Left Unity was first initiated by Kate Hudson and Andrew Burgin in November last year following the European Day of Action against austerity on 14th November, which saw the first ever coordinated strike action across the continent. They issued an initial unity appeal, which is on the website, and people gradually began to get in touch to discuss the project. Following Ken Loach’s appeal, which was hosted on the site, the number of people interested in a new party of the left grew dramatically and an organising group was established to help bring people together to decide next steps. Those named below were agreed at a meeting of Left Unity supporters in London on Thursday 4 April 2013 to be members of a provisional and temporary group to help to co-ordinate and carry out the tasks needed to push the Left Unity project forward. It was agreed that some sort of team was necessary to do this.
As we have asked people who are getting involved to say a little bit about themselves it is only right that we list ourselves and do the same.
Organising group: The ‘day-to-day’ organising group consists of the following people:
Andrew Burgin, Terry Conway, Gioia Coppola, Merry Cross, Moutassim Elharith, Suzy Gillett, Simon Hardy, Guy Harper, Kate Hudson, Chris Hurley, Jim Jepps, Soraya Lawrence, Will McMahon, Nathan Rogers, Babs Segal, Salman Shaheen, Tom Walker, Nick Wrack and James Youd, The remit of this group is to help us prepare for the meeting on 11th May – at which time it will be dissolved and the meeting will elect its replacement.
Here is a little bit about some of us:
Andrew Burgin: I am a second-hand bookseller and an active socialist. In the 1980s I was a member of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party and was part of the majority in that organisation which expelled Gerry Healy. More recently I have been in the Labour Party and briefly in Respect and I am active in Stop the War and the Coalition of Resistance. I am also a founder member of the Greece Solidarity Campaign. I believe that left unity is the best opportunity in a generation to build a serious party to the left of Labour.
Terry Conway: I am a socialist feminist, activist in the LGBT movement, involved in my trade union UNISON and a supporter of Socialist Resistance. I live in Islington, north London.
Gioia Coppola: I am a communist from Italy. There I was a teacher of history and philosophy in secondary school and a conflict mediator in the Juvenile court of Bari, my home town. I have been living in London for 2 years now. I have worked in a sandwich bar and am now unemployed.
Merry Cross: I’m a long time socialist and one of those who founded the Disabled People’s movement in the 80s. Previously though I never signed up to a political party, primarily because I never felt represented by them or welcomed by them, either as a woman or as a disabled person. This is where I believe Left Unity could make a significant breakthrough. So all my political activity has been restricted to disability issues in the past and I am still active in this arena today. Certainly I see helping Left Unity to become truly inclusive (recognising intersectionality) as my main role on the organising committee.
Moutassim Elharith: I am a writer, broadcast journalist, PR consultant and political/cultural activist. I used to be a member of a leftist Sudanese front, but then chose to be an independent activist. I am a founding member and editor-in-chief of ‘Arab Unity Net’, the largest pan-Arab nationalist forum online. I am in for human rights, democracy, equality and justice, and against the right in general, globalisation, tyranny, and privatisation.
Suzy Gillett: I have joined Left Unity as it appears to be the creation of an open new form of political activism that is attracting a wide range of people who do not see their beliefs, ideas about the future society that their children and grandchildren will inherit being given any thought by the current political parties. That a radical overhaul of the system is needed is being given serious thought, what new economic model will take us out of this spiralling separation between the rich and the poor. I want to be part of a movement that envisages a positive future, a society of equality, non-military intervention and clearly says ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
Simon Hardy: I am a student teacher in South London and a supporter of the Anticapitalist Initiative. I have recently co-authored a book Beyond Capitalism? The Future of the Radical Left, published by Zero Books.
Guy Harper: I am a 26-year old trade unionist from London, Manchester and Birmingham. I haven’t been an activist for long, only becoming politicised in 2011, and am still forming my opinions. I’ve worked alongside members of various organisations on the left but hadn’t been convinced by any, until Left Unity emerged, with what I think is the potential to establish an alternative vision for politics in an increasingly individualistic world.
Kate Hudson: My main campaigning work over the past ten years has been as an anti-war and anti-nuclear activist. Before working for CND I was an academic, writing most recently on the development of the new European left parties – such as Syriza in Greece and Die Linke in Germany. They have been a source of political inspiration to me. I joined the Communist Party when I was a student, in 1979, and was a member until it was dissolved in 1991. After that I was a member of the Labour Party until Blair bombed Afghanistan in 2001; I have since been in the CPB and most recently briefly in Respect.
