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Posts Tagged ‘Europe

National Organiser of Trades Unionists Against the EU Joins Far-right Westmonster site as former Leftists takes up National Populism.

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Former Leftists Wave the Brexit Flag.

As Galloway is joined by a prominent FBU Trade Unionist, Paul Embery (London Regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and National organiser of Trade Unionists against the EU, a campaign backed by the Morning Star, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition and, notably,  the Communist Party of Britain and Socialist Party) on the far-right Westmonster site, we ask: is a section of the one-time left drifting towards national populism?

Westmonster carries articles promoting the new “Patriotic Alliance” scare stories about migrants, and – favourable – reports on Trump and the chances of a Marine Le Pen victory in France.

On the same site Embrey argues that trade unions need to stop being, “an arm of a tin-eared liberal establishment” (TRADE UNION MOVEMENT MUST RECONNECT WITH WORKING CLASS POST-BREXIT).

He argues forcefully against free Movement,

… on free movement, union leaders remain ambivalent at best, criminally silent at worst. This disastrous policy, which commodifies workers, atomises society and contributes to the undercutting of wages, has, more than anything else, contributed to the rupture between working-class communities and the political class.

Westmonster’s patriotic ‘socialists’ parallel many of the themes of the former ‘Marxists’ of Spiked-on-Line.

This section of the left has not just embraced the populist language of the “people” versus the  ‘elites’,  the ‘rulers’ of the European Union.

They have moved from ideas of “strong democracy”, which had something in common with the writings of Benjamin R. Barber, a critique of liberal “thin” democracy, based on rights, and advocacy of the ability of people to “govern themselves”.

In its place National Sovereignty has been rediscovered (see: Frank Furedi. Politics without sovereignty is not politics at all 2007).

Sovereigntism.

In parallel to French ‘sovereigntists’ (supporters of ‘souverainisme’), both former leftists and long-standing republican nationalists,  they both defend “national institutions and culture”. Against the European Union they support, ” une Europe des nations“, the economic and political  independence of each country, against globalisation. Right wing soveriegntists explicitly opposes  mass immigration, ‘left’ sovereigntists also express concern about both the free movement of capital and of people.

By its nature sovereigntism is fixed on national political institutions.

In France this tends to mean an exaggerated ‘republicanism’. In the UK it is driven by an obsession with Parliamentary sovereignty.

Spiked-on-Line fits comfortably into the role of the best defenders of the Mother of Parliaments.

Following challenges to Brexit by what he chooses to call an “Elite Remainer”and the  Spiked’s Deputy Editor Tom Slater evoked everything save the Magna Carta to defend Westminster.

Parliamentary sovereignty is a precious thing. We fought a civil war and chopped off a king’s head to establish that it is only a parliament, with the consent of its electors, that can govern, that can determine the politics of a nation. It was the promise of parliamentary sovereignty, of real representation for all, that agitators from the Chartists through to the Suffragettes struggled and fought and went to the wall for.

“The Brexit case was driven by disdain for the demos, not love for parliament.” he thundered, we must now defend not just parliamentary sovereignty, but also the radical, democratic ideas that underpin it..”

One time leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Frank Furedi has extended the argument in directions all too well-known to those familiar with French politics. In  August last year, (HOW ‘OPEN BORDERS’ BECAME AN ILLIBERAL CRY)  he tackled immigration.

The use of immigration as a tool to weaken national sovereignty is wholly destructive, provoking cultural confusion and uncertainty. An enlightened argument for freedom of movement must also uphold national sovereignty, and recognise the status of the prevailing national culture. Disregarding the special status of national institutions and culture is an invitation to a permanent war of cultures — that is, to real division and tension.

