Election statements for the Left Unity leadership (updated)

We have put forward a full slate of candidates in this election to demonstrate that the left opposition within Left Unity offers a serious revolutionary alternative to the reformist, non-class conscious approach of LU’s current leadership who seek compromise with bourgeois, anti-working class forces. We mean business about achieving socialist revolution and we present to you a team of working class activists, communist militants, who will work with you, the membership, to switch LU away from the reformists’ ‘Old Labourist’ agenda in favour of a programme for proletarian revolution.

Members of LU should have received details on how to vote, and have until 24th March to do so. If you have not received such an email please contact the LU office. We recommend that in this single-transferable-vote ballot members vote for candidates in the order stated below.

  1. Yassamine Mather
  2. Jack Conrad
  3. Moshé Machover
  4. Ian Donovan
  5. Mike Macnair
  6. Lee Rock
  7. Peter Manson
  8. James Turley
  9. Tina Becker
  10. Sarah McDonald
  11. Emily Chaplin
  12. Daniel Gray
  13. Maciej Zurowski
  14. Robert Eagleton

Communist Platform is recommending that the 15th preference is given to Pete McLaren. We are also calling for a vote for Dave Stockton in the London regional section.

Yassamine Mather

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.

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 and a member of the coordinating committee of Workers Left Unity Iran. 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).

Jack Conrad

As a supporter of the Communist Platform, I am standing for the national council in order to Left Unity as a socialist party, a party that seeks to bring about the end of capitalism and its replacement by the rule of the working class. For me socialism will see the means of production pass back into common ownership. My ultimate aim is a society based on the principle of ‘From each according to their abilities; to each according to their needs’. A moneyless, classless, stateless society within which each individual can develop their fullest individuality.

I believe that the rule of the working class requires a state to defend itself , but a state that is withering away, a partial-state.

Socialism and democracy are inseparable. Democracy is not just about casting votes. It is a process of the constant forming of ideas, and taking and carrying out decisions. Hence the need for the entire population to exercise control over every sphere of social life: the state and politics, work and the economy, international relations, etc. Without open discussion as a norm and the right to form platforms and oppositions democracy can only be formal.

I reject the idea that the undemocratic regimes that existed in the former Soviet Union and other countries were socialist, or represented either the political rule of the working class or some kind of step on the road to socialism.

For me socialism is international or it is nothing. The victory of socialism in one or more country is only partial until the balance of forces has decisively tilted against capitalism. That means socialism must triumph in a tranche of advanced countries if it is not to suffer deformation and counterrevolution in one form or another. National revolutions are therefore best coordinated and where possible synchronised.

Moshé Machover

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

I am an independent member of the Communist Tendency. For our amended platform see http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/997/communist-platform

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 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.

Ian Donovan (Croydon)

I am standing for election to the National Council as a signatory of the Communist Platform, a supporter of the former Socialist Platform, and currently an independent Marxist. I have been active as a Marxist since 1979, and have been actively involved in all of the serious attempts to challenge Labour over its support for neo-liberalism at the ballot box since the early 1990s: SLP, Socialist Alliance and Respect.

The root cause of the failure of all these projects, in my view, is their attempt to answer neo-liberalism with some variety of ‘Old Labour’ reformist politics (whose failure led to this situation in the first place) and the self-censorship of those with revolutionary ideas within them. To me this is a mirror image of the sect-warfare than goes on at the far left fringe.  Both of these dead-ends accept the marginalisation of socialist ideas.

We should repudiate the patronising assumption that working class people are fearful  of and alienated by openly left-wing or socialist ideas, put about by those who have absorbed at least part of Thatcher’s maxim that ‘there is no alternative’ to the currently dominant ideology. We need the widest possible open discussion of such ideas, as part of solving the difficult political problems that stand in way of working class political resistance to austerity and the entirety of the prolonged ruling class offensive that is still going strong.

What we need is an open party where the most fundamental questions of reform or revolution, anti-imperialism, the fight against environmental catastrophe, racism, gender and sexual oppression and all other questions of programme and policy can be fearlessly debated out in front of the working class public. As a Marxist I am confident that genuine socialist/communist ideas would win out both by the force of logic and by offering solutions to concrete problems facing our class.

Many angry but currently despairing working class people would in time be inspired to join a genuinely open socialist-communist party with such a culture of open political debate. Vote for the Communist Platform slate in the Left Unity NC elections!

Mike Macnair

I am a member of the Communist Platform Tendency, which offers a strategical 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.

Individually, 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.

Lee Rock

I am a Left Unity member based in the North.

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.

We need to win people to a vision of a better society. In my view, that is a socialist 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.

Candidates should be truthful about their politics:

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.

I oppose the both the reactionary regime in Kiev and the occupying forces of Russia.

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

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

On a personal note, I have been a union rep since I started work over 27 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 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.

Peter Manson – Lewisham and Greenwich Left Unity

As editor of the Weekly Worker and a supporter of the Communist Platform, I believe that 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.

James Turley

I am a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and a supporter of the Communist Platform tendency within Left Unity, which calls for:

– the unity of the Marxist left on a principled Marxist basis;

– the thoroughgoing democratisation of the workers’ movement and society at large;

– the overthrow of capitalist rule, and its replacement with the rule of the working class, on a global scale.

If elected, I will fight for Left Unity to become a vehicle for those aims and principles, fighting to expose the corrupt and illegitimate bourgeois political regime for what it is; making clear the capitalist system’s inherent drive towards war, ecological catastrophe and barbarism; and pursuing the effective unity of the working class, without distinction of sex or race and across all borders, for the system’s overthrow.

