This is the blog of the Leamington Spa branch of Left Unity, an attempt to form a new party of the left in Britain. To date, we have enjoyed a modest but, by modern left standards, remarkable degree of success – both locally, and nationally.
When Ken Loach issued his appeal for such a party – in the wake of the launch of his brilliant new film about the creation, then stealth destruction, of the welfare state – the response was heartening. To date, nearly 10,000 people have signed his appeal, and 90 local groups have formed or are in the process of forming. Our efforts have attracted some press coverage, Left Unity members have been working in solidarity with all kinds of campaigns around the country, from trade union battles to campaigning against the bedroom tax and to save the NHS (see Left Unity website passim). At the end of this month, after much discussion and debate around the country, we meet for a big national conference to found a new party.
Locally, the story is similar. We answered Ken’s appeal and advertised our presence on Facebook and in ads around the town. A small gathering of seven people who met in a pub has now already more than quadrupled in size. That still makes us far too small if we’re going to make the kind of impact we need to, of course. But by left standards, we’re doing well and moving in the right direction. Since forming, we have featured in the local press, lobbied our local MP, made a bit of a name for ourselves locally, and supported local campaigns, including those to save the NHS, end the bedroom tax, and end low pay at one of the region’s biggest employers, Warwick University. Members of the local Labour and Green parties have, perhaps nervously, perhaps hopefully, been in touch. Just as importantly, we’ve been enjoying ourselves – meeting regularly to organise our activities, welcoming newcomers, discussing what kind of party we want to help create, and debating the serious and desperate issues of our times.
And, despite a lot of scepticism and cynicism about whether Left Unity could avoid the pitfalls that Monty Python has made famous for the left, we have, for the most part, conducted ourselves well – just exactly what the new party will be, and what its policies will be, we have still to decide. But what is already clear is that the new party will be fully open and democratic and inclusive, and committed to ending oppression and discrimination and exploitation of all kinds, not just one glorious day in the future and in society at large, but right now where possible and within our own ranks when necessary. We aim to be the change we wish to see in the world.
We still have a long way to go – most people in the country will still not even have heard of us, and those who have are highly sceptical that we can truly do things differently or make the kind of huge changes that are desperately needed. Of course they are – we are too. But we can’t see an alternative to giving it our best shot. Why not join us and help us do it? Don’t moan, organise!
Some people, however, when they do hear of us, might wonder what on earth the point of it all is. Why should anyone be interested in forming a new party of the left? The answer is very straightforward. A poll this week found that a majority of the British public is far to the left of the Labour party on all kinds of issues – from privatising the NHS, to renationalising the railways and energy companies. On the issue of the NHS alone (see pic), it seems that 93% of people in this country are to the left of Labour. That means the vast majority of people in this country are without political representation in what is ostensibly a democracy. The case for Left Unity makes itself. Join us, and help us create the kind of party that the majority of people in this country are hoping for.
Hell, we’ve even got Trigger on board. What more argument do you need?!