Left Party Platform submission for the aims section at the founding conference.

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In the light of positive feedback about our original platform documents some supporters have suggested that the platform ‘aims’ statement could be strengthened, before being put to conference, by including some elements from the background document, as well as on trade union work. This has been done and circulated to and approved by Left Party Platform members. This version below is the one that has been sent in for the Left Unity conference on November 30th. Should you wish  to support this statement of aims please email us at leftpartyplatform@gmail.com and we will add your name. There will be an open meeting to discuss the platform statement and put the case for a broad left party this coming Thursday.

Left Party Platform statement (formulated as an ‘Aims’ section for the constitution)

1. The ………. party stands for equality and justice. It is socialist, feminist, environmentalist and against all forms of discrimination. We stand against capitalism, imperialism, war, racism, Islamophobia and fascism. 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.

2. Our immediate tasks are to oppose austerity policies designed to destroy the social and economic gains working people have made over many decades; to oppose the scapegoating which accompanies them; to defend the welfare state and those worst affected by the onslaught; to fight to take back into public ownership those industries and utilities privatised over the last three decades; to fight to restore workers’ rights; and to advance alternative social and economic policies, redistributing wealth to the working class.

3. We are socialist because our vision of society is one 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. The natural wealth, productive resources and social means of existence will 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. The reversal of the gains made in this direction after 1945 has been catastrophic and underlines the urgency of halting and reversing the neo-liberal onslaught.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. We are opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether on the basis of class, gender, race, impairment, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, religion, age or politics. The current economic onslaught disproportionately affects already disadvantaged groups and we oppose their persecution and oppression. We support the free development, opportunity and expression of all, without impinging on the rights of others, and the introduction of legislation and social provision to make this intention a reality. No society is just and equal while some people remain without the support needed to achieve their full potential.

7. We work for and support strong, effective, democratic trade unions to fight for better wages and salaries, for improved living standards, for better working conditions and stronger, more favourable, contracts of employment. We believe that the strength of the union is the people in the workplace; that what each person does at work matters – to make the job better, to make the service provided more effective, to persuade workers to combine for greater strength.

8. Our political practice is democratic, diverse and inclusive, organising amongst working class communities with no interests apart from theirs, committed to open dialogue and new ways of working; to the mutual respect and tolerance of differences of analysis; to the rejection of the corruption of conventional political structures and their reproduction of the gender domination of capitalist society. We recognise that economic transformation does not automatically bring an end to discrimination and injustice and that these sites of struggle must be developed and won, openly and together.

9. We 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 our 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.  We will engage in the national and local electoral processes, offering voters a left alternative – where any elected representatives will take an average wage – while understanding that elections are not the only arena or even the most important arena in which political struggles are fought.

10. We are an internationalist party. There are no national solutions to the problems that humanity faces. Capitalism is an international system, highly organised and globalised and its defeat requires not only international solidarity but the linking up and coordination of struggles across Europe and the world. We will work with left organisations and movements in Europe and internationally such as the new European left parties currently organised in the European Left Party, including Syriza, Bloco de Esquerda, Izquierda Unida, Die Linke, Front de Gauche and others, to build coordination, strategic links and common actions to advance that struggle. We will also seek to learn from the experience of those parties in Latin America which have challenged and rejected neo-liberal economic policies and are establishing a social and economic alternative in the interests of the majority of their peoples. We stand against war and military intervention, against the exploitation of other countries for economic gain, and for a drastic reduction of military expenditure for the benefit of social spending, and for a foreign policy based on peace and equality.

