Motions and amendments for Left Unity National conference

Standing Orders Committee (SOC) Report No 2

Motions

The SOC has received 12 motions submitted for National Conference and 8 amendments. All of them were received in time and are considered to be in order. We recommend these are admitted to the agenda for conference.

The motions with proposed amendments are reproduced below. They are numbered for ease of referring to them. The SOC has attempted to group motions with a similar theme. Themes A-D were prioritized by the NC. However, other than that, the numbering and order of the motions does not imply that they will be taken in this order on the agenda of conference. The order of motions and timing of debates is shown in the Order of Business.

Motions for Left Unity Conference 2019

The motions and amendments received by the SOC are:

  1. The Rise of the Far-Right and International Solidarity

  1. The Rise of the Far-Right Across Europe – North London Branch

Conference notes with alarm:

  1. The growth of fascist and ultra-nationalist forces across Europe including becoming part of the government in many countries.
  2. The size and aggressive countenance of demonstrations in the UK of the Football Lads Alliance and the Democratic FLA.
  3. The Leading role of Tommy Robinson in both the DFLA and UKIP – a lash up of a street force and an electoral party. Fortunately, UKIP did not do well in the recent local council elections, but this reflected the leadership crisis over the last couple of years and the emergence of the Brexit party.
  4. The election of at least one fascist from outside UKIP in those elections – a seat won by For Britain in Epping Forest District Council.
  5. The prime position of the Brexit Party in the upcoming EU elections indicated by the recent opinion polls.

Left Unity understands that the attraction of populist and fascist movements is greater when social relations are in crisis, not only the economic relations – austerity, cuts, low pay etc – but also the threat, or fear of a threat, to community and a sense of belonging.

Conference therefore agrees that:

  1. co-operation between anti-fascist forces nationally and internationally is essential. Left Unity will build on the links forged in the recent No Pasaran conference in March 2019 in which Left Unity played a central and catalytic role.
  2. no one organisation should seek to insist that all anti-fascist groups become part of one body and attempts to do this may be counter-productive. Left Unity must work on bringing forces to work together rather than in competition.
  3. it is essential to develop united front type of organisations to combat the fascists and populists in the battle of ideas and, where necessary, the physical defence of people.
  4. it is essential to challenge the anti-migrant, anti-Roma, Islamaphobic, homophobic, racist and misogynistic prejudices which these movements feed on and incite.
  5. community organisation is key to fighting back to against these movements; building a new sense of belonging based on human and working-class solidarity. The battle of ideas and against prejudice is most effective from organisations that have a base locally. And it is at community level that the duty of community and working class defence of the communities under attack are likely to be most necessary.
  1. The Irish Border – North London Branch

Left Unity recognises that the Irish Border is profoundly important as it expresses the partition of Ireland. While it is an invisible entity on the ground today it remains a line on the map dividing the island of Ireland. Before the Good Friday Agreement the border was a fortified expression of British Imperial power.

The advent of BREXIT threatens to restore the material presence of the border as a boundary between the UK and the EU. One of the main bones of contention within the Conservative and Unionist Party (note the full name) and between the British Government and the EU. On the one hand the possible revival of a physical border which would be a slap in the face to those seeking a United Ireland. On the other hand, some arrangement whereby the UK/EU border somehow sits somewhere else (in the sea apparently). This is opposed by the Unionists as it would make Northern Ireland different to the rest of the UK and weaken the expression of partition (they don’t seemed to be bothered that the rejection of gay and lesbian marriage and lack of abortion rights makes it different from the rest of the UK!).

Strengthening of that border and increasing its importance could lead to the unravelling of the Good Friday agreement and an increased division between the communities.

However, inadvertently, BREXIT and the threat of a strengthened border, have also put the question of campaigning against partition and for a United Ireland back on the agenda. Given the progressive secular developments in the Republic of Ireland, especially around gender and sexuality, whilst the North remains currently a bastion of bigotry, there might be a broader constituency of support in the North supportive of the unification of Ireland than in the past.

