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Posts Tagged ‘European Left

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.”

 

French Socialist Party Right-wing Commits Suicide: former Socialist PM Manuel Valls Backs Macron.

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Image result for Valls soutien macron video

Renegade Socialist PM Valls Backs Macron.

Former Socialist PM Valls backs centrist Macron for French presidency. France 24.

French former Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Wednesday he would vote for centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron rather than Socialist contender Benoît Hamon, who had trounced him in a left-wing primary earlier this year.

Valls, a Socialist himself, said the election was wide-open and he would to do all he could to ensure that far-right leader Marine Le Pen, second-placed in opinion polls, did not clinch power on May 7.

“I’m not going to take any risks,” Valls told BFM TV.

Macron, who quit the Socialist government last year to run as an independent, has drawn support from politicians on both sides of the political spectrum and is favoured by opinion polls to win the election.

Valls is only the latest in a string of prominent Socialists who have deserted Hamon, the party’s embattled candidate.

He had previously pledged to respect the outcome of the primary organised by France’s ruling party in January, in which he was surprisingly – and decisively – defeated by Hamon.

More in English: BBC, Guardian,

The latter point is taken up by Libération: Valls sans hésitation, (Valls,….Waltz…without Hesitating…)

Valls avait promis qu’il se soumettrait à la discipline élémentaire de la primaire (sans laquelle elle n’a aucun sens). Il fait exactement le contraire. Un double cas d’école. Ou un Manuel du reniement.

Valls had promised to respect the elementary discipline of the Primary (without which the contest would have been senseless). He’s done exactly the opposite. A double lesson. Or a Manual (Manuel..) of denial.

Comrade Laurent Joffrin lists some of the Socialists who have proceeded Valls in the Macron rush, and  cites a previous betrayal in French politics, Chirac’s switch of support from his own party to Giscard in 1974, an act which, following nomination as PM, allowed the future President to take control and stab, in turn,  Giscard in the back.

Macon, Joffrin notes, is unlikely to reward his renegades so handsomely.

In the meantime the Socialist Party, whose candidate, Hamon is not doing at all well in the opinion polls, risks “exploding” under centrifugal pressure. (il faudrait encore que le PS n’éclate pas sous les poussées centrifuges des uns et des autres).

More in the latter vein here (le Monde): Valls choisit Macron, quitte à faire imploser le Parti socialiste.

Libé continues, Valls vote Macron et coupe les ponts avec le PS.

Burning his bridges with the Socialists Valls claimed that his support for Macron lay in the dangers represented by  the Front National. Briefly. Then he launched into a tirade against the following targets: from the PS candidate Benoît Hamon and his allies, the “frondeurs socialistes”, not to mention President François Hollande and the moderate social democrat Martine Aubry who has backed left-winger Hamon.

Evoking the ‘risks’ for France represented by Marine Le Pen Valls declared that his renegacy was justified in terms of his intimate acquaintance with the superior national interest, which is above party,  “L’intérêt supérieur de la France va au-delà des règles d’un parti».

Those with a strong stomach can read the full article via the link above.

You can watch Valls make his declaration on BFMTV, “Valls soutient Macron“.

There are signs of a re-alignment on the left.

Some on the French left welcome this treason, freeing Hamon from the ball and chain of the authoritarian, right-wing and unpopular Valls.

Emmanuel Macron: in the “battlefield” against Populists in French Presidential Elections?

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Image result for emmanuel macron affiche en marche

After the Dutch election, national populism is said to have another chance to make an impact in Europe in the French Presidential contest at the end of April (first round). Wilders may have been seen off in Holland but Marine Le Pen, who claims to promote the French “people” (in jobs, ‘priorité nationale’) against uncontrolled “mondialisation” (globalisation) the “elites” of the European Union. She leads the polls, with majority backing in the manual and administrative working class. The Front National’s chances may have been increased by the scandals that have all but wiped out the hopes of victory of Les Republicans’ candidate, François Fillon. It is claimed that many of the once favoured right-wing party’s supporters, feeling that their man has been the victim of a judges’ plot, filled with spite, and underlying affinity, could vote for the Front National in the decisive second round.

