Labour must watch its left flank in months to come – new party Left Unity is on the move

(35 Posts)
ttosca Mon 31-Mar-14 14:38:48

Left Unity, the new party founded in November with the support of Ken Loach, held its first national conference in Manchester this weekend.

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Left Unity is the hottest thing on the left right now. In a few short months, it has attracted more than 1,800 members. With a new member joining every 10 minutes over the weekend, the party is going from strength to strength.

On Saturday, Left Unity held its first national conference in Manchester. After a day of open, democratic debate around a series of motions sent in by branches and members around the country, the party agreed that it would launch its challenge to the Tory-led government and weak Labour opposition by campaigning against austerity, poverty pay, zero-hour contracts and privatisation.

Left Unity is committed to introducing a mandatory living wage and a 35-hour working week with no loss of pay to support people struggling with their work-life balance.

It will campaign to bring the railways and the energy companies back into public ownership, policies that big business-backed Labour will not even consider even though they are supported by the vast majority of British people. The best Miliband is willing to offer, despite rightly pointing to a cost of living crisis, is a temporary price freeze on energy bills. But neither the energy companies nor the railways – which could only ever be run as monopolies in private hands – have delivered the promised and overly vaunted choice and competition that the deified ultra free market philosophy would have us believe gives the best deal for consumers. Bringing them back into public ownership would not only allow such companies to be run in the interests of their workers, but also their consumers, the poorest of which are being crippled by soaring costs.

The party committed itself to defending the NHS from creeping back-door privatisation, to campaigning against the bedroom tax and campaigning to build a million new affordable, spacious social homes while reigning in rocketing private rents.

Conference supported a push not only for many more green jobs, but many more purple jobs as well. The term refers to jobs in the caring sectors which are being remorselessly cut by local authorities as a result of national government reductions in their funding. Left Unity not only wants to reverse those cuts, but significantly expand the public sector, ensuring that labour necessary for society no longer faces low wages and increasingly casualised and precarious conditions of employment. These are jobs which are critical to support disabled people, the sick and the rapidly growing numbers of older pensioners. They are also jobs in childcare, which the party agreed should be provided free to all those with children below school age. Fundamentally, the purpose of purple job creation is to free women from primary caring responsibilities which have led to their concentration in part-time work, discontinuous labour, and involuntary underemployment. Ending segregation of the labour market where women are consigned to low pay and underemployment to enable them to provide care for children, sick, disabled people and the elderly, these jobs will enable men and women to work in this sector. This is a step towards ending women’s unpaid personal labour at home, allowing their full participation in employment and their access to education, personal development and economic independence.

Left Unity is opposed to fracking. As yet, the evidence for the safety of pumping chemicals into the ground to extract gas from shale is sketchy. And even if, in the fullness of time, fracking is proved safe, it ties us into further exploitation of fossil fuels, hampering efforts to bring carbon emissions down and distracting us from the need to be massively expanding renewable energy.

Now that Left Unity has agreed a core set of policies, the hard work of campaigning can begin. The party has had an encouraging start for an organisation that emerged from nowhere to be built from the bottom-up by independent activists fed up with the political status quo. But for Left Unity to succeed, it will now have to turn outwards. It will need to campaign on the streets, in the workplaces and in the unions. It will have to support – not hijack – local campaigns across the country to save hospitals and libraries, to shut down fracking sites, to oppose the bedroom tax and to stop the racist EDL. Only when Left Unity has done all of these things, when it has actively tried to make a difference to the lives of poor, vulnerable and oppressed people, will it have the right to ask for their vote.

Ukip may be making the headlines as we approach the European elections next month, threatening to steal thousands of votes from the Conservatives and forcing them to watch their right flank. But Labour will have to watch its left flank in the months and years to come. Because Left Unity is on the move.

Salman Shaheen is Principal Speaker for Left Unity

www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/03/labour-must-watch-its-left-flank-months-come-new-party-left-unity-move

joanofarchitrave Mon 31-Mar-14 14:50:19

Do you think we are enduring the coalition government because the electorate wanted a left alternative to Labour?

Enjoy yourselves in your little bunker.

claig Mon 31-Mar-14 15:09:49

Do Left Unity believe in proprortional representation? I can't find anything on that at all.

Have Left Unity read the bit about self-promotion in the Talk Guidelines?

ttosca Mon 31-Mar-14 15:19:43

> Do you think we are enduring the coalition government because the electorate wanted a left alternative to Labour?

I think we're enduring a coalition government because the public were sick of Labour and none of the parties seemed particularly appealing. The Lib Dems seemed like an alternative at the time, but they turned out to be spineless Tory enablers.

And yes, the public are consistently to the left of Labour on many economic issues like the nationalisation of public services:

www.ibtimes.co.uk/left-wing-price-controls-nationalisation-yougov-poll-519684

ttosca Mon 31-Mar-14 15:20:09

> Have Left Unity read the bit about self-promotion in the Talk Guidelines?

I'm not Left Unity. I'm a person posting on my own behalf.

BreakingDad77 Mon 31-Mar-14 16:20:05

Please can you plot the party at http://www.politicalcompass.org/test so I can see where you sit on things. Because purely Left/Right is a very poor measure.

