Candidates:

Adele Andrews (Wigan LU)
Nominated by Wigan LU

Tom Armstrong  (Manchester LU)
Nominated by Alison Treacher (Stockport LU), Beverley Keenan (Manchester LU)

Peter Billington
Nominated by Terry Conway (Islington LU), Chris Hurley (West London LU)

Hazel Duffy (Wigan LU)
Nominated by Wigan LU

Dawud Islam (Manchester LU)
Nominated by Alison Treacher (Stockport LU), David Melvin (Manchester LU)

Beverly Keenan (Manchester LU)
Nominated by Ian Parker (Manchester LU) and Chris Strafford (Manchester LU)

Laurie McCauley (Manchester LU)
Nominated by Steve Wallis (Manchester LU), Alison Treacher (Stockport LU)

Dave Sykes (Manchester LU)
Nominated by Northampton LU

James Thorne  Liverpool LU
Nominated by Liverpool LU

Steve Wallis (Manchester LU)
Nominated by Alison Treacher (Stockport LU), Tom Armstrong (Manchester LU)

Statements:

Adele Andrews (Wigan LU)
Nominated by Wigan LU

Hello Comrades, my name is Adele Andrews, I’m 47 years young and a member of the Wigan branch of Left Unity. I was one of the founding members of Left Unity, joining as soon as I heard the rallying call for the formation of a new party of the left, in the days following the release of Ken Loach’s Spirit of ’45.

At the time I was a reluctant member of the Labour Party, having joined again so that I might vote in the leadership contest. As the weeks and months went by, it became increasingly clear the Labour Party was no longer fit to use the name “Labour”, as they were embracing the Tory ‘Austerity’ programme rather than fighting the sustained attacks against the poor and vulnerable. In light of this I cancelled my membership and threw all my efforts into fighting for a fairer system by joining Left Unity.

As a member of Wigan Left Unity, I have grown in confidence and been encouraged by the wealth of knowledge which our Wigan members have in the field of campaigning at a grass roots level on environmental and social issues. I have taken part in many demonstrations including campaigning against zero hours contracts, fracking and the unfair Atos assessments. As well as standing in local elections as a Left Unity candidate, I am an active member of the Wigan Diggers Festival Committee, spreading the words of Gerrard Winstanley who viewed the Earth as a common treasury for all!

I have a very strong social conscience and it is this which drives me forward and makes me want to fight harder and harder for a better kind of society. We need to embrace more equal treatment for women, a fairer way of looking after our citizens, regardless of class, colour, gender or religion and to stop the privatisation of our NHS! It is Left Unity which will deliver these goals if we all pull together. I feel honoured to put myself forward for nomination and will endeavour to work hard to help make positive changes within our society.

 

Tom Armstrong  (Manchester LU)
Nominated by Alison Treacher (Stockport LU), Beverley Keenan (Manchester LU)

I have been involved in left activism for over 10 years, during which I have felt moments of hope as I stood side by side with many who wanted a more just world, and also dismay when I have seen the left tear itself asunder whilst being out of touch with issues faced by ordinary people.

As a disabled person on ESA, I am on the front line of the ConDem cuts. Both myself and my mother have faced the cruel Work Capability Assessment and we still both get a feeling of dread whenever a brown envelope appears on our doormat. I have regularly protested against the DWP and ATOS and condemn benefit sanctions, which leave people without any income for the most petty of reasons.

I have protested against the brutal way that the Greater Manchester Police have attempted to suppress peaceful protest at the Barton Moss Protection Camp against fracking, as well as opposing police brutality in general.

Left Unity needs reach out to those that have been ignored by the left, including working class communities where the modern day left has been notably absent, whilst not patronisingly parachuting into an area in order to “build up the masses”.

I am fervently opposed to racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination which serve to benefit  the ruling class by dividing the working class. However I reject forms of “privilege theory” which promote the ghettoization  of specific groups, and is used to dismiss and silence critics on the grounds of supposed “privilege”. This is divisive and stifles legitimate debate. I also reject the notion  that criticism of reactionary Islamism due to its sexism,  anti-Semitism, homophobia, etc automatically makes one an Islamophobe.

