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Day of Rage, UK Right-Wing Press Goes Hysteria.

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Day of Rage campaign poster

This is happening today.

Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessaryshared their event.

17 June at 15:32 · 

#JusticeForGrenfell #Justice4Grenfell

We returned to the site today, speaking with people who live locally, people who came from all sides of London & outside. All races and ethnicities, all faiths and none, migrants and citizens, ALL of us coming together to grieve, to connect, and to fight so this never happens again. ALL of us are London, we are ALL Britain.

This government has presided over thousands of deaths from 7 years of austerity and anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant racism and bigotry. THEY NEED TO GO. NOW.

* MARCH * STRIKE * WALK OUT *
21/06/17 Queens speech – march on Parliament. We march from Shepherds Bush to Westminster.

We have came out and shown in the last elections what society we want: progressive, equal, just, hopeful. And we will fight for it by any means necessary. May’s coalition of millionaires & bigots must go, if we are to win a progressive hopeful future for all.

On Wednesday 21st
Bring your rage, bring your anger, bring your hurt, we will be loud and bold, speaking the only language the rich and powerful understand: a mass integrated movement in the streets.

#DayOfRagehttps://www.facebook.com/events/1490621807662608/?ti=icl

#BringDownTheGovernment

The Daily Mail boils with its own rage,

If Jeremy Corbyn truly believed in democracy, he’d roundly condemn today’s ‘Day of Rage’, organised by the storm troops of the hard Left to bring London to a halt and help overthrow the Government.

Leave aside the sickening way his Marxist supporters have exploited the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire to promote their hate-filled agenda – ‘hijacking our grief’, in the words of local residents and churches.

The very thought of a revolutionary mob seeking to overturn an election result should horrify anyone who cherishes our constitution and rule of law.

Yet from the Labour leader, deafening silence. Worse, he has pandered to protesters’ thirst for class war by echoing their demands to seize the empty homes of the rich.

As for Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, yes, he has said half-heartedly that he ‘repudiates’ the Day of Rage. Yet as the Mail reveals, he has given his backing in the past to the protest’s organisers from the chillingly-named Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary.
Meanwhile, this man who would be chancellor has egged on union militants to topple Theresa May in a ‘Red October’, with mass protests and a summer of strikes that could do untold harm to the economy.

During the election, Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell presented themselves as misunderstood idealists. How quickly the mask has slipped. And what a warning to anyone tempted to give them power.

The Evening Standard adds,

Stand Up To Racism has organised a demo for 6pm called: “Protest the Queen’s speech – no to May/DUP racism & bigotry!”

London Socialist Party is hosting a Facebook event called “May Must Go! Protest the Queen’s Speech” which is scheduled for 4pm.

One assumes they are both going to protest against the Queen’s Speech, unless they are organising the event from Washington DC.

Grenfell Tower fire: Local residents do not want their ‘grief hijacked’ by ‘Day of Rage’ protest

This report is more significant, from Get West London.

“They’re angry, they’re grieving but they are working to bring about positive change”

Some of the residents who have been affected by the fatal Grenfell Tower fire , have talked about having their ‘grief hijacked’ following the announcement of the ‘Day of Rage’ protest outside the Houses of Parliament.

According to the Clement James Centre, a local educational charity which has provided temporary shelter for residents, those affected by the fire do not support the planned protest.

Posting on Twitter, the Clement James Centre said: “There has been a ‘Day of Rage’ announced for Wednesday, trying to bring London to a standstill.

“We cannot emphasise enough how against this many of the affected residents we’ve spoken to are and they do not want their grief hijacked for any violent or destructive means.

They’re angry, they’re grieving but they are working to bring about positive change and action through conversations with the right people.

“They want their voices about this to be heard just as loudly.

“If the streets are closed, we cannot effectively continue our aid operation in the area, and if any violence ensues, the issue takes a whole new direction.”

The charity also spoke of a #peaceforlatimer trend, where the local community are trying white ribbons around their wrists to ensure their message is heard.

Others have condemned the “Day of Rage” protest, Facebook user, Joanne Green posted on the event, saying: “Rioting will not work. It will destroy the last 2 years of hard work that we have done to get this close to a real Revolution as is possible.”

To which the event organisers replied: “Where exactly are you seeing that we are calling for a ‘riot’?

“We don’t let the fears of those who oppress us determine how we fight”

Activists will also take note of the following, which I agree wholeheartedly with:

Another post on the event, by London Black Revs, who describe themselves on Facebook as a “self-determined working class URBAN and strictly working class revolutionary organisation”, says: “Were residents consulted on this?

“They are really against having a demonstration without being told, asked or leading it, especially for other political agendas, which may or may not be important.

“There is a lot of anger locally that things are being done in Grenfell’s name and they’ve not had the time to even bury their family members.”

But,

The organisers replied by saying: “We have been in the community for several days now, speaking to hundreds of people, many who have friends and loved ones missing or dead.

“We’ve had tonnes of support, people taking flyers, saying they are coming, wanting to speak out about their experiences.”

*****

This Wikipedia account of the Movement for Justice is said to be broadly correct – according to our sources.

One should add that their site, Movement for Justice, does not seem to have been updated since 2013, and people indicate that they may have less than a dozen supporters.

Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary

“The Movement for Justice was set up in 1995 by people around the Kingsway College Student Union in the London Borough of Camden to tackle racism in institutional and established forms. The group confronted organised fascism as well as death in custody and wider racism to black people as well as travellers, refugees and asylum seekers. It is also the sister group to the American organization The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), which has been accused of being a cult by former members. Movement for Justice is headed up by members of the Revolutionary Internationalist League (RIL), a Trotskyist group.”

The origins of this group are obscure even by Trotskist standards<

“The Workers Internationalist League was a Trotskyist group in Britain founded in the summer of 1983 by the Internationalist Faction of the Workers Socialist League. It was the British affiliate of the Trotskyist International Liaison Committee until that body was renamed the International Trotskyist Committee.

Although a small group, it immediately moved to producing a paper which was called Workers’ International News in mimicry of the magazine of the war-time Workers International League. For a small group of no more than 35 members this was a major undertaking.

The main concern of the new group was to clarify its ideas and where to concentrate their work. Therefore the question of how to orient to the Labour Party was a major area of debate. On the one hand, comrades around Mike Jones, close to the views of the Workers’ Party (Argentina) (PO), were for working in the Labour Party Young Socialists and were hostile to the United Secretariat of the Fourth International forces then in the Labour Party. This was an important question for the group as the Italian section of the TILC moved to join the USFI group in that country. On the other extreme of the group, Chris Erswell was supportive of the Italian TILC group’s orientation.

Meanwhile the senior leader of the WIL, Pete Flack, found himself isolated when the rest of the National Committee opposed the Italian tactic of fusion with the USFI. The WIL was being pulled in different directions by other Trotskyist tendencies, with the TILC, PO and the Workers Power group all representing different poles of attraction. This became obvious at the first national conference of the group, held in December 1983.

The conference solved none of the problems of the group and in January 1984 eleven supporters of the TILC left the WIL to establish the Workers International Review Group. The TILC refused to make them their official British section, instead choosing TILC sympathisers still in the WIL. They formed a Tendency for Political Clarification which was itself clarified when 3 of its 5 members left to join Workers Power. The remaining two members of the tendency then formed a Liaison Committee with the Workers International Review Group which led to the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist League in November 1984,[2] which was the British section of the International Trotskyist Committee (formed that summer from the TILC) until its split in 1991. The rump WIL would seem to have expired in the meantime.

The WSL was originally a faction inside the Workers’ Revolutionary Party.

French Legislative Elections: A Victory for Social Liberalism against Populism?

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Seats in the Assemblée Nationale.

Nuances de candidats Nombre de sièges
Extrême gauche 0
Parti communiste français 10
La France insoumise 17
Parti socialiste 29
Parti radical de gauche 3
Divers gauche 12
Ecologiste 1
Divers 3
Régionaliste 5
La République en marche 308
Modem 42
Union des Démocrates et Indépendants 18
Les Républicains 113
Divers droite 6
Debout la France 1
Front National 8
Extrême droite 1

 

Percentages of the vote and abstention (57,36%)

Nuances de candidats Voix % inscrits % exprimés Nombre de sièges
Parti communiste français 217 833 0,46 1,20 10
La France insoumise 883 786 1,87 4,86 17
Parti socialiste 1 032 985 2,18 5,68 29
Parti radical de gauche 64 860 0,14 0,36 3
Divers gauche 263 619 0,56 1,45 11
Ecologiste 23 197 0,05 0,13 1
Divers 100 574 0,21 0,55 3
Régionaliste 137 453 0,29 0,76 5
La République en marche 7 826 432 16,55 43,06 306
Modem 1 100 790 2,33 6,06 42
Union des Démocrates et Indépendants 551 760 1,17 3,04 17
Les Républicains 4 040 016 8,54 22,23 113
Divers droite 306 240 0,65 1,68 6
Debout la France 17 344 0,04 0,10 1
Front National 1 590 858 3,36 8,75 8
Extrême droite 19 030 0,04 0,10
Nombre % inscrits % votants
Inscrits 47 292 967
Abstentions 27 125 535 57,36
Votants 20 167 432 42,64
Blancs 1 397 496 2,95 6,93
Nuls 593 159 1,25 2,94
Exprimés 19 176 177 38,43 90,13
Ministère de l'Interieur

interieur.gouv.fr  MINISTÈRE DE L’INTÉRIEUR Second Round.

This morning on the French radio the expected news of the triumph Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche was immediately followed by an announcement that  Prime Minister Edouard Philippe would tolerate no pot-shots at his government from his own quarter. The fresh-faced majority would not see its own deputies becoming “frondeurs” – critics that the right-wing of the Parti Socialiste  now blame for their own crushing defeat, from the Presidential elections to the legislatives.

To one admirer of the new President,  Will Hutton, “Macronism is the emergence of a fresh grounded economic and political philosophy – a landmark moment.” (Macron has led a brilliant coup – could the British now do the same? Observer). In the grip of enthusiasm he continues, “An ancien regime of tired and corrupt conservative and socialist politicians, indissolubly linked to the immobilisme that has plagued France, has been swept away.”

As in Macron Minister Richard Ferrand (accusation of dodgy property deals) Justice Minister and leader of Macron’s allied party, the Modems, François Bayrou (alleged misuse of European funding)…..

