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NUPES: France’s Left Alliance in Parliament, How to Stand up to Macron?

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Left Unity: Leading French Trotskyist Amongst New NUPES MPs.

NUPES, the Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale, has 130 MPs in France’s lower house, the National Assembly, brings together the main parts of France Left, from the Socialists (PS), the Greens (EELV), the Communists (PCF) to Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI). Rejecting the latter’s call to form a single Parliamentary group they have created an “inter-group” of the parties. France Info notes, “unlike the “classic” parliamentary groups, this structure similar to the intergroups of the European Parliament will remain informal.” It will meet every week to discuss joint work. “

“Within this coalition, we agreed on a programme, with 650 measures. Of these 650 measures, there are 95% that we defend in common and 5% for which there are minor differences that “We will deal with Parliament. On the 95% of the points of the programme, we are committed to voting the same thing, so we will vote the same thing” , explained the deputy LFI Manuel Bompard on franceinfo, Friday June 24. “These differences could also concern the question of a motion of no confidence against Elisabeth Borne, at the beginning of July. While the Prime Minister may not submit to a vote of confidence following her declaration of general policy, the deputies of La France insoumise will “probably be forced” to table a motion to oppose giving confidence in the government.”

The Communist leader, Fabien Roussel, whose critics assert that he is motivated by a wish to cut an independent figure has declared a lack of interest in this motion against the new government of PM ‘Élisabeth Borne ,” Other Nupes deputies, like Valérie Rabault, are cautious. “We cannot say that we have no confidence in the government when we do not know what it is proposing” , evacuated the socialist deputy on France 2, Friday.

Some see Emmanuel Macron’s manoeuvres at work, and could cite a spate of articles in the French media on how coalitions work in many European countries as a sign of his intentions. The President of the Republic mentioned discussions to form a “government of action” and floated the idea that it could go “from the Communists to the LR (classic Right)” excluding LFI (“not a governing party”, that is, a party that can be considered a potential one) to form a possible coalition. This idea, to broaden the government to the left, was firmly rejected by Adrien Quatennens, LFI coordinator, ““We have a clear mandate to be in the opposition”. Anybody who joined this “grand coalition” would face an immediate “purge” (his word, identical in English). (Adrien Quatennens, député LFI du Nord : participer à un gouvernement de coalition « n’aurait aucun sens » pour la Nupes).

It is interesting to see that the NUPES bloc has itself brought together a wide variety of forces to coalesce around a common electoral project.

The main parties are well-known and cited above.

They also include, within the mini-coalition of the Pôle écologiste, not only France’s largest Green party, Europe Écologie Les Verts EELV, 16 MPs and 11,000 members Génération.s, founded by former Socialist Presidential candidate (2017) and red-green Benoît Hamon (no longer politically active), ‘60,000 members’ (claimed, I am on their E-Mail list and may be included….) and 4 MPs, Génération écologie, 3 MPS, ex-Macron backers, the micro-parties, Cap21, Écologie au centre, (no MPs), and the Mouvement des progressistes, created in 2009 by former Communist Party leader Robert Hue (Presidential candidate in 1995 and 2002), which has one MP.

Linked to the Pôle écologiste Bloc are Les Nouveaux Démocrates, dissident Macron supporters, who claim 600 members and who have one MP.

The Bloc of La France insoumise includes not only LFI proper but also:

The Parti de gauche, Mélenchon’s original breakaway from the Socialists, it has played a part in La France insoumise since its creation, 6,000 members and 17 MPs. Unlike LFI it has a democratic internal structure, and aspires to be a « forum politique » et un espace de débats pour la gauche insoumise”. Adrien Quatennens (cited above) is a member. It defines itself as Ecosocialist. You do not hear much, if anything about the PG; the English Wiki entry does not look updated since about 2018. PG members are present on the national executive of La France insoumise.

