Left Unity: Moving Forward

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This article is a follow up article to a piece wrote at the beginning of the year entitled: “Left Unity, a new party, a new politics.” It is suggested you read that before reading this one as the two compliment one another, the article delved into how Left Unity should be operating and what it should be doing for our new kind of politics. This article shall delve deeper into that topic reflecting on what still needs to be done, and what strategy we should be adopting to grow the party, and continue to fight for the oppressed. The task ahead for Left Unity as a whole and for individual members is a monumental one, building a party from the ground up, it cannot be rushed, we cannot cut corners, for if we drop the baton now, everything is for naught.

Our year anniversary is fast approaching and we have come quite a way since we started out, so I guess a congratulations and a well done are in order for all the hard working members, officers, and branches up and down the country, who are working tirelessly in service of their communities and towards the success of Left Unity. Our work however is far from over, as founding and early members of the party our job is one of the most important tasks, we need to be laying the foundations of the party, our foundation within communities and our foundations in the hearts and minds of the people. If we fail at this task, the party is finished, it is our duty to prove to the people that we are not more of the same, that we are well and truly on their side in the struggle, and that they can trust us. It with this in mind that the formative years of the party will shape how we are perceived by the public, and will set the tone of the party for years to come.

Our first task in ensuring we can deliver on the five strategical aims I laid out in my previous article is organisation, we need to ensure our internal structures and organisation are complete and operating as intended. If we cannot get this right, we stand no chance of working efficiently or growing as a party, for we will forever be marred in internal distractions. This means ensuring:

  • Regional councils are fully functioning

  • Standing orders finalised for branches, committees, sub-groups, etc

  • Branches are fully supported and operational

  • All posts are filled

  • Committees are fully operational

  • Refined policies

In fact, everything in regards to the internal structure and organisation could be added to the list, so it is by no means an extensive one, but you get the picture. This is what I am getting a little concerned about, if Left Unity was an army, half of our troops have had no training, the other half haven’t been given any weapons, and we are going to be sending them out to war?

Which leads me to my next point, elections are coming up and the debate was had at Left Unity Northampton on how we were planning to proceed, we unanimously agreed that standing in the General Election would be a waste of time, money and resources and we have put a motion in to the NC towards that end. Left Unity is not even a year old, we haven’t got our organisation fully operational, and with less than a year to go, we have no strategy for fighting the election, even if we win a seat, the party is not prepared or ready to have an MP. We need only look at other parties to see how long it has took them to mount credible challenges, and what strategy they adopted to achieve that end. Money that we are going to be throwing away in fighting a general election could be spent on positive things which help us lay the foundations for 2020, where we can fight a good campaign. If Left Unity was a product, we haven’t finished making it yet, nor have we finished producing it, but we are already trying to sell it and that kind of opportunistic token electioneering will damage our long term success.

So what should we be doing in the coming year, what strategy should we adopt if jumping on the general election bandwagon is a waste of time? I touched on the five points in my previous article, but we need to be doing more than just that. We need to be working at building local foundations, local fortresses, Left Unity bases up and down the country, and more importantly we need to be getting Left Unity out there into mainstream culture. To achieve this, we should be standing in local elections, while continuing to build relationships with communities through the five points. Once these lines of communication are fully laid, the trenches have been dug, then we will be prepared for battle, as the saying goes, fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Therefore the time spent on elections could be spent helping communities in their struggles, doing the important ground work for the success of the party in its battle against capitalism.

On top of this, the money we are going to be wasting on a general election could be put towards real good use in growing the party, we could hold a Left Unity political road show traveling up and down the country, with national officers and members going to each and every branch to boost that branches recognition and get the Left Unity message out there. We can put that money where it is needed, helping the oppressed and downtrodden, getting right into the hearts of communities and building Left Unity from the bottom up. Instead of rushing around placing general election candidates for the sake of it, when we are relatively unknown, we should be carrying out positive actions within communities which will attribute to the long term success of the party, not detract from it. If we do this step perfectly, when 2020 comes around we will be in perfect position to mount a general election campaign, as we would have had six years to plan for it, instead of half a year.

