Greece’s ‘Coalition of the Radical Left’ Syriza (photo of their recent Conference shown above) which has grown in the last five years to become the country’s largest political party; Denmark’s Red-Green Alliance; Spain’s Podemos, and here in England, Lewisham’s People Before Profit coalition (there are many other similar examples) all point the way to best way for Greens, Socialists and the wider Left to not only mount a serious challenge to the established parties at local and national elections, but how to build up the radical Green, Socialist and wider Left movement in the longer term.
As the great revolutionary Lenin also famously said in his pamphlet: What is to be done
“Only those who are unsure of themselves can fear to enter into temporary alliances, even with unreliable people. Not a single party could be built without such alliances.”
Based on the above examples, and the work of those in Lewisham (were sadly, their local coalition does not yet include the Green Party) I think ‘Wigan People Before Profit‘ would be a pretty good name for us to suggest for a campaigning and electoral alliance or coalition of all parties, groups and individuals on the Left of our own, in the Wigan area, which might more effectively challenge Labour and the Tories, and insurgent UKIP at the May elections, than any of those parties, groups and/or individuals attempting to do it alone.
This has to be a better idea than repeated ‘Life of Brian’ type offerings from the Left (in which I’d include the Greens and CAP as well as Left Unity and the SWP and SP in Wigan) and our continued competing with one another for party members, and at the polls.
It makes sense all the more so when lots of working class people self-evidently can’t see or don’t understand that UKIP, far from being a ‘People’s Army’ with their best interests at heart, is really a ‘Thatcherism on steroids’ party, who are, should they get a whiff of power, potentially far more dangerous to them and other ordinary working class people than the Tories or Labour have ever been.
I make the point because many similarly, including even those of a left-wing inclination, can’t see or understand what it is that we’re all generally saying that is so different from one another when it comes to issues such as fracking, the environment and climate change, TTIP, privatisation of the NHS, cuts and austerity, the banks, the need for greater equality and social justice, a ban on zero hours contracts, better trades union and workplace rights, opposition to wars overseas, the need to end the scapegoating of Muslims, and/or benefit claimants, and blaming the EU and Eastern European and other migrants, for all our problems, etc, etc, etc?
And why should they? Aren’t they more or less the same?
The question begging is: why can’t Wigan’s Community Action Party, Wigan & Leigh Greens, Wigan Left Unity and local supporters of the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition, plus any other Left party or group, or any one else on the Left who isn’t presently aligned with any party or group who might want to sign up to the idea, not only agree not to stand against each other in the elections, but to even be as radical as to agree to work together and campaign together, wherever possible and practically feasible, in our respective workplaces, unions and other organisations, and in our respective communities, to promote our commonly shared policies to the wider public, in both the run up to the elections and afterwards? Also, to give expression to this with an agreed name, such as I am suggesting, which might also be added to the ballot paper after the name of any other party, which would identify them as part of a local coalition as well as the Greens, LU, CAP, TUSC or whoever?
No one need for anyone to abandon their own existing party identity
There’s absolutely no one need for anyone to abandon their own existing party identity or allegiances (or none) but rather only for everyone to simply agree and say as individuals and members of whatever party in the Wigan area they are in (or not), [the main reason for it being because none of us are in a position to seriously challenge Labour across the Borough by ourselves, and because it makes practical sense to work with others of not too dissimilar political views], that they are also going to be working with others, on such a basis, as part of a broader local coalition of the Left called “Wigan People Before Profit” (or Wigan Borough or Wigan & Leigh or whatever) which aims to support a commonly agreed slate of candidates to stand in all of Wigan Borough’s 25 wards in May (rather than the 17 wards which 19 candidates from CAP/GP/LU/TUSC stood in last time).
Who knows, maybe, or might it be going too far, we could even possibly agree to collectively explore the possibility of supporting/fielding a candidate at the General election in one or more of Wigan’s three constituencies on a similar basis?
In the election, a member of CAP for example, could under this arrangement, stand as both a CAP and Wigan People Before Profit candidate; a member of Left Unity, as Left Unity & WPBP; a member of the Green Party, as GP and WPBP; a supporter of TUSC, as TUSC and WPBP and so on. Something similar was done last May when Dawud Islam stood for both TUSC and the Respect Party in Ward in Rochdale, so it’s entirely possible, and not rocket science. Indeed TUSC and Left Unity are already discussing the possibility of a similar kind of arrangement between themselves.
Such a coalition would obviously be a political news item across the Borough, and would surely help show that a fair chunk of the Left in our area are at least attempting to work more closely together, and supporting each other, whatever the party they are in, as well as those not in any party, and if elected, have agreed (if we can manage to do that) to similarly work together on the Council as a group.
This has got to have much more credibility with the electorate than say even 6 from the Greens, 9 from CAP, 8 from Left Unity and two from TUSC would have, all simply standing separately and just pushing their own individual ‘small national party’ message locally.
A single borough wide leaflet like TUSC produced in Salford with all the candidates listed, explaining what WPBP is about, and outlining a basic set of principles the Coalition is agreed on would surely help to present us as potentially THE most serious borough wide political opposition to Labour from the Left EVER, and provide a platform from which we could additionally help push back UKIP in the process.
Our perspective I believe, should be to help to develop a new Left political culture in Wigan which might lay the basis in the not to distant future for candidates from the Left, from what ever party (or none) to get elected, right across the Borough, and in the meantime, to work constructively together towards common objectives. This kind of arrangement should also provide better conditions for ‘comradely’ debate between everyone involved, and maybe even to resolve some if not all of the things that currently divide us into our existing separate parties.
We surely cannot but at the very least explore it as a possibility?