Tina Becker

election statement for the national committee

There is a huge space for a party of the left in Britain. As a supporter of the Communist Platform, I am committed to building Left Unity as a socialist party that openly seeks to bring about the end of capitalism and its replacement by the rule of the working class.

If elected to the national committee, I would in particular campaign for all LU bodies to be thoroughly democratic, open and accountable. In my view, there should be an open exchange of the various ideas that exist in LU – not just open to LU members, but open to the whole working class, which we after all believe is capable of running society.

In my view it is not enough that LU focuses simply on existing local or single issue campaigns – it must become an organisation that actively takes radical positions on the big, national questions and on how to remake society. For example, in my view LU should become a champion of republican democracy and campaign for the abolition of the monarchy, for annual elections, open borders and the end of the secret state apparatus.

I would campaign to rework the overly complex and unworkable constitution of LU and to replace the various drafts of the bureaucratic safe space policy with a far simpler code of conduct – after all, we should start from a place of trusting each other.

I live in Sheffield, work as a journalist, am a member of the NUJ and

Ver.di and am also a member of Die Linke in Germany.

Sarah McDonald

Having been active of the left for over 15 years, in Scotland and in London, I have consistently fought for working class unity across Britain as part of the struggle for the greatest voluntary unity of people, in Europe and beyond. As an internationalist, I oppose all immigration controls and am for the free movement of people. As a Marxist, I oppose all imperialist wars 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, therefore have no illusions in bodies such as the United Nations delivering peace. I believe that human liberation can only be achieved through a society based on the principle of ‘From each according to their abilities; to each according to their needs’. It is not our job to manage capitalism but to fight for its overthrow.

Emily Chaplin

As a member 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. Ultimately this class would abolish itself, leading to a truly equal society.

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 which 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.

Emily Chaplin is a member of Lambeth Left Unity, and of the Communist Platform. She has been active in revolutionary politics from a young age, has written for various left-wing publications, and currently works for a radical publishing house in Highgate. She lives in Streatham.

Daniel Gray – Medway Left Unity

I am a supporter of the Communist Platform, the communist tendency in Left Unity, and I am standing on an authentic Marxist programme for the party. That entails rejecting the idea that Left Unity should be a permanent united front with reformism, an orientation that has failed over and over again in the last two decades. Previous attempts, from Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party, to the Socialist Alliance and Respect, have all in their various ways concealed their real politics in favour of creating some kind of watered down version of ‘Old-Labour’, often failing to reach even that political level in practice.

It did replicate the bureaucracy of Labourism, however. Scargill had 6000 block votes in his back pocket in the SLP to impose his will. In the SA it was the combined block vote of the SWP and the SPEW that kept Marxism off the agenda. In Respect it was the same, with John Rees leading SWPers to vote down items from their own ‘what we stand for column’ which the CPGB proposed. There is a danger that Left Unity repeats the errors of the past.

We in the Communist Platform are extreme democrats. We believe that Left Unity needs to offer a radical alternative to today’s Labour Party, and to Labourism. This requires an open, democratic, no-holds-barred debate about political direction of the organisation with the different trends and groupings openly declaring what they stand for and how it will be achieved. We believe that there was no real opportunity at the last conference to properly discuss the complex bureaucratic constitution we have lumbered ourselves with. We should be in less of a hurry, and revisit the basic politics that Left Unity stands on.

Maciej Zurowski

As a member of the Communist Platform in Left Unity, I fight for the liberation of all human beings. I believe that this goal can only be achieved through an international revolution of the working class, which has the unique capability of abolishing all classes, not least itself.

I support all reforms which improve our living conditions in the here and now. However, I believe that the most meaningful reforms are those which can pave our way towards ending the madness of capitalism for good.

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

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

If elected to the National Council, I will make every effort to help our party become not just a battering ram of the working class, but a step towards our goal of a stateless, classless, and moneyless society.

Robert Eagleton

If elected to the National Council I will draw upon the skills I gained whilst serving on the Young Greens National Executive Committee to ensure Left Unity is ran in a professional and accountable fashion. I will also utilise the other organisational skills, which are necessary pre-requisite to become a successful National Councillor, I have amassed from being- the Chairman of a local Green Party branch, the organiser for Preston Left Unity, and the Sustainability Officer for my Students’ Union. Aside from the practical qualities I can bring to the National Council I also possess profound political views which would benefit the party enormously if adopted.

The broad party model, which Left Unity currently operates by, is ineffectual with previous attempts to form a successful broad party ending in disaster. The political lash-ups of the, Respect and Unity Coalition, the Socialist Alliance, and the Socialist Labour Party have all ended in failure because they could only unite around a vague “cuts are bad” sentiment, which invariably led to a weak organisation, rather than something more meaningful like a Marxist programme.

I want to see Left Unity unite around an explicitly Marxist programme. This does not mean membership of Left Unity would be restricted to those who agree with every dot and comma of such a programme; we would advocate maximum revolutionary unity where there is agreement and maximum dialogue where there is disagreement. However; those wishing to join Left Unity should accept (not agree) basic revolutionary principles. Without this condition to become a member, Left Unity will become another political failure. We already have a broad left party in the Britain, it’s called the Labour Party, what we lack in Britain is a united far left.

My vision for Left Unity is both inspirational and ambitious.

Left Unity needs to go beyond the simply defensive economistic politics of “no cuts” and adopt the higher politics of calling for a different mode of social organisation and the Global rule of the Working Class.

If you would like to find out more about my politics please visit- http://communistplatform.org.uk/?p=30

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