What are we hoping for?

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What are we building? What are we fighting for? I’m no longer sure. It seems to me that the left has become the most complex and convoluted system for lobbying the government that has ever existed.

While communities have come under prolonged and sustained attack, completely ripped apart for generations now, it looks to me that we are arguing over what kind of biscuits to bring to the revolution, and lets not get started on the tea, or we will be here till tea time.

Where is the vision? The ambition? The hope and the passion? Where is the strategy in acting as a glorified lobby group?

This week we witnessed the Greek people vote oxi (no to me and you) to austerity, and from the response you would think they had just smashed the capitalist hegemony of the globe. I think it is great that they did mind you but I don’t want to look for Greece to hope, I want to look to the left in the UK to provide my people with hope.

What are we doing? Arguing over austerity and like Canute trying to turn back the tide, or in our case convince the Tory party or the Labour party to change course? To take pity on us poor peasants and allow us to have a little bit more of the harvest next year? Or to find a heart and stop sending us to our deaths with a stroke of their pens?

In the meantime how insignificant are the left becoming? Take Left Unity for example, the party I am involved with – it is trying to emulate and act like a traditional party. Like it stands any chance of beating these guys at their own game, like it is in any position to even contemplate taking them on at their own game.

If Left Unity is to survive it needs to stop trying to be a traditional party, it needs to rip apart the rule book on what a political party is, and create something new, something new and inspiring that the people of the country can believe in and get behind!

All I am seeing is more of the same, and more of the same has got us into this mess in the first place. We know the fight to change society and the face of this country is a long one, but what are we doing to bring about that goal? A campaign here, a petition there and a march on the odd occasion.

Yes these things sometimes do have the desired effect, our masters change their course and we gain a small victory with which we may build something a little better or bigger in the future. Or people pack their things up and go home, it is all the same.

We have been operating that way for generations, and it clearly is not hitting the mark anymore. It may have had an effect in the 20th century, but we are not in the 20th century anymore. We need to adapt, we need to grow and we need to stop flogging a dead horse.

I do not have all the answers, I do not even know all the problems but please just try to think outside the box, stop trying to do what you’ve always done because it is what you’ve always done. We need to change, we need to stop pushing blame onto everything else and accept our responsibility in the downfall of the left.

We need to take stock of where we are, re-evaluate where we want to be and actually come up with something worth while. I don’t want to be in a focus group, I do not want to just be a lobbyist to whatever overlord we have that year. I want to be part of something fresh and new, new not just in name but in structure, outlook, strategy – something we can actually call revolutionary.

By revolutionary I am not saying we take out the pitch forks and storm Buckingham Palace, but something the left have completely lost the ability to do and that is talk to people on a level, talk with people, not down to them, not preaching to them but with them.

By revolutionary I’m talking about our outlook, how we conduct ourselves, what we consider to be political action. This linear form of politics is getting us no where, it isn’t even fit for this day and age.

We can hold a rally of 250,000 people and you can all pat yourselves on the back and say that it is a movement now, but rallies don’t make movements, at a rally what are you doing? Standing still listening to someone tell you something. Then you can go home, you may have learnt something but what has changed in your community? Unless you live in London, not a damn deal.

We need to be building up resistance, we need to be building up networks and be engaged in activities which are empowering to communities and empowering to ourselves, this has to be creative and it has to be local.

All political activity and the voice of opposition against these unjust, unfair and immoral acts are great but what purpose are they serving in the long run? What are we doing outside and around that which truly is creating a movement, truly is doing something beneficial to the cause?

There is this hollow shell in the place of communities up and down the country, what are we doing to solve that problem? The left is a husk, it must be great for academics that love boring meetings and arguing the finer points of the events of the Russian revolution, but what else?

Surely there has to be more to what we are doing than this? Surely there is something we are missing? Otherwise, if this is all there is, if this is as good as it gets? We may as well pack our bags and give the revolution a miss, the weather will be shit and it’s not like it’s going to be on the tele anyway.

How long are we going to be defined by which punches the government are throwing at us and which ones we are quick enough to dodge? These negative reactive campaigns which are ultimately not providing hope, not creating positivity, not rolling out change within communities. I do not want to survive anymore, where the best I can hope for is if we manage to bloody the governments nose once in a while.

We need to build something, we need to create something, we need to thrive.

Left Unity and the election

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Let me start this blog by saying well done to everyone that had the courage and nerve to put themselves forward in local or national elections for Left Unity, while the results may have not reflected the hard work and dedication you showed, you deserve praise for having the balls to put your head above the parapet.

This article however is not going to be kind on Left Unity and its involvement in the elections, for they were an absolute disaster. Some of us within the party argue, albiet unsuccessfully at the folly of rushing into national and in some cases local election politics, when so much had yet to be achieved.

