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What has Left unity got to do with winning elections?

Left unityThe new left party which sees itself as the sister party of Syriza, has revealed its election strategy. Left Unity had already publicly pledged not to clash with other anti-austerity candidates in the general election, whether they are anti-austerity candidates of the Labour Left or from other left organisations to the left of Labour. Now they say they won’t stand in Labour/ Conservative marginals either. Whilst you may well question why they propose to stand at all when their electoral prospects are no better than that of TUSC, it is at least a more constructive, non-sectarian approach.

In order to to avoid clashes with other parties of the left and “move towards electoral pacts – with the initial aim of creating the largest ever left challenge in the 2015 General Election” , they propose to open discussions with a wide range of other left parties including the Greens, the Socialist Party’s TUSC, Class War, Respect, the Communist Party of Britain, the National Health Action Party and Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party. I wish them much luck with that project.

Left Unity‘s key criteria for standing candidates in the General Election are as follows:

  • We should identify key constituencies where we have a strong local identity e.g. as part of local campaigns, by consulting branches and regions.
  • We should avoid standing in Labour/Conservative marginals.
  • We should avoid standing against anyone who publicly commits to neither support nor implement a cuts programme.
  • We should stand in primarily working class constituencies and where there are low voter turn outs.
  • We must consider the cost implications of standing any candidates. Each candidate’s deposit currently costs £500.
  • We could stand around a dozen candidates in the general election. We should stand a larger number of candidates in the local elections.

What is wrong with this electoral strategy, if you can call it that? Where is the electorate in it – what is the appeal to them? Do they expect the new 3D electoral pendulum to suddenly swing in their direction and media interest to follow?

Some may say that this is not the best time to learn lessons from Syriza but I’d argue that the was and is nothing wrong with their focus on achieving state power in order to make radical changes in society. They managed to acheive that without any support from the Greek Communist Party, though it remains a not insignififcant force, nor from other minor parties of the left. Two groups of people who don’t feature in these planned discussions are leading trade unionists and Labour Left organisations, both of which are very much focused on state power for socialist change. No viable electoral strategy can be developed in Britain without the support and cooperation of these two.

Left Unity would achieve more by talking to us, not to mention working with us on winning those Labour/Conservative marginals rather than  just ignoring them.

2 Comments

  1. RussellC2 says:

    Given the tight criteria the state, there isn’t a case for standing anyone on this ‘platform’. We had a dozen candidates in Luton South last time including some who will be associated with LU (plus Esther Rantzen) all of whom thought they could replace Margaret Moran.
    Labour held the seat.
    LU should wake up and smell the offie!

  2. Peter Rowlands says:

    As author of the last piece about LU can I say that what is being proposed is mightily irrelevant to the situation we face, as LU stands no better chance of getting more than a miniscule vote wherever it stands than any of the other left groups, but with two exceptions. These are Respect, but only in a very limited number of seats, and the Greens, who at 7% in the polls now pose a substantial threat, not in terms of winning seats but of preventing Labour winning the seats it will need to form a government. Unlike the very considerate LU they are standing everywhere. They have probably mainly attracted a left vote that came to Labour from the Lib-Dems but has moved to the Greens as Labour has not appeared sufficiently radical. It is probably too late to change that, but not to appeal to potential Green voters to consider whether they want to be the cause of a continuing Tory government. This is the left challenge that urgently needs a response.

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