Archive for the ‘Left’ Category
Spectacular Rise in Polls for Belgium Far-left Parti du Travail de Belgique/Partij van de Arbeid van België.
The public broadcaster in Belgium, the RTBF, led with this story this morning:
Le PTB, futur lider maximo? Le parti marxiste progresse dans les trois régions du pays, même si cela reste mesuré en Flandre (+1,4% pour +5,6% à Bruxelles et + 12,9% (!) en Wallonie). Tel est à nouveau le principal enseignement du baromètre Dedicated pour la RTBF et La Libre.
Autres vainqueurs: le Vlaams Belang et Groen! qui, en Flandre, font toujours jeu égal avec les partis traditionnels.
The PTB future lider maximo? The Marxist Party has risen in the opinion polls in three regions: up 1 % in Flanders, 5,6% in Brussels and plus 12,9% in Wallonie. This is the result from the latest poll by Deciudated, for the RTBF and La Libre.
The other winners are the far-right Vlaams Belang and the Greens, Groen!, who in Flanders are neck and neck with the traditional parties.
La Libre Belgique says that the Workers’ Party of Belgium (Partij van de Arbeid van België, PVDA; Parti du Travail de Belgique, PTB) is scoring 18,4% of voters amongst voters in Wallonie.
The PTB/PVDA is a Marxist political party with its roots in ‘marxism-leninism’ (Maoism) about which there is much to say. It is one of the few parties that operates as a single Belgian party. Site (French): here (Flemish): here.
Also see: Le PTB convainc 18% des électeurs en Wallonie Le Soir.
The ‘People’s Question Time: Brexit.” Lindsey German: “a chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines.”
Brexit: Lindsey German says, “..a chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines.”
This is being organised the ‘People’s Assembly‘.
The People’s Question Time: Brexit – What Are Our Demands?
7pm, Thursday 19 January, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, NW1 2BA. Register your place: https://pqtjan2017.eventbrite.co.uk/
Emily Thornberry MP – Shadow Foreign Secretary, Labour Party
Amelia Womack – Deputy Leader, Green Party
Kevin Courtney – General Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Lindsey German – People’s Assembly
Malia Bouattia – NUS President
Steve Turner – Assistant General Secretary, UNITE
This is their puff:
Do you have a question for our panel? Submit one when registering for a chance to put it to the event.
This has been a year full of surprises; the Political landscape is changing at an unprecedented rate. Brexit has been hugely divisive and has created a dynamic and unpredictable situation.
Our new (un-elected) Prime Minster and her cabinet clearly have no real plan. One thing is for sure, if the last 6 years are anything to go by, if the Tories are left to handle Brexit negotiations on their own we’ll see a deal that suits the bankers, the bosses and the corporations. What should we be demanding from the government that means Brexit is negotiated in the interests of the people? However you voted in the EU referendum, we need to put pressure on the Tories to ensure they don’t use Brexit as a way of increasing attacks on the majority, continuing austerity, whipping up racist divisions in our community and scapegoating immigrants.
The idea that Brexit, whose purpose is to serve the bankers, the bosses and the corporations, and to attack migrant workers, can be effectively changed through demands that it is “negotiated in the interests of the People’ is a straightforward, to put it simply, lie.
Speaking for the People’s Assembly (who have never debated the issue in public still less asked supporters to vote on the issue) Lindsay German holds these views.
Next stop… the People’s Brexit (3rd of November 2016)
The missteps of the ruling class can create space for our side, notes Lindsey German
No doubt influenced by her groupuscules belief in the ‘actuality of the revolution’ German goes into say,
The job for all those on the left now should be not to overturn that decision but ensure that the ruling class’s division is turned in our favour. We need to fight for an outcome that ensures a solution to the NHS funding crisis, a solution to the housing crisis, a raising of workers’ wages and employment rights, as well as total opposition to scapegoating of migrants and to racism in all its forms.
….a chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines. This now has an urgency given the likelihood of a general election next year. It means putting forward these demands, mobilising around them, building trade union strength, doing everything to support Corbyn in these electoral battles, and trying to give a voice to the millions of working people, whichever way they voted, who are looking for an alternative.
If Brexit is the occasion for this “chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines” then we are indeed in the actuality of great revolutionary events.
How Brexit will do anything but hinder the fight to resolve the NHS funding crisis, a solution to the housing crisis, a raising of workers’ wages and employment rights, is less than clear. As well as a being a major cause of the scapegoating of migrants and to racism in all its forms it is becoming part of these crises.
