Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘European Left

Faced with the Pandemic French Left regroups and debates a better future.

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L'initiative commune – Au cœur de la crise, construisons l'avenir.

French Left Offers Ideas for a Better Future.

On the 14th of May an unprecedented array of political figures from the centre-left (some more centre than left), the French Green Party (EELV), the Communist Party and radical ‘other-globalisation’ organisations such as ATTAC, issued a declaration that appealed for a new direction in French politics.

Titled, “At the heart of the crisis, let’s build the future” it was backed by one hundred and fifty personalities close to the left or to the ecologists , including Olivier Faure (Parti Socialiste), Yannick Jadot (Europe Écologie Les Verts ) or Ian Brossat ( Parti communiste français), called in a long public statement published in Le Nouvel Obsevateur for a “convention for a common world”

France is facing an earthquake on an unprecedented scale. The destruction of nature has encouraged  a pandemic which has generated a major economic crisis, created a brutal social shock, especially for the most precarious, and a out the functioning of democracy into question. Public authorities have had that had to improvise in the face of this major crisis. The extraordinary commitment of carers, the courage of those who have worked tirelessly in the service of all and the civic spirit of millions of people confined in difficult conditions, call for the gratitude of everybody.

Right now, the issue  about avoiding the worst and preparing for the future. Repairing  the damage already in face of us, the defence of liberty the obligation to prepare a resilient society, these require a strong collective response. The crisis confirms the urgent need for large-scale changes. From this imperative necessity, let us give birth to hope. We are not doomed to suffer!

The statement called for a strengthening on an egalitarian basis of the French welfare state, notably in the areas of health and pensions, ‘ecological transition’ (the Green New Deal, which has been a demand of French centre, green and radical left politics for much longer than its recent UK appearance), expansive and flexible European Monetary policy, and the reintroduction of the previous Parti Socialiste government’s tax on the rich (Impôt de solidarité sur la fortune, ISF),

TRIBUNE. « Au cœur de la crise, construisons l’avenir »

Further :

Amongst the signatories were Thomas Piketty, the radical leftist, Christophe Aguiton (La gauche du 21 e siècleenquête sur une refondation. 2017) and the former (Left-wing) Green leader,  Cécile Duflot.

These supporters did not prevent the web commentator Usul, close to La France insoumise, from claiming that this was an attempt to create a post-Macron “bourgeois bloc” of the centre-left. It was, he ironically put it, a kind of pot potpourri of nice green and liberal social democratic ideas that would appeal to the metropolitan elites, and continue the centre-left project, excluding the “classes populaires”. This is the return of the ‘gauche bourgeoise.”

Usul remarked that the bloc of forces excluded Jean-Luc Mélenchon


Usul. Le grand retour de la gauche bourgeoise

Here is his, witty, Video version.

The comparison with previous efforts to create a “bloc bourgeois”, allegedly the project of the Parti Socialiste (in power, be it remembered until 2017), runs up against a number of problems.

The book from which the expression is taken, L’illusion du Bloc Bourgeois (Bruno Amable et Stefano Palombarini. 2018) refers to attempts to go beyond traditional alliances, to bring together right and left. Emmanuel Macron has rather monopolised this strategy. The alternative ‘sovereigntist’ attempt to create a political expression that can capture the ‘popular’ classes in a left populist project, that is, La France insoumise (LFI), has failed to take off.

The demand to maintain social protection that is the weakest point of the ‘bloc bourgeois’ of the French centre-left, shown by many of the PS’s labour and welfare ‘reforms’ (see Pages 114 – 146 of the L’illusion). However in another context these rights are linked to EU standards. During the UK Brexit referendum, as promoted  by Another Europe is Possible, and other internationalist left forces, a pro-European strategy made inroads into the labour movement and some (urban) layers of the working class in ‘precarious’ employment by demanding that “une autre Europe possible”. The sovereigntist British left failed to defend these advances, and encouraged not just a hard right Brexit, but the victory of Boris Johnson.

A further sign of the importance of the above unity initiative can be seen on the site of the radical and democratic wing of the left, which forms an independent ally of La France insoumise, Ensemble. This appeared at the end of April and could be said to introduce the terrain on which the Nouvel Observateur declaration was made.

Signed by Clémentine Autain députée (groupe LFI) , Guillaume Balas coordinateur du mouvement Génération·s , Elsa Faucillon députée (groupe communiste) , Alain Coulombel membre d’EE-LV

Many initiatives, public or not, forums and petitions have been circulating since the start of the health crisis. They carry the will to bring about a new world.

