We have drafted a third ‘platform’ to extend the debate within Left Unity. Having read the two platforms currently circulating – the Left Party Platform and the Socialist Platform – we were struck by an obvious similarity between them. Neither address the immediate issues confronting the working class in Britain today, which are not run of the mill concerns, but critical to all our futures.
How can we stop the Tories before they destroy the NHS and wreck the welfare state? What can we do to shift or go round the seemingly immovable obstruction that the TUC puts in the way of resistance? How can we unite all the many fantastic campaigns against cuts and privatisation and discrimination and war into a single unstoppable force? How can we capitalise on the huge support shown for Left Unity to create a new mass party of the working class?
We do not like the way the Left Party Platform reduces socialism to just another thing rather than setting it as our overall goal – a planned economy under the control of the working class majority, in place of the madness of the market that underpins all the many ways we suffer.
We do not like the way the Socialist Platform presents the socialist goals of the future in serene abstraction from the day to day battles that the working class are carrying out – the very struggles which must win if we are to develop the force that will actually create socialism.
Above all we do not like the way they both stay silent on the most pressing practical challenges of the hour.
So we have drafted an alternative. We try to pose the right questions for Left Unity to debate out. These include immediate issues for the class struggle in Britain – which we need to take a stance on quickly before the Tories solve them for us – and an overarching strategic question: how can capitalism be overthrown?
We hope we will have a constructive debate that will help create a party that is anti-capitalist and socialist, and not just in general – in how it sees the future on paper -but in practice, in how it approaches the real class struggles in Britain and around the world today.
If you agree, please contact our convenor Dave Stockton at firstname.lastname@example.org
Class Struggle Platform for Left Unity
Our aim is to found a new political party of the working class in Britain.
We are doing this because after three years of the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition’s vicious austerity, Ed Miliband’s Labour Party has utterly failed to stand up for the poor, the dispossessed, workers, women, the disabled, pensioners, unemployed, black and Asian people, tenants, public service users, students, and young people who are being made to pay for the economic crisis.
Instead Miliband continues the policy of Blair and Brown and puts the millionaires before the millions.
Far from attacking the Tories for driving working people into poverty, for the privatisation of the NHS and education, and for their demolition of benefits and welfare, for their racist campaigns against migrants, the Labour leaders refuse to commit themselves to reversing the Tory cuts; they refuse to oppose the vicious cap on benefits; they refuse to brand racism as racism; and they refuse to defend public sector pay, pensions and jobs.
Instead Miliband has turned his fire against the six million-strong trade unions – still the largest organisations of working class people in Britain – and wants to reduce their already limited influence over Labour policy.
At the same time the leaders of the trade unions have shown themselves unwilling and incapable of mobilising these millions in an effective resistance to the attacks. Fearful of the anti-union laws that the Tories introduced – and Blair and Brown preserved – they have not called a single mass demonstration in defence of the NHS.
The fiasco of the so-called coordinated action on public sector pensions left the labour movement disoriented and demobilised. The talk of a general strike at the 2012 TUC remained just that – empty talk. Yet whenever union members have been called out- or when they have rallied themselves at local level – the results have been inspiring. It is the official leadership of the working class – in the unions and the Labour Party – that is unwilling to fight.
We are struggling for no less than the defence of the welfare state gained since 1945. The stakes are so high we have no choice but to create a new leadership – a leadership of the activists from our grass roots campaigns and militants in the workplaces schools and colleges. Together we can form a new leadership – a party – to offer an effective strategy for resisting and driving out this government of social wreckers. This strategy can turn our fragmented fightback into a united and irresistible display of solidarity. We can go from defending our jobs, wages, pensions and services to rolling back the forces of privatisation and profiteering. We can fight once more for the socialist goal of a society built on social justice, equality and an end to exploitation.
We need an anti-capitalist, socialist party. We need a party that says the working class and the oppressed must not pay for the long economic crisis of the banks and corporations. It is the rich financiers and capitalists who must be forced to pay. We need a party that puts an end to austerity and brings about a massive transfer of wealth from the rich to ordinary people. We want a party that champions and strengthens the unions and every organisation of working class and oppressed people, freeing them from the shackles of the anti-union laws. We want a party whose members are active on every front of the struggle.
We want a party that fights for socialism, for a world free of racism and war, for women’s liberation, for an end to environmental devastation, for a sustainable future, for internationalism, and for a publicly-owned economy, democratically managed and planned by those who work and those who use its goods and services.
We need a democratic, anti-bureaucratic party. We need a party radically different from the undemocratic establishment parties funded by the rich and controlled by an unaccountable elite of MPs and bureaucrats.
We will build our party build from the bottom up, from the workplaces and communities, from the midst of our struggles. We want it to draw in tens of thousands of ordinary people in every town and city across Britain.
Our members must to have the fullest rights to propose ideas, to challenge and change policy, to organise within the party to influence its direction, and to have the right to disagree and to debate in a spirit of mutual confidence, respect and solidarity.
We want all our representatives on councils or in parliament to be accountable to and recallable by those who voted for them, and to take only the average wage of the working class when in public office. On all our party bodies, we want to ensure equal representation of women, the fullest possible representation of black and Asian people, of the disabled, of LGBT people, of workers and youth. We guarantee the right of all oppressed groups to caucus within the party and challenge all examples of discrimination and oppression.
