Left Unity – the group set up with such hope and optimism – has fallen foul to the same curse that has historically plagued the socialist and far-left of British politics – Sectarianism. The belief that one’s own petty concerns are of more importance than the wider movement and a belief that changing language and one’s own and fellow collaborators consciouness is more important than changing society.
Ken Loach will be joined by Left Unity activists Sharon McCourt and Salman Shaheen below the line. Photograph: Matt Carr/Getty Images
With the Labour Party in crisis, losing its Scottish heartland after campaigning with the Tories in the independence vote, trying to outbid UKIP and agreeing to the Tory’s fiscal strategy i.e. making the poor pay for the banking crisis, it might be thought that this was the ideal chance for a united left.
The Green Party, however radical it sounds, demonstrates in Brighton what Green parties have always done when they have got into power – which is run capitalism and try to sound a little bit more radical. In Germany it was a Green Foreign Minister, Joshka Fischer, who first took German troops into action for the first time since WW2. Not only do Green Parties believe they can green capitalism rather than change it but their attitude is to accept that the State is a neutral instrument of power rather than a means of coercion and repression. Green Parties accept that it neutral whilst making a few tame proposals to reform it. In Brighton, a Green Councillor, Ben Duncan, who responded to a march through by troops by calling them ‘hired killers’ has been the subject of a witch-hunt by both New Labour and the Green Party who have removed him from all committees. Yet what else is an army designed to do but kill? They might sometimes be portrayed as ‘peace keepers’ but their real role is to kill and suppress on behalf of the Crown.
‘The Labour manifesto of 1945 promised ‘a socialist party and proud of it’. The Labour government of ’45 chose not to realise that ambition.’
Yet Left Unity, far from making its voice (does it have one?) heard has engaged in a bout of navel gazing and constitutionalism. Set up with the money of Ken Loach and presided over by Kate Hudson, Andrew Burgin and a few other luminaries of the left, it has repeated the depressing record of the British left’s failures.
In June I resigned from Left Unity since ‘safe spaces’ and ‘intersectionalism’ (yes, what’s that) were more important than bread and butter issues. If ever there was a golden opportunity for the Left it is now. The deeper reasons for the collapse of Left Unity (down from three to two thousand members rather than attaining the five thousand it intended). lie in the collapse of the far-left’s traditional base – the organised working class and the trade unions.
My resignation was mocked by the likes of Andrew Coates who reported it as Tony Greenstein Resigns from Left Unity: World’s Progressives Shaken.
‘Comrade Tony Greenstein’s resignation from Left Unity sent shock waves last month throughout the world progressive, labour, and socialist movement. The news was published in the august pages of the Weekly Worker on the 5th of June.’
People today have not moved to the Right. Rail renationalisation, bankers and their bonuses, multi-nationals avoiding paying tax, attacks on the disabled, bedroom tax, cutting working tax credits, having a much higher minimum wage are just some of the policies where they are to the left of Labour but in the absence of a party that organises the dispossessed and poor, then easy solutions such as blaming migrants, Europe and ‘scroungers’ seem attractive. There is a lesson there for the Left but the likes of the International Socialist Group, whose hotchpotch policies have ruined Left Unity, are unlikely to learn it.