For some on the left of centre the candidacy of Emmanuel Macron, a liberal, economically and socially, centrist, “progressive” even a ““centrist populist” now represents the most effective riposte to the far right. A sizable chunk of the Parti Socialiste (PS) right and socially liberal personalities in the wider left orbit, have smiled on his candidacy. Polls suggest he may come close to Le Pen in the April ballot, and, with transfers from all sides of the political spectrum, though notably from left supporters, could win the two-horse play off in May.

A Bulwark against National Populism?

For some commentators Macron could be at the crest of a wave of modernising politics that may be able not just to defeat Marine le Pen but set an example to others on how to overwhelm nationalist populism. For others it could pave the way for an international renewal of the centre, or the ‘centre left’, including the one time dominant modernisers inside social democratic parties This has resonance in Britain, where Liberal Democrats gush admiration, former Social Democratic Party stalwart,  Polly Toynbee has fully endorsed him as a bulwark against Marine Le Pen, disappointed Labour leadership candidate, Liz Kendall is said to admire Macron, as has former Europe Minister Denis MacShane, who sees him as standing up to Euroscepticism, and would no doubt enlist him in the battle to rehabilitate Tony Blair’s record in government.

It is tempting to think of, or to dismiss, Macron as a political entrepreneur, a “personality”, the creator of a “start up”, a political firm (Candidate Macron Jeremy Harding. London Review of Books. 15.3.17). Others have concentrated on attacking his “empty words” (discours creux), and efforts to appeal to all, strongly criticising French colonialism, while offering a dialogue with the ultra-conservatives of ‘Sens commun’, if not further right.

These, together with an elitist education and high-powered insider employment (from the heights of the State to Banking) are important facets of Macron’s character, and his present politics revolved around that personality. But this is to ignore the reasons why this candidacy is unsettling the Parti Socialiste. The former Minister of the Economy (2014 – 2016) under PS Premier Manuel Valls, with, from time to time, most clearly from 2006 – 2009, membership of the Socialists, he was marked out for the economic side of his “social liberalism”. Macron promoted the maximum loosening of labour protection in the El Khomri  labour law, and advanced his own proposals for wider economic reform.

A Tool Against Hamon.

The left outside of France was more interested in Socialist Party critics of the El Khomri law, the “frondeurs” for whom this summed up their dissatisfaction with Manuel Valls and François Hollande’s market reform and fiscal policies. But Macron could be said to be embody the breakaway of the opposite side of the “synthesis” that held the government together between the Prime Minister’s authoritarian modernisation and those with socialist and social democratic values. In this sense En marche! is a handy tool against the present candidate of the Parti Socialiste, Benoît Hamon, the left-wing ‘frondeur’ now representing the Party, with the support of the Greens, EELV and the small, but traditional ally of the Socialists, the Parti Radical de gauche.

The development of Marcon’s campaign bears looking at through this angle. Briefly, in 2016, Macron wished the outgoing President, François Hollande, to stand again. Perhaps heeding Valls’ own judgement that the divisions within the Left, including those inside his own party, were “irreconcilable” he founded his movement En marche! in April that year, as his personal ambition – were it possible – became more assertive, he was obliged to leave the government in the summer.

It is at this point that a programme publicly emerged. Relying on the authority of an economist he has now revived the deregulating, “working with grain of globalisation” “skills and competitiveness” economics of the 1990s centre left. In this vein the central elements of the electoral platform of En marche!, his “contract with France” (Retrouver notre esprit de conquête pour bâtir une france nouvelle) calls to “Libérer le travail et l’esprit d’entreprise” by lowering social charges and doing away with obsolete regulation. His priorities, if in power, are, he has announced to Der Spiegel, (March 17th)

Three major reforms: The labor market must be opened, we need improved vocational training programs and the school system needs to support equal opportunity again.