In Northampton Left Unity we have been working at building a strong base, a powerful foundation with which to challenge in 2020. We have built relationships with local groups, carried out our own protests and actions, got involved in local campaigns, helped in communities and set up our own society within the university. We are working tirelessly to build links within the community and create a bond of trust which will empower the group and the people. We will be standing a few candidates in the local election to get LU on a ballot paper, and make a headway into local government, because we feel that is the most effective use of our time. Each month we are gaining one or two new members, and these members are usually people that have never engaged in politics before. We plan on leading by example, and whatever strategy Left Unity adopts, we hope in a few years time we can show you a successful branch. We have done this without any real tangible support in terms of funds and resources from LU Central, if we got given a couple of grand with which to build the branch, we would be twice the size we are now, and this is where the resources should be going.

To wrap this up, Left Unity is a long term project, and we need to be thinking in the long term, we are the builders of Left Unity’s future and if we build those foundations on sand, then we are destroying that future. We have two thousand members and need to be pushing to get that membership up to ten thousand, we need to be working at getting branches fully embedded into their communities struggles, we need to be supporting one another so that the party is operational, so that when we do go to war, we are fully prepared for the fight, instead of throwing ourselves to the lions. There is important work that needs to take place in the formative years of the party, that we cannot afford the distraction of chasing general elections, when we will not get our deposits back, not mount a credible challenge, and waste a huge chunk of the year and time, for little or no gain. Now more than ever we need to be placing ourselves well and truly on the side of the people, so that come 2020, we mean business. Instead of running the Fawlty Towers of election campaigns, the party will be fully operational, our policies will be refined, our strategy well thought out, our product will be finished and it will be rolling off the assembly line. We should not be trying to sell Left Unity and carrying out business like the other parties, they are more prepared, better funded and resourced than us, we cannot beat them fighting a conventional war, we will not beat them at their own game, we have to resort to guerrilla tactics if we are too be successful in the long term, so lets not sell out our long term success for short term dreams.

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Labour: The New Party of the Right

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Can we stop pretending that Labour is a centre left party now? It seems with each passing week another right wing policy comes spewing forth from the Labour party machine, or even more farcically a selection of MPs falling over themselves to appear more right wing on the key debates of the day. How long are we going to be in self denial on what the Labour party has transformed into? How long can we buy into a false belief that they are anything but on a clear course of centre right politics? If Labour taking up the rally cry of “one nation” politics didn’t send the alarm bells ringing, what will? Like the Titanic hurtling towards an ice berg, Labour are hurtling full speed ahead into the right of British politics. Ed Miliband is just the newest figure in Labours slow march to the right as it abandons its supporters. Labours continual commitment to move further right should go down in history as one of the biggest betrayals of British politics, how insane that a political party can be so divorced from its key voters and supporters that it is doing everything in its power to leave them behind. It is a damning state of affairs for British politics when come the election people will vote Labour only because they won’t hit us as hard as the Tories, or if they do, they will look apologetic and sorry about it afterwards.

The Labour party was founded out of the Trade Union movement, it was founded to ensure this movement had representation in parliament, who would of thought that when they are afraid to say they support striking workers? Or fall over themselves in trying to distance their relationship to the unions. I am going to say this loud and clear, being a trade unionist is not a crime, it is not a sin, trade union is not a dirty word to be shied away from, it is something to be proud of, and Labour are not proud of this history, and they are not proud of that legacy. Their betrayal of their founding principals continues however, Nye Bevin founded the NHS, a health system which is the marvel of the world, yet it was a Labour party some sixty (give or take) years later which begun selling off this wonderful health system to private companies, so they may profit off our sickness, now that is a big fuck you to Bevan and the proud achievements of a Labour party fighting for the people. The NHS came about to ensure that we were all given good healthcare regardless of wealth, yet now they begun the process to have a health system run on profit and based on wealth? “It will last as long as there a folk left to fight for it” Bevan once said, he would be turning in his grave if he knew his party were the ones that begun the process of dismantling it. I could go on and on, but there is a rather simple test which can prove this abandonment of socialism, look through a Labour manifesto, look for the word socialism, now look through their last five manifestos, see if you can find it, you won’t, just like they are afraid of their trade unionist past, they have abandoned their socialist principals. They even took up the rally cry of imperialism with the invasion of Iraq, they picked up the sword of imperialism and plunged it into the back of their international socialist supporters!