It is even harder to dismiss this appeal, (issued this week) signed by the CGT (radical left Union Federation), Greenpeace, Attac, Confédération paysanne, Youth for Climate France and many other groups),

Plus Jamais ça : 34 mesures pour un plan de sortie de crise

(see Le Monde« Face à la crise, il faut sortir du système néolibéral et productiviste »)

In the meantime La France insoumise ploughs its own furrow, competing, it is said, with the Rassemblement national (ex-Front National): Coronavirus : La France insoumise et le Rassemblement national veulent profiter de la colère

The left sovereigntists – or “republicans” (including LFI, some of the PCF, and others, continue their own attempts to recover a political voice.

La gauche républicaine veut se réarmer idéologiquement

La France insoumise (LFI), le Parti communiste français ou la Gauche républicaine et socialiste (GRS), la petite structure de l’ancien socialiste Emmanuel Maurel ; des think tanks, comme Intérêt général ou l’Institut Rousseau ; un site, comme Le Vent se lève ; ou encore des politiques, comme Arnaud Montebourg ou Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The overarching themes these debates raise is brilliantly discussed by New Left Review hate figure Pierre Rosenvallon France Culture: Le coronavirus a-t-il déconfiné la gauche ?

One of the main themes emerging is a return to idea of planning, and the  merits of the commissariat général du Plan (CGP) that existed from 1946 to 2006,

The radio links to these articles (I do not repeat the one this Post began with):

Pour un projet social et écologiste, éditorial de Denis Sieffert, de la revue Politis.

Le monde d’après sera un champ de bataille, éditorial d’Hervé Kempf, du site Reporterre.

Un mal sanitaire pour un bien politique ? Editorial de Laurent Joffrin de Libération.

Better than own factionalists in fact…

Factionalism in the Time of Coronavirus Part 4: Momentum’s Internal Elections and Future.

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Momentum: what is it for, who can join, how does it work – and ...

What Now for New Politics? 

Since its launch in 2015, following Jeremy Corbyn’s election, Momentum has become an important force within the Labour Party, both for its ability to organise for elections, and for the ideas it has broadcast.

Momentum’s ability to get people out to campaign has won it respect. Many people have indicated that the organisation was built around a call to support Jeremy Corbyn – a focus on an individual that not everybody on the left was attracted to, or agreed with. Others have made claims that it can be close to a party within a party, an assertion repeated by rival groups (or ‘factions’) such as Progress and the old Labour right,  Labour First.

A strong point of Momentum was a wish to open Labour up to wider left culture and ideas. Associated with The World Transformed events were held where respected figures like Paul Mason and Hilary Wainwright were given a platform as well as the supporter of Labour Against the Witch-hunt and ‘anti-Zionist’ Ken Loach.

Left Populism.

It was said that Momentum drew inspiration from the Greek left party Syriza and other radical parties that appeared in the wake of the 2008 Banking crisis to oppose austerity. The 2018 World Transformed event attracted attention for starring the leader of La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and the political theorist Chantal Mouffe. Their speeches, and the association made between Corbyn, Spain’s Unidos Podemos, and the USA’s Bernie Sanders, encouraged the belief that Labour’s new direction was towards ‘Left Populism’.In this some saw parallels between Momentum and the Podemos social media aided ‘circles’ (Círculos). There was even talk of it being a ‘social movement’ in its own rights, as if it had independent activism that had struck deeper chords and popular support, than the Labour Party itself.

Critics observed the weakness of those left populist parties, like La France insoumise (LFI), who relied on the supposed attraction of a single ‘charismatic’ leader (as opposed to the more pluralist Podemos). They lacked internal democracy and appeared more as “rallies”, (“lieu de rassemblement” – LFI) with limited ‘electronic’ internal voting. Some made comparisons with Momentum’s own limited voting system. Supporters pointed to (in the UK) problems created by determined factionalists, and, above all, the need to remove those who supported extreme ‘anti-Zionism’.

It was not difficult to see that not everybody, including on the left, found Mélenchon or, for that matter, Jeremy Corbyn, a compelling leader, or would wish to defer to their authority.

All of these political forces have suffered setbacks, Syriza lost power in Jily 2019, La France insmoumise was down to 7,3% of the vote in the European elections, Podemos in November lost votes, and is now in coalition with the non-populist Spanish socialists, and has just had another split (with the ‘anticapitalistas’),  Labour in December suffered a heavy election defeat. Sanders has now withdrawn from the Democratic Party leadership contest.