I personally argued for a local election focus, as if any network or fight back is going to be waged against this system, it will start at the bottom of communities.

Left Unity however first and foremost sought to be a social movement, it sought to ride the wave or if need be create the wave that would turn the tide in the battle for that which communities the length and breadth of the country hold dear.

Which is why many of us myself included, were distraught at the direction and turn Left Unity had started to take, it changed course dramatically and begun sailing straight towards the rocky waters of electoral politics without a care in the world for the direction of the political winds.

The forces of political nature were therefore harsh and unforgiving as socialists shamed themselves yet again in England in an utter massacre. As we rounded up to take part in our bi-decade self-flegellation that sees us humiliated and shamed.

This experiment has been an expensive failure, and a harsh lesson for Left Unity to learn, with members dropping out and abandoning us because of our performance, or in some cases the despair at not seeing the change and breath of fresh air we had hoped the party to be, materalise in any meaningful way.

What is done cannot be undone and it is how we seek to get out of the hole that we blindly and willingly dug ourselves into that will define the next five years for us.

How long will we keep doing the same old things and expecting fresh and new results? We want to build a successful party, we want to or at least I am fighting to improve communities because I don’t want people to starve, I don’t want people to be forced to live in shame, I don’t want my friends to go cold in the winter.

Yet I am dismayed at the complete and utter disconnect that the left keeps showing with the communities of this land, we keep doing failed and destructive methods and then hope or try to define and exclaim our failures as something else, we pass the buck without examining our own responsibility within those failures: That has to stop now.

I will tell you why we failed, we are not trusted – the people of the country don’t trust us, that can be for a million reasons, of course the mainstream media barrage against our ideas and figures is a major part but we ourselves have done little to earn their trust.

The London activist bubble, and hardened and great comrades up and down the country, many of whom I respect fo their services to the movement have got locked into a paradigm which is no longer beneficial to the left movement, the strategy no longer serves us. This can be seen in our falling power and popularity, and general standing – the trend is not good for the left.

Left Unity a party that is fighting for the many, fighting for the majority yet it is manned by a skeleton crew – why is that? Why are we irrelevant? in an age of such despair, why are we not a beacon of hope? Why are we not cutting through the forces of austerity with our sword of socialism? Why are people up and down the country not singing our praises as we stand shoulder to shoulder with them against the full brunt of this capitalist onslaught?

The common thread of community struggle, the glue that holds society together and creates an effective network for people to organise and resist attempts to attack and destroy the things we hold dear, has been eroded and destroyed over successive generations. Now we must work to rebuild these lost links and remember that which is being forgotten and lost.

Most importantly we have to earn the peoples trust and we are not going to do that with words, only with actions will the people be emboldened to fight, only through actions will people have the courage to stand against austerity and only in the fires of action will the weapons against this system be forged.

Another debate, another protest, another time – these methods do have their place, and must be used, they serve a purpose. We are not however doing what needs to be done around these, we need to get into communities and fight against austerity not with words but deeds!

Starving to death? Well people should know that Left Unity will not let you starve to death, it will feed your family – it will keep you alive. Freezing to death? Well people should know that Left Unity will not let you freeze because of a cold heartless government – it will keep you warm.

All we are hearing is words, we need to change the direction and outlook we have on what political activity means. We talk the talk, we talk tough – yet ultimately it falls on deaf ears because we are not walking their walk. You can talk about austerity from your heated home, your lovely three bedroom house, but to someone who has hunger in their belly, they want more than inspiring words.

There is merit in standing in elections, however we invested 18 or so thousands of pounds in our election effort, in a time when people are starving to death, thousands of people dying because of planned austerity measures, planned poverty – this investment should of gone on people, not polls.

We invested so much, for what return? What gain did we get on our investment? Very little. We could of showed solidarity with the people of this country, we could of begun a program to fight austerity in this country, instead we chose the tried and failed route of electoral politics first, and ultimately we are now going to pay the price – I only hope the price is not the most cruellest one to pay, that of our own demise.

Elections have their time and place, they serve a purpose – local elections are cost effective ways of campaigning and highlighting an issue within local communities and building links within local communities. Local must come first if we are to have any hope of achieving anything, it has to start at the bottom – we have to start at the bottom,.

Even if you go down the electoral strategy route, there was no strategic planning in placing candidates all over the place, diffusing our limited resources and isolating our many skirmishes and battles. If elections were a war, we spread our armies too thin and then paid the ultimate price – defeat.

There is hope for the future, there is hope for Left Unity but we have to get our priorities straight, we have to change – the left has to adapt and change to meet the current needs of the people. We need to be backing up our intellect with our actions, one without the other is meaningless.

In the end we need to not only say we want change, we need to display what change means, we need to showcase socialism, we need to put socialism into action, as the saying goes “socialism, the radical idea of sharing” – It is time socialism is taken to the streets!

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.