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Say No To Blackmail: Oppose Bombing Syria.

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Say No to Resignation Blackmail: Labour Should Oppose Bombing Syria.

“L’objectif, c’est d’anéantir l’Etat islamique globalement”

The objective is to wipe out the Islamic State across the world.

John Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence. (Le Monde. 24.11.15)

The French government talks of a “hybrid world war” against Daesh. The first is on the battle-field in the Levant, against the Islamic “state being built”. The second is against terrorism, fought in the “shadows” world-wide, and by the state of emergency in France. The British government proposes to join the ‘coalition’ to play an aerial part in Syria. It will make Britain safer. Jeremy Corbyn refuses to take part in the conflict. It will male the UK less safe. Uniting with David Cameron leading figures in the Labour Shadow Cabinet, who back air strikes, threaten their Party and Leader. The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) brandishes the prospect of mass protests.

We have not been here before. Very few people are interested in demonstrating that the present US and French responses to the Syrian civil war are part of plans to extend the American Empire or the New Imperialism (Socialist Register. 2004 and 2005). Whether taking part in the conflict is integrated in a long-term strategy of “bomb and build”, covered by the rhetoric of humanitarian intervention, remains to be seen. For the moment minds are concentrated on the claims of the French government, made in response to the agony of the Paris murders, to take on Daesh.

Leading Labour politicians are, they say, standing on principle against Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to back the use of air power in Syria. The ability to find an incontestable line that will guide intervention amongst the multiple contenders, the external forces in play, is a rare talent. The belief that the way to resolve the conflict begins with wiping out the Islamic State (ISIS/Daesh) – is less common amongst specialists reporting and analysing the region.

The possibility of a democratic settlement sealed by the gathering coalition for military action has yet to be demonstrated. A list of those it would have to involve includes (to start with), the Baath Party and Assad, the Free Syrian Army, the non-Daesh Islamists, the Turkmen, Christians, the Kurds, free-lance militias, and all their contending backers, from the Gulf States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, the US, to France. The actions of Turkey alone, as shown in the last few days, with the shooting down of a Russian plane, indicate that the grounds for belief in an end to the fighting are not strong. That the players called to agree include tyrannies, religious or not, should encourage scepticism about their human rights intentions.

Anti-War Movement.

But if the Labour rebels are people of principle, then so are the StWC and its supporters.

The anti-war movement is still congratulating itself on condemning the Paris slaughter. These were ordinary people. They were not the wrong kind of leftists at Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish customers of the Hyper-Casher, murdered earlier this year in what many of them described as a response to French secularist Islamophobia. The StWC had, we have to say, tweeted about Paris reaping the “whirlwind” and the Socialist Workers Party had claimed that ultimately the dead were the victims of imperialist intervention in the Middle East. Some ventured that again it was AllAboutOil. But now they all condemn the attacks, if still trying to “understand” them. There even moral cretins around on the fringes who state, “The real terrorists are in power today across Europe and in the United States.” (Here) And many more are warning about more future murders at home if Britain joins in air strikes. Which concern them. Although the entirely justified US support for the Kurds, including air-strikes, which saved them in their hour of need,  does not get mentioned.

The anti-war movement is concerned about prejudice and attacks on Muslims in the wake of the Paris killings. Is it concerned about the deaths in Syria? Syrian democrats rightly point to the origins of the civil war in Assad’s refusal to contemplate democratic reform when the hopes of the Arab Spring reached their country. How will Jeremy Corbyn’s call for more negotiations produce a different result?

Violent Islamism is far from restricted to the Middle East. Its development there may well have been favoured by the failures of the Arab Spring, or, further back, of Arab left-wing nationalism. The West has its imprint. In the aftermath of Western intervention in Iraq, the sectarian conflicts (not least led by the Shiites), Daesh was born. But what of Tunisia, – latest bombing site – which now has a democratic state? Is this too experiencing ‘blow back’ for its imperialist involvement? Is Nigeria, scene of the largest number of Islamist terrorist killings, also caught up as a result of its place within the US Empire? Are Bangladeshi secularist bloggers paying the price for their country’s involvement in the Levant?