On the same Spiked-on-Line site, the day of Brexit was greeted by excited born-again nationalists,

THE BRILLIANCE OF BREXIT

Leading British public intellectual Julie Burchill announced,

It’s very handy that Brexit was born as the Labour Party was dying – now all of us comrades who are repulsed by forelock-tugging, nepotism and hypocrisy have a home to go to. I can’t remember a time when I felt so excited about the future. I was pleased but not shocked to learn that John Lydon, my teenage hero, is a proud Brexiteer – I’ve always said that the REAL thing the Remnants can’t forgive us for is not the imaginary hate crimes or the alleged economic Armageddon our victory will bring, but the fact that we’ve revealed them as a bunch of scared-stiff, curtain-twitching, tut-tutting, doom-mongering stick-in-the-muds, clinging on to the boring old status quo like a kiddy with a comfort blanket, when all this time they thought they were progressives. Bring on the chaos!

Former International Marxist Group member and Labour MP,  Kate Hoey says…

Today is brilliant because triggering Article 50 simply reflects the most basic element of democracy: putting into effect the choice of the people. With the entire establishment arrayed against them, the British public decided that the UK was strong, wise and generous enough to survive outside the restrictions of the European Union.

In a few years’ time, when we are making our own laws and freely trading with the rest of the world – including with our European friends – I predict that it will be very hard to find people who admit to having doubted that we could succeed as a proud independent country.

Kate is MP for Vauxhall.

Other comments include, from a member of the revolutionary wing of the Daily Telegraph, “It’s now up to left and right to contest what kind of future they want for the UK after Brexit. The 2020 election will pose a choice between socialism and capitalism. ”

Harsimrat Kaur adds a dash of humour by declaring, “The main reason I voted to leave was so we can implement a fair immigration system. The idea that a person with an EU passport has easier access to Britain than someone with a non-EU passport is outrageous. Going forward, I want to see us restore that equality.”

Equality indeed…

Brian Denny,  of the Trades Unionists against the EU, a regular contributor to the Morning Star and who appears to be a member of the Communist Party of Britain (see their site here),  says, “We have nothing to lose but Eurocratic dictatorship.”

In a gesture which links Spiked-on- line with Westmonster, Paul Embery (see above) says…

What happened on 23 June was a genuine democratic revolt. The establishment was shaken to its core. Working-class England – which had hitherto always played second fiddle in the minds of politicians to Middle England – arose from its slumber. And how! An entire class of people which had been ignored and patronised hit back. The left must get on board. Democracy just happened. We should cheer and embrace the new mood. Suddenly politics means something again. Suddenly we can see that the political order isn’t inviolable. There is a New Jerusalem to be built. And we have taken the first step.

Paul is regional secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and national organiser of Trade Unionists Against the EU.

Many people on the left will no doubt wish to congratulate the FBU on having a leading figure write for Spiked-on-Line and Westmonster.

Or perhaps to explain to them a few things about internationalism, the working class having ‘no country’, the British state’s ‘capitalist’ faults, and perhaps,  something about who’s in charge of making Brexit, transferring EU legal documents and rulings into British law under their own terms: the hard right wing of the Tory Party, cheered on by the millionaire press (as the Morning Star might say..).

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Communist Party, Morning Star, “Triggering Article 50 opens the way to progressive policies.”

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Triggering Article 50 opens the way to progressive policies……

Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths said leaving the EU must not become “an excuse for diluting people’s already meagre rights at work,” but said the left should set its sights on the opportunities the negotiations present.

“Triggering Article 50 opens the way to progressive policies outside the EU to control capital, raise public funds for infrastructure investment, enforce equal rights for migrant workers and radically cut or abolish VAT.

“Such policies would remain unlawful if we stay in the single market.”

Trade Unionists Against the EU’s Doug Nicholls saluted “a great day for workers in Britain.

Forty years of being controlled by those we don’t elect will soon be over, and we can rebuild a full-employment economy.

Morning Star.

A Morning Star Editorial declares,

Now Is The Time For Unity

Arguing for Unity around the Morning Star and the Communist Party of Britain’s programme the Editorial states,

A convincing left-wing resurgence requires unity. The labour movement cannot afford to rerun the arguments of the referendum ad nauseam, but should be pursuing a set of economic demands — the new deal for workers agreed at last year’s TUC is a good place to start — and framing any approach to the exit negotiations around how we meet those demands.

