For so many reasons I think Left Unity has committed political suicide. But those 9,000 or so online petitioners who rallied to Ken Loach’s call won’t go away. Left Unity has just betrayed that appeal. This will become obvious to Ken before too long. Left Unity’s very existence is a function of a failure, or to be more precise a set of failures, by TUSC.
Left Unity has abdicated its responsibility for uniting genuine socialists in the electoral arena. What the left, the real left, needs is to enfranchise those betrayed by Ed Miliband’s increasingly right-wing agenda. Doing that requires more than merely standing candidates (which any idiot can do), but also of developing a strategy for overcoming the hurdle of an anti-democratic first-past-the-post electoral system that has been designed to squeezes the life out of the mass of the electorate. We need to do for trade unionists and all the oppressed with Nigel Farage has done for flat tax, xenophobic Little-Englander Thatcherites. And for that, being there somewhere on the ballot paper is nowhere near enough.
Socialists need to pile on electoral successes. We need to put ourselves on the political map. This can be done by establishing a momentum, by saving deposits, not once in a blue moon, but again and again and again. We need to rapidly get to the position where we take it as a give that we will secure seats under proportional representation elections. We need to eat substantially into the base of more established social democratic organizations that have alienated their voters, giving them an incentive to actually sit up and take notice of how their traditional voters, and even rank and file members, are actually listening to what we say. We need to galvanize enough who would otherwise abstain to actually show up on polling day despite not expecting us to win the seat.
Short of winning many seats, we can still drag the political center of gravity in completely a progressive direction. And that is enough, at least in the short term, to create space for ourselves, to create an increasingly favorable political climate within which further organizational growth and electoral victories are likely, inevitable even. Then we move towards the more traditional victories in that we actually become a player inside as well as outside the debating chamber, with an ability to affect the electoral arithmetic.
Now that Left Unity is refusing to do any of this, where on earth do we go next?
Left Unity has abandoned socialism to cobble together an unprincipled pact of Kinnockites. These people will fall out amongst themselves before too long. That means the time is ripe for TUSC’s ISN to fix the problems it has. Every crisis is an opportunity for those who know how to look. The rise and fall of Left Unity is the opportunity for TUSC to reach out to all genuine supporters of real left unity.