Archive for the ‘Labour Party’ Category
Real Left Unity.
Marxist Dentists around the UK leave copies of The Lady and Country Life to stir up class hatred.
At least that was my theory on reading Rachel Johnson’s magazine this morning waiting for an appointment.
One article about a Lady of the British Empire who could not boil an egg, had crossed the planet, swum with dolphins, holidayed in the Savanna, struck me.
I doubt if she was prepared to walk to Liddle to get 15 pence off a tin of sardines.
This, I suspect, is not a lone reaction.
Margaret Thatcher’s death and the rise of UKIP brought back a cold draft of class politics to this country.
Many realised that the Thatcher project, to make everybody stand or fall in the gales of competing on the market, and the pumped-up loathing of foreigners |(notably excepting the USA) that went with it, is alive and well.
Like many on the left, trade unionists and anti-cuts activists, I am committed to the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
This is a grand occasion for us to get together on issues that affect us all, to build a constructive left-wing alternative to the politics of hate and the priorities of the wealthy.
It will unite us with our fellows across Europe in opposing the financial forces that have imposed cuts and more privatisation in the UK, and destitution and mass unemployment in countries from Greece and Spain to Portugal – not to mention the misery brought upon UKIP’s bogies in Rumania and Bulgaria.
There is a serious debate to be had about the European Union, and the role of the ”Troika’ in pushing through austerity.
The French left is divided between those who think that Angela Merkel is at heart a pragmatist and will – eventually – see sense and launch an expansionist drive. French president Hollande’s intervention yesterday, in which he proposed a European economic “governance” went in this sense. Some on his side believe in federalism, a politically united Europe.
Others are sceptical. They want a radical overhall of the EU. A few want greater national sovereignty restored.
In the UK we have by contrast, as Seamus Milne noted in the Guardian this week, a debate on Europe whose agenda is set by the right.
This is a threat,
a successful Tory-led campaign to pull out of the EU would risk unleashing a carnival of reaction, anti-migrant hysteria, more attacks on social rights, and a further lurch to the right.
Milne states, rightly,
What has been almost entirely missing from the mainstream British public debate has been the progressive case for fundamental change that has been central to the struggle over the EU and its treaties in mainland Europe. In the 1975 referendum, the left case against the then common market was that it was a cold war customs union against the developing world that would block socialist reforms. But the modern EU has gone much further, giving a failed neoliberal model of capitalism the force of treaty, entrenching deregulation and privatisation and enforcing corporate power over employment rights.
What would be fatal would be to allow the nationalist right to continue to dictate the EU agenda and wrap itself in the mantle of democratic legitimacy. The terms of debate have to change – for the sake of both Britain and Europe.
Much of the British left remain dominated by the anti-EEC ideas of the 1970s.
They have not confronted this menace.
Indeed they think their tiny forces can intervene to make the “progressive” case for a sovereign UK outside the EU.
We need a real campaign in place of this: for a united social Europe!
The People’s Assembly could be a place to make the case of this.
Some of the left think there is a mileage in the Left Unity appeal of Kate Hudson and Ken Loach.
Recent prominent members of Respect , who failed to protest against George Galloway’ s politics, they are not in a position to preach unity to anybody least of all the ‘left’.
I merely cite this report by Tina Becker from the Weekly Worker to show that this is a dead-end,
Kate Hudson and Andrew Burgin (important driving forces) would have liked the proceedings to have gone differently. After all, the Stop the War Coalition and Respect – organisations both comrades were prominent in – were far more choreographed. But, ironically, bureaucratic coherence in fronts like these was provided by the likes of the Socialist Workers Party, part of the organised left to which LU is to a great extent a reaction. The politically decrepit Socialist Resistance – the one ‘insider’ group – is no substitute.
The proposed political platform written by Kate Hudson was circulated three days before; a proposal for the electoral procedure to the national coordination committee was sent out 20 hours before; the chairs seem to have been pre-chosen on the basis that they had no previous experience of handling big meetings (one chair was actually introduced as someone who had “never attended a political meeting before”). No wonder that quite a few times people in the room (the chairs included) did not actually know what exactly they were voting on. It was pretty chaotic, in other words.
This was also reflected in the rather uneven attendance. Local groups were supposed to send two delegates each, but where more people expressed an interest in coming, they were advised by the interim leadership to simply divide their group into smaller parts. For example, Manchester comrades – all sitting together in the same meeting, in the same room – selected five delegates from different parts of the city. Elsewhere, groups had not even met yet. Andrew Burgin admitted that about half of the “90 or 100” local groups exist only in so far as one person had volunteered to be the local contact. So the reality was that pretty much anybody who wanted to come could do so.
