LU special conference?
Left Unity was founded on a Labourite programme – the ‘Spirit of 45’ – which like Old Labour sought to restore the UK’s ‘social monarchy’ established after World War Two. This has now been reclaimed by the Corbyn movement. You would have to have your head buried in England’s sandy beaches not to notice that the democratic movement in Scotland has already seriously damaged the prospects for a British social monarchy.
Left Unity needs change its programme and strategy by ditching its Labourite programme and adopting a Democratic programme (“the Social Republic”) which addresses the crisis of Westminster and issues such as ‘popular sovereignty, a new constitution, so called local government Devolution, the relations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the European Union, as well as democracy in local communities, in the workplace and in the trade unions etc.
It is indisputable that such a shift from a Labour programme to a democratic programme must be debated across the party and agreed at national conference. The only question is whether this should take place before the scheduled conference in November. I agree with the Communist Platform it should be sooner rather than later. Nothing is more dangerous in a crisis than doing nothing to resolve it positively.
The 2015 annual conference had to deal with a crisis of disorientation. Many followed the logic of their own ‘Spirit of 45’ towards liquidation into Momentum and the Labour Party. The CPGB are not the last to take that path in the hope of transforming the Labour Party from a broad church into a communist half way house party. LU decided to fight on as an independent party without discussing or deciding how that would be done. No significant change took was agreed.
In May and June Left Unity faces the biggest test since the Scottish referendum and the general election. There will be the elections for London Mayor, local council elections in England and Wales, National Assembly for Wales, Police and Crime Commissioner elections in Wales, elections to the Scottish parliament and in the European referendum the potential exists for a serious political crisis over the future of the UK.
Now the leadership of LU have a choice. Take a time-out and effectively sit out the battles of May and June. Stick with the old politics until November. The current policy is to back Labour by not standing any candidates in the local and national elections in May and supporting the Tory-Labour ‘Remain’ popular front in June. In Scotland LU is not going to back Rise or be active in it by backing their candidates against the SNP and Labour. In short the ‘Spirit of 45’ policy is simply to make way for Labour.
If we are not going to sit out the political battles of May-June we need a special one day conference no later than April. We could then adopt a democratic programme and strategy to put it in a position to fight Labour by showing we have an alternative. Of course this costs money and takes time and plenty of people will want to avoid that. But it means investing in the future and getting ready to start building a new Left Unity.
Here is the Catch 22. If LU is not going to fight any of these elections or campaigns it would be better to use the time and resources to hold a special conference in May-June and involve members in a national debate to develop a fighting perspective on democracy. On the other hand we are going to fight the May-June political struggles we will need a special conference to adopt a militant democratic programme in sharp contrast to Labour’s social monarchy.
In conclusion LU can avoid the political struggles in May-June and keep busy campaigning on a host of worthy causes. ‘Activism’ is programme of the SWP. But as long as we remain stuck in the ‘spirit of 45’ programme, Left Unity will be in danger of dissolving politically into the Labour Party. How long can we keep bleeding before we die?
Steve Freeman (LU and Rise)