They conclude,

A determined push from the left to secure a British exit deal that promotes working-class demands and an end to neoliberalism will find an echo across Europe and help shape a progressive future.

A red rose future indeed!

Meanwhile in the world we live in Another Europe is Possible announces,

Unprecedented alliance vows to fight for a “Progressive Deal” after Article 50

Leading figures from Labour and Green parties, along with the general secretaries of a number trade unions, have released a statement vowing to fight on after the declaration of Article 50 today. 29th March 2017

  • As Article 50 is triggered, leading Labour and Green figures, along with trade unions, vow to oppose “a harmful, extreme form of Brexit”
  • New Progressive Deal launched, fighting for workers’ rights, free movement, environmental regulations and other protections.
  • Campaigners raise the alarm over the Great Repeal Bill – which will hand ministers unprecedented powers to change the law by decree

Leading figures from Labour and Green parties, along with the general secretaries of a number trade unions, have released a statement vowing to fight on after the declaration of Article 50 today.

The letter, which is signed by Clive Lewis and Caroline Lucas, as well as UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis, states: “With article 50 triggered, we are entering a dangerous moment for our democracy. The government is pursuing a harmful, extreme form of Brexit for which it has no democratic mandate. The British people must have the defining say over what kind of deal is reached. The result of the referendum was not a mandate to undermine our human rights or our rights at work, to scrap environmental protections or to attack migrants. We will not allow this government to pursue a race to the bottom in which we all lose.”

Writing in the Mirror this morning, Clive Lewis added: “There’s a difference between respecting the decision to leave the EU and giving Theresa May dangerous levels of power to decide the future of our country. Parliament let the British people down last month when they let the Prime Minister negotiate leaving the EU without any restriction or guidance.”

The unprecedented alliance of was drawn together by the campaign group Another Europe is Possible. It has launched a new Progressive Deal, which will fight to retain the six progressive elements of EU membership: free movement, workers’ rights, environmental protections, human rights, science and research funding and education links. The Progressive Deal (here) will be a focal point in the coming months.

Michael Chessum, national organiser for Another Europe is Possible, said: “The Tories are using the technicalities of the Brexit process to strip us of rights and freedoms. The antidote to that is clear, principled politics – and finding a message that can cut through. We need to challenge the consensus that immigration and free movement are the cause of falling living standards, and we need to champion workers’ rights, human rights and other protections. That is what the Progressive Deal is about – and if the left can unite around a clear vision, we can absolutely shift the outcome of these negotiations.”

 

Left Wingers Join Unite For Europe March.

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No Trump no Brexit no racist EU exit!

Why join the March?

Another Europe is Possible introduced the reasons:

Why we’ll be on the Unite for Europe march

This Saturday, tens of thousands of people will march through London on the ‘Unite for Europe’ demonstration. We’ll be there despite our criticisms – and here’s why.

The triggering of Article 50 on March 29th will represent a defeat for democracy and a blow to the rights of ordinary people.

Theresa May has managed to get away with a smash and grab raid on the Brexit process; if the government gets its way, parliament and the people will have little or no say over what is negotiated on our behalf. Millions of European citizens have no guarantees about their right to remain in the UK. And our human rights, rights at work, free movement and environmental protections are under grave threat.

We are in this situation because the terms of the debate have been set entirely by the Tories, UKIP and the right wing press. The message is: Leave won, so now we can do whatever we want.

But the referendum result is not a mandate to attack migrants, destroy the environment or undermine workers’ rights. The government has no mandate for the extreme, regressive form of Brexit that it is pursuing.

So we have to mobilise – to shift the debate and prevent the Brexit nightmare from becoming a reality. The 16 million people who voted for Remain are not our only allies in that task – there are many who voted Leave who do not agree with what Theresa May is doing, and many more who didn’t vote at all.