Unless, of course, you happened to be a representative of a political organisation. The interim organising committee had decided to bar existing groups from even sending observers – apart from a representative of the Red-Green Alliance from Denmark, who showed up halfway through the meeting. Obviously it would have been a little harsh to send this poor comrade packing after he had made such a long journey, presumably on a well-informed hunch.
Followed by the latest TUSC (Left involving the RMT, Socialist Party and SWP) election result.
Election of a Borough Councillor for Rawmarsh Ward (Rotherham) on Thursday 16 May 2013
|Baldwin, William George||British National Party||80|
|Gray, Andrew Tony||Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts||61|
|Meharban, Mohammed||Liberal Democrats||28|
|Parker, Martyn Lawton||The Conservative Party Candidate||107|
|Vines, Caven||UK Independence Party||1143 Elected|
|Wright, Lisa Marie||Labour Party Candidate||1039|
Last night Enrico Tortolano, spoke on neo-liberal economics and politics to a public meeting at he UNITE offices held by the Ipswich People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
Up to 30 people turned up her brother Tortolano, who has worked on human rights with social movements in Latin America, and now is a research officer for the PCS union as well as writing for Tribune.
Enrico gave a talk of great clarity on how the wealthy have established free-market economics as the foundation of state policy in many countries. Everybody is told to be ‘self-reliant’ as taxes are lowered for the well-off and all forms of redistribution are undermined. We have, Tortolano said, crept back to pre-First World War levels of inequality.
In Britain attacks on welfare and privatising the state were being pushed through as part of what Naomi Klein called the “shock doctrine”. That is, taking advantage of a crisis to push through extreme free-market ideas.
He noted that the first to apply this method had been Augusto Pinochet , the Chilean dictator.
The recently deceased Margaret Thatcher had admired the leader of the Chilean coup, which had left thousands of left opponents dead and many more imprisoned and tortured.
From annual get-togethers in Davos (Switzerland), to thousands of ‘think-tanks’ and sympathetic media, their message has been relayed by all the main political parties in the West.
British politics seem to be restricted to the limits set by the ‘orthodox’ free-market economics.
The People’s Assembly, Tortalano said, offered a real opportunity for the left to unite and to put forward a different economic and political strategy. Ultimately the threat to the planet’s resources from the market would affect everybody.
The audience, which included trade unionists, local Labour councillors, library campaigners, and activists from the Green and socialist parties, joined in a fruitful discussion on this talk.
It was suggested that the People’s Assembly should take up the issue of low pay (very important in Ipswich), of the Bedroom Tax, and the fight against the wave of further cuts in public spending that will affect council (above all County Council) services in the coming months.
The Secretary of the Trades Council, Teresa Mackay pointed out that 80% of the cuts were still to come.
It was argued that the People’s Assembly needs a constructive and a positive message. It was not enough to just fight neoliberal economics and the hatred of the poor and migrant workers stirred up by the Liberal-Tory Coalition.
The left has to offer a democratic and egalitarian way of creating institutions for equality and collective need.
A co-ordinator will organise E-Mail contacts for the Ipswich People’s Assembly.
Transport will be available from Ipswich to take people to the London Assembly.
In the coming weeks we will be organising a campaign locally to draw attention to the links between Primark and other retail outlets and the terrible deaths of garment workers in Bangladesh.
As an activist said, “The numbers of the dead just keep rising.”
Tory Judy Terry is Out: The Heavens Cry their Joy!
Suffolk Election Results leave the Tories in Charge.
Labour and Co-operative 3
Liberal Democrat 7
UK Independence Party 9
This is a good result for Labour and their candidates who have worked really hard, year in and year out, on the County Council (where they were only 4 till today) and have fought against austerity and privatisation tooth-and-nail.
It is a good result for the labour movement more widely as Suffolk Labour Parties have worked closely with the union and left campaigners against the Tory-led Council cutters and floggers-off.
One result brought great joy to the progressive Suffolk masses: the defeat of Judy Terry in Rushmere (figures and intro from Ipswich Spy).
“The Conservatives have LOST the Rushmere Division, previously held by Cabinet Member Judy Terry, to Labour’s Sandra Gage.
Ellis, Peter (UKIP) 401
Gage, Sandra (Labour) 1117
Jackson, Dale (Ind) 34
Jones, Garath (Lib Dem) 90
Terry, Judy (Con) 628
Wilmot, Kirsty (Green) 94″
As a County Council Cabinet member she has pushed through the privatisation agenda, notably creating a so-called Industrial and Provident Society (private ‘charity’) for the Library service. This has caused great damage.
