Sheffield Left Unity: an apology

In my candidate statement for the recent internal Left Unity elections, I made the mistake of including in the list of those who nominated me my own branch, Sheffield Left Unity. In fact, by the close of nominations, the branch had not officially done so, because it had not met for a couple of months over Christmas and the New Year. Continue reading

Statement on the candidacy of Steve Freeman in Bermondsey

Communist Platform statement

1. Steve Freeman has announced that he is a parliamentary candidates in Bermondsey and Old Southwark for the May 7 general election. He is standing as a Republican Socialist. He is therefore opposing Kingsley Abrams, a candidate jointly backed by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Left Unity. Politically this amounts to sabotage. Continue reading

LU needs a special constitutional conference!

Please pass this motion at your branch/committee/caucus – and let us know if it has been passed by sending an email to office @ cpgb.org.uk.

Our constitution is unfit for purpose.The National Council cannot properly function as a leadership. Nor does the Executive Committee provide day to day leadership. Furthermore, the November 2014 rejected the ‘Safer spaces policy’ (Left Unity constitution appendix I).Therefore the National Council will organise a special conference in 2015 to consider amendments and possible constitutional alternatives.

Donate to Left Unity election fund

The Communist Platform is raising money towards Left Unity’s general election campaign. So far five candidates have been selected in key seats. Obviously to run an effective campaign Left Unity will need substantial finances. There is a £20,000 national target (click here to read the details). We are calling upon Communist Platform members to collectively make a contribution towards this target.

(Please note that this link will take you to the CPGB’s Paypal account, from where all money received will be transferred to Left Unity)



Candidates give their answers to our 7 questions

These are the questions posed by the Communist Platform to those standing for the leadership

1. Do you publicly criticise all calls, manifestos and organisations calling for a British withdrawal from the European Union? Will you publicly advocate the programme of establishing working class power throughout Europe?

2. Do you oppose the idea of forming some kind of bloc within Left Unity that includes the social-imperialist Alliance for Workers’ Liberty? Should those who support the pro-Nato government of Petro Poroshenko, who refuse to condemn the 2003 invasion of Iraq or the possibility of an Israeli nuclear strike against Iran, be considered legitimate bloc partners?

3. Do you give priority to Left Unity or the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition? Do you agree that Tusc is a diversionary Labour Party mark II project?

4. Do you support openness and accountability? Do you consider reporting and commenting on Left Unity officers, branches, regions, national council, conferences, etc, perfectly normal and acceptable? Will you publicly condemn the suspension of Laurie McCauley? Do you demand his immediate reinstatement?

5. Do you disassociate yourself from those who resort to violence or threats of violence within the left? Will you insist that anyone found guilty of making such threats issue a public apology, no matter how belatedly?

6. Do you think Left Unity should draw a clear red line between the socialist politics of the working class and the petty bourgeois politics of the Green Party?

7. Do you support the call for a Left Unity constitutional conference in 2015?

In this article in the Weekly Worker, Paul Demarty examines the responses and wonders why many are so reluctant to respond in good faith.

Continue reading

Election statements – regionally elected NC members

Regions

London

1. Daniel Gray (Greenwich and Lewisham)

nominated by Maciej Zurowski (Haringey)

I am standing for the national council because I want to fight for consistent Marxist and working class politics in Left Unity. I’ve been involved in organised left-wing politics since 2008, and have consistently supported internationalism, and a world without countries, money, and wars. I have opposed nationalism in Scotland, both in its loyalist and separatist varieties. I have also opposed all imperialist interventions overseas, whether in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan or Syria today. I have been active in the student movement, involved in campaigns for free speech in universities, the abolition of tuition fees, and against police repression of student protests. I have also been active in opposing deportations and supporting open borders.

I believe the Communist Platform has made an important contribution to Left Unity since that party was founded. The platform has been the most vocal opponent of the rightward and bureaucratic drift of the leadership. This has meant promoting openness in the organisation, as well as a strong commitment to anti-capitalism in its policies. Most recently it has opposed the attempt by the leadership to railroad the members into an “anti-austerity alliance” with the greens and nationalist SNP that we voted against at the last conference. I also think that the constitution of LU is a mess which has made the functioning of the organisation much harder, and facilitated the officers becoming more undemocratic in their practice as time has gone on. We need to call a special conference to fix this.

Syriza’s leadership has already sold-out and decided to impose austerity on the Greeks. Its politics are not a model for us. I think LU needs to be built as a mass and revolutionary working class party. It needs to put Europe at the core of its strategy, so that we can form an international alliance against capitalism with other consistent socialists across the continent.

2. Sarah McDonald (Hackney)

nominated by Hackney and James Turley (Southwark)

I am standing in the London regional elections to the National Council as a supporter of the Communist Platform and have been nominated by Hackney branch of LU. I believe the Communist Platform has made a positive contribution to shaping LU, particular examples being our position on Europe, which I moved and was adopted by the spring conference. This committed LU to opposing all programmes and demands for a British withdrawal from the European Union and to take Europe, not the narrow limits of the nation-state, as the working class’s decisive point of departure. Also, we in the Communist Platform have taken a lead in providing an alternative to the twice rejected ‘Safe Spaces’ document.

