Communist Platform supporters Jack Conrad and Yassamine Mather proposed the following motion to the Left Unity National Council meeting in Birmingham on February 20. It was overwhelmingly defeated, having received only their votes. On this basis comrades Conrad and Mather announced the dissolution of Communist Platform and our withdrawal from LU.
The CPGB, and Communist Platform supporters, have always thought that the idea dominant in Left Unity that there was a large political space to the left of Labour for a ‘broad party’ on a broadly left-Labourite platform and organisational principles was illusory. Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership election blew up this illusion. Under the circumstances, the only possible future for Left Unity would be to build itself as an instrument of Marxist regroupment, on political and organisational principles which represent a clear alternative to Labourism; and to pose in relation to Labour the question of breaking the system of bans and proscriptions, in order to turn the Labour Party into a united front of the whole workers’ movement.
Since Corbyn’s victory a part of Left Unity’s members, including leading comrades, have ‘voted with their feet to leave LU and join Labour ’. Those who remain have been unwilling to address seriously the complete falsification of their perspective by the events in the Labour Party. It has become increasingly clear that they will never be willing to do so. The rejection of our motion by the NC – in the absence of any alternative proposal for serious rethinking – shows this clearly.
We remain of the view that what is needed is the struggle for a real communist party; and that simply joining Labour as Corbyn supporters or “entryism” is not a sufficient perspective. But the idea that Left Unity can hang on and at some point in the future sweep up disillusioned ex-Corbynistas is nonsense. By its refusal to rethink its perspective when its political analysis was flatly falsified, Left Unity has condemned itself to permanent irrelevance.
Motion for February 20 national council
Left Unity modelled itself on soft left anti-austerity organisations such as Die Linke, Syriza and Podemos. This went hand in hand with claims that the Labour Party was irreformable, had to all intents and purposes become just another capitalist party, etc. The operative conclusion being that there was a wide space on the left of the Labour Party for an organisation committed to the “spirit of 45”.
Because of the victory of Jeremy Corbyn, because of the decision of Momentum to emphasise internal battles and changing the Labour Party, because of the decision of Momentum to bar members of organisations which stand candidates against Labour, it is clear that Left Unity is now hopelessly adrift strategically.
Since the foundation of Left Unity national conferences have voted down motions sponsored by the Communist Platform that in their totality would have provided the vital elements of a Marxist programme. The last national conference roundly rejected the Communist Platform’s perspective of fighting for affiliation to the Labour Party and transforming the Labour Party, ie, into a permanent united front of the working class. The last national conference also soundly rejected moves to reorganise Left Unity so as to base it on the principles of democratic centralism.
At the last national council meeting we were informed that only national conference can alter Left Unity policy. That between conferences the national council exists merely to implement agreed policy (this was in the context of debating our attitude towards the EU referendum, ie, the call for an active boycott was in effect ruled out of order).
Hence, if Left Unity is to have any worthwhile future an emergency national conference must be called as a matter of extreme urgency. The emergency national conference must happen within one month. To ensure the maximum attendance of Left Unity members the emergency conference should be held in London.
There should be three main items on the agenda.
- Labour. The existing attitude towards the Labour Party and Momentum were always mistaken. Fudging on whether or not to stand candidates against Labour is no longer sustainable. Left Unity should join those calling for the Labour Party to change its rules so as to once again allow political parties of the working class to affiliate. Left Unity must commit itself to radically democratising the Labour Party and equipping it with a genuine socialist programme (not a revival of the old Clause 4 state capitalism).
- Organisation. Left Unity must be reorganised on the basis of the principles of democratic centralism: ie, unity in action, freedom of criticism. As part of that the direct election of principal speakers, media officer, national secretary, treasurer, etc, would be ended. National conference would elect the national council and the national council would appoint and replace officers as it sees fit.
- Programme. Left Unity must arm itself with a Marxist programme, ie, something along the lines of the classic minimum-maximum programmes of the German Social Democratic Party, French Workers’ Party, the Russian Social Democratic Party, etc.
On behalf of Communist Platform
Left Unity’s annual conference is looming (November 21/22, London), as is the deadline for conference motions (September 18 – full details here.) We urge LU comrades to submit Communist Platform’s model motion on the Jeremy Corbyn challenge to their branch. In addition, here is a Communist Platform motion to the NC on the organisation of conference – any support you can muster for this would be much appreciated given the tight deadlines:
“1. The National Council is concerned by the decisions of the Standing Orders Committee and Executive Committee to adopt for the November 2015 Conference of Left Unity
(a) A word limit of 500 words for resolutions proposed by branches and members, including proposed changes to the Constitution
(b) A “priorities ballot” of branches, which the website notice falsely asserts is provided for by the LU constitution.
2. The NC considers
(a) That while branches and the proposers of motions should be strongly advised to avoid writing long motions and in particular against long recitals of the evils of present-day society, the effect of imposing a word-limit on motions from branches and individuals, but not on those proposed by this committee or by commissions, is anti-democratic, by preventing alternative proposals to those formulated by the leadership.
(b) That whatever the general merits of a ‘priority ballot’ of branches, the present state of LU branches, the variable frequency of their meetings, and the necessary timetable of a priority ballot, means that a priority ballot for this conference cannot be organised in a way which will have a representative result and democratic legitimacy.
3. The NC therefore:
(i) Reverses the decision of the EC to support these arrangements for the organisation of the conference;
(ii) Strongly urges the Standing Orders Committee to reverse its decision to introduce these arrangements;
(iii) If the Standing Orders Committee does not reverse its decision, will recommend rejection of the Standing Orders Committee’s report on these matters when the Conference meets.
The campaign to elect Jeremy Corbyn as the next leader of the Labour Party has set the political landscape on fire.
We don’t have any illusions that the Labour Party can be transformed into a Communist Party or that it can be “reclaimed” (it was never ours to begin with). But it remains an important site of struggle for communists: “Overcoming Labourism is a central strategic task for communists in Britain”, as it says in the CPGB’s “Theses on the Labour Party”.
The campaign to elect Jeremy Corbyn must be the start of the fight to transform Labour, writes Charles Gradnitzer of Labour Party Marxists in the Weekly Worker.
We urge NfA readers to move the following draft motion in their Left Unity branch/trade union branch (amend as necessary):
“[XY] branch of Left Unity welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s success in securing a place on the ballot for a new Labour leader. We strongly support his campaign as it strengthens the left as a whole.
Left Unity needs a serious discussion on the Labour Party with a view to developing a long-term strategy.”
This motion was agreed by, amongst others, the LU regional committee of Yorkshire & Humberside
Sheffield Left Unity held an interesting meeting on ‘Where now for the left?’ with speakers from TUSC and Left Unity. Video below, report in the Weekly Worker here:
for discussion at the LU national council June 14 2015
Laurie McCauley is a member of Left Unity and the Communist Platform. He was suspended by Manchester branch nearly a year ago. Though there have been vague accusations of “persistently disruptive behaviour” the fact of the matter is that he was suspended because he wrote a critical article in the pages of the Weekly Worker (see ‘What “safe spaces” lead to’ May 15 2014). Continue reading
The complete list of leftwing candidates in May’s general election, with the results they gained. Click here. Continue reading
The steering committee of Communist Platform wishes to publicly make clear its position on recent problems occurring with internal elections in Left Unity. Specifically, one of our candidates, Tina Becker – placed third on our recommended list for the 15 directly elected national council seats, and therefore a comrade we hold in some high esteem – had her candidacy disallowed. This was announced by Chris Hurley, a member of the disputes committee, just before the two-week voting period finally closed. Continue reading
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