Ensemble ! (they tried to sue Macron for breach of copyright over his use of the same name for the electoral alliance he led of La République En Marche! (LREM), Democratic Movement (MoDem), AgirTerritories of Progress (TDP), HorizonsEn commun, and the Progressive Federation.) is a Mouvement pour une Alternative de Gauche, Ecologiste et Solidaire. It is a political party, also with a democratic structure, 2,500 members and 4 MPs, of whom Clémentine Autain is the best known. Its founding members have included former supporters of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA), the tendencies, Curant unitaire anticapitaliste  and the Gauche Anticapitaliste, and the historic self-management current Les Alternatifs (which can in part be traced back to the left wing of the Parti Socialiste Unifié, PSU, a force on the left in the 1960s), and others such as Fédération pour une Alternative Sociale et Ecologique, (FASE) which had former Communist Party members. The youth section has had close links with the Fourth International. Ensemble insoumis is their group which is most closely aligned with La France insoumise. There are differences between them and others in Ensemble, debated over this issue: 2e tour de l’élection présidentielle. Ensemble is involved in a number of local collectives, Actualités des collectifs locaux.

The Gauche démocratique et sociale, of long-term and respected activist Gérard Filoche, is also listed, as is the deep green (to say the least, they are ‘anti-speciest’ to begin with) La Révolution écologique pour le vivant (REV), which has one MP.

John Mullen states that,

 at least three small revolutionary groups, two of around a hundred members each (Gauche révolutionnaire and Révolution!) and one larger current (Ensemble Insoumis) are active inside the FI.

This gives the impression that Mélenchon’s La France insoumise is a democratic organisation in which groups, such as GR (which was on the fringes of the NPA at one point) or – Révolution!, an entryist faction in the Communist PCF at one point over a decade ago, can work around building their mini-party (1). While it may not be entirely the chief’s personal property LFI says it is a ‘network movement’ (mouvement réseau ) with a self-proclaimed ‘gazeux’ (effervescent) in which people do not become members but supporters and activists. The yearly Conference, the Convention Nationale (two thirds attending are selected by lot, not elected) is described as “un show de rock stars”. On the ground LFI is organised in largely self-financing “groupes d’action”. activists have considerable autonomy on how to apply the line, and organise local campaigning, deciding by consensus (“privilégient la recherche du consentement plutôt que le vote”). You can be chucked out without any right of appeal. (Le populisme de gauche – Sociologie de la France insoumise. Manuel Cervera Marzal. 2021)

This is the body, the host one might say, that Ian Birchall declares is an “an open organisation with different currents within it”. Indeed. You can ‘join’ by the click of a few keyboard letters – you don’t even need money, initially . Having a democratic say is another matter. There are some who detect different approaches, with a wider impact between, say François Ruffin and Clementine Autain, in other words, between members of the National Assembly, both of whom promoted wider openings to the left before NUPES was formed with Mélenchon’s blessing. But these views were not the result of an organised campaign at the grass-roots. Decisions within LFI are made from the top down.

The Gauche Révolutionnaire is the French wing of the Socialist Party’s Committee for a Workers International. Its grip on reality can be seen in this recent article, “Campagne de la TUSC au Royaume-Uni, un pas en avant ! (TUSC Campaign, A Step Forward) Pendant plusieurs semaines, nos camarades des Socialist Party (organisation sœur de la Gauche Révolutionnaire en Angleterre et pays de Galles) et Socialist Party Scotland (toujours notre organisation sœur mais en Ecosse) ont mené une campagne combative avec la Coalition Syndicaliste et Socialiste (Trade-union and Socialist Coalition, TUSC) pour les élections locales de 2022 au Royaume-Uni.”

The other group, Révolution ! is the branch of Socialist Appeal.

Need one say more?

Amongst La France insoumise MPs is also a more serious Trotskyist.

This, Spotted last week, may well be the first time a current member of a Trotskyist group – in this case part of the national leadership of the Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI) – has been elected as a MP. Former, ex, and youthful Trotskyists of course are far from rare in the National Assembly. Apart from Mélenchon, who was a cadre in the Lambertist Trotskyist movement (notably, between 1972 to 1976, he was the leader of the OCI in Besançon) there is former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin had been ‘close’ to the same Organisation Communiste Internationaliste, forerunner of the POI, and the national secretary of the Parti Socialiste until 2017, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, who had been a MP, was also a member of the OCI/PCI till 1986.

As the below suggests this event passed largely unnoticed.

Jérôme Legavre is a French Trotskyist trade unionist and politician , born in 1972 in Rennes ( Ille-et-Vilaine ). A member of the national leadership of the Independent Workers’ Party Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI), he was elected deputy in 2022 in the twelfth constituency of Seine-Saint-Denis.”

