Well! Yesterday was the founding conference for the establishment of Left Unity as a new political party, and we drove down to London at an unfeasibly early hour in order to get there in time. The morning was taken up by voting on ‘platforms’ – basically, ideas of where the party should be and where we should be going. Ken isn’t keen on the platforms but in our party Ken Loach, film director, is just a member like anyone else – and that is exactly how it should be. I think it’s quite dangerous to have charismatic ‘figure-heads’ – whilst they can be inspirational, they can also ‘punch above their weight and wield excessive influence.
So what happened in the morning was that the broad-left platform was agreed and the others were thrown out. This was a huge relief to most of us, as other groups who had been pushing a narrower version of left politics, coming from specifically Socialist or Communist perspectives.
So who are me and what do we believe?
Hang on, did I write ‘who are me’? OK, moving on…
Who are WE? We are a broad-left coalition of people from different perspectives who are not afraid to debate and thrash out the issues. Sometimes I wish we were more afraid, but you can’t have everything. Anyway, though specific policies remain to be thrashed out, we are broadly in favour of renationalising essential services (post, transport, health); we are against excessive greed and global capitalism, and we are exactly what it says on the tin, which is now officially ‘Left Unity’.
So there you have it – and here’s the national website:
My favourite platform, apart from the broad left one, was Platform 9 3/4, which voted to give Ken Loach a cake on his birthday every day of his life. This was accepted and duly given. Platform 9 3/4 was of course an attempt to introduce a little light relief, and was taken as such: what was unintentionally amusing was the bloke who spoke on Scotland. Wearing a shirt saying ‘Another Scotland is Possible’, he started his talk by referring to events from 1684 (or thereabouts) and never really moved on. Why? Why, when everyone in Scotland is buzzing with excitement, when the country is in a ferment of change and decision; when there must be at least some anticipation of a different future (otherwise why wear the t-shirt?) – why, in god’s name, would you bang on about something that happened in 1684? I switched off after a while, but not before I’d had a good laugh.
And blow me if I haven’t gone and left out the best bit! Which was this: in Leicester we have been having meetings involving culture and the arts in the political debate. Richard was due to propose a motion that the arts be recognised as an important part of politics, and I was to give a poem. They told us there was no time: but ho! for Richard! Richard! ho! – for he went and argued with them and we got our two minutes. Even then they weren’t going to let me do my poem (‘one speaker only’) but Richard introduced me and I was on, doing the poem I’d performed at the Leicester meeting.
It went down really well and you can find it here:
It’s about 28 minutes in.
And I must away now for I said I would post the poem to someone.