Left Party Platform Statement


In the run-up to Left Unity’s founding conference in November, it’s clear that we need the fullest possible debate and discussion about what kind of party it is that we all want to establish. At its meeting in June, Left Unity’s National Coordinating Group decided that platforms of ten or more people can put resolutions to the founding conference on the same basis as local groups.

Following that decision, a number of Left Unity supporters have drafted and agreed a short statement and longer background document to establish a Left Party Platform, clarifying and establishing a common position arguing for a broadly-based new party of the left as we move towards the founding conference.
The Platform and its documents are a contribution to Left Unity’s ongoing discussion about the nature of a new party and we welcome comments on our perspectives over the coming months. The Platform welcomes new supporters who share our vision of a broadly-based new left party – if you are interested please contact us at: Leftpartyplatform@gmail.com

We look forward to the contributions and views that all local groups, other platforms and supporters of Left Unity will put forward before joining together to found the new party on a democratic basis in November.

The following is a statement proposed by the Left Party platform in conjunction with the supporting document ‘Towards a New Left Party’.

Left Party Platform statement

Since the near-collapse of the global financial system in 2008, capitalism has plunged deeper and deeper into crisis. Governments, led by the Troika of European institutions, have pursued austerity policies, ostensibly to reduce government deficits. In reality these policies have been designed to destroy the social and economic gains working people have made over many decades, reducing wages and obliterating welfare states. The economic crisis has increasingly become a social and political crisis as people face poverty, hunger and even death, as a result of the catastrophic and government-imposed failure of health systems and social services. The environmental crisis driven particularly by climate change caused by the unending search for profit is wreaking devastation too, particularly in the Global South

People are fighting back – in the streets and squares, workplaces, social and political institutions – striking, occupying and refusing to collaborate with state brutality and repression. In Greece, France, Germany and elsewhere, new political parties have developed, drawing together a range of left forces, posing political, social and economic alternatives. They are anti-capitalist parties that stand against neo-liberalism and the destruction of welfare states – whether at the hands of the right or of social democracy – and fight for alternative social, economic and political policies. Here in Britain we face the savage onslaught of the coalition government, destroying our hard-won gains, but the Labour Party backs the cuts, accepts the coalition’s narrative of attack on the most oppressed in society, and refuses to pose an economic alternative or represent the interests and needs of ordinary people.

As yet we have no viable political alternative to the left of Labour, yet we urgently need a new political party which rejects austerity and war, which will defend and restore the gains of the past, fighting to take back into public ownership those industries and utilities privatised over the last three decades, but will also move forward with a vision of a transformed society: a party which advocates and fights for the democratisation of our society, economy, state and political institutions, transforming these arenas in the interests of the majority.

Many agree that we need a new left party which will present an alternative set of values of equality and justice: socialist, feminist, environmentalist and against all forms of discrimination. Its politics and policies will stand against capitalism, imperialism, war, racism and fascism. Its immediate tasks will be to oppose austerity and the scapegoating which accompanies it, defend the welfare state and those worst affected by the onslaught, fight to restore workers’ rights and advance alternative social and economic policies, redistributing wealth to the working class.

Its political practice will be democratic, diverse and inclusive, organising amongst working class communities with no interests apart from theirs, committed to open dialogue and new ways of working; to the mutual respect and tolerance of differences of analysis; to the rejection of the corruption of conventional political structures and their reproduction of the gender domination of capitalist society. It will recognise that economic transformation does not automatically bring an end to discrimination and injustice and that these sites of struggle must be developed and won, openly and together.

It will recognise that international solidarity is fundamental to the success of any resistance and the achievement of any political progress; that the problems we face in Britain are systemic problems that cannot be resolved in Britain alone and which require an international response and an international alternative. A new left party will work with other left organisations and movements in Europe and internationally such as Syriza and Front de Gauche, to build coordination, strategic links and common actions to advance that struggle. The rise of the far right across Europe is a stark warning of what may come to pass if the left in Europe fails to be effective and combat the barbarism of capitalism and fascism.

This Left Party Platform seeks support to found and build a new left party on this basis.

July 2013

Kerry Abel, Richard Abendorff, Gilbert Achcar, Anam Ahmed, Len Arthur, Aidan Barlow, Andrew Bebbington,  Patrick Black, Jay Blackwood, Pamela Bowhill, Jack Brindelli, Charles Brown, Andrew Burgin, Katie Buse, Duncan Chapel, Andrew Collingwood, John Connolly, Lesley Connors, Terry Conway, Gioia Coppola, Merry Cross, Kieran Crowe, Anne Marie Cryer-Whitehead, Mark Cryer-Whitehead, Anya-Nicola Darr, John Dickie, Felicity Dowling, Pippa Dowswell, Sheila Dunsby, Flo Jo Durrant, Jon Duveen, Maria Esperanza Sanchez, Sam Feeney, Mark Findlay, Eleanor Firman, Nick Foster, Ed Fredenburgh, Suzanne Gannon, Suzy Gillett, Nik Gorecki, Liz Gray, Winmarie Greenland, Lynn Gregory, Jake Hall, Joe Hallet, Guy Harper, Louise Harrison, Phil Hearse, Mally Henry, Annie Higgs, Joy Holland, Laney Holland, Jim Hollinshead, Jade Hope, Kate Hudson, Chris Hurley, Stuart Inman, Rick Jewell, Paul Johnson, Nick Jones, Philip Kane, Dave Kellaway, Jane Kelly, Jim Kelly, Rosalie Kelly, Elizabeth Keen, Dan Kettlewell, Stephen Kettlewell, Joe Kisolo-Ssonko, David Lane, Martin Leonard, Fred Leplat, John Lister, Joe Lo, Nick Long, Alison Lord, Kathy Lowe, Simon Lynn, Mike Marqusee, Rob Marsden, Sharon McCourt, Chris McKenzie, Liam McQuade, Stephen Miller, John Mooney, Sheila Mosley, Piers Mostyn, Ben Neal, Oliver New, Larry O’Donnell, Valerie O’Riordan, Duncan Parker, Ian Parker, Steven Parry, Susan Pashkoff, Peter Pinkney, Stewart Pluck, Roland Rance, Marc Renwick, Andy Richards, Adam Roden, Ed Rooksby, Jenny Ross, Penny Schenk, Gemma Schneider, Mike Scott, Barbara Segal, Richard Seymour, Salman Shaheen, Steven Shakespeare, Jenny Slaughter, Andy Smith, Ciara Squires, Ian Stewart, Paul Stygal, Sean Thompson, Alan Thornett, Doug Thorpe, Bianca Todd, Jasmin Todd, Jean Todd, Peter Todd, Simone Todd,  Mike Tucker, Eve Turner, Chris Vincent, Subira Wahogo, Tom Walker, Tony Walker, Stuart Watkins, Godfrey Webster, Roger Welch, Jake Whitby, Bob Whitehead, Sam Williams, Bob Williams-Findlay, Carla Willig, Richard Willmsen, Julian Wilson, Roland Wood, Lynn Wright.



