Compromise between the Left Party Platform and Socialist Platform: Justification for my amendments to LPP

[EDIT 1/12/13: The founding conference of Left Unity, on 30 November 2013, has just taken place. I will shortly write a report of it on this blog, including mentioning that one of the two amendments proposed by me (and included below) on considerably strengthening the paragraph on trade unions, by mentioning striking (including mass/general strikes), occupations and solidarity, was passed. My proposal on keeping Left Unity as the party name (proposed by another member of my branch) was also passed, which could prove important in encouraging people of autonomous/anarchist views (preferably non-violent as most of them are) due to such people disliking the word “party”. Most of the comments below the article were from a debate I had with Felicity Dowling of the Left Party Platform (and a former member of the Liverpool 47 surcharged councillors and one of the Militant Tendency “entrists” within Labour before Militant’s “open turns” in Scotland and then England and Wales). There is also a reply to my article by John Penney, to which I have posted a reply having just seen it after the conference. The conference is over but debates go on…]

[EDIT 8/12/13: I have now added a comment below containing details of a report by Pete McLaren from Rugby (of the Independent Socialist Network and Socialist Platform) plus two responses from me – being more upbeat about the fact that the conference decided to adopt a combination of revolutionary and reformist politics, which was basically my aim with the amendments below (one of which was passed), and that forthcoming economic crises will provide great opportunities for revolution.]

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Steve Wallis of Manchester Central Left Unity proposed changes to the Left Party Platform submission for the aims section at the founding conference, which, after discussion, were submitted as two separate amendments to those aims for debate at the conference. The justification for those amendments above the amendments are Steve’s personal views.

One of the problems of the debate between platforms is that it has, at times, become polarised between those who favour an electoral road to achieving socialism (with some such people accused, rightly or wrongly, of being content with positive reforms to capitalism) and those who favour a socialist revolution. The Left Party Platform (LPP) is in favour of a broad socialist party encompassing both (but some members particularly favour elections and others hide some of their politics to accommodate them), whereas the Socialist Platform (SP) is much more openly revolutionary.

Most revolutionary socialists, including myself, also agree with standing in elections, but think it impossible or highly unlikely for socialism to be achieved solely by electoral means. We should also welcome participation from those with autonomous/anarchist views, such as many in the AntiCapitalist Initiative, although I have used the phrase “(preferably peaceful) socialist revolution” in the second amendment below. We should not encourage the participation of people who encourage violence for the sake of it, as counterposed to defending themselves if attacked by the forces of the state – which the LPP’s Kate Hudson (general secretary of CND) informed us at the foreign affairs commission at the policy conference in Manchester is consistent with CND’s position on violence.

Discussions around the formation of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (New Anti-capitalist Party) in France included people of an autonomous/anarchist persuasion, and although they didn’t participate eventually, we should welcome members of the AntiCapitalist Initiative into LU (especially because they are involved in merger talks with two organisations that are more keen – the International Socialist Network and Socialist Resistance). I have therefore included a paragraph in the second amendment below saying that those just interested in extra-parliamentary activity rather than helping with election campaigns (or vice versa) would be welcome.

The extremely undemocratic (misnamed) first-past-the-post electoral system, which would have only been slightly improved if the Alternative Vote proposal (that only the Liberal Democrats campaigned for and which was an awful compromise from the much more proportional single transferable vote system that they advocate) had been passed, makes it extremely unlikely that socialists can make as much headway as socialist parties/coalitions on the continent, particularly Syriza in Greece. The ConDems have also passed legislation for fixed term parliaments of five years – without LU playing a key role in massive extra-parliamentary action forcing a capitalist government to resign, or otherwise forcing them from office by a general strike leading to “dual power”, we would be betraying the masses who look to us to provide a lead.

If there is suddenly another massive economic crisis, on the scale of the 2007-8 credit crunch or worse, which some financial experts predict, such as Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert in The Keiser Report, viewable on RT (Russia Today) or YouTube, or the MoneyWeek magazine’s video/letter entitled “The End of Britain” (nothing to do with Scottish independence!), it would be vital for socialists to respond by leading a revolutionary movement – if not, the far right will have a field day. Waiting for another general election is not an option!