If elected, I will push for the building of Left Unity in a manner which actively engages with grassroots communities and isn’t obsessed with recruitment as a means to an end.

I will also call for wider co-operation with other organisations, including the People’s Assembly, Occupy, and others, working with them for mutual benefit. I will work to ensure Left Unity fully includes and supports disabled people.

 

Peter Billington
Nominated by Terry Conway (Islington LU), Chris Hurley (West London LU)

I am the Secretary of the Lancashire Association of Trades Union Councils and the vice-chair of North East Lancashire TUC. I am also a delegate to the North West TUC Regional Council. I have been an active trade unionist within engineering for many years, serving on the National Committee of the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU).

I am currently a member of UNITE.

I have been regularly involved in organising and implementing anti-racist/anti-fascist work in NE Lancashire. In particular, I have taken an active part in the campaigns against the National Front and BNP in Blackburn, Burnley, Hyndburn, and Rossendale.

From an electoral perspective, I strongly believe that people should have the chance to support a political party which represents left and trade union policies which are not on offer from Labour.

 

Hazel Duffy (Wigan LU)
Nominated by Wigan LU

Even though new to politics I strongly believe in the values of Left Unity and have upheld these values in many projects and groups I am involved with.

I have been one of the organisers of the Wigan Diggers festival for 3 years now and also have produced educational material for primary schools  informing them of the values of the Diggers and how it relates to citizenship today.

Book Cycle Wigan (A free book shop run by volunteers in a library closed down due to the cuts) is also a project that I have been involved with from the start at which I hold film nights which are available for anyone who wishes to show an informative documentary or film in order to educate the community.

Some campaigns that I have taken active roles in include, Wigans Hovis strike, Fast food workers’ rights, Anti fracking, Against ATOS and the anti David Cameron demonstration in Wigan that made the national papers.

The reason I want to play an active role in Left Unity it because I think that even with having a lot to learn about politics, for Left Unity to be the fresh approach which everyone is hoping for everyday people need to play their part. Because of this I will be ideal in playing a role in its success. I am lucky enough to be in a branch where political knowledge is high and its members are very supportive and really enjoy the progress we make as a group.

I also want to show that politics is not just for the few but for everyone. I want to represent the people who have never had any involvement in politics which unfortunately seem to be those who are affected most by it.

Finally I will be standing as 1 of 7 Left Unity candidates in the Local elections this May and hope to raise awareness in Wigan that Left Unity is a party that they can depend upon to represent ordinary people.

 

Dawud Islam (Manchester LU)
Nominated by Alison Treacher (Stockport LU), David Melvin (Manchester LU)

There are some excellent candidates for these roles, many from my own branch in Manchester. I can offer 35 years experience as a left wing activist and experience in a senior role as the former Deputy Leader of RESPECT. I am not a member of any of the groupings within LU but I do consider myself to be broadly speaking a revolutionary socialist as I think that the current system is beyond reform and indeed I subscribe to the view that the mechanisms of the state would make it impossible for a genuinely elected socialist/communist government to effectively govern as they would be prevented from so doing by the forces of the establishment.

However I am enough of a realist to accept that none of this is likely to happen any time so and so I feel that we should develop our support base and build the party. The decision at conference to effectively only contest elections that we have a genuine chance of winning really ties one hand behind our back and one of my first tasks if elected would be to try and campaign to get that decision reversed. It was a paragraph at the end of a largely benign motion but the implications for a small growing party are massive. Campaigning for elections is one of the main ways of getting the LU name out there, for example the Freepost leaflet at General Elections. Adopting this strategy will see us beaten before we’ve even started. I know that some branches in the NW region are planning on taking a ‘flexible’ interpretation of this motion – you wont get any trouble from me!! Most of my other biographical stuff was in my NC election address. I refer the Hon gentleman and lady to the answers I gave earlier.