For Europe.

France must restore its credibility by reforming the labour market and getting serious about its budget.

(and, this precondition fulfilled…)

Much deeper integration within the eurozone.

Just beneath the surface language, which evokes a meld of promoting a “core” Europe (negotiated after a ‘hard Brexit“….)  and French patriotic feelings it’s not hard to discover the economic liberalism that Marcel Gauchet has described as fixing the limits of what is politically possible (Comprendre le malheur français 2016). Macron’s core proposals could be said to be an internalisation of the reduction of state action to the needs of economic actors.

This is more than the traditional call to cut red tape. It is for a shake up of labour laws that El Khomri only began. The dream of much of French business, right-wing politicians, and pundits, but some on the PS right is apparently now possible because, Macron believes, we are in “extraordinary times”  The wish that France could follow other European countries and make a clean sweep of all the laws and protections that ‘burden’ the land’s labour market, and revive the dream of ‘flexibility’ to meet the global challenge, had found its voice again. Perhaps it is no coincidence that a large section of the programme entitled “a State that Protects” is not devoted to welfare but to giving people a sense of security through the protection of the Police and Security services.

Beyond this constituency is Macron a newly minted saviour for the centre? He declares his movement, “transpartisan”. As Thomas Guénolé, author of the witty, Petit Guide du Mensonge en Politique (A Brief Guide to Political Lies. 2014) points out in Le Monde, his “révolution par le centre” bears comparison with former President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s “advanced liberalism” in the 1970s (Le macronisme est un nouveau giscardisme. 16.3.17). They have a shared admiration for the Swedish social model, hard, then as now, to translate in French terms, an identical privileged background, and support for social and economic liberalisation against socialism or, today, ‘collectivism’.

It is difficult to see how this brand of “reformism” will marry welfare, and liberal economics. How “progressive” politics will deal with mass unemployment and the problems of the banlieue that successive modernising French governments of the right and left over last four decades have not resolved remains to be seen. Holding hands across the French social and political divide is unlikely to be the answer.

All Have Won, All Must Have Prizes!

The telegenic Macron would no doubt wish to begin the Presidency, transcending “party lines”,  by announcing, “The Race is over! Everybody has won and all must have prizes! But who will award the trophies? What other forces will there be to do the job in the National Assembly, whose election takes place immediately afterwards and which forms the basis of a President’s Cabinet?

The scramble to secure government posts and positions on Macron’s hypothetical list of candidates for the Legislative elections, is accompanied by the refusal of former Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls (despite his own record of less than easy relations with the leader of En marche!) to back his own party’s candidate Benoît Hamon.

Longer-standing political facts intervene at this point. While this hastily formed ‘trans-party’ may well get some candidates elected it is unlikely to win a majority in Parliament. As Guénolé points out, in order to establish his power properly Giscard had made a choice to ally with the right, the Gaullist party. Macron, while enjoying the backing of well-known individuals and small groups like the present incarnation of Giscardianism headed by François Bayrou and his MoDems, has yet to choose between an alliance with the real players: Les Républicans (LR) or the Parti Socialiste.

Either choice carries risks. The former agreement could end like that of the British Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, alienating liberal opinion. The latter would run up against the left, including not just the Hamon wing of the Socialists but those further to his left.

We might ask if, and it remains an if, Macron becomes President, if the results of his programme, which subordinate politics to the economy, would really mean in the words of his programme, that everybody would be have more control over their own destiny and that people would be able to live better together (‘chacun maîtrise davantage son destin et que nous vivions tous mieux ensemble‘) Standing against this possible future two left candidates, Hamon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, both in their different ways, offer to put economics in the service of politics. But that needs a further analysis…..

See also this,  French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s ‘anti-system’ angle is a sham 

Latest Opinion Polls.

Présidentielle: Le Pen et Macron au coude-à-coude, Fillon distancé 

French Presidential Hopeful Jean-Luc Mélenchon Leads “Citizens’ Uprising” in Paris.