It should also be emphasised that the massive gains in support Syriza achieved, which led to it almost becoming the largest party in the Greek parliament in 2012, could not have been achieved without the mass movements of ordinary working and lower middle class people, including strike waves, demonstrations and particularly general strikes – in which members of Syriza played important roles.

I am in favour of standing in elections in situations where we can create an impact – but we must avoid becoming the polar opposite of UKIP standing against Labour everywhere (or in most seats at a general election), with the serious possibility of letting the Tories back in (perhaps in a coalition with the Lib Dems or UKIP). In general, we should stand in “safe” Labour seats (a strategy which has been extremely fruitful in getting George Galloway, Salma Yaqoob, Tommy Sheridan, Dave Nellist and Michael Lavalette elected for example, though mostly at a council level or in a by-election where far less is at stake). We should avoid clashes with other socialist organisations and the Green Party, in situations where local agreements can be made. [Rushing into a highly expensive and almost certainly unfruitful intervention in the 2014 European elections, where our vote would be massively squeezed, particularly due to “No2EU – Yes to Workers’ Rights” and the Greens planning to stand everywhere (which is necessary for them to get an electoral broadcast) would be a big mistake in my opinion.]

The combination of standing in elections and extra-parliamentary activity would be a big advantage of LU over the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), whose main participants, the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party (SWP), prefer to campaign under their own name between elections, with a major motivation being recruitment to their own parties, and with TUSC only being used at election time.

A major problem with many previous unity projects (and those that still exist like Respect) is that they have been based on lowest common denominator reformist politics, with organisations and individuals within such projects hiding many of their true views (particularly if they are revolutionary socialists). This has been the main criticism of members of the SP when arguing against the LPP.

However, LU has already operated in a very inclusive way, with nearly all comments on the website approved by a moderator and with a forum on which contributions appear immediately without waiting for moderation. Part of the motivation for the second amendment below is to ensure this continues. We should also have publications, such as a newspaper/journal (preferably called “Left Unity” if the party decides to adopt a different name at the founding conference), in which free and open debate between people with different political viewpoints is welcome, rather than making it a bland publication which doesn’t satisfy the incredible thirst for ideas amongst the population of Britain – particularly after Russell Brand’s article in the New Statesman and debate with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight, on the subject of “revolution”, that have both received massive numbers of views on the internet.

Paragraph 7 of the LPP statement on trade unions is extremely vague, and contains nothing that even the Labour Party would disagree with! There is no mention of strikes (and certainly not general strikes which have a key role in changing society) or occupations or solidarity between workers in different unions or workplaces. The unamended version reads as follows:

7. We work for and support strong, effective, democratic trade unions to fight for better wages and salaries, for improved living standards, for better working conditions and stronger, more favourable, contracts of employment. We believe that the strength of the union is the people in the workplace; that what each person does at work matters – to make the job better, to make the service provided more effective, to persuade workers to combine for greater strength.

———————————————–

The amendments passed by Left Unity in Manchester, and submitted to content@leftunity.org before the 16 November deadline, are as follows:

AMENDMENT TO LEFT PARTY PLATFORM STATEMENT OF AIMS (paragraph on trade unions)

Add to the end of paragraph 7: “Going on strike (including mass/general strikes), occupying workplaces and solidarity between workers (in different unions and/or workplaces) can be effective tactics in winning individual disputes and changing society.”

AMENDMENT TO LEFT PARTY PLATFORM STATEMENT OF AIMS (new paragraph)

Add new paragraph (11): “In line with the party being a broad socialist party, it should reflect a wide variety of views in our literature and on our website and forum. Our members will include:

a) reformists in favour of gradual change towards socialism and revolutionaries who believe some sort of (preferably peaceful) socialist revolution is necessary while supporting such reforms in the short term (and of course those who don’t know how socialism can/will be achieved).

b) those who believe in change through elections and/or extra-parliamentary activity. Those who want to join the party but only take part in one of those types of activity would be welcome.