Kerry Abel, Richard Abendorff, Gilbert Achcar, Anam Ahmed, Len Arthur, Aidan Barlow, Andrew Bebbington,  Nick Bird, Patrick Black, Jay Blackwood, Pamela Bowhill, Jack Brindelli, Charles Brown, Andrew Burgin, Katie Buse, Duncan Chapel, Andrew Collingwood, John Connolly, Lesley Connors, Terry Conway, Gioia Coppola, Merry Cross, Kieran Crowe, Anne Marie Cryer-Whitehead, Mark Cryer-Whitehead, Eamonn Custance, Anya-Nicola Darr, John Dickie, Felicity Dowling, Pippa Dowswell, Sheila Dunsby, Flo Jo Durrant, Jon Duveen, Maria Esperanza Sanchez, Sam Feeney, Mark Findlay, Eleanor Firman, Nick Foster, Mark France, Ed Fredenburgh, Suzanne Gannon, Suzy Gillett, Nik Gorecki, Liz Gray, Winmarie Greenland, Lynn Gregory, Jake Hall, Joe Hallet, Guy Harper, Louise Harrison, Phil Hearse, Mally Henry, Derrick Hibbett, Annie Higgs, Joy Holland, Laney Holland, Jim Hollinshead, Jade Hope, Kate Hudson, Chris Hurley, Stuart Inman, Rick Jewell, Paul Johnson, Nick Jones, Philip Kane, Dave Kellaway, Jane Kelly, Jim Kelly, Rosalie Kelly, Elizabeth Keen, Dan Kettlewell, Stephen Kettlewell, Joe Kisolo-Ssonko, Martin Leonard, Fred Leplat, David Lane, John Lister, Joe Lo, Nick Long, Alison Lord, Kathy Lowe, Simon Lynn, Mike Marqusee, Rob Marsden, Micheline Mason, John James McArdle, Sharon McCourt, Chris McKenzie, Ian McNee, Liam McQuade, Stephen Miller, Drew Milne, John Mooney, Sheila Mosley, Piers Mostyn, Ben Neal, Oliver New, Larry O’Donnell, Christopher O’Neill, Valerie O’Riordan, Duncan Parker, Ian Parker, Sarah Parker, Steven Parry, Susan Pashkoff, John Penney, Peter Pinkney, Stewart Pluck, Roland Rance, Marc Renwick, Andy Richards, Adam Roden, Ed Rooksby, Jenny Ross, Penny Schenk, Gemma Schneider, Mike Scott, Barbara Segal, Richard Seymour, Salman Shaheen, Steven Shakespeare, Jenny Slaughter, Andy Smith, Ciara Squires, Ian Stewart, Paul Stygal, Sean Thompson, Alan Thornett, Doug Thorpe, Bianca Todd, Jasmin Todd, Jean Todd, Peter Todd, Simone Todd,  Mike Tucker, Eve Turner, Chris Vincent, Subira Wahogo, Robert Walker, Tom Walker, Tony Walker, Stuart Watkins, Godfrey Webster, Roger Welch, Jake Whitby, Bob Whitehead,  Sam Williams, Bob Williams-Findlay, Carla Willig, Richard Willmsen, Julian Wilson, Roland Wood, Lynn Wright.


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34 comments

34 responses to “Left Party Platform submission for the aims section at the founding conference.”

  1. johnkeeley says:

    Key word missing: participation

  2. Pete b says:

    Arrr a lesson in forming a majority block. It is better than the first draft but I still cant see why so many people and left groups feel they need to water down their politics in this way. eg Having a section on trade unions was a strang ommission. But now lpp can only say they support unions nothing about the importance of building a left opposition to the bureacracy or the importance of this struggle to make the unions fight! How can we defeat austerity without a massive rise in militancy within the unions?
    I know a lot of the signitories agree, so why hide this in this way? Still voting for socialist platform left unity wont grow unless it puts an alternative. We need to speak the truth to the working class not fudge it to make a bigger leadership block.

    Pete b

    • Richard Brenner says:

      Pete, I totally agree. That’s why I support the action programme being proposed by the Class Struggle Platform,which was posted on the LU site yesterday, which says:

      “we need to build a rank and file movement in the unions to take control of all disputes and negotiations, to make officials fully accountable and recallable, and employed on the average pay of their members. Our watchword should be: with the union leaders where possible, without them where necessary.”

      • Andy Richards says:

        “We” need to build a rank and file movement in the unions…..? Who’s the “we” here? Some new party which doesn’t even formally exist yet? How’s that going to work?

        There is certainly a need to build rank-and-file militancy in the unions but no-one other than the members of those unions can bring this about. Left Unity members who are members of unions can help this process by getting involved in broad lefts within their unions, but the notion that the newly-formed Left Unity Party can just parachute in and show union members “the way” is both arrogant and, frankly, delusional.

  3. Bob Walker says:

    Hi,regarding the part. We are opposed to all forms of discrimination,whether on the basis of class.I am no intellectual,so maybe some can explain.It sounds to me like we want to be, all things to all men(don,t want to sound sexist, old saying.)I Thought we would need to discriminate against the ruling CLASS in order to achieve socialism.

    • The document is clearly positioning itself against all forms of discrimination towards vulnerable and oppressed groups. One could pick holes in it, but that would be an unkind reading.

  4. John Penney says:

    In my view this revised Statement by the Left Party Platform meets the tactical needs of the day, ie, to make an appropriately worded, appropriately toned, rational radical political “offer” to the millions of working class people appalled by the neo-liberal betrayals of the Labour Party, to build a radical Left, but specifically not revolutionary, new campaigning and electoral party of resistance to the Austerity Offensive.

    All the other Far Left sectlet-originating ultraleft “Statements” are wildly inappropriate, and toxically detrimental, to the building of such a broadly based radical, but reformist, democratic party – and simply reveal how isolated from the current state of mind of the mass of the working class the tiny Far Left sects are.

    If the posturing ultraleftism of the tiny sects turns the November Conference into a chaotic shambles, the Left Unity Project will be dead in the water. Who will gain from that ? Certainly not the Far Left Sects. Much fun will have been had from all the “more revolutionary than thou” competitive “Statement” posturing – but yet another opportunity to build a mass Left party of radical resistance – with a membership well beyond the Far Left political “bubble” , will have been lost. As a simple self-interested tactical issue the Far Left sects should be able to grasp that without a much larger mass-based radical reformist party to “fish in” the Far Left can only be left even more isolated than before if yet another attempt to build a mass radical Left party fails.

