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 Chaplin (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