Letter in the Guardian: The diminishing influence of the left in the Labour party

The GuardianI have a letter in today’s Guardian:

Ken Loach’s article (Labour is not the solution, 28 March) has received a fantastic response – 250 people joined Left Unity over the weekend, when we held our first national conference.

But Labour supporters would rather see us pack up our things and go home. They tell us not to rock the boat for fear of letting the Tories in next year. New Labour was founded on the assumption that Labour could tack as far as it liked to the right and still count on the left vote for lack of an alternative. And tack right it did. Now we have a Labour party signed up to Conservative spending plans, privatisation and a benefits cap that will hit disabled people hard and push 345,000 children into poverty. And whatever you do, don’t mention the (Iraq) war.

Left Unity’s conference in Manchester on Saturday agreed to campaign against austerity and war, to introduce a 35-hour week and a mandatory living wage, and to renationalise the rail and energy companies. These are policies that the vast majority of British people support but Labour, ever in the pockets of big business, will not even consider them. What does this say about the Labour party today? What does it say about the state of British democracy? This is exactly why we need Left Unity.
Salman Shaheen
Principal speaker, Left Unity

I will also be joining Ken Loach and Sharon McCourt in a live Q&A on the Guardian website at 5.30pm today, answering readers’ questions about Left Unity.

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