That is the Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI), the Lamberists (now at less than a 1,000 members but once thousands strong, Mélenchon entered politics through this current when it was known as the OCI)….

Pierre Lambert (real name Pierre Boussel; June 9, 1920 – January 16, 2008) was a French Trotskyist leader, who for many years acted as the central leader of the French Courant Communiste Internationaliste (CCI) which founded the Parti des Travailleurs (Note now split into the above POI and their rivals the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID), who stood in the legislatives and got absolutely nowhere).

The debates within NUPES will be focused on those forces present inside the ‘Intergroup’. What impact bodies on the outside left will have on the decisions of the 131 NUPES deputies will be beyond limited. As L’Humanité said on Friday, ” l’heure est à la reparlementarisation de la vie politique.” – the moment is one of the reparliamentisation of political life”. This does not only refer to putting the President in his place…..

Perhaps this, published today, is a useful signpost to the future of La France insoumise

It remains to imagine how LFI will manage to impose itself in the political arena over the long term. The lack of pluralism and the verticality imposed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon has certainly given way to an acceleration of the culture of compromise during the constitution of the Nupes. But can this relaxation of the ideological machine to work in concert with allies..

LFI : du pari à la mutation ? Manuel Cervera-Marzal.


(1) “Its section in France, Révolution (formerly La Riposte), practiced entryism in the French Communist Party. In 2008, La Riposte supported an alternative platform at the PCF party conference which received the support of 15% of voters, following which Révolution left the French Communist Party and became a member of La France Insoumise while La Riposte stayed within the PCF and are no longer a section of the International Marxist Tendency.”

Update and Correction.

The mouvement des progressistes, alliance écologique indépendante ( écologie au centre) and Cap 21 are no longer in the pôle écologiste thus not part of the NUPES.

“Le Mouvement des Progressistes, membre fondateur du Pôle écolo aux côtés d’EELV, Génération.S et Génération Ecologie, n’a pas signé d’accord avec LFi et ne rejoindra donc pas la Nouvelle Union Populaire Écologiste et Sociale.”

“Plusieurs petits partis écologistes opposés à l’accord de la Nouvelle union populaire écologique et sociale (Nupes), comme Cap 21 ou le Mouvement des progressistes, se sont rassemblés pour les législatives, où ils présentent 250 candidats pour une “écologie qui donne envie”.”

Les écologistes anti Nupes se rassemblent pour les législatives.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 27, 2022 at 1:16 pm

Momentum for Electoral Reform Grows as Andy Burnham Backs Proportional Representation.

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Andy Burnham says Labour must ‘seize moment’ and back proportional representation.

Labour should back proportional representation for Westminster elections to allow more cooperation between political parties on a programme of urgently needed social reform, says Andy Burnham.

Writing for the Observer in the aftermath of two byelection defeats for the Tories, brought about in part by tactical voting by Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters, the mayor of Greater Manchester says PR should be at the heart of an entirely new approach to politics and policymaking.”

A key body pushing for this is the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform.

Chartist Magazine has been one of the forums on the left which had promoted electoral reform:

In the UK PR has been the only system, through the European elections, which has given a big voice to the national populist far-right. Notably, UKIP 2014, (27.5%) of any British party, 24 MEPs, Brexit Party, 2019, (30.52%) 29 seats.

Although this Blog is in principle in favour of PR (see articles above) it is also hard not to recall that Jean-Marie Le Pen gained his first foothold in French national politics when François Mitterrand introduced a proportional voting system, the “party list” method, for the French legislative elections in 1986.

The intention, as the far right Front National (FN) led by Le Pen was bubbling support out in the country, and some tentative alliances with the classical right were in the air, was to divide the Socialist Party President’s opponents. Despite some who warmed to the FN anti-immigration theme, the Gaullists (Rassemblement pour la République RPR) and centre-Right (Union pour la démocratie française, UDF) had many reasons to be wary of the FN not least those who recalled Le Pen’s own fight for Algérie Française against the General. The measure, equally transparently, was intended to shore up left support, easier to express nationally than through constituency battles.

