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NUPES: France’s Left Alliance in Parliament, How to Stand up to Macron?

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Left Unity: Leading French Trotskyist Amongst New NUPES MPs.

NUPES, the Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale, has 130 MPs in France’s lower house, the National Assembly, brings together the main parts of France Left, from the Socialists (PS), the Greens (EELV), the Communists (PCF) to Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI). Rejecting the latter’s call to form a single Parliamentary group they have created an “inter-group” of the parties. France Info notes, “unlike the “classic” parliamentary groups, this structure similar to the intergroups of the European Parliament will remain informal.” It will meet every week to discuss joint work. “

“Within this coalition, we agreed on a programme, with 650 measures. Of these 650 measures, there are 95% that we defend in common and 5% for which there are minor differences that “We will deal with Parliament. On the 95% of the points of the programme, we are committed to voting the same thing, so we will vote the same thing” , explained the deputy LFI Manuel Bompard on franceinfo, Friday June 24. “These differences could also concern the question of a motion of no confidence against Elisabeth Borne, at the beginning of July. While the Prime Minister may not submit to a vote of confidence following her declaration of general policy, the deputies of La France insoumise will “probably be forced” to table a motion to oppose giving confidence in the government.”

The Communist leader, Fabien Roussel, whose critics assert that he is motivated by a wish to cut an independent figure has declared a lack of interest in this motion against the new government of PM ‘Élisabeth Borne ,” Other Nupes deputies, like Valérie Rabault, are cautious. “We cannot say that we have no confidence in the government when we do not know what it is proposing” , evacuated the socialist deputy on France 2, Friday.

Some see Emmanuel Macron’s manoeuvres at work, and could cite a spate of articles in the French media on how coalitions work in many European countries as a sign of his intentions. The President of the Republic mentioned discussions to form a “government of action” and floated the idea that it could go “from the Communists to the LR (classic Right)” excluding LFI (“not a governing party”, that is, a party that can be considered a potential one) to form a possible coalition. This idea, to broaden the government to the left, was firmly rejected by Adrien Quatennens, LFI coordinator, ““We have a clear mandate to be in the opposition”. Anybody who joined this “grand coalition” would face an immediate “purge” (his word, identical in English). (Adrien Quatennens, député LFI du Nord : participer à un gouvernement de coalition « n’aurait aucun sens » pour la Nupes).

It is interesting to see that the NUPES bloc has itself brought together a wide variety of forces to coalesce around a common electoral project.

The main parties are well-known and cited above.

They also include, within the mini-coalition of the Pôle écologiste, not only France’s largest Green party, Europe Écologie Les Verts EELV, 16 MPs and 11,000 members Génération.s, founded by former Socialist Presidential candidate (2017) and red-green Benoît Hamon (no longer politically active), ‘60,000 members’ (claimed, I am on their E-Mail list and may be included….) and 4 MPs, Génération écologie, 3 MPS, ex-Macron backers, the micro-parties, Cap21, Écologie au centre, (no MPs), and the Mouvement des progressistes, created in 2009 by former Communist Party leader Robert Hue (Presidential candidate in 1995 and 2002), which has one MP.

Linked to the Pôle écologiste Bloc are Les Nouveaux Démocrates, dissident Macron supporters, who claim 600 members and who have one MP.

The Bloc of La France insoumise includes not only LFI proper but also:

The Parti de gauche, Mélenchon’s original breakaway from the Socialists, it has played a part in La France insoumise since its creation, 6,000 members and 17 MPs. Unlike LFI it has a democratic internal structure, and aspires to be a « forum politique » et un espace de débats pour la gauche insoumise”. Adrien Quatennens (cited above) is a member. It defines itself as Ecosocialist. You do not hear much, if anything about the PG; the English Wiki entry does not look updated since about 2018. PG members are present on the national executive of La France insoumise.

