Comparing the Platforms

August 11, 2013

LogoGreyWe face the probability of a terrible decline in the social wealth of the working people in the UK, a critical change in the life experience of working class people, says Felicity Dowling. Hunger, want and fear are coming back to this and other countries. Thousands have signed petitions supporting the call for a new political formation under the banner of Left Unity. November will see hundreds of founding members of this new party inaugurate it, determine our political direction, our priorities and the nature of the organisation itself.

Three different political platforms have been published in the run up to this founding conference of Left Unity to try to put forward the best way for us to move forward. A platform is a set of ideas that a group wants to put forward to be considered at the founding conference. Political discussion helps us all understand the tasks facing Left Unity, and the range of political opinion within the organisation. Solidarity and inclusiveness will help us all make the most of these discussions. Each member has a right to comment and any group of ten can produce an alternative platform.
What are the differences between the platforms? This post will, I hope, lay the positions of the three platforms side by side so that people can compare them directly.

I am a supporter of the Left Party Platform, but I write this post as an individual, not on behalf of that platform. I have tried to be open and fair in this comparison. The platforms are called the Left Party Platform, the Socialist Platform and the Class Struggle Platform.
They are presented in the order in which they were published. I have tried only to compare the three statements below to help in the process of people making their own decisions. I will share my personal political analysis of the platforms elsewhere.
The Left Party Platform was published alongside an additional explanatory document called “Towards a new left party” and in this article it has been treated as part and parcel of the Left Party Platform as they were written and published together. I have only used those documents that have been published as the platform themselves, as opposed to material published by members writing in support of platforms.
If supporters of the other platforms feel that those platforms have been treated unfairly, or that I have missed key elements in any way, please suggest amendments. This post is not intended as a partisan polemic but as an aid to collective discussion and hopefully will be updated as and when necessary.
What is striking and positive is that all of the platforms agree so much, on so many of the issues facing the organisation. While there are issues where some platforms have yet to comment, the fact that new contributions have touched on new ideas can only be a strength and shows exactly why open and fraternal discussion helps us bring to light the key political issues, to the benefit of everyone.
The issues that the platforms mention, that I have chosen to compare in all three platforms are; the party, capitalism, socialism, women’s rights and oppressed groups, internationalism, what we want to gain, campaigning, working in the class struggles, electoral issues, trade unions, anti-fascism, anti-war and the environment.
The Class Struggle Platform raises the issues of Trade Unionism which the others do not specifically mention. The Socialist and Class Struggle platforms raise the idea of a worker’s wage for elected reps, the Left Party Platform has the Environment and more on women’s struggles; so from this we have much to discuss.
Nature of the party
Left Party Platform
“A party which advocates and fights for the democratisation of our society, economy, state and political institutions, transforming these arenas in the interests of the majority… Its politics and policies will stand against capitalism, imperialism, war, racism and fascism”
“…socialist, feminist, environmentalist and against all forms of discrimination”
And
“The new left party will campaign, mobilise and support struggles on a day to day basis, recognising the need for self-organisation in working class communities” – Towards a new left party, the background document for the Left Party Platform.
Socialist Platform
The [Left Unity] Party is a socialist party. Its aim is to bring about the end of capitalism and its replacement by socialism.
Class Struggle Platform
We need an anti-capitalist, socialist party. We need a party that says the working class and the oppressed must not pay for the long economic crisis of the banks and corporations. It is the rich financiers and capitalists who must be forced to pay. We need a party that puts an end to austerity and brings about a massive transfer of wealth from the rich to ordinary people. We want a party that champions and strengthens the unions and every organisation of working class and oppressed people, freeing them from the shackles of the anti-union laws. We want a party whose members are active on every front of the struggle.
We need a democratic, anti-bureaucratic party. We need a party radically different from the undemocratic establishment parties funded by the rich and controlled by an unaccountable elite of MPs and bureaucrats.
We will build our party from the bottom up, from the workplaces and communities, from the midst of our struggles. We want it to draw in tens of thousands of ordinary people in every town and city across Britain.
Anti-Capitalism
Left Party Platform
In reality these policies have been designed to destroy the social and economic gains working people have made over many decades, reducing wages and obliterating welfare states. The economic crisis has increasingly become a social and political crisis as people face poverty, hunger and even death, as a result of the catastrophic and government-imposed failure of health systems and social services. The environmental crisis driven particularly by climate change caused by the unending search for profit is wreaking devastation too, particularly in the Global South.
That face of capitalism was superseded – temporarily as is now clear – after 1945, as humanising reform elements were adopted under the pressure of the strengthened post-war labour movements and the social democracy that they gave rise to across much of Western Europe.
Following the pattern adopted in the Global South where post-colonial reforms were destroyed by the structural adjustment policies of the IMF and World Bank, resulting in poverty, environmental destruction, and intra-state conflict and increasing violence against women, Europe’s post-1945 social gains are now being brutally reversed. Governments use the excuse of ‘paying off the deficit’ to cut public spending and redistribute society’s wealth in the interests of the ruling class, by reducing wages and destroying the ‘social wage’ of health, education, social services and welfare…..
The result is that whilst we see the rise of poverty, homelessness and unemployment, the wealth of the richest in our societies continues to grow at an exponential rate.
We have entered the age of austerity where in a topsy-turvy world those who are responsible for the economic crisis are making the vast majority, who are not responsible, pay for their greed and profligacy and for the fundamental flaws in their system.
Socialist Platform
Under capitalism, production is carried out solely to make a profit for the few, regardless of the needs of society or damage to the environment.
Capitalism does not and cannot be made to work in the interests of the majority. Its state and institutions will have to be replaced by ones that act in the interests of the majority
Class Struggle Platform
[It is very clear that the Class Struggle Platform do not like capitalism at all, however, they do not outline directly what they understand capitalism to be. This is not a problem as we can infer from their detailed account of socialism what capitalism might be from what it is not:] “It requires a fundamental breach with capitalism”.