I have been active in left politics since the 1990s, both in Scotland and in London. I have fought for Marxist politics in all the projects I have been a part of (these include the Scottish Socialist Alliance, the Scottish Socialist Party, the Socialist Alliance and now Left Unity as well as a variety of campaigns). I am a member of the Communist Platform and of Hackney Left Unity. I am committed to the principles of internationalism; a world without nation states or borders and the free movement of people. I have argued against nationalism and separatism that seeks to divide the working class and have rigorously opposed left illusions in Scottish nationalism for over 15 years. I have consistently opposed all imperialist wars (from Afghanistan and Iraq to present day imperialist interventions) and recognise that war is a product of class society; war and the potential for war will only end with the end of class society itself. I believe that human liberation can only be achieved by a society based on the principle ‘from each according to their ability; to each according to their need’.

I believe that the LU constitution is unfit for purpose. I support the call to radically amend or replace the existing Left Unity constitution. It must be drastically changed or dumped, and a much shorter, simple and easily comprehensible document put in its place and I support the call for a special constitutional conference in 2015. We need democracy, openness, accountability and an effective leadership – something that we clearly do not have at the moment.

3. Emily Orford (Lambeth)

nominated by Moshe Machover (Camden and Islington)

Standing as a supporter of the Communist Platform in Left Unity, I propose we adopt a minimum–maximum programme, which is twofold in its attack.

Firstly it maps out a practical and realistic set of demands for the working class under capitalism in order to achieve a level of consciousness that is needed to challenge the oppressing classes successfully. This includes supporting and championing all oppressed sections of the class, and raising living standards far beyond what the EU promises. It also means unity of the class, and the abolition of national borders with the aim of the creating a united socialist Europe. Secondly, the programme provides a vision of a new society that could exist if capitalism is abolished, a society created by the majority class, which is vital if we are to remain focused on our collective goal.

I see Left Unity’s role in this battle as crucial, for if we are to achieve these demands, the left must establish a coherent counterargument to the neoliberal consensus that exists in Britain’s ruling class today. This must be based on a truly democratically formed programme that is anti-bureaucratic, clear in its message and revolutionary in its aims. The Communist Platform has been an important tendency within Left Unity, especially when providing alternative motions, for example in the case of the safe spaces policy, but also in promoting and defending some of the LU’s best policy stances – eg, on immigration controls, Europe and the wars in the Middle East.

I support the call for a special constitutional conference which will rework the current constitution. The conference is vital if Left Unity aims to practice democracy and accountability successfully as well as allowing the leadership to actually lead.

I have been active in revolutionary politics since 1999, written for various left-wing publications, and I currently work for a radical publishing house in Highgate. I live in Streatham, and am a member of the Lambeth branch of Left Unity.

4. James Turley (Southwark)

nominated by Tom Morley (West London)

I have been active on the left since 2006, taking part in the anti-war movement and the movement against tuition fees of 2010-11. A committed Marxist, I believe that Left Unity should openly proclaim its support of a revolutionary political alternative to capitalist rule, seeking not to manage the system and blunt its edges but overthrow it. Our struggle is an international one, and so we can neither succumb to petty nationalism nor uncritically cheerlead forces such as Syriza who attempt to go it alone. Instead we must positively strive for united working class action and organisation across Europe and throughout the world.

I oppose the recent call for an ‘anti-austerity’ alliance, as it is first of all purely negative (anti-austerity, for what?), and more importantly undermines the desperate need for independent working class politics in an age when the latter has all but disappeared.

I stand for a radical overhaul of Left Unity’s constitution and internal procedures, in order to create an effective leadership for the struggles ahead and a more transparent, meaningful democracy. I am a member of the Communist Platform.

5. Tom Morley (West London)

I am a member of the West London Left Unity branch and the Youth and Students caucus. My first political involvement was during the run up to the undemocratic tuition fees vote of 2010. The experience of that, along with the London riots of 2011, galvanised a belief in the need for a radical alternative to mainstream political culture.

I am deeply committed to the vision of an international, borderless socialism as the only viable alternative to a decaying capitalism. So I am standing as part of the Communist Platform in these LU elections. CP offers the most principled basis upon which LU can build a political voice – democratic, accountable and transparent politics that recognise that the left must inspire masses of people with a vision of the future rather than in chasing after short-term political fads.

The Communist Platform’s contribution to the defeat of the safe spaces policy at last conference was a significant contribution to the party’s future cohesion. Our modest alternative proposals would take LU a step forward again, outlining a basic code of conduct which affords both protection to the well-being of comrades, as well as free speech rights and the rights of critical/dissenting minorities. It received the largest number of votes at the last conference and should be the basis of future discussions.

Much of the LU constitution is presently unfit for purpose and so I support the call for a special constitutional conference to urgently address this weakness. I believe too that we need a leadership able to lead – something our current constitution militates against. We need a leadership that understands that part of its responsibility is to take left politics into the wider world, to argue for them and spread them amongst the working class. Our leadership should not tail existing political bodies but must state its own case, using the well-honed language of our movement, even with those unfamiliar with it, and ignite in people a passion for our politics. I want to see to Left Unity built into a mass party: one that realises the working classes’ potential; one that actually scares the bosses and bourgeois politicians in its aggressive defence of its beliefs; and one that, ultimately, will be able to tip the present status quo in favour of universal human freedom.

