What we always had

Francis Fish
20 min readJul 23, 2023

If we always do what we always did, what do we get?

Storming the Winter Palace

What we have

There’s an old phrase that I have heard a lot: if you always do what you always did, you always get what you always had. I’ve tangentially been involved with some left parties talking about creating a new, radical (or even just mildly socialist) alternative to the current Labour party. There’s a few things about this that have made me think about that phrase a lot.

Many of us have been trying to find a socialist alternative for a long time. It seems harsh to say this, but the crop of left parties that survived the millennium and still exist are pretty stale. They usually did a bit of entryism in the Labour party back in the day without much success. A lot of us are rather old now, too. As for being in Labour I’ve never been able to join a party, no matter how red its flag, that has always sided firmly with the old empire and the thievery and mayhem it caused. The idea of British worker class people being protected from the rapine of empire while the exploitation and destruction is visited on those less powerful is repulsive. Labour has always had this central contradiction — it created some fantastic things for the British working class, but did it at the expense of the poor and working class in what we now call the Global South.

I joined Left Unity as it was created to directly be a socialist alternative to Labour, Ken Loach himself proposed that those of us who were disillusioned with the war mongering and self-serving arrogance could found a new party to give socialists a political home. This is still a project I believe in. I didn’t want to join a Trotskyist or Maoist splinter group and spend my days shouting in the corner, or dancing some sectarian dance that only holds us back. In my youth I had been a member of one of these groups and I knew that their approach didn’t work. Left Unity were growing slowly, standing in elections, explaining why things were happening the way they were for less experienced people, and fighting the good fight. We were small but we had some intellectual and political weight.

Left Unity are working with the Transform project, calling for a new party of the left. Find out more here.