One Nation Conservatism championed by Benjamin Desrali is the new theme for the Labour party, and it was such an important part of Conservatism that it was only in the 1970s that its influence diminished within the Tory party, New Labour has now become One Nation Labour. Ed Miliband while citing Desrali as a key influence, also claims it is inspired by Prime Minister Attlee, the same Prime Minister that brought in a swathe of welfare reforms, chief among them the NHS, a champion of the welfare state. This being the case, how can this One Nation Labour even begin to match up to the champions that brought in the welfare state in one of the most difficult periods economically and socially this country has ever witnessed? Far from having a banker created deficit to deal with, Attlee had a myriad of problems and far from shrinking from the responsibility the Labour party had to the people of the country, he brought in reforms to help them and the welfare state he laid the foundations for and built up is being dismantled by the ConDems, and is going to continue to be attacked by Labour, at the very least if he wants to lay claim to Attlee’s legacy he could at least mount a robust defense of the welfare state instead of helping hammer in the nails of the welfare coffin.

To lay the blame solely at Ed Miliband’s feet would do him a disservice, he is very much a fruit of a Labour tree that has hacked away at its roots and one that marches relentlessly to the right, the Labour’s mass consensus and acceptance of Thatcherism. We had thirteen years of Labour government, thirteen years of chances, thirteen years for the Labour party to empower the unions, thirteen years to undo the heartless and callous actions of she who may not be named, thirteen years to regulate business interest, thirteen years to nationalise key industry, thirteen years! THIRTEEN YEARS!!! Far from being remembered as an administration that championed the interest of the working class, that reigned in big business, that gave power to the trade unions, it is remembered most of all for an imperialist war, for giving power to the banks, for creating the big brother state. The whole New Labour project was a betrayal of old Labour, a betrayal of true Labour – it should be remembered as the final nail in the coffin, and Blair the man who sold those principals down the river. To still peddle this poor excuse for a party which is anything but socialist, as a viable workers alternative is not only an insult to everyone who is a socialist, but it is in an insult to those who built up the party, an insult to all who see themselves on the side of good, on the side of equality and the side of justice! Much like Oscar Wilde wrote “the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it,” these people are perverting the socialist message and prolonging our suffering under this system. The sooner we stop letting Labour beat us up and fight back, the sooner we can be living in a just and fair society!

If we examine some Labour of past and present, we can see this growing right wing tendency consuming the soul of the party. The most iconic of these in recent memory being the abandonment of clause 4 which read: “To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.” This arguably ensured that the constitution and the party were firmly rooted in the workers struggle, and on the side of the people against the vampiric nature of big business. Removing this from the constitution was either a retreat from the principals which made the party great, or a capitulation to Thatcherism and right wing ideological thought, but one thing it certainly wasn’t, was left wing. Now fast forward twenty years and we have a Labour party that wants to be “tough” (right wing rhetoric for harsh and unfair) on immigration and benefits, with a Labour government we will not be able to have benefits until we are 21. It goes deeper than this still Rachel Reeves has rather proudly declared “It is not an either/or question. We would be tougher [than the Conservatives],” in what kind of parallel universe do we have to reside in, when a socialist or left wing party is declaring it will be more right wing than the Tories? While Ed Balls is declaring they will go into the next general election being “tougher on immigration,” this in the wake of the UKIP scare, where we witnessed a swathe of Labour politicians falling over themselves to appear more right wing than UKIP. The party has betrayed its principals, betrayed its supporters and betrayed us all!