6. Simon Wells (Hackney)

nominated by Sarah McDonald (Hackney)

I am a supporter of the Communist Platform, a tendency that has made an important positive contribution to Left Unity since its foundation. We have defended and bolstered LU’s internationalism (eg, on Europe, migration and the Middle East). Where we have opposed policies – such the unfortunate ‘safe spaces’ proposals – we have offered positive alternatives, such as the ‘code of conduct’, which won the largest number of votes at the last LU conference.

I think the Communist Platform’s call for a special constitutional conference should be supported. The LU constitution adopted at the founding conference just does not work. It doesn’t give us the space and mechanisms to properly discuss issues as opposed to just voting on them in big meetings with overcrowded agendas. We also need a leadership that has the time and space to actually lead.

More generally, the Communist Platform offers a strategic alternative to the present course of the LU – ie, we defend the political principles of Marxism:
that the emancipation of humanity in general, male, female, etc, and of all races or nationalities, can only come through the emancipation of the working class;
that the emancipation of the working class requires a struggle for radical democracy as an alternative to the present bureaucratic-hierarchical state, and the practice as far as possible of radical democracy in workers’ organisations;
and that the working class can only emancipate itself by common action on an international scale, implying rejection of loyalty to the nation-state and of all forms of ‘left nationalism’ whether Scots, English or UK-anian.

This is the perspective I would fight for if elected to the National Council of Left Unity.

7. Maciej Zurowski (Haringey)

nominated by Tom Morley (West London)

As a member of Left Unity’s Communist Platform, I am committed to the liberation of all human beings. I believe this goal can only be achieved through an international revolution lead by the working class, which has the unique historical chance to abolish all classes, not least itself.

I became politicised with the onset of the global economic crisis in late 2008. My initial reason to join the communist movement was my desire for a world in which our lives and relationships would no longer be dominated and destroyed by money.
Since then, I have been active in the CPGB, Haringey Housing Action Group, Labour Party, National Union of Journalists, and Haringey Left Unity. I also write for the CPGB’s Weekly Worker. As a translator working in English, Polish and German, I specialise in political and historical translations.

I am especially interested in finding ways to politicise those sections of the working class that do not fit the ‘middle aged, unionised, public sector worker’ description and win them to partyism and communism. Although the latter demographic is overrepresented on the left, this hardly reflects  the full reality of today’s and tomorrow’s working class.

Many of us are young, hail from a variety of national and cultural backgrounds, work in low-paid or casual jobs with no union representation, and have low political class consciousness. Communists need to address this challenge sooner rather than later.

I am standing as part of the Communist Platform list and support the platform’s call for a special conference to replace Left Unity’s unworkable constitution. Furthermore, I will make every effort to help our party become a battering ram of the working class and a step towards our goal of a stateless, classless, and moneyless world.

8. Moshe Machover (Camden and Islington)

nominated by Yassamine Mather (West London)

I have been active in left politics in Israel since 1953 and in this country since 1968. I am a founding member of Left Unity and a member of the Camden & Islington (London) branch.

For further biographical details, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moshe_machover
I am an independent member of the Communist Platform and am listed as one of its candidates.

For a statement of our platform, to which I subscribe, see http://communistplatform.org.uk/platform/

I also support the call for a special conference of Left Unity, to replace our present unwieldy constitution by a simpler and workable one.

Following decades of defeats, the radical left has internalized a defeatist attitude; we have been reduced to fighting defensively, struggling to repulse attacks by the capitalist ruling class on the rights and living conditions of the working class and the poor. Many of us have hesitated to put forward a long-term vision of an alternative society, for fear the broad masses – cowed and brainwashed – would be turned off by what they have been conditioned to regard as “extremism”.

But I believe that the recent profound crisis of global capitalism has made a great difference in what the majority of ordinary people feel, and has made them potentially receptive to bold ideas. Capitalism is seen to be not only unjust but also unsound and unworkable. In these circumstances it would be remiss of us on the radical left to adopt a defensive stance. We must dare to be bold and proactive in the ideas we openly promote.

Of course, we must continue the daily struggle against the iniquities of the existing system: defend workers’ rights and living standards, resist onslaughts on public services such as education and the NHS. We must also fight sexism and racism, and promote the rights of women, racial and ethnic minorities, and people of LGBT sexual orientations.

All this is absolutely necessary; but it is not sufficient. While being in the lead in these present struggles we have to lead from the front in promoting revolutionary internationalist ideas, which give these struggles a greater meaning and inspires them. We must have the courage to speak what we feel, not what we “ought” to say. Capitalism cannot be mended; it must and can be replaced by a truly democratic society, in which democracy extends to all spheres of social life. This includes the economic sphere, which today is ruled by a combination of the micro-tyranny of private property over the means of production and the macro-anarchy of market “forces”. We should uphold and promote the vision of communism.

9. Phil Railston (Haringey)

nominated by Simon Well

Election statements – 15 nationally elected NC members

1. Yassamine Mather (West London)

Nominated by Moshe Machover (Camden and Islington)

I am standing in LU elections as a supporter of the Communist Platform. Over the last few years, as inequality has widened the prevailing strategy of the left has been to slide further to the right, putting forward what it consider to be ‘acceptable’, ‘moderate’ policies.