Defenders of left populism are still around. Its cheer-leaders in the US Jacobin magazine assert the abstract validity of this strategy (March 2020)

Within societies marked by multiple divisions, inequalities, and polarizations, populism thus indicates a discursive practice that aims at creating links between the excluded and suffering in order to empower them in their struggles to redress this exclusion. These discourses are articulated around “the people” as the central political subject demanding incorporation into the political community — restoring dignity and equality and honoring the commitment to “popular sovereignty.”


Chantal Mouffe, by contrast, managed to write a full page in May’s  Le Monde Diplomatique defending left populism against criticisms form political theorist Pierre Rosanvallon, and its importance, in asserting this sovereignty,  as a strategy during the Covid-19 pandemic, without mentioning any of these political set backs (Ce que Pierre Rosanvallon ne comprend pas).

The terms of these debates have changed, first by the election of a new Labour leader, and secondly, by the above pandemic.

After Keir Starmer’s victory in the Labour leadership elections Momentum published this statement,


Momentum congratulates Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner on their election as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. We look forward to working with them to ensure the election of a Government that will carry out the kind of bold, transformational policies our country and planet so badly need.

We also want to thank Rebecca Long-Bailey for running a principled, left wing campaign full of big ideas, building on the programme she has worked on for the last four years. We were proud to support her.


We didn’t win – and that failure is ours collectively – but we have transformed politics for the better. While the Tories will always represent the big polluters and tax dodgers, austerity as a political project has been defeated. No major politician of any party talks about ‘belt tightening’ and ‘necessary cuts’ any longer. Investment and pride in our public services is the new mantra, if not the new reality. This is our victory. And we should be proud.

Many will have noticed that Momentum refused to give its members a chance to endorse Keir Starmer, holding a ‘vote’ on who to back in the contest that did not include his name.

What is the future role for Momentum? Who or what are they loyal to?

The present stand appears to be that they will hold the new leader, somebody they tried to block as hard as they could,  “to account”.

…Keir will face pressure from the media, big corporations and the right of the party to break his promises. We have to be there to hold him to account, make sure he sticks to his promises and advances the socialist cause in the party as well as in every workplace and community.


Jeremy’s leadership is over and we all continue to thank him from the bottom of our hearts. His legacy is our movement seizing the opportunities ahead. As Jeremy said, there is no such thing as Corbynism. Only socialism.


One might suggest that those who encouraged the belief that Corbyn was a special type of new leader, and were determined opponents of Starmer are not best placed to disavow the focus on personalities above socialist politics.

In this statement Momentum sets out broad ideas on” political education” backing trade unions, and  n direct action groups challenging the government on the climate emergency”, training socialist leaders, forming “renters’ unions and “with Coronavirus, we can organise mutual aid to protect those most vulnerable to the worst impacts of Tory rule.”

Many other people in the Labour Party will have thought of these ideas without help from Momentum.

Reflecting Momentum’s strongest point, the mobilisation of people to campaign in elections,  they promised to continue to do all they could “help Labour win elections at every level” .

It’s one election that has opened up a new phase: the election for the Momentum National Coordinating Group (NCG).

This announcement marked the opening of the contest:

It’s time for a new generation. Why I’m not standing in Momentum’s elections

Jon Lansman

Nominations for those wanting to stand for our NCG will open at midday on Thursday 28 May and end at midday on Thursday 11 June.

“A one-member-one-vote ballot will then be held from midday on Tuesday 16 June until midday on Tuesday 30 June.

We have two main factional blocs vying for votes.

Momentum Renewal.

Site: ”  A grassroots initiative to reform Momentum and unite the left.

These are described as the “continuity current”.

Forward Momentum.

The “refounders”.


Useful article from ‘Momentum internationalists’: What should (Forward) Momentum stand for?

More background: Forward Momentum: radical reformers or new establishment?

And, as the Newshounds of Labour List have found there is this:


The Anticapitalist Platform for Momentum

Aka, Red Flag (Plaform), (‘The Anticapitalist Platform is an initiative by supporters of Red Flag in Momentum.) Workers Power, the League for the 5th International.

On one issue, opposing Brexit, they look in the right direction,

Electoral triangulation and strategic dependence on unity with the right forced Corbyn into damaging concessions on free movement and Brexit, which disoriented the left, disillusioned voters, and strengthened his enemies.

A central focus of debate between the contenders is Momentum’s internal structures, which critics say leave little space for democracy.

Some of the rows between these tendencies and candidates have not been up to standards of respectful, polite and friendly debate that marks the Tendance Coatesy blog.

This is could be an occasion to vent these views, and looks like fun….or not

Activists demand online hustings for internal Momentum elections

Written by Andrew Coates

May 27, 2020 at 11:34 am

Factionalism in the Time of Coronavirus Part 3: the Red-Brown Front ‘The Full Brexit’.