7 thoughts on “Compromise between the Left Party Platform and Socialist Platform: Justification for my amendments to LPP

  1. I have just been debating the issues raised above on Facebook (in the Left Unity Manchester South group) with Felicity Dowling, one of the Liverpool 47 banned and surcharged councillors (and Militant member at the time) who defied Thatcher’s Tory government in the mid-80s. Felicity is now in the Left Party Platform of LU.

    Felicity replied to the above post:

    “Our members will include:
    a) reformists in favour of gradual change towards socialism and revolutionaries who believe some sort of (preferably peaceful) socialist revolution is necessary while supporting such reforms in the short term (and of course those who don’t know how socialism can/will be achieved).”

    I think, speaking only for myself, that this formulation harks to a different era. When the working class was well organised and powerful in the 1960s and 1970s then serious reforms were won and lives did improve. At that point reformist leaders seemed to have some credibility. The harsh reality now is the absolute opposite is true. Every gain we made in those times is now at risk. I am sure WHEN ( and its not now) we are again organised and powerful, reforms will be offered and we will grab them with both hands. We do now though have a generation which, to the extent it is political, understands anti capitalism as its ABC. Yes there will be debates about lessons from different times in history and of how the end of capitalism will be accomplished but old style reformism hasn’t got much of a groundswell right now. I’ve not come across one anyhow. Those who don’t know how socialism will be achieved are in the overwhelming majority, me included. We need a better world and a better world is possible.

    I replied to Felicity:

    Thanks for your considered response, Felicity, but does that mean you will vote against that amendment? My motivation for proposing it was a concern that only arguments for “gradual change towards socialism” would be put forward by LU if the LPP wins the debate, and that arguments for revolutionary change would be sidelined. I think this has happened with all previous (and still existing) broad socialist parties/coalitions in Britain (specifically the socialist alliances, SSP, Solidarity, Respect and TUSC).

    However, we should not exclude reformists from the party (passing the Socialist Platform statement of aims would not specifically do so but it could put them off getting involved). I’m in favour of a broad, explicitly socialist, party, which reflects the views of revolutionary socialists and reformists. Whether people choose to use those terms to describe their political views is of course up to them, but they have scientific definitions. I have tried to clarify what I am talking about without resorting to Marxist terminology including going on about “the working class” (ignoring those sections of the middle class, including Russell Brand of course, who consider themselves revolutionaries).

    I completely agree that “old style reformism hasn’t got much of a groundswell right now” but you imply that it will have at some point in the future. I also agree that “Those who don’t know how socialism will be achieved are in the overwhelming majority” and I don’t know *exactly* how it will happen either, but I know it will take some sort of revolution!

    Felicity:

    Steve,
    we have totally different interpretations of the Left Platform.I don’t see it at all as “gradual change towards socialism”.
    Which bit do you read like that?

    Me:

    It’s not what it does say but what it doesn’t. The amendment you are referring to is an additional one to those put forward in the LPP’s statement of aims.

    Let me give links to two articles written by LPP members that have appeared in SWP publications:

    Former SWP member Ed Rooksby in http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=913 criticises the SWP characterisation of LU as “left reformist” and follows the lead of André Gorz, who ‘sketches out a strategy in which a left government implements a series of what he calls “structural reforms” or “revolutionary reforms” which, if successful, would culminate in a decisive, revolutionary seizure of power on the part of the working class.’ The argument is essentially the same as the approach adopted by Militant of the transitional programme which certainly looked reformist to many. Perhaps that influences your thinking as an ex-member (I’m an ex-member too but proposed in a members’ bulletin, when discussing the name change to Socialist Party, that the organisation should become more openly revolutionary having left Labour).

    That was before Russell Brand’s intervention on the British political scene. It is very interesting how Andrew Burgin (who I have certainly heard being referred to as a reformist), in the current edition of Socialist Review http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12452 (in which incidentally the SWP encourages its members to come to LU’s founding conference) uses the word “revolutionary” twice and argues: ‘The political basis for all these new parties is opposition to capitalism and war. It is the recognition that maintaining the basic means of existence for the working class necessitates the ending of an economic system devoted to profit and its replacement by one which is driven by the fulfilment of human needs. They are parties which understand that there is no possibility of reforming capitalism and which recognise that the transition to the new society we seek will be mediated through the struggles to defend and extend the existing gains of the working class.’