 

Beverly Keenan (Manchester LU)
Nominated by Ian Parker (Manchester LU) and Chris Strafford (Manchester LU)

I was motivated to join Left Unity just over a year ago, because of the increasingly vicious austerity attacks on all sections of the working class and the urgent need to be part of a collective response. The focus on bottom up, participatory democracy, the principle of OMOV and the fact that branches can organise as they wish, impressed me as positively different to other types of party organisation. I have acted as a joint branch organiser and worked for support and involvement in local campaigns such as the Bedroom Tax, Anti-Fracking, ATOS and to work jointly with the People’s Assembly. I have also continued with my trade union work. I am an NUT school rep, a member of the Manchester NUT divisional committee and a representative on Manchester Trades Council. I have used my experience of trade union case work to assist in complaints issues under the Safe Spaces Policy in Left Unity. I also think that a way forward for Manchester Left Unity is to develop the links between the work of the trades council and local campaigns in order to break down the barriers between what can be seen as separate issues and campaigns. I am also on the LU education workers caucus and the Education Policy commission

Since joining Left Unity I have reaffirmed and developed my political views, I am a Socialist, a Feminist and support the view that the protection of the planet and the fight against the oppression of all groups is integral to the fight against capitalism. I support the women’s quota, I am also keen to set up a local Left Unity women’s caucus to complement the National caucus. I am a member of the International Socialist Network and supported the Left Party Platform at the Founding conference.

The task of Left Unity in the coming period is to strengthen our democratic base by continuing to work across local campaigns and in trade union struggles. We need to establish a clear political alternative and a vision of the future in which society’s full potential is realised for the benefit of all.

 

Laurie McCauley (Manchester LU)
Nominated by Steve Wallis (Manchester LU), Alison Treacher (Stockport LU)

As a member of the CPGB and Left Unity’s Communist Platform, I believe Left Unity really should aim to unite the fragments of the far left in Britain. As opposed to reheated Labourism, which faces stiff competition, it is the inspirational, and thoroughly realistic ideas of Marxism which have the capability of creating a new mass party of the working class. Left Unity must take a principled stand in terms of internationalism and opposition to British constitutionalism, and champion far-reaching democratic demands.

I oppose the proposed ‘safe spaces’ policy. The whole safe spaces concept is infantilising and will leave members disarmed when it comes to debates in the wider world. It can also quickly lead to its opposite, being used as a cover for politically motivated witch-hunts. LU *should* have a short code of conduct, and strive for a comradely and democratic culture. But frank and sometimes sharp debates are a necessary part of such a democratic culture, and may on occasion involve hurt feelings. Being able to strongly disagree – without splitting away in a huff, or invoking legislation on politeness – has to become ingrained in LU’s culture.

I am a strong supporter of Left Unity standing its own candidates in elections and have some experience in this area. The growth of reaction will only be undercut if the left puts forward a positive alternative. We should look to develop comrades politically- emphasising all-round development, not just sending people into hyper-leafletting mode. LU should be looking to grow, but to do so sustainably. After a rushed and hectic conference, I would push strongly for more political debate in LU at both branch, and open public meetings. When bourgeois politicians openly criticise their party leaderships in the press, it looks increasingly ludicrous when the left avoids, or at worst clamps down on, the open expression of differences. It is crucial that LU examines the failures of the left in the 20th century if it is to avoid a repetition.

 

Dave Sykes (Manchester LU)
Nominated by Northampton LU

I’m a community member with Unite the union, an equality rep and and a learning rep. In the community I volunteer at 4 job clubs and teach basic I.T. and employability skills. I’m also a universal credit champion with Oldham council helping people with their welfare rights.

Until recently I was on the NC and EC of the LRC but left after their woeful handling of the Collins report.

I am comfortable and productive on committees and happy with my decision to join LU.

Politically I’m very angry at Labour. I want parliamentary reform, a removal of current welfare reforms, an end to privatisation of the NHS and public services and taxation of banks and corporations.”

I’m hopeful of receiving your Support.