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Exclusive: Video: The Full Brexit in conversation - the British ...


Exclusive:Video: The Full Brexit in conversation -available from the Morning Star.

The Full Brexit is a group that brings together Blue Labour, ‘anti-rootless cosmopolitan’ campaigners like Trade Unionists Against the EU’s leader Paul Embery, the Communist Party of Britain, traditional Labour Party anti-EU types, left sovereigntists, New Left Review star Wolfgang Streeck, supporters and candidates for the extreme-right Brexit Party, largely drawn from the ‘Spiked Network’ (see Bob’s Going full Brexit: from Red Front to red-brown front, )’funny money’ theorists (‘new monetary theory’)such as Patricia Pino,  and assorted odd-balls, like Green Party member Larry O’Nutter, better known under his pen-name of Larry O’Hara, and even a stray (?) member of the Conservative Party,

At the end of March they launched this new initiative.

COVID-19: We’re Not In Control.

The declaration begins with this:

Seven weeks ago, Britain formally withdrew from the European Union (EU), belatedly enacting the decision of the referendum of 2016. The referendum was famously won by the Leave campaign on the slogan “Take Back Control”. This slogan resonated effectively with voters because it pointed beyond the injunction merely to restore the national sovereignty lost to the EU (see Analysis #2 – Popular Sovereignty and “Taking Back Control”: What it Means and Why it Matters). It captured widespread feelings of political alienation from the state, disenchantment with a remote technocratic elite, and widespread regional immiseration – sentiments that could effectively and meaningfully be bundled up with the injunction to restore sovereignty. For all the calumny heaped on Leave voters as atavistic and spiteful nationalists, in truth the vote to leave expressed a powerful and ultimately rational democratic instinct – that the people should rule.

The leading Full Brexit intellectuals  then rant,

the new Tory police state declared overnight is strikingly uneven: freedom of assembly has been banned, but some movement is encouraged in the form of daily state-sanctioned exercise.

What we have is a post-modern police state whose biopolitical justification is the health of the population, not the political life of the nation. It is a performance of state power and authority, not its reality. Police forces in the north that did nothing to defend working class girls from paedophile gangnow use drones to enforce social distancing on citizens walking through empty countryside.

The conclusions of this distasteful stream-of-consciousness by ‘academics’Dr Philip Cunliffe Senior Lecturer in International Conflict at the University of Kent. Dr George Hoare a London-based researcher and author. Dr Lee Jones  Reader in International Politics at Queen Mary University of London. Prof Peter Ramsay Professor of Law at the London School of Economics.  are,

The people have to find a way to take control. In addition to the Brexit vote itself, the social basis for taking greater control is perhaps beginning to emerge: the 600,000-strong volunteer army for the NHS indicates a greater willingness to collaborate in the pursuit of social goods and collective ends, and a greater willingness to involve ourselves in the public good. In stepping up, citizens embarrass those who claim to lead us.

The follow up to the rhetoric, complete with sub-Foucault and Felix Guattari stuff about the “bio-political”  has been meagre.

This pseudo-academic waffle, which rivals Dominic Cummings on an off-day, is one result,

Tara McCormack and Lee Jones

The COVID-19 pandemic is not simply a public health crisis. Perhaps more importantly, it is a crisis of a whole way of governing society. The shift to regulatory statehood and transnational governance has hollowed out the practical capacities needed to respond meaningfully to genuine threats to public welfare. From being a Hobbesian Leviathan to whom citizens defer in exchange for protection, the state has become an enfeebled coordinator of multi-sectoral partnerships, desperately trying to protect itself from the public: “stay home – protect the NHS – save lives”.

Western governments’ faltering responses to the pandemic re-poses a question already raised by Brexit: can we re-learn the art of government, as opposed to governance? For those still mired in the regulatory regionalism of the European Union, the outlook seems dismal.

It looks as if a whole group of ageing left national populists, who, in the distant past, read Foucault on ‘governance’ and never got over it.

Admirer of Poland’s Law and Justice Party (Why Poland’s Law and Justice Party appeals) Paul Embery, Full Brexit pillar,  Arron Bank’s- financial – friend,  tweets a perkier messages reflecting his present-day hobby-horses.

Their Full Brexit’s mates in Spiked are going their own merry way:

And it’s back to attacks on “cosmopolitanism”

Meanwhile stalwart Eddie Dempsey (Transforming Britain After Brexit: Eddie Dempsey and the Divided Left. The Full Brexit) appears to have disappeared, at least from Twitter.