    To their credit a few elements of the revolutionary Left have grasped this . But for most , the Left Unity Project is just yet another opportunity to “strut their showoffy stuff” and therefore repel ordinary working people from outside of the Far Left Bubble from getting involved .

    • Kathrine Brannan says:

      Elsewhere, John Penney deems the United Left platform to be “woolly”, “unsatisfactory”, “bland”, “sparse on essential radical policy detail”, he finds that “in terms of hard policies the Left Platform cupboard as yet is remarkably bare” and so on, but albeit “grudgingly”, he supports it anyway, still more now he finds the new tone etc ‘appropriate’. A rudderless, leaky hull of a ship without navigation instruments… but still good enough to serve as flagship for the crusade against the “Austerity Offensive”.
      Sorry, but this approach, rather than open and clear statement of socialist identity is a recipe for defeat.
      Santayana’s dictum about “those who cannot remember the past” fully applies here. John Penney has called himself “an old Trot”. Trotskyites of old, had at least one redeeming feature: they knew history. They knew that each and every time the working class (if for some this term is unpalatable, let them call it “labour”, or “the exploited producers” or “the toiling masses” or whatever they want: “A rose by any other name…”) engaged in a fight under another program, another banner than its own, the result was defeat, and years of setback.
      The French and Spanish popular fronts of the 30’s are text book cases of this. In both cases, with the excuse of “not frightening away the broad masses”, of “gathering all anti-fascist and peace loving forces”, of “saving the republic”, the working class was led away from its own fight and the dynamic of what Rosa Luxemburg described as “the mass strike process” was broken. The end result was that instead of the peace and the democracy the promoter of this strategy had promised, Europe had to suffer years of war and fascism.

    • Kathrine Brannan says:

      Could John Penney kindly explain what “a broadly based radical, but reformist, democratic party” is ? Could he please, provide examples of such a party ? and of their track record ?

      • John Penney says:

        Certainly Katherine. I’ll explain. There are already 52 varieties of “revolutionary ” socialist grouping which ordinary working people could join – if the language and slogans of such groups made any sort of connection with the manifest desire of tens of thousands of people to actively oppose the Austerity Offensive. And we know that tens of thousands of people are beginning to fight back – witness the turnout on numerous anti cuts demos in recent years. They won’t join the Far Left Parties though will they ? Why ? Because they think your obscurantist , sloganized, language and demands are those of crazy people ! That’s the reality. Suck it up ! Most people think you are nutters.

        A broadly based radical, but reformist, democratic party, is the type of “transitional” political formation required at this particular historical juncture – to attract masses of ordinary working people to actively oppose the Austerity Offensive – electorally, and via direct action in the community and the workplace. Such a movement and Party accepts that most working people are ideologically not yet even slightly ready to confront the underlying cause of the Austerity Offensive, ie Capitalism and its current global systemic crisis. Instead, the need of the day is to build a Party of principled radical resistance, around very basic demands, such as to restore the NHS to full public ownership, get the banks fully under public control and direction, create full employment through a massive public works programme – including building millions of council houses. None of the demands at this stage should be explicitly “revolutionary” ones – The rising tide of radical struggle that such demands , when based on a mass movement in action, would produce, will in themselves raise the nature of the political struggle to a higher level – even in time to a revolutionary level.

        What happens when a radical reformist movement which has built a mass struggle with essentially ” limited” demands comes up against the unwillingness of the capitalist class to concede to these reasonable demands ? (though of course in historical practice when faced with a mass movement with radical demands the ruling class will undoubtedly concede to some – as a demobilising tactic – as with the creation of the NHS/Welfare State after 1945). Then we get a social crisis leading to either a 1973 Allende Chile outcome – or to a situation of “Dual Power” – and a socialist transformational opportunity.

        What is the vital element within the broad radical “reformist” mass movement that can make the difference between sellout/collaboration or Allende-style disaster, or moving forward to socialist transformation ? Answer: that the revolutionary Left is deeply embedded within the broad radical movement, drawing out the political lessons for the class as the struggle deepens and progresses, and AT THE APPROPRIATE MOMENT pushing for leadership of the mass movement as it reaches that crucial political crossroads of reform/collaboration or socialist transformation.

        Unfortunately most (not all ) of the Far Left have become so totally isolated from the mass of the working class – , that they now exist in a hothouse political bubble – endlessly obsessing about the utterly failed revolutionary disaster that the 1917 Russian Revolution eventually turned out to be for humanity, and endlessly concerned with scoring petty political points off other tiny sectlet occupants of that same isolated Far Left Bubble.