Therefore, this conference resolves that:

  1. Left Unity is opposed to the Irish partition;
  2. Left Unity is opposed to and will campaign against any strengthening of the border between the Republic of Ireland and the Six Counties;
  3. Left Unity supports the demand for a United Ireland.

  1. Kurdistan – North London Branch

Left Unity supports the demand of the hunger strikers in Kurdistan and around the world for an end to the isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. We believe that a political solution not a military or repressive solution is called for in Turkey, and Abdullah Ocalan must be freed from incommunicado detention to be able to negotiate within a restarted peace process.

We also call for the release of all political prisoners in Turkey, and for an end to support of the AKP repressive regime by European countries including Britain. We call for an end to arms sales to Turkey and an end to ‘security’ co-operation with Turkey in repressing the opposition movements within Turkey. We call for lifting the ban on the PKK.

We support self-determination for the peoples of the Middle East and within that for the Kurdish people, so we further call for an end to the brutal occupation of Afrin by the Turkish army and its Islamist militia allies, for recognition by all involved states of the right to autonomy of the peoples of North East Syria, and an end to the Turkish bombing and occupation of parts of Kurdistan Iraq.

We ask members to ask their MPs who have not already done so to support the EDMs below:

https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/52440/hunger-strike-by-leyla-g%C3%BCven-mp

https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/52466/jailed-kurdish-leader-abdullah-%C3%B6calan

4. Syria – Liverpool Branch

The revolutions of the Arab Spring, starting in 2011, were the central political event of the past decade. A large part of struggling humanity were for the first time in recent history involved in shaping their own destiny. The bitterest of these struggles was in Syria where a hereditary dictatorship of exceptional brutality had reigned for 40 years.

The initially peaceful revolt in March 2011 was met from the start with massacres and mass arrests, often resulting in death under torture. The predominantly young and poor, who had experienced freedom for the first time in their lives – participants all speak of the amazed sense of liberation they felt at being able to speak freely as never before – were driven to take up arms.

Despite interventions, – by Russia, Iran, the USA and the UK amongst others – and despite the interference of fascist counter-revolutionary forces like ISIS and Hezbollah, the Syrian revolution continues to resist the genocidal Assad regime – in the battlefields of Idlib and Hama provinces, in Assad’s torture prisons and extermination camps, in the areas recaptured by the regime and amongst the millions strong Syrian diaspora. 

Left Unity resolves:

  • to support Syrian exiles in their efforts to publicise and provide aid for their compatriots opposing the regime
  • to support the millions of Syrian refugees and campaign against their refoulment
  • to demand that the UK government welcomes everyone fleeing Syria whether because of the regime, fleeing ISIS, or simply the ongoing war
  • to oppose and campaign against, Russian and Iranian military support for the regime,
  • to oppose the US and UK’s counter-productive bombing of ISIS held areas which has led to massive civilian deaths in cities like Raqaa
  • to demand effective humanitarian interventions like food aid to Idlib –

4a amendment – Birmingham Branch

a) Delete the word “fascist” in line 11

b) Replace “counter-productive” with “indiscriminate” in the penultimate bullet point.

 

Austerity and Economy

5. Austerity – Liverpool Branch

Left Unity commits itself to campaign against Austerity, to work in solidarity with affected groups, to work for better trade union responses, and outright opposition to Austerity. Left Unity will continue to publicise the lies upon which the project was based.

Austerity has cut deep into working class communities, where the case for socialism and struggle need to be renewed.

Austerity has cut deep into personal and family incomes, into conditions of employment, into the social wage, and into the wealth of the whole economy. It has been an effective transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. Poverty today is stark and painful.

The wealth of the UK is held by a very small minority of wealthy people, with the richest gaining much more in the years of Austerity. Pay is inadequate for decent life. Inequality is growing, poverty is a scandal.

State spending has shrunk, and many functions of the state are broken, from schools to public transport, building control and the prison system. Housing is in crisis. Even Grenfell survivors, are not yet rehoused.

The NHS, which was the world’s best health service, is now underfunded, outsourced, privatised, and treatments are rationed.