The Labour Party re-invented itself in the mid-90s as a successful business-friendly bourgeois workers’ party, whilst the bulk of those to the left of Labour, and the soft left in general, favour either a mixed economy or a Keynesian managed economy. The left therefore presents itself in moderate and ‘people-friendly’ terms, whilst ditching ‘problematic’ commitments essential for the transformation of society concerning the state, the army, the judiciary and the monarchy. In this sense, capitalism has won, helped by the fall of the Soviet Union, and the collapse of social democracy into a rightwing, pro-business agenda.

All this compels us to be ambitious: I propose the ‘impossible’ not because I am mad, but because I am a realist. Being a realist today means seeing that any kind of left-Labour or Keynesian programme is unworkable. However , getting people to accept these realities means confronting head on the reasons behind them: the disastrous attempts to build socialism in the past, the ‘workers states’ descending into the violence of the gulags and control by a bureaucratic elite.

So one of the most important tasks of Left Unity should be vigorously reassert an inspiring vision of what the future could look like – a society organised on the principle of ‘From each according to their abilities; to each according to their needs’. Communism, in other words.

The type of society we aim for also shapes the sort of party we need to win it.

LU should therefore:
• Fight for the principled unity of Marxists in a democratically organised party;
• Develop a wider struggle for the democratisation of the workers’ movement – transparency at every level; trade union officials on an average workers’ wage, etc.
• Launch a wider social battle for democracy – eg, abolish the monarchy and the house of lords; disband MI5 and the entire secret state apparatus; for a federal republic of England, Wales and Scotland.
• Aim for a mass party of millions, with transparency and democratic at every level, organised with the aim of overthrowing capitalist rule – peacefully if we can, forcibly if we must.

If elected, this is the perspective I would fight for.

Yassamine Mather is an Iranian socialist living in Britain. Her political activities on the Iranian left started in 1980s Tehran and later in Kurdistan. In exile, she has been on the editorial board of the monthly journal Jahan . She is also a member of the Centre for Socialist Theory and Movements (Glasgow University) and the deputy editor of the journal Critique. Since 2007 she has been active in Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI).

2. Jack Conrad (Camden and Islington)

Nominated by Tina Becker (Sheffield)

I am a member of Camden and Islington Left Unity and have been active in politics since the late 1960s. Over the years I have authored a number of books and have written many articles for the Weekly Worker. My record is principled and well known.

Capitalism and its war, economic crises and ecological degradation pose an ever present threat to humanity. The system cannot be returned to some supposed Keynesian golden age. An illusion. No, through winning the battle for democracy, the capitalist system must be superseded and replaced by a stateless, moneyless system based on the principle of need.

I am proud to be standing as part of the Communist Platform list. We are putting forward a total of 15 candidates for the National Council elections. I would urge Left Unity members to vote for them all in the order our Steering Committee has recommended.

The Communist Platform has played an important and constructive role in Left Unity. We have defended its good political positions, ie, standing against imperialist wars and further ‘humanitarian’ interventions. We have also fearlessly criticised where we think it necessary. Our alternative to the so-called ‘safer spaces’ policy gained the highest number of votes at the November 2014 national conference.

We believe the Left Unity constitution is unfit for purpose. I certainly support the call for a special constitutional conference in 2015. We need democracy, openness and accountability.

Left Unity also needs a leadership that can lead. As is widely recognised, at present the National Council cannot do that. Because of this we lack a clear sighted strategy. Nor are we able to properly respond to the latest political developments.

I will do my upmost to ensure that Left Unity is equipped with an effective leadership.

British nationalism including in its ‘left’ forms must be opposed. I unequivocally support Left Unity’s call for open borders and the international unity of the working class.

I want to see Left Unity built into a mass, working class party. A party that takes Europe as its decisive point of departure.

3. Tina Becker (Sheffield)

Nominated by Sheffield and Jack Conrad (Camden and Islington)

I am chair of Sheffield Left Unity branch and have been active in left-wing politics since the age of 17. I have been living in Britain since 1997 and strongly believe in the fight for a world without borders, states, money and war.

For example, I was heavily involved in the European Social Forum as a way to build strong international links with other socialists and communists across Europe, arguing for a working class party of the European Union. While our enemy is uniting on an ever higher level, our own forces remain woefully divided.

The experience of the ESF has taught me not only the importance of internationalism on the highest possible level, but also the need to openly debate the notorious “five percent” that supposedly divide the left. We should not sweep our differences under the carpet and pretend they don’t exist. Quite the opposite, I believe political differences are healthy in a mass organisation. After all, there exist all sorts of different ideas within the working class – we cannot win people over if we ask them to hide their differences or simply ‘follow the leader’. I believe that open, honest debate and transparent, democratic decision-making in front of the working class are of absolute importance, which is why I support the Weekly Worker.

I am standing as part of the Communist Platform list. We are putting forward a total of 15 candidates for the National Council elections. I would urge Left Unity members to vote for them all in the order our steering committee has recommended. The CP has made an important contribution to shaping Left Unity, for example in providing an alternative to the “safe spaces” policy, which gained a majority of votes at the November 2014 conference.

I believe the overly long and complex LU constitution is not fit for purpose. We need democracy, openness and accountability. We also need a leadership that can lead. Neither the EC, nor the NC or the “named officers” are currently capable of doing it. Not only are they lacking a clear political strategy, the political and organisational remit under which they operate isn’t clear even to those committees themselves. I therefore support the call for a special constitutional conference.

I am committed to building Left Unity as a mass working class party that openly seeks to bring about the end of capitalism and its replacement by the rule of the working class and, ultimately, human freedom.