        Time for the Far Left to grow up, stop posturing and sloganizing, time to build a mass radical movement of resistance around limited, but mass popular demands. Without that mass movement of resistance the entire revolutionary socialist “project” is just political masturbation. I recognise that the Left Unity “project” could easily become yet another opportunist “Green Party type” organisation – only concerned with getting some comfy elected posts for a few career politicians. That is why revolutionary socialists should be the best and most principled radical reformists at this stage of the struggle – providing the uncompromising “political backbone” to the broad movement – not posturing emptily at the fringes with demands and political language which for most ordinary working people simply triggers the “ultraleft nutter” alarm.

      • Chris S says:

        “Because they think your obscurantist , sloganized, language and demands are those of crazy people ! That’s the reality. Suck it up ! Most people think you are nutters. ”

        This is not helpful language to use in these discussions John. There is nothing wrong with being a nutter, many people suffer from mental illnesses and are branded “nutters” and “crazy” all the time. Try and remember our project is trying to break from such behaviour.

  5. Steve Wallis says:

    Let me first of all welcome point 3, copied and pasted below, as a good description of what socialism is – in particular, saying “democratically run by and for the people as a whole”, rather than talking about just the working class being in control of society (which used to be called by Marxists, and still is occasionally, “the dictatorship of the proletariat”). We should aim to get most of the 99% (including middle class people) on our side against the 1% (big business aka the ruling class), and they should have a say under socialism. [My preferred form of socialism is with some degree of workers’ (and users’) control, a government elected by proportional representation, and direct democracy perhaps like in Switzerland – see https://www.facebook.com/groups/verydemocraticsocialism.%5D Talking about “the urgency of halting and reversing the neo-liberal onslaught” suggests fighting for reforms (which revolutionary socialists as well as reformists do) but implies revolutionary change may not be necessary – when it will!

    3. We are socialist because our vision of society is one 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. The natural wealth, productive resources and social means of existence will 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. The reversal of the gains made in this direction after 1945 has been catastrophic and underlines the urgency of halting and reversing the neo-liberal onslaught.

    The biggest weakness in the submission looks to be point 7, copied and pasted below. The ability for a worker to withdraw his/her labour by going on strike, and potentially bring down a government via a general strike, is completely ignored! You could argue that being “strong” and “effective” implies they sometimes take strike action, but the weakness of point 7 is surely due to the influence of reformists within the LPP.

    7. We work for and support strong, effective, democratic trade unions to fight for better wages and salaries, for improved living standards, for better working conditions and stronger, more favourable, contracts of employment. We believe that the strength of the union is the people in the workplace; that what each person does at work matters – to make the job better, to make the service provided more effective, to persuade workers to combine for greater strength.

    As someone who is an open revolutionary socialist, but wants Left Unity (or whatever the party is called) to be a broad socialist party, I very much welcome this much improved statement of aims – but will consider proposing amending it via my branch.

  6. Pete b says:

    Hi john. Dunno what the safe space committee would say but did you just call people with a different opinion to you ” ultra left nutters” and “people think you are nutters” etc. is this the method of your “radical reformist” schema.
    I can remember the tory press line of “looney left” is that a denunciation shared by your “radical reformist ” visions? your abuse exposes your intent with is a crusade against the left in left unity, socialist, revolutionary or “ultra left”.
    Sad

    • Kathrine Brannan says:

      Hi, I just read John Penney’s reply to me… and you, John, addressed me by name, so it was personally addressed to me…’ crazy…That’s the reality. Suck it up ! Most people think you are nutters.”ultra left nutter’
      Have you thought about the person you are addressing?
      is this the ‘appropriate tone and language’ for which you congratulate the LPP aims in your 1st statement here? I’m not into ‘safe spaces’ I expect rough and tumble in debate. But this is just nasty and vulgar and I am complaining, not just for me, but because we want ‘hesitant others’, new people and so on to feel confident in putting forward their thoughts.

      • John Penney says:

        Please get a grip, Katherine and Peteb. Don’t be so over-sensitive and precious. It’s very tiresome. Try actually reading my post, rather than looking for something to be needlessly offended about. I quite clearly stated that ;

        “tens of thousands of people are beginning to fight back – witness the turnout on numerous anti cuts demos in recent years. They won’t join the Far Left Parties though will they ? Why ? Because they think your obscurantist , sloganized, language and demands are those of crazy people ! That’s the reality. Suck it up ! Most people think you are nutters.”

        Before you all start weeping and fainting and reaching for the smelling salts and the “Safe spaces” policy , at this news, try to grasp that this is not actually my personal view, but sadly is indeed the view of the majority of our potential working class recruit base of the posturing antics of the Far Left. It is of course a view constantly reinforced by the capitalist press, but unfortunately the “Citizen Smith/Dave Spartesque ” posturing of too many on the Far Left simply confirms this image all too often .

        I have made it perfectly clear in my posts that I believe there is a vital role for the revolutionary Left within the broad radical movement Left Unity needs to be. IF the Far Left can stop posturing (as some Far Left groups are indeed already doing)and recognise that now is the time to build a broad non-revolutionary movement on the basis of transitional “reformist” demands, and uncompromising resistance to the Austerity Offensive, not play “top trumps” in revolutionary rhetoric.

