Left Unity supports equality and human rights for everyone. We are committed to fighting discrimination, all forms of oppression and unfair treatment. We will work towards an inclusive society with social, political and economic equality for all.
We are a party which is feminist and enables members to set up caucuses (groups) to encourage the self-organisation of members who experience specific discrimination to enable them to have a collective voice within Left Unity. There are caucuses for: LGBTQ members, black and minority ethnic members, disabled members, women members and young members.
Left Unity acknowledges that disability is the result of the social oppression of people with physical and/or intellectual impairments, and people with severe emotional distress. Left Unity is committed to involving disabled people in all areas of policy, practice and decision-making, and learning from their experience.
The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) has been misused to force disabled people off benefits and has caused distress and poverty. It is unfit for purpose and must be scrapped (see Social Security) – the results will be the same whether ATOS runs it or any other contractor. Disabled people should be supported to work but never penalised by the benefits system.
Other benefit cuts, justified using unfair media attacks on benefit claimants, are having a disproportionate effect on disabled people. The Independent Living Fund and Disability Living Allowance should be reinstated – these are vital benefits for basic day-to-day life.
As a party Left Unity supports disabled people’s campaigns and aims to be accessible to all.
Left Unity is committed to fighting racism. There has been a dangerous upsurge in racism in Britain over the past ten years, resulting in attacks and death of people from black and minority ethnic communities. There has been a rise in antisemitism and media myths have fuelled Islamophobia.
We challenge other parties’ racist scapegoating. The mainstream parties, working through the state, have entrenched repressive policies such as greater surveillance and policing of Muslims, harsher controls of asylum and immigration and stop and search policies mostly affecting black youth. Left Unity opposes these and supports freedom of movement for migrants (see Migration).
A new party of the left worthy of the name must go on a general offensive against racism and support a new generation of grassroots black-led campaigns. Working class people, of whatever background, have a shared interest in defeating the racists. Our candidates will make it a priority to challenge the other parties by putting forward the principles of anti-racism.
Left Unity is a feminist party 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 reordering of the economy.
Today the brutal paring down of public services and welfare, whether it affects housing, healthcare, labour rights or council services, affects women more than others.
As long as women are the ones primarily responsible for childcare and housework in the private home this acts to restrict their equal participation (and payment) at work and their access to jobs, social and political life. To combat this we demand free crèches and nursery schools, available for both day and shift workers, maternity/paternity leave with no loss of pay or seniority, and affirmative action wherever women are under-represented in the workforce or in certain grades.
Domestic violence and rape often go undetected and unpunished. Women, abused within the family home, often have nowhere to seek refuge for themselves or their children, with no independent source of income – a situation made worse by severe cuts to rape crisis centres and women’s aid.
Women’s control over their bodies is a fundamental human right. We unequivocally support the right of all women to have access to free high-quality contraception and abortion and access to free high-quality medical care when pregnant and during and after delivery. We consider these to be reproductive rights and we oppose any attempt to limit or restrict these rights, whether for specific groups of women (such as those with insecure immigration status) or for all women, by legal or legislative changes or social pressure.
We oppose forced marriage, sterilisation, contraception and abortion and support the right of all women to make their own decisions about whether to have children, when to have children, and how many children to have. We understand that many factors are involved in these decisions including access to a secure income, health care, social support, education, and housing. Fighting for these things for everybody is fundamental to Left Unity. We unequivocally oppose female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.
We oppose gender stereotyping and we do not believe that roles in society should be determined by gender.
Young women are being subjected to unprecedented levels of sexual bullying. Inclusive age-appropriate sex and relationship education should be delivered by specially trained teachers to children and young people throughout their time in schools and colleges. This needs to address the objectification of women and girls.
The majority of women claiming asylum are survivors of sexual violence – we fight to defend specialist services. Women claiming asylum must not be separated from their friends, families and communities.
Despite important changes brought about by women activists and male supporters within the labour movement we still need to combat sexism there, including within socialist organisations. Women must have the right to caucus (ie. meet on their own) to criticise sexist behaviour or discrimination, to educate and encourage one other to play a fuller part in the unions, parties etc, and to empower themselves to take on leadership roles at every level.
As part of our commitment to gender equality, at least 50% of those elected to all positions in Left Unity must be women.
The LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer) community in Britain has been badly affected by the cuts, not least because they are disproportionately employed in the public sector. Many young LGBTQ people still have to leave home because of homophobia or transphobia, and are increasingly homeless and jobless.
Left Unity’s policies, particularly on housing, respect the needs and struggles of LGBTQ people. In the face of rising homelessness and ‘sofa surfing’ by LGBTQ youth because of cuts in emergency accommodation and refuges, we say no one should ever have to sleep on the streets or sofa surf (see Housing).
Hate crime against LGBTQ people is still commonplace in our society. One in five lesbian and gay people have experienced a hate crime in the last three years and it is estimated that 90% of hate crime is unreported. Left Unity will be a voice against all aspects of prejudice against LGBTQ people, which despite recent legal improvements is still rampant and institutionalised, especially in schools. We oppose cuts to HIV and sexual health services.
Young people are discriminated against in our society. They are paid less and unemployment is double the rate of adults. Now further and higher education is saddling thousands with debt because of the tripling in university fees and scrapping of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
There must be massive investment in schools and colleges (see Education), but being young is about more than education. We support more free sports clubs and gyms, places where young people can make art, film or music, where youth can bring out their full creativity and have fun. It is important that they decide for themselves how their services are run.
When some people talk about ‘anti-social behaviour’, our answer is to enrich the life of the young, not to demonise them in the media as ‘chavs’ and ‘hoodies’ or inflict police repression on them through stop and search laws and Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs).
Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.
Events and protests from around the movement, and local Left Unity meetings.
Sat 2 Mar, 9.30-17.00
Confronting the Rise of the Far Right, European Conference
Organised by Transform UK.
Bloomsbury Central, 235 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8EP.
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