Well-established Rumour has it that this is German’s coming Retirement cottage.
Looking forward to evenings eating toasted crumpets with honey, while Rees warms his slippers on the wood fire.
Crisis-Riven Momentum Shifts to National Populism: “This our Brexit”, “Taking back control is not the preserve of the right.”
Momentum to Narrative Farage and Brexit Back Under Control.
Momentum is undergoing a major crisis, amidst factional fighting and personal antagonisms.
This git so bad earlier this month that it appeared in the mainstream media (How Momentum entered the crisis zone . Momentum was the engine of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory. Now a civil war is tearing it apart. New Statesman)
Some of the exchanges are far worse than have been made public to a wider audience.
The latest has been an interminable dispute about its national structures.
It began with this, “MxV, an innovative digital democracy platform to enable Momentum members to shape the organisation’s purpose, ethics and structures.”
An on-line consultation resulted, we hear, in more suggestions for how the group should be run than a debate on how many angels can dance on the head of pin (see: Democracy denied: Momentum’s online democracy platform.)
Or, the classic Left Unity conference debate on such issues.
Now Momentum is set to collapse into further in-fighting as the pro-Brexit – that is Lexit – Populists take the initiative.
We observe that this ‘initiative’ has not been discussed with the Momentum membership at all.
‘Taking back control is not the preserve of the right.
Momentum has announced it is to host a series of nationwide events and debates to coincide with Government’s triggering of Article 50 in 2017.
Alongside The World Transformed the organisation – set up in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory as Labour leader – will launch a series of political and cultural events in local communities across the country.
The events will run under the name ‘Take Back Control’ – the political slogan used by the Leave campaign during the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.
Emma Rees, one of Momentum’s national organisers, told The Independent: “After the success of The World Transformed in Liverpool, ‘Take Back Control’ is a series of exciting events that will bring together leave and remain voters to debate the terms of Brexit, the future of Britain and give a platform to voices too often left out of political conversations.”
Lotte Boumelha, a Take Back Control organiser, *added: “Theresa May claims ‘Brexit means Brexit’. But this empty phrase has been used to hide the fact that the government is in chaos. Many people, both leave and remain voters, have felt dis-empowered since the referendum and shut out of the debate.
“Take Back Control will be about reclaiming the narrative and opening up the negotiations. This is our Brexit. We should get to decide what it means and what it will look like. And while Theresa May has only a majority of 14 MPs – she will have to listen to us.”
In March, to coincide with the Government’s anticipated triggering of the exit process from the EU, The World Transformed will work with local Momentum groups, constituency Labour parties, and trade union branches to “bring together leave and remain voters, open up the Brexit negotiations and discuss how we can take back control from economic elites and establishment politicians.
How on earth these meetings are going to ‘take control’ of any negotiations, elites and politicians, is as clear as mud.
Anybody, anybody, who talks about “reclaiming the narrative” with Farage on the loose amid the Carnival or Reaction, is a kenspeckle fool.
What are they going to do: story-tell it all to sleep?
The New Statesman comments,
While The World Transformed is “definitely” part of Momentum, according to Todd, its exact relationship remains under discussion, as does its relationship to the wider Labour party.
To repeat, nobody seems to know how the hare-brained initiative was decided on (certainly not by Momentum membership, or any accountable body, then by whom?), who controls it, and, as for its consequences…..
Anna Chen says,
Brexit: Poll provides evidence, says Counterfire, for how right Counterfire and the Brexit Left‘s strategy is.
Kevin Ovenden – now with Counterfire – on the Actuality of the Brexit Revolution.
Writes Kevin Ovenden for Counterfire.
(Note some of the wording has been, in the interests of clarity, abbreviated)
- Just 22 percent of people are in favour of ignoring the referendum outcome or holding a second one and blocking the Brexit process.
- Brexit is the top issue both for those who voted Leave and for Remain.
- While there is clearly an urgent need to develop campaigning and struggles against the government on a range of issues (the health service and housing stand out, alongside racism and xenophobia), strategically and politically for the left and labour movement the question of Brexit cannot be evaded. NOTE: Ovenden sees no link between these issues and the Brexit he backs.
- support for carrying through the referendum result is overwhelming.
- That is terrain upon which the labour movement can provide a credible and radical alternative to the Tory Brexit.