61 responses to “Left Party Platform Statement”

  1. elspeth parris says:

    Still no local branch for me (Merthyr Tydfil). Without a local branch, will I be able to take part in this process?

    • Guy H says:

      Yes Elspeth – we are working towards a founding conference in November and will shortly be setting up a founding membership, which will give you a vote at the conference. It’s also been proposed that we set up online branches for people that don’t have a local group – updates will be going out via the newsletter (are you signed up? http://leftunity.org/appeal/ )
      Also if you’d like to add your name to the Left Party platform’s statement you can do so by emailing leftpartyplatform@gmail.com
      All the best

    • beyank77 says:

      Hi Elspeth,
      I will email you again… I had sent an email to you… but maybe it is still whizzing around in the sky!
      In unity, BT

  2. Good statement – just a couple of minor points from a partial observer:

    1. ‘…led by the Troika of European institutions’ – the IMF is not a purely European institution, partly shown by the fact its HQ is in Washington DC.

    2. ‘As yet we have no viable political alternative to the left of Labour’ – I don’t think Left Unity should bury its head in the sand about the Greens. Nearly 13,000 members, ~150 councillors, 2 MEPs and an MP, as well as clear commitments to renationalising energy, water and rail, introducing a Living Wage and repealing the anti-union laws (among the rest of the left platform the Greens stand for). I’m coming round to the idea of the Left Unity initiative (as a Green) – but only if it is diverse and actually represents true left-of-Labour co-operation and united action.

    It’s encouraging that Left Unity has committed to being environmentalist, but as part of this it must work with socialists and other anti-capitalists which make up arguably the majority of the Green Party (rogue Brighton councillors notwithstanding)

    • Ed Harmann says:

      Instead of setting up yet another ‘left’ group, which will inevitably end in factionalized failure,(you’ve already got most of the Trotskyists signed up individually and ready to take over your platform) why don’t you all join the Labour Party and take it back at the grass roots level from the tories who run it now?
      There is obviously sufficient groundswell amongst the lefty suburban intellectuals, poets, children’s authors and sociology lecturers to warrant an attempt at creating another new left; combined with the union’s outright disenchantment with the capitalists in charge of Labour and surely it would be more efficient to galvanize a broad left umbrella into taking back the Labour Party?

      • Jim Parker says:

        Sad to say this has been tried several times and failed abysmally. Given the Labour Party’s lack of democracy anyone successful in establishing a base within the party that doesn’t rely on the Oxbridge clique will be expelled. Witness the demise of Militant, Blair’s changes to internal democracy, and the recent attack on the Falkirk branch for following party rules to get rank and file members signed up.

      • Maggie Gee says:

        We don’t want to join the Labour Party cos they are just another shade of Blue. E.L. James wrote about 50 shades of Grey, in Britain we have 50 Shades of Blue, and none of them are looking out for the people, only to toffs and tops ! x

  3. John Penney says:

    I can agree with everything on here. But then its pretty uncontroversial stuff surely ? I’m not sure what alternative positions you are trying to differentiate yourselves from. If the “Left Party Platform” is differentiating itself from , perhaps, avowedly revolutionary, “Leninist” potential rival Platforms, or some other set of positions, I think you have to make this clear.

    That aside ,you will probably have seen the debate going on in the Policy Commission thread on the geographical scope of the new party. Some contributors are proposing that Left Unity should only be established in England (minus Cornwall !!!) , with Scotland , Wales (and in one case ,Cornwall) being seen as requiring completely separate parties – set up by “someone else” – or an arrangement with the SSP in the Scottish case. I assume that the Left Party Platform is in favour of a single party covering at least England, Scotland, and Wales ? What about Northern Ireland ? (I’m not so sure on that one).

    A detailed “What We Stand For” in terms of Key proposed policies would surely be an important statement for a “Left Platform” to produce too ?

    • tony walker says:

      what do we do about the fact that both scotland and wales have their own parliament or assemblies so does northern ireland?
      tony walker

    • dave Nickles says:

      The reason the left gets left behind is that there are too many idealists trying to create their own version of utopia. While they discuss the finer points of socialism the right unburdened by a chattering ego driven intellect, gets on with fucking things up for everyone except them and their friends and sponsors in the insurance companies and banks. Good luck with uniting but I fear I am seeing the same recycled arguments from the lefties I was seeing 20 yesrs ago as a student – “Life of Brian” springs to mind for some reason…..

  4. Hch says:

    Nothing in Gloucestershire. Registered but heard nothing.

  5. Nick Wrack says:

    While this is a marginal improvement on the original statement drafted by Kate Hudson prior to the 11 May Left Unity meeting it remains wholly inadequate. It attempts to be all encompassing, meaning all things to all people. But what does it actually mean? Is it advocating Keynesian reflation or a fundamental breach with capitalism. Is it advocating a mixed economy or ending capitalism? It cites left parties in Europe that “fight for alternative social, economic and political policies” but fails to set out what these are. Its deliberate vagueness is its weakness.
    At yesterday’s meeting of the Independent Socialist Network, without knowing of this Left Party Platform statement, those attending all agreed that we needed an explicitly socialist platform to argue at the November founding conference for the new party to be an explicitly socialist party, with its aims clearly set out.
    A statement to this end is being drafted and will be circulated as part of the debate in the run-up to the November conference.

    • Ed Harmann says:

      Surely you meant ‘…explicitly Trotskyist/State-Capitalist platform to argue at the November founding conference’?
      Socialism is something entirely different from your goals.

      • Mike Ballard says:

        Do you mean, common ownership of the collective product of labour under democratic control, Ed? But that would be alternative to capitalism. Geez, then we’d have to abolish the wage system as Marx advised back in 1865.

  6. John Tummon says:

    It is very much on the bland side, analytically, in terms of how it will work and regarding what its direction of travel and core alternative principles are. There is little here that indicates that it comes out of a genuine process of reviewing the practice and shortfalls of the British Left over the post-1968 period and no compelling indication as to what it is about the current political situation that makes a Left Party possible or desirable.

    The economic space for reformism has disappeared, which is why reformism as a political force has disappeared. That clears the way for something more fundamentally socialist and thought out than ‘restoring the gains of the past’, which all came through a reformism which cannot be re-built.