France’s ‘war of the shadows’ against Jihadist terrorism is equally unclear. Gilbert Achcar points to a domestic origin in France’s ‘banlieue’, the territorial, social and ethnic apartheid Prime Minister Valls has himself denounced. (Le Monde.26.11.15). The day before Olivier Roy talked of a restricted generational revolt, both by those of a Muslim background against traditional faith, and by converts who (unwilling to read left-wing literature) find it the only “radicalism” on offer. Their path is towards nihilism: fascination with death, pride in killing, and the accumulation of sexual slaves. In Daesh’s utopia, detached from Muslim society and religious tradition, is one long battle, in which they play the role of lowly troops. (Le Monde. 25.11.15) How any, by necessity, long-term plan to end the social exclusion that may have encouraged these willing recruits to the Islamic State’s Einsatzgruppen, could bear results is yet to be debated.

In Jafar Panahi’s Taxi Tehran (2015) the laws of an actually existing Islamic State, Iran, are discussed inside a cab. Film censorship, correct dress, hanging for theft, the film opens a window into life in a country ruled by religious law. The Sunnite version of this oppression, in Saudi Arabia, is even better covered in the media. The bigotry of political Islam, that is faith made into law and enforced on people’s daily life, is all too known across the world today. Countries like Iran, which still tries to export its ‘Revolution’, and Saudi Arabia, whose financial weight extends into Europe’s mosques and other Islamic institutions, have spread the belief that the Sharia and an ‘Islamic society’, are utopias. Their community has little place for non-Muslims, who have little place in these worlds. They are based on punishment. They united against unbelief. Whether there is an existential gulf between the ideology of the rulers of Tehran or Riyadh and that of Daesh and the world’s Jihadists, is hard for most people to tell.

Oppose Bombing.

What is certain is that David Cameron’s plans for Syria are as clear as mud. France has switched from Laurent Fabius’ (French Foreign Secretary) strategy of toppling Assad to allying de facto with him in weeks. President Hollande’s Defence Minister is open in advocating putting troops on the ground – how and which troops is not announced. (Le Monde. 22.11. 15) Yet moral outrage at those who urge caution is building. Moral indignation at bombing – when war is already raging, and when the indignant have less than straightforward alternatives – may not have a great echo. Nobody has any solid plans, for all the welcome US air support for the Democratic Forces of Syria, to help one of the few forces in the maelstrom the left can support, the Kurds of Northern Syria in the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), above all faced with Turkey. But let’s put it simply: the Coalition against Terror has no immediate legitimate solution that it can enforce militarily without massive loss of life and unsure future prospects.  We hope that Parliament refuses to go along with them.


Note: This is the Crucial Point in Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to Labour MP’s:

…the Prime Minister did not set out a coherent strategy, coordinated through the United Nations, for the defeat of ISIS. Nor has he been able to explain what credible and acceptable ground forces could retake and hold territory freed from ISIS control by an intensified air campaign.

In my view, the Prime Minister has been unable to explain the contribution of additional UK bombing to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian civil war, or its likely impact on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK.

For these and other reasons, I do not believe the Prime Minister’s current proposal for air strikes in Syria will protect our security and therefore cannot support it.

Labour List.

UN resolution: George Galloway to Back United Bombing Campaign Against Da’esh?

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Gun’em George?

The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a France-sponsored resolution Friday sending a unified message from the world powers to the international community “to redouble and coordinate” programs to suppress terrorist acts by “all necessary measures.”

The resolution singles out the territory under the control of the Islamic State or Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, ISIL and Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, but also points to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, including the Al-Nusrah Front, while it condemns the “horrifying terrorist attacks” in Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon, France and over Sinai. The text condemns hostage taking and killing as well as terror attacks, calling them “a threat to peace and security.”

CBS news.