Christine Hurley: I am the local group organiser for West London Left Unity. I am a single mum of two grown up daughters. I was a civil servant all of my working life and a PCS activist for most of that time. In 2009 I took early retirement as my office relocated out of London, despite a fierce campaign to try and stop it. Since then I have become involved in a local community group in Acton where I live (I am currently the membership secretary). I am also involved in the Save Our Hospitals campaign in North West London, to try to stop the closure of the 4 A&E departments which are closest to Acton. Although I was a member of the Socialist Workers Party in the 1980s, I left in the early 1990s and hadn’t been inspired to join anything else politically until I heard about Left Unity. I think this is potentially a very exciting project. The fact that so many people have signed up or expressed interest, and that so many groups have been formed (over 80 as I write) in such a short space of time shows there is a large number of people out there who hate what this government are doing and are fed up with Labour selling out all the time. So I am proud to be involved in Left Unity at such an early stage to help shape and organise it and see where it goes.
Soraya Lawrence: I welcome the call for Left Unity. I have been a socialist for over 30 years. I first became politically active when living in Italy where I was a member of the PCI. I have been involved in many campaigns fighting racism, the poll tax, raising solidarity with imprisoned trade unionists abroad. More recently I was election agent for socialist candidates in my area. My work as a criminal defence barrister confirms on a daily basis the need for a better society where all are equal in conditions and opportunity.
Will McMahon: I am an independent socialist and want to collaborate with as many people as possible to create the biggest democratic, inclusive and socialist party as possible. I live in Friern Barnet in north London. Since I moved to London 25 years ago I have worked in Parliament for MPs, for Campaign Against Arms Trade and the Child Poverty Action Group (among others) and since 2004 at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. I am an ‘ambassador’ for the Care Leavers Association (I was chair for 5 years) – a user-led organisation that represents adults who grew up in the care system as children. I am really hopeful that Left Unity can create a one member one vote party that can create a grassroots campaigning alternative to fight back against all the rubbish we have had heaped on us in the last 30, no 40 years…
Nathan Rogers: I am a 16 year old year old socialist living in South London and am one of the Lambeth group organisers. Growing increasingly frustrated with current state of the far-left in Britain I joined Left Unity, seeing it as the only way for the left in Britain to progress. I hope we can build a movement that fights against capitalism, racism, sexism, imperialism and war while campaigning for the rights of workers, the young and the disabled.
Barbara Segal: Politically I would describe myself as an anarchist/libertarian communist and a feminist. Over the years I have been involved in a variety of campaign groups on the left, often working with members of small socialist parties, and I have always been an active trade unionist, most recently in AUT/UCU. What excites me about Left Unity is its lack of sectarianism, its internationalism, its emphasis on grass roots involvement and its commitment to exploring new approaches to change.
Salman Shaheen: I am a journalist who writes for the New Statesman, Liberal Conspiracy and Left Foot Forward. As the editor of an economics magazine, I occasionally rant about tax avoidance and austerity on TV and radio, but I also like to write about other terrible injustices such as inequality, environmental destruction, imperialism and the continued existence of the Conservative Party.
Tom Walker: I’m a socialist, journalist and activist, and part of Left Unity’s West London group, living in Ealing. I’m one of the hundreds who left the SWP earlier this year, and I’m keen to be part of a wider left that actually involves and listens to working class people instead of alienating them. For all my political lifetime there has been an enormous political space on the left, and Left Unity has an exciting potential to be an organisation that thousands of lefties can finally call home. I’ve been involved in anti-war, anti-cuts and anti-fascist campaigning and I’m also a member of the NUJ union.
Nick Wrack: I am a Marxist and a life-long socialist activist. Like many other tens of thousands I am a socialist without a party. No party speaks up for the millions ignored, abandoned or taken for granted by Labour. I want to help build a new socialist party – fully democratic, welcoming and enjoyable. We need a party that defends past gains won by the working class but that also sets out to transform society. Capitalism is organised to make a profit for the few; the devil can look after everyone else. We need a new society based on a spirit of common solidarity through the democratic collective ownership of society’s resources, run in the interests of all. I am a barrister specialising in criminal defence and civil liberties. I represented many of the students charged with Violent Disorder during the 2010 anti-fees protests. I live in Peckham, south London.
James Youd: I am an active environmental and social justice campaigner for many years. I first got involved in politics during the demonstrations against the barbaric illegal invasion of Iraq. I remember being on the streets of London with 2million others in 2003 and the sentiment of illegitimacy and outrage that was present amongst not just those present but among the entire country – indeed the world. In 2004 I joined the Green Party and played a pivitol role in electing the first Green councillor in 2008 where I live in Cambridge. I was also a member of Green Left and held the post of communications on the committee when we first launched ‘The Watermelon’ publication. Subsequently I became the regional election for the 2009 European elections and sat on the national elections committee. Since then I became the convenor of the standing orders committee but left the Greens in February 2012 after the disastrous decision of Brighton council to implement a cuts budget along with the woeful resistance it met internally! I am an active anti-cuts campaigner as Treasurer of the Coalition of Resistance and have the same role within the Greece Solidarity Campaign which I helped form. I see myself as an eco-socialist anti-war campaigner and am pleased to be part of the organising committee of Left Unity for which I am also the Cambridge organiser.
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