I work as a foreign correspondent, am a member of the NUJ and its German sister union Ver.di and am also a member of Die Linke in Germany.

4. Chris Cassells (Glasgow South)

Nominated by Glasgow South

I have supported Left Unity since its inception and am an active member of the Glasgow South branch and a member of the interim Scottish Committee.

I have worked on a number of campaigns in Glasgow – as a student at Glasgow University I was involved in the successful campaign to elect Edward Snowden as Rector – and am currently involved in building the Greece Solidarity Campaign in Glasgow. I have also been actively working to get the Scottish Committee up and running and am now involved in the committee’s efforts to build branches in Edinburgh and Dundee.

Social democracy has failed and the current capitalist crisis will not be solved by a return to Keynesian reformism or a collapse into left-nationalism: the stark choice facing the working class the world over is socialism or barbarism. I believe that Left Unity must pose a socialist alternative which goes beyond opposition to cuts, working with others on the Left to build a European working class movement against austerity, against capitalism and for international socialism.

I was a signatory of the Socialist Platform prior to the founding conference and support the Independent Socialist Network.

5. Toby Abse

Nominated by Greenwich and Lewisham LU

I am standing for re-election to the National Council because I not only think it is important that the current of opinion originally associated with the Socialist Platform at our founding conference continues to be represented on the NC but also because I am very concerned at the direction in which our current leadership is taking LU. When I joined LU, I had assumed that it would make a serious electoral challenge in the European elections of 2014, which in the event we ignored, as well as in council elections and parliamentary elections. Whilst we should campaign on a variety of issues including housing and the NHS, as well as international questions such as solidarity with Greece, the only way we can get our message across to the broad mass of people at a time when strike activity is at a low ebb and turnout on demonstrations frequently poor, is through participating in the electoral process. We have abysmally failed to do this with any seriousness. Outside Wigan, we have only contested about half a dozen council wards and it currently looks as if we may well be fielding only a handful of candidates at the general election. More recently our officers have in effect at best given a blank cheque to the Green Party in the general election in every seat where we are not standing ourselves; at worst they may be giving a blank cheque in Scotland to the SNP, a pro-NATO party that supported the Falklands War and strongly identifies itself with the Scottish regiments of the British army as well as implementing neo-liberal austerity at the local government and Scottish parliament levels and taking money from the union busting homophobe Souter. We can not take ‘ anti-austerity’ proclamations by bourgeois or petty bourgeois parties at face value but instead we must judge them by their acts ( in the Greens’ case their councillors’ behaviour in Brighton, Lewisham, Leeds and Bristol shows a willingness to implement anti working class austerity and cuts). Whilst I believe that the federal model of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition , mechanically based on the early Labour Party, is the wrong way of organising, since it excludes individual socialists from membership of a party, it was a mistake not to reach a broad national agreement with the force standing around 100 candidates in the general election on an ambiguous anti-austerity platform. Given the way that anti-cuts councillors breaking with the Labour Party over austerity, such as Kingsley Abrams, have gravitated to TUSC rather than to LU, we now need to acknowledge that the road to a British Syriza will involve some rapprochement with the best elements of TUSC as well as smaller groupings with some history of electoral work such as Lewisham People Before Profit and the Alliance for Green Socialism. I did not join LU to be a bag carrier for the Green Party –if I want to campaign for Green MPs, I would have joined the Greens.

6. Moshe Machover (Camden and Islington)

Nominated by Mike McNair (Oxford)

I have been active in left politics in Israel since 1953 and in this country since 1968. I am a founding member of Left Unity and a member of the Camden & Islington (London) branch.

For further biographical details, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moshe_machover

I am an independent member of the Communist Platform and am listed as one of its candidates.
For a statement of our platform, to which I subscribe, see http://communistplatform.org.uk/platform/

I also support the call for a special conference of Left Unity, to replace our present unwieldy constitution by a simpler and workable one.

Following decades of defeats, the radical left has internalized a defeatist attitude; we have been reduced to fighting defensively, struggling to repulse attacks by the capitalist ruling class on the rights and living conditions of the working class and the poor. Many of us have hesitated to put forward a long-term vision of an alternative society, for fear the broad masses – cowed and brainwashed – would be turned off by what they have been conditioned to regard as “extremism”.

But I believe that the recent profound crisis of global capitalism has made a great difference in what the majority of ordinary people feel, and has made them potentially receptive to bold ideas. Capitalism is seen to be not only unjust but also unsound and unworkable. In these circumstances it would be remiss of us on the radical left to adopt a defensive stance. We must dare to be bold and proactive in the ideas we openly promote.

Of course, we must continue the daily struggle against the iniquities of the existing system: defend workers’ rights and living standards, resist onslaughts on public services such as education and the NHS. We must also fight sexism and racism, and promote the rights of women, racial and ethnic minorities, and people of LGBT sexual orientations.

All this is absolutely necessary; but it is not sufficient. While being in the lead in these present struggles we have to lead from the front in promoting revolutionary internationalist ideas, which give these struggles a greater meaning and inspires them. We must have the courage to speak what we feel, not what we “ought” to say. Capitalism cannot be mended; it must and can be replaced by a truly democratic society, in which democracy extends to all spheres of social life. This includes the economic sphere, which today is ruled by a combination of the micro-tyranny of private property over the means of production and the macro-anarchy of market “forces”. We should uphold and promote the vision of communism.

