Belfast Telegraph

Left Unity targets Tories and Ukip

People should "fear" the Conservative Party and Ukip, film director Ken Loach said today in a Soho squat.

Left Unity, a broad left party formed in 2013 and co-founded by Loach, chose the venue to launch its General Election manifesto in a bid to highlight the number of large buildings sitting empty in London.

The acclaimed Sweet Sixteen director said: "I think people should fear the Tories and Ukip as an extreme example of the Tories.

"I mean we know there are going to be more benefit cuts, crueller sanctions..."

He added: "There's a cruelty aboard. And there's a fear aboard. And there's a genuine hunger amongst people. So that's why I think people should fear the Tories and Ukip."

He said Ukip represent "all that's mean spirited".

Left Unity have 10 candidates in the 2015 General Election.

Loach, who was joined by scriptwriter Paul Laverty, addressed press and squatters inside the central London building.

He said there is "huge anger and alienation and fear and hunger" which is not represented in "our political discourse".

He said the party stands against imperialist wars and stands for the interests of people.

"It is so important we keep these ideas alive," he said.

Loach also said the trade unions "must re-think and re-learn" their relationship to work.

"They must defend full employment. They must defend real jobs. They must defend the rights of people at work so that they can oppose privatisation, whether it's the health service or even at the National Gallery," he said.

Left Unity's 43-page manifesto says the party is "committed to defending and expanding the welfare state".

It adds: "We advance alternative social and economic policies based on supporting public services and redistributing wealth."

Loach said "the other parties base themselves on the idea of the market", adding that Left Unity stands against it.

"You only have to look around you to see that the market has failed.

"The market has failed to provide housing," he said.

Asked if there were not already enough left-wing parties to choose from, he said: "The left is not a crowded place. The left is quite sparse."

Felicity Dowling, who is standing as a Left Unity General Election candidate in Ellesmere Port and Neston, said: "Enough's enough and things have got to change."

She said the decision to have the launch in a squat was because they want to say they are not a party of big business but are a "party of struggle".

One of the squatters, Norbert Lawrie, 59, said: "We're quite happy to allow radical organisations like Left Unity to use free space."

Another squatter, who asked only to be referred to as Sylvia, said the Soho squat took in four floors.

The barefooted squatter said they have had no complaints from nearby residents, adding: "I really don't get the impression that anyone cares."

She said: "It's just about survival isn't it really?"

One of the squatters said this was the 17th place he occupied in a very short space of time.

The squatters kept the door locked and window blinds closed, with one fearing that police were nearby.

Loach denied that Left Unity is an extreme party, saying it is not extreme when you talk to someone who has nowhere to live or whose health is suffering.

He added: "When was the last time you heard a mainstream politician say 'We will provide full employment'?"

The director said this is an indication of "how far we've fallen because of the logic of the market" and said he thinks that is "not acceptable".

Current politicians are not making a commitment to ensuring everyone has a job and housing "because they can't, because their system won't provide it", Loach said, adding that this is why a new economic model is needed.

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