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Image result for pour la VIe République. melenchon photos

TricoloresMarseillaise, l’Internationale, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Far-left French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon gathered tens of thousands of supporters in Paris at a rally Saturday calling for deep reforms in the French constitution. France 24.

Melenchon, who wants to shorten France’s 35-hour workweek, leave NATO, block free-trade deals and stop using nuclear energy, has pledged to summon a constituent assembly if he wins the election.

The 65-year-old former Socialist who previously served as minister for vocational training often depicts himself as the candidate of the people. He promises to get rid of what he calls the “presidential monarchy” and give more power to parliament.

The gathering Saturday between two iconic squares in the French capital – the Place de La Bastille and Place de la Republique – took place on the anniversary of the Paris Commune, an alliance between the middle and working classes who broke into revolt on the 18th of March 1871 in the wake of the collapse of Napoleon III’s Second Empire.

Melenchon was greeted to chants of “President! President!” as he joined the cortege. He later claimed on his Twitter account that 130,000 people had attended.

Melenchon, who is supported by the Communist party, has so far struggled to make his campaign take off. Opinion polls suggest he has no chance of making it to the second round of France’s presidential ballot on May 7.

Melenchon and his Socialist rival Benoit Hamon are running neck-and-neck in opinion polls, but well behind far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative hopeful Francois Fillon.

Emmanuel Macron et Marine Le Pen au coude-à-coude.

Both Melenchon and Hamon have criticized Socialist President Francois Hollande’s austerity politics but have failed to join forces in the presidential race.

The first round of the French presidential vote will be held on April 23, with the two top vote-getters there going into a presidential runoff ballot on May 7.

With becoming modesty Mélenchon called the rally a “Citizens’ Uprising” and declared, “Voici notre maxime : quel que soit le problème, la solution est le peuple.” Here’s our motto: whatever the Problem, the People are the Solution.

Image result for Power to the People wolfie smith

Organisers claimed over 130,000 attended.

Mélenchon : «Ceci est une manifestation politique, une insurrection citoyenne»

The figures given by Mélenchon’s organisation are not universally accepted.

Le camp Mélenchon se moque des chiffres de la manifestation de Fillon mais… Huffington Post.

Difficile d’affirmer que la place de la République comptait quatre personnes au m2.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 19, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Dutch Elections: No Breakthrough in Sight for anti-EU Socialistische Partij.

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https://www.sp.nl/sites/default/files/styles/page_section_float_337/public/fb-kandidaten-a.png?itok=TAdcNLRh

Radical left Socialist Party remains stuck at 13-16%

Dutch elections: Polls open amid fears of far-right surge led by Geert Wilders’s PVV party

The focus of Wilders obviously dominates the news but we should also ask,  how are other parties and the left faring in Holland?

Tom Louwerse Leiden University summarises the position for the Dutch Left.

The 2017 Netherlands election: Polls suggest mid-sized parties are now the new norm in Dutch politics

On the left of the political spectrum, the Labour Party (PvdA) is the big loser. Its electoral decline started right after the 2012 elections in which they gained 24.8% of the vote. Within a year that was reduced to under 10% in the polls and it has remained at this relatively low level of support ever since, currently polling around 8%.

The other parties on the left seem unable to profit from this loss. The Socialist Party (SP) is the only opposition party that has not gained support compared to the last election, with the party polling around 8%. The Green Party (GL) is recovering from its poor 2012 showing: from around 2% then to around 9% now. Still, this is only a 7 percentage point increase, while the Labour Party has lost 17%.

Some of these votes seem to be going to the Democrats (D66), a ‘social-liberal’ centre party (currently at 10%), according to an analysis by Ipsos. And parties like 50PLUS (which targets the elderly), CDA and PVV also win over smaller numbers of former PvdA voters. But a sizeable share of 2012 PvdA-voters are now saying they will not vote or do not know who to vote for. Whether they will really stay at home or will eventually decide to vote for the PvdA anyway, might impact the size of the PvdA’s losses.