Hutton’s 1995, The State We’re In, proposed a ” radical social democratic ” programme for Tony Blair’s Labour Party, with a strong dose of constitutional reform – apparently the key condition for  transforming the UK’s dominance by financial interests – as the answer to British economic difficulties. It drew support from a constituency that emerged at the end-tail of the ‘New Times’ politics of the disintegrating Democratic Left, the largest Eurocommunist tendency of the former  Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), some within the Trade Union Congress, and the liberal left. He has since sifted  through a variety of ever more diluted versions of these themes, ending up with a plea for “fairness” in Them and Us: Changing Britain – Why We Need a Fair Society (2010), and others whose contents I defy anybody to remember anything about.

In the latest of the columnist’s band-wagon efforts his embrace of the glimmer of a new ‘progressive’ movement – it seems that Macron is keen on “social investment” is on very wobbly ground indeed.

Hutton rushes overboard to back the very measure which will raise the hackles of the French trade union majority – apart from the ‘negotiating reformists of the CFDT – ‘reform of the labour market’. This “loosening” of the Code du travail met with mass protests and strikes in 2016.

Will Macron’s priority for legislation in this area, apparently based on a (vaguely sketched) ‘Nordic Model’ though perhaps the ability to sack at will does not figure there, run into a similar storm?

The subject is not mentioned.

A Defeat for Populism?

Macron has been described as populist, in the sense that his idea of ‘progressive’ is ‘beyond left and right’ and is, well, popular. But there is little else to tie him to the debate about populism. He does not support the incarnation of the People in France, or pit the Nation’s sovereignty against Europe and Globalisation. He is not anti-pluralist, En Marche! does not promote  an exclusive form of identity, aim at actual or potential ‘occupancy’ of the state, the suppression of civil society and pluralism, or use any form of demagogy.

Macron’s policies on the European Union (pro, with the promotion of reform) and globalisation (pro- but moderated)  are anti-populist.

So how do we begin to come to grips with his politics?

Since the Referendum Campaign and the victory of Brexit, and Trump’s election, many commentators have talked up the ‘populist wave’.  David Goodhart (The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics. 2017) talked of “values tribes”. The somewhere people – those rooted in a specific place or community –  were contrasted with the anywhere people, urban, socially liberal and university educated.

Macron’s party, with its strong support (up to 90% in Paris) in cities and amongst those with degrees, open minded on social issues, liberal on equal rights and  equality of opportunity is  anywhere placed and given a location. These French anywheres  have been beaten off the somewheres, the ‘periurban. the inhabitants of France’s ‘rust belt’ who voted for the Front National.

The constituency of En Marche!, one suspects, is less ‘socially liberal’ on policies  that cost money and taxes, real equality, or is social in the sense of engaging with the social struggles waged by trade unions.

The ‘freedom’ of the market come first.

But this is only the beginning of efforts to come to terms with Macron, and his party-movement.

The Basis For French Political Realignment. 

Thibault Muzergues (Le réalignement politique n’est pas vraiment idéologique, il est d’abord sociologique) fleshed out the sociology behind the changing French political scene.  First of all Muzergues  talks of “millennials“, white I find this claim goes against the observable pattern) , educated, frustrated at not finding a job, and one could add, at the cost of higher education, above all at the continued fallout from the 2008 economic crisis, austerity. They tend to back the radical left, Corbyn in the UK, Podemos in Spain, and La France Insoumise in the Hexagogne.

Then there is a “white minority”, the left behind, the inhabitants of the ‘rust belts’ in Europe (and the USA). They are the ‘losers’ of globalisation. They tend to back the Front National, supported Brexit, and, obviously, Trump.

Next is the  the “creative class”, the winners of globalization, cosmopolitan Bobos (bohemian bourgeois), from high-flyers to right-wing smug Hipsters (I add this latter bit off my own back) who are Macron’s constituency.

Finally, Muzergues sketches as those attached to their ‘somewheres’, “terroir’ et tradition’, They are the polar opposite of the Bobos, the bourgeois bohemians who like Macron. The “boubours” (bourgeois-bourrin, which comrade Google translates, as “philistine nag” and I would say something approaching Essex Man) are as much a part of this cohort as the French equivalent of Home Counties pious Tories. Unlike their British counterparts  included in their conservative values are the existing system of social protection (in France, and no doubt the UK – the Welfare state, notably for the elderly). These lean towards the classical right, Les Républicains onwards.

The game of identifying the constituencies in the new French political landscape will no doubt continue, with the addition of exploration of the largest body in this second round: the abstentionists, who included 4,2% who voted, blank or spoiled ballot papers.

For one person at least, Mélenchon  not voting was a form of “civic strike” “forme de grève civique) , a protest whsope negry can be deployed in futrue against Macron (France Culture)

But if Muzergues tends to work backwards, from the choices on the ballot, voting patterns, to constituencies, it is a better framework than the somewhere/anywhere couple. It  has the merit of outlining one group which appears distinct from the sterile distinction between populist salt of the earth anti-EU, anti-immigrant, anti-globalisation somewheres and the urbane creatives. The constituency of the millennials is an interesting one and has can be seen to have parallels elsewhere, in the United Kingdom and the basis of much support for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn to start with. A lot more needs to be added on the Front National, which I will postpone until the slew of  post-election books arrives.

End of Left and Right?