7. Mike Macnair (Oxford)

Nominated by Dave Isaacson (Milton Keynes)

I am a member of Oxford LU and participated in its work while it was still meeting. I have been active on the radical left since the early 1970s. I co-authored with Jamie Gough Gay Liberation in the 80s(1985) and am author of Revolutionary Strategy (2008) and of numerous articles in the Weekly Worker.

I am standing as a supporter of the Communist Platform. The Communist Platform offers a strategic alternative to the course of the present leadership of LU. Our alternative is founded on the elementary political principles of Marxism:
• that the emancipation of humanity in general, male, female, etc, and of all races or nationalities, can only come through the emancipation of the working class;
• that the emancipation of the working class requires a struggle for radical democracy as an alternative to the present bureaucratic-hierarchical state, and the practice as far as possible of radical democracy in workers’ organisations;
• and that the working class can only emancipate itself by common action on an international scale, implying rejection of loyalty to the nation-state and of all forms of ‘left nationalism’ whether Scots, English or UK-anian.

Communist Platform have made a significant constructive contribution to Left Unity, defending the strengths of the party’s internationalism (for example on Europe, on migration and on the middle east wars); and at the same time offering positive alternatives to mistaken ideas, for example on ‘Safe Spaces’.

I support the call for a special constitutional conference. I have personally argued from the outset that the LU constitution adopted at the founding conference is unworkable. We need democracy, openness and accountability, and the space and mechanisms to discuss issues as well as merely voting on them on overcrowded agendas. We also need a leadership that can lead.

8. Dave Isaacson (Milton Keynes)

Nominated by Peter Manson (Greenwich and Lewisham)

I am a supporter of Left Unity’s Communist Platform. I have been a member of Left Unity from the start and was delegated by my branch (Milton Keynes) to be on the National Coordinating Group which existed prior to our founding conference. In Milton Keynes we have built a branch where both experienced and new political activists with a range of political backgrounds work effectively together. This year we are standing a candidate from our branch in the local elections in a campaign which will raise the flag of socialism in the local area.

Left Unity has made some important advances at the national level since its foundation, not least the adoption of some sound socialist policy positions on subjects such as Europe, migration, housing and the environment. Unlike others on the left such as TUSC we are unequivocal in our support for the free movement of people across the world.

But Left Unity is not without its problems. Many members have been frustrated in various ways by our cumbersome constitution. Our leadership cannot operate as effectively as it needs to and in many ways the constitution negates the democratic input of members. This is why I support the call from Communist Platform for a special conference so that we can review this question fully and discuss amendments or alternatives. We need a much shorter and clearer constitution that focuses on democracy, openness and accountability as well as enabling a leadership to actually lead. Then we can more effectively go about building a mass socialist party fighting for human liberation and the abolition of class society.

Such a party needs to be based upon a programme for working class emancipation. This is something I will fight for and it is something we need to win real left unity around. The recent ‘Appeal for an alliance against austerity’ by the national officers takes us in a different direction – that of supporting candidates from non-working class political formations in the elections. This is something I oppose. We cannot take anti-austerity promises from the Greens seriously. Their actions in local government make this all too clear, as does their stance on supporting potential Labour cuts budgets through a confidence and supply agreement. We should be using the upcoming elections to promote socialist politics, not sow illusions in non-working class politics.

9. Sarah McDonald (Hackney)

Nominated by Robert Eagleton (Birmingham)

I have been active in left politics since the 1990s, both in Scotland and in London. I have fought for Marxist politics in all the projects I have been a part of (these include the Scottish Socialist Alliance, the Scottish Socialist Party, the Socialist Alliance and now Left Unity as well as a variety of campaigns). I am a member of the Communist Platform and of Hackney Left Unity. I am committed to the principles of internationalism; a world without nation states or borders and the free movement of people. I have argued against nationalism and separatism that seeks to divide the working class and have rigorously opposed left illusions in Scottish nationalism for over 15 years. I have consistently opposed all imperialist wars (from Afghanistan and Iraq to present day imperialist interventions) and recognise that war is a product of class society; war and the potential for war will only end with the end of class society itself. I believe that human liberation can only be achieved by a society based on the principle ‘from each according to their ability; to each according to their need’.

I am standing for election to the National Council as part of the Communist Platform list (directly elected and London region) and have been nominated to by Hackney branch of LU for the London Regional electoral list to NC. I believe the Communist Platform has made a positive contribution to shaping LU, particular examples being our position on Europe, which I moved and was adopted by the spring conference This committed LU to opposing all programmes and demands for a British withdrawal from the European Union and to take Europe, not the narrow limits of the nation-state, as the working class’s decisive point of departure. Also, we in the Communist Platform have taken a lead in providing an alternative to the twice rejected ‘Safe Spaces’ document.

I believe that the LU constitution is unfit for purpose. I support the call to radically amend or replace the existing Left Unity constitution. It must be drastically changed or dumped, and a much shorter, simple and easily comprehensible document put in its place and I support the call for a special constitutional conference in 2015. We need democracy, openness, accountability and an effective leadership – something that we clearly do not have at the moment.

10. Robert Eagleton (Birmingham)

Nominated by Lee Rock (Sheffield)

I am standing as a supporter of the Communist Platform in this year’s internal elections.

