Left Unity will not flourish if it reduces itself to a loose network of individuals unconcerned with how the behavior of each of us impacts on the rest of the organisation. Left Unity does need democratic accountability, and spokespersons capable of singing from the same hymnsheet, albeit with a degree of autonomy. Ignore this need for some centralisation and each and every one of us will be held responsible for mavericks bringing the entire project into disrepute.
Let me repeat: I do agree with the thrust of John’s argument, but we need to be careful about things like direct action. Left Unity doesn’t want to be heavy handed. We need to welcome initiative and creativity by individuals and local groups. However, we need to appreciate what can go wrong if central authority evaporates completely.
When Rupert Murdoch had to face his accusers live on television when summoned to give evidence by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, one individual protestor took an individual decision to place a pie in his face. This fed his need for attention, but proved counterproductive for the rest of us. Nasty creep that he is, Murdoch was an old man in an extremely stressful situation. For all the pie man knew, Murdoch could have had a heart attack. Had he discussed his stunt with others, they should have told him this was a bad idea.
On demonstrations things can get out of hand, and individuals can get carried away and end up with serious criminal records for doing things the rest of us would not dream of supporting. The leadership of Left Unity needs to give guidance to the rest of us what is and what is not acceptable: occupations – good; dropping heavy objects from building with no regard to public safety – very bad indeed.
Left Unity has to be more than a hangout for collections of local activists from a variety of single issue campaigns, who don’t care if the resources they win comes out of the pocket of other single issue campaigns: pensioners and students, for example, attempting to pinch each others pockets.
Left Unity clearly become a beacon for rejects from Labour who do not want socialism anymore than Tony Blair does. These sectarians want to keep socialists out. Socialists need to fight back against those attracted to the politics of Eduard Bernstein and Neil Kinnock.
The only way for Left Unity to make any progress at the ballot box (which is essential whatever Simon thinks) is to explain where we will find the resources for the things we fight for. Ed Balls and all the other Keynesians want to borrow. That is a rather anti-socialist strategy. Global capitalism is drowning in debt. Doesn’t Holland’s inevitable betrayal reminds us yet again that we can’t control what we don’t own?
If Left Unity doesn’t care about where the money is coming from, voters will treat us with contempt, and rightly so. Voters know that our election promises will be as meaningless as those of the Lib Dems and Holland unless we can explain who pays for our reform programme.
UKIP has only came under serious scrutiny for the massive black hole in its manifesto in the last few weeks. Due to its having been promoted as the establishment’s one and only safe non-of-the-above protest vote receptacle for months, it turned out to be far too late for the broadcast and print media to damage UKIP in the week or so running up to last Thursday’s elections. First-past-the-post electoral system has now created a massive problem for the Tory establishment, and that is the silver cloud that they left has to cling to.
But this scrutiny of UKIP will start now, and they will be forced to downgrade their promises. Left Unity cannot rely on the kind of favorable media promotion of the establishment. From day one, we can only make head way by explaining that we are not going to trade off the legitimate demands of one section of society against the legitimate demands of another.
If borrowing on the markets won’t work, what will? We need to explain that, as was always implicit in Clause Four prior to Tony Blair’s ripping it up, profits do indeed derive from surplus value exploited from the wage slaves. That is why Left Unity has zero problem taking back the means of production, distribution and exchange, and we have no problem with diy expropriation by the workers themselves, occupation of factories, offices etc, closed down by the capitalists.
Left Unity is not going to allow the mass media (owned lock, stock and barrel by the richest one percent) to continue to act as a noisy megaphone for the profiteering parasites.
If capitalism can no longer afford the 99% (and it cannot), then we cannot afford it. Transitional demands are our bridge between the demands popular with the none-of-the-above majority today into substantial votes by Left Unity for a radical redistribution of wealth and power from the haves to the have-nots.