Another Europe is Possible will be on the demonstration this Saturday – not to wave flags and not to defend the EU’s policy or democracy as it currently exists. We were and are very critical of these.

We will be there because we all have a right to be heard – and a duty to fight against the tide.

Martin Thomas of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty argues:

Labour should fight Brexit all the way

Labour’s deference on Brexit also undermines the work of rebuilding Labour support.

The Labour right wing’s staged Shadow Cabinet resignations in June-July started the process which has given Theresa May a lead in the polls despite unpopular policies (continued benefit cuts, new schools cuts, grammar schools…) But the new line of deferring to a supposedly fixed Brexit majority has worsened it.

While the Lib-Dems – despite their so-recent record in government, despite the fact that one-third of their voters went for Brexit on 23 June, despite everything – have doubled their membership by making at least some show of fighting the Tories’ Brexit, Labour’s surge in membership has been paused or even slightly reversed.

We cannot beat the Tories by deferring to them. Labour should fight Brexit all the way!

The BBC reported,

Tens of thousands of people joined an anti-Brexit march to call for Britain to remain in the European Union.

The Unite for Europe march in London coincided with events to mark 60 years since the EU’s founding agreement, the Treaty of Rome, was signed.

A minute’s silence to remember the victims of the Westminster attack was held ahead of speeches at a rally in Parliament Square.

Comrade Bonnie Greer tweeted from the march.

Socialist Resistance have an excellent report,

Try and picture what a march of Brexit supporters would look like in central London, asks Andy Stowe. You immediately get images of portly men dressed in John Bull outfits, Farage gurning in front of the cameras, English and British flags, homemade placards with slogans about WW2 and not so subtle allusions to controlling borders. It would be a Glastonbury for racist English nationalism.

The Unite for Europe demonstration through central London on March 25th certainly had aspects that showed it wasn’t organised by socialists. The organisers’ homepage is decorated with two strips of European Union (EU) and British flags, the liberal way of showing that British people want o be part of the EU. Speakers at the closing rally included former Lib Dem leader and Tory glove puppet Nick Clegg, current Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, someone offering the ex-pat perspective (ex-pat being the correct term for a British person who’s an economic migrant in another country) and Blarite Rottweiler Alistair Campbell.

Almost immediately after the Brexit referendum result was announced there was a large, young and angry demonstration against the result. Those people were largely absent on March 25th. Press estimates of the size range from 25-100 000 but they tended to be older and more affluent. The young Europeans who keep the service industries of London running didn’t turn up. Supporters of Socialist Resistance who were distributing postcards advertising this year’s Fourth International Youth Camp remarked that it sometimes took a few minutes to find someone young enough to hand one to.

However, the demonstration was unequivocally progressive. British flags were substantially outnumbered by that of the EU. The people carrying them were making a statement that they rejected reactionary British nationalism and wanted to identify themselves as citizens of Europe. The home made placards they carried spoke of freedom of movement and being able to work in any EU state. It was a partial rejection of national borders. Coming only three days after an attack by a reactionary terrorist who murdered three people and injured at least fifty, the march was, in an unassuming way, an assertion of the power of mass action by people who want to engage in politics.

Socialist Resistance rightly make a number of critical observations.

Most of the marchers gave the impression that they had no criticisms of the EU. I saw no condemnations of its shameful deal with Turkey to prevent the movement of migrants or the rejection of the will of the Greek people. This of course is not the view of Socialist Resistance and others on the radical left who opposed Brexit. We argued that it’s a supra-national authority which has imposed austerity on the European working class and has reduced most Greeks to utter penury. Our reason for opposing Brexit was that we knew it could only be achieved by a massive xenophobic chauvinist campaign dominated completely by the right. The London demonstration was a rejection of that tidal wave of xenophobia and racism.