The Full Brexit, having helped to poison political debate, encourage national populism, and help the Tories to victory, has, in short, little new to say.

This, from loudmouth ‘Heartfield’ (born, James Hughes),  former Revolutionary Communist Party cadre, Full Brexiter, and would-be candidate for the Brexit Party (he bottled out) is still dripping venom into the public space.


Factionalism in the time of Coronavirus, Part 2: Counterfire.

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About - Counterfire

Why Indeed Should Anybody Join Them?

Counterfire, for those who do not know, is the principal force in the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) and the People’s Assembly (just about the only group left doing anything in the latter).

They, like the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), have a close relationship with the former Labour leader through the StWC and with Andrew Murray, his former adviser, the  UNITE Chief of Staff, a member of the CPB until 2016. Lindsey German, leading Counterfire member, is the Convenor of the Coalition. Her partner, John Rees, an admirer of György Lukács and the ‘actuality of the revolution’, has been heavily involved in the leadership of the People’s Assembly (Against Austerity).

This is the latest event from the StWC.


Many people on the left are very critical of the StWC, notably for its failure to show real solidarity with those oppressed and murdered by the Assad’s regime in Syria.

They say that that the Coalition has shown no sign of supporting what democratic position there is, and that it’s failure to stand, clearly, with the Kurds fighting the Daesh genociders was unforgivable.


How are Counterfire bearing up after the General Election, a new Labour leader, and the Coronavirus pandemic?

Recently German has been writing – sometimes  useful – articles on the government’s response to the Covid 19 crisis.

A failed government in a failed system – weekly briefing

With Britain having one of the worst records on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, you might think some caution, humility and even a change of direction might be in order. But as the government stumbles from one failure to another it seems both incapable and unwilling to change course.

But let’s not forget the political stand they have towards the Labour Party.

German also states the following,

So it is very often up to working people themselves to defend conditions – and that means unions. They have many faults – they are often slow and cautious, marked by years of defeat and legal restriction. Their leaders are also content very often to negotiate rather than take more militant action. Their ties to Labour lead them to further caution, and this is likely to get worse under Keir Starmer’s leadership. 

In February the revolutionary socialist groupuscule  instructed the left,

No socialist should vote for Keir Starmer

If Keir Starmer were to win, he would take Labour back to the centre-ground that proved so disastrous for Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and social democracy across Europe and beyond. He is no friend of the left and no committed socialist should vote for him.

This is how, in April,  they greeted the arrival of Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party.

Sir Keir Starmer’s deadly crusade: supporting big business and undermining unions – CounterBlast 15 April

This morning the new Labour leader Keir Starmer used an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme to urge the government to provide an exit strategy for the lockdown this week and suggested that schools should be among the first to go back.

It is a signal to the establishment and big business that they can trust Starmer to look out for their interests. And it’s deadly for working-class people.

Starmer’s intervention can only strengthen the government in its desire to return to ‘business as usual’ as soon as possible. No wonder Boris Johnson was so keen to invite him to government meetings – a ‘privilege’ denied of course to Jeremy Corbyn.

By May this had become:

Starmer’s foreign policy and the spirit of Blairism

Blair’s foreign policy represented a ruthless reaffirmation of this Labour tradition as the West’s ambitions expanded in the wake of the Cold War and Russia’s collapse as an imperial power of global weight. Corbyn offered a break with this tradition, inspiring many, but incurring the wrath of the establishment both inside and outside the Party. Starmer now seeks to expunge the very memory of this break. Guided by the spirit of Blairism, his foreign policy is certain to be one the Foreign Office will be only too gratified to call its own.

The hard-line pro-Brexit group has been gloating at the EU’s difficulties.

Covid-19, the crisis and the European ideal

As Europe reels from being the centre of the Covid-19 outbreak, the EU is creaking at the seams and may not recover, argues Martin Hall.


German has the merit of  being open about her Leninist politics.

This is an example (April 21st).

The Dilemmas of Lenin

Written to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the Russian revolution, Tariq Ali’s book also speaks to those of us involved in contemporary politics here in Britain. A new politics has been unleashed with the electoral advances of Jeremy Corbyn and widespread revulsion at the consequences of neoliberalism, epitomised most strongly by the Grenfell Tower disaster. This era is opening up a new interest in political discussion, and with it a real thirst to know how the left can achieve its aims against the vested interests of the few, aims which cannot be achieved through parliamentary legislation but will require the systematic transformation of society.