Ensemble ! (they tried to sue Macron for breach of copyright over his use of the same name for the electoral alliance he led of La République En Marche! (LREM), Democratic Movement (MoDem), AgirTerritories of Progress (TDP), HorizonsEn commun, and the Progressive Federation.) is a Mouvement pour une Alternative de Gauche, Ecologiste et Solidaire. It is a political party, also with a democratic structure, 2,500 members and 4 MPs, of whom Clémentine Autain is the best known. Its founding members have included former supporters of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA), the tendencies, Curant unitaire anticapitaliste  and the Gauche Anticapitaliste, and the historic self-management current Les Alternatifs (which can in part be traced back to the left wing of the Parti Socialiste Unifié, PSU, a force on the left in the 1960s), and others such as Fédération pour une Alternative Sociale et Ecologique, (FASE) which had former Communist Party members. The youth section has had close links with the Fourth International. Ensemble insoumis is their group which is most closely aligned with La France insoumise. There are differences between them and others in Ensemble, debated over this issue: 2e tour de l’élection présidentielle. Ensemble is involved in a number of local collectives, Actualités des collectifs locaux.

The Gauche démocratique et sociale, of long-term and respected activist Gérard Filoche, is also listed, as is the deep green (to say the least, they are ‘anti-speciest’ to begin with) La Révolution écologique pour le vivant (REV), which has one MP.

John Mullen states that,

 at least three small revolutionary groups, two of around a hundred members each (Gauche révolutionnaire and Révolution!) and one larger current (Ensemble Insoumis) are active inside the FI.

This gives the impression that Mélenchon’s La France insoumise is a democratic organisation in which groups, such as GR (which was on the fringes of the NPA at one point) or – Révolution!, an entryist faction in the Communist PCF at one point over a decade ago, can work around building their mini-party (1). While it may not be entirely the chief’s personal property LFI says it is a ‘network movement’ (mouvement réseau ) with a self-proclaimed ‘gazeux’ (effervescent) in which people do not become members but supporters and activists. The yearly Conference, the Convention Nationale (two thirds attending are selected by lot, not elected) is described as “un show de rock stars”. On the ground LFI is organised in largely self-financing “groupes d’action”. activists have considerable autonomy on how to apply the line, and organise local campaigning, deciding by consensus (“privilégient la recherche du consentement plutôt que le vote”). You can be chucked out without any right of appeal. (Le populisme de gauche – Sociologie de la France insoumise. Manuel Cervera Marzal. 2021)

This is the body, the host one might say, that Ian Birchall declares is an “an open organisation with different currents within it”. Indeed. You can ‘join’ by the click of a few keyboard letters – you don’t even need money, initially . Having a democratic say is another matter. There are some who detect different approaches, with a wider impact between, say François Ruffin and Clementine Autain, in other words, between members of the National Assembly, both of whom promoted wider openings to the left before NUPES was formed with Mélenchon’s blessing. But these views were not the result of an organised campaign at the grass-roots. Decisions within LFI are made from the top down.

The Gauche Révolutionnaire is the French wing of the Socialist Party’s Committee for a Workers International. Its grip on reality can be seen in this recent article, “Campagne de la TUSC au Royaume-Uni, un pas en avant ! (TUSC Campaign, A Step Forward) Pendant plusieurs semaines, nos camarades des Socialist Party (organisation sœur de la Gauche Révolutionnaire en Angleterre et pays de Galles) et Socialist Party Scotland (toujours notre organisation sœur mais en Ecosse) ont mené une campagne combative avec la Coalition Syndicaliste et Socialiste (Trade-union and Socialist Coalition, TUSC) pour les élections locales de 2022 au Royaume-Uni.”

The other group, Révolution ! is the branch of Socialist Appeal.

Need one say more?

Amongst La France insoumise MPs is also a more serious Trotskyist.

This, Spotted last week, may well be the first time a current member of a Trotskyist group – in this case part of the national leadership of the Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI) – has been elected as a MP. Former, ex, and youthful Trotskyists of course are far from rare in the National Assembly. Apart from Mélenchon, who was a cadre in the Lambertist Trotskyist movement (notably, between 1972 to 1976, he was the leader of the OCI in Besançon) there is former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin had been ‘close’ to the same Organisation Communiste Internationaliste, forerunner of the POI, and the national secretary of the Parti Socialiste until 2017, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, who had been a MP, was also a member of the OCI/PCI till 1986.

