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Posts Tagged ‘European Left

Are the new Joint Green Party Leaders a Left Alternative to Labour?

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Will Greens Encourage Left Politics?

The Green Party has elected its two co-leaders:

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  • Denyer: “We are at a crucial moment in history and it is clear that the other major political parties have failed”
  • Ramsay: “More than ever, we need strong Green voices to make the compelling case for a Green transition, a just transition”

Like the French Greens (EELV), whose candidate for President in 2022 was announced two days ago it was thought that timing the result to coincide with the German Bundestag result would boost their impact. The German Bündnis 90/Die Grünen– Greens – did well, 14.8+5.8%. But talk of their candidate, Annalena Baerbock, 40,  becoming Chancellor, came to nothing.

This is what the new Green co-leaders say,

“We’re determined to see more Greens elected in England and Wales,” said Mr Ramsay. “We’re here because we want to lead our party to success … to be the real opposition to this feeble Conservative government.”

The Green Party has only one MP, Caroline Lucas, but has three members on the London Assembly and around 400 councillors across England and Wales

In the UK there is now also a new angle.

Immediately commentators have rushed to proclaim that the Greens (that is, the Green Party in England and Wales, GPEW, the Scottish Greens already have a “power-sharing deal” with the right-of-centre, left-of-centre, always nationalist SNP), are about to become a left-wing alternative to Labour,

The Greens are perfectly poised to become a major force on the British left

Matthew Butcher

“The Labour party leadership is trying to shed its leftwing image, but, as journalist Stephen Bush has pointed out, that means potentially losing a serious political constituency. Labour may talk a good game on climate investment, but its economically illiterate allusions to treating the nation’s budget like a “household” is unlikely to wash with the large chunk of the electorate who have emerged from the pandemic wanting higher spending, more generous benefits and public ownership. And that’s before we even begin to speak about Labour’s pledge to continue deportation flights if it enters government, or its refusal to seriously rethink the UK’s failing drug policies. Compare the ideas and energy I saw coming out of the World Transformed festival this week with the shadow cabinet speeches, and you can see the political waters in which the Greens should be swimming.

As fires rage across the world, and homes and businesses are flooded in the UK, it’s no surprise that we see consistently high levels of concern about the climate crisis. The government and the Labour party are taking fairly serious steps forward on the issue, but by focusing on it they only reinforce its importance, and drive many voters toward the only party seen as putting it first – the Greens.”

There is some truth in the idea that the emergence of Green issues, “global warming”, “climate change”, and “climatic disruption”, as well as “environmental destruction”, “weather destabilization”, and “environmental collapse” are going to encourage some to vote Green.

Some people may equally believe this…

Denyer and Ramsay were in some ways the “safe bet” for the party, but their pledge to “transform society to create a brighter future for all” is a bold one.

Supporters of a darker future may disgree.

Having followed the debates in the Green Party in England and Wales I would say that the vast majority of then, when not about what nice people the candidates were, was winning seats in elections, and something about ecological, that is, Green issues. Did they mention trade unions? One may have missed it….

This is what the two successful candidates said about their platform (Left Foot Forward),

They say their goal is to have 900 councillors elected by 2025 and to be in political control of 40 councils. The pair also say they will aim to have a second Green MP elected by then.

They have pledged ‘to take back the Green New Deal from Labour’ and have placed a Green recovery from the pandemic as a major focus point, pledging green jobs, warm homes, a Universal Basic Income, restoring nature and active travel.

Denyer, councillor for the Bristol ward of Clifton Down, proposed the first Climate Emergency declaration in Europe, committing Bristol to go carbon neutral by 2030 and the pair are hoping that their combined political experience will appeal to members.

Nothing about the kind of weighted social and economic transformative programme developed by the team around John McDonnell or this limited list by Keir Starmer,

“We can unite around a programme that is credible and that will put us into a position to go into government.

 promised to spend an extra £28bn a year on making the UK economy more “green”, phase out business rates and ensure tech giants pay more tax, increase council and affordable housing stocks, increase the minimum wage to at least £10 an hour and end charitable status for private schools.