Socialism
Left Party Platform
A party which advocates and fights for the democratisation of our society, economy, state and political institutions, transforming these arenas in the interests of the majority.
The urgent questions that faces us are, first, how to stop this offensive by the rich and defend the welfare state and, second, how to extend the social gains, making them permanent and using them as a basis from which to build a fully democratic society – not just political democracy, but social and economic democracy, run by the people for the people
Socialist Platform
It is the rich financiers and capitalists who must be forced to pay. We need a party that puts an end to austerity and brings about a massive transfer of wealth from the rich to ordinary people
Socialism means complete political, social and economic democracy. It requires a fundamental breach with capitalism. It means a society in which the wealth and the means of production are no longer in private hands but are owned in common. Everyone will have the right to participate in deciding how the wealth of society is used and how production is planned to meet the needs of all and to protect the natural world on which we depend.
Class Struggle Platform
Socialism means complete political, social and economic democracy. It requires a fundamental breach with capitalism. It means a society in which the wealth and the means of production are no longer in private hands but are owned in common. Everyone will have the right to participate in deciding how the wealth of society is used and how production is planned to meet the needs of all and to protect the natural world on which we depend. We reject the idea that the undemocratic regimes that existed in the former Soviet Union and other countries were socialist

Women’s rights and oppressed groups
Left Party Platform
socialist, feminist, environmentalist and against all forms of discrimination
“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 specify our feminism because historical experience shows that the full liberation of women does not automatically follow the nationalisation of productive forces or the reordering of the economy. We fight to advance this goal in the current political context, against the increasing divergence between men’s and women’s incomes, against the increasing poverty among women, against the ‘double burden’ of waged work and unshared domestic labour, and against the increasing violence against women in society and in personal relationships, which is exacerbated by the economic crisis.
Socialist Platform
“The [Left Unity] Party opposes all oppression and discrimination, whether on the basis of gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, religion or sexual orientation and aims to create a society in which such oppression and discrimination no longer exist.
Class Struggle Platform
for women’s liberation
“women resisting domestic violence, the culture of rape and abuse, pay discrimination and poverty”; .On all our party bodies, we want to ensure equal representation of women.
We guarantee the right of all oppressed groups to caucus within the party and challenge all examples of discrimination and oppression.

Internationalism
Left Party Platform
It will recognise that international solidarity is fundamental to the success of any resistance and the achievement of any political progress; that the problems we face in Britain are systemic problems that cannot be resolved in Britain alone and which require an international response and an international alternative
Socialist Platform
Socialism has to be international. The interests of the working class are the same everywhere. The [Left Unity] Party opposes all imperialist wars and military interventions. It rejects the idea that there is a national solution to the problems of capitalism. It stands for the maximum solidarity and cooperation between the working class in Britain and elsewhere. It will work with others across Europe to replace the European Union with a voluntary European federation of socialist societies.
Class Struggle Platform
International solidarity against austerity, unemployment, racism and war.
Across Europe and around the world millions of people like us are fighting the effects of the crisis and the attempts of the capitalists to make ordinary people pay to save their system. New parties have been formed over the last decade to the left of the Labour and Socialist parties that will not break from neo-liberalism. ……And we will propose and try to build a new international.

