Communist Platform’s seven questions for internal elections candidates

The seven questions we would like to put to the candidates are:

1. Do you publicly criticise all calls, manifestos and organisations calling for a British withdrawal from the European Union? Will you publicly advocate the programme of establishing working class power throughout Europe?

2. Do you oppose the idea of forming some kind of bloc within Left Unity that includes the social-imperialist AWL? Should those who support the pro-Nato government of Petro Poroshenko, who refuse to condemn the 2003 invasion of Iraq or the possibility of an Israeli nuclear strike against Iran be considered legitimate bloc partners?

3. Do you give priority to Left Unity or Tusc? Do you agree that Tusc is a diversionary Labour Party mark II project?

4. Do you support openness and accountability? Do you consider reporting and commenting on Left Unity officers, branches, regions, national council, conferences, etc, perfectly normal and acceptable? Will you publicly condemn the suspension of Laurie McCauley? Do you demand his immediate reinstatement?

5. Do you disassociate yourself from those who resort to violence or threats of violence within the left? Will you insist that anyone found guilty of making such threats issue a public apology, no matter how belatedly?

6. Do you think Left Unity should draw a clear red line between the socialist politics of the working class and the petty bourgeois politics of the Green Party?

7. Do you support the call for a Left Unity constitutional conference in 2015?

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9 responses to “Communist Platform’s seven questions for internal elections candidates”

  1. John Penney says:

    1. Yes

    2.This is simply a slanderous misrepresentation of another revolutionary socialist organisation which is also a supporting component part of our Left Unity coalition. How does this sort of sectarian tosh help build a broad radical socialist party ?

    3. Yes TUSC is a diversionary project – a front for the SPEW and SWP . But some TUSC supporters do appear to be putting in some good work for Left Unity nevertheless. Is the “entrist” aspect of TUSC supporter participation in our Left Unity project any more dodgy that the ultraleftist entrist motivation of, for instance, the CPGB and Workers Power comrades ?

    4. Yes to the first part, and “don’t know enough about this branch dispute” to the second.

    5. Yes of course – but the particular interpersonal dispute behind this question is an old petty storm in a teacup that serious socialists need to be mature enough to “get over”. Baring petty grudges forever is a sad feature of Far Left Sects.

    6. yes

    7. NO – our Constitution may well be unwieldy and flawed, but we really have to just live with it for a while yet, and concentrate on doing real POLITICAL activity. Endless conferences are the delight only of inveterate Far Leftie sects.

    What about another key question then ? ie,

    8. Are you a member of Left Unity for the long term to seriously build a radical Left broadly based mass party, or are you just on a short term “political raid” to strut your rigid ultraleft political positions for your tiny “revolutionary” Left sect, cause as much disruption as possible within Left Unity, and hope to leave the organisation, or be chucked out, having gained nothing but a handful of extra members from the wreckage ?

    Just asking.

  2. John Tummon says:

    1 The EU is a capitalist club that insists that only up to 40% of GDP can be spent on the public sector, but leaving it is the right wing argument for opposing the EU directive on working hours and various other slightly progressive rulings the right does not like. The SP’s reason for being behind No2EU has now been ditched by its alliance with the SWP in TUSC, so the ‘British jobs for British workers rhetoric of Brown is no longer in play. But we could still work towards international solidarity even outside the EU, so I don’t really care much about the ‘should we stay or should we go’ argument between capitalists dependant on EU for imports and exports and right wing anti-worker and anti-immigrant sentiment.

    2 Not for me but if they want a tendency, let’s see who supports it.

    3 TUSC is a re-tread of everything that has failed before.

    4 LU leadership must be accountable. I have worked on the Appeal Committee and found two comrades should have their suspensions lifted, both contested by the leadership. I will only comment on individual cases I have investigated.

    5 No – some behaviour is so bad that it prvokes violence either of the word or deed and everything must be assessed by its context. I am not for absolute rules and detest the concept of zero tolerance.

    6 No – the Greens have very similar policies to LU; both are broad parties but LU is far smaller. The Greens are progressive.