There is no clear front-runner on the left of the political spectrum. If such a party will emerge in the next few weeks, it might attract some strategic voters who would like to see at least one strong left-wing party that has a good chance of being part of the next government.”

A few years ago there were predictions that the Dutch Socialist Party, Socialistische Partij, was set to become a major political force in Holland. But, despite its hope in 2012 that the SP would overtake the Labour Party in the 2012 elections, what happened was ” the sudden collapse in support for the party during the final weeks of the campaign(for an overview see: The Dutch Elections and the Socialist Party. Daniel Finn. New Left Review. 77. 2012).

Despite the same  Labour Party (PvDA) now entering a prolonged crisis, with some predicting its marginalisation, the SP has not grown.

As Wikipedia states, “As of 2016 the ruling VVD-PvdA coalition has meant that the PvdA lost a huge part of its base. In the polls, the party currently stands at around 12 seats, losing 26, which has been a stable position for the last three years.[16] Despite that, the SP has gained little to nothing, remaining stable at around 16 seats in the same polls.”

From the site of the Dutch Socialist Party.

In terms of membership the SP, with more than 43.000 members, is the third biggest party in the Netherlands. Only the Christian Democrats (CDA) and Labour Party (PvdA) are bigger, but the gap is narrowing!

Members of the SP come from all walks of life. Factory workers and students, nurses and maintenance engineers, accountants and civil servants, school students and pensioners all work together in our party. Every member is part of a local branch and can participate in decision-making at branch meetings. Each branch chooses its own executive, nominates candidates for elected office and sends delegates to the Congress. On this basis the SP’s national organs – the Party Executive, the Party Council and the Congress – are also democratically elected and controlled.

The SP is represented at all levels in Dutch politics and in the European Parliament. We have fifteen Members in the 150-seat ‘Tweede Kamer’ (corresponding to the House of Commons or House of Representatives), eight in the Eerste Kamer (the Senate), two in the European Parliament and about 500 representatives on city and local councils and in provincial assemblies. The SP forms part of the local governing coalitions of forty municipalities, some of which belong to the largest Dutch municipalities. As of 2011 the SP also participates in governing coalitions in two of the Netherlands’ twelve provinces.

Participation in national government is considered only a matter of time.

The SP’s elected representatives donate their allowances to the party, and are reimbursed only for certain out-of-pocket, receipted costs. The surplus helps to cover the party’s activities. Representatives working for the party full time receive a modest professional salary.

Roemer: close door on ‘Sultan’ Erdoğan’s propaganda circus

In the view of SP leader Emile Roemer, there should be no place in the Netherlands for the bizarre propaganda circus that Turkish president Recep Erdoğan is touring around Europe in the runup to a referendum which may give him almost unlimited power.

Roemer argues that Erdoğan has been handled with kid gloves for far too long. “We have long tried to persuade the government that the talks over EU accession for Turkey should be suspended,” he recalls. “The fact that Erdoğan has no interest in the rule of law isn’t something that has only just emerged. He’s previously packed all of his prisons with journalists and even locked up elected representatives of the people.

“The last few days have shown us that the Turkish government is incapable of making agreements which you can trust. It’s audacious nonsense to insult the entire Netherlands while at the same time stoking up conflicts and turning people against the country in which they live, then calling on the principle of freedom of expression. That’s not how it works. Turkey should not be interfering in our domestic affairs. The situation is confirming what the SP has been saying for years, that we must be fully committed to combatting Ankara’s attempts to influence Dutch citizens.”

23 Jan 2017

Large-scale unregulated labour migration puts pressure on wages

The opening of the borders to central and eastern European (CEE) workers just a decade ago has led to labour market dislocation in the countries from which people have been attracted and repression, exploitation and underpayment in the Netherlands. The SP wants to see rogue temping agencies banned and work permits introduced for workers from CEE countries.

by Tijmen Lucie

The opening of the borders to central and eastern European (CEE) migrant workers has, particularly in sectors such as construction, horticulture, road transport and the food industry, led to repression and exploitation. Rogue temping agencies have had a free hand in putting people, especially those from central and eastern Europe, to work at low wages, using a number of dubious legal constructions. In this way worker is set against worker, wages are forced down and working conditions deteriorate.