Our old friend George Galloway has been having a bit of a change of heart recently,

George Galloway on shoot-to-kill

20 November 2015 Last updated at 00:47 GMT

Former Respect MP George Galloway says Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn should be clear in his backing for shoot-to-kill powers for police officers in the event of a terror attack.

Speaking on the BBC’s This Week, he says it is important officers are backed to “gun them down if necessary”.

He adds: “I would gun them down myself if necessary.”


These are some of his most recent retweets which reflect Galloway’s interest in getting this kind of UN resolution.


We understand that a full Galloway public statement supporting the UN resolution, and “programmes to suppress terrorist acts by ‘all necessary measures.’, including bombing and other uses of military forces, by countries, including Russia and France, may well be in the pipeline.

Meanwhile his former comrades in the Stop the War Coalition are sticking to the limits of this position:

Defeating ISIS means firstly cutting its support from some of the most reactionary regimes in the region, including Saudi Arabia. Secondly it means not creating further grievances which help to fuel its support. That means rejecting the idea that bombing and intervention can make things better. We are told that we need to be ‘doing something’ in the face of these attacks. It is precisely because what we have been doing in the region that we face this threat.

Stop the War works for a world without terrorism and imperialism, and will continue to campaign for a peaceful solution to the crises in the Middle East.


Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Slavoj Žižek: No “deeper understanding of ISIS terrorists” as SWP says “Bound to be a Response” to Imperialist Wars.

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 Žižek: Defends “European emancipatory legacy .”

“There should be no “deeper understanding” of the ISIS terrorists (in the sense of “their deplorable acts are nonetheless reactions to European brutal interventions”); they should be characterized as what they are: the Islamo-Fascist counterpart of the European anti-immigrant racists—the two are the two sides of the same coin. Let’s bring class struggle back—and the only way to do it is to insist on global solidarity of the exploited.”

Slavoj Zizek: In the Wake of Paris Attacks the Left Must Embrace Its Radical Western Roots.

Bang in cue the Socialist Workers Party announces,

After Paris: no to racism and imperialist wars that breed horror

There is no excuse, but there is a context for what has happened. Two and a half centuries of colonialism and imperialism have left a bitter legacy of hatred across much of the world against the West. More than 15 years of the “war on terror” have killed over a million people and driven millions more from their homes. There is bound to be a response.

They further state,

Ultimately those who died in Paris are themselves further victims of Western-backed wars and the reaction against them.

It takes some couilles to say that there is “no excuse” for murder, and then….find an excuse.

It also takes a while to wash the bad taste of this abject statement out of the mouth.

Slavoj Žižek by contrast gives genuine humanist, warm and democratic Marxist response to the Paris atrocity

This stands out:

The greatest victims of the Paris terror attacks will be refugees themselves, and the true winners, behind the platitudes in the style of je suis Paris, will be simply the partisans of total war on both sides. This is how we should really condemn the Paris killings: not just to engage in shows of anti-terrorist solidarity but to insist on the simple cui bono (for whose benefit?) question.

  He asks some hard questions:

Taking control of the refugee crisis will mean breaking leftist taboos.

For instance, the right to “free movement” should be limited, if for no other reason than the fact that it doesn’t exist among the refugees, whose freedom of movement is already dependent on their class. Thus, the criteria of acceptance and settlement have to be formulated in a clear and explicit way—whom and how many to accept, where to relocate them, etc. The art here is to find the middle road between following the desires of the refugees (taking into account their wish to move to countries where they already have relatives, etc.) and the capacities of different countries.

Another taboo we must address concerns norms and rules. It is a fact that most of the refugees come from a culture that is incompatible with Western European notions of human rights. Tolerance as a solution (mutual respect of each other’s sensitivities) obviously doesn’t work: fundamentalist Muslims find it impossible to bear our blasphemous images and reckless humor, which we consider a part of our freedoms. Western liberals, likewise, find it impossible to bear many practices of Muslim culture.