As the below suggests this event passed largely unnoticed.

Jérôme Legavre is a French Trotskyist trade unionist and politician , born in 1972 in Rennes ( Ille-et-Vilaine ). A member of the national leadership of the Independent Workers’ Party Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI), he was elected deputy in 2022 in the twelfth constituency of Seine-Saint-Denis.”

That is the Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI), the Lamberists (now at less than a 1,000 members but once thousands strong, Mélenchon entered politics through this current when it was known as the OCI)….

Pierre Lambert (real name Pierre Boussel; June 9, 1920 – January 16, 2008) was a French Trotskyist leader, who for many years acted as the central leader of the French Courant Communiste Internationaliste (CCI) which founded the Parti des Travailleurs (Note now split into the above POI and their rivals the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID), who stood in the legislatives and got absolutely nowhere).

The debates within NUPES will be focused on those forces present inside the ‘Intergroup’. What impact bodies on the outside left will have on the decisions of the 131 NUPES deputies will be beyond limited. As L’Humanité said on Friday, ” l’heure est à la reparlementarisation de la vie politique.” – the moment is one of the reparliamentisation of political life”. This does not only refer to putting the President in his place…..

Perhaps this, published today, is a useful signpost to the future of La France insoumise

It remains to imagine how LFI will manage to impose itself in the political arena over the long term. The lack of pluralism and the verticality imposed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon has certainly given way to an acceleration of the culture of compromise during the constitution of the Nupes. But can this relaxation of the ideological machine to work in concert with allies..

LFI : du pari à la mutation ? Manuel Cervera-Marzal.

….

(1) “Its section in France, Révolution (formerly La Riposte), practiced entryism in the French Communist Party. In 2008, La Riposte supported an alternative platform at the PCF party conference which received the support of 15% of voters, following which Révolution left the French Communist Party and became a member of La France Insoumise while La Riposte stayed within the PCF and are no longer a section of the International Marxist Tendency.”

Update and Correction.

The mouvement des progressistes, alliance écologique indépendante ( écologie au centre) and Cap 21 are no longer in the pôle écologiste thus not part of the NUPES.

“Le Mouvement des Progressistes, membre fondateur du Pôle écolo aux côtés d’EELV, Génération.S et Génération Ecologie, n’a pas signé d’accord avec LFi et ne rejoindra donc pas la Nouvelle Union Populaire Écologiste et Sociale.”


“Plusieurs petits partis écologistes opposés à l’accord de la Nouvelle union populaire écologique et sociale (Nupes), comme Cap 21 ou le Mouvement des progressistes, se sont rassemblés pour les législatives, où ils présentent 250 candidats pour une “écologie qui donne envie”.”

Les écologistes anti Nupes se rassemblent pour les législatives.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 27, 2022 at 1:16 pm

Class War in the UK.

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Anarchy in the UK: Coming Sometime, Now.

I don’t recall much humour during the 1970s and 1980s industrial disputes.

This was the kind of cartoon the mass readership far right press published at the time:

Anthony Burgess, chiefly remembered for the film based on his book A Clockwork Orange, published this in 1978, which expresses the mood of the right and sections of the rightward moving intelligentsia.

1985 (from James Nicholl Reviews – if anything too kind, the prose is worse even than the ideas and plot).

Britain, or Tucland (from Trades Union Congress) as it is known in 1985, languishes under the doleful lash of syndicalist trade unionism. Britain has been transformed from the vibrant (if, as Burgess admits in his essays, steadfastly stupid) society of yesteryear to one in which predatory tribes of homosexuals roam unchecked, an alien society quietly infiltrates, and any worker can provoke a general strike for such absurd goals as a reasonable wage and safe working conditions.