  7. colin piper says:

    I’m with Nick and one or two other contributors. Are the authors of this statement in favour of public ownership or not? In my view Left Unity has to be clearly and unambiguously committed to socialism and that means public ownership of the “commanding heights of the economy”. As a previous contributor has made clear, there is a reason why the social democratic parties of every European country have abandoned ‘reformism’, it is because such a programme is no longer tenable.
    On a broader more philosophical point, I think the statement is very defensive. Of course it is necessary and urgent to combat the rise of xenophobia and the politics of the far right for example, but we also need to paint a picture of the incredible potential that exists for building a completely different kind of society, if the resources of the planet are used for the common good and not for private profit. Indeed this is ultimately how we will combat the rise of the far right.
    I understand of course the concerns that people have,socialism has been air brushed from history over the last 20 years or so but how do we redress that imbalance? Not by ducking and weaving around the edge of the ring, hoping to dodge the punches in my view but by slugging it out toe to toe.


    Colin Piper

    • Sam says:

      I can completely understand why you would want Left Unity to be based on a socialist platform. But who’s socialism? My end point isn’t for the state to own the ‘heights of the economy’. I think being vague lends us to the here and now. We could spend large amounts of energy defining ‘our socialism’ or we could get on with being broad left and be inclusive of people who want no state, to those who have just turned away from labour. We should start by fighting for what we have in common.

    • This statement clearly supports public ownership and also explicitly says the new party will be socialist, two key things I wanted to see when putting my name to it.

    • Felicity Dowling says:

      As one of the signatories let me answe.Yes, I am in favour of a publically democratically and socially owned economy. Such an out come can only be delivered by a huge movement of working class people (and others). When such a movment gave us this opportunity,that would be our programm. Meanwhile it will be what we advocate as an answer to the lunacy of capitalism..
      Its worth working for.A better world is possible.

  8. Kathrine B says:

    ‘alternative set of values of equality and justice: socialist, feminist, environmentalist and against all forms of discrimination. Its politics and policies will stand against capitalism, imperialism, war, racism and fascism….
    political practice will be democratic, diverse and inclusive, organising amongst working class communities with no interests apart from theirs, committed to open dialogue and new ways of working; to the mutual respect and tolerance of differences of analysis; to the rejection of the corruption of conventional political structures’

    I’m glad there is a first attempt at platform but there is something for everybody here! ( But what exactly?) A non-controversial and pleasant minestrone. I agree with all but thats not difficult. To be fair maybe the idea is a preamble to more precise demands. I have called attention ( on this page) to some problems occurring in Syriza at the moment due to the leadership refusing ultimately to stand by precise programmatic demands previously agreed and retreating into vague revolutionary sound bites in front of militants while using more compromising terms with the Capitalist Authorities. It is important to be very clear what we mean from the outset and stick to it. I realise its easier to criticise than work out proposals but if there are others working on alternative proposals then i will try to be involved. I would hope for key points/ demands which emphasise that we operate in a class society and that our demands are selected to create a bridge to a socialist society.

    • John Penney says:

      Some very acute points Katherine B. You make very relevant reference to the current rapid “deradicalisation” of Syriza’s policy objectives (given the “role model” status of Syriza for many people involved in the Left Unity project ) – as the temptations of office loom for the leadership. A politically suicidal strategy, that may win the Syriza leadership “friends in high office”, and for a while, ministerial limousines, but will quickly destroy its only so recently won mass voter base, and so leave the path clear for the Far Right NAZI radicalism of Golden Dawn.

      Without a clear radical Left Manifesto of concrete policies aimed at combatting the UK Austerity Offensive Left Unity remains merely a “protoParty” trying to be all things to all potential supporters with a bland collection of feelgood radical Leftie statements – but no core principles or policy proposals to back them up.

      A very disappointing opening contribution from the “Left Party Platform” – essentially repeating at more length the bland “Statement” rejected at the 11th May London Meeting – maybe OK as a “starter statement” on the 11th May (though not to most participants obviously) , but completely inadequate on 21st July, over two months later, as we approach ever closer to the supposed founding November Conference.

      Hopefully other “Platforms” will have done some more detail work, and will come up with concrete policy proposals. Surely it’s not too much to expect proposals on policy such as:

      1. Reversing the privatisation of the NHS
      2. Nationalising the natural monopolies,
      3. Rejecting all cuts in welfare and local services.
      4. Repealing key anti trades union legislation of the last 30 years
      5. Bringing the banks and other financial institutions under direct public control , to function within a broad National Economic Planning Framework
      in the interests of the majority of citizens.
      3. Developing and implementing an integrated National Plan to reverse regional economic decline, and shift the economic sectoral mix away from financial services to manufacturing, within a responsible environmentally sustainable policy framework.
      4. Undertake a massive programme of council house building, and renovation , to both ensure good housing for all, and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

      It’s not hard to whip up a radical Left policy intention list is it ? Why isn’t it being done ? Vague feelgood, radical statements – without hard policy proposals and statements of core political principal, suggests building a Party on ” being all things to all people” opportunism, not the building of a serious political party with fundamental radical transformational intent.

      • It is being done, that’s what the policy commissions are there for. I would hope much more concrete policies will emerge from the Spring 2014 conference.

  9. pete b says:

    the statement dosnt suggest there has been the wanted breaking of the mold, sounds like there hasnt been a development of ideas very much at all.
    if we need to discuss what socialist means, then lets get on with it. if we cant agree that we are a socialist organisation (which is a very broad area of agreement) then i really think left unity is going nowhere.
    the debates on language, the horrid sects all seem to point to the possibility that many are actually rethinking their committment to socialism and want to establish a new brand of community based leftism. a form of radicalism not based in the working class, or the labour movement, looking to rewrite class struggle as not being the motor for change. rather there seems to be a faith in bourgeois elections with votes won for campaigns positions, anti cuts, anti war, etc. a narrow conjunctural agreement, limited and flexible. quite worried by this.

  10. Nick Foster says:

    Hch – we have an active group in Bristol, so get in touch if you want a hand from people here!

  11. Brian Green says:

    How about making your core statement, we stand against the private ownership of the means of production and distribution without which there is no prospect of enduring prosperity, the ending of inequality and the realisation of true democracy. (In the end the dividing line, no matter what your political model or strategy differences are, is where you stand in relation to private property. End of story)

  12. John Tummon says:

    The phrase which concerns me most in the short statement is the one describing the aim as “a new political party which rejects austerity and war, which will defend and restore the gains of the past, fighting to take back into public ownership those industries and utilities privatised over the last three decades”. This seems to be based on a section of the longer statement summarising how the previous era of liberal capitalism was superceded:

    “humanising reform elements were adopted under the pressure of the strengthened post-war labour movements and the social democracy that they gave rise to across much of Western Europe”.

    This popular myth on the Left ignores the historical fact that, in Britain, it was a cross-party decision taken during WWII to sweep away liberal capitalism and create a mixed economy based on comprehensive welfare provision and that the political consensus underpinning this remained in place until the 1970s oil crises. This is important for two reasons: firstly, because it shows that the British welfare state was part of capitalism’s own re-thinking of what it needed to do to restore its legitimacy after the Depression, and secondly, that it was meant to constitute a social wage – a means of the state compensating workers and their dependents for being paid less than the value of labour, in return for workers accepting reformed capitalism and behaving ‘responsibly’ regarding wage demands.