In short, things explode when members of a religious community consider the very way of life of another community as blasphemous or injurious, whether or not it constitutes a direct attack on their religion. This is the case when Muslim extremists attack gays and lesbians in the Netherlands and Germany, and it is the case when traditional French citizens view a woman covered by a burka as an attack on their French identity, which is exactly why they find it impossible to remain silent when they encounter a covered woman in their midst.

 There can be no compromise on universal human rights: the very reason we support the refugees.

Žižek suggests, reasonably in our view, this:

To curb this propensity, one has to do two things. First, formulate a minimum set of norms obligatory for everyone that includes religious freedom, protection of individual freedom against group pressure, the rights of women, etc.—without fear that such norms will appear “Eurocentric.” Second, within these limits, unconditionally insist on the tolerance of different ways of life. And if norms and communication don’t work, then the force of law should be applied in all its forms.

This is better known as secularism, or Laïcité. That is a common public framework, for the shared areas of politics and the state, that is beyond the interference of religious and sectional ideologies.  With this structure, as we argued yesterday, we should have absolute tolerance of diversity.

I will not comment further but note that comrade Žižek has the same mass line as ourselves on the following issue,

Another taboo that must be overcome involves the equation of any reference to the European emancipatory legacy to cultural imperialism and racism. In spite of the (partial) responsibility of Europe for the situation from which refugees are fleeing, the time has come to drop leftist mantras critiquing Eurocentrism.

The old postmodernist views, associated with terms such as Orientalism, have been dying for some time. What sense could they possible have when its Bangladeshi, Iranian, Kurdish, Maghrebian, South and East Asian, Arab and Africans who are in the front line of new development in universal emancipatory thought? Who has not read the writings of our comrades from these countries and been struck by their advance. 

That is, despite all the defeats, the barbarisms, Imperialism, Fascism, Stalinism, and now this….

It is as Kant said of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution,

For a phenomenon of this kind which has taken place in human history can never be forgotten, since it has revealed in human nature an aptitude and power for improvement of a kind which no politician could have thought up by examining the course of events in the past…

Contest of the Faculties. 1798.

Žižek continues, 

The next taboo worth leaving behind is that any critique of the Islamic right is an example of “Islamophobia.” Enough of this pathological fear of many Western liberal leftists who worry about being deemed guilty of Islamophobia. For example, Salman Rushdie was denounced for unnecessarily provoking Muslims and thus (partially, at least) responsible for the fatwa condemning him to death. The result of such a stance is what one can expect in such cases: The more Western liberal leftists wallow in their guilt, the more they are accused by Muslim fundamentalists of being hypocrites who try to conceal their hatred of Islam.

Tendance Coatesy has never given a toss about this worthless accusation, hurled at critics of reactionary Islamism, whether they be European or from Muslim countries. It is the secular left in the latter countries which is fighting Islamism. The only guilt the left should feel is that it is not going enough to support these beloved comrades.

This is a long article and there is a lot more to say and, sometimes disagree with – about a global evolution and the EU, not to mention a great dollop of the idiosyncratic theory of the author in the article ,  to start with. (1)

But we say this for now: chapeau comrade Žižek !

(1) Which is to say that despite finding a new best friend we remain a rationalist, an  admirer of Louis Althusser, sans Jacques Lacan, and no mate of Hegel, and even less of Alain Badiou, somebody we consider, in contrast to Cde Žižek, a Sombre oryctérope. (as Capitaine Haddock would say).


Parisians: We will Remain Drunk and Joyous Faced with the Lovers of Death.

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It is tossed by the waves but does not sink: Paris.

The City’s motto has become the statement of the City’s defiance.


These are more expressions of defiance.

Joann Sfar, après avoir appris avec effroi la nouvelle des attentats de Paris, a réalisé douze vignettes BD.
The people who died this evening were outside  to live, to drink, to sing. They didn’t know that war had been declared on them.


#PorteOuverte, le hashtag de solidarité pour se mettre à l’abri à Paris

For more see: What a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist drew after the second Paris terror attack in a year.