The Tories and their capitalist backers are on the offensive, determined to do as much damage as they can to the welfare state and the NHS before the next election. They want to use racism and scapegoating to divide us and distract us from fighting back.
We have to do all we can to help defeat the Tory attacks, bring down the government and repel the growth of the Far Right.
We propose the following immediate policies, all based on action.
1. Campaign for mass strike action to bring down the Coalition
The TUC moderates have done next to nothing to mobilise millions of union members against austerity. They spend more time witch hunting their own best activists than leading a fight back. By contrast the TUC lefts have tried to organise coordinated one-day legal strikes over pensions, but these fell apart as Unison accepted a deal and the lefts failed to appeal to Unison members over the heads of their right wing leaders.
Last year the TUC launched a consultation on the practicalities of a general strike. Our reply whenever we have been asked has been yes but still they do nothing. It is plain that to make this happen we will have to fight from the grassroots up, for strikes and campaigns this autumn to link up, to defy the union laws and combine our strength in a joint indefinite national strike against austerity.
2. Campaign for a rank and file movement in the unions
We should launch a fight for a democratic, nationwide movement within the trade unions to break the control of the vastly overpaid general secretaries and the officials that can delay and call off our struggles without consulting us. We need to spread the militant defence of jobs and services, put all unions under rank and file control, pay all officials the average wage of the workers they represent, make all officials accountable and recallable. Our watchword should be: with the union leaders where possible, without them where necessary.
3. Campaign for democratic mass people’s assemblies in every town and city
The tremendous response to the People’s Assembly and the large turnouts at regional assemblies show the mood is there to bring together all the anti-austerity campaigns into an active force that can practically unite action on a local, regional and national basis. We want to make them lasting bodies, able to make democratic decisions through majority voting and then carry them out. We will try to draw in delegates from as many campaigns, estates, workplaces, schools and colleges and we can.
4. Campaign to smash the EDL and defend Muslims from pogroms and fascist violence
The EDL, BNP and other fascist groups try to divide the working class by stirring up hatred and carrying out violent attacks against Muslims, black and Asian people, LGBT people, and the left. We should back the formation of united campaigns in every area with the aim of denying the fascists any platform to spread their views or to incite hatred and violence. We will work with militant antifascist groups, trade unionists, Muslims and youth to form self-defence groups to defend our meetings, demonstrations mosques and communities, to stop EDL hate marches and resist police attacks on anti-fascist and anti-racist protests.
5. International solidarity against austerity, unemployment, racism and war.
Across Europe and around the world millions of people like us are fighting the effects of the crisis and the attempts of the capitalists to make ordinary people pay to save their system. New parties have been formed over the last decade to the left of the Labour and Socialist parties that will not break from neo-liberalism. In Greece, France, and many other countries, they are fighting back and debating what a programme for socialism means in the 21st century. We will work with them in immediate practical acts of solidarity, especially with those facing the most severe attacks like in Greece. And we will propose and try to build a new international
organisation of the working class. We will fight all wars and ‘interventions’ planned by our rulers, we will support the Arab revolutions and the Palestinians, we will try to get all the troops and bases out of the Middle East and Central Asia. We will take solidarity action with movements for democracy and social justice, against imperialist occupation and with national liberation movements.
6. Campaign to draw tens of thousands into a new mass party
Our founding conference is scheduled for November 2013. The huge groundswell of support for Ken Loach’s first appeal for this new party – which drew nearly 10,000 backers in just a few weeks – is a clear sign that large numbers are ready to rally to an alternative. But it will not be possible for our new initiative to rally scores of thousands, or to draw up a detailed party programme, on such a short timescale.
That means we should deepen and extend the process of policy commissions that we launched in June, continue it beyond November, and above all try to bring many thousands of activists and campaigners beyond our current ranks into the process of drawing up proposals for policy and action and then debating them out.
So we address our call to campaigners against the Bedroom Tax; trade unionists; disabled people campaigning against ATOS and benefit cuts; socialists; women resisting domestic violence, the culture of rape and abuse, pay discrimination and poverty; anti-racist activists confronting the EDL; Muslims resisting racist attacks; movements against war and in solidarity with revolutions in Europe and the Middle East; students fighting fees, course closures and sell-offs; unemployed activists.
We appeal to all to come together in big local gatherings to help form this new party and shape its policy, in an atmosphere of democracy, solidarity and taking action together.
In this way we will draw thousands into the creation of our fuller programme:
economic policies, our relation to the trade unions, our approach to elections, policies on benefits and welfare, Scotland, Ireland, the EU, environmental destruction, deepening democracy and resisting repression, our attitude to new left parties in Europe, women’s, LGBT, black and youth liberation. Above all we will be able to discuss with thousands how we can develop a strategy for taking real power into the hands of the people, forming a working class government, defeating capitalism and creating a world free of poverty, exploitation, oppression and war.
Submitted by Rebecca Allan (Leeds), Richard Brenner (Southwark), Jeremy Drinkall (Lambeth), Marcus Halaby (East London), Joy McKnight (Southwark), Steve McSweeney (East London), Paul Silson (Wakefield), Dave Stockton (Lambeth), Kady Tait (Leeds), Andy Young (Leeds).
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Austerity, Debt and the Crisis
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