Poor Bev Jones, once a paid intellectual, was driven out academia when his sort of academia was defunded for irrelevancy in the eyes of the dullards now running Tucland. Now a — unionized, of course! — confectioner, he lives a not-especially-fulfilling life with a wife whom he apparently loves in the passionless, vaguely repelled way of the British of Burgess’ sort. The couple has a daughter, whose promiscuous ways and general lack of intelligence make her a perfect example of the modern Tuclander.

Bev abandons his moping submissiveness after his wife is left to burn to death as a result of a fireman’s strike. He becomes a steadfast anti-unionist. Unfortunately, while the author seems to be on Bev’s side, most of his fellow Britons are not. Bev’s feeble attempts to speak out against the flaws of Modern Society see him stripped of his union card, his job, and his humble niche in society. 

There seems to be a ray of hope when Bev discovers the Free Britons, who oppose Tucland for their own reasons. As Bev will discover to his cost, just because he is on their side does not mean that they are on his.

Burgess did not shy away from racism,

Bev’s underage daughter Bessie, who is addicted to soft pornographic TV shows, at one point is found watching “Spiro and Spero” (Latin for ‘I breathe’ and ‘I hope’ respectively), who transpire to be “a pair of cartoon dolphins who spoke English on the Chinese model: You Say He Not Come I Know He Come I Know He Come Soon.” Later, she sends him a postcard from the city of Ghadan (Arabic for ‘tomorrow’), where she has become part of the harem of an Arab sheikh, which reads “der dad i am alrit ere tely very gud i am ok luv besi.’

From Anthony Burgess’s other invented languages.

But today:

Lynch’s reply:

Yet, even the Spectator has began to publish some kind words for unions.

The Spectator has published this …

“Mick Lynch is not a normal union leader in that he is, well, normal. It’s as if he has taken the best bits of previous examples of the job and moulded them into a finished article – the working-classness of a Ron Todd, the temperament of Bill Jordan, the passion of Rodney Bickerstaffe and the wit and wisdom of another rail union leader, Jimmy Knapp, one of the nicest I ever dealt with.”

Still….

Written by Andrew Coates

June 23, 2022 at 4:30 pm

France: Return of the Left. Radical Democratic Socialism Replaces Left Populism.

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The French Left is Back.

The Official results of the first round of the French Parliamentary elections are out.

It is heart-warming to see that a united left has done well. Less encouraging was a record rate of abstention – only 47,51% the electorate voted.

This low-turn out tends to go against the claims of those who, not long ago, were talking of a “post-political” disengagement of people across the world from elections. The reason they claimed was that only varieties of centrist accommodation to neo-liberal globalisation were on offer in the ballot box. France had President Macron’s Ensemble! bloc moping up that vote, and what remains of the classical right outside his fronts and satellites, Les Républicains. Those who reject that consensus could choose the extreme right, and anti-globalist national populists of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National. The sovereigntist RN remains pro-domestic private enterprise, tempered by welfare for nationals, and a strong state. A very different alternative is the united left with a radical democratic green and socialist programme NUPES (Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale).

The reasons for the high stay-away percentage in France have yet to be explored in depth. Some think that once the Presidential election has taken place people lose interest in further contests so close to that election (Macron won in this April) . Others claim that for the Legislative battle the campaign was low-key – though having watched some NUPES meetings live there was plenty of stirring speechs and ideas around. No doubt there are still those around who will claim that the left was not a “real” radical alternative.

There was also a host of minor parties for all tastes and shapes. They include those from Trotskyist parties – the  Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID, Lambertist split from Lambertist POI), 115 candidats, Lutte ouvrière, 553 candidates,  Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) 17 candidats (backing NUPES in many other places),animal rights, Parti animaliste, (429 candidates), the Union des démocrates musulmans français (UMDF, 85 candidates ), and many more.

One point worth noting, Socialists and others who stood ‘dissident’ left candidacies – over 60 of them make little electoral impact, remaining marginalised. (Législatives 2022 : chez Hollande, Le Foll ou Delga, point de salut hors de la Nupes).