    So, I suppose it’s fair to conclude that even though it certainly seemed that some in the LPP wanted to misdirect LU in a reformist direction, this is unlikely to happen now. As a warning, however, my article above hasn’t yet been put on the LU website nearly 24 hours after I submitted it. That is not to say it is a deliberate act of censorship, because the volunteers who are keeping LU going until a leadership is elected may be busy dealing with all the amendments, people joining and applying to go to conference, etc.!

    Felicity (over a few separate comments):

    Steve, When I contributed to the left platform statement it was as a activist woman, committed to the struggle of working people and, because of that, to the ending the rule of capitalism. I did not want to use the rhetoric of another age. I played a role in some of those earlier struggles but this is a different time. I’m a Marxist. I don’t think formulae produce revolutions, I think struggle does. As a woman, I don’t tend to read SWP publications. I do read other Marxists and from time to time contribute to discussions. The left platform is what it says, socialist committed to the ending of capitalism committed to the struggle of working class communities to feminism, to the protection of the planet, to an internationalist stance, to the end of austerity, to the rights of oppresses sectors of society

    “It’s not what it does say but what it doesn’t.” is a bit unfair. What it says is huge. I personally would not oppose the additional bit you add on the trade unions but our statement on the trade unions is longer than can be included in the document and can be found on the website http://leftunity.org/we-are-trade-unionist/

    Sorry Steve I’ve just written a lot and its disappeared I’ll have to re write it. The left platform position is I think an excellent start to our project. I would not particularly object to the Trade union amendment but our overall trade union position has been up for debate for some time

    Its important we don’t appear to be telling trade unions what to do but equally important to realise the enormous power of organised labour.

    Me:

    Felicity, I know what you are saying about formulae not producing revolutions, but there is an important decision to be made at the founding conference, about whether LU is going to be a broad socialist party (as proposed by the LPP) or a revolutionary socialist party (as proposed by the SP) – and if it is broad, to ensure that doesn’t suppress the views of revolutionaries (as proposed by these amendments). Manchester comrades spent a fair amount of effort in discussions at meetings and on the internet to come up with a reasonable wording for the amendments.

    It is good to have experienced comrades like yourself in the LPP dedicated to “ending the rule of capitalism”. The SP’s Nick Wrack, in http://www.independentsocialistnetwork.org/?p=2556, argued “Nowhere does the statement say that the aim of the party is to END capitalism, i.e. to get rid of it and to replace it with socialism.” Maybe that’s splitting hairs since your revised statement of aims does say “We stand against capitalism” and “Our goal is to transform society”. It’s far better than the LPP’s very wishy-washy initial statement anyway (which led me to join the SP as well as put out a call for a Revolutionary Platform of LU that wants a broad socialist party).

    I can understand why many activists (particularly women) now boycott SWP publications (due to the appalling way they handled the rape and sexual harassment allegations against their former national secretary Martin Smith aka Comrade Delta). I did not cancel my subscription to their three publications, however, since I find it interesting and sometimes important finding out what they are saying, particularly in this period of acute crisis for them. [Neither of the articles I provided links to above were written by current members of the SWP.]

    Sorry for not commenting on your article on trade unions, which has been on the LU website for quite a long time. There have been a huge number of articles (and of course posts on the forum), together with comments, so it is impossible for a human being to keep on top of them all! I can’t disagree with anything you said, and your final point “Effective resistance to cuts, bad wages, bad jobs and pension cuts will need nothing short of a mass movement of people at work.” is particularly good, but you seemed scared of using the word “strike” and particularly “general strike”. That is key to changing society (unless we really expect to achieve socialism through parliament) rather than just winning the odd victory. The words “occupation” and “solidarity” are also missing. Glad to know you’ll support my amendment on trade unions – I’ll post it as a comment on that page on the website in case some people still look there.

  2. Continuation of the debate:

    Felicity:

    “You seem scared of using the word Strike and especially general strike”.Thats not the impression many people have of me, Steve.It would raise a laugh in my union branch and the trades council where I work.You and I sat at the same table at a conference in Liverpool dedicated to calling a general strike and I contributed to the discussion, so how do I “seem scared” . I don’t accept that a one day general strike is a talisman of revolution.It has its place and an important place.We also have to recruit a new generation to the unions, we have to be rid of union leaderships who themselves, overtly or covertly, buy into neo liberalism and others, who whilst wanting radical action, do not trust the membership.