    This ‘social democratic’ solution was fatally and irreversibly undermined by the 24-fold rise in world oil prices during the 1970s, revealing that it had been based on imperialist exploitation of strategic raw materials, so that they were available to western economies and consumers at way below world market prices. This is the first fundamental reason why the economic space for winding the clock back to the post-war boom no longer exists and why this ambition cannot be a part of any credible project to build a new Left Party. The second is that national economic planning is no longer possible, because the post-1970s world order, through institutions like the IMF and World Bank, maintain a planet-wide regime of cutting public sector social provision. The long statement includes a sentence – “there are no national solutions to the problems that humanity faces” – which nods in this direction, but the statement then goes on to re-state the idea of ‘restoring the gains of the past’.

    Only regimes that cut themselves off from this Washington-controlled world – Cuba, Venezuela and a handful of others – can carry out significant plans to build up social provision. Vague talk of ‘internationalism’ which falls short of telling workers that the American alliance and membership of the OECD, World Bank, G20 and IMF would have to go, in order to ‘restore the gains of the past’, let alone embark on all the other things we want to do, is fundamentally dishonest and would quickly unravel because any new Left Party would not be able to just talk to the working class but compete for the attention of the working class against a bourgeois politics which will stop at nothing to find and exploit the weaknesses.

    Lest we forget, Thatcher won the battle of ideas against reformism and bourgeois politicians know their way around all the means of denigrating reformist politics. The idea that something new can be built which is deliberately vague about whether it is calling for fundamental changes of a type never seen in this country is nonsense.

    Calling for ‘the gains of the past’ to be restored simply sows illusions. Even if we managed to put the austerity policy into reverse, we would not be remotely near restoring the post-war boom or the welfare state as it was then; it would still be a post-Thatcherite, post-oil crisis Britain, and it was that ‘Thatcherite’ settlement, not the 2007-8 credit crunch, that killed social democracy and the reformist project.

    All the talk of ‘betrayal’ and ‘craven pandering’ about Labour in the long statement implies that this is just a matter of political choice and that a genuine reformism could exist if only a political party existed which was willing to deliver it. This is building towards failure.

  13. Andrew Crystall says:

    If you define the party as socialist, I and many others will be out. Yes, I’m a left winger, but I am not and will not be a socialist (I’m a mutualist). Moreover, it’s going to scare a lot of local groups away from working with LU, as they don’t see themselves as socialist.

    Is LU broad left, or is it socialist, and following in (afaik) the same failed path as 101 “socialist” parties before, looking only to the same old comrades?

    There are only a few areas of policy on which I’d differ in terms of domestic issues, but you’re throwing a barrier of ideology up which I can’t agree with.

    • John Penney says:

      Sorry Andrew, and others of you wanting Left Unity NOT to be a radical Left party based on broad socialist objectives, rooted in the broad socialist tradition – (tailored obviously to the needs of today, not 1917), but you are frankly doomed to be disappointed. Socialist in objectives and analysis it undoubtedly will be. Anything else has no coherent analysis of, and credible strategy for tackling, the UK and world-wide capitalist crisis. Maybe you should try the Greens ?

      • Hoom says:

        But what do we mean by socialist. That’s the issue we’re going to have to tackle; to a lot of people today socialist means the ex Soviet bloc, if it means anything at all. Having the right ideas and policies, and being able to argue for them, is the important thing. I’m not that fussed on whether we explicitly call ourselves “socialist” or not. I certainly don’t have some kind of emotional/sentimental attachment to the word.

      • Andrew Crystall says:

        Then you’ll fail just like every other socialist party. There are not enough socialists to carry the day, electorally. And it’s downright off-putting to the rest of the left, given the history of certain socialist parties here.

        And no, I’m not an anti-energy generational centralist. That you use the No True Scotsman fallacy against left wingers who refuse to stand with you…

        So, you demand I’m out, and you demand electoral failure. Well, seems I’m wasting my time here, and I should go back to projects like 38 Degrees where people care about policy and not correct ideology.

      • Ben McCall says:

        Totally agree with you Hoom.

      • Ben McCall says:

        I agree mostly, Andrew, but come on John P does not speak for LU. It is essential to argue for Left Unity as you do, within LU. The sentimental clinging to any word – when nearly everyone, even many ‘socialists’, prefer meaning and action – is tragic.

        The failure won’t be over a word, but what the insistence of ‘socialism’, etc. means for the theory and practice of the (now a foregone conclusion, but still worth arguing against) ‘new party’.

      • Hannah says:

        Who said we don’t want a radical left party? You naively assume that only a socialist party can be a radical party. Socialist ideology isn’t exactly radical nowadays anyway, it’s a narrow and predictable plan that defines itself by its opposite, and that has failed to progress in Britain despite many socialist parties existing for decades. Hence we are already disappointed. Why does the alternative always have to be to follow socialism? Are we not capable of thinking of another way of organising socially? Left unity offers a glimmer of hope of something new and more inclusive. Socialist parties have been tried again and again.

        I really don’t understand why some have joined Left Unity if they don’t want to unite with the rest of the left. The name ‘left unity’ sends out the message that everyone will be heard whether they are socialists/greens/feminist/students/workers/unemployed and so on, and that they all join to focus on the principles that unite them (these are obvious). There are plenty of socialist groups out there to go join if you would prefer focus on achieving socialism rather than starting with the issues that affect us here and now.

  14. John Tummon says:

    A very good article by Andrew Rawnsley in last week’s Observer shows the degeneration and increased legitimacy problems of what is still called ‘representative democracy’ by people who want continued participation in the system in order to “restore the gains of the past”:


    The problem identified by Rawnsley is that political parties and the MPs who emerge from the party-dominated process known as elections are no longer representative.

    He says that in the 1950s, there were 2,800,000 Tory and 1,900,000 Labour Party members. Today the Tories have around 170,000 and Labour have roughly 190,000. The political party is dying, especially the Tories, because the average age of their members is a staggering 74 years. By comparison, in the last census, 176,632 people – more than the number of registered Tory members – when asked to register their religion, gave it as ‘Jedi Knight’.

    This, Rawnsley argues, lies behind the regular eruption of donations scandals, such as Falkirk, and feeds into the high levels of discontent about politics and disconnect from Westminster among the public. All these, he says, relate to the collapse of party membership, hence their increasing dependence on big donations.

    As the mainstream parties shrivel to a very small hard core of the ultra-tribal, with less and less influence on central party machines, Owen Jones wants us all to re-enter New Labour, yet Falkirk shows that, however superficially attractive this might be for latter-day entrists, the media will crucify anyone caught in the act even quicker than it did in Kinnock’s day.

