Left Unity has at its National Conference 2022 taken the decision to open up our website and media to encouraging an urgent discussion on the left about how we can create greater unity of the radical left in Britain. We are asking sympathetic parties, organisations, campaigns and individuals to contribute to this discussion, including with practical proposals.
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 email@example.com
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.
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I am an ex Labour member. Please organise and form one Political Party you can all stand under. This will allow you to stand a candidate in every Labour constituency with your pooled resources. If you don’t do it now, you will lose the momentum and people will become disillusioned and apathetic.
I would love it if a new party developed…
My suggestions? Make the symbol a red flag…that’s it. no stars, hammers, etc… just an
all red flag. Why not? Also I love the name “the peoples assembly” Why not be the “peoples party”? Ok enough with the marketing…
I’ve been to Kerala and the Communist Party(M) was really interesting to witness. There was a “movement” aspect to being a member in that they did actions in the city to clean up trash, paint school buildings, etc.
Membership wasn’t a passive thing. The Black Panthers looked after their community… school’s breakfast programs etc… I don’t think it makes sense to focus on policy proposals… a party out of power (and maybe one in power too?) should busy itself in highlighting the contradictions in our society and organising to improve situations where it can. Socialism, communism, what ever you want to call it…try to make the movement as being less of an ideology and more of a verb- put the “MOVE’ into the word movement. Union drive efforts in fast food chains! I did that with my Peoples Assembly branch with Organise Now! and it was fun. In short, let’s be active… not in trying to get votes (that will come) but in building and volunteering time to build “communism”… Maybe not surprisingly, I think the YCL does this as well as anyone I’ve seen in this country (I moved here from NYC)… with their food bank drives, etc… So I would hope that a new party would campaign in building socialism and not worry about white papers.
with a handshake
There’s no chance of any significant new party of the left at a Britain-wide level. The Scottish left has come a long way in the last two decades and would no longer accept being subordinate to an English left that has rarely championed self-determination. We have our own politics and political environment. There’s every chance of the radical left in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland working together on projects where they can agree, once the left in England respects the left elsewhere taking different paths to England. If you want to talk about a new party of the left in England, that’s one thing – good luck. But don’t think you can impose it on the rest of Britain just by wishing for it.
On The Need for a New Radical Left Party
There are already a number of left-wing groups and parties in the U.K., which are listed here:
The most interesting in my view are:
Green Party of England and Wales – vote share of 2.7% in 2019 General Election
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalitiohttps://leftunity.org/wp-admin/profile.phpn (TUSC)
Breakthrough Party – seems to be for “young people” only?
Socialist Party (formerly Militant) – https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/
National Health Action Party (NHA)
The People’s Assembly – a bit hierarchical and elitist, in spite of its name?
Socialist Labour Party (SLP) – started by good old Arthur Scargill! (I lived through the Great Miners Strike of 1984-5 when I was teaching at a primary school in a miner’s village in North Derbyshire. The school kitchens were opened to the miner’s wives, and I certainly supported the miners’ struggle against Thatcher, who started the whole lurch to the Right of the political status quo in the U.K., which has lead us to where we are today.)
There are a number of other minor parties and groupings, too numerous to mention here.
After the 2019 General Election, take over of the Labour Party under the Blairite leadership of Keir Starmer, removal of the Labour whip from Jeremy Corbyn, exclusion of many socialist activists in the Labour Party, and the departure from Labour of many others formerly on the Left of the Party (including myself), many of us on the Left in England and in the U.K. as a whole have felt disenfranchised, with nowhere to go as regards whom we can vote for in the next General Election.
It is my view that Left Unity, as an umbrella group that actually welcomes anyone on the left-wing or radical left politically, should form the new party of the Left – and there is nothing wrong with actually calling the Party Left Unity, which states in its name what it is about. It should also form a formal electoral alliance with the Green Party, the only Party to have an M.P. and a number of representatives in County Councils. In Scotland, it could be argued that a similar alliance might be formed with the SNP and in Wales, with Plaid Cymru.
The first task of this new grouping should be the reform of the first-past-the-post electoral system and introduction of proportional representation. This is the only way that the current two-party domination of the Westminster Parliament could be reformed, so that it is no longer possible for the Conservative Party to form majority governments like the current very right-wing Tory government, and likewise this would also prevent neoliberal, Starmerite Labour from gaining an overall majority in the House of Commons.
In the long term, I would like to see the Westminster Parliament abolished completely, the Union dissolved, and full independence given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The latter could then vote to decide whether to unite with the Republic of Ireland or function as an independent state.
Northern England and the other major English regions could also be given their own parliaments. Some of the English regions, such as Northern England and the Midlands, are as big by population in their own right as some of the states within the E.U., so they could each, along with the nation states of the U.K., decide whether to apply to join the E.U. or form some sort of federal or confederal system in the British Isles, but NOT under anything like the terminally corrupt and self-serving Westminster Parliament. (The Palace of Westminster could be turned into a “Museum of the People”, telling the story of the struggle of the ordinary, common people over the last 1,000 years!)
By the way, you at Left Unity are in fact the only Twitter group that have bothered to follow me back!
This highlights a point that I have made several times in tweets – that there seems to be an unofficial “hierarchy” of socialist groups that all follow each other but seem to be too self-important to follow back we ordinary folk on the Left! As a socialist and something of an anarchist, I am absolutely against any hierarchies or privileged elites, whether of the Right or Left, and I find this elitism disappointing, as it suggests these not very inclusive groups are trying to create their own “hierarchy” of whom they consider to be left-wing “movers and shakers” in the UK.
The biggest challenge for people on the Left – in England especially – is to move the political status quo away from the current Far Right and Centre-Right consensus of all the mainstream media and the BBC, which no longer functions as an impartial national broadcaster. Both the current Director General and Chairman of the BBC have close links with the Tory Party, along with many of the so-called journalists and political presenters on the BBC.
How on earth can this be achieved? Initially, Left Unity or whatever the new party of the Left is called, needs to start creating podcasts and a video channel, so that there is some alternative to the biased mainstream media.
Amber Goth 31/12/22
There is an alternative. It’s called the Green Party. Can you imagine a Green Party with jeremy at the healm, the Green Party need these types of politicians to bring it further into the thoughts of voters.