Open Letter to Ken Loach


Dear Ken,


We met briefly after an LU meeting in Balham when we spoke about the Scottish referendum and the need for a Yes vote. You provided me with a statement which we included in the “London Says Yes” rally back in September.


Subsequently with other comrades, I have made tried to shift Left Unity to an anti-Unionist position, so far to no avail. It is absolutely vital that we take a hard line on this. It is not simply a matter for Scotland. If progressive forces in Scotland are not going to be isolated and divided, it is vital that socialists in England step up to the plate.


I, therefore, with support from the Radical Independence Campaign, decided to stand as an anti-Unionist republican socialist in Bermondsey and Old Southwark, the constituency where I have worked for over thirty years and been an active trade unionist. I stood in this constituency at the last election in 2010.


Some asked why I would raise the issue of Scotland and its relationship to England in Bermondsey or any constituency in England. This is to fail to understand how the referendum has changed the political trajectory. But as socialists we should be listening to the working class in Glasgow and Dundee and taking our lead from them.


My decision to stand as an anti Unionist has been fully vindicated by events. No sooner had the election campaign begun than Nicola Sturgeon made an immediate impact not only in Scotland but in England. The fact that one socialist in England takes an Anti-Unionist stance is to be supported and not ignored.


Scotland has become one of the big national issues in the election. The Tories and Liberal Democrats in London like Simon Hughes have come out attacking Scotland for stealing our taxes. Simon Hughes is playing the English chauvinist in trying to raise the spectre of Scotland like UKIP plays the immigration card.


Left Unity has not supported my campaign. It remains wedded to the Union with pro-Union supporters in the majority. English anti-Scottish chauvinism is being stirred up by the Tory press and Westminster politicians. If Left Unity cannot support me on policy grounds they cannot have a ‘Unionist Veto’ against me standing.


The Unionists in Left Unity have tried to prevent me standing but have failed. They backed TUSC which is the main pro-Union British party. Now in the middle of the election battle Socialist Resistance, CPGB and others are planning to expel me.


I am the only candidate in Bermondsey who is a member of Left Unity. I am the only candidate defending the Scottish people against English chauvinism. I am the only candidate in Bermondsey who is openly campaigning as a republican socialist. 


Expelling me is (a) unnecessary and (b) may damage the reputation of Left Unity. I am therefore appealing to you for support in opposing this attempt to expel me. It is unjustifiable both politically and constitutionally. Every party must have people who rebel against the “party line”. How they (or me) are treated is very important if we are really doing politics differently.


In comradeship

Steve Freeman

Parliamentary candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark

28 April 2015



Reply from Ken Loach


Dear Steve,


Thanks for your letter. I’m afraid I can’t support you in standing in the election. I’m certainly not a unionist and a proper debate on the issue would be in order. But it is not sensible to have socialist candidates standing against each other.



Ken Loach


Reply to Ken Loach


Dear Ken,


Thank you for your prompt reply. The election campaign is now over and we await the result. Despite the poor vote, republican socialism will have made real progress in this election.


As you say it is not sensible to have two socialist candidates, if they have the same or nearly the same policies. TUSC and Republican Socialists do not. In any case this is not a principle. For example it we had a semi-racist socialist candidate we would have to stand a socialist alternative. Neither do revolutionary socialists agree to stand down for reformists, although it may be done for tactical reasons.


The Trade Union Socialists, like the Labour Party, are Unionists. I am standing as an Anti-Unionist. The issue is not who should stand down, it is about policy and programme. Working class people have every right to hear there is an alternative to the Unionist Labourism of the TUSC variety even if they reject it.


Now we come to the point of agreement. The most important thing you say is “I’m certainly not a unionist and a proper debate on the issue would be in order”. Of course I recognise you are a friend and ally of the Scottish people and publicly supported a Yes vote. But nine months after the referendum, LU is sitting on the same fence as before. It is Unionist by default or negligence. The Unionists are even more embedded in LU at the highest level.


Left Unity cannot survive as a ‘Pro-Unionist and Anti-Unionist’ party. The battle over Scotland took place in this election. If the Tories win it is because they played to English chauvinism with an Anti-Scottish card. My election campaign was about having the debate about Unionism now and not later. Left Unity has a habit of promising to discuss it later at LU conference and then avoiding it.


The issue of Anti-Unionism will be moved up the agenda and may take place around the issue of whether to expel me or not. I intend to fight any move by Unionists and their allies to expel me and seek the support of the Scottish left.


Steve Freeman

Parliamentary candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark

(Member of Left Unity)

7th May 2012 (2-15am)


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