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Hard left

Hard left

Hard left or hard-left is a term that is used particularly in Australian and British English to describe the most radical members of a left-wing political party or political group. The term is also a noun and modifier taken to mean the far-left and the left-wing political movements and ideas outside the mainstream centre-left. The term has been used to describe wings and factions of several political parties across the world, such as the left-wing of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom and left-wing factions of the Australian Labor Party.

As with the Labor Right faction, the Labor Left faction of the Australian Labor Party is split between multiple competing sub-factions, called "fractions". These vary between state branches and in union support and affiliation. In New South Wales, the left is split mainly between the so-called "hard" left and "soft" left. The hard left was historically focused on the trade union movement and international issues, and organised around figures like Frank Walker, Arthur Gietzelt, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. The soft left presented a "more pragmatic" vision of the left and used rank-and-file members to gain power through branch stacking, and organised around politicians Peter Baldwin and Jack Ferguson. In Victoria, the term "hard left" historically referred to the far-left "Tomato Left" faction, which included Bill Hartley, George Crawford, and Joan Coxsedge.

The term was first used in the context of debates within both the Labour Party and the broader left in the 1980s to describe Trotskyist groups such as the Militant tendency, Socialist Organiser and Socialist Action. Within the party, the Labour left or "hard left", represented by the Campaign Group, subscribed to more strongly socialist views while the "soft left", associated for example with the Tribune Group, embraced more moderate social democratic ideas.

Politicians commonly described as being on the hard left of the Labour Party at the time included Tony Benn, Derek Hatton, Ken Livingstone, Dennis Skinner, and Eric Heffer.

The term has since then often been used pejoratively by Labour's political opponents, for example, during the Conservative Party's election campaigns of the early 1990s, and by the media. It has continued to be used pejoratively for the left-wing of the Labour Party.

  • Far-right
  • Loony left
  • Soft left
  • Centre-left politics
  • Charlie Kimber. Waiting for Lefty. Socialist Review. 1997.

Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Hard left by Wikipedia (Historical)