    7 Depends what is behind the call.

    I am only standing for a regional post in the North West.

  3. Matthew Caygill says:

    Response to Communist Platform questions to candidates in Left Unity internal elections, March 2015
    The CPGB list of questions gives us a good opportunity to examine the pathology of this small revolutionary group. To start with the good things: they are clearly in favour of general human liberation, rooted in a tradition drawn from the contribution of the Marxist movement.
    However there is a downside, exemplified by the rather peculiar second question. Is the AWL even in Left Unity? Not where I am. Who is proposing a ‘bloc’ with them? Is this an attack on Workers Power or Socialist Resistance? Who knows, who cares – except those that think the main purpose of Left Unity is a place for small revolutionary groups to fight out their political differences. And that seems to be the CPGB vision. For the majority of us Left Unity is an attempt to build something that is neither of the discredited bankrupt vanguardist left or of a social democracy that has given up in favour of variants of neo-liberalism. We want a broad party that is environmentalist, socialist and feminist. We don’t want to provide a site for ‘revolutionaries’ to show off in front of each other, fight it out, maybe pick up a few more members. And that is precisely what the CPGB want. They are on record as criticizing ‘half-way houses’ and calling for the unity of Marxists into one party. If they had the courage of their convictions they would be in TUSC fighting for their beliefs there. The consequence of this is that where they have any strength of numbers life for others in Left Unity is miserable. They drive people away, and they don’t care. Look at Sheffield Left Unity for confirmation of this. They aren’t in the business of building Left Unity. They wouldn’t particularly care if Left Unity failed – they would relish it as evidence that only their nostrums work.
    Q1: I’ve long been against British withdrawal from the European Union and for working with other lefts towards the transformation of the EU. Syriza’s experiences in the austerity machine of the Eurozone is a challenge to this, so I would call for more debate on the question – not the assertion of dogmas or irrelevant abstractions.
    Q2: Who cares?
    Q3: Of course I give priority to Left Unity, but we have to work with TUSC – in ways that will strengthen Left Unity.
    Q4. I do support openness and accountability. However this has to be balanced with confidentiality. I haven’t heard the details of the McCauley case, would only say that our processes have to be timely. However, Weekly Worker’s reporting is frequently imbalanced and unobjective, teetering into being dishonest and hypocritical and reveaing the CPGB’s bad faith. It’s been a good way to destroy any relationships of trust.
    Q5. I do disassociate from violence and threats, and think establishing some sort of code of conduct is important. Bullying also needs to be considered. Weekly Worker is an instrument for the bully.
    Q6. I don’t think I’ve got enough to words to answer this. The question reveals a very wooden and dogmatic understanding of Marxism. Lenin would have laughed at you. The short answer is No, the question is stupid. Dialectics not crude binary oppositions please.
    Q7. I agree that the constitution doesn’t work well – it is designed for a much larger party and has failed to provide a framework for effective leadership. I would keep the gender balance component. So I am not opposed to a constitutional conference, perhaps on the basis of branch delegations. But we need to ensure that branches work fairly.

  4. pete green says:

