Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘East Anglia’ Category

Founder of Extinction Rebellion and Burning Pink, Roger Hallam: Warns of Doomsday without a “Spiritual Revolution” .

with 3 comments

Warning of “War played out in every city, every neighbourhood, every street..”

With COP and Climate Change dominating the news we hear a fair amount about Extinction Rebellion and their latest protests. But what are their wider politics, what is the kind of strategy their activists advance, and what what is their relationship to the left and any kind of progressive politics?

Here are some clues from a founding figures.

In 2021 only a Spiritual Revolution can bring us together. Only when we remember that we are all connected, only when we remember we are not separate from nature but part of it, only then can we come together on the basis of the one human value on which we all can unite: that life is good and we must preserve it at all cost. Whatever it takes.

Conservatives:

Allowing this to happen violates all our traditions, destroys families and communities, destroys our nations.

Liberals:

We face the destruction of all the progress towards freedom and prosperity built up over hundreds of years.

Radicals:

Corporate capitalism doesn’t just create vile inequality, it now creates global mass death. It has to be stopped.

From ROG,Website of Roger Hallam.

Julian Roger Hallam, a Welsh environmental activist, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, cooperative federation organisation Radical Routes  and the political party Burning Pink (which stood candidates in local elections last May, including in Ipswich).

The idea that Green Politics is neither Right nor Left but ‘Beyond’ or ‘Above’ political divisions is an old one. Hallam goes one stage further. He wants to abolish ballot boxes and elections and replace them with Citizens’ Assemblies, “I started Burning Pink in 2019 to create a direct action movement which would stand in elections to create a political revolution: legally binding citizens assemblies to take over from politicians. We have painted the buildings of NGOs and political parties that refuse to tell the truth and act upon it.”

This politics is based on a universal call to human kind. It has echoes of the 1980s anti-Nuclear movement’s fight against the potential global catastrophe of Exterminism (“Exterminism designates those characteristics of a society — expressed, in differing degrees, within its economy, its polity and its ideology — which thrust it in a direction whose outcome must be the extermination of multitudes.  “Exterminism and Cold War” E. P. Thompson 1987). For Hallam and his co-thinkers the answer to the present climate change threat is, transcendant yearnings aside, grounded on a ‘revolutionary’ proposal to replace elected democracy with institutions of decision-making selected by lot and statistics.

What are these Assemblies?

Permanent citizens’ assemblies need to become the new legislative arm of the state. This is the precise constitutional definition of a democratic revolution in the twenty-first century. They are legally binding so they cannot be ignored by parliaments and are organised by independent civil society groups and social movements rather than by the government and elites. When they announce their decisions, the carbon elites and their political administrators will break the rules and use lies and violence to try to take back power. This happens in all revolutionary episodes. We have to be prepared for this. As soon as citizens’ decisions are made millions will have to come back onto the streets to ensure the people’s will is done. That we demand life not death. And nothing will stop us.

Hold on. Who gets in these powerful bodies?

Extinction Rebellion has a sketch:

“The Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice will bring together ordinary people to investigate, discuss and make recommendations on how to respond to the climate emergency. Similar to jury service, members will be randomly selected from across the country. The process will be designed to ensure that the Assembly reflects the whole country in terms of characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity, education level and geography. Assembly members will hear balanced information from experts and those most affected by the emergency. Members will speak openly and honestly in small groups with the aid of professional facilitators. Together they will work through their differences and draft and vote on recommendations.”

Burning Pink sees them as a “representative group of people” “chosen at random like a jury”, to “reflect the wider population ” – age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, social class – and “sometimes relevant social attitudes (political left or right)”.

They have, Burning Pink asserts, a three step procedure, learning, deliberation, and decision-making. All good members of the aleatorily chosen ones will, there is little doubt, be united in a quest for knowledge, and follow these guidelines to the deliberate letter.