In this debate, people will return to past experiences of working-class history, including the Russian revolution – which changed the history of the twentieth century – and to the ideas of the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin. In doing so they will hopefully see past the distortions on both right and left which have so obscured and sometimes vilified that history, and see the incredibly brave, prescient and committed politics which made Russia the powerhouse of revolution.

It is hard to see what kind of role Counterfire will have in the coming months.

Serious articles, and some interventions around the pandemic, enter a crowded field.

Their political moment has passed.

There is not going to be a new Corbyn in the foreseeable future.

The role of opposition to Starmer inside the Labour Party is already taken by other small groups like the LRC and he cartel in “For a Broad Left Network“, some of whose members are not known to be friendly towards Countefire.

They have nothing to say about the fight in Momentum between Forward and Renewal factions,not to mention pro-European Momentum Internationalists. (1)

Finally we note that Counterfire has not responded to the CPB’s call for a new Popular Front involving the People’s Assembly.


More on this: Undemocratic, backroom politics. Sacha Ismael. 

May the 18th.

A new grouping, Forward Momentum, is in conflict with those who run the Momentum office (which means, in Momentum as currently constituted, run the organisation). The office people seem to be supporting a counter-initiative, Momentum Renewal. Both will run candidates in the imminent National Coordinating Group elections.


Faced with “pro-capitalist” Keir Starmer, Communist Party of Britain Launches ‘Popular Front’.

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Citizen Smith (1977-1980) (Citizen Smith)

Masses Respond to CPB call for “New Popular Front alliance”.

Under the previous Labour leader, former and present members of the British Communist Party, as well as their fellow-travellers, had influence on the party and its policy.

Some suggest that pro-Brexit advisers from that tradition, such as Andrew Murray, in alliance with Blue Labour, traditionalist anti-EU sections of the party, left and (very) right-wing sovereigntists, played an important  role in warding off internationalist pro European challenges.

It’s no secret that Britain’s Communists did not welcome the election of a new team under Keir Starmer, not least for his pro-Second Referendum stand.

Bear this in mind when you hear attacks on the new leader for his “Blairism” and all the rest…..

On April the 24th theCPB  issued this statement.

COVID crisis and Labour’s right-turn show urgent need for stronger Communist Party

The coronavirus exposes the fundamentally anti-social nature of capitalism with its corporate greed and market anarchy’, Steve Johnson told the Communist Party’s political committee online on Wednesday evening April 22). ‘Yet, at this very time, the pro-capitalist forces in the Labour Party are triumphant behind new leader Keir Starmer, determined to push the party back to the mushy middle-ground and marginalise the left’, he warned.

Yet now things are looking up.

Like their friends, the Socialist Party, the CPB  has had a boost in membership.

On the new CPB website it’s noted that they are:

The Communist Party is a growing party, it’s the Marxist party of the British working class with branches active in your locality.

In a detailed organisational report, assistant secretary for membership Alex Gordon revealed that more than 60 people had applied to join the Communist Party in April, taking recruitment to the highest level since the 2003 Iraq War.

This is the new mass line in practice:


An Open Letter to All Working People.

Early in this crisis, the Communist Party proposed:

  • PPE and specialist training urgently for all medical and front-line staff, including those in supermarkets, prisons and welfare establishments.
  • National and regional forums of central and local government, health and medical bodies and trade unions and employers’ organisations to co-ordinate anti-crisis measures.
  • Close international co-operation with China and Cuba where effective action was being taken.
  • Direction of the pharmaceutical industry to meet the needs of the people during and immediately after the current crisis.
  • Financial help for all workers, small business, the self-employed, tenants, students and benefit claimants in need as a result of emergency anti-pandemic measures.

Who’s going to pay?

One does not a Capital reading group to work that out.

The immediate tasks resulting from the new perspectives:

Facing the future

There will be future pandemics of this kind. We need to campaign in our unions, local trade-union councils, community organisations and political parties for government action to prepare for them.

You can help make that happen. There should be local meetings and national conferences to review the past and plan for the future.

The British, Scottish, Welsh and regional TUCs and the People’s Assembly should call demonstrations thanking all front-line workers and demanding an end to low pay, investment in our emergency services and no more NHS privatisation.

Cometh the Hour Cometh the Strategy:



Reminding the executive meeting on Soviet Victory Day that capitalist crisis can lead to fascism, Mr Foster urged trade unions, trades councils, People’s Assembly, CND and other campaigning groups to build a ‘Popular Front’ alliance against Tory policies that would put the interests of monopoly capital above those of working people and their families.