Campaigning
Left Party Platform
We recognise that support for a new left party and its electoral success will only advance to the extent that it is genuinely representative of working class communities, has no interests separate from theirs, and is an organic part of the campaigns and movements which they generate and support. The new left party will engage in the national and local electoral processes, offering voters a left alternative, while understanding that elections are not the only arena or even the most important arena in which political struggles are fought
Socialist Platform
The [Left Unity] Party aims to win support from the working class and all those who want to bring about the socialist transformation of society, which can only be accomplished by the working class itself acting democratically as the majority in society.
Class Struggle Platform
We will build our party build from the bottom up, from the workplaces and communities, from the midst of our struggles. We want it to draw in tens of thousands of ordinary people in every town and city across Britain.

What we want to gain
Left Party Platform
A party which advocates and fights for the democratisation of our society, economy, state and political institutions, transforming these arenas in the interests of the majority.
Socialist Platform
The [Left Unity] Party aims to win political power to end capitalism, not to manage it. It will not participate in governmental coalitions with capitalist parties at national or local level
Class Struggle Platform
Develop a strategy for taking real power into the hands of the people, forming a working class government, defeating capitalism and creating a world free of poverty, exploitation, oppression and war.

Working in the class struggles
Left Party Platform
The new left party will campaign, mobilise and support struggles on a day to day basis, recognising the need for self-organisation in working class communities. We recognise that support for a new left party and its electoral success will only advance to the extent that it is genuinely representative of working class communities, has no interests separate from theirs, and is an organic part of the campaigns and movements which they generate and support. The new left party will engage in the national and local electoral processes, offering voters a left alternative, while understanding that elections are not the only arena or even the most important arena in which political struggles are fought.
Socialist Platform
So long as the working class is not able to win political power for itself the [Left Unity] Party will participate in working-class campaigns to defend all past gains and to improve living standards and democratic rights. But it recognises that any reforms will only be partial and temporary so long as capitalism continues.
Class Struggle Platform
So we address our call to campaigners against the Bedroom Tax; trade unionists; disabled people campaigning against ATOS and benefit cuts; socialists; women resisting domestic violence, the culture of rape and abuse, pay discrimination and poverty; anti-racist activists confronting the EDL; Muslims resisting racist attacks; movements against war and in solidarity with revolutions in Europe and the Middle East; students fighting fees, course closures and sell-offs; unemployed activists.
We appeal to all to come together in big local gatherings to help form this new party and shape its policy, in an atmosphere of democracy, solidarity and taking action together On all our party bodies, we want to ensure equal representation of women, the fullest possible representation of black and Asian people, of the disabled, of LGBT people, of workers and youth.
The Class Struggle Platform has considerably more on campaigning.

Electoral strategy
Left Party Platform
The new left party will engage in the national and local electoral processes, offering voters a left alternative, while understanding that elections are not the only arena or even the most important arena in which political struggles are fought
Socialist Platform
The [Left Unity] Party will use both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary means to build support for its ultimate goal – the socialist transformation of society
All elected representatives will be accountable to the party membership and will receive no payment above the average wage of a skilled worker (the exact level to be determined by the party conference) plus legitimate expenses
Class Struggle Platform
We want all our representatives on councils or in parliament to be accountable to and recallable by those who voted for them, and to take only the average wage of the working class when in public office.

Trade Unions
Only the class struggle platform mentions these directly.
At the same time the leaders of the trade unions have shown themselves unwilling and incapable of mobilising these millions in an effective resistance to the attacks. Fearful of the anti-union laws that the Tories introduced – and Blair and Brown preserved – they have not called a single mass demonstration in defence of the NHS

Anti-fascism
Left Party Platform
Its politics and policies will stand against capitalism, imperialism, war, racism and fascism
Class Struggle Platform
Campaign to smash the EDL and defend Muslims from pogroms and fascist violence.

Anti-war
Left Party Platform
A new party of the left is needed to stand against war and military intervention, for a drastic reduction of military expenditure for the benefit of social spending, and for a foreign policy based on peace and equality
Class Struggle Platform
We will fight all wars and ‘interventions’ planned by our rulers, we will support the Arab revolutions and the Palestinians, we will try to get all the troops and bases out of the Middle East and Central Asia

Environmental issues
Left Party Platform
We are environmentalist because our vision of society is one which recognises that if humankind is to survive, it has to establish a sustainable relationship with the rest of the natural world – of which it is part and on which it depends. We recognise that an economy based on achieving maximum profits at the lowest cost in the shortest possible time is destroying our planet. The current operation of industry and economy is totally incompatible with the maintenance of the ecosystem through the growing loss of bio and agro diversity, the depletion of resources and increasing climate change. The future of the planet can only be secured through a sustainable, low carbon industrial base designed to meet people’s needs on a global basis.

