Thursday, 16 July 2009

non-aligned lefties for left unity

A broad-based alliance is proposed, to unite against and supplant the systems of neo-conservatism and free-market capitalism. It should and must combine the following groups, to have any chance of working:
  • The Green Party and all environmental groups (barring any affiliated to the far-right).
  • All socialist, anarchist and communist organisations / small parties.
  • Anyone involved in public services, with an interest surely to have a system orientated towards public service ideals, e.g. those in health, education, local government, &c. A fair few areas of the country have 35-40% of the workforce who are in the public services - though obviously areas like Catterick or Colchester may not be so fruitful!
  • People in the Arts already facing cuts from Blue Labour and much to lose under the Tories.
  • Musicians, filmmakers, artists &c.
  • People who with 'Old' Labour values and those remaining in working-class occupations such as manufacturing and heavy industry. All ordinary, working people.
  • All students, of whatever age. Whether going to Cambridge, Sunderland or the Open University, you should be with us. A new left will be seriously dedicated to education.
  • The poor and those who have particularly lost out from the boom and bust of capitalism and its philosophy.
  • Small and local businesses - see above point.
  • Campaigners against war, prejudice and inequality.
  • All Pro-Europeans.

The quartet shown at the top of this post represent some of the differing types who really ought to get together; more that unites than divides, surely. And yet they vote for, or represent, four different parties; there ought to be one organisation that could accommodate all four, or at the very least unite them in a coalition. There is to be a north-east meeting of Non-Aligned Lefties tomorrow evening, which may follow up some of the points from the first London meeting in May:

There was a longer piece I was planning on this topic which is included below, as a draft; it was originally penned in late June, reflecting upon things as the dust was settling after the European Elections.
Future Politics and Coalition Building

23 June 2009

Good piece by Owen Hatherley on Bob Crow here:

I am beginning, finally, to engage myself in some political activity - after a long slumber, or disillusion, call it what you like. I joined a grouping set up by Hatherley, Non-Aligned Lefties for Left Unity; an impulse that fully accords with my views: that the left must work on a united programme, and work together on providing a future for our country and world. Petty divisions and splintering purism must be put aside; there must be compromises, clarifications and generally just the willingness to agree to disagree over some philosophical or issue-specific differences.

This attempt to coalition build* involves numerous small leftist parties, the Greens and the 'Labour' Party. It is quite right to target disaffected Labour voters and areas because the BNP are tending to fill the vacuum in these areas. The position ought to be: we support a Labour candidate only if they propose a progressive, left-wing platform, i.e. Cruddas, McDonnell and all too few others. They wouldn't even debate Robin Cook's legacy at a recent Labour Conference. Cook - the one man who might have been a genuine coalition builder, broadening Labour's support with the left and non-Tory centre, in stark contrast to Brown's dwindling, leaky 'tent', his .

The European Elections showed that Labour itself is finished, unless it adpots some principles and purpose - it no longer represents its own people in any meaningful sense, it continues to represent the bankers, the media barons and the tabloid press. (given succour by real people only in the sense of focus grouped 'consensus')

I still cannot see one party I would join; the LibDems do not propose much more than mild reforms to capitalism; Labour is decimated by 12 years of gutless governance, pandering to the British people's worst instincts; and the SLP . The Greens are maybe the closest, Monbiot and others articulating a cohesive, workable agenda that is close to Labour at its most left-wing but without the emphasis on class politics or manual labour. But then again, the Greens can tend to come across as patronising and aloof, being indelibly university-educated and middle-class - they will find a lot of votes in Brighton or Norwich or Oxford, but hardly in Oldham or Copeland or Sunderland...

A member of Bob Crow's NO2EU - Yes to Democracy alliance - a fair few small left-wing parties, plus his trade union - acknowledged to me that the naming of this party was not ideal. One might give this the benefit of the doubt - oh, it is the sort of populist gambit that might get more working-class voters on board - but then one should not. Crow - in the interview Hatherley links to - claims to be an internationalist and a pro-European, rightly saying he would support French Trade Union action. So why so crudely attack the EU when what should be attacked is the sort of capitalism that underpins it at present? A reformed EU would clearly serve out interests better than withdrawing from it, which would only leave us even more exposed to our own 'Anglo-Saxon' capitalist excesses.

I won't go in for further recriminations; there is a lot in Crow's agenda (and his connection to locality and history) that is invaluable. He is perhaps the one man - along with Jon Cruddas - who can potentially take on the BNP in Old Labour areas and win with a left-wing agenda. You cannot see Iain Sinclair or George Monbiot doing it, can you? Seemingly, the opportunistic name is to be shed, which can only aid co-operation.

We are correct to target Labour, but I would also include the Liberal Democrats, whom, for all of their faults, are in many areas of the country positioned to the left (if not always dramatically) of Labour on civil liberties and the public sector. They gained a lot of what I might term the Stephen Fry Vote at the last election - students, intellectuals, graduates, based in London, Cambridge, Durham, York, Oxford, Brighton, Norwich. They gained many ex-Labour voters, Neil Tennant and myself included (a simulacrum of an ex-Labour voter, having never voted for them in a national election! But i was Labour in my pre-life, and my parents always were).

In addition, the sort of solid Labour people who cannot seem to bring themselves to vote for another party; they either hold the nose and vote LAB or do not vote at all - there were probably a million or so of these in the EU election, if you compare the 2004 and 2009 votes. These people may be public-sector workers (education, health, the arts), with perhaps the most to lose from a Conservative government if one thinks about the cuts that are likely; they should be an ideal group to vote Green / Left, or left-wing Labour.

My suggestion to voters would be: consult the voting record of your MP; if their record is broadly in line with your principles, vote for them whether Labour or LibDem - if not, vote for Left / Green. Likewise, the Greens and other Left parties should not field candidates against MPs who have consistently stood up to free-market capitalism or stood for our civil liberties.

So, this coalition should include Bob Crow, George Monbiot, Stephen Fry and The platform would be pro-EU, but against the harmful aspects of it. More emphasis should be put on cooperation between European people and states, defining a positive, secular culture.

Whether it could include Polly Toynbee (whom should come under the dictionary definition of 'vacillating', with her 12 year long marriage to New Labour, supposedly thinking she has credibility on the strength of persistent, but unfulfilled, flirtation with other ideas) would be a matter for

* Something that was done to all of our costs, of course, in the 1980s, with Thatcher expanding the blue collar, working-class Tory vote, and changing the culture to gain an ever-growing home ownership vote. The left needs to get itself organised and united behind if not one party then one agreement, seeking to build a broad base of support with many different types of people. Diammetrically opposed to Thatcher in what is being argued for, but like her and unlike Blair in that it would be a movement based on principles.

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