        If you object to the extremely widespread public view that the Far Left are a bunch of sloganizing, posturing nutters, don’t shoot the messenger… do something to change this public perception .

      • Will says:

        Hi. I am not sure what John is trying to achieve by this style of discussion – apart from perhaps distancing himself from his own past behaviour on the far left (although I am just guessing here). Anyway, I am guessing that LPP supporters are not joining in with this discussion because they would have to explain to John that he does not put their case well with the language of ‘nutters’ and the rest. As it happens it seems to me that when John refers what people in general think he has no idea what they think and is taking what he thinks and generalising it to everyone else. There are many people who have been in far left groups of all sorts involved in this debate on all sides and I thought the one shared experience was that telling people to ‘get grip’ or not to be ‘over-sensitive’ or not to be ‘tiresome’ was the kind of haranguing in politics that we need to put to one side. But, hey ho, the way that some people learnt debate on the far left they do not seem to be able to leave behind irrespective of their current political position.

  7. Pete b says:

    Missed one john, you said your demands are “ones of crazy people”.

  8. Pete b says:

    Oh andy missed yours “delusional”.
    Id say many of the people we want to win to left unity are members of the unions. Our trade union activists need to build their rank and file networks and left unity needs to see this as an important area of work. The initial method would be for left unity memberd to resource and support members to do this work. Its not parachuting its organising within around class struggle activity. I think we should look at what jerry hicks has done in unite.
    Too lpp suggedts no tasks, but we should seek to organise trade union work if we intend to build left unity in the labour movement.

  9. gerryc says:

    While I’m not keen on this version of the aims as a recruitment document/electioneering tool, I can support its sentiments.

    But I think it would be better if it included a direct challenge to ‘individuality’ – which is the base and root of neo-liberalism isn’t it (the opportunity, choice, will, freedom to compete mantra) – and what our attitude is toward it. It’s a key issue for many. I think tests would show that the first paras of the above statement. in your average UK bod, will conjure a society in which everyone gets allocated the same dullish share, one that constrains the Byronic individuals ability to excel (Gazzer, Beckham, posh spice, the apprentice, Julian Lloyd Weber, Vivian Westwood) and to have more than the basics (the Glastonbury generation – there’s enough for everyone man). Let’s finish the story. Post-Marx structuralist thinking of different flavours ,including Dewey and Bloch for example, are now part of the current consciousness – I think there is a widespread and growing perspective about individuality and neo-liberalism that means something like the following statement would resonate with many looking for an alternative and contemporary approach to how we organise our society and others in a quandary about how their personal destiny fits with our party (ala Bloch, let’s not ignore the massive dream power at play in the population because the fascists will not forget it):

    “The Progressive Community party supports individual liberty, effort and enterprise while recognising that no man is an island, totally responsible for her or his own actions, successes or failures. Striving toward a secure and sustainable material habitat that enables a decent life for all, whatever gifts they inherit, without threat or harm from others. Let us make no war on anyone for material gain. Let us not suffer to know others suffer without making every effort to help and to remove the cause of that suffering.”

    ATB, GerryC

  10. Simon Hardy says:

    This is an improvement on the first version, the extended section on Socialism is to be welcomed, as is a clear commitment to elected LU representatives on an average workers wage. However, some of the language in the new version is terrible! It falls into the trap of the SP document which is one of the reasons why I couldn’t put my name to it, the language is off-puttingly bad!

    “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”

    “Our political practice is democratic, diverse and inclusive, organising amongst working class communities with no interests apart from theirs, committed to open dialogue and new ways of working; to the mutual respect and tolerance of differences of analysis; to the rejection of the corruption of conventional political structures and their reproduction of the gender domination of capitalist society”

    Somebody save us from this kind of language! I’m as guilty as the next leftist of writing awful overblown academic waffle but this is meant to be in the constitution of a mass party, not an obscure left wing website.

    Other areas that need to be amended include the section on the trade unions – as Pete says above, it lacks the necessary militancy and dynamism around what kind of workers movement we need. It also limits trade unions to only economistic trade union concerns around wages and conditions – what about trade unions being used to fight for a dramatic shift in our understanding of work under capitalism?

    The section on the state is also tricky: “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.”

    Well hold on, shouldn’t the goal be ultimately scrapping the state entirely? Why do we always need a state to manage our affairs? I support full democratisation but to say that our **goal** is the democratisation of the state is a hostage to eurocommunist fortune! I’d take out “of state and political institutions,” and just have us democratising society to be honest, cuts the gordion knot.

    I hope the Class Struggle platform comrades bring amendments to conference in case their action programme doesn’t get the time it needs to be properly discussed and passed.

