Left Unity needs TUSC and vice versa. TUSC’s electoral strategy was always a problem and would have to change radically even if it was not for the welcome mushrooming, in the last few weeks, of yet another franchise for the left of Labour vote. We’ve had the Socialist Labour Party, Socialist Alliance, Respect, Scottish Socialist Party, Solidarity and TUSC. And now there’s Left Unity.
Most of the older groups are still hanging around. Most of them clinging on by their fingertips, indifferent to every new challenger for those crumbs left over when the big parties votes have been counted. Having lost faith in the electorate’s willingness to recognise how great they are, no longer caring that any vote for them under first past the post is now seen as just another wasted vote, comrades seem to be doing little more than going through the motions: they are fighting for the ‘dignity’ of getting a slightly less embarrassing vote than most of the rest of the People’s Front of Judea factions. Has Left Unity resigned itself to joining this depressingly long list of socialists with such limited ambition? Can’t Left Unity agree to play its part in dealing with the damage each of these historic ‘left unity’ projects have bequeathed to our class?
Left Unity has to appreciate the need to actually win votes. Many votes. It is not essential to actually capture all that many seats in the short term. We certainly can entertain no hopes of winning enough seats to form a majority government at Westminster any time soon. Nevertheless, we need to go from strength to strength. And that requires that we engage in dialogue with our class, and not the noisy monologue of ultra-left sectarians. We need welcome feedback from the voter to modify how we are relating to our working class constituency.
What are the landmarks Left Unity need to cross on our way to winning hegemony within society as a whole, which, by the way, has to be our long term ambition, and we should be absolutely open about that.
Firstly, we need to save deposits, not once in a blue moon, but as a matter of course, something we take for granted. If we keep falling over at that first hurdle, then we may as well pack it in until we figure out what we are doing wrong.
When we get high-profile parliamentary by-elections, we need to seize them. In the last few months, TUSC has had many of these but has not oriented towards them the way I believe they should. Left Unity needs to help TUSC to discuss what we are doing right, what we are doing wrong. And then we need to unite. We cannot afford to stand against each other under first past the post. Indeed, we have enough in common that we really should not take the risk of standing against each other even when the threshhold for getting elected is so much lower. TUSC and Left Unity need to fuse as soon as possible. Each would be so much more than the sum of our parts. Who can seriously disagree with that?
TUSC should ask for negotiations with Left Unity. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, Left Unity comrades have proposed a leadership, thus far, alas, not one elected by its 7,000 supporters. Secondly, major political events are bursting through to the top of the agenda that TUSC and Left Unity have to relate to as a matter of extreme urgency. We need to adopt a core message around which the 7,000 plus can unite. We need to offer to the working class alternative to what is on offer from Ed Miliband. The alienation of the working class to the establishment’s fawning over Maggie Thatcher is one glaring example of how we need to unite.
Left Unity and TUSC has to come together and appreciate what is good about coordinating interventions with our class at a central level. That will allow us to tap into the alienation from and resistance to the British establishment, including Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet. That can help us turn the tide, if we are up for that.
We have a mere two weeks to exploit the David Miliband’s by-election? Can we not agree to a united Left Unity/TUSC candidate? Pretty please?
Can we not try to encourage the papers of the left to help comrades standing for TUSC and Left Unity to help all candidates at the coming elections, instead of allowing the ultra-Thatcherites of Nigel Farage’s UKIP to pose as the only credible alternative protest vote, with Left Unity and TUSC to keen to focus their respective anger on the candidates of each other? Can’t we agree to that much, comrades? If we can bring members of the SLP and Respect on board some kind of electoral pact, then that too would be worthwhile.
Can’t we try to agree to a set of rules about how we relate to instances of individual acts of rebellion by MPs from Labour, Greens, SNP? When Glenda Jackson makes some noises that we can applaud, then can’t we applaud, rather than simply sneer from the sidelines? Can’t we bank any movement in the direction of the left, say, “thank you, now can I have some more?” Let us support the left in the Labour Party, Greens, SNP etc like the rope supports the hanged man. In the process of making such a strategic orientation, it is not even inconceivable that some of them will make the break. Owen Jones, John McDonnell are a couple who may join a united Left Unity/TUSC electoral alternative, provided we actually get our act together.
And even if it takes Owen and John a long time to make up their minds, I’ll still support them when they side with the left rather than their right-wing critics like Ed Miliband and Dan Hodges. Any day.