The SP’s 10-point plan to combat oppression, exploitation and underpayment.

We halt at point 1.

  1. The Netherlands must take back control over who can come here from CEE countries to work. Free movement of workers must be scrapped. Employers should be required once again to apply for a permit if they wish to employ workers from CEE.

This stand has some history:

Dutch advance socialist case against immigration Nov 24, 2008 Neil Clark

Whether the SP’s present impasse is due to problems with the low level of labour movement activity, the “comparative dearth of social mobilization in recent years” (which like in the UK, has been in a downward spiral for some time),  the – unconvincing –  strategy of “revolutionary reformism”, and the impermeability of Dutch politics and civil society to radical left ideas,  as Finn (above) indicates, or that they’ve been sidelined by Wilders’ brand of national populism,  are matters for debate.

During the British EU Referendum the far-right Express reported,

Harry van Bommel, MP for Holland’s Socialist Party, told Express.co.uk: “If Britain leaves, that will give other countries courage.

“So now debate is beginning in the Netherlands about having a referendum on EU membership.

“We cannot go on the way we are – financing Greece, trying to keep countries in the eurozone. The eurozone will break up eventually.”

GHarry van Bommel says Brexit will give Holland ‘courage’

He added: “Because we’re in the euro, Dutch people see budget cuts, unemployment going up, and they relay that to the EU.

“Everyone knows the Commissioners in Brussels make €25,000 (£19,500) a month, yet pensions go down and the pension age goes up.

“These facts make the EU very unpopular. People distrust Europe and some people even hate Europe – it’s in an existential crisis.”

Van Bommel campaigns against a trade deal with Ukraine

Earlier this year the Netherlands overwhelmingly rejected a controversial EU proposal to remove trade barriers with Ukraine.

More than 61 per cent voted against the idea, with Dutch leader Mark Rutte admitting ratification of the treaty “cannot go ahead”.

But Eurocrats have ignored the result and claimed the deal will be adopted “very soon”, sparking a furious outcry from Eurosceptics.

What is clear now is that the SP’s anti-European Union and anti-migrant labour policies have been taken up, let’s just say (see last sentence), elsewhere.

The stagnation of the Dutch Socialist Party International Socialism. Issue: 151  22nd June 2016.Max van Lingen

Written by Andrew Coates

March 15, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Socialist Worker: Racism “not main factor in Brexit Vote” and Brexit backing Trump not same thing as ..Brexit..

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Image result for Trump Brexit

Nothing to do with Brexit, says Socialist Worker Alternative News Factory.

Don’t lump together Brexit and Trump.

Socialist Worker. 21.2.2017.

There’s no shortage of things to be angry about at the moment—especially when it comes to racism and attacks on Muslims and migrants.

It can be hard to keep track of the outrages committed by US president Donald Trump.

And in Britain many politicians think the vote to leave the European Union (EU) is an opportunity to attack migrants and end freedom of movement.

Yet Trump and Brexit are not the same thing—and we shouldn’t lump them together.

There are similarities between the two. They both happened because sections of working class people kicked back at mainstream politicians after decades of attack.

Myths

Some did swallow racist myths pushed from the top of society.

But there is a major difference. There could never be a progressive case for supporting Donald Trump—but there has always been a left wing and anti-racist case against the EU.

Socialist Worker campaigned to leave the EU because it has enforced austerity and locked out refugees fleeing war and poverty.

It’s not true that the main factor behind the Leave vote was racism against migrants—as polls keep showing.

It was a way of punishing the elite and mainstream politicians.

There’s an anti-establishment feeling in Britain that can be turned into resistance.

But to do that means connecting with people’s anger—not dismissing it as racist.

