Friday, 30 May 2008

decisive leadership needed to reverse fortunes of the left

John McDonnell, Tony Benn, Bob Crow, Mark Serwotka, Matt Wrack, George Galloway, Ken Loach, Tommy Sheridan, Dave Nellist and other leading figures on the left, together with the organisations they represent, along with others from the socialist and labour movement, need to urgently hold discussions with a view to launching a new political party.

A new party is urgently needed to reverse the dismal fortunes of the left. Disintegration and decline cannot be allowed to continue. The leaders of the left and the principle organisations that make it up have a duty to take decisive action.

Over the past decade thousands have stopped being active through disgust or demoralisation as Labour moved right and the unions embraced 'social-partnership'. These former activists and Labour Party members would flock to join a new party, but ONLY if it was credible.

For a credible new party of the left

Credible means it must have the support of leading individuals and organisations, including the left-led trade unions. These individuals and organisations, particularly the left-led trade unions, still command massive respect and carry social weight.

It must also be fully democratic and inclusive - anything less would be repulsive. A new credible party of the left would be a pole of attraction to these activists, whether the hundreds of thousands of ex-Labour members, former union militants, or those who have passed through other parties or coalitions to the left of labour in more recent times.

A credible new party of the left could unite with a whole new generation of younger people, those politicised through the anti-war or environmental campaigns, or younger workers newly involved in the unions.

It's not only the activists and former activists that need a new party to give them renewed hope and enthusiasm and a political home to belong to; the wider working class and labour movement also needs a new political party. A new credible party could quickly gain affiliation of the left-led unions, the PCS, RMT and FBU. Many rank-and-file members in the other unions would also come on board and fight for their organisations to sign up.

Without a new party the vacuum to the left remains unfilled and workers have no party that will fight in their interests or support them when in struggle. This is a dangerous situation, one that presents big opportunities to the far right and fascists.

A demoralised, disorganised and divided left vacates the political stage, leaving it for our enemies to dominate. A left like this has no real imput into the key debates and discussions of the day.

A credible new party of the left would command at least more media attention than present, it would be able to put forward socialist policies, present the class arguments, and support those in struggle. This would help to politically re-arm the working class after the defeats of the 80s and 90s, and breed new confidence to fight back.

The question of a new political party of the left, a party that aims to become a mass organisation of the working class, cannot be side stepped.

Most people see politics as political parties that fight for power. United front campaigns on single issues (i.e. for affordable housing, against war and occupation etc.) are fine. No one opposes this inherently sensible idea. However, this is nothing like an alternative strategy to a new party. In fact, a new party is central to fighting on single issues, for affordable housing, against occupation, racism etc. etc.

A new credible party of the left could make a huge splash, reinvigorate interest in politics, organise thousands of activists, bringing them together to discuss ideas as well as in action, and attract far wider support in the working class than a few single issue united front campaigns could do.

The leaders of the left, its principle organisations and the unions who avoid the party question or fail to act on it are letting down the movement and the wider working class.

And so, it's over to John McDonnell, Tony Benn, Bob Crow, Mark Serwotka, Matt Wrack, George Galloway, Ken Loach, Tommy Sheridan, Dave Nellist, LRC, CNWP, Respect Renewal, Left List, SP, CPB, Solidarity, SSP, RMT, PCS, FBU and other leading individuals and organisations to act.

Pro new party activists need to add pressure and constructive input to the discussions and debate.


Nick said...

I would like to comment on the PCS affiliating to a new party. There are technical difficulties with this. Under the Civil Service code, civil servants are banned from standing in national elections and, although allowed to stand in local elections, are restricted to not commenting on issues of national controversy.

PCS affiliation would need to come after a campaign within the PCS, firstly for democratisation of the Civil Service, and secondly for the need for political representation. The climate of the Civil Service of neutrality and impartiality means that it will be a hard task to convince people about the need for independent working class political representation.

ks said...

good point nick

initially it may be that pcs leaders would have to sign up as individual high profile members to a new party - and then campaign for affiliation of the whole union.

even acting in a personal capacity the leaders of the pcs could play a massive role.

comradely greetings,