Unity could be developed around a left-wing programme for public ownership, democratic economic planning  and progressive taxation. It was also essential to halt rent evictions and extend the pay furlough, Universal Credit or tax credits to all workers, claimants and students in need.During the present pandemic, Britain’s Communists said workers should take collective action to refuse to accept unsafe practices or conditions during this pandemic and take every opportunity to strengthen workplace trade unionism.

This has already had a wide echo.

The Morning Star, independent of the CPB and wholly owned by the Co-op has publicised the call!


More and more left wing activists and popular masses  are recognising the leading role of the Communist Party of Britain, its allies in Counterfire, the Socialist Party and New Left Review in supporting Brexit and helping Labour achieve its December electoral result.

Anti-Starmer left members of the Labour Party should respond favourably to this warm invitation:



  • JOIN The Communist Party

Join us. The Communist Party is growing faster than for decades and it is recruiting people like you. Apply your skills campaigning for education, healthcare, housing and rights at work. Learn from others and develop your political knowledge through your communist party branch. Join the CP by applying online here.

We hope they do!

First Round of French Local Elections: Set Back for Macron, Greens and Left in Strong Position.

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Second Round May Be Postponed.

The Right wing daily Le Figaro began its report on the first round of the French local elections by citing supporters of President Macron’s Party, LaREM, (1) lamenting their set-back, “Pas bon du tout»«catastrophique»«c’est un échec»…”


(1) I like this Wikipedia explanation, “La République En Marche ![a] (frequently abbreviated REMLRM or LREM, officially LaREM; possible translation: “The Republic on the move!”), sometimes called En Marche ! (French: [ɑ̃ maʁʃ]; English translation: “Forward!”,[11][12] “Onward!”,[13] “Working!” or “On The Move!”)” Some might suggest this indicates a pretty transient name for a political party.

Putting back the Second Round will create a legal headache.

Despite the bizarre conditions in which the vote took place, the left and the Greens have still something to be happy about:

The Greens (EELV) are in a good position in Bordeaux, (an historic bastion of the right)  Lyon, Strasbourg, Poitiers and Besançon as wella s to keep control of Grenoble, where most of the left have gathered on a united list.

EELV are encouraged by the results:

The Paris vote was good for the left.

The Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, (LaREM) did not win in the first round in Le Havre,  his Communist Opponent performed strongly.

Municipales : c’est loin d’être gagné pour Edouard Philippe au Havre

Phillippe scored  43,6 % and his Communist rival, Jean-Paul Lecoq, backed by La France insoumise, won  35,88 %. The Greens, supposed by the Parti Socialiste, got 8,3% and the far-right RN, had 7,27%.

This prediction for the Second Round may be optimistic:

The French Communist Party (PCF) is encouraged more widely (l’Humanité).

Les maires PCF de Montreuil, Gennevilliers, Dieppe, Martigues, Vierzon, Montataire, Saint-Amand-les-Eaux et Tarnos ont, notamment, été réélus dès hier.

The far-right consolidated its position but apart from Perpignan (which is personally saddening) made no gains.

There was therefore no breakthrough for the far right.

Sur fond d’abstention record, la formation de Marine Le Pen a profité comme les autres partis de la «prime» aux sortants. Mais à part Perpignan, elle n’apparaît pas en mesure d’agrandir sa toile.

The election atmosphere is reported to have been extremely odd.

The rate of abstention  was, unsurprisingly,  very high:

Green surge and low turnout as virus fears weigh on French local elections

France 24.

French voters cast their ballots Sunday in nationwide municipal elections marked by record-low turnout after the government imposed stringent restrictions on public life in an increasingly frantic effort to slow the progress of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The report continues,

In the most keenly watched race, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo took a commanding lead with 30% of the first-round ballot, 8 points ahead of her conservative challenger; the candidate for Macron’s ruling party was a distant third.

Running for re-election in Le Havre, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe topped the first round but faced the prospect of a tough run-off vote against a united left.

The famous port, Le Havre, was Communist run City until 1995. I visited it, circa 1994, and out of curiosity, went to the union offices in the Bourse du Travail where a T & G card did wonders.

They recommended me the Town Hall, where I was received by the PCF run team with great respect, a snack, and they talked about their municipal politics.

Apart from the shock administered to Macron’s Prime Minister it is good to see how low the far-right vote was in that City.

France: is President Macron turning left to face the Coronavirus Crisis?

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Image result for Macron coronavirus allocution

Coronavirus is France’s ‘greatest health crisis in a century’, says Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said that the coronavirus epidemic was France’s worst health crisis in a century and announced that schools throughout the country would close from next week.
Creches, schools and also universities would close from Monday “until further notice”, Macron said in an address to the nation on the fight against the coronavirus. He also urged all people older than 70, those who suffer chronic diseases, respiratory troubles and the handicapped, “to stay at home” if possible.