One is recommended to see the Sortation Foundation for the background (“sortition (also known as selection by lottery, selection by lot, allotment, demarchy, stochocracy, aleatoric democracy and lottocracy“). 

The idea of abolishing democracy, representative or direct, based on election in which different programmes, ideas, and people stand in front of the electorate, the result to be decided by ballot, is a good idea is pretty off the wall. Most people would not wish important public decisions to be made by people chosen on the basis that they are a statistical reflection of the make-up of the population.

Furthermore unlike elections, where members of the elected body may stand for re-election, sortition does not offer a mechanism by which the population expresses satisfaction or dissatisfaction with individual members of the allotted body. Thus, under sortition there is no formal feedback, or accountability, mechanism for the performance of officials, other than the law.

It comes as no surprise that Hallam has plenty of other ideas on bringing together all kinds of different politics.

Roger Hallam: the conservative case for Extinction Rebellion


The environmental campaigner tells Freddie Sayers his movement is not just for the radical Left.

(from the right-wing site Unherd)

In an eye-opening interview, he tells Freddie Sayers about the importance of the nation-state, social conservatism, local community, and how he wants church leaders and ex-police officers in his movement. His pitch, in short, is that philosophical conservatives should not be afraid to embrace radical environmentalism:

On why nationalism is the best approach: National identity at the end of the day trumps internationalism when you’re faced with annihilation. Now, I want to make clear that that does not mean the chauvinistic nationalism that a lot of left wing people associate nationalism with, for good reason, of course. But as we all know, there’s many different shades of patriotism and nationalism. And it’s silly really to weaponise it. What we’re looking at is a nationalism or patriotism which is rooted in a love of one’s country, a love of one’s tradition, and a love of one’s political traditions. – ROGER HALLAM, LOCKDOWNTV

Yet even so, this today is quite an eye-opener.

Then there is this…

He’s still at it:

That analogy leaves you with a sick taste in the mouth.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 3, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Some Notes on the Progressive Alliance.

with one comment

The Future of Left Politics?

Writing in the US Left Populist Magazine Jacobin Dave Broder discusses the aftermath of the Chesham and Amersham by-election. 

The Last Thing Labour Needs Is a “Progressive Alliance”

…the Liberal Democrats’ victory could help fuel one narrative touted by some Labour-aligned commentators in recent months — a “progressive alliance” to outflank the Tories and even change the electoral system. 

Guardian columnist John Harris argues that the fragmentation of old electoral blocs makes this a necessity: after last night’s result, he predicted a future for English politics where Lib Dems and Greens are “parties of the suburbs/commuter towns/hipster enclaves,” “Labour the party of cities,” with the “Tories a coalition of shires & post-industrial towns.” 

Precisely the danger of the Progressive Alliance — with Labour forming an enduring or permanent pact with the Lib Dems — is this effect in unbalancing the party toward just one part of its potential electoral coalition, seeing “progressivism” rather than class politics as the unifying force able to mobilize the social majority. Already with the French Socialists and ex-Communists in Italy, we have seen once-mighty parties with sizeable working-class support turn into a mere rump in their failed bid to dissolve their electorate and replace it with the liberal middle classes.”

””””

It is far from clear that the French Parti Socialiste and its predecessor the SFIO has its main class base the working class, which saying it has a ‘sizeable’ worker support obscures. How far this is due to the PS’s 2008 declaration which dropped to all reference to class conflict and support for an “économie de marché régulée » et « un secteur privé dynamique » is open to question. The inability to govern as a united force, and a practice which some say made the party strive for power for its own sake, are some more popular explanations. This was already a theme back in 2007 in this key work: Les socialistes français et le pouvoir – L’ambition et le remords.  Alain Bergounioux Gérard Grunberg.

Then there is this:

It seems to be a great loss of support amongst voters, amongst constituencies where the socialists used to be very strong, notably the young and people working in the public sector, that’s been the case, at least for the past 20 years.