- When people are asked to choose between reducing immigration or doing what is best for the British economy (with the two counterposed) – 65 percent choose what’s best for the economy and 35 percent to reduce immigration. Among Leave voters, the figures are 44 percent and 56 percent.
That shows the greater salience of the anti-immigration argument among Leave voters. But still 44 percent of them would choose to prioritise the economy over reducing immigration.
So people prefer the economy, and will let immigration remain in second place.
They are merely second preference racists.
Ovenden dialectically deduces from these figures the following (and I have omitted no intermediate stage).
In a choice between Britain controlling its own laws and British companies having access to other markets, the figures are 62 percent for controlling laws and 38 percent prioritising companies’ market access.
Taken together these support a strategy for the left on these questions which is 1) for an economy which is geared to people, not to companies, 2) on that basis (as well as others) challenging the anti-immigration arguments, and 3) firmly rooted in an expanded notion of popular democracy.
I will, ignore the idea of an “economy geared to people”, since in the realm of cliches and meaningless assertions this has few rivals.
Instead we might ask: what exactly that expanded notion of “popular democracy” (no doubt opposed to unpopular demcoracy) is, we leave it to theorists to discover.
People believe there should be Brexit. They think it is the democratic thing to do. They have no confidence in the government’s handling of it. They are uncertain about the outcomes or what it should look like. When forced to choose, they will put economic well-being above anti-immigration propaganda and some notion of democracy and self-rule above the global fortunes of British companies.
Again ‘economic well-being’ is no doubt counterposed to economic ill-being.
As for the “democratic thing to do” and “self-rule”, does this mean, a decision-fired parliament, greater assertiveness fnational sovereignty, backing a populist party to carry out their wishes? Or – simply urging the Tories to get on with it.
He seems to think, nevertheless, that because many people want Brexit, that the Tories are finding it hard to get through the legislative process – he does not even bother mentioning negotiations with the European Union – they will turn to something different, something that the left might favour, an “expanded notion of popular democracy”.
Expanded into what?
New forms of law-making, Web democracy, consensus decision-making, voting by hand-signals, demonstrations, occupations, or perhaps…. soviets…..
Ovenden fails to elaborate.
On this he is sure.
In that context, there are good grounds for the left counterposing our Brexit to the Tories’.
Next stop… the People’s Brexit writes Lindsey German.
McDonnell Drops Internationalist and European Principles for Brexit “Enormous Opportunity”.
John McDonnell backs Brexit as ‘enormous opportunity’ for Britain reports the Politics site.
Labour today promised to get behind Britain’s exit from the European Union, saying they now believed Brexit is an enormous opportunity for the country.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said that Labour would not seek to prevent or delay Brexit, labeling those trying to do so as being “on the side of certain corporate elites”.
He told a meeting in central London that Labour “must not try to re-fight the referendum or push for a second vote,”
“If Article 50 needs to be triggered in Parliament, Labour will not seek to block or delay it,” he said.
He added that: “to do so would put us against the majority will of the British people and on the side of certain corporate elites, who have always had the British people at the back of the queue.”
In a shift from Labour’s previous support for the EU, McDonnell said he believed it had been run in the interests of big business.
“While Labour supported remaining in the EU to protect workers’ rights, we cannot hide from the fact that too much of the EU also had aspects of the old model, putting the interests of big business over ordinary people,” he said.
“Labour accepts the referendum result as the voice of the majority and we must embrace the enormous opportunities to reshape our country that Brexit has opened for us.”
He insisted that the party needed to change their attitude about Brexit
“It is time we all were more positive about Brexit,” he said.
McDonnell was asked how Labour could have any influence over the Brexit process when he had just ruled out voting against it, or seeking to block it.
He replied that the party would use “moral pressure” to influence the government.
“I think it’s the moral pressure that we’ll be able to exert… I don’t think it will come down to parliamentary procedures…” he insisted
“No government can resist (the moral pressure).”
Labour were accused of “capitulating” on Brexit, following McDonnell’s speech.
“Labour’s premature capitulation on Article 50 leaves those of us who oppose a hard brexit in a weaker position,” Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said.
“As a result we now have less power to persuade the government to give us proper details on their plans ahead of a vote.”
This language, the “British people” and the terms, “certain” (which ones?) “corporate elites”, reflect national populist rhetoric.
They have no place in an internationalist socialist movement.
What exactly are the “enormous opportunities” McDonnell is talking about?
Kicking out European workers, for example?