But the president also said that nationwide local elections scheduled for Sunday will not be postponed.

“We are just at the beginning of this crisis,” Macron said.

“In spite of all our efforts to break it, this virus is continuing to propagate and to accelerate.”

The speech was widely welcomed and stand in contrast to the shifty response by our own PM.

Some saw something of a  new “alter-globalisation” Macron.

 Macron’s defence of the welfare state and need to protect services “outside the laws of the market” appeared to signal a leftward shift in the President’s politics.

Face au coronavirus, les habits neufs du docteur Macron

Sylvain Courage  Nouvel Obs.

Avec des accents qui ont dû réjouir l’aile gauche de la majorité et estomaquer ses opposants socialistes et « insoumis », il appelle à « interroger le modèle de développement dans lequel s’est engagé notre monde depuis des décennies et qui dévoile ses failles au grand jour ». Sus à la mondialisation ? Macron vante désormais le service public de santé, l’Etat-providence et tous ces « biens et services qui doivent être placés en dehors des lois du marché.  Déléguer notre alimentation, notre protection, notre capacité à soigner, notre cadre de vie, au fond, à d’autres est une folie », assure-t-il.”

With accents that must have cheered the left wing of the majority and come as a belly blow to his socialist and “insoumises” (La France insoumise) opponents, he  put in  “question the development model in which our world has engaged for decades and which has now clearly shown its flaws Is globalisation itself in question? Macron has now praised the public health service, the welfare state and all those “goods and services which must be placed outside the laws of the market” . “Delegating our food, our protection, our ability to care, our way of life, to others is, basically,  madness,” he said.

Another commentator  Serge Raffy argues in the same Novel Obs that Macron has turned to national sovereigntism, putting the needs of the nation first.

Coronavirus : Macron converti au souverainisme ?

Raffey argues that some of the measures, including a break from tight financial controls, may be conjunctural. Others seem as if they are part of a national moblisation, a war against the Virus, “Contre un virus malin” the malign symbol, despite itself, or a process of globalisation on its last legs.

Others were even more reserved.

In Libération Alain Auffray and Christophe Alix  take a sceptical angle on the kind of “rupture”, or break, with globalisation and liberal economics, offered by President Macron.

Allocution : Macron, atteint par le virus de l’altermondialisme ?

When the globalised economy appears on the brink and a financial crisis looms, Emmanuel Macron has been happy to use radical language . Thursday evening, at the conclusion of his address to the French people, the Head of State estimated that the epidemic revealed “in broad daylight” the flaws of the “development model” in which our world has been engaged for decades. “What this pandemic has shown is that there are goods and services that must be placed outside the laws of the market,” he said as the champion  the welfare state, beginning with  the free universal health service, “an essential asset when tragedy  strikes” .

The journalists compare this to radical statements made by former President Nicolas Sarkozy faced with the 2008 Banking Crisis. The head of state at that time talked of a “refondation du capitalisme” and a sustainable model of growth, “«croissance durable».

This rhetoric re amounted to little concrete, long-term, action once the crisis passed its peak.

Others are even less happy:

(Note the use of the hard-right term “globalist”)


You can see the Macron speech here:


This response is far from isolated.

Germany is already contemplating nationalisations in the wake of the coronavirus crisis on the economy.

European authorities are increasing efforts to try to stave off the economic effects of coronavirus.

Coronavirus: Europe ramps up support for ailing firmsThe European Union (EU) will put a package of measures in place including a €37bn euro (£33bn) investment initiative.

And German finance minister Olaf Scholz said his country could part nationalise firms to tackle the crisis.

Some of these responses seem an extension of state response in line with the analysis offered last week by Phil Hearse,

Emergency government measures to combat the virus, and the development of a vaccine, are the key priorities today. But world solutions are needed, because even if the outbreak dies down in more advanced countries, it is likely to continue to rage in countries with less developed health systems. If the small number of cases in South Africa spreads, in a country were hundreds of thousand are HIV-positive with rock bottom immune systems, the impact could be devastating. The Republic’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has already warned that there will be a national crisis. If the virus rages in poorer countries, it will rebound back into countries where the virus has died down.

In the longer-term, humanity needs to ask pointed questions about the wave of pandemics that have swept the world in the last twenty years.

The Virus – Apocalypse Now?

It would appear that, faced with the emergency, many states are responding with strong measures.

Welcome as this may be, with strong reservations about the details, it is not the same thing as a turn to the left.


Written by Andrew Coates

March 14, 2020 at 12:52 pm