Time is of the essence. The climate crisis is upon us and already devastating huge populations across the world. The economic crisis of capitalism is deepening. Wars rage in the Ukraine and other parts of the world. Militarisation and the danger of nuclear war are increasing. The pandemic is still with us.
The rise of far-right governments across Europe continues, with recent gains in Sweden and Italy. In Britain the Tory government is weak, but still has a parliamentary majority. They are intent on escalating authoritarian attacks on working class living standards, more anti-trade union legislation, repression of protest, deregulation of capital controls, privatisation of the NHS and attacks on migrants.
The Labour party has returned entirely to the pro-capitalist, neoliberal camp portraying itself as a more competent manager for business interests than the Tories, rather than a political alternative. It has ditched most of the left social democratic 2019 manifesto.
Objectively there is already the space for a mass radical left party, to the left of Labour.
Hundreds of thousands of Labour Party members have left the party or been expelled and have found no political home. The Labour left is quiescent and (with very few exceptions) fearful of opposing the leadership lest more of them be expelled. There is no realistic possibility for the left to regain the leadership of the party within any foreseeable timescale.
The organised working class has begun to fight back on the industrial front and many, many unions and hundreds of thousands of workers will be taking strike action over this winter.
Earlier this year 70,000 people signed up to Jeremy Corbyn’s Peace & Justice Project. By the end of September 800,000 people had signed up to the Enough is Enough campaign which organised demonstrations to coincide with strike action in over 50 cities on 1 October.
The key question this growing resistance outside the Labour Party poses is the need for new political organisation and representation for the working class. The strikes, the numbers responding to Enough is Enough and the lack of a mass new home for those who responded to the Corbyn led Labour program all demonstrate the objective possibility now for a new mass socialist party. But none of these or other figures or organisations who might have the weight to create a new party are yet prepared to break with Labour and do so.
The first past the post electoral system reinforces this reluctance and is a real (and deliberate) obstacle to electoral success for small parties. The next general election is likely to be an anti-Tory election with large scale tactical voting to defeat Tory candidates. In this context, the immediate electoral prospects at national level for a radical socialist party are minimal. However, the roots for such a party need to be laid now. If Labour leads the next government, it will pursue a neoliberal policy agenda, and attacks on the working class will continue. The need and possibility for a mass democratic ecosocialist party setting out an alternative will remain whichever of the major parties (or coalition of them) is in power. Left Unity or other smaller left parties on their own have little possibility to create such a truly mass new party which will depend on major events in the class and its existing organisations (mainly the trade unions).
But we believe we cannot just sit and wait for others to act. The conditions exist now to build a significant new organisation that can lay the groundwork and build arguments for a new left party. We believe we need an urgent discussion on the left about how a significant new radical left party can be built. We are inviting contributions to this discussion from other parties and individuals who broadly share this view.
We have already been working with some other parties, networks and individual socialists: within People’s Alliance of the Left (PAL), with the Breakthrough Party, in anti-austerity & health campaigns, in the radical independence movements in Scotland and Wales, with the People’s Assembly Wales etc. We believe the political context means this joint work and discussion must urgently be stepped up and expanded to include others to create greater unity ‘under one banner’ where possible.
We in Left Unity believe our aim should be a new radical ecosocialist internationalist, feminist, free movement party which gives full allegiance to and is deeply involved in the organised working class and our communities in Britain; whilst recognising that such a radical left party will have to develop autonomously within Scotland and Wales.
But we do not think, by any means, that we have all the answers. we want to hear from others about what you think is needed or is possible; with the view to breaking the logjam and developing practical proposals to move towards the creation of a significant new radical left party.
We are offering the space in the discussion section of our website and on our social media for an open and wide-ranging discussion on these issues.
If you would like to contribute to this discussion please send your articles, contributions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are contributing on behalf of a party or organisation, please say that; if as an individual please say a little about yourself.
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.
Just Stop Oil – Slow Marches
Slow marches are still legal (so LOW RISK of arrest), and are extremely effective. The plan is to keep up the pressure on this ecocidal government to stop all new fossil fuel licences.
Saturday 17th February: national march for Palestine
National demonstration: part of a Global Day of Action for Gaza
Full Ceasefire NOW! Stop the Genocide in Gaza: Assemble 12 noon in central London
Full details to follow
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