Negotiating with Donald Trump for a special US-UK trade deal?
The Shadow Chancellor gives no examples.
Nor does he specify what the phrase “moral pressure” means, beyond insulting people’s intelligence with the assertion that, “”No government can resist (the moral pressure).”
One might suppose that McDonnell considers that one only has to think “positive” in front of the mirror, and, hop, positive things happen.
This intervention goes against the grain of the international democratic socialist left:
Left-wing parties across Europe are telling Jeremy Corbyn to block Brexit November the 14th.
Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure from left-wing party leaders across the continent to reverse Labour’s Brexit policy and block Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Socialist parties across Europe, including Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), are calling on the leader of the British Labour Party to form a parliamentary opposition to Brexit.
We endorse this recent statement by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.
Labour should vote against Article 50. (9th of November).
On 5 November Jeremy Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror that Labour will vote in Parliament against triggering “Article 50” — the formal procedure for Britain quitting the EU — unless the Tory government agrees to Labour’s “Brexit bottom line”.
That, he said, is mainly continued UK membership of the “single market”, within which customs duties and checks are abolished and trade regulations are uniform.
Better if he had said that the bottom line is freedom of movement in Europe — the freedom of EU-origin workers in Britain to stay here securely, for their friends and compatriots to join them, and for British people to work, live, or study in other EU countries with almost citizens’ rights, including such entitlements as public health care.
Since all sides now more or less concede that Britain cannot stay in the “single market” without also continuing freedom of movement — presumably with European Economic Area membership, or a sort of EU semi-membership, like Norway — it comes to much the same thing.
Then Labour’s right-wing deputy leader Tom Watson intervened to say that Labour would push “single-market” amendments, but would vote for “Article 50” regardless. Corbyn seems to have deferred to Watson.
Corbyn’s initial stance was right, and Watson is wrong. When the judges ruled that Parliament must vote on “Article 50”, that was an assertion of democratic norms.
The Tory government, in its legal dispute with the judges, has taken its stance on “Royal Prerogative”, the most undemocratic feature of British politics, the residue from the old absolute monarchy, the supposed right of the government to bypass Parliament.
The referendum result of 23 June creates no compelling democratic mandate for the abolition of freedom of movement, or for that matter the removal of EU citizen rights from over 50 million people. Or to impose the re-entrenchment of partition in Ireland. Or trigger the erection of a further probable new border between England and Scotland.
Aside from the facts that 16 and 17 year olds were excluded; that EU citizens living here were also excluded (though they can vote in local authority elections); that the referendum was run on poor electoral registers; and that opinion polls now show a Remain majority, the referendum could create no mandate for any particular form of Brexit. The Brexit campaigners were definite only on promises which they would scrap on 24 June (£350 million more each week for the NHS) and vague on the hugely different post-Brexit models (Norway? Switzerland? Canada? Albania? Singapore?)
It is more democratic for Parliament to decide the terms of Brexit negotiations than for May’s Cabinet to do it behind closed doors.
May has given secret assurances to the Nissan bosses. Labour should demand she give public assurances to migrant workers, and to workers and students who may want to migrate.
Maybe the combined votes of Labour, Lib-Dems, SNP, and Europe-minded Tories will be able to win terms to “soften” Brexit. That will be good.
If May refuses to trigger “Article 50” on “softened” terms, insists on “hard” Brexit, and can’t get it, then that’s her problem, and Labour should not help her out of it. It will be good, not bad, if the government cannot pass “Article 50” through Parliament — that is, if Parliament, in one way or another, upholds the rights of migrant workers.
Jeremy Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror that he welcomed the prospect of May calling an early general election. Activists should prepare for that possibility.
Under the Fixed Terms Parliament Act, passed by the Cameron government, May can call an early election only by engineering two successive votes of no-confidence in her government — not a good ploy — or by getting a two-thirds majority for it in Parliament, that is, only by getting Labour to vote for it too.
In circumstances like the present, where the Labour right’s relentless sabotage has given the Tories a not-yet-diminishing average 11% lead in polls over the last three months, Labour has an interest in gaining time to sort out the saboteurs, and a right to do so.
We have no interest in helping May to get a mandate from a snap election which she’d be fairly sure to win (despite “Remain” now having a majority in opinion polls), and which she could then cite as a “mandate” for hard Brexit.
Labour should fight every inch of the way to minimise barriers and divisions which the Tories want to raise with Brexit.