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Left Unity (Britain)

Jeremy Corbyn, British Labour and the radical left

 

 

October 20, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Below, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal republishes two articles presenting differing views on the position that the radical left should take towards the British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

 

The British left after Brexit

 

 

July 10 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- With British politics in crisis after the recent UK referendum vote to leave the European Union, a debate has opened on the British left regarding the situation it finds itself in. As part of Links' ongoing coverage of the Brexit debate we are republishing articles by Charlotte Bence, from Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century, Neil Faulkner, from Left Unity, and Joseph Choonara, from the Socialist Workers Party. Above, is also a video by Novara Media's Ash Sarkar exploring the way class and race are mobilised as ways to understand inequality and political disenfranchisement.

 

Left Unity on Jeremy Corbyn: The people’s victory shows everything is possible

Jeremy Corbyn addresses a crowd of 2500 on August 3, at Camdeen Town Hall in London. Photo via Twitter/@corbynforleader. More on Jeremy Corbyn and Left Unity.

 

Left Unity, September 12 -- Jeremy Corbyn is the new leader of the Labour Party. Who could have imagined writing such a sentence only a few weeks ago? His victory shatters the austerity consensus that has dominated British politics for the last five years.

This is a victory for the movement as a whole. It is a victory for all those opposing the welfare cuts, for all those campaigning against war and racism, for all those fighting to defend our NHS and a host of other issues.

Jeremy’s election will have the effect of a dam breaking in British political life. It will shift the centre of political gravity to the left.

There were two intersecting currents behind the dramatic growth of the Corbyn campaign. Firstly there was the long pent-up resentment against the Blairite wing of the party, which the new process for electing the leadership allowed to be unleashed.

Britain: Why Jeremy Corbyn's Labour leadership bid panics the right

Jeremy Corbyn joins Pride in London, alongside some of the activists backing his campaign. Photo: Steve Eason.

The surprising support for Jeremy Corbyn in the race for the leadership of the British Labour Party has electrified the left and is terrifiying the right. Below a number of articles from the British left explain why.

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Left Unity Newsletter, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal on July 28, 2015-- The movement in support of Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader has set politics alight – and got the media in a panic. Corbyn’s candidacy is demonstrating the mass support that exists in society for the policies he stands for, and Left Unity has also supported since its foundation: an end to austerity and war, a different society based on peace and equality.

This unexpected movement is an expression of the same sentiment that is seeing a new left rise across Europe – with the difference in expression perhaps down to Britain’s archaic electoral system.

Left Unity wishes the campaign all the best. This is an opportunity for the Labour Party to become the party it was founded to be, defending and extending its great achievements of the welfare state – the party that millions want.

Britain's Left Unity on the struggle of the Greek people

Greece solidarity rally in Birmingham, July 13, 2015. Report HERE.

Left Unity (Britain) national secretary Kate Hudson writes.

July 15, 2015 -- Left Unity, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- We unreservedly condemn the criminal attacks by the states and institutions of the European Union on Greece and its people. Not satisfied with the imposition of extreme neoliberalism and the destruction of the livelihoods and welfare of millions of people, these so-called European "partners" are now proceeding to strip Greece of its national sovereignty and self-determination.

Britain: Tory majority with 36.9% vote; Scotland moves left as SNP demolishes Labour

After her party won more than 1 million votes but just one seat, Greens leader Natalie Bennett said: "The fight for a fairer, more democratic voting system begins today."
By Stuart Munckton

May 9, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party won a clear victory in Britain's May 7 general elections. In Scotland, however, the Scottish National Party (SNP) dramatically rose from six seats to 56 out of 59, in a clear sign of opposition to the brutal austerity backed by the major parties in Westminster.

The big loser in Scotland was the Labour Party, which was nearly wiped out. Previously the largest party in Scotland, it kept just one seat. It was ruthlessly punished for its support for austerity and its role in opposing Scottish independence. Although the “no” vote won, Labour paid the price for a nasty campaign in which it appeared as just one more voice of the London establishment.

Socialist Resistance on the rise of the Green parties in England, Wales and Scotland

Greens' Westminster MP Caroline Lucas.

Click for more on the Green Party of England and Wales and the Scottish Greens.

By Terry Conway

April 8, 2015 -- Socialist Resistance, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Membership and support for the Green parties across Britain – the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) and the Scottish Green Party (SGP) – has surged dramatically.

The membership of the GPEW has doubled in the past year and currently stands at 54,500, making it the fourth-largest party in Britainbigger than the Liberal Democrats and UK Independence Party. It has also been rising in the opinion polls, topping 10% recently, well in advance of the Lib Dems, which has led the broadcasters to propose its inclusion in the TV debates.