    My own response as sent to the Weekly Worker:
    I am reluctant to respond to these questions from the Weekly Worker given your despicable attack on Salman Shaheen last year, when you used the adjective ‘cowardly’ to describe his public rejection of a call to arm the workers, when what was at issue was simply a political difference. The bombastic language deployed by Jack Conrad in his contextualisation of the questions (‘Bonapartist’ etc.), a language which in the hands of Marx was both fresh and comprehensible, in the WW as elsewhere on the supposedly revolutionary left, has become cliché-ridden and unreadable. These fossilised thought processes will eventually consign the CPGB to the dustbin of history in what I hope is a not-too distant future (although I exempt the work of Moshe Machover from this indictment). My strategic perspective for Left Unity is to break out of the ghetto of the Far Left, as Syriza and Podemos in their different ways have succeeded in doing. The politics of the CPGB would keep us there indefinitely, fantasising about the day when the masses break in, sign up to the maximum PROGRAMME and rescue us from oblivion.
    That said I agreed to respond lest you embarrass me, as you have the estimable Dave Landau (who wrote our excellent brochure on migration), by including me on your list of recommendations. So in order as presented:
    Q1. I have opposed calls to leave the EU but voted not to support Britain joining the Euro and for a socialist Europe not a neoliberal one (and am supporting the Left Platform within Syriza on the q of Greece being prepared if necessary to leave the Eurozone). In Britain, however, the critical issue in a referendum would be no alignment with UKIP and the nationalist right.
    Q2. I am adamantly opposed to any bloc with the AWL primarily because they defend the Zionist project in Israel (Is this a reference to a joint candidacy of a Workers Power member and an AWL member for the Trade Union officer post? I am shocked by that).
    Q3 My priority is Left Unity of course. I do not, however, deploy the Life of Brian language of the second sentence in this q and have supported standing joint Left Unity-Trade Unionist and Socialist candidates in the forthcoming national election.
    Q4. I certainly support openness and accountability. On the issue of McCauley’s suspension I neither condemn it nor support it as this is the responsibility of the disputes cttee and national officers quite correctly have no role in this. I do however condemn any failure to respect elementary standards of confidentiality in reporting on the personal circumstances of individuals within Left Unity.
    Q5. Yes to both qs.
    Q6. I do not accept the terms in which this question is posed but the answer is no. In what sense are the Greens’ politics more petty-bourgeois (and what does that mean???) than Labour’s? I am in favour of differentiating between Greens such as Caroline Lucas (one of the most consistently leftwing MPs in Parliament) and those who support cuts in services or tougher immigration controls. In Hackney North I will vote for Dianne Abbott but elsewhere I could vote Green.
    Q7. Yes in principle but only if a delegate conference. I agree the constitution is dysfunctional in many respects. But I would not scrap guaranteed quotas for women as the CPGB would and I would want to exclude from standing in internal elections CPGB, or any other, members who have failed to pay subs for months and then pay a minimum 50p at the last minute.

  5. Tony Free says:

    Tony Free
    I am a candidate for Left Unity Principal Speaker and to be one of the 15 nationally elected National Committee.

    You have asked 7 questions which I will answer honestly and I would ask one question back.

    Extra Question: Do you think it is healthy to have a political group like the communist group within the party?
    Answer: Definitely not. Left Unity is evolving into a political party in it’s own right. The ideals and philosophy will be moulded by the beliefs of the whole membership. We must change our views as a group and not by subversion. To have a faction whose purpose is to drag Left Unity towards a specific philosophy is destructive. As was witnessed in the 1980’s with Militant and Labour. Labour then continued on a downward spiral. Caucus’s are obviously essential as they exist to ensure that our policy is fully inclusive and catering for a full range of people.

    I will answer your questions shortly as you have a democratic right to ask them.

  6. Tony Free says:

    Here are my honest answers to your questions.

    (1) yes I am opposed to a British withdrawal from the EU. I believe that we should be part of a Left wing group openly within the EU to represent the interests and aspirations of working people all over Europe.

    (2) I do not support the idea of political blocks within Left Unity. We must develop together not as different factions straining against each other.

    (3) I support Left Unity. I support LU/TUSC candidates becaue that is what conference decided. Given the choice I would not wish to be in alliances or electoral agreements with any other party.

    (4) I support openness and accountability at every level within Left Unity. We can certainly do better than we are currently but we are still in our infancy. With respect to the issue of the suspension of Laurie McCauley I do not know enough of the facts to make an informed decision. The writings of the press are not sufficiently reliable information.

    (5) I will never support violence or bullying at any level in the party. In the event that a member is found to be guilty of these things then there should be resulting actions starting at the least with an apology. In serious cases suspension or expulsion.

    (6) Left Unity is a party in it’s own right and should be seen as a totally separate entity to the Green Party (and other parties).

    (7) I would support a Left Unity Conference in 2015 to fully consider the constitution and Policy. We need to stand together and create a policy that all members will feel part of. Any constitutional changes should be subject to an all member vote.