Finally, and this is by no means the sum of all the charges laid at the feet of a disconnected Labour party, the cuts which have hit the poorest and most vulnerable in the wake of the bankers and capitalism crisis are being forced to pay, we are being forced to see the many victories won by brave souls, brave trade unions and a brave Labour party, get ripped away before our very eyes. You would expect then a left wing Labour party to be on the offensive, racing ahead in the polls with a swathe of policies and rhetoric to reflect the dire situation we all find ourselves in, but alas this is not the case. We are met with Ed Balls “We will be cutting departmental spending in 2015-16 and not raising it, with no more borrowing to cover day-to-day spending.” Not only has the right wing Labour party followed the immigrant scapegoating lined laid down by the likes of UKIP, it has accepted the neo-liberal right wing capitalist myth, forcing every normal person to shoulder the burden of a crisis it did not create. Outside of the cost of living crisis rhetoric, which is very true, there is no real substance to it, it is just hot air, a sacrifice to appease the Labour faithful, a bone thrown for them to chew on, well lap it up, because it isn’t going to get any better. A left wing Labour party would be reversing these cuts, it would be creating equality, fairness, a system that works not for a few elites at the top, but for the majority of us.

To reflect on Labours slow zombie like shuffle to the right you can trace this slow right bound drudge with the removal of clause 4, you could argue it begun even further back as some have, but when it begun really doesn’t matter to the present situation and that is, we now have a Labour party which no longer represents the majority of workers, a Labour party which has betrayed or ignored the trade unions, a Labour party that has abandoned the principles it was founded upon, a Labour party which no longer seems to care for its roots. The reclaim Labour strategy has been argued for, for fourty odd years and within that time we have witnessed a complete betrayal by the Labour party to the people. We can mourn the Labour party, we can waste our time within the Labour party machine, fighting helpless against the ever growing tide towards the right wing, or we can work at building a new party that represents the people, this is why a new party of the left had to come into existence. After all that Labour have done to us throughout the decades people still turn out because “they’re better than the Tories” but how long is that excuse going to last? How much betrayal can we take? On the continent we have seen relatively young parties spring up and have some measure of success, this is why we need to throw off the pessimism of a new party, Labour started somewhere a century ago, and we have to start again for the workers torch is being extinguished over Westminster. We cannot continue to support a party which does not support us, it is as simple as that, so please throw off the Labour shackles, the Labour party of old is dead, the new beast is not one we want to ride.

Woe is Society

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Maaan, when you look at who runs what, how can you not feel anything but anger?

The vast amount of wealth sits in a handful of peoples bank accounts, ain’t nobody working harder than 50% of the population, I don’t care if you only sleep 1 hour a bloody night.
Power sits in the hand of a small rich elite, why the hell do we let them do all the decision making?
Every single layer of society we look at, is all controlled by the same power interests, the same small group of people, who only have their own interests at heart.

This pattern has repeated it self throughout history, and alongside this, there has been people like you and me, the disenfranchised, the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden – those that have less, those that have little, those who have nothing.

We have fought throughout the ages for a fairer and more just society, we have fought to get a little more of the pie, instead of subsisting on the crumbs. Shit we have fought to not eat pie, we have fought so we can eat cake!

Whether you actively take part in this struggle or not, this struggle is happening, you can sit on the fence, you can watch from the side lines, as our futures literally get stolen from us, or you can become an active participant, but ultimately when you moan about the way things are, the only way they are going to change, is if you take an active part, we are all powerful beyond measure.

We are the glue that runs the machine we call society, we do not need stock brokers to run society, we do need cleaners – we are the ones that are running things in all but name, why then do we not get a fair share in all this? We do the majority share of the work, without getting our just reward.