Summary
This post is intended to facilitate Left Unity supporters (future members) and meetings in the discussions which will be taking place over coming weeks and months in preparation for the November conference. It is clear, as has been observed above, that there is a huge amount of agreement between the various platforms. This posting has been constructed in the way that it has, to stress the similarities, but also highlight differences and gaps (which may well not constitute disagreement, so much as unintended omission) between the platforms, to facilitate the filling of gaps by all platforms, and the inclusion of unintended or apparent omissions – when we debate, let’s debate real rather than perceived differences where such exist. Where platforms want to emphasise differences, hopefully this post will support and help clarify that process too.

15 Responses to Comparing the Platforms

  1. Hoom
    August 11, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    This is an extremely useful overview of the platforms. Thanks for putting in the work.

  2. Nick Wrack
    August 11, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Hi Felicity,
    Under your heading ‘Socialism’ you have mixed up the Socialist Platform with the Class Struggle Platform.
    Under the heading ‘anti-war’ you have omitted the Socialist Platform Statement’s opposition to imperialist wars and military interventions. Although you have included it elsewhere, its omission in this section is misleading.
    Under the heading ‘Environment’ you have omitted the references to environmental damage and planning to protect the natural world, both of which are contained in the Socialist Platform.

    • Felicity Dowling
      August 12, 2013 at 1:36 am

      If you want to give me the quotes Nick I’ll amend it. I did have them up on twin screens and di get them proof read.. still we can all make mistakes

  3. Emanuele
    August 11, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Frankly, if you want to make headway with a population who have been taught “socialism” is a dirty word, you should probably omit it for now and just reiterate the need for preservation of social programs, a proper taxation policy,anti-discrimination policies, union and worker rights, green energy and infrastructure spending. The rest can come later. And these things need to be rooted in the real-world experiences of working-class people.

    • mikems
      August 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      I would say that now, when the old beliefs of society are crumbling and radical change is being forced on people by failing capitalism, is exactly the time to remind people what socialism is.

  4. Boris Clover
    August 11, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Do not under any account forgo the use of Socialism in your material. If you do,you merely collude with the view that socialism IS a dirty word, and reinforce that view. You might as well say that Class is a dirty word, or struggle. Certainly it has to be spelt out why, in spite of all the betrayals,the horrors of Stalinism etc, it is the only hope for humankind, but acting as if we’re ashamed of it, is no way to solve the problem.

  5. neprimerimye
    August 11, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    Those who wish to proclaim themselves socialists in private while assuming another vaguer identity in public do the working class and socialism a disservice. Either the Left Party is for socialism and against the capitalist mode of production or it is a liberal party opposed to neoliberalism but not the causes of neoliberalism that is to say they find the crisis prone nature of capitalism acceptable.

    It’s problematic comparing the three platforms point for point. Each and every platform is, for example, in favour of trade unions one can must assume but only the platform produced by Workers Power mentions them directly. But even had all three platforms mentioned them what weight do unions play in their thinking? A simple reference to trade unions cannot tell us this. Are the authors of the various platforms in favour of the current strategies of the unions or do they want something more militant? If they want something more militant what do they want?

    Similar arguments might be produced about those areas upon which all three platforms have something to say. With regard to Internationalism all three statements contain points I would regard as positive. But unless teased out it is not obvious that in fact there are real differences between the LPP and the other two platforms on this topic. In general the statement of the LPP provides in advance an alibi for not pushing struggles as far as they can go because Britain is isolated and this clearly relates to the situation in Greece where so many are, wrongly, enamoured of Syriza and its current leadership.

    Whatever the differences between the platforms may be it is not helpful to compare them on a point for point basis as if the platform of a new left party is to be simply a list of areas where we say nice things. A practical political programme for a new left socialist party must be developed in a certain manner laying out the situation in the world and how it can be fought against. it must place the working class and its struggles first and cannot be reduced to a nice wish list as this method of comparison does.