 

James Thorne Liverpool LU

Nominated by Liverpool LU

I first became politically active against the launching of the ‘War on Terror’ in 2001. I was a leading activist in the Manchester Stop the War group, and was key to sending twelve coaches from Manchester University to the demo on February 15th 2003. (Twelve coaches, that is, just from the university, not the whole of Manchester.) I mobilised for and participated in protests against the G8 in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Similarly, I mobilised for and participated in the Camp for Climate Action each year from 2007 onwards. I was on the streets of Westminster during the revolt against tuition fees and the removal of EMA in 2010-11, and my employment at Lampeter University was ended after I was critical of the Vice Chancellor’s excessive salary at that time.

In the last couple of years I have been less outwardly active, because none of the responses to the accelerating attacks on the working class seemed to me to have had the potential they needed.

For example, the Occupy! movement clearly spoke for many and had wide passive support, but its tactics did not offer a way for the vast majority of workers to participate meaningfully.

This shapes my view of how Left Unity ought to develop. Millions of workers clearly recognise that the 2008 financial crisis has been used as a pretext for engineering a redistribution of wealth away from them. Nonetheless, for five years we have lacked a clear pole around which a fightback could be organised, but the massive reservoir of anger and anxiety against the attacks continues to exist. Left Unity must become the instrument through which the huge energy of this indignation can be made to do useful political work. This means finding ways in which busy working people (not having much spare time is, after all, part of our oppression) can make a real but manageable contribution to fighting for what belongs to them.

 

Steve Wallis (Manchester LU)
Nominated by Alison Treacher (Stockport LU), Tom Armstrong (Manchester LU)

I’m a revolutionary socialist because reformism doesn’t work. Reforms in the interest of the masses that can be afforded under capitalism during booms are unaffordable and reversed during recessions and slumps.

Although it’s unlikely that Left Unity will come to power electorally, I don’t believe that violence is a necessary aspect of a revolution. I favour mass strikes from below (as argued for by Rosa Luxemburg) and demands that trade union leaders call general strikes from above, as part of the strategy for changing society. Indeed, I proposed such an amendment to the Left Party Platform statement of aims and it was agreed at the founding conference.

Another amendment of mine, to cap compensation for shareholders, at a certain level when nationalising a company so rich shareholders lose most of their investments, was inserted into the economics commission document presented and accepted at the Manchester policy-making conference.

I first got seriously involved in politics during the mass non-payment campaign against the poll tax. I went on the huge demonstration on 31 March 1990, and the People’s March Against The Poll Tax from Liverpool to London. Over 18 million people hadn’t paid a penny or were in arrears at the campaign’s height, hence the Tories ditching Thatcher and Major admitting the tax was “uncollectable” when justifying its abolition.

When the Militant Tendency was proving itself serious in largely leading that campaign, I joined thinking it could also lead a revolution. I left in 1998, mainly due to the organisation (renamed the Socialist Party) being more sectarian, particularly due to it opposing establishing the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP).

I’ve joined other left unity initiatives (including the Socialist Alliance, Respect and SSP) but Left Unity is far better since it’s a broad socialist party with quite a good balance between reformist and revolutionary politics.

I’m in the Greater Manchester Community branch of Unite.

Read more of my views about LU, and about campaigns I’m involved in(including opposing the bedroom tax, council tax demands for the poor, fracking, police corruption/brutality/murder and the surveillance state) at http://thatcheroftheleft.wordpress.com.

 


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Sat 1st July
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Not One Day More #ToriesOUT
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Saturday 24 June
March for Homes

Join the movement preparing for this demo: private, council, housing association and co-op tenants, unions and housing campaigners

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Weds 12 July, 19:30
Who’s beating back ISIS in Syria?

Learn more with Rahila Gupta, freelance journalist, writer & activist, who visited Rojava in 2016.

David’s Bookshop, Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City, SG6 3DE. £3 entry.

www.davids-bookshops.co.uk  Organised by the North Herts Friends of Rojava. Contact nhfor@outlook.com

Weds 19 – Sun 23 July
European Left Summer University

This year, the European Left/Transform Summer University will be held in Budapest, Hungary, from 19-23 of July. For programme details click here. For registration click here.

Sun 23 – Sat 29 July
International Youth Camp, Otranto, Italy

The Fourth International’s annual youth camp – find out more about socialism, feminism and environmentalism.

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