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France, Greens and Left in Local Election Victories.

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Greens and Left Win as Macron’s March is Halted.

French local elections, left wins Marseille for the first time since 1995, the Socialists (PS) kept the Paris Town Hall under the banner of Paris en commun , with Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s stunning lead *over Macron’s candidate, and kept hold of (just) Lille (where the Greens, EELV stood against the PS list).

(* 48,7% des voix, devant Rachida Dati, la candidate du parti (right) Les Républicains (33,8%) et Agnès Buzyn, celle de La République en marche (13,3%) – Macron’s party)

The main news is the successes of the Green-led lists, which won Bordeaux,  Lyon, Strasbourg, Poitiers and Tours. Apart  from Grenoble, where the  their politics are not clearly left, Marine le Pen’s RN wins Perpignan, (this morning on France-Inter, the representative of the Rom community congratulated the Rassemblement National, RN Mayor). The Communists (PCF) failed to take back Le Havre (lost in the 1990s) from Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and were beaten in Saint-Denis by a Socialist headed list, and by the right in Aubervilliers,  but they took Bobiney and Villejuif from the Right while keeping hold of a long list of town halls.

Those running for President Macron’s Party,,La République En Marche ! (LREM) failed to win support on the back of his policies. One factor in failure of LREM to make an impact (most marked in Paris),  observed before the ballot by a number of commentators, was that their lack of deep rooted structures, beyond the shifting world of political personalities and enthusiastic new recruits. There were many people, close to the ground, who predicted that LREM lacked the local long-term support and activist base to do well in Municipal elections.

The national populists of the Rassemblement National (RN) has mixed success, winning Perpignan (below being puffed by their friends at RT):

Some suggest that the unity  against them, the ‘Front Republican’, from centre right to left, may not continue the right’s desire to beat Greens and the left.

The RN certainly think so:

 

Left commentators note the way united left and green lists have succeeded, as in Lyon:

Longer term alliances may be harder to make. Apart from Grenoble, where (most of ) the left and the greens have worked together for some time the French ecologist party, the EELV, took an explicit turn from any co-operation , political or organisational, with left parties in last year’s European Elections.

This, of course, represented the line of Euro-Deputy Yannick Jadot, and was not received well by all of his party (Jannick Jadot ou l’écologie « et de droite et de gauche » La volonté du député européen de dépasser les clivages traditionnels passe mal au sein d’une partie d’Europe Ecologie-Les Verts.)

The Greens though won  13.5% of the vote and came third in the poll, after LREM and the RN.

 

 

Apart from the Higadalo victory in Paris the Left win in Marseille, the first time since the Right won France’s Second City in 1995, was sweet:

It is not only fringe politicians like Jean-Luc Mélenchon who noted the record levels of abstention.

France 24 reports.

Low voter turnout in French local elections tell a tale of disillusionment

France’s green wave captured the headlines following Sunday’s vote, with the French environmentalist party, Europe Écologie Les Verts (EELV), winning in major cities, like Marseille, Bordeaux, Lyon and Strasbourg. But behind the green sweep in the second round of the municipal elections lies another story: low voter turnout.

“Abstentions are the major feature of this evening,” concluded Chloé Morin, head of the Opinion Observatory at the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, on FRANCE 24’s election night special. It reached record highs in cities where the Socialist Party won, such as Nantes (71.42 percent), Rennes (68.32 percent) and Lille (60 percent). In Lyon, where the Greens won, abstentions were an estimated 62 percent.

The civic malaise was clearly linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, which had already affected voter turnout in the March 15 first round, when only 55.4 percent of voters nationwide cast their ballots, obvservers said.

Year Zero Zealots Topple Statues – where will it end? Spiked and Nigel Farage ponder…

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Image

Year Zero Zealots Topple Statue of Brexiter and Spiked Editor Brendan O’Neill.

Tom Slater was a prominent supporter of the Brexit Party and deputy editor of the site, Spiked.

He posted this in May 2019.

Vote for democracy – vote Brexit Party

….vote for the Brexit Party tomorrow, an alliance of democrats from all political and social backgrounds that is making one simple demand in these elections: respect the electorate. It is the only party that is making a positive case for Leave and for democracy; which is not just asking for your vote in this election but is demanding that every vote you ever cast in future be respected and acted upon.

In 2019 Bob from Brockley posted this invaluable article outlining the political background to the Spiked site and network:

THE RCP’S LONG MARCH FROM ANTI-IMPERIALIST OUTSIDERS TO THE DOORS OF DOWNING STREET

Bringing his account up the present Bob describes how the former Revolutionary Communist Party, reconverted into ‘Spiked’, played a role in creating the Brexit Party – after having helped form the ‘red-brown’ Full Brexit alliance of Blue Labour, ‘anti-rootless cosmopolitan’ campaigner Paul Embery, New Left Review star, Wolfgang Streeck, the Communist Party of Britain, Labour Lexiteers, Soverieigntists and a variety of other National Populists.