In elections  the RPR/UDF coalition obtained 43,9 % and were the largest group. Consequently, for the first time of the history of the Fifth Republic, the parliamentary majority was opposed to the President. Thus began a period of “cohabitation”, between the Right, led by PM Jacques Chirac, and Mitterrand, a division of power which the founder, in 1959, of the constitutional framework Charles de Gaulle, did not foresee. (La cohabitation de 1986-1988, une première sous la Ve République.)

The FN was able to form a parliamentary group with its 35 elected members (9,65% of the vote). It marked their entry onto the national political scene, and helped give them, a previously fringe movement with origins in ‘national revolutionary’ tendencies, legitimacy.

PR for Parliamentary elections was abolished by Prime Minister Chirac. Reelected in 1988 Mitterrand did not re-introduce the system for the legislative elections held in the same year.

Nevertheless, “Since their creation in 1986, France’s regional councils were first elected according to a proportional system (used three times between 1986 and 1998) and then, since 2003, through a mixed system which combines proportional distribution and majority bonus in a two-round ballot.

This “tailor-made” election method, which is different than what is used for the National Assembly and departmental councils (two-round binominal system), as well as the European Parliament (single-round proportional election) is similar to that which is used by town councils of cities over 1,000 inhabitants where the majority bonus is greater (50%).”

Chris Williamson labelled by Twitter as “Iran state-affiliated media.”

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Former UK MP and Host of Press TV’s Palestine Declassified Chris Williamson.

For the last few years Chris Williamson has posed a champion of the left. He even set up his own micro-party,  RESISTMovement for a People’s Party (trademarked no less, “based on Festival of Resistance Ltd, the RESIST: Movement for a People’s Party trademark is used in the following business: Political advice; Political advisory services; Political information services; Political lobbying services; Political research and analysis; Political services; Organisation of political meetings. .”). Little has been heard of this movement, whose main attempt at “political meetings” was a venture into a national festival as sad and sparse as a plate of the celebrated Vegan’s left-overs.

Yet all is not going too badly.

The anti-Labour alt-news site Skwawkbox carried a puff piece for the alliance Williamson is involved in.

Rebuilding socialism outside of Labour Phil Bevin (described as former ‘Corbyn LOTO Staffer’: Note: Phil Bevin was a 2022 Workers Party of Britain candidate in Brandwood & King’s Heath in the Birmingham local election. They received 111 votes.)

Now this type has written this:

new shoots of change are growing. An informal coalition is building around the RMT Union via the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and collaborating groups. TUSC links together the RMT, Socialist Party and Resist. In recent weeks, the Workers’ Party of Britain (aka: George Galloway’s red-brown front with the CPGB (Marxist-Leninist)) has also gained observer status with TUSC. This grouping may presently represent the best hope of a political movement that may one day rival Labour. 

The comrade of small businessman Steve Walker gives vent to this interesting speculation,

through informal relationships, initially tentative ties between a Peace and Justice Party, TUSC and other groups may grow into a powerful electoral alliance.

The Grayzone’s revelation of Paul Mason’s alleged email correspondence with an MI6 agent appears to show the former journalist and would-be Labour MP raising fears about the emergence of an anti-imperialist left outside of Labour. The establishment should be worried, because it is from a loose alliance of anti-imperialist groups, as described in this article, that a meaningful challenge to the status quo will emerge.  

Bevin has, to put it mildly, a ‘thing’ about some issues, “the 2018 “antisemitism crisis”, when the left capitulated to the right’s demands that the party adopt the deeply flawed IHRA definition of antisemitism, leading to a campaign, which activists justifiably describe as “the witch hunt”.”

He has a lot of other ‘theories’,

Just this week, the Grayzone published a report alleging “a plot by pro-Leave elites to sabotage Theresa May’s Brexit deal, infiltrate government, spy on campaign groups, and replace May with Boris Johnson”, which was in play as early as 2018. Former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove, whom emails revealed to have been involved, apparently believed Johnson represented the best chance of “seeing off” Corbyn and “accommodating the Farage Threat.”

The forces working behind the scenes in the pro-Leave camp apparently saw ousting May and a hard Brexit delivered by a Johnson premiership as key to defeating Corbyn. 

It looks as if another chap with lots of theories in this vein is in the line of fire:

This is the duo worrying the ‘Establishment’….

Written by Andrew Coates

June 25, 2022 at 4:11 pm