Left Unity Party Founded.
Like many on the Left the Tendance has been following the debates around the creation of a new left party – from the statement calling for Left Unity – with interest.
Yesterday they held their founding conference with over 500 people attending (Liam’s estimate), and over 1,000 signed up.
The result of the ballot at today’s Founding Conference on the name of our new party was as such. This means we will be “Left Unity” as a new radical force on the left in the UK. Left Unity. *
Some of us watched the debates through live streaming.
Richard Seymour comments,
A great deal of the conference was necessarily consumed by procedural minutiae and constitutional refinements. This was exhausting. The chair was a trembling wreck at the end of it. I know I wasn’t the only one who, at a certain point in these discussions, began to check out. There is a reason God made the smartphone, people, and this is it.
The upshot is, we have a party. It has over 1,000 dues-paying members thus far, 10,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook, thirty seven branches, and now a constitution and a basis for action. What can be done with this?
I have participated in two previous attempts to build a left-of-Labour party: the Socialist Alliance, and Respect. Both crashed against unforgiving structural limits, notwithstanding the strategic errors made by the leaders of those formations. These limits began with the severity of the defeats inflicted on the labour movement and the Left in Britain during the 1980s; the collapse of that symbolic space where a certain type of hard Left made sense; and the sweeping completeness of the Blairites’ victory within Labour, such that our main social democratic party was already fully committed to neoliberalism before taking office.
The UK has no significant communist or far left parties equivalent to those in Greece, France or Portugal. It is therefore impossible to do what Left Unity wants to do unless there is a realignment in which a sizeable chunk of the Labour Party, including MPs and councillors, splits. Moreover, Left Unity is not coming up on the back of some great social movement, and the wider left in which it operates is historically weak. To all appearances, it has emerged at a most inopportune moment.
The Left Party Platform, won, with some amendments. It got about three quarters of the votes. Around another quarter aligned with other platforms, such as the Socialist Platform.
Given that the Weekly Worker describes the Left Party Platform as “Marxism Today” style politics we can expect the damp squibs of opponents to splutter on and on.
Overwhelmingly it is a positive thing that radical left groups are now organised in a party that can sit down and think out ideas and strategies.
They are also free of the dead hand of the largest groups, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Socialist Party.
There are many people involved in the Left Unity party who have much to contribute to the creation of a vibrant creative left.
Naturally there are others, veterans of the grotesque ‘Respect‘ party – some of some of whom quit it in the not so distant past – who appear not to have seen fit to publish a balance sheet of that experience.
The Left Party Platform draws inspiration from other European lefts, such as ” Syriza and Front de Gauche.”
The latter is a ‘bloc’ rather than a party, with obviously far greater social and political resources to draw on. Syriza is also a bloc, a party that is an alliance of different platforms, also with a wide social appeal.
Despite these differences some ideas of these groupings could be relevant to the United Kingdom.
But nobody in the Left Unity Party seems to have taken seriously the Front de Gauche’s anti-racist secularism and support for “métissage'” (cultural mixing) – a very different project to the communalist ideology and practice of Respect.
Then there is the issue of how the left could win the mass (if minority) support other European lefts have, or, at the very least, serious political representation.
Phil makes a fundamental point,
…the single biggest thing, the challenge I think LU will find insurmountable is, as always, Labour. Only the most blinkered pretend it is fundamentally the same beast as it was in 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2010. It might be more complex than the rigid schemas of the far left allow, but Labour has shifted back to social democratic politics. It has cottoned on that living standards are being hammered and, as a result, the party is the only one addressing those concerns. When the two main parties find themselves on opposite sides on the bedroom tax, NHS privatisation, house building, energy prices, apprenticeships, economic strategy, care for the elderly, breaking up the banks, and workplace rights, it’s obvious who should form the next government. And while LU is something looking to become something else, so is Labour. Who, for instance, is going to listen to LU when Labour has a realistic chance of putting its policies into practice? Who will be tempted to support LU when it will be massively squeezed by the next election’s high stakes?
The People’s Assembly is an attempt, often with solid results, to create grass-roots with the aim of stiffening Labour’s resolve in this direction.
It is far from clear that it will be, in this respect, successful.
But the People’s Assemblies have been left unity in practice.
It is to be hoped that the Left Unity Party will continue to join in this work.
* Result of party name:
Left Unity Party 47
Left Party 122
Left Unity 188
Democratic Voice 44
Left Party 139
Left Unity 235
Subscribe to comments with RSS.