There has  clearly a game-changing series of changes in this election. Some argue that these new voting blocs are overshadowed by a profound transformations in French political topography.   This year’s elections have undermined the traditional blocs of left and right, as organised and  institutionalised parties, bodies with histories dating to the early years of the 20th century – Socialists, to the foundation of the  Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière, SFIO, in 1905 – with origins still further back to the tumult and aftermath of the French Revolution.

An emerging political system which centres on personalities and their ‘movements‘ , as it is emerging in France, sidelining decades of a (complex) left-right party system, is without direct counterparts elsewhere. Even Italy, after the break up of the Communist Party, continues to cling to a  stem of organised parties, and the 5 Star movement looks well  past its peak.  (Pierre Rosanvallon : « L’élection de Macron redéfinit le clivage droite-gauche ». 17.6.17)

That the Parti Socialiste has managed to get 29 seats with a pitiful 5,68% of the vote, masks its own split between those who consider that they are “Macron compatible” and those hostile to him. One of them  Myriam El Khomri, in whose name the previous labour ‘reform’ was carried out, lost to the traditional right in the second round on Sunday. The Socialist Presidential candidate, Benoît Hamon, was also eliminated in the first round. As a sign of their divisions, Hamon then called for a vote for La France insoumise  in the constituency where his  PS rival, Manuel Valls, was standing.

Re-founding the Left.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s  La France insoumise (LFI) now has a parliamentary group. Apart from those primarily devoted to his own person it includes, François Ruffin, the author of the film Merci patron!, credited with inspiring the Nuit Debout movement, and Clémentine Autain, the independent minded spokesperson for the left alliance Ensemble (Législatives 2017 : La France insoumise de Mélenchon aura un groupe à l’Assemblée nationale.

How far they will fit in with the Left Populist leader’s plans to lead the People against the Oligarchy, and whether agreements can be reached with the 10 Communist deputies, pleased not to have erased from the electoral map, as once seemed possible (Législatives : le PCF retrouve quelques sièges historiquesremains to be seen.

Their priority will obviously be to defeat Macron’s plans to liberalise the labour market by weakening employees’ rights.

In the longer term many have called for a profound re-thinking of the basis on which the left has stood, and the future of all forms of socialism. (1)

Their debates will be of great interest to the whole European and international left.

As the ‘incarnation of the programme’ Mélenchon may not have to face people who might disagree with him inside his rally, La France Insoumise that Pablo Iglesias has found in  Podemos, or opponents of the statue of Íñigo Errejón.  But it may well be that he’ll find that he meets his equals in the new National Assembly, people who are more interested in this re-foundation of the left than in an individual’s plans for the French People.

*********

(1) The Parti Socialiste General Secretary, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis in his resignation speech called for thoroughgoing change “La gauche doit tout changer, la forme comme le fond, ses idées comme ses organisations. La gauche doit ouvrir un nouveau cycle. Il s’agit de repenser les racines du progressisme, car ses deux piliers – l’État providence et l’extension continue des libertés – sont remis en cause. Il s’agit donc de repenser l’action publique, en mêlant principe d’efficacité et demande citoyenne. C’est le socle indispensable d’une nouvelle offre politique à gauche pour contrer à la fois le néolibéralisme et le nationalisme.”

More Information: France 24.

Record abstention

While Macron’s triumph paves the way for the sweeping reforms he has promised, it also comes with a number of important caveats, starting with the massive level of abstention that made it possible. For the first time in history, turnout in a legislative election has slumped to below 50%, in both rounds. On Sunday, a mere 43% of voters bothered to cast their ballots. This means the 42% of votes won by LREM candidates account for less than 20% of registered voters.

The record level of abstention underscored the widespread election fatigue accumulated over more than 12 months of non-stop campaigning, successive primaries, and a two-round presidential election. It also highlighted the imbalance inherent to France’s electoral system, in which legislative polls tend to be seen as a sideshow to the all-important presidential bout. With his hyper-personalisation of politics, Macron has dramatically increased this discrepancy.

Above all, the measly turnout reflected voters’ widespread disgust with the mainstream parties of right and left that have dominated French politics for decades. A few weeks ago, the conservative Les Républicains were still hoping to win a majority of seats. As results trickled in on Sunday, they were projected to win just 126, their lowest-ever tally. Reflecting on the debacle, their campaign leader François Baroin had little to offer, besides wishing Macron “good luck”.

Socialist wipe-out

As for the former ruling Socialists, they slumped to an all-time low of 29 seats. Last week saw the first-round exits of party boss Jean-Christophe Cambadélis and presidential candidate Benoît Hamon. More heavyweights fell on Sunday, including former education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who was seen as one of the party’s rising stars. As the scale of the defeat became obvious, Cambadélis announced his resignation, adding that “Macron’s triumph is uncontestable”.

Among the survivors from left and right, several have already pledged to support the “presidential majority”. They include former Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls, who saved his seat in the Essonne, south of Paris, by a mere 139 votes – and only because LREM chose not to field a candidate against him. His far-left opponent has challenged the result alleging voter fraud, and a recount is on the cards.

Indicative of the extraordinary realignment of French politics was a flashpoint contest in northern Paris, in which centrist Socialist candidate Myriam El Khomri enjoyed Macron’s support, while her conservative challenger Pierre-Yves Bournazel was backed by Macron’s prime minister. Victory went to the latter, marking a huge upset in a constituency that was once solidly left-wing.

