Programme first

Programme first

It was good to read Tony Greenstein (Weekly Worker 17 December 2015) promoting my campaign for anti-unionist republicanism in the 2015 Bermondsey election “as a considerable rebellion against the conservative monarchical forces of Left Unity” and comparing it with James Connolly’s Easter uprising against the British state.

With such high but, may I say with all due modesty, undeserved praise I have decided to offer Tony the job as my spin doctor to continue his good work. But I think he should reference Captain America and Iron Man to fully capture the scale of my heroic deeds. Alistair Campbell eat your heart out!

Even so, it doesn’t seem right to compare Connolly’s Irish Socialist Republican Party and Citizens army in their rebellion against the United Kingdom with an election campaign which identified Left Unity as hardly republican and certainly not anti-unionist. The argument with Left Unity is not about the tactics of standing in elections versus armed uprisings. It is all about programme.

In 1916 the Labour Party programme was neither republican nor anti-unionist and supported imperialists wars. Connolly stood for the opposite. A river of blood divided these two positions. In 2016 the Labour Party remains committed to the UK constitution based on the monarchy and the union and has continued to back imperialist wars, despite the election of Corbyn and the over-excitement of the Trotskyist left.

My point about Left Unity and the CPGB’s communist platform is not that they should organise an armed uprising anytime soon, but rather that LU has no future unless it changes its programme and becomes an anti-unionist republican socialist party. Then, and only then, will LU be in a position to relate to Rise (Scottish left alliance). Then and only then will it place its relations with the Corbyn movement in England and Wales on a solid basis. LU will become a party with its own distinct democratic political objectives and not seem like some Corbyn groupee hanging around the stage door hoping for a sprinkle of star dust.

Tony makes one revealing gaff. He says that “when the political debate in this country (Peter please put “country” in italics) is focused on the battle between left and right within the Labour Party” Left Unity is finished. (“their day has long gone”). But what is meant by “this country”? Does he mean the UK, Britain or England (and Wales)? Scotland has different politics which I highlighted in Bermondsey. (As he missed the key point in my election campaign, he just lost the job as my spin doctor!)

However Tony does make a telling point that the CPGB is in a contradictory position over Labour and Left Unity by trying to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Programme must come before tactics. Which side of the river of blood should socialists stand, on the right bank with Kier Hardie and Ramsey McDonald’s Labourism or the left bank with James Connolly’s anti-unionist republican programme. No contest.

Steve Freeman

Left Unity and Rise

This article is a response to a letter from Tony Greenstein in Weekly Worker 1087. You can see it from this link. It is the second letter.



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