No, SYRIZA has not surrendered

syriza

By Tom Walker

February 2015 -- Red Pepper, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Surrender! Capitulation! Betrayal! Syriza hasn't even been in office for a month, but already the obituaries are being written. Some on the left, of course, had written them long before January's election. Syriza, you see, has failed to declare the revolution. So far, so familiar.

But over the last few days some more sensible forces seem – as with the coalition deal in the early days of the Syriza government – to have got a little carried away in their horror at this week's debt deal, believing the German government's crowing rhetoric that Syriza has suffered total humiliation.

This is a deal that has been described in quite the opposite terms by Greek prime minister Alexis Tspiras: he called it "a decisive step, leaving austerity, the bailouts and the troika". Unless he has quite suddenly and unexpectedly taken leave of planet Earth, there is more going on here than meets the eye.

Greece: Is SYRIZA radical enough?

SYRIZA's closing election rally, Athens, January 22.

By Ed Rooksby

January 22, 2015 -- New Left Project, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, but a party of the radical left is on the cusp of power in an EU country. The latest opinion polls indicate that SYRIZA will triumph in the Greek national elections to be held on January 25 and although it may not win an absolute majority in parliament it would (assuming it can find coalition partners) certainly be the dominant force in any coalition government that emerged.

Greece: 'Why we must support a SYRIZA government'

“Their struggle is your struggle too! Everyone to the streets!”

By Andrew Burgin

December 10, 2014 -- Left Unity (Britain), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has called a presidential election, which will take place this month. It’s the parliament that elects the president in Greece but if the electoral sums don’t add up – which so far they don’t – and no president is elected, then the government must call a general election. In the event of a general election, it is likely that SYRIZA – the party of the radical left – will be the largest party and will form the government.

Concerns about a SYRIZA victory are expressed clearly by the stock market: the Athens exchange closed 12.8% down the day the presidential election was announced. The markets may be down, but there is great popular enthusiasm for a SYRIZA victory. Support for the party has grown hugely over the last few years because it rejects the austerity policies that have brought Greece to crisis point and will it break with neoliberalism.

Britain: Left Unity leader Kate Hudson on creating a new party for the left

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras with Left Unity national secretary Kate Hudson.

October 27, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- Left Unity is a new political group in Britain created out of a call last year by filmmaker Ken Loach for a new party to the left of Labour, which has moved rightwards in recent years and supports anti-worker austerity measures. The call was supported by thousands of people and Left Unity held its founding conference in November last year. Green Left Weekly's Denis Rogatyuk spoke with Left Unity's national secretary Kate Hudson, a veteran campaigner who is also general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

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Left Unity’s platform consists of socialism, feminism, environmentalism and anti-racism, among other features. How was this platform conceived? What was the decision-making process behind it?

The origins of the Left Unity project came in November 2012 out of the common struggle across Europe against austerity. There was a coordinated general strike across Europe on November 14 and we wanted to participate in that in Britain.

Britain: Behind the strong vote for far-right UKIP

Anti-UKIP protest.

For more coverage of the 2014 European elections, click HERE.

[See a table containing the results for the European left, Green and left nationalist parties HERE.]

By Dave Kellaway

May 26, 2014 -- Socialist Resistance -- Despite a strong support for the far right, the radical anti-austerity left maintained and increased its votes in some countries such as Greece, but also Spain and Portugal.

Britain: UKIP leads race to the gutter

By Liam Mac Uaid

May 24, 2014 -- Socialist Resistance -- From the coverage of the English local election results and the relentless Nigel Farage mania you would think that the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) had romped to first place with the Conservative Party (Tories) a close second. You’d also be forgiven for thinking that the Labour Party had received a hammering and the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) don’t exist. The main story in most of the press, from the BBC to the Daily Telegraph, is that Labour is in crisis as a result of the election.

Yet what actually happened was that it was the two parties of Britain's coalition government -- the Tories and the Liberal Democrats -- that have been hammered. Labour’s result reflects the party’s polling figures over the last few months. It would have made them the largest party in parliament if repeated in a general election, though just short on an overall majority.

Britain: Left Unity moving in the right direction

For more on Left Unity, click HERE.

By Dave Kellaway

May 10, 2014 -- Socialist Resistance -- Several hundred members joining in a week after a Ken Loach Guardian article and a Salman Shaheen appearance on the Daily Politics show … new branches opening up every week and a well-attended national policy conference in Manchester … a dozen or more candidates baptising our electoral intervention in the May local elections.

