Film maker Ken Loach launches the British election campaign for Left Unity.

THE BRITISH ELECTION CAMPAIGN has begun and a genuinely left wing party hopes to makes it voice heard above the pro-market noise of the mainstream parties.

Left Unity launched its campaign and its manifesto on Tuesday in a London squat to “highlight the number of large buildings standing empty in London at a time when homelessness is increasing.”

Noted film maker Ken Loach spoke for Left Unity, although he emphasised he was acting as a spokesperson and not the party's leader.

Unlike the Labour Party, which is jostling with the Conservative Party for the so-called 'middle ground', Loach emphasised Left Unity's anti-capitalist politics. He wryly observed that Left Unity had much of the left of the political spectrum to itself.

"The left is not a crowded space," he said.

Loach attacked the Conservative- led Government and the opposition Labour party for offering nothing but more of the same. He compared them to “bald men arguing over the comb – a fine point discussion between people who have no real answers.”

He criticised the Trade Union Congress (TUC) for continuing to prop up a Labour Party that had betrayed ordinary people.

“We need stronger trade unions with stronger leaders that don’t just give money to the Labour party for the Labour Party to cut its throat,” he said.

One of Left Unity's main policy platforms is a return to return to pubic ownership. Left Unity, for example, proposes merging "the energy companies into one democratically controlled institution to reduce energy costs immediately."

It also would nationalise the banking and financial system: "Taxpayers have lost billions yet bonuses continue to be paid to executives who led us to the brink of economic collapse. This has to end: publicly controlled banks would scrap the bonus culture completely, and direct bank lending to socially desirable forms of investment and cooperatives, not buy-to-let landlords and speculators."

Left Unity is only standing ten candidates but this is its first general election and the party is seeking to establish itself. It sees itself as part of the new anti-austerity European left represented by parties like  Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain.

"An end to austerity would be a different kind of economy. The kind of economy that Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain are calling for. And that would have to be Europe wide, against the Europe of the big business."

Left Unity provides a valuable independent forum in which socialist ideas can be fully debated. As well it provides an organised political base from which the socialist left can hopefully grow. These are things sorely lacking in New Zealand , much to the detriment of the development of a genuinely left wing politics that doesn't continue to tag aimlessly behind a politically bankrupt Labour Party at election time.


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