    Assuming that tens of thousands of the 190,000 odd Labour members are traditional reformists, why are they still pursuing this illusion after 30 relentless years of the moving right show? Yet they are, so what makes Left Unity statement authors want to keep things vague in the earnest hope that some thousands of these might decide that now is the time to jump ship for another reformist pole of attraction?

    They won’t! They are loyalists and, if we don’t know that by now, we never will.

    Only a new Left organisation that unites the extra-parliamentary Left can hope to break Labour in the foreseeable future, partly by getting key trade unions to switch their allegiance, but to do that it needs to be clearly distinguishable from any reformist project. This does not have to mean talking about revolution and the need for it but it does mean being honest in debate about how much can be gained in the meantime and continually providing a compelling, non-jargonised, vision of the kind of society we want to bring about.

    This vision cannot share the same retrospective starting point as the Labour Left – ‘restoring the gains of the past’ and waxing lyrical about the NHS and Atlee’s Welfare state. Who on the Left knows enough about other countries’ Health systems to say that ours has been so much better over the past 60 years, anyway? Defending the NHS from privatisation is one thing, but basing a political vision around it is quite another.

  15. John Collingwood says:

    I share the concerns of those who have already pointed out that this platform statement contains little to persuade one that LU is in any way fundamentally different from other start-up or breakaway parties that have tried to get a purchase on the British parliamentary system as it currently stands. Yes, all of the statement is easy to agree with, but one has the feeling of having seen all parts of it somewhere before.

    It also seems a shame that virtually no attempt has been made to seek the views and priorities of the 8,000 or so initial signatories to the LU appeal. I realise that the plan is to work through local groups, but with these in a very uneven condition as yet, something direct (along the lines of a 38 Degrees or Avast questionnaire?) could help to keep alive the interest of potential supporters, and dispel any feeling that LU is merely hoping to be able to recreate past glories.

    As to the chances of LU making any rapid impact via the normal electoral system (and by rapid I mean within years rather than decades), this seems about as realistic as challenging the US military in a pitched battle. We need an asymmetric strategy if we are to take on the overwhelmingly powerful combination of big money and corporate media.

  16. Jim Osborne says:

    Despite disagreement with John Penney in a previous debate thread I have to say that I do like his attempt to focus on some concrete policy issues in his first piece above. Some further refinement might be needed but he is right in principle with his 7 policy points. Lets add a few more
    1. The nationalisation of all occupational pension funds…..in their present form they are failing to make any contribution to the creation of wealth for the people as a whole or provide investment to develop the economy. Nationalisation would create a “sovereign wealth fund” to be invested in a democratically controlled economy and to finance other initiatives described below. Future pensions to be paid out of this fund. The governance of this fund by a National Trustee Board” to be based on sound democratic principles and accountability.
    2. The transfer on a large scale of assets to community ownership and control….this covers a wide range of assets and types of community – such as land and buildings to local communities, ecological assets to democratically controlled trusts (eg the John Muir Trust which owns and manages larges areas if wild land in Scotland), companies to their workforces, financial institutions to depositors (creating mutuals), sports clubs to their supporters, etc etc. The finance for these transfers to come in the form of ibvestment from the sovereign wealth fund referred to in (1) above.
    3. Land reform….creating a “community right to buy” where the community presents a case for land use which enhances social benefit cimpared to its current privately owned use
    4. Nationalisation of North Sea Oil & Gas and run down and closure of North Sea production under nationalised control over 8 years, in parallel with a massive scaling up of renewable energy infrastructure and generation. Closure of all coal fired power stations.
    5. A strategy for national self sufficiency in food production, supported by localisation of production and greater self sufficiency at local level. A shuft to food production methids which are not reliant on oil for machinery etc or for maintaining soil fertility….the shift to permaculture and “forest gardening” techniques which are more condistent with localisation of production
    6. Public procurement policy to support domestic industry and enterprises, including community based enterprises.
    7. Creation of a nationalised industrial/ infrastructure bank to support an industrial strategy and its priorities and to invest in the rebpnewables programme.

    I could go on….much of this stuff can be found in my manifesto “Building a New Scotland” which was written as a contribution to the debate on Scottish independence but most of the themes are of wider relevance. I have asked Left Unity to publish it but no joy so far. The Reid Foundation may publish it in their on line Library of the “Common Weal Project” but if anyone wants a copy just ask at jim.osborne@talk21.com.

  17. Ben McCall says:

    The writing and then posting of this Statement is a ‘top down’ step and divisive as it separates out ‘those who were asked to suppport it’ and those who were not. It also privileges our leaders-in-waiting, at the top, in control of the process. Ill-thought out, comrades.

    • Hoom says:

      @ Ben

      It’s only a platform statement though. I’d suggest that possibly the way to deal with this is for us to have as many platforms as possible, covering the diversity of views within LU. So, for example, those of us that priortise the idea of bottom-up democracy should form a platform. Obviously, at the moment, the one advantage this particular platform has is that they had an easy way to communicate with each other. That, hopefully, should improve for everyone over time. We are, after all, still at the early stages of LU. Long game etc.

      • Ben McCall says:

        Hi Hoom
        Yes a long game, but one that is being squeezed and rushed at present. We’ll see…

        I like your stuff – that is one of the great things about LU, it is bringing people who never knew each other together, instead of being ‘politically homeless’ in relative isolation (sorry if you’re not).

        I have written a response to the LPP and am not sending it for prior endorsement to a select bunch of mates, but anyone – who supports it, parts of it, or thinks it could be strengthened in any way – is welcome to say so on this site; if it is published, my report of the first Doncaster meeting was not and I just could not be arsed to ask why.

        Similarly, I just did not have energy to ask for an explanation of this: I was informed by Louise Harrison that “Andrew Burgin has said” she could set up another group in Doncaster, as she did not like someone who had come to our second meeting = a split! Very ‘left unity’. I asked her why and am still waiting for a reply.

        This may or may not be the case, but if so (I can’t believe they are that stupid, but stranger things have happened) why is Andrew Burgin the go-to-person for ‘permission to split’?! It is getting daft and may prevent the long game even happening, as LU descends into to same daftness that has crippled the left for decades, if not a century.

        A luta continua…

  18. gerryc says:

    Thanks, – no problems with the platform statement except maybe I’d like to see / feel more of a direct challenge to the undercarriage of neo-liberal economics: individualistic materialism/romanticism as a personal cultural/philosophical choice.

    But re the policy agenda statement called for above, even a straw horse now would help us get to the plate, to the core issues re what we are: while detailed proposals come from policy committees we need to know if we all agree a ‘position’.

    This is a succinct statement of philosophy and policy, that reflects my agreement with Andrew, Ben and Hoom re historical dogmas and a class-war militant dialectic will fail to persuade and therefore to win mass support and, I think, is radical and socialist, albeit transitional.

