Can there be a new left party? Ken Loach – and 2,000 people – hope so

Film director Ken Loach has called for the creation of a new party of the left in Britain. Kate Hudson explains why she is supporting the call
19 March 2013


Austerity is wreaking economic catastrophe on the people of Cyprus, but George Osborne is still following the same disastrous policies. This week's budget comes as no surprise - yet another £2.5 billion in cuts. He's digging us even further into an economic hole, and ordinary people are paying the price. The virulence of the government's economic attacks knows no bounds: Atos, workfare, the bedroom tax - punitive policies against the most vulnerable in society.

Where can we turn politically? Who is on our side, to fight for an alternative? In the past we expected the Labour Party to stand for us, and with us, but no longer.

Workfare? Today Labour abstained on the vote and now the government can work over a quarter of a million jobseekers. Bedroom tax? Will a Labour government repeal it?

We need policies that reject Tory cuts, regenerate the economy and improve the lives of ordinary people. We are not getting this from Labour.

There is no doubt that Labour's past achievements have been remarkable - the welfare state, the NHS; a redistributive economy making unprecedented levels of health and happiness possible. But such achievements are in the past. Now Labour embraces cuts and privatisation and is dismantling its own great work. Labour has failed us. Nothing shows the contrast more clearly than Ken Loach's new film, The Spirit of '45.

Now Ken is calling on people to join the discussion on forming a new party of the left. The working class cannot remain without political representation, without defence, when all its victories and advances are being destroyed. Over 2,000 people have signed up to Ken's appeal within three days of its launch. Please support it urgently.

Ken Loach's appeal is at


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Barrie 19 March 2013, 22.18





99 %

Peter Garbutt 19 March 2013, 22.38

I thoroughly approve of Ken Loach’s appeal for Unity on the Left. The Coalition Government needs ousting asap, and Labour aren’t opposing.

But in calling for a new party, he demonstrates an ignorance of the landscape already in existence on the Left. There are three main forces, two of which have an MP each; the Greens – of which I am one – Respect, and the TUSC, itself a coalition between trades unions and other socialist parties.

It will be for members of TUSC and Respect to put their opinions forward. Below I attempt to make it clear that, in the Green Party at least, there is already a party that meets all Mr Loach’s policy aims (and many more).

At our recent conference, Greens voted to make more explicit our wish for a more equal world by inserting into our philosophical basis a support for social justice. This is manifested anyway in many of our policies and our actions on the ground; we have been and still are active (from early 2011) in fighting for the NHS, trying to alert the public to its eventual disintegration and privatisation; we have been and still are active in the welfare reform protests, whether it be workfare or the bedroom tax.

We have called for investment in housing and in green infrastructure, we have called for a living wage (well before Labour were onto it) and for the closure of tax loopholes. We reject neo-liberal economics, as a glance at our 2010 manifesto will confirm. We want a break-up of the banks, a ban on food speculation, and a Robin Hood Tax. We have been vocal in our anti-war stance, our anti-trident stance, our anti nuclear power stance. Oh, and yes, we want to combat climate change, which is a potent existential threat to our civilisations (Mr Loach doesn’t mention this, but I expect he wants that, too).

If you add to all this an existing structure with active local parties up and down the country, many councillors (140, I think), and a couple of brilliant MEPs, the idea of forming another new party from scratch, just to do the same job, seems a little like an unnecessary luxury.

I’d just like to add that Left parties do not receive a great deal of media attention, due of course to the political bias in media ownership (to say nothing of the cravenness of the BBC). Nevertheless, Greens have managed better than any other Left party to build electoral success, however small as yet, and that in the areas where we’ve had that success, we are very well regarded by voters.

John 19 March 2013, 23.33

I agree with Peter. I’m a Green and the party’s not perfect but it’s pretty good and getting better all the time as the young eco-socialist greens replace the older deep greens (a generalisation of course).

I’d like to know what policies this new party will have that are different from the green partys.

I think the Greens do need a change of rhetoric and emphasis though, we need to stop talking about recycling and start talking about class, transport costs, poverty and unemployment etc. and that’s why we need an influx of socialists and for the left to unite behind us.

Happy to be disagreed with though, I actually signed the appeal as I’m open to discussions about it.
We also have the benefit of being a (sometimes-painfully) democratic party

marc jones 19 March 2013, 23.58

This is a welcome intervention for the English left, but let’s not forget this is an Anglocentric appeal. There is a left party in Wales that has 160 councillors, 3 MPs and 11 Assembly Members. It is Plaid Cymru, the only party challenging Labour’s neo-liberal orthodoxy from the left.

dave johnson 20 March 2013, 00.26

The Labour Party is now forever tarnished with its warmongering in Iraq, its greedy MPs in the expenses scandal, its full blooded embracement of neo-liberalism, and a whole lot more, not least being one of the worst governments in living memory between 05 -10.

