Left Unity is a new political party, founded because the main parties all support the policies they call ‘austerity': deep cuts in public spending designed to destroy the social and economic gains working people have made over many decades.
We are being forced to pay the costs of a crisis we were not responsible for, while the wealthiest 1% continue to rake in bonuses and fill their bank accounts in tax havens.
We are committed to defending and expanding the welfare state, and defending all those worst affected by this onslaught and the scapegoating and racism that comes with it. We advance alternative social and economic policies based on supporting public services and redistributing wealth.
Different economy, different society
The so-called economic recovery is only a recovery for the few. Average real wages are still at least 6% below their level in 2008 with the average worker £1,500 a year worse off.
One in five working people is not paid a living wage, and the number of zero-hours contracts has shot up by 75% in two years. Many disabled people face up to six different benefit cuts, losing up to £5,000 a year. Cuts in the public sector continue, disproportionately hurting women, children, LGBTQ people, people from ethnic minorities and some of the poorest regions in the country.
We are suffering more widely from the consequences of 30 years of what is known as ‘neoliberalism’ – the privatisation of publicly owned services and utilities, the deregulation of markets and a sustained onslaught on the gains won by the labour movement after 1945.
Radical measures are necessary to ensure a transformation in the economic structure and a reversal of this damage. We believe that there is no longer any prospect of the Labour Party being prepared to do this as it has embraced neoliberalism and austerity. Our goal is to transform society: to achieve the full democratisation of state and political institutions, society and the economy, by and for the people.
Socialist, feminist, environmentalist, anti-racist
Left Unity stands for equality and justice. It is socialist, feminist, environmentalist, anti-racist and against all forms of discrimination.
We are socialist because our aim is to end capitalism. We will pursue a society where the meeting of human needs is paramount, not one which is driven by the quest for private profit and the enrichment of a few. We are in favour of a radical system where democratic control extends across the economy. The natural wealth, and the means of production, distribution and exchange should be owned in common and democratically run by and for the people as a whole, rather than being owned and controlled by a small minority to enrich themselves.
We are feminist because our vision of society is one without the gender oppression and exploitation which blights the lives of women and girls and makes full human emancipation impossible.
We are environmentalist because we recognise that if humankind is to survive, it has to establish a sustainable relationship with the rest of the natural world – an economy based on achieving maximum profits in the shortest possible time is destroying our planet.
We are anti-racist and opposed to all forms of discrimination. The current economic onslaught disproportionately affects already disadvantaged groups and we oppose their persecution and oppression. No society is just and equal while some people remain without the support needed to achieve their full potential.
Our policies are made by our members. They are emerging from democratic debate and will develop further over the next few years.
Here are some of the policies we stand for:
• We are for policies to restore full employment, an immediate £10 an hour minimum wage and spending on public housing – we are against austerity, which makes us pay for a systemic crisis of capitalism.
• We are for free, publicly owned, democratic public services as well as the public ownership of utilities, transport and banks – we are against the creeping privatisation of the NHS and education.
• We are for a welfare system based on the principle of universal benefits, and cutting taxes for working class people while raising them on the richest people and corporations – we are for the abolition of sanctions, workfare and work capability assessments and against cuts in social security benefits.
• We are for an internationalist policy based on peace and equality, and for the right of people to determine their own future – we are against imperialist wars and military intervention.
• We are for a radical social transformation drawing on the best of the cooperative, radical democratic, feminist, green and socialist traditions – we are against a system whose benefits go disproportionately to 1% of the population.
Left Unity engages in elections to offer voters a left alternative, but we understand that elections are not the only arena or even the most important arena in which political struggles are fought.
We recognise that support for our party and its electoral success will only advance to the extent that it is genuinely representative of working class communities, and an organic part of the campaigns and movements they generate and support. We will not vote for cuts or compromise our principles by participating in coalitions with capitalist parties.
Elsewhere in Europe left parties such as Syriza in Greece are winning mass support for resistance to austerity. In Britain we believe we too need a new left party, and that is why Left Unity exists – we hope you will support us and get involved.
This text is the introduction to our 2015 manifesto.