Overall Labour made gains in urban districts, notably Ipswich, which has more in common with parts of London (including the ‘inner city’) than rural Suffolk.
In my own ward there was a very a good result (I campaigned for Mandy – Labour),
Labour have GAINED the St Helen’s Division from the Liberal Democrats, who were pushed into last place, with UKIP second, two votes ahead of the Tories, and the Green’s in fourth.
Gaylard, Mandy (Labour) 900
Lockington, Tim (Lib Dem) 155
Parkinson, Katherine (Con) 359
Tinney, Mark (UKIP) 361
Wilmot, Tom (Green) 201
There was also a by-election,
Labour have taken the Borough Council by election in Alexandra, a gain from the Liberal Democrats. Turnout was 27.6%.
Cook, John (Labour) 772
Cotterell, Stephen (UKIP) 279
Phillips, Edward (Con) 274
Toye, Kenneth (Lib Dem) 126
Wilmot, Thomas (Green) 193
“So the Liberal Democrats have gone from first to last in what was a bastion of Liberal Democrat power in the town – just three years ago they held all three Borough Council seats, plus the County Council seat. It means the Liberal Democrats are reduced to just three councillors on Ipswich Borough Council.” So says the Spy.
In fact it was not so much as a Liberal Bastion but a freak base, created by boundary changes, and a protest vote against the Labour government, which was always going to go back to Labour when real politics kicked in.
The worst result is in Whitehouse and Whitton where UKIP slipped in.
9 UKIP councillors on the County Council is a disaster.
They did well elsewhere though not enough to win.
Note that in the area I live (St Helen’s/Alexandra, which cover the town centre and is largely working class or employee, and highly ‘mixed’, including a substantial migrant worker population) UKIP came above the Liberals and even the Tories with hardly any local activists whatsoever.
Or indeed none...
Their vote comes from a ‘virtual’ campaign of leafleting, and the full-time agitation of the far-right daily press, the Mail, the Express and the Sun.
They beat poor old Kevin in his vain attempt to win Chantry for the Tory (Holy Roller) Party.
UKIP put the Tories into 4th and 5th (no guessing which Tory came 5th) and the Liberals, way out on the margins at Monster Raving levels of support. (Algar, Kevin (Con) 1043 Armitage, Helen (Labour) 2169 Broom, Barry (Green) 404 Cenci, Nadia (Con) 1096 Fletcher, Julie (Lib Dem) 243 Gardiner, Peter (Labour) 2051 McHardy, Stuart (Lib Dem) 146
Newton, Robert (UKIP) 1301)
Across the County UKIP have pushed the Liberals out to the fringes (7 seats) and are not far behind Labour.
Campaigning on an openly racist basis, against the threat of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants, they join a sorry list of European far-right populist parties.
The left has long shouted about the menace of the tiny and irrelevant English Defence League.
Dealing with UKIP is going to be a lot harder than shouting ‘nasty Nazis’ at them.
But this is a start,
Excellent article on the International Socialist Network by Kieran Crowe,
I think we need to talk about how we are going to deal with the People’s Assembly.
The piece continues,
I have been trying to locate some good data on the effectiveness of anti-cuts campaigns, and must confess I’ve drawn a bit of a blank. There does not seem to be brilliant data out there to say where cuts have have been successfully blocked. Suffice to say, the movements have not been without successes – though they have not been across the board anywhere, it has been far from impossible to organise against cuts.
The role of the organised left in the anti-cuts movement has, to say the least, been inconsistent and marked at times with gross sectarianism. As mentioned before, the Labour left has taken some time to find any footing at all with opposition to austerity, due to the key role of New Labour and Labour councillors, but they seem to have regained the initiative to a large extent with opposition to the bedroom tax. The smaller centre-left parties have been similarly contradictory: Green and Nationalist councils have pushed cuts through, while their activists in other areas have criticised Labour for exactly the same.
The role of the far left has not been particularly more glorious. The 2008 crisis prompted by the collapse of American hedge funds led us to a big push on anticapitalist rhetoric, but most of the tactical and strategic initiatives we produced were objective failures. Numerous campaigns and front groups were founded, usually as more or less exclusive tools of the founding organisation and with grand goals that they were objectively unable to pull off. The activists (often full-timers) pushing them were highly enthusiastic though, and often so adamant that ‘their united front’ was the one that would deliver victory that they would happily engage in Popular Front of Judea arguments with their counterparts for other groups pushing very similar looking campaigns.
Need we rehearse the disputes around the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) and the so-called Unite the Resistance? Not to mention TUSC?