Written by Andrew Coates

November 15, 2015 at 11:52 am

Turkish General Election Approaches: Erdoğan Inspires More And More Fears.

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Another Try for the Caliphate? 

Uncertainty abound as Turkey election approaches

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The streets of Ankara are quiet as Turkey’s general election on Sunday approaches, says Rudaw’s Hejar Berenji, reporting from the capital.

Berenji, the agency’s chief technical officer, is working with a team of reporters to deliver comprehensive coverage of the upcoming elections from Ankara and Diyarbakir.

Coverage will focus on the participation of Bakur (a Kurdish term used to describe Turkish Kurdistan) in the elections.

The Turkish general parliamentary election on June 7 did not give any party, including the ruling AKP, a majority, which would have enabled it to form a government alone. In June’s elections, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, made it into parliament for the first time with more than 13 percent of the vote.

The special coverage started on October 23 and will continue until November 3.

“Inside Turkey, Rudaw media network has a massive audience and for that audience it is important to be aware of every step of the election, and the debate of the political parties,” Berenji said.

Rudaw is here.

Demirtaş denounces ’mafia-like’ actions against media

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş paid a visit to the İpek Media Group’s offices in İstanbul to show solidarity with the group, which was stormed by police early on Wednesday, denouncing the police forces acting like a mafia in their actions against members of the media.

Turkish riot police stormed the headquarters of İpek’s media outlets in İstanbul on Wednesday morning, after authorities appointed several trustees to replace the management of the İpek Koza Holding business, which houses media outlets that include Bugün TV, the flagship station that has emerged as a main platform for opposition politicians over recent months.

In his remarks from the group’s broadcasting room, Demirtaş said he is not surprised by the seizure of the companies and media outlets under Koza İpek Holding as these incidents took place many times under the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

“It is unbelievable that a state; a government’s acting rudely, like a mafia, like an illegal organization… right in the public eye, during a live broadcast…The appointment of a board of trustees turning into seizure, police forces’ cutting the cables of [broadcasting cameras] is not stated in any law. You may appoint the board of trustees for a temporary period… Spraying pepper gas, using batons, cutting the cables are mafia-like, gang-like practices,” Demirtaş stated.

Demirtaş called Wednesday’s raid “a serious attack against people’s right to information.”

“This is a show of force being made, made via police force; it is a reflection of a government’s mindset based on forced power. It also raises suspicions [as it comes] just a couple of days before the election. It raises questions about their having a plan or some hesitation about the broadcast that would have been made during election day,” Demirtaş stated.

President Erdoğan justifies appointment of a board of trustees to Koza-İpek group

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has seemingly justified the appointment of a trustee board to manage the Koza-İpek group, 23 companies of which have been seized by a local court as part of a crackdown on followers of the government’s ally-turned-nemesis Fethullah Gülen.

“There are different things behind the support lent [to the group],” Erdoğan said late on Oct. 28. “The reason for appointment of a trustee should be thoroughly deliberated because its number one is on the run,” he said in a live interview with Kanal 24 news channel.

As Akın İpek, CEO of the Koza-İpek group, suggested there was no irregular transfer of money abroad, Erdoğan asked why he was on the run.


Now there is this:

Turkey will “do what is necessary” to prevent US-allied Syrian Kurds from declaring autonomy in the town of Tel Abyad near the Turkish border, which includes conducting further military operations, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday.

NATO member Turkey is part of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in Syria, but it sees advances by autonomy-seeking Kurds, led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as a threat to its own national security, fearing they could stoke separatism among Turkish Kurds.

Turkish jets recently hit the Syrian Kurds’ armed People’s Protection Units (YPG) targets twice after they defied Ankara and crossed west of the Euphrates River.

“This was a warning. ‘Pull yourself together. If you try to do this elsewhere — Turkey doesn’t need permission from anyone — we will do what is necessary,'” Erdoğan said, signaling that he could defy Washington’s demand that Ankara avoid hitting Syrian Kurds and focus his military might on ISIL targets.


