Left Unity faces a stark choice that will show if it has a political future. It has to decide between making a right turn to embrace the Labour Party or a left turn and build an alliance with RISE, the new party being launched in Scotland. Given the spirit of the 1945 Labour government provided much inspiration for Left Unity, then the impact of the Corbyn movement is obviously pulling LU rightwards into a liquidationist whirlpool.
Jack Conrad was reported in Weekly Worker as saying that Left Unity’s prospects “had been negatively affected by the changes in Labour. Instead of joining a left organisation built around left Labour politics, people could now choose the real thing – and were doing so in droves.” So far so good. This is exactly the problem. But the CPGB’s answer is to go back to 1920. Jack wants Left Unity to become the Communist Party of Great Britain (“adopt principled Marxist politics”) and follow Lenin’s advice of seeking affiliation to the Labour Party.
Left Unity was set up as a united front of social democrats (or democratic socialists) and communists. The name of the party “Left Unity” is recognition of this. It became no more than an embryonic version of a new type of party, a militant party of the working class. It was never intended to be a Broad Church party, like Labour, nor a revolutionary ‘Stalinist-Trotskyist’ party, like the CPGB, Workers Revolutionary Party, Socialist Party or Socialist Workers Party.
Left Unity had a political choice, either adopt the ideology of ‘Labourism’ or ‘Republican Socialism’ and hence the programme of the social monarchy or the social republic. It was a forgone conclusion that LU would embrace the default position of the left in England, captured in Ken Loach’s “Spirit of 45”. In the epoch of New Labour this seemed like common sense. Yet ‘Labourism’, as glue for this kind of party, was always a flawed perspective.
Before dismissing Left Unity, it was, in the face of New Labour politics, a light in the dark night, a hope in a time of despair. Now the sun has come up and nobody will see this candle when sunglasses seem more appropriate. But it has shown that a social democratic-communist party is possible not least because it has an openly declared and constitutionally legitimate Communist Tendency. All this is in danger of being blown away unless LU makes a strategic ‘left turn’.
Two events have exposed the fundamental flaws at the heart of Left Unity. First the Scottish referendum saw LU hopelessly divided between Left Unionism and Anti-Unionism. Adopting the abstention position in the face of a serious confrontation between the British Crown led by the Cameron government and backed by the Tories, Liberal Democrats, Labour and UKIP showed something was seriously wrong with LU. Second the rise of Corbo-Labour has pulled the rug from under Left Unity’s feet.
Politics is shifting to the left. It is not simply the election of Corbyn which signals a left turn in the Labour Party. The Tory conference saw Cameron and Osborne adopting ‘left’ rhetoric. Having killed off the Milli-Blair in the general election they began stealing the dead mans clothes. The Tories declared themselves the party of working people and promised to deliver a ‘living wage’. At a stroke the North-South divide was replaced by a Northern Power house. Osborne declared his admiration for Chinese state capitalism and invited the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party to take a share in the British nuclear power industry!
Nobody will have any illusions in the Tories left rhetoric. But taken with the shift in the Labour Party, it demands or requires Left Unity to make its own left turn. If Left Unity is going to continue and become stronger it has to make a strategic shift to the left, throwing out the Labour bath water and keeping the baby. Left Unity has to be rebuilt on a different basis which will give it a cutting edge with Corbo-Republicanism and the next round in the changing relationship between the Scottish and English working class.
This is the perspective which the Republican Socialist Tendency put forward inside Left Unity and was explained in the Republican Socialist general election campaign in Bermondsey. Left Unity must realign itself with Rise in Scotland and support Anti-Unionism against Labour’s left Unionism and social monarchism. And against the Tories “Devolution Revolution” we must put forward a programme of “Democratic Revolution”. Left Unity members can signal a shift by supporting resolution (69) on LU’s response to Corbyn and the Anti-Unionist resolution (68) on self determination for Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The CPGB are opposed to both and are unfortunately part of the problem not the solution.
Regards Steve email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.republicansocialists.org.uk