    • Ray G says:

      I agree with most of that Simon. This statement is much much better than the old LPP one. I am can now seriously consider voting for it as a platform statement. But the aims section of a constitution needs to be a concise, pithy statement of relatively timeless aims, not a tactical document with caveats, and stages.

      I have to agree that the language used is just not the language that attracts anyone. Purely stylistically it is turgid and full of lefty cliches.

  11. Nick Wrack says:

    The Left Party Platform statement, which John Penny says he supports, states: “Our political practice is democratic, diverse and inclusive, organising amongst working class communities with no interests apart from theirs, committed to open dialogue and new ways of working; to the mutual respect and tolerance of differences of analysis”

    As is often pointed out, words do not equate with deeds.

  12. Nick Wrack says:

    Like Simon Hardy, I think this is an improvement on the first Left Party Platform statement. The alterations clearly show the impact that the arguments of the Socialist Platform have had. It is very good that the LPP has taken up the Socialist Platform’s demand that the party’s elected representatives will only take an average wage. There is now a better statement of its socialist vision in paragraph 2.

    But it is still inadequate.

    Nowhere does the statement say that the aim of the party is to END capitalism, i.e. to get rid of it and to replace it with socialism.

    What is the problem with stating this objective clearly and unambiguously, so that it is there for all to see? The only reason can be that the authors think that would be going too far. They want to hedge their bets and not put off people who think that things can be resolved within the present capitalist system. This is wrong and we should say clearly and loudly that it is wrong.

    Paragraph 1 reveals the contradictory nature of the statement. The LPP’s vision is of a society in which there will be common ownership (para.2) but the goal is the ‘full democratisation of state and political institutions, society and the economy, by and for the people.’

    This can only be read as meaning the full democratisation of the existing (capitalist) state. This is impossible. The institutions of the state are not neutral. They would have to be dismantled and replaced by new institutions that represent not the needs of ‘the people’, but of the majority working class. As Simon Hardy points out, ultimately we should aim at a stateless society, but this can only begin to happen after the present ruling class has been removed from power.

    I also agree with Simon about the clunky language. It smacks of a certain type of public sector policy document, trying to make up for its imprecision by using complicated and incomprehensible sentence constructions. I could forgive the language, however, if it contained a clear expression of the need to end the profit system. This lack of clarity remains its main weakness.

    Whilst its ‘vision’ is said to be for a socialist society, it looks backwards (to 1945) rather than forwards to a new, different society. This is confirmed by the final paragraph (10), in which it is the parties of the European Left that are cited as the inspiration of the LPP. (It should be noted in passing that many of these parties are not new at all – the Spanish Izquierda Unida was founded in 1986).

    These are parties dominated by former Stalinists and left-wing splits from the traditional social democratic parties. They may have formed new parties but their politics remain essentially the same, i.e. a bureaucratic, top-down, statist social democracy, whereas we need a complete break with that.

    It should be remembered that nationalisation does not equal socialism. There has to be democratic control. And it cannot be a mixed, part-nationalised economy, that serves the interest of the private sector, as in the past. The reforms of the 1945 Labour Government brought some huge reforms but did not inaugurate socialism. We are paying the price for that now. All the gains of the past are being eroded by the austerity attacks.

    There is no going back to those social democratic ‘golden years’ of the post-WWII boom. There is not going to be a repeat of that. There is no international sugar daddy to dole out huge sums in loans to finance state investment.
    Parties such as Die Linke and Syriza should be supported so far as they stand for reforms and in opposition to capitalism. If I lived in Germany or Greece I would be a member. But it is clear from the experiences in Berlin and the recent rightward trajectory of the Syriza leadership that there have to be sharp arguments within those parties to explain that the interests of the working class are incompatible with the continued existence of capitalism. If the working class wants to resolve the crisis facing humanity, it cannot confine itself to fighting only for reforms within capitalism. It has to seek a way to break with capitalism itself and build a new society.

    That is why the aims and principles set out in the Socialist Platform (however badly written people think they might be) are so important.

    • I agree nationalisation is not socialism and that there has to be democratic control. I very much hope these sorts of policies emerge from the commissions, I don’t want to see state energy monopolies fleecing customers and workers any more than I want to see private energy monopolies fleecing customers and workers, for example.

    • Steve Wallis says:

      As I’ve posted in reply to Nick on the Independent Socialist Network website, where he has also put his comments on this new submission of aims:

      You make some very good criticisms of the new Left Party Platform statement, Nick, which I agree is better than the previous one. My only reservation about your article is the insistence on representing ‘the interests of the working class’, rather than ‘the people’, but I realise I’m in a small minority within revolutionary socialists on that point. Sometimes talking about the interests of the 99% against those of the 1% (or 0.1% which more accurately reflects the ruling class that we are fighting), as put forward by the Occupy movement, is in my view better, especially in a society where so many people regard themselves as ‘middle class’ (and middle managers, small businesspeople and the self-employed shouldn’t be ignored). The big danger of just representing the working class is trying to cling on to power for too long after an insurrection without holding a democratic election (which I argue has to be held under a form of proportional representation nowadays – if we don’t have majority support in society for socialism at that time, the revolution is doomed anyway).