Le Pen enters parliament

While LREM capitalised on the anti-establishment sentiment, other parties that had been hoping to ride the same wave fell way short of their objectives. It was notably the case of the far-right National Front of Marine Le Pen, the runner-up in last month’s presidential contest, which failed to translate its strong showing in presidential polls into a large parliamentary contingent.

The Grenfell Tragedy and Class War.

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https://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/976/cpsprodpb/1267C/production/_96488357_tower_sequence.png

“Our fears over fire were ignored because we are working class.”

The Evening Standard has just reported,

Grenfell Tower estate residents: Our fears over fire were ignored because we are working class.

Distraught residents of the estate where at least 17 people were killed in a horrific tower block blaze have told how they believe safety concerns were ignored because officials “don’t care” about working class people.

Residents living in tower blocks close to Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West estate said they were now “scared” for their own safety, and that managers and the council had not acted on concerns raised in meetings.

It comes after it emerged a resident of the tower block had written a chilling blog post after a renovation in 2016, saying only a “catastrophe” would lead to changes being made.

…..

Scrawled alongside tributes to victims on a wall outside Latymer Community Centre were messages calling for “justice for Grenfell.”

Another referenced “poor people politics”.

Cye Elliot, 75, a visa adviser who lives close to the estate, said: “It’s just total neglect.

“It’s arrogance, disrespecting people. Because they were working class they can get away with it.

He added: “You see the block where all these people were killed and then you see the people coming along with the kids going to private schools. It’s poignant.”

 

The Grenfell Tragedy is Class War

Writes Phil, A Very Public Sociologist.

The victims of yesterday’s fire at the Grenfell tower in north Kensington are casualties of the class war. There is no other frame, no other explanation that can convincingly thread together the answers to questions about how this unnecessary and entirely avoidable tragedy happened, and why it was allowed to happen.

Shiraz Socialist posts,

Grenfell Action Group: “All our warnings fell on deaf ears”

It is becoming apparent that the residents of Grenfell Tower had made repeated representations to the (Tory) Council and the so-called Tenant Management Committee, about their fears over the safety of the building. But these were poor working class people, isolated within a prosperous borough. They were ignored, as the Grenfell Action Group’s blog demonstrates.

The Guardian carries this story,

Grenfell Tower fire is corporate manslaughter, says Labour MP

David Lammy, whose friend is missing after the blaze, calls for arrests, as confirmed death toll rises to 17.

….

Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, whose friend Khadija Saye and her mother, Mary Mendy, lived on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower and were missing, gave a voice to the growing anger in the community.

“This is the richest borough in our country treating its citizens in this way and we should call it what it is. It is corporate manslaughter. And there should be arrests made; frankly, it is an outrage,” he said.

“Many of us across the country have been caught up in an election knocking on housing estate doors, travelling up to the top floors of tower blocks and we know as politicians that the conditions in this country are unacceptable.”

….

The newly elected Labour MP for the area, Emma Dent Coad, said there was growing fear among residents made homeless by the fire that they would be rehoused outside of the borough, in cheaper housing in places far from London, such as Hastings or Peterborough, where the council has tried to rehouse tenants previously.

“I can’t help thinking that poor quality materials and construction standards may have played a part in this hideous and unforgivable event,” she said.

The Mirror says

Grenfell Tower fire shows that the poor and working class are once again left behind to live in danger

The face of Grenfell is like the face of so many tower blocks across Britain – residents rely on the state to keep them safe and I fear they have been failed

….

There are real questions about the viability of these buildings.

New high rises being built across the capital are largely luxury apartments and pent-houses, and of course they are equipped with sprinkler systems, fire-proof walls and fire escapes.

Yet again we have one rule for the rich and the poor are being left behind and left in danger.

There is also this claim (Vox Political): Outsourcing firm Capita runs ‘catastrophic’ dispatch system that delays firefighters.

The Tories outsourced the fire and rescue service dispatching system to outsourcing profit-maker Capita in 2012. As a result, it doesn’t work.

After the horrific scenes we witnessed there is great sadness and great anger across the country. There is little doubt that nobody is going to stop talking about the class issues involved; the simple reason is that it the contrast with the Tower bloc’s neighbours is so stark, as anybody who has visited the borough can see, feel and touch. The image of the burning building is imprinted in millions of minds. A kind of whirling machine of faults that surrounds the origins and response to the tragedy, and the response to it, incarnated in the gruesome figure of Theresa May, the Council and its outsourced companies.

More than anything, it’s that the residents will not keep  their rage to themselves.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 15, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Emmanuel Macron faces first “affaire” – Richard Ferrand.

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French Legislative Election Campaign Overshadowed by Ferrand Affair. 

By tradition you wait for at least a year before French politics becomes embroiled in a complicated ‘affair’ involving links with private companies, influence, and, let’s put it more clearly. pocketing large sums of dosh.

Not so for Emmanuel Macron who’s already got himself stuck in this one a few weeks (it all seems a bit of a haze…..) into his shiny new Presidency.

Bear in mind that legislative elections loom on the 11th and 18th of June.