    Me:

    When I said “You seem scared of using the word Strike and especially general strike”, I was obviously referring to the context of the broad LPP position you put forward in the “We are trade unionist” page on the LU website.

    My apologies for not remembering you from that meeting in Liverpool which voted unanimously for a resolution calling on the TUC to call a general strike (preferably on the 1st of May), which was watered down via an amendment at the NWTUC AGM (that I attended as an observer) but made it the first region of the TUC to officially have a position of support for a general strike.

    I’m aware that the Socialist Party has a bit of a fetish over arguing for the TUC to call a one-day general strike, with the SWP in contrast going from an “all out stay out” position one week to dropping the call for a general strike the next! A one-day general strike can demobilise union members if it is not followed up by further action (as with the public sector strike over pensions). Since, as you say, it “has its place and an important place”, the question arises as to why you omitted the word “strike” (plus “occupations” and “solidarity” which other Manchester LU members thought should be included in the amendment) from your page.

    Although you make some other very good points, being a broad socialist party shouldn’t exclude mentioning tactics that are crucial if socialists are going to come to power via non-electoral means.

  3. Felicity continues:

    Steve Wallis I have no pretences to perfection. What concerns me is that motives are attributed to the platforms that are not reflected in either the words on the page or in the intentions of the authors, intentions which surely are better tested in action. The actions you knew about me in real life contradicted your “presumptions” yet this was not considered.. I wrote the trade union document some time ago. It followed an analysis I did of the first 3 platforms. The Trade union document was met with comments that implied support from all platforms. If you did amend it/ comment then I am sorry I missed it. There is lots of room for debate and fraternal discussion

    Me:

    It is clear from the wording of the two statements of aims from the LPP that they are designed to be acceptable to reformists as well as revolutionaries. Surely you are not contesting that the LPP is in favour of a broad party! Surely you are also aware that some signatories to the LPP hold reformist views (and you are probably in a better position than me to know/guess who they are, whether or not you care one way or another). I have no reason to doubt that you personally are a Marxist, as you said above, and hence a revolutionary socialist. [The Socialist Platform documents are not filled with Marxist terminology, and hence I was happy to support them as a revolutionary socialist who no longer regards himself as a Marxist.]

    Ironically, the original LPP statement at http://leftunity.org/left-party-platform-statement/ mentions striking (but not general strikes) and occupying: “People are fighting back – in the streets and squares, workplaces, social and political institutions – striking, occupying and refusing to collaborate with state brutality and repression” (although that statement was criticised for not mentioning trade unions). Neither strikes or occupations are mentioned in the revised statement of aims or in your article on unions. In fact, the only mentions (so far) of “strike” or “striking” on your page http://leftunity.org/we-are-trade-unionist/ is in a comment by Rebecca A (who I am almost certain is in the Class Struggle Platform, i.e. Workers Power, in Leeds).

    Anyway, I’m not really sure why you are objecting so much to the first Manchester amendment, bearing in mind you said above: “I personally would not oppose the additional bit you add on the trade unions” unless you think mentioning general strikes, occupations and solidarity would put off reformists. Maybe some reformists wouldn’t be too keen on that amendment and will vote against it at the conference, but surely it wouldn’t lead to them resigning from LU!

    The second amendment is much more important in my opinion, because (if passed) it will enshrine in the constitution a situation where the diversity of views held by LU members is properly reflected in what members say, publicly as well as in internal discussions – a breath of fresh air compared to the “democratic centralism” or “bureaucratic centralism” so prevalent on the left – see my blog entry entitled ‘Russell Brand v Jeremy Paxman on “revolution” plus bureaucratic centralism of the SWP (but not the Socialist Party)’. The first amendment complements it by suggesting extra-parliamentary means for revolutionary change via trade union activity, which is why I thought it important to be also put forward.

