The country yearns for better politics. There is an “endemic distrust of political process”. Left Unity has had a warm welcome by all of us that want better government, but can it do this?
I suggest that, unless Left Unity finds a way of doing politics differently, it is a waste of time creating yet another new party.
At the meeting last Wednesday, I gathered that the Left Unity movement is set on creating a new party. Green Party members present were not at all impressed. They said why should they support the creation of yet another party? Why should their party, which already has the right policies, be elbowed aside?
I guess this could be a common reaction and I suggest that, without the full support of those who see sustainability as vital, the Left Unity movement would be, at least, a very lame duck.
I suggested that, rather than itself being a party, Left Unity should be a “movement” with which any candidate can associate, for example as “Labour Left Unity”*, “Green Left Unity” or “Independent Left Unity”.
If there has to be a party then it should be formulated so that Green Party candidates, for example, are not considered second class to Left Unity candidates.
We are surely looking at an electoral pact under a Left Unity umbrella; sheltering impartially with others under an umbrella is incompatible with being at the same time that umbrella.
Before rushing in to create a new party, we need to look at how parties actually work now and how it could be done differently.
At the moment a typical party has a core of policy makers who meet in grand houses or smoke-filled rooms and decide on actual party policies. These are then presented to members at party conferences for rubber stamping. Individual members have to accept things they do not really like if they want to continue a career in politics. The voice of the Whip overrides the voice of the electors.
Can a party operate effectively without Whips? Can the new party formulation take its direction directly and transparently from the whole Left Unity movement? How, in these days of the internet, would it actually work? Can we crowdsource policy? How does the Green Party do things?
*There is a precedence for this. In the 60s there was an active cooperative movement and there were “Labour and Cooperative” members. (Stan Newens in the Harlow constituency for example). Also this course provides a means of reforming Labour from without, rather than from within, by making candidates that do not have the Left Unity badge less electable.