As for the more popular, more working-class support, the socialists have lost a lot of them, that’s why, one of the reasons why, it is becoming very difficult for socialists to win an election. At least, that’s been the case for the past five years, where they lost all elections, at every echelon: local, regional, national.

It’s because there is very, very little support now coming from the lower middle-class, salaried workers and that, of course, some have gone to the right, some have gone a little bit to Le Pen but essentially, and more recently, to Mélenchon, the radical left, but essentially, there’s a lot of abstention amongst working-class voters.

Philippe Marlière 2017.

Rather than provide a galvanizing project for society, this approach mirrors existing culture-war divides. Especially glaring, in this regard, is the way in which leftish pundits nearing retirement age today lecture us on young voters’ supposed obsession with cultural issues or “identity politics,” even though under 40s massively backed Corbyn because of policies on housing and jobs, ignored the siren song of ultra-Remain parties, and then disengaged from Labour under Starmer’s leadership.”

Broder concludes,

The Progressive Alliance supporters have a point that, in the abstract, proportional representation (PR) is fairer than first past the post. Yet the demand raises skepticism on much of the Labour left — and with good reason. At a time when the party’s connection to working-class voters is so precarious and its identity in crisis, PR seems likely to only hasten its unraveling. Worse, the proposed means of arriving at PR (an electoral pact with the Lib Dems, Greens, and others) splits Labour’s own electoral coalition in advance. Since Labour has around four times more members than the Lib Dems, it also seems difficult to imagine how it would be decided which seat “belongs” to each party; the Lib Dems are, after all, infamous for distorted bar charts claiming that only they can “beat the Tories” (for other seats, “keep out Labour”) in this or that seat.

We not need to go further into this article by one of the world’s leading specialists in Amadeo Bordiga  see fault in the project In fact the progressive alliance has more obvious problems that the threat of steering Labour away from any form of left politics. The danger of cutting Labour adrift from any form of left politics is much less than the fact that most people with actual political experience are deeply sceptical that such an alliance could possibly work, electorally or or a strategy for operating in government.

Why a progressive alliance is an electoral fantasy Ben Walker. New Statesman.

This idea, however, falls at the first hurdle. Its advocates assume that the voters who opt for Britain’s varying progressive forces are enthused enough about this broader, more nebulous cause to obediently line up behind another anti-Tory party. In practice, however, it doesn’t work that way.

The notion of the Conservatives being an unambiguously toxic force might ring true for some left-wing readers but for the majority of the voters, such a feeling is not there and has not been for a great many years.

For instance, according to Ipsos MORI, during a period last year in which progressive parties commanded 56 per cent of public support, just 46 per cent of Britons had an unfavourable view of the Conservative Party.

For example, in the election for the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner, 45 per cent of Lib Dem votes went Conservative. In Humberside, the share that went Tory was also 45 per cent. In Nottinghamshire, where 81 per cent of Lib Dem votes backed either the Conservatives or Labour, 38 per cent plumped for the Tories. 

The net beneficiary in all these instances was Labour, but not by as much as the advocates of a progressive alliance might hope. Lib Dem voter loyalties are not shaped by anti-Tory sentiment but their own, more nuanced views. Simply put, far too many Lib Dems find Labour an unappetising option.

..

Finally, there is a genuine risk that people simply won’t turn out to vote if the candidate from their preferred party is removed from the ballot paper. The hope that the electorate would turn out in similar numbers to vote for, in effect, their second preference is predicated on the assumption that the logged-off electorate have the same priorities as the logged-on – and they don’t.

Walker puts the case well.

I would add that it is not just the memory of the Liberal Democrat-Conservative Coalition in 2010 that is the only reason for scepticism about a Progressive Alliance. The experience of working with the Greens, and above all, the Liberal Democrats in local government is very mixed. While the Leb-Dems have reached agreements over the years with Labour (running Suffolk County Council in the 1990s) they have also formed their own coalitions with the Tories (running Ipswich Borough Council). You can multiply these cases across the country. Many have us registered more recent deals between the Greens and anti-Labour councillors, from the London Assembly to Lancaster, including self identifying Eco-Socialists.

