Interview: Kate Hudson, representative of the British party Left Unity

Alexis Tsipras, president of the Greek left-wing party Syriza, and Kate Hudson
Alexis Tsipras, president of the Greek left-wing party Syriza, and Kate Hudson

In March last year, a group of British leftists supported by famous director Ken Loach issued a public call for creation of new left-wing party, while the initiative was realized at the founding conference at the end of November. A party by the name of Left Unity was formed with the aim of representing interests of working class and returning to long abandoned ideals and goals of British Labour Party.

Call for founding the party followed after the premiere of the last Ken Loach’s documentary The Spirit of ’45 – movie which speaks about ideals that, after the end of WWII, motivated British working class to reject Churchill in the elections, and instead give their confidence to Labour Party, led by Clement Attlee, who, in the period between 1942 and 1945, hold the office of the Deputy Prime Minister in Englis

h wartime coalition Government. Winning the war over Nazism created a strong belief among the working class, it says in the movie, that workers are capable of taking their destiny into their own hands – which brought about a chain of reforms oriented toward the achievement of the welfare state; the Bank of England, mines, ironworks, railway and public transport were nationalized, and system of general health and social insurance was established. At the beginning of the movie, a number of witnesses speak about poverty and miserable living conditions to which they were exposed before these reforms, while at the end it recalls rigorous counter-reforms of Margaret Thatcher, which caused violent confrontations with workers (According to Financial Times, that year of 1979 29 million working days were lost to strikes – in 2011 1.3 million and only 250 thousand in the last year).

For Freedom Fight Info, we spoke with Kate Hudson, founder and representative of the party Left Unity. She was engaged for many years in campaigns for nuclear disarmament, stopping invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and of Iraq of 2003, as well as in campaign of solidarity with Greece, due to the pressures to which it has been exposed since the beginning of the debt crisis. The Left Unity is close to parties like Greek Syriza or German Die Linke, both of which oppose neo-liberal policies – especially austerity measures on which European Union and International Monetary Fund insist – but also military interventions in crisis areas, justified by alleged humanitarian reasons.

Movie director Ken Loach at the founding conference of the Left Unity

– What are the main objectives of the party Left Unity?

Left Unity defends the gains and achievements of the Labour Party in 1945 – namely the welfare state, partial nationalisation etc. Our goal is to recover what has been lost over the past three decades and extend the welfare state, democratise the economy and political life, and transform society in the interests of ordinary people.

When and under whose leadership did Labour Party abandon socialist policies?

Labour was never a fully socialist party, rather it adopted Keynesian economic policies to manage capitalism and shift redistribution within economy and society in the interests of working people. The turning point for Labour was the 1980s. Under Margaret Thatcher’s governments, major strides were taken to adopt neo-liberal economic policies and massively reduce the rights of the organised labour movement, through trade unions.  While Labour was out of government, the party leadership and policies changed to embrace neo-liberalism, under the leadership of Tony Blair. Internal changes also took place within the party to reduce the power of the members, many of whom are far more left wing than the leadership. After coming back to government in 1997, Labour did not reverse the anti-trade union legislation of Thatcher, and it continued with a policy of privatisation and other neo-liberal economic policies.

– Tony Blair, the former president of labourists and Prime Minister of Great Britain, was among those who most advocated bombing of Yugoslavia, and afterward invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. What is the position of the Left Unity on this kind of military interventions?

Left Unity is opposed to imperialist war and the so-called ‘liberal’ or ‘humanitarian’ interventionism pursued by Tony Blair, which is based only on furthering Britain’s supposed ‘national interests’ and has had such a disastrous impact on those countries affected. We oppose Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the US, which is based on nuclear weapons and foreign policy subordination of Britain to the US. Tony Blair said Britain must be prepared to pay ‘the blood price’ for this relationship but we note that it is innocent civilians of many countries across the world who have actually paid with their blood for this policy.

What is your relationship with social movements and organizations, as well as with left-wing political parties in other countries?

We seek to establish links and cooperation with all likeminded parties and movements which share our vision of social and economic transformation and oppose austerity, racism and imperialism. We look forward to working in solidarity with like-minded organisations in Serbia and elsewhere across Europe.

By Milenko Srećković