    *** PHILOSOPHY ***
    Use the best old and the best new ideas and techniques to create and maintain a caring sharing community that strives toward a happy/fulfilling life for current and future generations – people and planet.

    Community and democracy centric, supporting individual liberty, effort and enterprise while recognising that no man is an island, totally responsible for her or his own actions, successes or failures. Striving toward a secure and sustainable material habitat that enables a decent life for all, whatever gifts they inherit, without threat or harm from others. Let us make no war on anyone for material gain. Let us not suffer to know others suffer without making every effort to help and to remove the cause of that suffering.

    *** POLICIES ***

    1. Community provision of universal services:

    1. Minimum wage 18K, maximum 216K (Maximum differential 12).

    3. Employment for all – using all of the following when and if necessary:

    – state investment / intervention in selected industries
    – part-time work (work sharing without differential loss)
    – state invested research and development.

    4. Contribution-based welfare ensuring basic standard of living for all, as follows:
    ‘unable to work’ fully supported
    ‘prefer to work less’ supported with low end differential
    ‘prefer to work more’ supported with higher differential
    success in generating efficiencies/advances supported with higher
    elderly prefer to work /not work, full supported.

    5. Personal Liberty
    Freedom of speech/expression fully supported
    Freedom of action supported except actions agreed by the community to be harmful
    to others/the planet
    Private ownership supported
    Private capital accumulations supported with appropriate tax rules that
    mandate reinvestment of company earnings into the business, cap non-business
    accumulation / offshore banking / financial tools used.

    6. Political reform
    Business / union funding of political parties illegal.
    Personal funding of political parties capped to % of earnings.
    Politicians paid by the state only.

    JohnP – consider joining the SWP?

    ATB, Gerry Cavander

    • ASmith says:

      “*** PHILOSOPHY ***
      Use the best old and the best new ideas and techniques to create and maintain a caring sharing community that strives toward a happy/fulfilling life for current and future generations – people and planet.” Love this point.

      I would actually like to see a massive expansion on this idea. The left for too long has been defined by the narrative it finds itself within i.e. a bourgeois political polemic. There is no reason whatsoever that we should continue this tradition of banal philosophical and economic response to a cold and unfeeling and frankly inhumane political narrative.

      Many good Marxists, anarchists, mutualists etc. etc. have some really fantastic insights into human discourse that would be immensely useful in creating new philosophies and models of morality for society. If we are to simply redefine the political polemic in our favour, we are missing the opportunity to assist people in living as if we are already after a revolution. Kate Hudson speaking in Leeds this week made this point and it is a point worth considering well.

      If we create new material, new modes of analysis or consider existent but not prevalent modes of analysis, we can participate in redefining society in a way that affords emancipation in new ways. Which should always be the point for me. We can start to look at questions relating not just to how to achieve material equality but the philosophical and economic benefits to a world where difference is celebrated and understood in ways beyond the simply economic or capitalistic.

      I also agree with the rest of this statement. I am not sure that we need to define policies at this early stage in the democratic process but as a platform of examples, it serves very well indeed. Maybe something on earnings of elected members? If we are to assume we will have some at some point. I think Dave Nellist serves as a consummate example of this and it took Labour ridiculous amounts of money and until last year to unseat him completely.

    • tony walker says:

      i thought it was well written though that isnt the main reason i signed. We are at another point in our political history where dissatisfaction with the establishment and its estrangement from ordinary working people and decency as led to an upsurge in Leftist activity and sentiment amongst the politically aware. Back in the 1980’s i was a peace activist for a while. i remember being enthralled by the German Green Partys’ manifesto which was sold in bookshops here. There the combination of a strong peace movement, the radicalisation of youth and a vibrant environmentalism amongst other things had led to a radical moment which i thought pointed to a new direction for the Left (it seemed much more radical than what was then called the Ecology Party here). It was an important document though sadly Die Grunen have compromised and taken on some pro establishment responsibilities in government. Originally DIe Grunen were the Left Alternative when Germany was still divided. i use the word Left guardedly! At the time Mrs Thatcher was benefitting from splits in the Labour Party and the FPTP system.

      I am hoping the eventual manifesto or final foundation document can provide another similiar Pivotal moment for the British Left. I hope will become a similiar talking point generating more discussion and positive publicity for the Left Party. i hope it will be published and sold in high street bookshops and on the internet in reasonable quantity. I Just wanted to suggest that. This doesnt mean we should water down our commitment to offer something radical and broadly socialist to the british people.

      For me personally i have been a member of the Green Party in the past and CND but i have never wanted to be a member of the SWP or the SP. I hope that some of the more Leftist policies and ecosocialist vision of one wing of the Green Party will be adopted by the Left Party i am pretty sure there is an overlap. i think in time we will have the numbers. i have often thought that the traditional left have been dismissive of Green Politics but i would suggest dont be they could be important partners? i think we have to campaign for proportional representation something i have supposed for a long time. i was laughed at when the Labour Government held a meeting in Leicester on home office proposals for greater democracy. Real democracy was not high on their agenda only the status quo.

      THIngs are pretty bad at the moment but Left Unity is a ray of hope shining through the darkness.

      tony walker

  19. Stuart says:

    I think this is a good statement and I support it. What is it saying in a nutshell? That, in the very near term, we oppose austerity, the attacks on the working class, and the destruction of the welfare state, and will support efforts to halt or ameliorate or reverse these. In the medium term, we stand for the reversal of the privatisation of essential services and utilities, and to bring them back into public ownership. In the medium to long term, we stand for the democratisation of all the social, political and economic institutions of society.

    Is it, and are we, socialist? Well, all that is exactly what socialism means as far as I’m concerned, whether you choose to call it that or not.

  20. James Youd says:

    Brilliant for the PAAA. where is the positive argument for a socialist society though?

  21. Nick Hay says:

    There are clearly two visions of what Left Unity should be and the Left Unity and Socialist Platforms seem to me to make a reasonably good job of presenting those visions. My own impression and the reason I joined was that Left Unity was to be a party for all those to the left of Labour. Now this is clearly an enormous space which encompasses everyone from Reformists to Trotskyites taking in everything in between. I thought I had seen an explicit statement that, for instance, anarchists would be welcome (I may be mistaken about this). If this is the case then obviously any statement is going to have to be somewhat bland and I therefore definitely side with the Left Unity platform. If what is wanted is a far more exclusive party then the Socialist platform is a better starting point.

    Having said this I think there are major omissions in the LU platform…

    1)Any specific reference to the Unions. However far they have been weakened they remain the biggest and most important working-class organisations in the UK (or England or wherever) and no statement should fail to commit to working with them and/or working to transform them into the democratic fighting bodies they should be.

    2)Nothing about the continual attacks on civil liberties – this latter is important not only in itself but because of Labour’s utterly craven attitude (over the past 16 years). And lets have something for those of us with an anarchistic side at least!