Politically the big winners on the day were they Liberal Democrats and they can expect to regain some lost ground by their stance on Brexit. Their membership turned out in strength distributing stickers, carrying placards and setting the tone for the day. A handful of Labour Party banners could be seen but the party had made the mistake of not mobilising for the event and there was no evidence of any organised trade union presence.

Brexit has shifted British politics to the right in a way we haven’t seen since the election of the Thatcher government. The Tories are now pushing through UKIP’s programme and the Labour Party’s response has not appeared coherent to many of its supporters. The Lib Dems threw down a gauntlet to the radical left, the unions and the Labour Party that our side needs to be the one defending freedom of movement, resisting Tory inspired xenophobia and protecting migrants.

The Another Europe is possible conference in Manchester next weekend will be an Important place to discuss how best to meet that challenge.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Scottish Referendum: More Nationalist Claptrap as SWP Demands Vote so “May can be wrecked on the shores of Scotland.”

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Another Bout of Nationalist Claptrap Looms.

The Scottish National Party’s Call for a new referendum is not just a diversion from the fight against the Tory Government, its austerity,  and its Brexit plans.

It is an  extension of the sovereigntist call to take back ‘control’ of ‘our’ country from the Brexit backers and their left hangers-on to Scottish politics.

Shiraz is right to observe that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s immediate response was wrong, Second Scottish referendum: why Corbyn was wrong.

…last weekend Jeremy Corbyn visited Glasgow and told the media: “If a referendum is held, then it is absolutely fine, it should be held. I don’t think it’s the job of Westminster or the Labour Party to prevent people holding referenda.”

“A spokesman for Corbyn” and “a source close to Corbyn” tried to minimise the damage.

According to the spokesman: “Jeremy reaffirmed our position today that if the Scottish Parliament votes for a referendum, it would be wrong for Westminster to block it. Labour continues to oppose a further referendum in the Scottish Parliament”.

But Labour has not taken a position that Westminster should agree to a referendum if Holyrood votes for it. And Corbyn’s argument that the Labour Party should not “prevent people from holding referenda” does not fit in with Scottish Labour’.

Shiraz is also right to underline that the SNP has an infinite supply of  reasons for call for Scottish independence as the cornerstone of their politics. Their apparent ‘left-of-centre’ politics, that is policies to boost public services for their people, are not social democratic. They do not demand equality, an end to the exploitation of the market, social ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange (Clause Four) but the Scottish ownership of the political system.

Like sovereigntists everywhere the call for our ain folk to take power out of the hands of ‘Westminster’ may seem at odds with  apparent support for  membership of the European Union.

Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, to cite but three examples, are run by various coalitions of nationalists, including, in Slovakia’s case, a government agreement of  centre-right nationalists around , the ‘centre left’ PM Robert Fico.

In this context “the dissolution of a key imperialist state”  means a new set of mini-states as deeply implicated in the world political and economic system with nothing about the basic character of capitalism, market societies,  changed except a cultural gloss and a potential for nationalist political exploiters to ensconce themselves in privileged positions.

It is quite possible for a Europe of the Nations, a European Union that tilts to various kinds of nationalists, to emerge without doing anything more for the interests of the left than to divide it out between competing cultural and national interest group identities.

An indication of the poor economic logic behind this latest bid comes from the Financial Times (January 18th)

Scotland’s economic growth a third of UK level

Scotland’s economic growth was a third of the overall UK figure and unemployment is rising, according to figures published as the governing Scottish National party struggles to decide whether to demand another independence referendum.

The SNP made Scotland’s relative economic strength a central part of its case for independence ahead of the 2014 referendum, but growth has fallen behind, partly because of sharp falls in the oil price. New figures show Scottish onshore GDP in the third quarter of last year grew 0.2 per cent while equivalent UK growth was 0.6 per cent. Compared with the same period of 2015, Scottish GDP was up only 0.7 per cent, against the UK-wide figure of 2.2 per cent. Mark Diffley, of polling company Ipsos Mori Scotland, said that while voters often struggled to assign blame for economic problems between the governments in Edinburgh and London, the poor performance made leaving the UK a tougher sell.  “It’s probably more difficult to make an economic case for independence when things are looking so gloomy.”