  6. pete b
    August 11, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    i think what is primary between the platforms is the lack of orientation to the labour movement and the trade unions included in the platforms.
    working class communities are cited in left platform.
    do some socialists who support left platform theorise that a mass left party can be built seperately from the existing working class organisations?
    I think that a mass left party can only be built with the development of rank and file lefts within the unions.
    the left party platform fails to mention this aspect.
    all platforms agree that the vital struggle is against austerity. surely in this the unions are central. the anti cuts campaigns must surely focus on solidarity with and a message of support to workers to take defensive strike action, to make the unions fight!
    i dont detect any such strategy from the left platform.
    i repeat my accusation that the socialist groups are forming a leadership block with originators of the project.
    i see the point of the socialist platform is to set down a marker. a referendum for left unity members. are you for socialism? do you believe that capitalism has to be overturned, its state and institutions replaced? it also repeats the lefts position that all its representatives are held accountable and should be paid an average workers wage. these are longstanding anti – bureacratic and democratic demands.
    I Would add the democratic demand of the chartists for an annual parliament, to allow regular accountability. also for a socialist republic, the abolition of the monarchy, the house of lords and for a constituent assembly to decide on a constitution of a new republic. socialists would fight for a socialist republic.
    IF left unity wants to show its committment to democracy then it needs to adopt democratic demands. away with the monarchs, the lords, the judges and all titles (Clergy, generaLs and commissioners). sweep away the dirt of privalidge and heridatory wealth!
    peteb

  7. RTG
    August 12, 2013 at 10:54 am

    None of the platforms appear to acknowledge the multinational nature of the UK and the multiple national questions in British state. This is a pretty big omission considering the pending independence referendum in Scotland next year and unfortunately once again illustrates the Anglocentricity of most of the ‘British’ Left.

  8. mikems
    August 12, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    That’s pretty negative.

    I am in favour of the most effective left electoral presence possible throughout the UK or as separate independent countries, but I have never had an opinion on Scottish or Welsh independence, believing that is for them to decide. If that’s an anglocentric opinion, it is because I am English and that’s how I see it.

    It is asking too much for us to solve the UK’s national question before we’ve even had our founding conference.

    We are at the point of establishing structure and basic organising principles, not detailed policy, especially in areas of such complexity and divergence of opinion.

  9. August 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks for doing this Felicity, it actually shows you that a lot of this debate is “angels dancing on the head of a pin” – the overlap between all the documents is very clear, yet there seems to be a logger-heads attitude from both sides on their platforms. Very strange.

  10. Nick Wrack
    August 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Hi Felicity,

    I appreciate that you have taken some time and effort to present this comparison but, having re-read, it I realise that you are not comparing like with like.

    You have included extracts from the motivating article in support of the Left Party Platform, whereas you have ignored the article ‘Resistance and Socialist Change’, which was published at the same time as the Socialist Platform Statement and authored by the Socialist Platform initiators.

    One wonders why those parts you quote from the supporting article were not in the Platform Statement. As I understand it, the LPP will be presenting the Statement for adoption at the conference, not the supporting article.

    If you draw on the article to supplement the Statement of the LPP, surely it would have been fairer to have adopted the same approach to the SP.

    Moreover, you have not indicated which parts included under the ‘Left Party Platform’ subheads come from the Platform Statement and which come from the supporting article, so that the impression is given that what is included comes from the Platform Statement unless otherwise indicated, as you do when you deal with the ‘Nature of the Platform’, but that is not the case.

    Also, as I have mentioned in my earlier comment above, you have attributed one quote from the Class Struggle Platform to the Socialist Platform: “It is the rich financiers and capitalists who must be forced to pay. We need a party that puts an end to austerity and brings about a massive transfer of wealth from the rich to ordinary people.”

    And you have attributed one passage from the Socialist Platform to both the Socialist Platform and to the Class Struggle Platform: “Socialism means complete political, social and economic democracy. It requires a fundamental breach with capitalism. It means a society in which the wealth and the means of production are no longer in private hands but are owned in common. Everyone will have the right to participate in deciding how the wealth of society is used and how production is planned to meet the needs of all and to protect the natural world on which we depend.”

    You have omitted references to the environment contained in the SP Platform, never mind the fuller references to the environment in the supporting article.

    You have also omitted the reference to “opposition to all imperialist wars and military interventions”, contained in the SP Platform when you deal with ‘anti-war’. Although you have included this quote elsewhere, its omission from the anti-war section is misleading.

    I do not have time at the moment to give the article any closer attention but I do not think presenting the platforms in this way is as fair as you suggest.

  11. Jivan Mohanty
    August 13, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    I think the proposed parties need to address their positions towards economic growth.

  12. Nick Wrack
    August 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Four days have passed since I pointed out mistakes in this ‘comparison’. Are any corrections going to be made to the text? As it is, it is misleading.

  13. Felicity Dowling
    August 17, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Nick
    “four days have passed” ? What are you like?
    Five days ago I asked you for the full references.
    As you might or might not have noticed I’ve been doing quite a lot of other stuff for left unity
    I’ll reply when I get back from holiday. Its not a suitable task for an instant response.
    Please don’t give me lines for late homework !
    Felicity

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