Child poverty is growing and life expectancy declining. The discrepancy between life expectancy and “life expectancy in good health”, is increasing dramatically, especially for women in poor areas.

Wage rates have still not matched the pre -crisis level and mothers wages are worst. Universal Credit and Housing Benefit Caps enforce cruelty.

The British economy is the fifth largest in “nominal gross domestic product”. It is a globalised economy. The UK is the financial capital of the world. There is little democratic control over this great wealth at national or global levels.

There is wealth enough to provide good services, decent pay and climate protection.

5a amendment – Wales Branch

Add at the end:

This conference recognises that austerity policies are a direct result of the Tory and Coalition governments taking the political decision to make the working class pay for the state borrowing to bail out the banks. Alternative policies could have been followed including complete bank nationalisation, higher taxes for the rich and using government borrowing for direct investment in social and economic infrastructure.

Labour and other left of centre parties also failed to effectively oppose the rationale and consequences of these austerity policies and, where they have local power, have effectively become agents of the UK governments transmitting the cuts down to local people and services.

Austerity policies and cuts continue and this conference commits Left Unity to continue to try to lead, expose and campaign against their implementation, supporting and working with all who wish to fight back. In particular we call upon elected representatives to support and help build these campaigns by being prepared to directly challenge the Tory government through refusing to implement any further cuts. Instead these local elected representative should set budgets based on need thus demonstrating what spending is required to repair the damage caused by over 10 years of cuts.

5b amendment – North London Branch

Move the first paragraph to the end of the motion, so that it becomes the final paragraph.

6. Brexit – Liverpool Branch

(If Brexit goes ahead) The rich must pay the price of Brexit, not one penny from the poor. This must not be Austerity wave Two.

Left Unity identifies Brexit as a project of the far right and the ultra-rich as an intention to further take wealth and power from the poor to give it to the rich. Left Unity recognises Brexit as a threat to working conditions, to environmental conditions and to rights of women, LGBT groups and racial and national minorities. Freedom of movement will be severely threatened. Rhetoric about “getting back control” must be turned back against the very rich as we demand more and more effective democracy local and national.

Disruption, to industry and commerce, to social, economic and political life are part of the plan of Brexit. Already British steel has demanded £75 m from the government to fund Brexit related problems.

In this time the need for organisation in the workplaces and in the communities to defend the working class will be essential. Organisation in defence of ecological standards and organising to push for climate protection will be ever more necessary, as will anti-racist work against scapegoating migrant communities.

We resolve to continue to work across Europe whatever the outcome of Brexit, and to continue to advocate the rights of migrants and refugees. International links across the continent (and more widely) need to be developed.

The myth that the working class chose Brexit must be demolished and the blame placed squarely on the very rich chaos capitalists.

We demand effective investment in infrastructure, in social services, health and education in all the poorest areas of the country.

We will not allow the NHS to be sacrificed to free trade deals and demand the unions step up to the campaigns to defend the NHS.

6a Amendment – Bob Williams Findlay & Bob Whitehead

a) Replace first paragraph with –

Left Unity stands firmly in opposition to a ‘no deal’ Brexit or any deal considered to be to the detriment of ordinary people. We continue to be anti-Brexit and will campaign for a ratification referendum with the option to remain in the EU. If Brexit goes ahead the rich must pay the price of Brexit, not one penny from the poor. This must not be austerity wave two.”

b) In second paragraph, insert “those in need of welfare support” after “LGBT groups,”

6b amendment – North London Branch

Second paragraph – replace “severely threatened” with “ended” (so that sentence would read “Freedom of movement will be ended”).

  1. Environment and Peace

 

7. Socialist Environmentalism – Liverpool Branch

Left Unity reiterates its commitment to socialist environmentalism, and environmental justice.

Capitalism disrupts and disorganises eco-systems local to global levels:

  • Ecosystem functions, biodiversity, and the quality of ‘environmental goods and services’ are under serious threat.
  • Climate change threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions, increasing to billions in a few of decades.
  • Earth is experiencing a ‘mass extinction event’, worse than any time since the ‘Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction’ 65 million years ago when 75% of all species perished.