      Since the issues surrounding the CPGB’s attempted takeover of the Socialist Platform are in the public domain (in their paper the Weekly Worker for example), I thought I should give my take on it. My main criticism of most of their amendments (which now make up the Communist Platform) was the emphasis on the working class (in all but the last 3 which I voted for in the indicative votes at the Socialist Platform’s internal meeting). As a result of the schism(s) within the Socialist Platform, I have come to the conclusion that the Left Party Platform’s new statement of aims will form the basis of that part of the constitution, but I am confident that it can be amended into something very good.

      Just before seeing the above article, I posted the following message (including link to a blog entry of mine) containing some of my views on the way forward for Left Unity (I note that I criticised the paragrpah on trade unions in omitting strike action, particularly general strikes which are a key method in taking power but you didn’t mention that issue above at all):

      The (British) SWP have prematurely written Left Unity (LU) off as a “left reformist” party, even though the conference to decide the aims and strategy of the party (amongst other things) won’t take place until 30 November, and there are many revolutionaries (including myself) as well as reformists in the party. In the following blog entry by me, I argue for a broad socialist party, but not one in which revolutionary socialists have to hide their views. LU members/supporters have not refrained from an open democratic debate so far, on our website and forum, in the run-up to the conference and this should continue afterwards (in marked contrast to certain “democratic centralist” organisations/parties).

      Ironically, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition? (TUSC), of which the SWP, as well as the also-revolutionary Socialist Party (SP), is a part is actually more reformist since it puts forward a series of “transitional demands” at election time. LU’s other advantages over TUSC will include it campaigning in its own name between elections (rather than the SWP and SP concentrating on recruiting to their own parties) and LU having a more democratic structure (with a constitution yet to be decided) than TUSC in which leaders of its component parts can veto proposals they don’t like.

      http://thatcheroftheleft.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/arguing-that-left-unity-should-be-a-broad-socialist-party-that-reflects-revolutionary-as-well-as-reformist-views/

    • Kathrine Brannan says:

      I agree with the socialist platform and its intention to be transparent. In the context of Saatchi’s analysis ( see below or on FB page) surely if the ultra-right ( with its well funded possibilities for tapping into popular opinion) sees that people in general see capitalism as flawed and are more scared of losing Health and other essential services than of nationalisation and socialism, then surely we dont need to just provide for a ‘broad left party’ with some ’embedded’ socialists waiting for the ‘appropriate moment’ to burst forth like supermen. Surely we should go forward with the open socialist program which according to Saatchi would allow ‘access to millions of people, especially young people, who do not accept the status quo.’…. or are we scaredy cats?

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/lord-saatchi-says-david-cameron-2472527#ixzz2iLXurss5

  13. Pete b says:

    I think its good for me to see that there is a wide range of opinion in left unity. the working class and the left have suffered defeat after defeat. This splinters the left and leads to a certain atomisation of individuals. Hense a certain “attack dog” form of debate at times.
    my contributions in part are to argue my position for a critical vote for socialist platform and to hope like simon that through resolutions and ammendments a clearer line forward can be agreed. I sence a genuine concern from the left groups to combine and play a constructive role within left unity. This is really healthy. There is no certainty as to the direction left unity will take, thats a plus.
    Unlike some I dont think that the ruling class ideology that “left = looney”, “socialist =nutter” is as powerfull as some may think.
    reformism is showing itself to be impotant in the face of a combined ecomonic and political crisis across europe and beyond. Radical reformism not even soft socialist reformism is non discript. Its just a retreat.
    If left unity waters down its politics too much it will not have much impact. The critism of the lpp new inclusion of a section on the trade unions illustrates this. This left party propose no clue as to how to build support in the unions. The constitutions proposed cant seem to place union affiliations or union branch affiliation within its perspective.
    Some of the non labour party trade unions might be won towards left unity, or branches of or lefts within unions. Unlike tusc we would not, I hope allow ourselves to be dominated by any union leaders but left unity would be much stronger with some trade union support and participation.
    I hope im not sounding too traditional but stuff like postal workers support groups would be a good way to put left unity on the map.
    I agree with simon that a strong ammendment or resolution on trade union fractions, rank and file projects and seeking to combine with existing rank and file initiatives would be a good start.
    Peteb

  14. gerryc says:

    HOW WILL LLP UNITE THE LEFT?

    I would like to understand what the LLP thinking is about the aim implied in the temporary title LEFT UNITY. i.e. ‘HOW’ we will unite the left?
    At local level there is a natural tendency to look to campaign on issues that other left groups are already campaiging on and of course look to some form of cooperation (but in practice the cooperation is often weak /half-hearted – members wanting to play their own team – and there is a lot of potential for wasteful duplication in this.
    Will we unite the left simply by the fact of offering a left-of-Labour transitional choice at elections? Should branches spend time campaigning on issues or is our task to build political and supportive relationships with existing groups, bring the ‘word’ to them and bring their words back to LU so it can successfully aggregate the broad-left into a broad river of votes at election time?