Just saying that the SNP is pro-EU does not mean that the kind of national egotism the party has represented for decades will evaporated.

Meanwhile how will the pro-Scottish independence left react?

They are unlikely to care about economics….

A clue is in SWP leader Charlie Kimber’s article, printed last week, 7 Mar 2017.

We need to fight for new referendum on Scottish independence

There is no way back for Labour unless it breaks with its pro-Union stance.

It will take a mass movement, on the scale of the one in 2014 and beyond, to force the Tories to concede a referendum and then win it.

It won’t be won by saying it is to secure access to the bosses’ EU single market.

It has to be based on militant opposition to austerity and racism, and a fight for a society where people come before profit.

If that succeeds then just as David Cameron was brought down by the EU referendum, so May can be wrecked on the shores of Scotland.

More nationalist claptrap, more unionist claptrap…and, May will be gone…

The SWP no doubt wishes to repeat its success in backing Brexit.

Sorcerer’s Apprentices barely covers this lot…

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 13, 2017 at 5:08 pm

‘Only French Spoken’ law in Ile de France Public Building Projects.

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Paris region orders labourers to only speak French on building sites

The Paris region has passed a new rule obliging labourers on public building sites to use French, copying action taken elsewhere in France to squeeze out foreign workers. Reports France 24.

The Ile de France region passed a “Small Business Act” on Thursday aimed at funnelling more local public contracts to small French businesses.

It includes a so-called Moliere clause which will oblige firms working on publicly-funded building projects, or in other areas such as transport or training, to use French as their working language.

“This clause is necessary and targets foreign companies who come with their teams, without any of them speaking French. These companies need to improve,” vice president of the region Jerome Chartier said afterwards.

The French government has long criticised EU rules that allow companies to bring in much cheaper foreign workers temporarily, often from eastern Europe, who undercut locals.

Discrimination concerns

EU rules on public procurement prevent states from discriminating against companies from another European country uniquely on the grounds of their nationality.

Opponents to the Moliere clause, named after the 17th century French playwright, point out that it will disadvantage newly arrived foreigners living in France who are able to integrate via the workplace and learn French.

It also risks being difficult to monitor and enforce.

Other French regions Normandy, Hauts-de-France and Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes have also introduced rules requiring companies to use the French language on public building sites.

This law is already facing opposition:

La clause Molière imposant le français sur les chantiers publics, une disposition contestée (le Monde)

La région Ile-de-France et sa présidente, Valérie Pécresse (Les Républicains, LR), ont adopté, dans un « small business act », le principe de la clause dite « Molière », une mesure qui vise notamment à imposer l’usage du français sur les chantiers publics.

Let us leave aside the obvious point that no English speaker uses the term “small business act” (the nearest I could find in the 2015 UK, ‘Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act’) though the term has currency in the European Union, this is clearly not aimed at speakers of the ‘langue de Shakespeare’ (another French expression which it would be hard to find used by anglophones).

The measure was introduced by members of François Fillon’s Les Républicains,

It bears an uncanny, and not co-incidental, similarity to the Front National’s key policy of “préférence nationale(sometimes called “priorité citoyenne). That is giving French citizens preference in jobs, education and a number of public benefits, such as social housing.

The present measure does not just affect building sites. As RTL points out, from public works, transport,training to council activities are affected if the rule is enforced.  (“des travaux publics, du transport, de la formation professionnelle, des activités de conseil, etc.”)

Like  Marine Le Pen’s wider idea,  it is clearly discriminatory. And,  as noted, hard to enforce, since it is difficult to see what level of French the “Molière Clause sets – the refined français châtié or (as they would say in my youth) in the manner of  “une vache espagnole? 

This ‘act’, by undermining  the basic principle of equality of rights, it is unlikely to pass through either France of the EU’s legal apparatus.