The brand is toxic. Its MPs toxic and hated by the majority of the people it’s supposed to serve.The abstention in parliament today over Workfare is disgusting; but so too is its stance on many other issues – do you really think the NHS is safe under Labour? No, neither do I. Its only real chance of victory is because the coalition is just so almightily crap.Labour is truly hated – even in its supposed heartlands.

Blair destroyed The Labour Party – took it apart bit by bit and destroyed its reason for being.

We could dream that the Blairite cancer could be cut out, vaporised, expelled – imagine the majority if Milliband, Balls, Byrne et el would just disappear?

If that cant happen, then yes REAL Labour should field candidates – I feel they’d have REAL success. Smaller ‘none of the above’ parties like UKIP will soon take over. Remember Bradford West?

The public are sick, SICK of these professional politicians; mid 40s white public school boys – there’s going to be real trouble if there is no representation soon.

Well done Ken for getting this going!

Kevin Mason 20 March 2013, 04.46

I am so shocked at the threat of Labor support for this travesty and denial of justice.

I have only two questions When is the vote ?

My Union is about to ballot for the political levy which is part of the Thatcher Legislation to cut Financial support for Trade Unions.
How can I support a parliamentary Labor Party that supports an illegal act against its own people?

I now feel so strongly about this I will be viewing the voting lists from the Houses of Parliament to find out which Labour turn coats voted for this by abstaining I will then actively campaign to remove any form of Support from my Union from them. I find it abborant that they have not had the decency to fight for the basic rule of law for the unfortunate and unemployed.

This should have been a vote of no confidence in this shame of a Coalition instead it is turning into an electoral suicide note for the Labor party

Rachel 20 March 2013, 07.59

Agree with Peter and John on the whole, also member of Green Party, so of course likely I would. But kind of despair that people like Ken Loach and Kate Hudson seem to be ignoring the Green Party. Why ? Would also like to know how this new parties policies would be different to Green Party policies, good point John.
Am myself ex L/P member and more recently ex voter. I thought for years there was no alternative, but there is, there, right under your nose.
So, as well as wanting to know how this new party would be different, would it stand candidates against Green Party candidates ? Would we have another situation like with the NHS action party who continually claimed they were the only ones fighting to save the NHS and studiously ignoring all the work the Greens have done and are doing ? Cameron and his ilk will continue to destroy and wreck unless those who have different ideas do unite. It’s not just a question of uniting against them either, getting back to the disgrace that calls itself the Labour Party. They will continue the coalitions work when/if elected and will need a strong united opposition.

Ceri 20 March 2013, 08.37

Where can we turn politically? Who is on our side, to fight for an alternative?

That is the question, but is a new party the answer?

Yes, I’m another person wondering why the Green party is being ignored. Is it just because its name is ‘Green’ and its mostly associated with environmental issues? Do people not realise how socialist it is and what good work it has been doing for social and economic justice? If so, check out before you reject the Greens in ignorance.

John ffitch 20 March 2013, 08.39

I too used to work for the Labour Party, in the 1970s and 1980s, election work, ran committee rooms etc as I thought the Labour Party stood for fairness and equality. More recently I have voted for the only left of centre candidate, which here is the Green. They do seem the most likely to advocate socialist policies. I do hope that we do not end up with another split on the left — I still smart when remembering the SDP actions that gave us Thatcherism for years. But something needs to be done about the LP.

Will Podmore 20 March 2013, 10.21

Unity of the left? With the rape apologists of the SWP? With Greens who oppose sane energy policies?
Loach is launching yet another diversion from the class politics we need, based on working within our trade unions to make them do their difficult elementary job of defending our members’ wages and conditions.

Michael Tressell 20 March 2013, 13.02

the word ‘working class’ or even ‘class’ is never used. This is a fundamental problem. Replacing th work class with ‘ordinary people’ shows that there exists a lack of class consiousness. Any new ‘left’ party must grow out of working class struggle and organization. The development of a workers party is essential, not just another ‘left’ party. A party without a true revolutionary program will never amount to anything of a threat to the capitalist system we have today. Simply having some reformist policies like the Greens and Respect will never amount to anything, as such policies are impossible to implement in this system.
What’s the program to work within and mobilize the working class? This continuous move away from class consiouness only works to strenghten the system. The capitalist division of society is as true today as it has ever been. Marx didn’t say ‘common people of the world unite!’ for a reason, the only way this barbarism will be destroyed is through working class mobilization. The austerity cuts are not cuts against the ‘odinary people’, they are against the working class. Britain needs to develop a workers party, developed through the struggles of te working class with a revolutionary program. This is where the left has failed in Britain and this is the cause of the crises in the left that exists. Where to Begin? A question lenin posed and very much one the workers(left) in Britain needs to tackle. What we need is a progressive development kin to that in Bolivia in recent days :

Michael Tressell 20 March 2013, 13.12

Where are the Greens, Respect et al in the development of workers movements? Rather than act as purely beurocratic reformist political parties?