Conference recognises these catastrophic developments derive from the fundamental workings of capitalism. We recognise the trend within capitalism to address market ‘solutions’ to these problems. Capital seeks to turn ecological crisis to its advantage through ‘Greenwashing’ harmful activities, ‘primitive accumulation’ and expropriation of global commons, utilisation of pension funds and state expenditure to fund private profit ‘Green New Deals’, at the expense of working people.

Simultaneously, capital absolves itself of responsibility by promoting overpopulation and resource shortage as the causes of environmental crisis. Left Unity rejects the neo-Malthusian notion that humanity in any generalised sense is the problem:

  • Most of humanity’s ‘carbon footprint’ is low, with relatively low levels of consumption.
  • Market based Food distribution is the cause of hunger, not under production – even the UN recognises sustainable subsistence food production is capable of feeding projected peak population levels.
  • Globally, negative environmental impacts arise mainly from corporations and industrial activity

Left Unity resolves to

  • Engage with environmental protest at local levels, and promote the ideas of socialism and fundamental system change
  • Convene a national meeting on environmental policy
  • Produce a pamphlet and campaign material for local campaigning on environment issues

7a amendment – Bob Whitehead & Bob Williams Findlay

a) Delete the first sentence in paragraph 4 (Simultaneously, capital absolves itself of responsibility by promoting overpopulation and resource shortage as the causes of environmental crisis).

b) Insert “production and” after “Market based Food” in the 2nd bullet point in paragraph 4.

 

8. Extinction Rebellion – North London

Left Unity welcomes Extinction Rebellion.

We agree to offer Extinction Rebellion whatever support we can provide.

  1. Women’s Rights and Disability Resistance

 

9. Women – Liverpool Branch

Left Unity reiterates its commitment to feminist polices, and particularly to stand with women, in fighting to defend their rights against intimate partner violence, against gender based violence in the streets, against low pay and discrimination and the impact of austerity. We further condemn the global assaults, from Trump, Bolsonaro and other right-wing governments on women’s rights to control our own fertility.

Left Unity applauds women who fight intimate partner violence and street based violence against women and girls. We applaud women fighting for services in health, education and local authority services and against Universal Credit. We also support those who fight for the rights and requirements of children, our elders and the community.

Left Unity applauds the work of women across the globe in fighting for their rights and a better world including #womenstrike 2018.

Left Unity recognises the international aspects of these issues. We should continue to work with the European Left Party and women from the global south and elsewhere.

Left Unity recognises there are gendered aspects of climate change.

  • Women through much of the mal-developed ‘global south’ bear responsibility for water collection and food production in subsistence agriculture,
  • Women’s capacity to migrate in the face of climate impacts is limited by caring and domestic responsibilities,
  • When displaced by climate impacts, women are disproportionately vulnerable to the dangers inherent in forced migration and people trafficking,
  • Women (and the very young and very old, for whom they carry the bulk of caring) are disproportionately vulnerable to acquisitive and violent crime in the aftermath of climate related natural catastrophic events,
  • Women face increased domestic violence and acquisitive crime resulting from the socially and economically disruptive effects of climate change

Left Unity supports plans for a large mobilisation for International Women’s Day March 8th 2020 under the slogan #womenstrike.

10. Developing Social Support – Birmingham Branch

Left Unity notes:

In 2005 the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unity published ‘Improving Life Chances for Disabled People’. Its potential was never realised as the philosophy and practice it advocated was neither fully understood nor implemented and, it has been argued, the agenda presented was hijacked.

A new approach to supporting disabled people is now needed and should focus on the promotion of independent living. Independent living is not just about being able to live in your own home – though that is often part of it for many disabled people. Rather, independent living is about providing disabled people with choice, empowerment and freedom. This new approach should draw upon a review of the ‘Improving Life Chances for Disabled People’ document, build on and learn from the success of the Independent Living Fund, closed by the coalition government in 2015, and an appraisal of the failures of the local authority care and support system. This work should sit alongside updated knowledge and experience articulated within the Reclaiming Our Future’s Alliance’s position paper, “Independent Living for the Future.”