There is no reason to deny that the Greens have ideas to contribute, to the left, and elsewhere, even a possible debate in Universal Basic Income, which doles out the same money to the Duke and the Dustman, and leaves unresolved the issue of a living income for those who would rely on nothing else.

Indeed, the GPEW are not, thankfully, the same as the Austrian Green Party, Die Grünen – Die Grüne Alternative in coalition with the Christian Democrat anti-immigrant, (but less so than the actual far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ)), People’s Party (ÖVP).

We, the European Greens, congratulate Die Grünen for voting in favour of entering a government coalition with the People’s Party (ÖVP).

Green Wave strengthened further as Austria’s Die Grünen become 4th European Green Party currently in government (2020).

Nor are they the same as the French Greens, who have just had a tight race to become the 2020 Presidential candidate, in a primary election open to all who signed a declaration of values and paid a nominal sum.

104,772 people took part to decide on the candidate who does not represent EELV but also,  Pôle écologiste Génération.sGénération écologie, and  Cap écologie

In the GPEW vote,

CandidateCarla Denyer and
Adrian Ramsay
Tamsin Omond and
Amelia Womack
Shahrar Ali
First pref.5,062 (43.9%)3,465 (30.1%)2,422 (21.0%)
Final round6,273 (61.6%)5,088 (38.8%)Eliminated

Jadot, the only French Greens member with nationwide name recognition, has promised a pragmatic “solutions-driven” approach to environmental policies.

His runoff rival Sandrine Rousseau, sometimes called an “eco feminist”, sprang a surprise in the first round of online voting last week, finishing a close second out of five candidates with 25.14 percent, compared to Jadot’s 27.7 percent.

Analysts credited the strong performance to Rousseau’s feminist credentials after she went public with allegations of sexual harassment against a Greens leader during the #MeToo movement.

Her radical proposals on the economy and environment — she wants to introduce a minimum living wage and significantly increase fuel prices and taxes on the rich — have also mobilised the party base

(note this blog watched their lengthy debates, and social issues took second or third place to er, Green subjects)

But in Tuesday’s online primary runoff Rousseau had to concede with just under 49 percent of votes, failing to win over party sceptics who disliked her moves to switch focus from traditional Green concerns into social and economic territory.

People are already suggesting that the supporters of Rousseau are poised to vote for other candidates than Jadot in the 2022 elections.

That’s as may be. But the French ecologists look much more serious than the GPE, if only in the numbers they have involved in their candidate election.

We will watch with attention if, as some are now suggesting, the English and Welsh Greens take the role of a left party. But given the kind of largely non-socialist people who run the GPEW and have got elected as councillors, it is unlikely even that they would take any interest whatsoever in such an idea. Will they get involved in this list of radical campaigns with the broad social and trade union input of the Labour radical left? Would they bring radical left ideas to them? Is “their first challenge is to show they can channel the insurgency of Corbynism, the Climate Strikers and Kill the Bill protesters? One could add, could they turn the elitist avant guard of Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain to mass audiences? It will need a lot of their “new enthusiasm” to make an impact – given the numbers who voted in the GPEW election….11,361.

The small, if not tiny, minority of radical truly left (Marxisant, socialist altermondialistes, or anarchist) greens in the GPEW might however get behind the strategy. They may not be a ‘major force’ to compete with Labour but that looks like at least a potential for them to rival for the SWP and TUSC…

Written by Andrew Coates

October 1, 2021 at 2:04 pm

Official: Sir Keir Starmer forced to drop leadership rule change but 20% of MPs needed to nominate leadership candidates.

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Keir Starmer: Radical who attacked Kinnock in Marxist journal | News | The  Times

The Youth of a Leader.

Labour conference: Sir Keir Starmer forced to drop leadership rule change.

BBC.

Sir Keir Starmer has been forced to drop changes to the way Labour elects its leaders after they were rejected by the party’s left wing.

(Note: and the soft left centre, and people with any sense who is against turning over Labour to rule by a special class of alderpeople, and those who dislike factionalising right-wingers).

He had wanted to scrap one-member-one vote – but opponents said that would give Labour MPs too much say over who gets the top job.