  4. Felicity again:

    We are attempting to rebuild the working class movement. This work doesn’t fit the pre set modes of earlier epochs.Stop trying to judge other comrades using tenplates from different times

    Me:

    Of course issues like revolution and whether to vote are just as relevant today as they were 100 years ago, and the massive popularity of the Russell Brand debate with Paxman and New Statesman article illustrate this.

    I was going to let you get the last word in this debate, since there’s not much more to say, but found a Laurie Penny discussion with Richard Seymour at http://www.newstatesman.com/laurie-penny/2013/11/discourse-brocialism-brand-iconoclasm-and-womans-place-revolution worth recommending (and you can easily find a 3-way discourse also with Ali G by googling but I don’t want to give a link to it to a feminist in case you’re offended by Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy!)

  5. John Penney replied, in a message the day before the founding conference that I have just seen, on the Left Unity website:

    Whilst fully agreeing with you that Left Unity needs to be a “Broad Church” party and movement, I think the second part of your proposed amendment b) is mistaken: ie
    “b) ………… Those who want to join the party but only take part in one of those types of activity would be welcome.”

    We really can’t have a party with any coherence or discipline at all if some members of a local branch can just opt out of the hard slog of the “boring electoral bits” – leaving this to others, whilst they only participate in the much more fun “direct action” . A party with any sort of political and organisational coherence has to be able to expect its members (though obviously not necessarily its broader periphery of supporters) to collectively share the burden of all of the democratically decided on activities and priorities of the party. Otherwise its just a loosely associating campaigning organisation, not a serious political party. If the Party democratically at Conference decides to participate in particular elections as a means to build influence and put across our radical message – then that’s what party members are obliged to participate in…. or leave the party and carry out their vision of political activity elsewhere.

    I have just replied there (awaiting moderation):

    [NOTE: I’m posting this after the conference; I hope discussions will continue on this website (which indeed was something I called for in the second amendment that was defeated by a show of voting cards) and that an archive will be kept of out-of-date documents which can still be read and commented on. The first amendment on trade unions (advocating strikes, including general strikes, occupations and solidarity) was carried, though, by 164 votes to 116 (I didn’t catch the number of abstentions which was also read out). This is very good news, since the amended LPP is not as dominated by the idea of LU coming to power by winning an election, which is extremely unlikely to happen to say the least under our extremely undemocratic electoral system.]

    I’ve had a longstanding aim of wanting to unite socialists (particularly revolutionary socialists) with those of a (non-violent, as most of them are) autonomous/anarchist persuasion. The latter group of people are unenthusiastic (to say the least) about getting involved in electoral campaigning, but could take part in extra-parliamentary activity like non-violent direct action, strikes in their workplaces, and campaigns against the bedroom tax and cuts in the NHS. I want them to join Left Unity, but they wouldn’t do so if they were ordered what to do, or made to feel guilty about not doing something they didn’t want to do. That’s the attitude of the likes of the SWP, which we must conclusively reject.

    There is actually an organisation that is playing the role of uniting people opposed to capitalism with socialist and autonomous views – the AntiCapitalist Initiative (ACI), which has a national conference on Saturday 7 December 2013 in Manchester (see http://anticapitalists.org/2013/10/29/aci-national-conference-7-december-2013/) that I’ll be attending as an ACI member (assuming they’ve processed my membership request but it’s not limited to ACI members anyway). Some of their members are involved in Left Unity, and the conference will partly discuss LU’s founding conference, but (at the time of the freshers’ fair at least) the biggest society of a left group at Manchester University were the AntiCapitalist Students, but most of them have so far been reluctant to join “a party”. Incidentally, a motion I wrote on keeping Left Unity as the party name, proposed at the conference by another member of my branch and passed overwhelmingly, could make a big difference in attracting people in the ACI (with Left Party, Left Unity Party and the rather ridiculous Democratic Voice being the only alternatives put forward). There were discussions with autonomous/anarchist people in France in the lead-up to the launch of the New Anti-Capitalist Party (Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste) but they dropped out due to it being a party.

    As many of you will be aware, there are ongoing merger talks between the ACI, Socialist Resistance (Fourth International) and the International Socialist Network (a split from the SWP earlier this year due to the “Comrade Delta” furore and other problems with internal democracy) – which may involve other groupings too.

