UK Politics

New party Left Unity to hold first annual conference

Left Unity members Image copyright Peter Marshall
Image caption Left Unity was founded at a meeting of left-wing activists last year

A recently formed left-wing party is to hold its first annual conference, hoping to "drag" mainstream political debate to the Left

Left Unity, which says it has about 2,000 members, will vote on policies in areas including housing, justice, the environment and social security.

It expects to contest about 12 "target seats" at next year's general election.

Principal speaker Salman Shaheen said Left Unity would offer voters a "popular, radical" alternative.

The party, which is supported by filmmaker Ken Loach, was formed in November last year, in an attempt to offer an alternative to those on the Left who are disaffected with Labour.

The 500 delegates expected at the conference in central London on 15 and 16 November will vote on ideas for the election manifesto.

'Springboard'

Mr Shaheen said: "In the traditional parties, members hear about new policies in the leader's speech. But that's not what we believe in. We do politics differently.

"The weekend will see all our policy on a wide range of issues made democratically by members voting. And the result will be the kind of popular, radical policies that Labour Party leaders shy away from.

"It will be a party conference like no other and a springboard as we prepare to put up our first parliamentary candidates in 2015."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Film director Ken Loach is a supporter of Left Unity

Left Unity says it has 50 branches across Britain. Its members pay subscriptions from 50p a month.

The seats targeted at the next election will be those with incumbent Blairite Labour MPs and candidates who share these views.

Left Unity was trying to "drag" mainstream political debate back to the Left, a spokesman said, arguing that voters were unhappy with conventional parties and blamed banks and the rich for a decline in living standards.

Policies already in place include raising the minimum wage, ending privatisation of public services, restoring the 50% income tax rate for high earners and abolishing zero-hours contracts.

The party also rejects all "anti-immigration arguments and rhetoric" and advocates keeping unrestricted movement of people within the European Union.

It has four principal speakers, of whom at least two must be women, who do not act as leaders but advocates of Left Unity policies.