This is Left Unity (LU) only six months after its founding conference. Who would have thought a new broad party of the left launched by an internet appeal and sustained through a Ken Loach cinema documentary would still be around a year later with nearly 2000 members and more than 50 branches? Occasionally on the left we need to acknowledge that we have done something right. Even in a very difficult period where we have suffered a series of defeats it is possible in a small way to build something to the left of the Labour Party that has the potential to draw in wider layers than the revolutionary left normally engages with.

Britain: New party Left Unity is on the move

The Left Unity conference backed the health policy commission’s “10 point plan to re-instate, protect, and improve the [National Health Service] NHS”.

By Tom Walker

April 2, 2014 -- Left Unity -- Left Unity’s national conference on Saturday, March 29, saw delegates come together in Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry to make decisions about the policy of this new party.

The party’s founding conference in November set Left Unity’s broad direction as a new party of the left and set up its constitution. This conference looked in more detail at policy areas including economics, health, housing and anti-racism, based on months of work put in by those who volunteered for the party’s policy commissions as well as many submissions from branches. (You can see the motions booklet here.)

Britain: People's Assembly conference a step forward in anti-austerity struggle

By Dave Kellaway

March 17, 2014 -- Socialist Resistance, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Bob Crow’s family sent a message of solidarity to the People’s Assembly conference on March 15. They recognised that he was fully supportive of this movement. A truly nationwide movement if you listened to the accents and checked the delegate lists of those attending yesterday. A broad movement with over a dozen major unions affiliated. A movement that is not a top-down coalition, as some of its ultraleft critics have suggested, but one that is embedded in over 80 local groups. More than 660 people registered and there were around 500 in attendance. As someone remarked to me, you could tell it was a broad mobilisation because you did not recognise many people.

The Emmanuel Centre with its biblical exhortations beautifully marked out on the walls was full with activists actually fighting for some of those good intentions in a 21st century where hundreds of thousands have to go to food banks each week.

Tony Benn (1925-2014): A great communicator of the socialist cause

By Phil Hearse

March 15, 2014 -- Socialist Resistance, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- It is a bitter irony that Tony Benn has died in the very same week as Bob Crow, two giants of the labour movement who will be cruelly missed.

Numerous instant obituaries and comments have concentrated on Benn’s determination, his speaking and writing talents, his humour and his personal kindness. Of course. But in celebrating his life the important thing for the left, especially the younger generation, is to make an assessment of Benn and Bennism as a political phenomenon, why it constituted such a threat to the existing powers that be (including in the trade unions and Labour Party) and why such an array of forces gathered together to attempt to put an end to it.

Towards a European ecosocialist action network

European Ecosocialist Conference Jan 2014

Delegates to European ecosocialist meeting, January 19, 2014.

By Andrew Burgin

January 25, 2014 -- Left Unity via Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The increasing ecological crisis and impending environmental catastrophe that we all face, is leading more on the left to recognise that we have to be both red and green in our politics – we have to be ecosocialist. One without the other is not going to work.

Britain: Creation of new ex-SWP group welcomed

[For more on the crisis in the SWP, click HERE. For more on the Left Unity project, click HERE.]

By the Socialist Resistance executive committee

January 17, 2014 -- Socialist Resistance -- Socialist Resistance welcomes the news that the comrades who left the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in December as a consequence of the ongoing crisis over the abuse of women in that organisation have launched Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st century group (RS21). We recognise that they have done this in order to continue the struggle for revolutionary politics and we look forward to establishing both practical and political collaboration with them.

We welcome the openness of the statement they have posted on their website and the basic principles around which it is framed.

It is never a time for celebration when an important organisation of the revolutionary left goes into crisis and decline because, ultimately, the whole movement suffers. The question it poses, however, is how to build something new and better out of this experience and how to move on in a positive direction.

Britain: After the SWP -- a moment for revolutionary ambition

Former members of the SWP are discussing what's next?

January 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Britain's Socialist Workers Party (SWP) has been in crisis for over a year after the central committee's handling of a rape allegation against one of the party's leaders sparked a huge opposition. Now the last of this opposition, those who chose to stay and take the fight to a second annual conference in December 2013, have resigned as a bloc and are discussing what to do next.

Below, Tom Walker, part of an earlier wave of resignations, lays out a way forward based on what he's learned since leaving the SWP. It first appeared on the web site of the International Socialist Network and has been submitted to Links by the author.

For more on the left unity process in Britain, click HERE.

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By Tom Walker

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