  7. Kathrine Brannan says:

    Kathrine Brannan (candidate National Committee)

    The CPGB’s interrogation of internal election candidates is to be lauded. The selection of the number seven* reveals the sagacity of the interrogators. This is the number of days needed to create the world; the number of days in a week, and, of course, the number of seven deadly things, which all, even children, should remember by heart. Sometimes these are called Capital things; a reference to the original written source of the teachings, yet, as some will argue, we will not find all these seven things in the original manuscript. It is no matter; for these doctrines shall rely on the authority of tradition and on those to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revolution is entrusted.
    In this list of seven deadly things we observe ‘all things great and small’ are covered. We speak of anger and of confession, of truth and dissembling, and of positions proffered by these teaching authorities against which we must all humbly measure our lesser selves. Even those poor souls, who, for whatever reason, are not, as yet, baptised, in the watery currents of the British Left, shall not be given indulgence. Those unable to immediately distinguish the good section from the bad section; the treacherous member from the loyal, shall not be outcast but , mercifully excluded or purged from communion with the higher authorities until such time as they, too, can emulate more purified positions.
    There is one deadly thing which is not mentioned here by the wholly erudite authorities of the CPGB. That deadly thing is called ‘pride’ or the ‘haughty eyes’. Pride is, of course, the root of all the other deadly things. Haughty eyes look condescendingly on people. They look at others as inferior in an arrogant way and see themselves as superior to all others. As stated earlier, this deadly thing subsumes all other deadly things put forward in the questions, permeates them and, therefore, we must assume, the CPGB does not feel it necessary to mention specifically, as it is already obvious to all.

    * The Hebrew root of the word ‘seven’ means ‘ to be complete’.

  8. Christopher Nickolay says:

    Thanks Tony, Pete and Matthew. The language of the ‘Communist platform’ is quite counter to the Left Unity project. I would ask you ‘Communist platform’- why are you in the room when you bring such old habits that have never actually helped? It is likely that how you behave and plan will only cause conflict, sap energy and disappoint people. The way you express your desire for change is, sadly, not a way that will in any way help build a rooted, cohesive, participatory, radical movement based on feminism, socialism and a determination to stop the profiteers destruction of the environment we live in and share. Can you change? I hope so.

  9. Jeffrey Loffman says:

    Standing as a candidate for South East
    Q1.No. I disapprove of the EU. It needs a transformation and we need to ally with other Left groups. Such internationalism brings a strength – a strength that is essential to confront the globalisation process where multinationals cannot be faced down by individual states.
    Q.2 Not for me. Democracy is essential within the party and when members legitimately wish to form a tendency they should be free to do so.
    Q.3 Left Unity must have priority; it is essential for the party to grow in order to resource its means to achieve objectives. Its time to act more than have theological debates which have muted the impact of the Left over my lifetime.
    Q.4 Yes to accountability and openness but there are times, especially re. individual members, when confidentiality is a necessary sensitivity. There have been difficulties in at least one branch I am aware of where growth might even been hampered as a result of actions taken – there has to be recourse to an independent appeal procedure made up of those who do not necessarily sit on the appropriate committee. BUT trust is vital more than factionalism and we must trust those to act in the best interest of `left Unity when elected to a position – and to be answerable for their actions when in those positions…
    Q.5 I utterly disassociate myself from any actions of violence or prompts towards violence to any fellow comrade and such words and deeds have to b e viewed by the party with the utmost gravity.
    Q.6 In the short term we know that reformism will not be a solution but folk in Austerity are on their knees. Not just some in the UK but across Europe. To ignore alliances to bring desired ends seems to me to play into the hands of those whose narrative fills the media and the neoliberal sham ‘consensus’. I believe www need to be pragmatic to achieve desired ends. We will gain greater recognition and support when our actions bring benefit to those whom we seek to support.
    Q.7 Enough time has been spent on constitution (for the time being). Political action and campaigns and membership growth is far more urgent and when success in these areas is clear or after a couple of years maybe then we need to re-cvisit our rather cumbersome but well-intended constitution.

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