The same John Harris cited by Broder wrote in 2010,

Ipswich: Face to face with the realities of coalition

John Harris

What do you get when you cross a Tory with a Lib Dem? Cuts, cuts, cuts

Plenty of Labour people, however, have a more potent argument. They mention Birmingham, where the Lib Dems are in coalition with the Tories. The same, they point out, applies to Leeds. And Warrington, Camden, Southwark, and Newport, Gwent. And the county town I visit for tour stop number eight: Ipswich, where a partnership of Conservatives and Lib Dems (with 19 and seven councillors apiece) has been running the borough council for five years. To hear some people talk, all that stuff about a new progressive wind has been rather drowned out by swingeing cuts and doctrinaire free-marketry.

Apart from this record anybody who thinks that negotiating with the Greens and Liberals is an easy job should talk to political figures on the ground. There is, as the picture heading this post indicates a Norfolk Progressive Alliance.. It is not clear if it has any influence (over 400 likes). While it is said that in Woodbridge, a very middle class town near Ipswich, the Lib-Dems, the Greens and Labour have created an informal ‘progressive alliance’, It was agreed to let the Greens have a free run for one nearby constituency, Wickham Market, in the May County elections. The Liberals (Labour figures say) reneged on this arrangement under pressure from Ipswich Lib-Dems. They stood a candidate, split the non-Tory vote, and let the Conservatives in.

Wickham, East Suffolk

PartyCandidateVotes%±%
ConservativeAlexander John McDiarmid Nicoll165945.6-2.7
GreenRachel Anne Smith-Lyte162644.7+36.7
Liberal DemocratsSophie Helena Frances Williams3279.0-12.1
Majority330.9-26.3
Rejected ballots260.7+0.4
Turnout363841.2+2.2
Registered electors8827+497
Conservative holdSwing-19.7

Written by Andrew Coates

June 20, 2021 at 12:17 pm

Norwich community leaders condemn anti-semitic graffiti on city synagogue.

with 9 comments

The racist graffiti was discovered on the door of the Aduat Yeshua Synagogue this morning as it opened for prayers

A Norwich building which is home to a messianic synagogue has been targeted with antisemitic graffiti including swastikas alongside the words ‘Free Palestine’.

Vandals targeted the Adat Yeshua Messianic Synagogue overnight, daubing racial slurs on the synagogue door.

The antisemitic grafffiti, which is being investigated by police, was discovered as the shul opened for prayers this morning.

Jewish News.

Living in East Anglia Norwich is a city dear to our hearts. This response is good to see.

Community leaders unite to condemn hateful synagogue graffiti

Eastern Daily Press,

Norwich community leaders have come together to condemn the daubing of a swastika and antisemitic slurs on the door of a city synagogue.

Members of the Adat Yeshua Messianic Synagogue were left in shock on Friday morning when they arrived for morning prayer to discover the hateful graffiti on the door of the Essex Street site.

A statement co-signed by councillors and faith group leaders across the city reads as follows:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the cowardly antisemitic attack on Adat Yeshua Messianic Synagogue.

“There is no place for hate of any kind in our community. Hate causes problems across the world, including in the Middle East.

“We stand together in our desire for peace and will not be divided.”

The statement was co-signed by:

  • Emma Corlett, county council for Town Close
  • Karen Davis, Cate Oliver and Ian Stutely, city councillors for Town Close
  • Rabbi Binyamin Sheldrake
  • Amal Abdulhalim’d-Douglas, Ishan Mosque and Islamic Centre
  • Iftekhar Alan, trustee of Norwich Central Mosque
  • The Rev Richard James, Holy Trinity Church, Norwich
  • Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council
  • Steve Morphew, leader of the Norfolk County Council Labour group

Written by Andrew Coates

May 15, 2021 at 10:42 am