But coming a few weeks before the Presidential elections this unpleasant gesture is another sign of ‘populist’ barrel scraping from French politicians.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 11, 2017 at 12:55 pm

France: François Fillon Stares into the Abyss.

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Some People Remain Interested in Fillon’s Programme.

Police raid Fillon’s Paris home as candidate faces more defections

Police raided the Paris home of French conservative presidential candidate François Fillon on Thursday over an alleged fake job scandal, as a senior party colleague warned him that he risked dragging his party “into an abyss”. France 24.

Fillon revealed Wednesday he is set to be charged over allegations he paid his wife and children hundreds of thousands of euros for fake parliamentary jobs, but has vowed to continue in his bid for power.

After searches at his parliamentary office last month, police raided his home in central Paris on Thursday as he visited winegrowers on the campaign trial in southern France.

He was accused by Dominique de Villepin, a fellow former prime minister from his Les Républicains[formerly UMP] party, of driving the right-wing party “into the abyss”.

“Going down this dead-end street is taking the state , our faith in democracy and its fellow travellers hostage,” he wrote in Le Figaro newspaper on Thursday.

Fillon has called the charges over the fake jobs scandal “entirely calculated to stop me being a candidate for the presidential election” and has ruled out stepping aside for another candidate.

Defectors from his team and other senior Les Républicains have called for ex-premier, 71, to step up have nevertheless underlined the divisions and fears within his camp.

The list of right of centre MPs calling for Francois Fillon to give up his Presidential bid is growing.

He does retain some fervent backing:

 

To keep up to date see Libération:  LE COMPTEUR DES LÂCHEURS DE FILLON.

Everywhere he goes Fillon faces protests,

Written by Andrew Coates

March 3, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Stoke and Copeland By-Elections, the Aftermath.

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Both constituencies have been let down by the political establishment – Corbyn on by-election results. Labour List.

This is the full statement published by Jeremy Corbyn in the aftermath of the results of the two by-elections.

Labour’s victory in Stoke is a decisive rejection of UKIP’s politics of division and dishonesty. But our message was not enough to win through in Copeland.

In both campaigns, Labour listened to thousands of voters on the doorstep. Both constituencies, like so many in Britain, have been let down by the political establishment.

To win power to rebuild and transform Britain, Labour will go further to reconnect with voters, and break with the failed political consensus.

The Stoke victory is important, (Independent)

Labour has secured an emphatic victory in Stoke-on-Trent Central after fending off Ukip’s Paul Nuttall, raising doubts over the right-wing party’s ability to capitalise on Brexit.

Labour’s Gareth Snell, who won 7,853 votes to Ukip’s 5,233, said the result showed “hatred and bigotry” were not welcome in Stoke, a former industrial city which has been a safe Labour seat since 1950.

Mr Nuttall managed to increase Ukip’s share of the vote by just two per cent despite the city’s strong support for leaving the EU.

The Conservative candidate, Jack Brereton, was narrowly pushed into third place with 5,154 votes, while the Liberal Democrats finished in fourth place with 2,083 votes. Turnout was just 38 per cent.

“Over these last few weeks a city lazily dubbed by some as the capital of Brexit has once again proven to the world that we are so much more than that,” Mr Snell said in his victory speech.

“This city will not allow ourselves to be defined by last year’s referendum. And we will not allow ourselves to be divided by the result.

“Nor will we be divided by race, or faith, or creed.

“Tonight the people of Stoke-on-Trent have chosen the politics of hope over the politics of fear.

“We have said with one voice that hatred and bigotry are not welcome here. This is a proud city and we stand together.”

But…. the “political establishment” and the “political consensus” around Theresa May show no signs of weakening after the Copeland result.

John McDonnell has insisted the Labour Party leadership is not in denial as he blamed disunity in the party for its humiliating defeat in the Copeland by-election.

The shadow chancellor said Labour would “learn lessons” from the result, but said it had not been a verdict on the party leader. “This isn’t about Jeremy Corbyn,” McDonnell said.