Here is a key section.

The RCP then played a key role in the creation of the Brexit Party, again providing “left” cover for a deeply right-wing project. Otto English in Byline Times documents how, in February 2019, a film-maker, Kevin Laitak, a disciple of Furedi, began turning up at local Leavers of Britain groups, telling campaigners that he was making a short film about rank-and-file Brexiters.

He then recruited activists who might consider standing for the new BXP, who were then called by a woman called Lesley Katon. Katon told would-be recruits that she was the co-founder of a group called ‘Invoke Democracy Now’, whose activists, English notes, included Claire Fox, as well as Luke Gittos, the legal editor of Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, its editor, Living Marxism alumni Tessa Mayes and Munira Mirza, and Mick Hume, former editor of Living Marxism (for more on Invoke Democracy Now, see Colin Lawson).

Katon herself has several LM connections, and among the candidates emerging from this process were In addition to her client Claire Fox; Katon’s colleague David Bull who spoke at a Spiked event in 2003; James Heartfield, a long-time RCP cadre; Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, a former RCP activist and Spiked contributor; and in Scotland long time Spiked writer Stuart Waiton. Of these, only Fox was placed high up enough a regional list to get sent to Brussels.

Today we have this from Slater.

Slater whinges:

we shouldn’t celebrate the toppling of the statue, either. For it symbolises some of the more strange and regressive aspects to this new ‘anti-racist’ movement that has burst on to our streets and TV screens in recent days.

the frenzy with which a mob of protesters yesterday pelted the statue with paint, ripped it down, stomped on it, rolled it to the harbour, and then tipped it into the water was, frankly, unhinged.

This growing obsession with what are, at the end of the day, inanimate objects is one expression of the stifling politics of victimhood that has engulfed anti-racist politics, and a warped view of history that accompanies it.

By no coincidence whatsoever we now have this…

Good Morning Britain’s panel erupted into a fierce row as Nigel Farage condemned the toppling of a slave trader statue, and was accused of racism.

The Mirror continues,

Nigel compared the Black Lives Matter movement to the Taliban and refused to comment on whether he thought it was right or wrong to topple statues of Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler.

“I understand why they did it, but don’t forget those same people have been destroying historical monuments in Syria that are thousands of years old,” blustered Nigel, whose microphone was eventually muted so the other guests could speak.

And so it goes.

 

 

Former Corbyn Adviser Andrew Murray on Keir Starmer and the Brexit Fall Out.

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Brexit Derangement Syndrome” Andrew Murray Warns Labour Against ...

Andrew Murray, Former Corbyn Adviser, Anti-Imperialist.

Le Monde Diplomatique, it’s no secret – as we used to say- is no friend of the European Union. Its Director, Serge Halimi,  welcomed Brexit, but has wistfully remarked that it happened too late. In approximate translation he wrote in the March English language edition of the monthly, Brexit hasn’t freed EU of US

The UK’s decision to leave the EU has come too late. Brexit could have been good news for the EU, given that the UK is the state that has incarnated free trade since the 18th century industrial revolution, also alignment with the US since Winston Churchill’s ‘special relationship’, financialisation since the City of London began dominating the economy and politics, and flint-hearted neoliberalism since Margaret Thatcher’s reign. Britain’s departure could, in particular, have served as a reminder that the EU is not a prison: just as new states may join, existing members should be able to leave. On this score at least, the UK’s politicians have, after much delay, respected the will of its people, and that lesson in democracy has value right now.

It has not been too late for the soveriegntist inclined journal to publish – in its French edition – articles from supporters of the red-brown Full Brexit (with no indication of the nature of this alliance of the Lexit left, Communist Party of Britain, Faith Family and Flag, ‘Blue Labour’, former Trotskyists of the Revolutionary Communist Party, now stalwarts of the Brexit Party – members, and elected MEPs)  and assorted odd balls). Pro-Borders New Left Review star, social conservative, and Full Brexit backer Wolfgang Streeck, is another light in this little galaxy of national sovereigntists. 