I have been involved in politics since the age of fifteen, I am now nineteen, and I am a founding member of Left Unity. I have been building our Party since its inception in November 2013 and I have been to every single national conference. I was a founder of both the Preston Left Unity Branch, and the Birmingham Youth and Student Caucus, and I currently serve on the steering committee of the Caucus. I am also in the process of setting up a Left Unity Student Society at my university.

My politics are drawn from the works of Marx and Lenin and I am a communist. I am against all imperialist wars, I am for a world without borders, and I am for a stateless and classless society. I am a firm believer in Internationalism and do not believe socialism can be achieved in one country alone. I believe Left Unity must be committed to a radical programme of policies and that we should not water down our core beliefs.

Communist Platform comrades have played a vital role in shaping Party policy. For example, at the last conference I a made speech against the proposed ‘safer spaces’ policy, which contributed to it being rejected. Rather than relying on an ambiguous and over-complicated policy document, Left Unity needs a simple and straightforward code of conduct. This would allow members collectively, and democratically, to determine what constitutes unacceptable behaviour in our ranks. The Communist Platform’s proposed code of conduct received the largest number of votes at this conference and should form the basis for subsequent discussions.

Left Unity should become a mass working class party, organised on a European level, with a programme to overcome capitalism and create a new society of human freedom based on the principle, ‘From each according to their ability, to each according to their need’. For this, we need to be transparent, democratic, and able to hold the leadership to account. Thus, we must radically change, or replace ,our over-elaborate constitution and I support the Communist Platform’s call for a special conference for this. The current constitution is not fit for purpose and has to be ignored daily just to ensure the party is able to function at all.

11. Lee Rock (Sheffield)

Nominated by Daniel Gray (Greenwich and Lewisham)

I am an active Left Unity member based in the North of England.

I firmly believe that Left Unity needs to be part of building an alternative, not just to the present political parties, but to the capitalist system as a whole.

I support the building of a socialist party that recognises the key role the working class must play to fundamentally change society. It is for this reason that I oppose the efforts of some within Left Unity to support the Green Party.

Our task is a difficult one. We need to win people to a vision of a better society. A society where the working class determine the priorities and distribution of production. A society where no-one starves or is homeless. A society where national divisions are a thing of the past. A society where people can truly express themselves as humans. A society where democracy is key and minority views can be fully expressed.

I stand in the political tradition of the Paris Commune and the Russian Revolution. I have my entire adult life opposed Stalinism – a political practice that has nothing to do with socialism and democracy.

I do not believe that socialism can be achieved via parliament. The ruling class will never allow their position to be abolished via a vote. Standing our own Left Unity candidates for parliament and local councils should be seen as part of getting our messages heard and to support those in struggle.

I oppose the downgrading of class struggle through identity politics and the misuse of ‘safe spaces’ policies.

I believe in the need to unite the revolutionary left into one organisation on the basis of Marxist politics.

I support the call for a Special Constitutional Conference of Left Unity as I believe our present constitution is not fit for purpose.

I am seeking your votes as an independent member of the Communist Platform of Left Unity.

I have been involved in all the recent attempts to build a left alternative: The Socialist Labour Party; the Socialist Alliance; and RESPECT.

On a personal note, I have been a union rep since I started work over 28 years ago. I am presently an elected Assistant Branch Secretary. I have previously been an elected Branch Secretary for over 15 years and an elected union Regional Organiser for 10 years.

I am presently fighting my victimisation dismissal. A dismissal that resulted in strike action from over 200 work colleagues in my defence.

I have been involved in left politics now for 30 years. I have the experience to represent views of members and to confidently present my own views as outlined above if elected.

12. Peter Manson (Greenwich and Lewisham)

Nominated by Greenwich and Lewisham and Mark Lewis (Swansea)

I am a supporter of Left Unity’s Communist Platform and the editor of the Weekly Worker. I first became involved in left politics as a student, joining the Communist Party in 1969, and from LU’s founding have been a member of Greenwich and Lewisham branch, which is supporting my nomination.

I am proud of the contribution of the Communist Platform to Left Unity: for example, the CP’s drafting of an alternative to the well-meaning, but totally misplaced, ‘safer spaces’ policy – our proposed code of conduct received the support of the largest bloc of support from members at the November conference.

We in the CP believe the LU constitution is unfit for purpose and are calling for a special conference to adopt a simpler, more effective replacement. We need democracy, openness and accountability – and a leadership that can lead. We want to see LU transformed into a mass working class party that, taking Europe as our decisive point of departure, takes the lead in finally getting rid of capitalism.

Left Unity should campaign openly for a totally new society based on the rule of the working class. While we must fight for reforms in the here and now, the ultimate aim must not be a fairer, more worker-friendly form of capitalism here in Britain, but a moneyless, classless, stateless society throughout the world: human freedom.

13. Daniel Gray (Greenwich and Lewisham)

Nominated by Maciej Zurowski

I am standing for the national council because I want to fight for consistent Marxist and working class politics in Left Unity. I’ve been involved in organised left-wing politics since 2008, and have consistently supported internationalism, and a world without countries, money, and wars. I have opposed nationalism in Scotland, both in its loyalist and separatist varieties. I have also opposed all imperialist interventions overseas, whether in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan or Syria today. I have been active in the student movement, involved in campaigns for free speech in universities, the abolition of tuition fees, and against police repression of student protests. I have also been active in opposing deportations and supporting open borders.