“We are in a difficult period over these last 20 months because of these leadership challenges and the divisions that have been sown within our party.  The vast majority of our members want us now to unite and to campaign and hold the government to account, and that’s what we will do,” he told the BBC.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today progamme, McDonnell was asked if he was in “denial” about the the position the party found itself in. “Not at all,” he said. “Quite the reverse.”

And he blamed Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson for launching “attacks” on the party in the days leading up to the vote. “Please don’t do that,” he said.

Copeland has been held by the party since it was formed in 1983 but Tory Trudy Harrison snatched it by 2,147 votes in a historic victory. It is the first time a governing party has taken a seat from the opposition for decade. Harrison polled 13,748 votes to 11,601 for Labour’s Gillian Troughton.

John Woodcock, the Labour MP for Barrow and Furness, said Labour under Corbyn was “on course to a historic and catastrophic defeat”. He added: “We are in trouble as a party.”

Jamie Reed, the former Labour MP for Copeland whose decision to resign from parliament triggered the by-election also warned his former colleagues they were in trouble.

Labour backbencher David Winnick told the Press Association Corbyn should consider his position.

The party is faced with the problem of a leader who is simply not acceptable to a large number of people who would normally vote Labour That it is an obstacle and it would be wrong not to recognise that,” he said.

“It is now entirely up to Jeremy and those close to him to decide what is best in the interests not simply of the party but the people we are in politics to represent.”

Labour’s majority in the Copeland at the general election was just 2,564. But for an opposition to lose a seat to the party of power in a mid-term vote is extremely rare.

The last time it happened was the 1982 Merton, Mitcham and Morden by-election, although technically it was a Conservative gain from SDP as the sitting MP had defected from Labour to the SDP before the poll. Before that, the closest comparable case was Sunderland South in 1953.

Labour earlier held Stoke-on-Trent Central after seeing off a concerted challenge from Ukip leader Paul Nuttall.

But Corbyn admitted the party had failed to get its message through in Cumbria. “Labour’s victory in Stoke is a decisive rejection of Ukip’s politics of division and dishonesty,” he said.

“But our message was not enough to win through in Copeland. In both campaigns, Labour listened to thousands of voters on the doorstep. Both constituencies, like so many in Britain, have been let down by the political establishment.

“To win power to rebuild and transform Britain, Labour will go further to reconnect with voters and break with the failed political consensus.”

Patrick McLoughlin, the chairman of the Conservative Party, said the Tory victory in Copeland was not just a rejection of Corbyn but a pro-active “endorsement of the Conservative Party”.

Comment:

Mandelson and Blair’s interventions have helped nobody but themselves, and the former Prime Minister’s speech on Europe, from somebody with the politics of liberal globalisation,  has only done harm to those left-wing pro-Europeans who wish for ‘Another Europe is Possible”.

What effect this may have had on these by-elections is pure conjecture.

Whether one likes it or not this article in the New Statesman, a cold shower of scepticism, is a necessary warning to those wishing to explain away the Copeland defeat: 5 things Labour has blamed for the Copeland by-election defeat. Other than Labour, of course. (Media Mole).

Whatever one thinks of Corbyn, for or against, and all points in-between, there remain the overriding problem of how to “reconnect with voters.”

The result is considered by one of Europe’s leading dailies, Le Monde, to be related to Corbyn’s “attitude ambiguë” towards Brexit. “Cette confusion” they note, supporting Theresa May in voting for Brexit plans, but claiming to not give her a “chèque en blanc” has eroded  Labour supporters’ hopes (Royaume-Uni : défaite cuisante des travaillistes à une élection partielle.)

But would a call for Labour to be clearly opposed to Brexit and appeal to Remain voters work?

Given the divisions amongst those who may vote Labour but are not firm Labour supporters, this is unlikely to provide an answer.

But is this: a call for more internal uncertainty?

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 24, 2017 at 1:17 pm