Can there be a New Left Party?
Can there be a New Left Party? Ken Loach – and 2,000 People – Hope So
Film director Ken Loach has called for the creation of a new party of the left in Britain. Kate Hudson explains why she is supporting the call
Austerity is wreaking economic catastrophe on the people of Cyprus, but George Osborne is still following the same disastrous policies. This week's budget comes as no surprise - yet another £2.5 billion in cuts. He's digging us even further into an economic hole, and ordinary people are paying the price. The virulence of the government's economic attacks knows no bounds: Atos, workfare, the bedroom tax - punitive policies against the most vulnerable in society.
Where can we turn politically? Who is on our side, to fight for an alternative? In the past we expected the Labour Party to stand for us, and with us, but no longer.
Workfare? Today Labour abstained on the vote and now the government can work over a quarter of a million jobseekers. Bedroom tax? Will a Labour government repeal it?
We need policies that reject Tory cuts, regenerate the economy and improve the lives of ordinary people. We are not getting this from Labour.
There is no doubt that Labour's past achievements have been remarkable - the welfare state, the NHS; a redistributive economy making unprecedented levels of health and happiness possible. But such achievements are in the past. Now Labour embraces cuts and privatisation and is dismantling its own great work. Labour has failed us. Nothing shows the contrast more clearly than Ken Loach's new film, The Spirit of '45.
Now Ken is calling on people to join the discussion on forming a new party of the left. The working class cannot remain without political representation, without defence, when all its victories and advances are being destroyed. Over 2,000 people have signed up to Ken's appeal within three days of its launch. Please support it urgently.
Ken Loach's appeal is at leftunity.org/appeal:
The welfare state is being dismantled by the coalition government, bringing great suffering to the most vulnerable in society and eroding the living conditions of millions of ordinary people. Worse still, the Labour Party is not presenting a strong opposition to austerity and instead appears to have wholeheartedly adopted neo-liberal policy, advocating its own brand of austerity and privatisation.
Ken Loach's The Spirit of '45 gives us a perspective on the achievements of the post-war generation, transforming the lives of ordinary people by bringing improved health, housing, education and social security to the people of Britain. We need to defend these achievements and continue the tradition of protecting the most vulnerable in society.
Support Ken Loach's appeal to discuss the formation of a new political party of the Left to bring together those who wish to defend the welfare state and present an economic alternative to austerity.
We Can’t Wish a New Left Party into Existence
Red Pepper (UK)
March 20, 2013
Michael Calderbank offers an alternative view of Ken Loach’s appeal to discuss a new party
In a week when Labour chose not to oppose the coercion of the unemployed into unpaid work for profitable companies, it’s only to be expected that activists start to give serious thought to the need for an alternative.
But at the same time there is a gulf between wanting to see it and being able to realise that ambition. Ken Loach himself has been here before, as a previous advocate of both the Socialist Alliance and Respect, both of which failed to live up to their potential. It is important to understand the lessons of these experiences, and what problems any such attempt faces today.
For one thing, the field isn’t entirely clear. We already have the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), even if its performance so far gives little reason for encouragement.
And while the Green Party might have greater appeal to liberal middle class professionals than to working class communities, they will nevertheless compete to an extent with any new left party unless an accommodation can be reached. The situation in Scotland and Wales is further complicated by the role of the nationalists.
And as we approach the general election, the key priority of voters angry at the coalition will be its defeat and removal, which given our first past the post electoral system is likely see people voting Labour, even if they have to hold their noses to do so.
This is not a counsel of despair, but to recognise that building the foundations for a viable anti-austerity politics will take time. The success of Syriza in Greece, another key development influencing recent thinking on the left, holds lessons here. It emerged precisely as a coalition rather than a party, with the very specific priority of giving practical support to movements which were emerging in the streets, community and workplaces. Only now, nearly 10 years on, is it beginning to slowly, carefully develop the structures of a party.
Ken Loach is right about the crisis of representation, but it won’t be put right overnight. In the meantime, we have to coalesce in practical forms of resisting austerity. In time, this might yet find the kind of electoral expression that thousands want to see.