Libération reports that the public prosecutor has now opened a formal enquiry into what is now known as the ‘Affaire Ferrand’, a lot of dodgy dealing by a newly appointed Minister and renegade member and key ally of the  Socialist Party (for example, chair of SRC socialiste, radical et citoyen).

After pissing on his former comrades he became Secretary of Macron’s movement, En Marche!

At present he is a Minister for Macron’s first cabinet under PM Édouard Philippe  (title: ministre de la Cohésion des territoires).

Affaire Ferrand : le procureur de Brest ouvre une enquête préliminaire.

For those who care to plough through the details (and believe me these ‘affairs’ get more complex not to say to labyrinthian  by the hour, so it’s best to begin now) Le Monde publishes a handy-guide: L’affaire Richard Ferrand en cinq points.)Basically it involves Property dealing, Parliamentary employees not being declared legally, contracts for his mates, conflicts of interests between his position as a MP and his private business. That’s where the complicated bit begins…..

Or you can read this: 

With critical legislative elections looming in June, French president Emmanuel Macron could have done without allegations of impropriety against a close associate – and cabinet minister – splashed across newspaper front pages. Reports France 24. 

The new French leader, after all, won power with his upstart political movement on pledges of probity and made pushing through a new law on ethics in politics a top priority of his fledgling term. That legislation is due to be presented to his cabinet on June 14.

But Richard Ferrand, 54, Macron’s newly named minister for territorial planning – an early Socialist supporter of the political neophyte’s presidential bid who became Macron’s right-hand man during the winning campaign – is now facing a raft of disparate allegations on his activities both in the private sector and as a member of parliament. After initially announcing he had not found legal grounds for an inquiry, a public prosecutor announced on Thursday morning that he would indeed open a preliminary inquiry.

..

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe told French television on Tuesday night that Ferrand would keep his cabinet post. “I am saying yes, after having perfectly understood, being perfectly conscious of the exasperation of the French, of their emotion, of their annoyance,” Philippe said. The prime minister also noted that any minister who faced criminal charges (which is not the case currently for Ferrand) would have to resign immediately. Philippe’s entourage told Reuters on Thursday that the preliminary inquiry does not change that rule.

The PM had said last Friday that there was no legal affair, but a debate. “That debate is political and it will be decided by those most qualified and best qualified to judge such political debates, voters and French citizens,” Philippe said. Ferrand is one of several government ministers running for a seat in the legislative elections on June 11 and 18. The Élysée Palace has said from the start that any cabinet member running in that race who loses at the ballot box will have to step down.

The BBC is more explicit,

A French prosecutor is investigating alleged financial misconduct by Richard Ferrand, a minister in President Emmanuel Macron’s new government.

Mr Ferrand’s partner, Sandrine Doucen, allegedly profited from a property deal while he was head of a health insurance fund renting office space from her.

He denies wrongdoing. Separately, one of Mr Macron’s junior ministers is also suspected of financial impropriety.

The timing is awkward for Mr Macron, as he launches an ethical standards bill.

He has made clean government a flagship policy, after financial misconduct allegations hit his main rivals in the presidential election – National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen and conservative Republicans candidate François Fillon.

His new centrist party, La République en Marche (Republic on the move), wants to win convincingly in key parliamentary elections this month.

Polls suggest the party can win, but the well-established party machines of the Socialists and Republicans are formidable rivals.

Latest polls for coming legislative elections.

Note Macron’s party at 320 5o 350, and the ‘classic’ right bloc at 140 to 155.

The Parti Socialiste stands at around 40 to 50 seats, and France Insoumise-Parti Communiste, at between 20 to 30 deputies.

That is, the left will be totally marginalised.

As projections indicate, so will be the Front National at 10 to 15 MPs.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 1, 2017 at 3:57 pm

Ipswich Tory Candidate, Benedict Gummer, Goes Poet: After “Marxist Hell”, “Beauty matters, because people do”.

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Tory Propaganda: “Punative” (sic) Hell that Ben Gummer is Determined to Reject.

Posted under the rubric ‘News’ Benedict Gummer, Ipswich Tory Candidate, writes,

Beauty matters, because people do.

Ben is a bit of an expert on the former Eastern bloc.

He once spent a short holiday there with his dad the Right Hon John Gummer, after the collapse of Communist, oh, and over two decades back.

On this basis he declares:

It was a Marxist hell...

Ben’s anfractuous account of this short trip is the occasion for a cantillation on the Orwell Bridge, Ipswich and ends with an eucatastrophe.

He states, “Why do I bring this now?”

” I was struck recently by one of John Norman’s many excellent pieces for the Ipswich Star, in which he described the creation of Alton Water and the complicated way in which water is moved about Ipswich to ensure that when we turn a tap, something fresh and potable comes out.

We learn,

One detail I did not know: that through the middle of the Orwell Bridge is a large pipe, that carries water from Alton to the Felixstowe peninsula.  It was a good reminder of the hidden services that are all over the place, without which modernity would be finished.

From the Marxist hell to the heaven – “simple and beautiful”  – that is the Orwell Bridge but a logical step in the mind of a man of poetic depth.

Benny concludes,

“If you value beauty in our built environment, you value people too. “

Yet, “If you accept poor design and an ugly environment, you also implicitly condemn the people who must live and work in those places to a life less happy and contented than they would otherwise enjoy.”

“…as our town rises from its own long period of neglect, it will show its resurgence by its recovery of beauty and charm.”

