Monday, 29 April 2013

Some initial thoughts on left unity

Over the last month or so groups have been popping up on the back of Ken Loach’s film the “spirit of 45” getting all nostalgic over the labour government of 1945 and trying to recreate this as if 1945 is 2013. Left unity a new political party/formation whatever you want to call it has been dropped from the sky. Trying to create an alternative to the labour party. Already 80 odd groups have been set up from the top down local organisers have been appointed by who I don’t know as no meetings have taken place yet as such. Democracy seems to be a odd concept when you have no members, no organisational structures yet local and regional organisers are being appointed from up on high. You could say this alternative electoral project is already happening with TUSC standing widely and having been backed by a major trade union already in the RMT and bob crow among others. Will left unity crash and burn like other previous left party projects? In fact, doesn’t TUSC already occupy the territory that Left Unity wish to operate within? My initial cynicism was exacerbated by the announcement of the countless local groups that popped up almost overnight. All of which had ready-made, centrally appointed organiser’s parachuted in – before any local meetings or discussion had taken place. Left Unity has been created following an appeal by the film director, Ken Loach, to build an alternative to the Labour Party. His recent film ‘the Spirit of 45’ apparently – “Gives us a perspective on the achievements of the post-war generation, transforming the lives of ordinary people by bringing improved health, housing, education and social security to the people of Britain”. What Ken Loach, Left Unity, and the many people who report being “brought to tears” after watching his film (phoney emotion if I have ever heard it), fail to mention is the true spirit of 45…… Comparisons of the 1945 economic circumstances to the current ‘deficit’ are disingenuous at best. Whilst Labour and their apologists may ‘wax lyrical’ about the 1945 government, about Clem Atlee, the NHS, the welfare state, the house building programme – and then question why the Conservatives cannot achieve the same in similar economic circumstances – they do not mention how in 1945 the UK had access to several cash cows, ripe for milking. At the time Britain was making the most of its colonial powers taking as much commodities and resources from the iconologies as they possibly could. In the years of that first Atlee government over 60% of all exports from the UK to the US were commodities such as rubber and tin, stolen from the colonies. There is no mention in the film of how the UK was able to hugely augment its GDP in the post-war period, by subjecting the working class of the colonies to horrific oppression, and stealing of their produce. There is no mention in the film, of the Atlee sanctioned concentration camps in Malaya, used to house disruptive trade unionists that had the audacity to complain about the UK stealing all of the rubber they produced, which was then sold at a 1500% mark up in the international market? Is there any mention of how Atlee’s government sanctioned the massacre of striking workers on a plantation in Malaya, so that the flow of money into the UK did not slow down? Another key feature of the true Spirit of 45 that is omitted is how on at least 18 occasions Clem Atlee sanctioned the use of troops to attack workers in order to break their strikes. Such the friend of the working class I see. It is difficult to see what the left unity project can do it seems like a bit of nostalgia for a by gone e era of social democracy capitalism with a human face in affect. This today is simply utopian given the scale of the global economic crisis. There is no nation or industry which could drag capitalism out of the mud on this occasion and sewing illusions in a better form of capitalism does nothing for workers facing austerity right this very moment. A new workers party is needed of course but not sent from high above and with centrally controlled top down non democratic movements. New parties and formations will be thrown up during the class struggle they will be put to the test against the situation and thrown on to the rocks if not the strategy for taking the class forward. I fear that left unity may be another one of these from the early signs.


  1. Not sure I agree, takes quite a sneery line towards Left Unity.

    Simple truth is that TUSC can be improved on, in most elections you could put a rosette on a donkey and it will still get more votes than TUSC. Its backing by RMT is pretty irrelevant.

    A true party of the to the Left of Labour will take time to build. Basing it entirely out of trade unions misses the point of a left party, to speak for the whole working class, be they in a trade union or not.

    It would be better for TUSC activists and Left Unity to try and arrange a conference to create a joint project.

    Taking a sneering line against Left Unity, whatever its problems about democracy, isn't going to help the situation.

  2. It wasnt intended to come across as sneary as you put it, was mearly making some early observations of a lack of democracy and a top dwon approach, TUSC isnt perfect we accept that its not the finnished articleand is not a new workers party as yet. There is also the difference between a new workers party and new party of the left that trips many on the left up. understanding the difference is key. Interesting how you dismiss the backing of one of the most militant trade unions we have in teh UK and their support as irellevant .

  3. I realise you're trying to have an argument, but can I ruin it by agreeing with both of you (partly). Yes, the top - down approach is not great; we could be charitable and accept it was for expediency. TUSC is limited, but still valuable for the (limited)unity. I beat the Lib Dems when I stood in our poorest council ward. The joint project idea is a good one. Hope it happens. The membership lists have a lot in common, so assuming the membership ever get heard, it could work. Hopefully. :)