    I’m not making a point here – a genuine question for LPP proposers please.

    ATB, GerryC

    • Kathrine Brannan says:

      Good question from Gerry, I would like to know the answer, or thoughts on this from LPP proposers too. The local discussions lack focus and clarity of purpose ( what should we be doing.. with the minimal resources we have, right now?) until we have clarity on this question.

  15. Stuart King says:

    I think Gerry poses the right question because in some ways in LU we are starting from the wrong end – top down. We don’t need a party of platforms/factions organised nationally, we need a party of rooted branches organised locally with a fair degree of autonomy. We need a national structure that allows these branches to exchange experience, learn from one another and develop local and regional leaderships.

    Some of these branches will be more left, even revolutionary, some more reformist but the political argument between them will be productive only in so far as they actually represent something in communities, in terms of struggles and actions and influence. And that will be shown in their numbers and hopefully delegates to LU conferences.

    The discussion of national platforms is useful only if it develops ideas of socialism and how we put them across. To be honest there is now not so much of a difference between the LPP and the SP platform except that the SP is shorter and clearer about socialism and our attitude to capitalism and its state. The LPP reads like some sociological conspectus for a Masters Degree in democratic socialism. Its language is difficult and off putting.

    And the fact is it is utopian – do the LPP comrades really think you can radically democratise the capitalist state and change things so that “The natural wealth, productive resources and social means of existence will 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” without the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism? Just remember what happened to Allende in Chile. On this above all we need to be honest.

  16. TimP says:

    As a Utopian Socialist I should have thought that,
    “The natural wealth, productive resources and social means of existence will 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”
    is the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. But then I see the revolutionary as referring to the end not, necessarily, the means.

  17. Paul cooke says:

    As someone who is unemployed through choice of becoming a carer i have found a stark reality in opposition from union members towards the unemployed. By this i mean direct actions are fully actioned by unemployed but the majority of employed union members who wont/cant do it. There is a lot of reliance on the unemployed yet very little actual support from unions, is this due to possible retributions from employers? Or simply that union leaderships prefer to ‘do there own thing’ , we all need each other but we actually dont do things in a unified manner nationally but moreso locally one example of this was a demonstration in liverpool where we stopped traffic what transpired was union members stayed on the sidewalk leaving us unemployed alone on the rd being barated by the drivers? Is this what we call solidairity NO. No matter what individuals think its important unions contribute more in support of the unemployed who are moreso victims of these austerity measures and bridging this gap must also be concidered in anything LU becomes. We will always have unemployed and they must be listened too

  18. Steve Wallis says:

    I submitted the following amendments to the Left Party Platform’s submission above, as agreed by Manchester Central/Manchester South (to the content@leftunity.org email address). It is a compromise between the LPP and the Socialist Platform, which should avoid the danger of Left Unity becoming an electoralist party putting forward lowest common denominator politics (that has led to the failure of a fair number of previous unity projects) if passed.

    AMENDMENT TO LEFT PARTY PLATFORM STATEMENT OF AIMS (paragraph on trade unions)

    Add to the end of paragraph 7: “Going on strike (including mass/general strikes), occupying workplaces and solidarity between workers (in different unions and/or workplaces) can be effective tactics in winning individual disputes and changing society.”

    AMENDMENT TO LEFT PARTY PLATFORM STATEMENT OF AIMS (new paragraph)

    Add new paragraph (11): “In line with the party being a broad socialist party, it should reflect a wide variety of views in our literature and on our website and forum. Our members will include:

    a) reformists in favour of gradual change towards socialism and revolutionaries who believe some sort of (preferably peaceful) socialist revolution is necessary while supporting such reforms in the short term (and of course those who don’t know how socialism can/will be achieved).
    b) those who believe in change through elections and/or extra-parliamentary activity. Those who want to join the party but only take part in one of those types of activity would be welcome.

  19. Steve F says:

    The Republican Socialist Platform submitted the following amendment to Left Party Platform resolution on the Aims of Left Unity. The Republican Socialist Platform’s amendment is highlighted in bold

    Clause 2. “Our immediate tasks are to oppose the Crown’s austerity policies designed to destroy the social and economic gains working people have made over many decades; to oppose the scapegoating which accompanies them; to defend the welfare state and those worst affected by the onslaught; (delete the rest and add) to resist every attempt to restrict democratic rights and civil liberties.

    In each struggle our aim is to expose the bankruptcy of the Crown’s liberal ‘democracy’ and transform these struggles into a political battle for democracy and a social republic.

    The social republic represents a radical shift in political power providing the people with the opportunity and the means to widen public ownership, extend democracy in the public sector, restore workers’ rights and redistribute wealth to the working class.”


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