Modestly his web site contains a picture where you can click showing how his efforts, street by street,  are bringing pulchritude and delightfulness to Ipswich

Ben’s Biggest Achievements for Ipswich so far

Click here to find out what Ben is achieving in your local area.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 31, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Labour’s Policies on Social Security and Workers’ Rights: Pillars of a Sound Manifesto.

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Many people have commented, and will comment, and, who on earth  knows? will comment defavourably  on Labour’s policies .

Two areas stick out to me on this very sound Manifesto (full text here).

Both because they affect our people and because they are just.

Poverty in Britain is rising due to the Conservatives’ attempts to balance the books on the backs of the poorest. They have slashed social security over the last seven years, leaving more people in poverty, subject to a punitive sanctions regime, and reliant on food banks.

Labour will act immediately to end the worst excesses of the Conservative government’s changes. We will:

  • Scrap the punitive sanctions regime
  • Scrap the Bedroom Tax
  • Reinstate Housing Benefit for under-21s
  • Scrap cuts to Bereavement Support Payment.
  • The cuts to work allowances in Universal Credit (UC), and the decision to limit tax credit and UC payments to the first two children in a family, are an attack on low-income families and will increase child poverty. Labour will reform and redesign UC, ending six-week delays in payment and the ‘rape clause’.

With nearly four million children currently living in poverty, the majority in working families, we will commit to tackle child poverty with a new Child Poverty Strategy.

The Tories have completely failed on their promise of making work pay and on tackling the barriers to work faced by people with disabilities.

Labour supports a social model of disability. People may have a condition or an impairment but they are disabled by society. We need to remove the barriers in society that restrict opportunities.

A FAIR DEAL AT WORK

Work should provide people with security and fulfilment. But for too many people work is insecure and does not make ends meet.

The Conservatives boast about the recovery of employment, but our labour market is failing. Real-terms pay is still lower than before the crash, and jobs are increasingly low skilled and insecure.

A Labour government will invest in enforcement through a new Ministry of Labour, and empower workers and their trade unions – because we are stronger when we stand together.

So we will review the rules on union recognition so that more workers have the security of a union.

RIGHTS AT WORK

The next Labour government will bring in a 20-point plan for security and equality at work:

Give all workers equal rights from day one, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent – so that working conditions are not driven down.
Ban zero hours contracts – so that every worker gets a guaranteed number of hours each week.
Legislate to ensure that any employer wishing to recruit labour from abroad does not undercut workers at home – because it causes divisions when one workforce is used against another.
Repeal the Trade Union Act and roll out sectoral collective bargaining – because the most effective way to maintain good rights at work is collectively through a union.
Guarantee trade unions a right to access workplaces – so that unions can speak to members and potential members.
Propose four new public holidays – bringing our country together to mark our four national patron saints’ days. These will be additional to statutory holiday entitlement so that workers in Britain get the same proper breaks as in other countries.
Raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage (expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020) – for all workers aged 18 or over, so that work pays.
End the Public Sector Pay Cap – because public sector workers deserve a pay rise after years of falling wages.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 16, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Anti-Fascism Betrayed? The Left and the French Presidential Elections.

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The End of the United Front Against Fascism?

The French Presidential Elections: Anti-Fascism Betrayed?

“qui’il n’y pas de hiérarchie dans l’inacceptable entre le Pen at Macron. Entre la xénophobie et la soumission aux banques.”

There is no difference of degree between the unacceptability of le Pen and Macron, between xenophobia and surrender to the banks.

Emmanuel Todd.

“Last year I wrote in the struggle against fascism the Communists were duty-bound to come to a practical agreement not only with the devil and his grandmother, but even with Grzesinski.”

Leon Trotsky. 1932. The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany.

The 2/3rds majority of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise who support abstention, or a blank vote, in the second round of the French Presidential elections is echoing across the hexagon’s already divided left. In Wednesday’s Le Monde Jean Birnbaum wrote of the burial of the “united front” spirit of anti-fascism (le 4 août de Mélenchon, ou l’antifascisme trahi). There are those who argue that not only is Macron beyond the pale, a banker, a globaliser with a sorry Ministerial record as a hard-liner pushing liberal labour reform, but that his election would prepare the way for a future Front National triumph. Hence ballot spoiling, blank votes, for abstention are the only possible choice in an election where there is no choice. Birnbaum argues that this, amid smaller (indeed, very small) leftist groups and some public intellectuals refusing to “takes sides”, shows that the  unity of the left against fascism, which has been a cornerstone of its politics since the mid-1930s, is breaking up.

This is not, then,  a debate about abstention as such. This position, a very old one on the French left, going back to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809 – 1865),  which argues for self-organising outside of Parliamentary institutions, is not at the centre of the debate. Alain Badiou early intervened in favour of a re-establishing a “communist vision” outside the “depoliticising” ceremony of the ballot box. Badiou’s recommendation not to vote because it only encourages them has not caught many people’s attention. (Alain Badiou. Voter renforce le conservatisme).

The Le Pen versus Macron duel has raised more serious issues. For Birnbaum, who has written on the blindness, if not indulgence, of a section of the left faced with Islamism (Un Silence Religieux. 2016 Review), some on the French left, many formed, like Mélenchon, from the Trotskyist tradition, have forgotten the need, which Trotsky (for all his acerbic attacks, and his loathing of the German Social Democrats, summed up in the figure of the Prussian Interior Minister, Grzesinski, demanded, faced with the prospect of Hitler’s rise, to defend democratic institutions.