One development we are going to have to discuss is the People’s Assembly Against Austerity (PA). The PA is, in some ways, not really new as a concept – it is an outgrowth of the ‘Coalition of Resistance’ campaign that the was launched when several left groups were founding similar initiatives and that has received significant backing from the leaderships of several trade unions, notably the centre-left leadership of the mass Unite union under Len McCluskey.
The PA has, to say the very least, managed to stand out by being on a considerably larger scale than previous conferences. With a venue for over 2,000 booked, there is already the possibility of spill-over space being hired. This would make the PA four to five times larger than its nearest rival and probably one of the biggest activist conferences for a generation in Britain. The publicity it has generated has similarly been far greater than previous events: it has been plugged in the Guardian and denounced in the Spectator, which is a rare breakthrough into the mainstream, recalling a little the publicity that Stop the War got at its height.
My immediate reaction was to get on board.
There is, inevitably, a layer of the left that will attack the PA this way and make a point of principle out of it: witness the anarcho-miserablist Ian Bone of Class War, a man who famously advised people to stay away from anti-war demos in 2003, who has pledged to stand outside the PA venue, telling attendees how very wrong they are. If we take our activism seriously, we must find a mid-position between nodding along to McCluskey and abstaining on the sidelines with people like Bone who just think they’re smarter than everyone else.
Which will be fun, if nothing else.
My guess is the right approach to the PA would be to intervene through and as part of delegations to it from genuine campaigning groups. Most IS Network members ought to find this easy: we have, most of us, been part of anti-cuts groups at some stage, or can easily join one. Going into an anti-austerity body with the express purpose of getting it to participate in the PA would, in fact, be a useful thing to do and might help reinvigorate groups that have stalled.
This is in tune with what many of us feel.
Something I feel to be worth throwing into the debate is the role of trade union councils – in Barnet the trades council was central to the founding of the anti-cuts group and manages to remain in alliance with it even as it operates with its own autonomy. Anti-cuts groups elsewhere that have become moribund and trades councils that have been conservative for decades could potentially be revitalised in local areas if they get encouragement and support from similar groups that are doing better, giving us a far wider pool of activity to operate.
As a Trades Council activist I could not agree more.
There is also likely to be an interesting debate about regional People’s Assemblies later in the year – which have the potential to be very large and attract further layers of activists. Regional PAs would be quite different from a national one – indeed if you want a version of the event that is less ‘top table’, this may be what you would end up producing. It is still not counterposed to the national event.
One thing I do not believe can be argued is that that the event can be simply abstained from, though if other people do have other ideas for fighting austerity, we should hear about those too.
This analysis is so spot on that I nothing more to add.
Obviously The International Socialist Network is going places.
Galloway and Friend.
Galloway in Secret meeting with Miliband, the Mail reported on Sunday.
Phil in a quick response on A Very Public Sociologist unwisely commented,
It’s good politics to explore areas where some form of cooperation can be reached across party lines, even when a MP is from an organisation many times smaller than your own. And, needless to say, it is an utterly mundane and common occurrence. The only surprising thing about Ed and George’s meeting is that it hadn’t happened before now.
This led to the usual crew of pro-Galloway cretins (as one could politely call them), praising the Great Man whose immense political weight has been recognised at last.
Now in the Guardian Mark Ferguson of Labour List comments,
There’s been a certain amount of (entirely justifiable) anger and confusion from many Labour supporters today at reports in the Mail on Sunday that Ed Miliband met George Galloway in his Westminster office recently. The spin from the Mail – to the surprise of no one at all – was that “Red” Ed Miliband was attempting some form of reconciliation with George Galloway, in an attempt to have him rejoin the Labour party.
Thankfully, this is not the case.
A senior source in Miliband’s office told me this afternoon that this was “certainly not about reconciling with Galloway”, while another told me that “there is no possibility, prospect or chance of George Galloway rejoining the Labour party”. Allowing him to rejoin the party would happen over my dead body – and I suspect a substantial proportion of the party membership feel the same way.
In fact, the meeting was about a rather more prosaic – but crucial – matter: the boundary changes vote that at the time looked like it might come down to just one or two votes. All parties in parliament (except the Tories) were approached, and it paid dividends as the boundary changes fell. A Labour party spokesperson confirmed that this afternoon, saying:
“There is no attempt to bring George Galloway back into the Labour party as many of his views are unacceptable and extreme. Ed met him purely as a courtesy to discuss the recent vote on changing parliamentary boundaries. No communication has taken place since.”
Now this is may well be a matter of winning a “crucial Commons vote” .
But why on earth did Miliband have to talk face to face with Galloway?
One can imagine that Galloway is chuffed.
We will no doubt learn more, from other sources if not directly from North Korea’s greatest friend’s own foam speckled mouth.
On this meeting one could say, “”C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute!”