It is no doubt important to emphasise that Trump, who strongly backed Brexit, is not Brexit, nor indeed is he Paul Nuttall, nor was he present, like Nuttall at the Battle of Hastings.

Yet one suspects that the SWP are stung by the loud noises of celebration coming from the Trump camp, and far-rightists around the world, from Marine Le Pen onwards, at the British vote to Leave.

It would be interesting to see the data that shows that the main factor behind the Brexit  was “a way of punishing the elite and mainstream politics.”

It would be also interesting to see a Marxist analysis of the ‘elite’, what class it is, and indeed what an ‘elite’ in the UK is.

It would be perhaps too much to expect an account of how leaving the EU, and attacking migrants’ rights (in the UK and, for UK citizens within continental Europe)  and ending freedom of movement within its frontiers, is going bring borders down and help, “locked out refugees fleeing war and poverty”.

No doubt the “The EU’s Frontex border guards stop refugees entering Europe by land – forcing them to risk their lives at sea.” will disappear as the UK……. sets up its own border guards.

How Brexit  was going to be part of the the fight against austerity by consolidating power in the hands of the right-wingers now in charge of the UK Sovereign state, opening up the way for future trade agreements with the pro-Brexit nationalist Trump, is one of those mysteries of the dialectic.

One that shouting that Trump is not Brexit, and an analysis based on “kicking back” at elites, is not going to unravel.

As for people’s reasons for the Leave vote.

This is a synthesis of many studies (Wikipedia).

On the day of the referendum Lord Ashcroft‘s polling team questioned 12,369 people who had completed voting. This poll produced data that showed that ‘Nearly half (49%) of leave voters said the biggest single reason for wanting to leave the European Union was “the principle that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK”.”

Lord Ashcroft’s election day poll of 12,369 voters also discovered that ‘One third (33%) [of leave voters] said the main reason was that leaving “offered the best chance for the UK to regain control over immigration and its own borders.”’[8]

Immediately prior to the referendum data from Ipsos-Mori showed that immigration/migration was the most cited issue when Britons were asked ‘What do you see as the most/other important issue facing Britain today?’ with 48% of respondents mentioning it when surveyed.

In the SWP’s Alternative News Factory the third who were plainly anti-migrant have vanished, nor any consideration that this may have been a reason, if not the principal one, for a Brexit vote.

Perhaps the writers for Socialist Worker were asleep when the torrent of anti-migrant propaganda was unleashed in the country.

Now, how exactly  is the SWP going to relate to the “anti-establishment” demand that motivated the others  that “decisions taken in the UK should be taken in the UK” by these people ‘angry at the elites’?

 

Momentum’s Crisis: Serious Debate Breaks Out.

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Image result for chesterfield socialist conference

From Socialist Movement to…..Momentum?

“Momentum exists to build on the energy and enthusiasm from the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader campaign to increase participatory democracy, solidarity, and grassroots power and help Labour become the transformative governing party of the 21st century.”

A common assumption on the Labour Left, so deep rooted that it almost never said, is that the main failure of previous Parliamentary left groupings is that they needed organisation in the country. At the back of their minds I imagine are the “Brains Trusts” set up up in support of Bevan’s ideas in the 1950s, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy in the 70s and 80s, and the Socialist Movement.

If the first had problems in moblising and co-ordinating with the Parliamentary left around  Aneurin Bevan and his (dispersed) successors, the second was and is a grass-roots body focused on labour constitutional issues (MP re-selection), NEC elections,  the third came closest to the Social Movement model some saw in Momentum.

The Socialist Movement grew out of the Socialist Conferences held in Chesterfield, Sheffiled and Manchester, in the years following the defeat of liners’ strike. Initiators included the Socialist Society, an organisation of left intellectuals including Raymond Williams,  Richard Kuper, and Ralph Miliband, the Campaign Group, a left-wing group in the Labour Party, the Conference of Socialist Economists, and the network generated by the socialist feminist book Beyond the Fragments. The largest conferences were in 1987 and 1988.