Left Unity supports our disabled members to:

a) Develop our thinking around the core feature of the Reclaiming Our Future’s Alliance’s position paper, “Independent Living for the Future” which calls for new universal right to independent living, enshrined in law and delivered through a new national independent living service co-created between government and Disabled people, funded through general taxation, managed by central government, led by Disabled people, and delivered locally in co-production with Disabled people.

b) Work alongside the Alliance to forward the vision of a new national independent living service by assisting:

  • the setting up of an independent living taskforce led by Disabled people to explore the strongest legal frameworks for legislating for Article 19 rights, including enshrining the entire UN Convention in domestic legislation and developing an independent living bill of rights.
  • making a case for investment in independent living support
  • modelling the amount of funding needed to ensure good quality independent living support, meeting need now and in the future in order to uphold all Disabled people’s rights under Article 19.
  • educating the public and promote the benefits of investing in support for Disabled people.

Such work should be carried out within disabled people’s self-organised groups.

 

11. Children – Liverpool Branch

Left Unity condemns this government for the state of children’s welfare, health and education in this country. It has been a veritable war on children. The dominant ideas have allowed real damage to children whilst suppressing and extinguishing voices of protest. Only pity and organised charity are given any publicity.

  • Increased early mortality
  • Traffic pollution
  • Poverty
  • Education and testing
  • The loss of play facilities
  • Loss of right to time with their parents and families through low pay and poor childcare
  • Terrible childcare facilities and prices
  • Cutbacks in green spaces
  • Cuts in access to music, art and sport
  • Youth services
  • Mental and physical health services
  • Damage to the probation services
  • Benefit caps and the two child benefit limit

Left Unity should speak out on all these issues and be part of solidarity action to help children and to help protest movements against the war on children in all its aspects.

  1. Other motions

12. Party Development – Wales Branch

This Left Unity national conference continues to fully support the founding statement and principles of the party and believes that an internationalist and radical left alternative is still very much needed in the UK, to take forward socialist alternatives to the problems facing the working class and the planet.

It is noted that it is the policy of previous conferences not to take forward this agenda electorally as Left Unity, while the Labour Party is being led by Jeremy Corbyn. It is also noted that many members have joined the Labour Party to support that party’s move to the left.

Despite recognition of this difficult situation we have continued to strengthen our international and radical left commitment by becoming a full member of the Party of the European Left, working closely with sympathetic socialists through Transform which has led to establishing the journal of that name and by hosting the No Pasaran conference.

Left Unity branches locally have been able to act independently and rapidly in supporting campaigns such as in fighting austerity cuts, opposing the rise of the right, opposing Trump all in solidarity with other socialists.

Conference believes that we now need to consolidate and strengthen our branches and membership across the UK by supporting initiatives to keep all members in regular contact with the party, develop methods of enabling members to participate in political discussion and debates whilst at the same time ensuring that people who are sympathetic to our politics are able to participate as well.

Such initiatives could include:

  • Monthly national newsletter to all members which could be placed in the public domain

  • Regular, perhaps quarterly, one- or two-day political workshops developing our politics through broad based debate, involving wider supporters such as through Transform.

  • The workshops to be organised regionally to provide wider opportunities for member and supporter involvement.

  • A statement of ‘where we stand’ and a regularly updated political strategy.

Conference agrees that initiatives like these should be taken forward by a small but specific working group of members and relevant officers to be elected immediately before conference ends. Conference also agrees that this working group will initially meet within the next three months after conference concludes.

12a amendment – Matthew Hurry & Joseph Healey

  1. Paragraph 6 opening sentence – change the text “Such initiatives could include:” to “Such initiatives should include:”

  2. In the section listing initiatives, below the line “A statement of ‘where we stand’ and a regularly updated political strategy.”, insert as a new bullet point:

  • Ensuring that any event or conference that’s organised or supported by the party has Left Unity named as either an organiser, supporter or affiliate, as applicable.

12b amendment – North London Branch

Delete final paragraph (From “Conference agrees ….” to the end of the motion); and replace with “Conference agrees this work should be a priority for the National Council”.


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