I believe the Communist Platform has made an important contribution to Left Unity since that party was founded. The platform has been the most vocal opponent of the rightward and bureaucratic drift of the leadership. This has meant promoting openness in the organisation, as well as a strong commitment to anti-capitalism in its policies. Most recently it has opposed the attempt by the leadership to railroad the members into an “anti-austerity alliance” with the greens and nationalist SNP that we voted against at the last conference. I also think that the constitution of LU is a mess which has made the functioning of the organisation much harder, and facilitated the officers becoming more undemocratic in their practice as time has gone on. We need to call a special conference to fix this.

Syriza’s leadership has already sold-out and decided to impose austerity on the Greeks. Its politics are not a model for us. I think LU needs to be built as a mass and revolutionary working class party. It needs to put Europe at the core of its strategy, so that we can form an international alliance against capitalism with other consistent socialists across the continent.

14. Maciej Zurowski (Haringey)

Nominated by Peter Manson (Greenwich and Lewisham)

As a member of Left Unity’s Communist Platform, I am committed to the liberation of all human beings. I believe this goal can only be achieved through an international revolution lead by the working class, which has the unique historic chance to abolish all classes, not least itself.

I support all reforms which improve our living conditions. However, I believe that the most meaningful reforms are those which pave our way towards ending the insanity and degradation of capitalism for good. As we have seen in Greece, ‘national salvation’ governments are soon put in their place by international capital. Hence, I believe that we must operate at a European level and without any regard for existing constitutional frameworks. In other words, we need a long term strategy that is radically different from Syriza’s.

I became politicised with the onset of the global economic crisis in late 2008. My initial reason to join the communist movement was my desire for a world in which our lives and relationships would no longer be dominated or destroyed by money.

Since then, I have been active in the CPGB, Haringey Housing Action Group, National Union of Journalists, Labour Party, and campaigns such as Hands Off The People Of Iran. I also write for the Weekly Worker. As a translator working in English, Polish and German, I specialise in political and historical translations.

I am standing as part of the Communist Platform list and support the platform’s call for a special conference to replace Left Unity’s unworkable constitution. If elected, I will make every effort to help our party become a battering ram of the working class and a step towards our goal of a stateless, classless, borderless, and moneyless world.

15. Mark Lewis (Swansea)

Nominated by Steve Cooke (Teesside)

I have been politically active on the left and in the workers’ movement since the mid-1970s and am currently on the leadership of the campaigning organisation, Hands Off the People of Iran.

I support the Communist Platform and back its call for the convening of a special conference to radically amend or replace the existing Left Unity constitution. This constitution is ‘not fit for purpose’. It must be drastically changed or dumped, and a much shorter, simple and easily comprehensible document put in its place. We need democracy, openness, accountability and a leadership that is actually able to lead day-to-day – something our current constitution militates against.

Communist Platform has made a real constructive contribution to Left Unity. We have defended the strengths of the party’s internationalism (eg, Europe, migration and the Middle East wars). At the same time, we have offered positive alternatives to well-meaning, but mistaken ideas, for example on ‘Safe Spaces’.

We are in a general period of defeats for the working class and progressive movement. Today, the notion of revolutionary change, of globally organising society on the basis of human need, has been deeply discredited by the betrayals of social democracy and the barbaric regimes of Stalinism. So one of the most important tasks of Left Unity should be reassert an inspiring vision of what the future could look like – a society organised on the principle of ‘From each according to their abilities; to each according to their needs’. Communism, in other words.

Making this vision a central element of LU’s message can actually give us a programmatic framework that can bring together and harmonise our day-to-day work in the many different fields our comrades are active in. The type of society we aim for also shapes the sort of party we need to win it.

LU should therefore:
• Fight for the principled unity of Marxists in a democratically organised party;
• Fight for the democratisation of the workers’ movement – transparency at every level; trade union officials on an average workers’ wage, etc.
• Launch a wider social battle for democracy – eg, abolish the monarchy and the house of lords; disband MI5 and the entire secret state apparatus; for a federal republic of England, Wales and Scotland.
• Aim for a mass party of millions, that – taking Europe as our decisive point of departure – leads the fight to finally end capitalism and win human freedom.

If elected, this is the perspective I would fight for.

 

 

LU internal elections: voting recommendation

Communist Platform is putting forward candidates in the current Left Unity elections, and supporting others from outside our ranks. We urge all LU comrades to vote in the following order of preference when it comes to the 15 directly elected members of the National Committee. (And to encourage others to do the same!) Click here for their election statements.

1. Yassamine Mather
2. Jack Conrad
3. Tina Becker
4. Chris Cassells
5. Toby Abse
6. Moshé Machover
7. Mike Macnair
8. David Isaacson
9. Sarah McDonald
10. Robert Eagleton
11. Lee Rock
12. Peter Manson
13. Daniel Gray
14. Maciej Zurowski
15. Mark Lewis Continue reading

Protest against the rightwing coup in Left Unity!

On February 12 the national officers of Left Unity issued an unconstitutional ‘Appeal for an alliance against austerity’, which commits LU to “support any candidate, whether they are from the Greens, the Labour left or a smaller party committed to equality, who states clearly that they will never vote for austerity and whose record leads us to believe that they are sincere”. Continue reading