No New Hitler.

It would be indecent to have to say that France today is far from the Weimar Republic. A new Hitler in power is not in prospect. There are no street battles between the Front National and the left. The FN does not offer a genocidal programme. Birnbaum’s argument that those who propose the view that Macron and Le Pen are politically twin-evils does not flag up the posthumous victory of the worst years of Stalinism, the Third Period. But, as many convincingly demonstrate the French far right is the vehicle for illiberal democracy. From leaving the Euro, Frexit, clamping down on immigration, including the expulsion of ‘suspect’ individuals, “national preference” (jobs first of all for French citizens), and tightening the borders, economically and socially, requires authority beyond normal Parliamentary democracy. The not-so-secret ambition of the extra-parliamentary wing of the far right, which would be emboldened by a FN victory, remains to fight the left violently, from the city pavements, civil society, education, and the workplace. (on this see the excellent: The Front National and fascism. Martin Thomas).

Yet Marine Le Pen’s party is, apparently, ‘normalised’. It is a refuge, Pierre-André Taguieff describes it, for those excluded by globalisation, a “pathological form of self-defence”, confronted with the erosion of nation states and the rule of elites. National-populism, he argues, reflects a “need” for identity and belonging. (La revanche du nationalisme. 2015)

There are doctors who claim to be treating this disorder. On the same page of le Monde, Henri Pena-Ruiz, Jean-Paul Scot and Bruno Streiff defend La France insoumise and refuse to be blackmailed into supporting Macron (Insoumis, osons penser librement!). They claim that their movement is at the forefront of the battle against the FN. On the one hand they have waged the “battle of ideas”, defending the role of immigrants n producing French national wealth, and the duty of “universal hospitality” to strangers advanced by Kant, a refusal to divide the world into “us” and “them”. On the other hand their “révolution citoyenne”, a 6th social, ecological and economic Republic, offers a message beyond short-term election battles. Federating the people, it can equally capture the best traditions of the left and those marginalised by globalisation.

Henri Pena-Ruiz has himself helped avoid faults that Birnbaum’s Un silence religieux attacked. That is the incapacity, mixed with an opportunistic eye to new recruits against ‘globalisation’ and ‘imperialism’, of some of the left confronted with Islamism. His Qu’est-ce que la laïcité? (2003) stands as a significant defence of secularism, and a rebuke to groups like the British Respect, and the Socialist Workers Party, who allied with the Islamic far-right.

Yet it does not help Mélenchon’s supporters that they choose to deny the accusation that they mirror 1930s sectarianism to cite the role of the German SPD in preparing the way for Hitler by, between 1924 and 1929, accepting a policy of austerity through their alliance with the centre (Catholic) party. This transparent attack on the Parti Socialiste, by Macron interposed, and its (mild) fiscal austerity indicates that in some way it holds  responsibility for the le Pen, and the far right. This is can easily be interpreted as indicating that the Macron ‘finance’ class are not only an enemy, but the real foe, beside which the Front National is a ‘diversion’.

Some readers may also consider that one could have done without the text’s references to their movement’s remarkable “intelligence collective”. Their is a feel of the courtier when they talk of the “honneur” of “non-guru” Mélenchon for organising a “consultation” of his supporters to know their views on voting in the second round. Others might wonder why there is no reference to the 15-16% of voters for this candidate in the first ballot that, polls indicate, who are ready to vote Le Pen on Sunday.

Populism and Sovereignty.

One problem remains. If those who refuse to ‘choose’ between Macron and Le Pen reflect a French debate, the underlying issues affect the left across the world. In Europe particularly ‘populism’ is not the preserve of the far right. Mélenchon’s intellectually ambitious advisers may look to Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s efforts to theorise contradictions between the “power bloc” and the “people”, and as the a handbook for constructing a force, filling the “empty signifier” of the People with a voice that articulates the needs and feelings of a broad constituency, against the ‘oligarchs’. In doing so their own demands for ‘national independence” to “produce French”, not to mention lyrical rhetoric about the French revolutionary tradition, or references to Kant’s universal principles of right, have been criticised as nationalist. Their ‘movement’, La France insoumise, which lacks any serious democratic structure, has claimed to be “beyond” traditional political divisions, while falling back into one of the most traditional oppositions of all: the Nation against the other Nations. If Macron represents economic liberal policies, for them he embodies something more: the Cosmopolitan European project. They have, in short, entered the orbit of Sovereigntism.

La France insoumise at an impasse.

After pursuing this path, Mélenchon and la France insoumise won a strong vote but a position as Number Four in the poll. They look less like a force that has abandoned the anti-fascist front, than a movement unable to offer anything more than continued protest. Instead of attempting, as Birnbaum and many others argue, to mobilise against Le Pen, for the unity of democrats against illiberalism, with the prospect of future social conflicts against Macron in mind, they are marching in disorder, a third abstaining a third voting blank and a third for the representative of ‘globalisation’, and their own “excluded” voters still set to back le Pen. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to gather together enough strength to gather together with those they now pour scorn upon to reach agreements on the left for the June legislative elections.