Left Unity spokesperson Simon Hardy is here exposing one of the weaknesses of Left Unity: the left hand doesn’t know what the right one is doing.
Would Ken Loach have no problem echoing what Simon says here? I very much doubt that. Glenda Jackson gave voice to the overwhelming majority of our class on the day that Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet and backbench MPs (those who felt able to turn up) capitulated lock, stock and barrel to giving voice to hypocritical eulogies for a class warrior who stood on the opposite side of the ideological barricades from every socialist.
Thatcher defended General Pinochet’s counterrevolution in Chile, drowning democracy in blood. She backed apartheid South Africa against Nelson Mandela and the ANC. Thatcher it was who wasted a fortune in her bid to crush the vanguard of the organized working class (the miners), as a lesson to the rest of us. She fomented hatred against LGBT people, helping the cops provoke riots due to their harrassment of Black youth,which in turn gave the red light to the illiterate fascist thugs who put their boots and razor blades where her mouth was.
Thatcher privatized public assets at cheap prices, using market deregulation to help the rich get richer and richer while a debt time bomb of global economic chaos ticked away in the background when North Sea Oil started to run out in Britain, and every nation in the advanced capitalist world faced similar problems.
Mass non-payment of the Poll Tax was to prove the final nail in her coffin. Either that or the riots which exploded in Trafalgar Square, but fueled by all the alienation she caused, inspired by the mass non-payment campaign.
The British establishment is busy rewriting history. The BBC, SKY, Channel Four News join the Tory Party, Lib Dems and the overwhelming majority of the Labour leadership still in the thrall of Tony Blair are part of this rewriting of history. They lie in the hope the masses will never be able to put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle back together again when it comes to the reality of Margaret Thatcher’s legacy.
Only a single MP had the guts to stand up against the tide of Thatcherite bullshit in the House of Commons. Only one solitary Labour MP made a speech that anyone will remember. Glenda Jackson knew perfectly well the shit-storm she would have to put up with for doing this. Given the abuse she has suffered, only an ultra-left would choose to play Pontius Pilate in this case, just as only an ultra-left would refuse to stand side by side with George Galloway in his raising his head above the parapet over over the cancellation of this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
Some members of Left Unity want to make a big deal about their lack of centralization. They contrast this to parties like the SWP and SP. This lack of centralization is, however, not necessarily a good thing. It means that Simon Hardy can make ill-considered statements despite being championed as an official Left Unity organizer/spokesperson and his statement potentially misrepresented by the mass media as indicative of the opinions of all 7,000 signatories to the Left Unity statement. And self-evidently, they are no such thing.
No one could object to Simon nor anyone else having misgivings, then calling for fine tuning of Left Unity’s public statements, possibly even endorsing his take on this, if he is not immediately won over by the majority of his comrades. However, Simon must have foreseen that what he said would prove highly controversial amongst the 7,000 Left Unity signatories. He must have known that this could potentially damage us all if his example of ultra-leftism was taken as indicative of the thinking of the organisation as a whole.
Simon could have posed his anxieties about some of the positive comments about Glenda Jackson’s speech as being over the top. However, there is no way he can legitimately dismiss what she said as no better than the statements of Ed Miliband, Tony Blair or David Cameron. Simon could have framed his comment in terms of a series of questions. He could have explored not whether Left Unity should support uncritically what she said, but whether she should have gone a lot further. Simon could have exposed the limited nature of her commitment to fighting for an alternative to Thatcherism, and expanded on this to make reference to her needing to move beyond her own past political perspectives. That would be fine. We might not expect her to do that. However, for polemical purposes it would be something worth pursuing. It cannot even be ruled out that we are witnessing the beginings of a road to Damascus for our Glenda. Other right-wingers have seen the light relatively late in life. The polarisation of societies all across the capitalist world throws up the potential for new alliances, just as we saw some marked radical shifts left-wards by some pretty right-wing social democrats in the 1930s, in the wake of the rise of Hitler. If Simon wanted to do any of this, he could hardly cram it into a 140 character tweet, of course. So what? That is what blogs are for.
Left Unity needs to start to appreciate the strengths as well as the potential weaknesses of ‘centralism’. Simon Hardy’s ultra-left comment is just one example of why Left Unity needs to embrace a certain degree of healthy centralism.