    Although I joined the Socialist Platform, it effectively self-destructed due to a CPGB takeover attempt followed by a lack of serious campaigning within LU until the conference itself when a leaflet was handed out. For example, there are two internal groups – for political discussion (on which I’ve posted several items but has otherwise been unused), and one for information that has not been used at all!

    It seems contradictory for me to join the Socialist Platform when I agree with a broad party, but the initial statement of aims for the LPP reminded me too much of failed unity projects that have adopted lowest-common denominator politics with revolutionaries hiding their true colours. I had thought that the Socialist Platform was the best grouping within LU to prepare for a massive economic crisis (like a “second credit crunch” that left-wing economics expert Paul Mason, who used to be in a revolutionary socialist organisation, has been predicting for a number of years – perhaps I made a mistake by mentioning more right-wing financial experts above…) which could present great opportunities for socialist revolution, but I now think that whatever comes out of ACI/SR/IntSN merger discussions would be able to play that role far better.

  6. A comment I’ve added on the Left Unity website this morning (having noticed that my contribution last night had not been passed by the moderator – it and the following now have):

    I’ve realised, since posting the last comment last night, that it sounds undemocratic to suggest that debate should continue on the website when my amendment advocating that was defeated. The amendment actually suggested several different things (and I only had 2 minutes to justify it plus the amendment on trade unions without even a 1 minute right to reply, not that anybody criticised a point I made during the debate) so it shouldn’t be taken as an indication that LU members want to close down debate now that the conference is over. In fact, the person who suggested that debate should just take place internally (which the SWP have tried to insist upon but it hasn’t worked due to rebellious members leaking documents, setting up blogs and debating with the wider left generally including on internet forums and in the Weekly Worker) was roundly heckled on Saturday. If there is to be a decision on ending debate on the website, or hiding it away into a password-protected area, then it would be totally undemocratic to make it before the next National Coordinating Group meeting. If I attend, I will oppose any attempt to clamp down on internal debates, and with such a low level of minimum subs, our enemies (including at GCHQ and in rival organisations) would easily be able to spy on us and contribute to them anyway (not that GCHQ would be put off subs set at thousands of pounds!)

    In a Facebook debate I had before the conference at https://www.facebook.com/The14thNovemberMovementLeftPartyUk/posts/463546247099935, largely with Salman Shaheen of the LPP, he said about my two amendments: “I’m undecided on your amendments and will listen keenly to the debate on the day. I don’t think they’re necessarily bad amendments, I’m just not entirely sure they’re necessary. They are, essentially, implied by the breadth of the document in itself.”

    The slogan “Solidarity Debate Action” in the Left Unity logo at the top of the website pages should be kept in my opinion. This way of operating is something that has made LU so much better than other organisations I could mention, and we should be able to grow more rapidly now that this conference is over (debating out the platforms and establishing a constitution was vital, but we could do with some policies, so roll on the policy-making conference in the spring!)

    To remind you all, the full amendment was as follows:

    Add new paragraph (11): “In line with the party being a broad socialist party, it should reflect a wide variety of views in our literature and on our website and forum. Our members will include:

    a) reformists in favour of gradual change towards socialism and revolutionaries who believe some sort of (preferably peaceful) socialist revolution is necessary while supporting such reforms in the short term (and of course those who don’t know how socialism can/will be achieved).

    b) those who believe in change through elections and/or extra-parliamentary activity. Those who want to join the party but only take part in one of those types of activity would be welcome.

  7. This report by Pete McLaren of Rugby Left Unity, and the Independent Socialist Network and Socialist Platform, together with comments including two from me (being more upbeat in recognising that the agreed positions of LU are a good blend of revolutionary and reformist politics, after amendments from Camden and my branch to the LPP were passed, and pointing out the potential for socialist revolution arising out of a new economic crisis), is well worth reading for an overview of decisions made at LU’s founding conference: http://www.independentsocialistnetwork.org/?p=2636

    There is now a page on the Left Unity website at http://leftunity.org/founding-conference-decisions-1/ containing the amended LPP statement and a Hackney/Tower Hamlets statement that was also passed.

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