  22. Paul says:

    I have some issues with the precise wording of this statement, e.g. “gains of the past” fails to recognise that a major reason for the failure of some of these “social democratic gains” in terms of nationalised industries and even the NHS is that they were developed as top-down bureaucracies rather than democratic and participatory structures responsive to the needs and aspirations of workers and users. However, happy to support the statement in general as it describes the sort of broad left party that I thought that I was signing up to join rather than seeking to create yet another left-wing sect.

  23. Steve Wallis says:


    I am putting out a draft statement of a proposed new platform of Left Unity, called the Revolutionary Platform (RP). The idea is to unite as many genuine revolutionary socialists as possible within LU in a single platform, to try to overcome the problem which occurred with other broad socialist organisations (including the Scottish Socialist Party) of rival revolutionary organisations competing with each other within it rather than cooperating around shared goals.

    I recognise that there have already been steps towards revolutionary regroupment, including discussions between the AntiCapitalist Initiative, International Socialist Network and Socialist Resistance (http://anticapitalists.org/2013/07/10/taking-steps-towards-revolutionary-unity/), but note that SR are lukewarm about LU. The Socialist Platform of LU is almost a revolutionary platform, but where it says (in point 1) “Its aim is to bring about the end of capitalism and its replacement by socialism”, it fails to specify whether that can or should be achieved by revolutionary or reformist means.

    I’ve kept the statement deliberately short, avoiding stating the obvious – such as opposition to discrimination, sexual assault and harassment, attacks on welfare (such as the bedroom tax and council tax bills for the unemployed, dubbed “the new poll tax” by some) and organisations like the BNP and EDL. I’ve set up a Google Group to which I will add anyone who contacts me to sign the platform – this group can be used to flesh out other policies and decide on strategies for action within LU (particularly at the 28 September policy workshop conference and the 30 November founding conference in London) and on the internet and in the outside world.

    If you want to sign this statement, please email me (steve.wallis2460@gmail.com) with your name and location (branch/city/town/village). We need 10 members to become an official platform with the ability to put forward motions at the November conference.

    The draft statement of the Revolutionary Platform is as follows:

    1. By revolutionary, we mean sudden thorough change, preferably through peaceful means like a general strike. Gradual reformist (e.g. Keynesian) change won’t lead to socialism because gains that can be won during a boom are taken back in a slump or recession.

    2. We know that we won’t be in a majority within Left Unity in the short or probably even medium term, but think it useful for revolutionary socialists to unite together in a single platform to discuss how to ensure that a socialist revolution happens.

    3. Involvement in the Revolutionary Platform would not preclude involvement in other platforms – we recognise that there are many things we would agree with in the Socialist Platform (http://leftunity.org/socialist-platform-statement-of-aims-and-principles/) and Class Struggle Platform (http://leftunity.org/the-class-struggle-platform/).

    4. The Left Party Platform (http://leftunity.org/left-party-platform-statement/) says little that is contentious, and is based on lowest common denominator politics, which has already been tried in the Socialist Alliance and Respect with unspectacular results – except in areas where well-known candidates, particularly Dave Nellist and George Galloway, have stood, and we believe they could have done equally well on a more revolutionary programme.

    5. Adopting a radical programme, such as that proposed by the RP, SP or CSP, should not exclude less radical left-wing activists (particularly if they identify themselves as socialists) from involvement in LU. A broad socialist organisation like LU already does welcome debate and different points of view on its website and forum, and will (surely) continue to do so.

    6. Socialism must be democratic – we reject the idea that the regimes in the USSR, Eastern Europe and China were socialist, but we believe in unity between revolutionaries who called such regimes “deformed workers’ states”, “state capitalist”, “bureaucratic collectivist” or simply “Stalinist”.

    7. Socialism has to be international, particularly in this globalised world. We reject the idea that there is a national solution to the problems of capitalism.

    8. A second credit crunch, which this time would mean that capitalist governments would be literally unable to bail out the banks even if they wanted to, could happen at any time, and we need to be more prepared than at the time of the first credit crunch and use such an opportunity to seize power via an international socialist revolution.

  24. Justin says:

    “This attempt at appearing as you know, on the side of revolution and the rest, in so doing, actually one should say…that had this uprising been crushed in Benghazi, had this happened, this would have a tremendously negative impact on the whole dynamic of the revolutionary process. The fact that this didn’t happen, objectively helped the continuation of the dynamic and contrary to what people wrote in articles, this intervention meant to stop the Arab Spring, the effect, whatever it was meant for, the effect was that actually, it prevented the massacre/the crushing of the uprising. This allowed the continuation of the dynamics in the Yemen, Morocco and especially the start of the Syrian uprising which started thereafter…” – Gilbert Achcar, Libya, war and revolution, Marxism 2011
    32:12 – 33:33

    Make up your own minds about this.

  25. Gary Hammond says:

    We already have people on here saying who can or can’t join the party! I am excited about the fact that we have a grouping from the left wing of the Labour party through to Anarchists, we can and should work together rather than create platforms with do not enter signs if you don’t believe in my path. There must be policies that we can all join in and fight for and these have been set out in the LU’s original statement. Let’s take things a step at a time, we have a right wing working class fed by a right wing media, we need to challenge and oppose so many ideas that have permeated into people’s day to day life. There will be no socialist revolution tomorrow or next week but we can start to knock down some doors and give the masses out there some really good information to chew on. We have alternative explanations for what’s going on, but no one knows about them. Talk about re-nationalising the utilities and protecting our NHS,policies that resonate, Political cliques with specific agendas will push people away, work together and find strength in a left unity broad front.

    • tony walker says:

      Glad to see you touching base with reality Gary, whatever is contained within these Platform statements we need to do that and be very aware of what is needed to make progress on the ground. Hopefully this is will be the best of ‘the left’ a new left, a modernising left that takes into account changes in society since 1979 or 1976 (really the starting date of monetarism) and the impacts of changes in technology and employment patterns etc. Theres too much negativity based on comparisons betwween different platforms and the use of derogatory language to denounce the views of others including reformist, transitional etc. This either / or approach isnt going to get anybody within spitting distance of an alternative to the current status quo.Hopefully it wont come down to a straight vote between diametrically opposed factions? We need a sensible debate and consensus decision making if thats possible. We need everybody to stay on board and not go off in a huff!
      best wishes tony walker

  26. Justin says:

    Tony Walker:

    ‘We need a sensible debate and concensus decision making if that’s possible. We need everybody to stay on board and not go off in a huff!’

    The problem is, consensus decision making will lead exactly to what you’re worried about, people ‘going off in a huff!’ Also, I’m curious, what do you mean by ‘sensible’ debate?