If when you were a kid someone sat you down with a contract and said to you: “Ok, we want you to work five days a week, nine hours a day, for the rest of your life, in exchange for that, we will give you a little bit of money, so you can buy your own food, and live in a house, while we take the majority of the profits, live in a bigger house, eat better food, drink better wine, be your boss we will make all your decisions for you, all you need to do, is be our slaves” – Ain’t nobody going to sign that contract.

This world is ours, all of ours, do not sign your freedom away, as the saying goes “all evil needs to triumph is for good men (people) to do nothing” – Another way is possible, we just have to make it so.

Peace, love and unity

I’m an Anarchist and I’m in Left Unity, there I said it!

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I am involved with Left Unity because it is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. The left as a force within this country is spent, it is on its knees and the only way it stands a fighting chance against the onslaught of capitalism is if we work together. Thus I became part of the Left Unity project, sceptical of what it really was, and afraid it was more of the same but lucky enough for me, it did not turn out to be any of the things I expected! There is no one ideology of Left Unity, you can be a Leninist, Marxist, Maoist, Makhovist and everything in between, I am not being told I have to kneel down and pray to Karl Marx five times a day, I can have an opinion.

Our local branch is pretty free to do as it pleases which is a massive plus, there is not some central top down leadership attempting to control my every action and thought, I feel like I am free to express myself and that I have a voice. Right from the get go the party has been an inclusive place for all those along the left, a place where we can come together to fight our common enemy and work for the common good. It also seeks to be more than just a political party, it seeks to be a social movement and if the left can’t pull its act together, what then? For me to not just pay lip service to the term Left Unity, I had no choice but to get involved.

Before the founding conference and beyond members within Left Unity hold the power, we created the constitution, we can submits motions and far from Left Unity pretending to have all the answers, it asked all the right questions. There seems to be a real commitment within Left Unity for members to have wildly different views and be allowed to express them as they wish. Not only that but we have some really interesting policies which are their to either curb someone attaining to much power or to keep them in check in case they do, e.g Only being allowed to hold a position for three years and yearly elections both of which are massively important in holding the leadership to account and providing power to the grass roots.

Left Unity has that commitment to grass roots, bottom up leadership which to me makes it an ok place to work. I do not want to be part of an organisation where everyone thinks and acts the same, because that is not healthy and the fact Left Unity has a massive local agenda, I feel it does not jeopardise my anarchist views. We all want to see the end of capitalism, and there is no point in arguing about what comes next until the end of capitalism is a possibility, we have a long way to fight and it makes no sense being spread out and divided, unity is our strength.

I hope I’m not the only Anarchist within Left Unity, and if there is enough of us we should get a tendency together.

Energy Crisis? What Energy Crisis!?

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freezingIn recent media sources we have been fed that we are experiencing an ever looming energy crisis, this is coinciding with a big rise in energy bills, rises which we have been experiencing year on year, sometimes twice a year! Last year the “big six” energy suppliers (British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, npower, Scottish Power, SSE) recorded annual profits of 3.7 billion pounds according to the FT times “annual profits made by the UK’s big energy groups soared 73 per cent in the three years to 2012.” If there was truly an energy crisis, why is that the profits of these energy barons have soared to a figure that is unimaginable to most of us? If there really were an “energy crisis” why are they having record profits? Why are we the consumer being burdened by their greed? Why are we having to suffer, so they may gain!?

Green energy and the drive for green energy by the government has been constantly blamed by the energy firms for the price hikes, yet surely if green energy were to blame, wouldn’t the profits stay the same? Why would they rise to record highs? The energy firms are using the governments half hearted drive for renewable energy as a means to continue rising prices, we need energy, they know we need energy, they are taking advantage of that, and we are letting them. The green energy lie, is just another one of the weapons in their arsenal to blitz the poor, with their never ending conquest for more profit!

Only earlier this year several of the biggest oil companies had their offices raided by the European Commision, in relation to them fixing the price of oil. According to the commision the raids were carried out to determine that the major oil barons had  “collouded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency [PRA] to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products”.