Sir Keir is now hoping to get members to back a watered-down package of reforms in a conference vote on Sunday.

He says they will help the party win the next general election.

The row over Labour’s constitution began earlier this week, when the leader proposed changing the way his successors would be chosen.

….

The shelving of the plan to put Labour alderman and women before anybody else in Labour leadership elections is to be welcomed.

But…

Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) approved a diluted package of reforms earlier on Saturday, but they will also need to be agreed by party members.

The package includes:

  • A rule that any candidate would need the backing of 20% of party MPs to get onto the leadership ballot – up from the current 10%
  • Increasing the percentage of local party members needed to trigger a reselection process for their MP – up to 50% from a third
  • Scrapping registered supporters – where voters can pay a one-off fee to vote in the leadership election
  • Another rule where people will have to have been a party member for six months before they can vote for a leader

These new plans were agreed by 22 votes to 12.

Speaking after the meeting at the party’s conference in Brighton, Sir Keir said: “I’m very pleased these party reforms have got the backing of our NEC.

“These proposals put us in a better position to win the next general election and I hope constituency and trade union delegates will support them when they come to conference floor.”

**

20% of MPs is a high bar, and look, because it is, an attempt to prevent left-wingers getting nominated for a contest.

In the 2020 leadership elections “Long-Bailey, who is backed by John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, secured 26, while Phillips had 22 and Nandy 24, putting them just over the threshold needed to make it on to the ballot.” That’s when the bar stood at 10% and the number of nominations needed was 22.

Now candidates will have to get 40/4` nominations.

Had that applied in 2020 there would have been one candidate on the ballot paper, Keir Starmer.

It’s an interesting question as to how ‘Labour members’ can decide on these proposals since they only pulled out of a hat, or written on fag-packet, in the last day. Nobody at CLP meetings will have discussed them.

Starmer’s support from the reasonable left is peeling away:

The Tendance Central Committee met this morning to discuss the backsliding by one-time Pabloite Starmer.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 25, 2021 at 5:57 pm

Norway: Left Election Win and the Much Exaggerated Death of Social Democracy.

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Latest Norway Election Results

Norway’s left-wing opposition wins election in a landslide

Labour expected to form coalition with other left-leaning parties as it seeks to reduce inequality and wean the economy off oil.

Norway election results in brief

  • Jonas Gahr Støre’s Labour Party are the biggest single party. He is set to be Norway’s next prime minister, leading a coalition of Labour, Socialist Left and the Centre party.
  • Erna Solberg’s 8-year tenure as prime minister is over. She has congratulated Støre on his victory.
  • The battle for the 4% threshold to win levelling seats was a fascinating one. Far-left party Rødt made it over for the first time, winning an expected 8 seats.
  • Venstre were the only former government party to retain support, staying above the threshold to retain 8 seats.
  • Despite a very visible campaign in the closing weeks, the Green Party failed to make it over the threshold, picking up just an expected 3 seats.

Is this a result with wider implications? The German left, notably the Sozialdemokratische Partei DeutschlandsSPD, looks as if it may perform well in their national elections on the 26th of September.

This comes against a much less encouraging backdrop for European centre left and left wing political parties. They are often said to be facing long-term decline, if not existential crises.

This has a history going back some decades. In the final chapter of The Retreat of Social Democracy (2000) John Callaghan outlined what he described as “epoch making changes” that had weakened left parties across Europe. First of all was the decline of the manual working class in the ‘post-Fordist” economies no longer based on mass production and revolutionised by the robotic and information based transformation of production. The possible end of the “class mechanism” behind voting patterns, “class solidarity” indicated by drops on party membership (not only on the left), and the decline of trade union membership was, it had been argued, long-term mechanisms undermining any form of left of centre politics.

This for example, more recent observations What happened to Europe’s left? Jan Rovny (2018)

Having lived in Gothenburg, Sweden, the home of the Volvo, I eagerly visited the Volvo factory, looking forward to meeting the contemporary proletariat. What did I see? Halls and halls of conveyor belts shuffling skeletons that would become fancy SUVs in about an hour, while silver robotic arms added various parts to them. And the working class? I saw precious few of them. They were mostly young women, sitting on comfortable chairs surrounded by computer screens and keyboards, listening to their iPods… I later learned that these workers earn as much as Swedish university professors (that means – a lot).