More background: The battle for Turkey: can Selahattin Demirtas pull the country back from the brink of civil war?

An excellent article on the Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP), by . (Guardian today).

And this French report: Turquie : l’irrésistible ascension du Kurde Selahattin Demirtas, cauchemar d’Erdogan.


Written by Andrew Coates

October 29, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Seumas Milne’s New Best Friend, Neil, “Belarus”, Clark.

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Censored Photo.

Neil Clark: Seumas Milne’s New Bestie.


New Photo.


Neil Clark.

Yesterday one Neil Clark, apparently a journalist who writes for the New Statesman and the Guardian, amongst others, published this on the Russian backed site, Sputnik.

The news that Seumas Milne, anti-war journalist and Guardian columnist, has been appointed the new Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Executive Director of Strategy and Communications has caused uproar among Britain’s McCarthyite pro-imperialist faux-left.

Milne, we’re told is a “terrorism apologist”, a “Stalinist” an “extremist”, ”apologist for dictators”, “apologist for murderous dictators”, “Kremlin/Putin apologist” and “facism (sic) apologist”.

Clark continues,

You’d think from reading these attacks that Milne was some kind of wild-eyed, foaming at the mouth madman who needs to be tethered on a leash for public safety. Just about the only very bad thing he hasn’t been accused of is being an “apologist” for Jack the Ripper — though no doubt, Cyril Waugh-Monger is working on that article right now.

Anyone who knows Seumas in person — as I do, can only laugh out loud at these ludicrous portrayals of a thoroughly decent and very thoughtful man

This may well be true.

We have concentrated on a few issues which concern us.

  • Milne supported the Islamist – and relatively moderate – right wing pro-business Tunisian party, Ennahda, against the Tunisian left, notably the by far largest workers’ organisation, the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail, UGTT, in the period proceeding and immediately following Tunisia’s first free elections (2011)
  • That he failed to a give proper support for Charlie Hebdo’s freedom of expression. Making the claim, a  few days after the slaughter at the Weekly’s offices, and the Hyper-Cacher,  that suggested that their “repeated pornographic humiliation” of Muslims – underlined amongst other factors such as poor conditions in the French banlieues, helped to explain this blow back.

In today’s New Statesman Oliver Bullough sums up the underlying reasons for our gripes extremely well,

For Milne, geopolitics is more important than people.

Whatever crisis strikes the world, the West’s to blame.

Why did a group of psychopaths attack a magazine and a supermarket in Paris?

“Without the war waged by western powers, including France, to bring to heel and reoccupy the Arab and Muslim world, last week’s attacks clearly couldn’t have taken place”.

These – serious – disagreements pale into insignificance compared to the revulsion people on the left will feel about the full spread of Clark’s politics.

Here is an example.

Belarus and Venezuela are natural allies: both are progressive, independent, socialist democracies who are following entirely different economic and social agendas to the neo-liberal one laid down by the Empire, one which benefits only multinationals and the very rich. Because of their independence, the leaders of Belarus and Venezuela have been demonised: both President Lukashenko and President Chavez have been called ‘dictators’ despite their regular election successes and the overwhelming popularity both men command in their respective countries.

Clark’s Blog 2007.

And this, Bright light on the Dniepe 2011.

French Ruling Socialists Hit New Low with “Referendum” on Regional Election Left Unity.

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Des militants socialistes ont installé une urne pour solliciter le vote des passants sur le marché Maubert dans le cadre du référendum sur l'unité de la gauche à Paris le 17 octobre 2015.

French Socialists Resort to Stunts.

The French left is not in good condition.

An opinion poll (12th of October gives the following for the November regional elections,

Nicolas Sarkozy’s party (Les Républicain, LR), 31%  the Front National (28%), Parti Socialiste (23%).  Front de gauche (5%), les listes EEVL (3%), les listes d’alliance FG/EELV (joint Front de Gauche and Greens, 3%), various far-left confetti (3%), Debout la France, right-wing ‘Sovereigntists’ (3%). 21%  of those polled have yet to give their voting intention.