This comes only a year after the guardian reported “The Financial Services Authority, is investigating claims by whistleblower that Britain’s £300bn wholesale gas market has been “regularly” manipulated by some of the big power companies, exploiting weaknesses that echo the recent Libor scandal.” There clearly is something very unheathly happening in these markets, which is causing pain and suffering to the every day person. These companies have been given free reign over the market, manipulating and distorting the product to the consumer, in order to maximize profit while maxmimizing pain to us! We cannot allow this to continue!

With this in mind, I will tell you why they keep saying there is a crisis: So they can justify raising prices to us! So they can justify, robbing us, and freezing us to death! You wouldn’t let a thief in through the front door, so why is that we are allowing them to come in through the back? Business does not have our best interest at heart, they are addicted to profit and like any addict will lie, cheat and steal if it can satisfy their craving.

According to the Telegraph last year up to 30,000 people died in the UK over the winter because of the cold, in what kind of country do we allow that to happen? Each one of these people, was a mother, a brother, a daughter, a father, a sister, we are allowing the most vulnerable members of our society to be literally murdered by these energy barons, they are no better than a mafia racketeer, they are extorting us for every penny and it is resulting in deaths, not a few, but tens of thousands. When will enough be enough? We simply cannot allow this to continue, one death is too many because of the cold, thirty thousand is completely insane! If we do not take action soon, they will continue to take, take, take, take, take until how many deaths? How many people are going to have to die as a result of the energy extortion, until we stop it?

To put the figure of 30,000 last year into perspective (a figure that is rising in year in year out), that is more people than have been killed by terrorism since 9/11, that is more British soldiers than have been killed in the Afghan and Iraq war, and it is more people than have been killed in any massacre in this country in living memory, and that is what this is, a massacre.

The right to warmth, the right to energy – These should be human rights, yet increasingly it is becoming a benefit for the rich, the poor are being priced out of the energy market and being forced to choose between lighting, heating, food and luxuries you can forget about them! – Where will this end?

Here are a few suggestions on how we can solve this “crisis”
1. Pass legislation that sets a limit on how much energy companies can charge consumers.
2. Provide each household with renewable energy sources: Solar Panels, small scale wind farms, recycled water.
3. Set up a state energy company that drastically undercuts all the big six and offers fair rates to the consumer.
4. Pass legislation which forces energy companies themselves to invest in green energy alternatives, instead of passing the buck to the government, or the consumer.

At the Labour party conference Ed Miliband put forth a policy of freezing the prices for a fixed term, saying the energy companies “had been overcharging “for too long” and it was time to “reset” the energy market.” How does freezing the price “reset” the market? We are already paying every last penny we have! People are alreadying dying, freezing the market just isn’t good enough, when there are people freezing to death, that doesn’t help us here and now! We need to reverse what he calls “overcharging” – not just put a stop to any future rises!

What are the Tories contribution to this drama of death, deceit and robbery? What is their answer to our prays? If people were not dying every year it would be laughable! Their advice on the .gov website is to “switch energy supplier as often as possible!” Do you hear that people, it is down to me and you, to fix the problem! It is not like the energy companies can do anything to make bills cheaper, no – We have to switch energy suppliers as much as we can, we have to bear the burden, because we wouldn’t want to hassle the energy companies now, would we? They are just there to take our money and run! When will we stop being told what we should be doing to lower our bills, when will they start telling us what they can do to lower them?

Have you ever tried changing energy company? It is a complicated process, most people do not do – In fact the number of people switching is going down! The poorest members of our society, do not even have access to the tools to change energy supplier (Internet, phone line, etc). Between the stress of losing a job, not having enough money to buy food, to heat the house, looking for a job and generally surviving in a climate which is getting more hostile than the artic tundra, we are expected to put more added stress onto ourselves and navigate the minefield which is changing energy supplier. Well, I say no! It is not up to us to get the best deal, it is up to them to give us the best deal and stop ripping us off!