Direct democracy and grassroots movements are a very important part of UK democracy. A range of the services that UK citizens take for granted, from mental health services, domestic violence services and many aspects of the welfare state come directly from social mo vements. With a social movement you have to identify the location of control. Boycott workfare, DPAC, and the myriad of welfare campaigners who have emerged since austerity began are grassroots movements. They start with the people impacted who need change and create pressure which can then influence trade unions, and parliament. Throughout austerity the Labour left did everything they could to squash grassroots movements. The likes of ‘Dr.Eoin Clarke’, Owen Jones and the people at the core of the People’s Assembly and Netroots served the primary purpose of preventing grassroots activism unless it could be co-opted. Sunny Hundal and Owen Jones faking debates where they tried to undermine Occupy, and Labour Lords trying to subvert Occupy into Labour friendly media message. Labour left existed to prevent grassroots activism and replace it with astroturf which could be centrally controlled. James Schneider’s Peoples Momentum is the natural conclusion to this.
Trade Unions are an essential tension in democracy. We haven’t had functioning trade unions for a long time. UNISON and PCS should be able to effectively offer a critique of the transformation of our benefits system and local authorities under neo liberalism, an effective critique including the gendered aspects of the welfare state and the principles of care economics. They cannot do so because the Trade Unions in the UK are directly occupied by the Labour left. From Mark Serwotka and the rebranded Militant who refuse to allow PCS to do this, to Dave Prentis who sold the austerity that impacted care workers, social services and kids in care and their low paid members. Len McCluskey steals the voice of his workers to manufacture the astroturf we have already described and is currently using that power to destabilise the Labour Party. The Labour Left will not allow the UK to have functioning trade unions because they want the power they can gain from them.
Parliamentary democracy. We vote in general elections. We are a representative democracy. Our MPs work for their constituents and in order to gain the privilege of doing so, they have to gain votes and people have to confer that power on them. The political party who gain the most seats in a general election are invited to form a government, the leader of that party has to be able to command the support of their MPs. Currently the Labour left are trying to assert that they can give parliamentary authority and override constituents and elected representatives. It is not possible to form a government without mandate from voters being given to the leader of a party, who can use that mandate to form a government. Without a parliamentary party in opposition, with the mandate of MPs, the party in government have no opposition. We live in a one party state.
Currently the Labour Left are the barrier to us having trade unions that function, direct democracy that has an impact, and a parliamentary party. This is a problem. This is a very small culture who are creating a very serious distortion in our democracy. We need direct democracy. We need trade unions. We need an opposition party. Until this culture have gone we will have none of these things.