BMW6 Tue 01-Apr-14 10:48:07

Great news!
That will split the Labour vote so there'll be no hope of Ed Balls being in charge of the Economy.
grin

ttosca Tue 01-Apr-14 10:51:30

BreakingDad (great username) -

> Please can you plot the party at http://www.politicalcompass.org/test so I can see where you sit on things. Because purely Left/Right is a very poor measure.

I am not a representative of Left Unity, though I am a member.

They are a coalition of the left, but broadly speaking, they would fall in to the Left and Liberal areas.

peggyundercrackers Tue 01-Apr-14 11:00:03

you say the lib dems were an alternative - what to? sticking needles in my own eyes? if you thought the lib dems were a serious alternative party you were seriously deluded.

ttosca Tue 01-Apr-14 11:26:44

Well, they had a lot of people fooled.

ttosca Tue 01-Apr-14 11:30:23

BreakingDad-

> They are a coalition of the left, but broadly speaking, they would fall in to the Left and Liberal areas.

Sorry, just looked at the Compass again...

They're left, but on the authoritarian-liberatian access, probably slightly more authoritarian than libertarian.

That is, many members believe the state should intervene to make society fairer and make up for the failure of markets.

JuliaScurr Tue 01-Apr-14 11:51:15

<waves to ttosca>

I'm a member too smile
did you go to the Manchester conference last Saturday?
I didn't

bobthebuddha Tue 01-Apr-14 11:57:41

"I'm not Left Unity. I'm a person posting on my own behalf."

followed by

"I am not a representative of Left Unity, though I am a member."

So you're a member of Left Unity posting on their behalf, basically.

The In the News and Politics sections of Talk are insufferable these days, totally dominated by you and Isitmebut hectoring each other and everyone else. You're political twins if you could but see it, with the same dull, lofty style and interminably long posts. It's simply an echo chamber for both of you now. There, got that off my chest.

ttosca Tue 01-Apr-14 18:59:32

> So you're a member of Left Unity posting on their behalf, basically.

No. I'm not 'posting on their behalf'. No one has asked me to post anything. In fact, I haven't even spoken yet to a single member of Left Unity. I just signed up.

ttosca Tue 01-Apr-14 19:00:03

> I'm a member too smile
> did you go to the Manchester conference last Saturday?
> I didn't

Sadly, no. sad

Good news?

meditrina Tue 01-Apr-14 19:10:27

Given what McCluskey had to say today about the possibility of Unite disaffiliating from Labour (and seeking a new, genuinely left union-friendly party) then perhaps there's more in this than I would have thought possible yesterday.

Isitmebut Wed 02-Apr-14 00:00:23

I believe I saw Salman Shaheen on the Daily Politics last week talking about Left Unity and he was quite impressive; very passionate on their mission and while he made no pretence to their challenge to the Labour Party for quite a while, he seemed confident it would happen.

I shall look out for his progress, in a partisan way. lol

BreakingDad77 Wed 02-Apr-14 17:30:57

I find it difficult to support parties as you can see from my answers as follows;

mandatory living wage - Yes
35-hour working week - No - didn't work in France
Zero hours contracts - some consultants like these contracts they are misused for people on low incomes

Public transport - if you want a decent system it must be nationalised otherwise anything in the UK that isn't on the main commuter drags will get rubbish service

Energy companies back into public ownership, - Yes this is a national security issue, most fossil fuel comes from unstable countries. We need alternative and nuclear power to drive power prices down. Nuclear accidents to this date have been due to grotesque safety failures.

The party committed itself to defending the NHS from creeping back-door privatisation, - Yes BUT some non-essential services could be privatised like garbage removal / restaurants to make savings.

Campaigning against the bedroom tax - No - if there is only one of you and kids etc have moved out then you should downsize to a smaller property and not hog it, it belongs to the state.

Left Unity is opposed to fracking - yes but not a dealbreaker wait and see

Free Vocational/technical and University training in STEM subjects.

Revoke the Con/dem tax breaks for the rich.

fayrae Thu 03-Apr-14 21:13:44

There have always been plenty of far left parties. Nobody votes for them. Nobody will vote for Left Unity.

tryingreallytrying Thu 03-Apr-14 21:41:16

Why not put the effort into reforming the Labour party from within? Isn't that easier than reinventing the wheel?

GarlicAprilShowers Fri 04-Apr-14 02:11:38

Saw this in the paper the other day, and danced a little jig right there in the newsagent's.

I am concerned about splitting the Labour vote, and would not normally support a union-led political party (not this overtly led, anyway.) But I'm fed up with Labour being more Tory than I am. Trouble is, I'm very anxious to get this shower of fools out of office and surely a strong Labour vote is the only realistic way to effect this?

GarlicAprilShowers Fri 04-Apr-14 02:17:19

Thing is, fayrae, none of what Unity's said is far left! It's all standard, British, social responsibility. It only looks far left because all the other parties are on the right. Every single major survey of British opinion since the 1990s has shown we support these values. The bizarre fact that none of our political parties pay heed to this does lead one to think they're working for the banks, not us.

JuliaScurr Fri 04-Apr-14 12:13:08

61 new members yesterday smile
very nearly 2,000 paid up since November
good start

JuliaScurr Fri 04-Apr-14 12:15:57

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