Thus Chris Bickerton, author at the red-brown Spiked, which is now engaged in a war on the Black Lives Matter movement, has passed from their site to Le Monde Diplomatique. This pundit on Labour’s defeat, (Pourquoi le Labour a perdu. Chris Bickerton. February 2020.) As can be expected the article blamed metropolitan youth and elites’ dominance of Labour for refusing to accept withdrawal from the EU, supporting internationalism at the expense of the ‘real’ people in the Labour heartlands. Continuing the promotion of Brexit contained a lengthy justification for voting Tory, by an alleged Labour supporter and …a backer of the Full Brexit,  a gleeman called Chris McGlade, (« Je suis travailliste, j’ai voté conservateur »).

Such is the august publication which has welcomed Andrew Murray, Former Communist Party of Britain stalwart, leading figure in the, Stop the War Coalition (StWC) , Solidarity with the Anti-fascist resistance in Ukraine, UNITE Staff chief, and ‘adviser’ to Jeremy Corbyn on, amongst many things, Brexit.

The piece – alas not widely circulated in the British media – is titled:

Adieux discrets au corbynisme

There is an English version, but I do not have a sub to this, so the French will have to suffice.

Murray starts well (this bit is available without the sub…)

Starmer urged Labour to move beyond factionalism, probably optimistic given that the party has always hosted a range of competing tendencies, even in the years of Tony Blair’s ultra-centralising neoliberalism; the best Starmer can realistically hope for is to lower the fevered temperature of the ultra-polarised Corbyn years. However, he did not propose to move away from the main policies the outgoing leader had championed — public ownership of railways and utilities, major boosts to spending on public services to be partly funded by increasing taxes on the rich and big business, 

He generously concedes that the Labour membership made a clear choice (translation…)

Mr. Corbyn has given way to Sir Keir Starmer, the former Labour spokesperson, who won 56  % of the vote among party activists, supporters and unionists – a score barely less impressive than that obtained by Mr Corbyn in 2015 (59.5  % ).

Here comes the down side.

The ancient and, present, chair of the StWC laments, nevertheless, the loss of some of Corbyn’s keynote traits,”Le premier de ces traits est l’anti-impérialisme.” Noting that Corbyn would have a job getting through his ideas, indeed a  “scenario in which a parliamentary majority would support nuclear disarmament, much less a withdrawal from NATO.” There is a reference to the Middle East and the problems faced by any attempt to break the ” alliance with Washington or a reversal of British policy in the Middle East”. Whether this refers to the government’s and  Corbyn’s refusal to back opponents of Syria’s President Assad, to concentrate on justice for the victims of Daesh genocide, or to his more vocal backing for the Palestinians, is not clear. What is, is that Corbyn ran up against the “Atlanticist” alliances that dominate British politics – including President Trump’s active support for Brexit.

The anti-imperialist writer continues. Starmer has no record of backing social movements – movements Murray locates in mass demonstrations, such as the ones held by the StWC and anti-austerity protests, heavily backed by his own union, UNITE. 

The crunch moment came when the Parliamentary Labour Party, and the Labour membership, ignored the advice of Murray to accept Brexit (a cause he, too modest to mention, embraced fervently).

The “notables of the party did not cease thereafter wanting to reverse the verdict of the referendum, by demanding a second ballot rather than the negotiation of a soft Brexit”. This opened up a division between,

….parliamentarians and most members on the one hand and the majority of working class voters. somewhere else. The difficulties of the left in imagining a world outside the European Union ended up sounding the death knell for Mr. Corbyn’s project.

If only we had the will and the imagination to dream of a real People’s Brexit!

If only Labour had ignored the mass protests against Brexit – just as Tony Blair had the StWC demonstrations against the Iraq War .

Instead the party listened to its ranks, in which “the elites of North London” were over-represented.

For Murray Brexit was, and continues to be, not a conflict between internationalists and sovereigntists,. It’s between these ‘elites’ and  the “majority of working class voters”.

The present piece eschews the colourful description of pro-EU internationalists, infected by “Brexit derangement syndrome” , the malady of “human rights” and  “rancid identity politics”, see Andrew Murray. The Fall and Rise of the British Left. Verso, 2019.).

But even so…

Casting aside his own claim to be neutral in this Brexit ‘culture war’ Murray declares, 

The fracture within Labour, between the proponents of liberalism and the partisans of democracy, got the better of Corbynism.

So it is said. Liberalism is against democracy – a sentiment that without a doubt warmed the hearts of the editors of Le Monde Diplomatique.

Commenting on the Coronavirus crisis, with justness, that, “The United Kingdom is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, “

In conclusion Murray states,

In this sense, the crisis of today merges with that of yesterday. No matter how much Mr. Johnson claims he will overcome it, the promises of right-wing populism are likely to prove no less hollow than those of neoliberal centrism.

The contribution of Murray’s allies in the Full Brexit to the triumph of right-wing populism – their support for the illusion of a “people’s Brexit’ – is left unmentioned.