This result was even sweeter:

The NUPES alliance did well largely by combining together the left votes. That is by not fragmenting them in competing candidacies. Two probable results stand out, La France insoumise (LF) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon (who did not stand) is likely to win between 95 and 115 seats (in the outgoing Parlement they only held 17) the Green party, Europe écologie les verts (EELV) who do not have MPs in the National Assembly, between 20 and 30 The Socialists, PS appear likely to remain stable at 24-29 as are the Communists (PCF) at 10 to 16 seats.

A few years ago it looked as if parts of the left (not least the PCF but also the PS in their former working class constituencies ) would disappear from the national electoral map, obliterating (whatever one thinks of their historic record) historic links between the French left, the labour movement and its working class origins. While NUPES has found new strength in the diverse new working class and public sector employees in the banlieues of metropolitan France it is good to see the Communists fight the battle of the Second Round face-to-face against the far-right in the North of France (LES DUELS NUPES/RN. l’Humanité).

La Macronie continues to try to thwart the left. According to NUPES, they had the biggest national total, with  6 101 968 votes ( 26,8 %), while the Interior Ministry gives them 5 836 202 votes ( 25,7 %). By coincidence Macron’s Minister’s figure put them second, behind his Boss’s party, Ensemble, 5 857 561 25,75%……

This has not pleased NUPES:

Then there is a row over whether Macron’s bloc will call for a vote for the left if they are standing alone against the far-right in the Second Round…Known as the Front Républicain a dispute broke out last night on this issue:

Macron’s side have at least partially backtracked, after saying they would decide, ‘case by case’. Others will vote – in such duels – left against the far-right. But the state of play on this topic seems to change from hour to hour.

The character of the new left bloc that has emerged will be clearer after next week’s run-off elections. But as observers are already noting, the effect of what the Tendance and others called “Mélenchon’s toning down (of) his left-populist rhetoric about “federating the people” against the “elite”, “la caste” beyond political divisions” is sinking in. Some might wonder also how far the claim to be standing in the perspective of being a Prime Minister was serious…

For academic and populist theorisers of Mélenchon, restricted circles it is true – in France his admirers are more enchanted by his citations of Victor Hugo’s poetry than explications of the new ‘ère du peuple‘ – this turn about will be hard. All those years of mastering the jargon of left populism – the “discourse theory” of Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (on the creation and articulations of the People, ‘affects’, the signifier ‘democracy in the political imaginary, the Enemy), said to be, if not the inspirer of his strategy, or an adviser of his Movement at least a fellow left populist thinker. The time reading and listening to  the LFI leader’s own call to Federate the People against La Caste, the Oligarchy, his celebration of the Bolivarian Revolution, and ‘charismatic leaders’, not to mention Mélenchon’s call for a ‘Citizens’ Revolution’ in the Hexagon, (1) all that seems from the remote, antiquated, fading past…..

*****

(1) “Les formules sur la révolution citoyenne, l’insurrection citoyenne ont disparu du texte commun. 

C’est le chapitre sur les questions de désobéissance à l’Europe qui ont a été le plus profondément modifié, ce qui confirme le rôle des institutions européennes dans le verrouillage néolibéral de toute politique. Toutes les mesures de blocages prévues par AEC, l’utilisation du droit de véto, la désobéissance aux règles européennes, sont limitées et tournées vers la volonté de « faire bifurquer les politiques européennes », de travailler à modifier les règles incompatibles avec le programme en étant « prêts à ne pas respecter certaines règles ».

Au plan international, un chapitre sur l’OTAN est fondamentalement modifié : le retrait du commandement militaire et par étapes de l’organisation sont supprimés du texte commun (sauf pour le PCF et LFI)..dans lesquels est réitérée la volonté de renforcer et démocratiser l’ONU.

Législatives (France) : De l’Avenir en Commun au programme de la NUPES, quelles évolutions ?
LE MOAL Patrick