To continue,

The traditional working class as we imagine it from the times of Henry Ford does not exist anymore. Most of the workers at Volvo with their above-average pay, comfort and job security can hardly be considered as such. Today’s working class is much less visible, and much more atomised. Today’s working class are the masses of unskilled service workers who predominantly cook, clean or drive. Often, their jobs are short-term or part-time, and low-paying. These people do not come into contact with each other nearly as much as the traditional factory-floor workers did. They are more often than not from diverse minority backgrounds, and thus are separated by cultural boundaries. In short, these people have significantly reduced ability to organise, and they do not. As my research with Allison Rovny shows, their political belonging is weak, and – in the absence of a formative subculture – it is malleable.

Callaghan nevertheless concluded his study by observing that Labour and other parties from the reformist tradition had adapted to the environment consolidated by globalisation and neo-liberalism pursuing “market orientated strategies” that expanded their appeal to non-socialist voters. In Scandinavia and Germany the “case for managing capitalism in a social democratic way” remained strong and had popular appeal.

The British socialist left, after years of fighting Tony Blair and the Third Way between capitalism and (what?), trying to make the Labour Party more left-wing, tended at the time when Callaghan wrote, to focus on the possibility of creating socialist vehicles. Was Labour potentially one? Written in the spirit of Ralph Miliband’s Parliamentary Socialism (1961) The End of Parliamentary Socialism: From New Left to New Labour. Leo Panitch and Colin Leys (2001) argued that “the route to socialism does not lie in transforming New Labour”.

There have been attempts to find a path to socialist politics outside the Labour Party. The Socialist Alliance (1999 2003) which included a few people from the Labour left (coughs), grouped for a few years, until being dissolved into Respect, small parties such as the SWP, the Socialist Party and other groups. Unlike Respect the SA had no electoral success. It also proved impossible for many democratic socialists to work at close quarters with ‘revolutionary’ organisations. The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) had more success, winning 6 seats in Holyrood in 2003. Internal disputes around Tommy Sheridan broke the SSP apart. Its supporters are now backers of the More Borders campaign for Scottish Independence.

The dream of creating a new socialist party in Britain has been revived by some individuals, ‘in exile’ or still on the margins of the Labour Party. But the nightmares of the SA, the SSP, and, obviously George Galloway’s Respect – not to mention his present red-brown vehicle, the Workers Party of Britain – weigh heavily on the living.

What does remain is the belief in the long-term decline of social democracy. Study and debate has focused on the cultural effects of the halting of the forward march of labour. The development of a new form of working class Toryism, and its counterparts across Europe, in ‘left behind’ and formerly industrial regions, is one issue. Another is the appeal of national populism to a cross class constituency, bringing together self-identifying ‘real’ working class and wealthy right-wingers. The rise of far-right identity politics, the ‘anti-woke’ and anti-immigration, has parallels across our continent. Sovereigntist ideas (the basis for the pro-Brexit left), nationalism, political confusionnisme, and other issues come into the mixture of ideas that have, it is said, weakened the appeal of classical social democracy and democratic socialism.

Over the last couple of years – that is since Jeremy Corbyn left the leadership of the Labour Party – the threat of “Pasokification“, named after the the Greek centre-left party that lost three-quarters of its voters in just three years.- has been brandished. “Recent decades have seen the decline of social democratic parties across Europe, with some becoming so atrophied as to lose any hope of winning office. “With more resonance than the collapse of the French Socialist Party vote in the Presidential elections in 2017 (a result partly diffused by the deft switch to Emmanuel Macron of some Socialist figures) this theme became ubiquities in the pages of the US left populist journal Jacobin, and such organs as Novara Media.

How will the supporters of this theory explain Norway away? Bets are being laid on Scandinavian exceptionalism.

This poor chap has his own pet theory:

Full election statistics.

2021 Norwegian parliamentary election.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 14, 2021 at 9:29 am