How about supporting the strikes across europe, builing with the workers across europe and the rest of the world? The crises of capitalism is not a national one and neither are the struggles of the working class?

How about call for general strikes?

Eric 20 March 2013, 13.35

If the green party made its policy of the citizens income its primary showcase policy. That would be job done and no need for yet another new party

The NO Party 20 March 2013, 16.07

We had the same idea a month ago and are trying to start a new party that will be staffed, supported and representative of the people of this country!
Find our more…

Roy Jones 21 March 2013, 15.57

Roy Jones ….Not a nother bleedin left party isn’t there enough for everyone or should we all have one each and then we’d have no one to argue with.. well maybe in an empty house someone would… Kate you should have known better

Leopold Bloom 21 March 2013, 16.17

Greens just want to build wind turbines everysoddingwhere. Nimbies.
No one has a clue as to what to do to balance the bleeding budget. No, it’s all about class, environment, climate change… one talks of paying off debt. Ok to use other people’s money?

Get real.

William Bowles 21 March 2013, 20.26

In spite of Labour’s imperialist nature, those on the ‘left’ still can’t call the Labour Party a party of imperialism! I suppose old habits die hard.

But at least Loach has, hopefully, broken his addiction to the party of imperialism, formerly the party of (organized) labour.

Yes, the NHS, a ‘redistributive economy’ etc. but all to maintain the power of capitalism, which in that postwar period was threatened with a real socialist alternative, but one sold out in the name of ‘reforming’ capitalism.

So now Loach calls for yet another party of the left [sic]. I despair.

Rupert Ferguson 22 March 2013, 01.41

The reason why Ken Loach is so right about so many things is that he understands a great deal about socially deprived Working Class people who have effectively been left behind by the political and economic mainstream. Anyone who has seen and understands the sub-text of, and the motivation behind, such great screen classics as ‘The Angels Share’ will be aware of the point that I am trying to make before I even make it! Putting young Scottish working class kidults with a history of young offending who would never have had a hope of making anything of and/or doing anything with their lives in a real movie in front of real audiences at major international film festivals, such as Cannes, has done more for youngsters aspirations at street level in Glasgow than thirteen years of Neo Lib New Lab Government ever did! Right on Ken! We love ya!

Peter Tatchell 22 March 2013, 03.01

There is already a radical party of the left. It’s called the Green Party – and it’s more successful than any UK left party has ever been before.

Most left critics of the Greens have never bothered to read actual Green Party policy, which is more radical on social and global justice than most traditional left groupings.

Although I greatly admire Ken Loach, Kate Hudson et al there is no reason to believe that the left is capable of creating a viable new left party. Just look at the fate of the Socialist Alliance, Scottish Socialist Party, Respect etc. Sad but true.

Of course the Greens aren’t perfect. But they are better than being in the left-wing wilderness – isolated, powerless and ineffectual.

My honest opinion is that it is best for left-wingers to join and strengthen the existing radical left alternative: the Greens.

We welcome you.

Bill Raymond 23 March 2013, 12.22

Yes, I’m moving in the direction that Peter Tatchell indicates too. The Greens are the best alternative around, abeit far from perfect. Both the social democratic and Leninist models have failed. The latter just wanted to mitigate capitalism and manage it better and the latter was never viable in an advanced capitalist context. Socialists need a new model, and this has to be a broad based eco-socialism, not a marginal force that concentrates on ‘workers’ as if the ravages of capitalist renewal hadn’t changed the the class structure forever. Eco-socialists need to focus on building an alliance between those excluded from work, those lumpen-proletarianised by neoliberalism, those who work for their living, pensioners (many of them part owners of capital through pension funds), and indeed ‘Middleband’s squeezed middle’. It won’t be easy and will requre peeling of sections of the Labout party – or developing a meta-party acrosss the existing divisions, which could field a list of left-green candidates from various stables: probably the only viable appraoch in the strange electoral system of the London partliament.

Jerry Spring 23 March 2013, 15.09

William Bowles was spot on in asserting that “the ‘left’ still can’t call the Labour Party a party of imperialism!”, so much so that the three comments which followed his effectively confirmed that to be the case.

Rupert Ferguson pays a loving tribute to Ken Loach’s understanding of social deprivation of the working class, but where is Loach’s understanding of Attlee’s betrayal lurking behind the ‘Spirit of ‘45‘ ?

