them excluding themselves from membership of the United Left.

This is a sad day for the left in Scotland and follows almost four years of splits and division within the nation between the leadership of United Left Scotland and PULS.  It’s unfortunate that the leadership of neither organisation has shown any willingness to resolve differences, despite the NCC attempting to find a resolution and establish a single United Left voice for Scotland.  

This has been a difficult decision not taken lightly by the NCC.  

  • We hope that the majority of the left in PULS will see the benefits of remaining part of a national United Left group and we offer you the opportunity to do so

The new year will be a challenging one for all Unite members – lay activists. organisers, officers and staff. Defending and advancing our members interests post Brexit, in the middle of a pandemic and with action needed to address the climate emergency – which on its own and without coordinated action at a national level, could be devastating for our members across Scotland’s oil and gas sector, is a priority.  

2021 is also the year of an election for Unite General Secretary and it is vital that the left retains this position post-Len and build its influence across our great union.  Splits and division are always dangerous, leaving opportunities for others to benefit. This year’s election will be no different from the past, with the right in our union seeing an opportunity to gain control.  

The United Left agreed its GS candidate at its July online hustings, a process that was far more transparent, inclusive and democratic than any previous hustings, with nearly seventy percent of UL members participating.  All parties at the hustings agreed to abide by the result and it is unacceptable that one has since decided to stand independently.  

  • The hustings result was endorsed overwhelmingly at the NCC held shortly after and independent scrutiny reports as well as complete breakdowns of voting patterns in response to legitimate questions were sent to regional and national co-ordinators, including PULS, to forward to UL members in regions and nations.

As we have said, our overwhelming decision to recognise the decision of the PULS leadership to exclude themselves from the UL and our decision that PULS as an organisation is no longer considered to be a part of the UL organisation was a difficult one.  But at this critical time for our union, wider movement and class, there needs to be unity and acceptance of democratic decisions within the UL.  It benefits no one but the right-wing, to have a deliberate, ongoing Trump-style diversion and denial of a democratic decision within the UL. 

Unite will continue to be a force for good in our movement, for socialism and a political economy that works for working people.  We will continue to strengthen and extend the left’s influence across our movement and politically as well as within workplaces, branches and the internal structures of unite.  We will also be working to ensuring victory for our United Left candidate, Steve Turner, in the General Secretary election whenever it’s called by our Executive Council. 

  • The national United Left continues to be a welcoming home for any left comrades in Scotland who support the above aims.  

Yours in solidarity

The United Left National Coordinating Committee