  27. pete b says:

    “radical left party” Is a good description of the left party platform statement. A statement that encompasses all but satisfies no one. it is a pact from the originators and the first groups aci , int soc network and soc res, to keep the platform vague.
    dont really see the logic in forming a party on an agreement to keep it wooley! by definition a party is more developed, has a programme. otherwise when it comes to a manifesto, there will be no agreed basis, perhaps branches will in effect produce different lines.
    its illogical to want to form a party but not wish to clarify that parties position.
    im not a radical, im a socialist. im not confused on the methods to bring change, reformism is dead in a period of capitalist economic crisis, this is a period in which previous reforms are being taken away.
    ONLy by putting a revolutionary alternative to capitalism can we build a sustainable alternative to the labour party.
    i am quite prepared to be in organisation that doesnt share this viewpoint, to be in a minority.
    i do object though to people implying that i am causing a split by arguing my point of view.
    i also object to the manouveres of the 3 left groups mentioned in blocking with a leadership block. the reasonable revolutionaries who wont put their politics forward for debate and go for patronage from who ever they see as being the leaders. IF there isnt a bureaucrat to orient to (tail end) then find someone to the right to follow.
    i appeal to everyone who agrees with the socialist platform to vote for it. even if your group is saying to vote left party platform.
    the left unity project rubs both ways, its a way for the left to unite and its a test of the groups that get involved. there are other people in left unity that may have a better line than your own leadership!
    you may find that re-groupment of the socialist left occurs through left unity in ways your leadership did not expect.
    the radicals and non-socialists may be surprised. actually the socialist left is diverse and able to work constructively with others.
    finally- i would like to float an ammendment or seperate position.
    all the platforms exept class struggle platform, dont mention the labour movement and the trade unions.
    this is disasterous to the prospects for left unity. we should seek to build a relationship to lefts in the unions. to generiialise rank and file initiatives like grass roots left in unite for example.
    left unity should be inclusive to the left struggle in the unions.
    could this be agreed?
    pete b

  28. Lawrence O'Donnell says:

    Dear Colleagues,

    Firstly; I feel we must answer some fundamental questions regarding Left Unity’s position on the political continuum. Is it a Socialist or a Communist political party? Much of the rhetoric I have heard is reminiscent of Communism. Too much Social Control for this Democrat!! I want no part of extremism. If I do not accept the extremism of Capitalism, why would I want to pursue the extremism of Communism. Are we solidly commited to Socialism, or does the Party have aspirations to move further to the Left, on the Political Continuum?

    Secondly; If it is a Socialist Party, Do we want the peaceful Socialism of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, or are pursuing the ‘any means to an end’ Socialism of Fidel Castro and Che Cuevera. Do we want anarchy or social order. Violence begets violence and is never acceptable, in a civilized society! I am trying to define some boundaries, for Left Unity.

  29. Eilif Verney-Elliott says:

    This is a fairly good platform, but it needs to be tidied up a bit: the grammar is atrocious, the wording is set poorly; however I agree with the thrust and theory!

  30. Ian Barnett says:

    ……folks, there’s two words and the second is every bit as important right now as the first, it’s Left UNITY for a reason. Without unity, and still more a passion for unity, we will be toast very quickly, it’s that simple. I really hope we concentrate fully on the 98% we all agree about and not on the 2% where we differ; I really hope we can debate in a spirit of goodwill and respect for the sincere beliefs of others we may not personally share; I really hope we don’t let the strength of our convictions betray us into making statements or accusations that are unfair or untrue. For a long, long time I thought that the left in this country had had its opportunity and blown it. History may be giving us another chance. It may not come again. And there’s much, much too much at stake. cheers, Ian, member of no political group for many, many years until yesterday

  31. Bazza says:

    There are 2 challenges going on at the moment – for us on the Left in the larger World of the Labour Party it is supporting the unions and trying to build Labour into Progressive Labour and you all in your smaller World (which may grow) in trying to build a Progressive Left Alternative but you are not unsurprisingly still trying to find yourselves.
    Let me tell you a story – about 17 years ago I went to a radical adult education Conference in Slovenia – coming from a poor inner city council house and as a working class socialist this was a really exciting experience and there were Sandinistas, Palestinians and more and as a socialist I always remember coming back on the boat from the island where we had been to a bar and we were all singing a variety of political songs which were really diverse even “”Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore” ( but hey there was a brave radical nun amongst us adult educators – she had stood up to the dictator Marcos in the Phillipines) – and we were all on the side of the oppressed but I always remember when we sang “The Internationale’ there were groans from the working class boatmen. Socialism sadly because of Stalinism (bourgeois socialism) from their experience had a bad name. Interestingly the early socialists just called themselves socialists because the democratic part was taken for granted but this is why I am happy today to describe myself as a democratic socialist.
    I think in any analysis you have to accept and start from Marx (who was not right on everything – for example the capitalists are also social actors and aren’t thick enough to bring about their own downfall – hence reforms – but my heros are Rosa Luxemburg for critical thinking and Paulo Freire and John Lennon for humanity) but Marx was right on wage slavery – we all have to sell our labour to live and half of our working week is surplus labour to our requirements making profits for the owners. So as well as public ownership I have always argued there are other ways to get this expropriated share back for working people – as well as public ownership with staff electing boards, communities having a say and paying community dividends we could have windfall taxes on big business, a Financial Transaction Tax in the EC of 5%, a global minimum wage, global early retirement, a global shorter working week, global better health & safety and more but I accept these are only reforms but they would give us time to work out with our partners internationally and working people internationally a better and fairer (and greener) new global economic system TOGETHER and from below and peacefully. I have chosen my challenge and I wish LU no ill will in your challenge. I won”t be at your November Conference but hope the best democratic socialist ideas will win! Yours in hope. Love & Peace.

  32. Jim Parker says:

    Bazza you seem to have missed some recent history. Starting say from 1947 the Labour Party has fought visciously using all the means provided by the media, union bureaucracy and fractionalists to prevent any meaningful radical change to the Party and society. The most telling moment, to me, was Kinnoch’s gobblegook address leading up to the expulsion of Militant (nominally Marxist seriously damaged by total certainty of their omniscience, like so many other Marxist sects). This paved the way for Neo-liberal economics, top down assualt on Health and Education, and imperialist wars.
    Keep fight Bazza. Just don’t go go too radical, like calling for an open debate at conference or you end up out on your arse.

  33. Bob Brecher says:

    Perhaps I’m being naively over-optimistic, but doesn’t this statement, extracted from the “Platform position”, make it quite clear that Left Unity is committed to a clearly socialist position on the economy, and not to any form of “mixed” economy?

    “Its politics and policies will stand against capitalism, imperialism, war, racism and fascism. Its immediate tasks will be to oppose austerity and the scapegoating which accompanies it, defend the welfare state and those worst affected by the onslaught, fight to restore workers’ rights and advance alternative social and economic policies, redistributing wealth to the working class.”

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