According to the poll the abstention rate could be as high as 55%.

Le Parti socialiste revendique 250 000 votants à son référendum

This ‘referendum’ – open to all those who sign up a declaration that they back the values of the left, of the ecologists and of the republic  – was held, from Friday to Sunday  in 2 500  polling stations organised by the Parti Socialiste and one could also vote on-line.

Why was it held?

The organisers state,

Face aux divisions, il faut défendre l’union car ce sont les régions qui agissent pour votre quotidien. Oui, pendant ces 3 jours, chaque voix compte pour pousser à l’unité de la gauche et des écologistes !

Faced with divisions, we have to defend unity, because in the regions this is a matter of your day-to-day life. Yes, during these 3 days, every vote counts to push forward the unity of the left and the ecologists.

The reason:

In certain regions the French Greens (Europe Écologie – Les Verts, EELV) have preferred to stand candidates on joint lists with the Front de gauche, with both running independently of the Parti socialiste. This is, for example, the case in Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie,  Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, amongst others.

The Question was this,

« Face à la droite et l’extrême droite, souhaitez-vous l’unité de la gauche et des écologistes aux élections régionales ? »

Faced with the Right and the Extreme-Right, do you want the unity of the left and the ecologists in the regional elections?

51 327 people voted, 135 027  by ballot box and 116 300  on the Net.

The Socialist Party chief, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis (a former ‘Lambertist’ Trotskyist back in the dawn of time), whose mad-cap idea this was, announced, “C’est un succès, c’est le top, pas le flop !

Well, there are allegations of vote-rigging, and other irregularities, but given the whole masquerade is a joke we will let that pass.

Though for those who want to see how the clowning trick has been received on the left, this is a response  Référendum Cambadélis : mi-escroquerie, mi-pitrerie. Guillaume Liégard. Technical faults of this farce: Référendum PS : « Soit ils ont merdé, soit ils affaiblissent la démocratie »

The French Socialist Party is losing members hand over fist.

In May this year it had 131 000 card-holders against 173 486 in 2012 at the Congrès de Toulouse. That is a loss of  25%. RMC

Viewed over a longer period this decline is even more serious:

This went from 256 000 in  2007 to 131 000 today, that is 50 %. le Monde.

Areas of the country, such as the North, have been particularly affected by the drop in activism and membership, leading to the observation that the historic base of French socialism in this once industrial and mining region, is evaporating – to the advantage of the Front National.

Another Parti Socialiste manoeuvre, the creation of a satellite ‘green’ party, this weekend (Geddit?) Le Front démocrates et Ecologistes!  l’UDE, is unlikely to transform the situation.

That would require a balance-sheet of President Hollande’s policies and, more specifically, his present Prime Minister, Manuel Valls – one of Tony Blair’s last admirers in Europe – and his failure to connect with the left and labour movement.

Showing why important sections of the French Green party choose to align with the Front de Gauche rather than the socialists is fairly simple: they neither support Valls’ social and economic policies, nor those of his (even more right-wing) Emmanuel Macron.

La loi Macron – a set of 308 measures, designed to increase “competitivity” attack “corporatism” – that liberalising measures for the economy centred around getting rid of ‘red tape’ (albour protection to start with) is a good place to start if the PS wants seriously to look into its electoral difficulties. (Ce que contient (désormais) la loi Macron)

As in this:  Philippe Martinez (head of the left union federation, the CGT) « Il est temps d’arrêter de faire plaisir au patronat » It’s time to stop pleasing the bosses.

Then, we would move onto the growth of nationalist anti-European, “sovereigntist” ideas which have even had an echo on the left, old fashioned la terre et les morts racism against migrants, refugees and straightforward racism; against North Africans, Africans, Jews, and the “anti-France”.

In conclusion…

I have been asked to write on French left politics a number of times in the last few months.

My reply: it’s too bloody depressing…

Oh and I almost forget the ‘referendum’ results.

First estimates:  89% voted “oui” and backed the PS.