Peter Tatchell, in the fond belief that he is not in the “left-wing wilderness – isolated, powerless and ineffectual.”, imagines that a Green “radical party of the left” would not be absorbed into the governmental structures of the imperialist United Kingdom.

Bill Raymond typically avoids mentioning imperialism, by simply referring to it as advanced capitalism. He asserts that both “the social democratic and Leninist models failed”, apparently without understanding that they are both social democratic – the former being evolutionary and the latter being revolutionary. More to the point, the battle between them is still going on. So for him, the Greens will make a better job of mitigating capitalism and managing it better.

laurence 30 March 2013, 21.35

I’m another Green Party member. Jerry Spring’s marxist critique of social democratic parties is understandable but not of interest to most of us. Loach’s choice of the 1945 Labour government as subject is precisely of appeal because capitalism was actually mitigated, as opposed to a bunch of theorists sitting in a pub creating an ideal, imaginary utopia to believe in. Most hardcore old-school marxists are still in denial about climate change. But time is not on our side, and waiting for the division of society between expropriators and expropriated to reach such an extreme point that revolution will become inevitable is a gamble based on neo-Hegalian (i.e. quasi-religious) mysticism. The only real progress for working people came through the reforms of liberals like Lloyd George, Keynes or Beveridge, or from social democrats like the Labour governments in the 40s – 70s. We need to reign in capitalism as a matter of urgency. Working people and the middle classes can related to the Greens in a way that 99% can’t relate to the hard left. Joining, working for and voting Green is a way to re-energise politics, to start a progressive process, to start chipping away at neo-liberalism.

Nick Long 30 March 2013, 23.24

Ken and Kates call for a new party of the left is gathering momentum and pace each day! More than 50 discussion groups have been, or are being established. Greens would be more than welcome to contriubte to these local on the ground debates. I have been involved in all the abortive and limited steps to try and establish a new left party, and this latest move seems to be the most promising to date. Thousands have supported the call. All the omens are good. Labour backing workfare and jumping on the anti immigrant band wagon reveals the true nature of one nation Labour. The iniative is being built from the bottom up. The principle Lennist sects are busy with other work, and thankfully are not involved. The project is not being built around a great leader figure. A broad inclusive left party, rather than a lash up of sects is on the cards. My local party, Lewisham People Before Profit, who gained 24% in a by-election on Thursday and came second to Labour demonstrates a space is open on the left of Labour. The Greens by the way could not even get their act together to get their nomination papers in and have no support in working class communities.

Tony Greenstein 5 April 2013, 02.25

Much as I respect Peter Tatchell and his opposition to bigotry, racism and war, I cannot agree that the Green Party is the new left party

In Brighton we are seeing a GP in administration, making the very cuts Labour or the Tories would make. Making capitalism a bit nicer. There is no concept of how only fundamental change in society, the overthrow of a system where a tiny minority control the lives of billions and wage wars ‘to keep the peace’ in order to retain that control, in the Green Party.

In fact members of the GP are extremely eclectic. few of them are involved in radical campaigns, their main motivation is become a replacement for the Lib Dems and gaining a place at capitalism’s table.

In short the GP believes you can green capitalism. That is why it is not a party for socialists and the Left Greens have largely vanished.

Anonymous 9 April 2013, 20.09

Reading all of the above, think I’ll go back to bed and forget about it!

Bazza 10 April 2013, 11.27

1. A new left party needs to be fundamentaly HONEST.
2. Needs to OVERCOME SECTERIANISM – could have REGISTER OF FACTIONS including independent left, labour left? But will the Trotskyist leopards change their spots? They aim to recruit cadres and then their elite central committees will lead us all to the promised land, A TOP DOWN SOCIALISM and to use some big words – (Rosa Luxenmburg) – a bourgeois dictatorship of the proleteriate.
3. Need a grassroots, bottom up, democratic, peaceful, socialism.
4. Needs a simple name which appeals to working people. 5. Needs to appeal to the w clas and progressive m class. 6. Needs to use simple language to communicate.

Bazza 11 April 2013, 14.47

A simple policy which could help us come together – FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT! Why subsidise employers by paying to go to work? Would help transport poor, less stress on bus drivers, create jobs and could have couriers on board to help passengers, attract people out of cars, help the environment by reducing Co2 emmissions, safer roads, encourages more cycling, less noise pollution from traffic, less accidents: win! win! win!
A real Coaltion Of Progressives? But to be honest as a w class socialist whilst my heart is saying yes, my head is still not sure! Going to public meeting on this next week -so will have to put my critical thinking head on! Best wishes.

Comments are now closed on this article.

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