The Socialist Movement was open to different left traditions, green as well as red, for exploratory, grassroots debate and research on socialist policy making.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.

Is Momentum A Socialist Conference bis?

Unlike the Chesterfield events, still cresting the ebbing Bennite wave, its role was not clear from the start.

Is ‘participatory democracy’ channeled into supporting Corbyn the Labour Leader?

That would result in the kind of ‘left populism’ attempted by Jean Luc Mélenchon  in La France Insoumise and (in a different more democratic way) Podemos’s Pablo Iglesias, around a rather unlikely figure, who, to his credit has always refused the role of Chief around which everything else revolves.

Or does it mean trying to work in the policy areas that the Socialist Movement tried to think out? Given that Labour seems short of clear policies on a variety of issues – the Welfare state, a recent announcement of a group looking into Basic Income might be one sector where Momentum could contribute?

What structures does it have for this purpose?

Does it mean taking up issues of ‘grassroots power’, which many would take to imply changing the Labour Party’s present make-up with a “movement” that moblises on more than electoral issues?

Or is to be a kind of super Bevanite Brain’s Trust, that Bean never managed to hook up with, that can carry Corbyn’s message from the party into the country?

These are just some of the background issues behind the present crisis in Momentum.

The most recent Workers’ Liberty carries this exchange:  A debate about Momentum   (Solidarity. 15.2.17).

“This explanation by Jon Lansman of recent events in Momentum was circulated in the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. Since it contains nothing confidential, and is the only political explanation available from the Momentum leadership other than the article by Christine Shawcroft in Labour Briefing (Feb 2017), which we replied to last week, we reprint it here.”

Jon Lansman.

I wanted also to counter the lies and misinformation which are widely repeated by sectarian elements on the Left who wish to turn Momentum from a broad alliance it was intended to be, seeking to maintain the broad centre-left coalition that elected Jeremy Corbyn to support his administration, democratise the party along the lines long advocated by CLPD, and help Labour win elections into a hard-Left organisation reminiscent of the LRC designed to put pressure on Jeremy from the left.

There has been no “coup” within Momentum, though there had been an attempt over the last year by various Trotskyist and other sectarian organisations to use Momentum local groups, often at the cost of driving away non-aligned activists, as a basis for seizing control of regional networks and the former national committee of Momentum. It became very clear how wide the disparity had become between these bodies and the membership of Momentum from the survey conducted in conjunction with a pre-Christmas message from Jeremy Corbyn.

Lansman takes account of what observers have predicted for months, that a National Momentum Conference risked becoming a sectarian bear-pit,

  • We could battle for two months in the run up to a planned national delegate conference narrowly foisted on the national committee — with some delegates who disagreed being forced to vote in favour in spite of having been elected by STV in order to preserve the pluralism of regional representatives, which would inevitably have undermined efforts to maximise left representation at this year’s conference, support local Momentum activists in preparing for CLP AGMs, and mobilise for by-elections and a possible early general election.
  • We could avoid this internal battle, by calling immediate elections for a new national body based on a new constitution reflecting the wishes of members as revealed in the survey and circulated for agreement of members in the way we would have had to do at some point anyway.

Avoiding this predictable fight was the goal.

This is something critics have to grapple with.

Lansman  also notes,

I have personally been subjected to appalling abuse to which it is difficult to respond without simply perpetuating their attempt to personalise “blame” for the alleged wrongs of which they unfairly accuse me. I regret that Martin [Thomas] has chosen to act in this way. I have worked with him within CLPD since the early 1980s. I have done so because he and his colleagues from Socialist Organiser, as his organisation was originally known, showed a genuine commitment to CLPD they never showed to the LRC or any other left organisations in which they pursued the opportunistic self-interested methods we are used to from all Trotskyist sects.

I halt at this point because there is little doubt that Jon Lansman is absolutely right to complain about the abuse.

This is how one of his leading critics, Tony Greenstein, thought by some people to be a “genius” described his action in promoting an on-line survey of Momentum members,  all too recently ( Jon Lansman’s Xmas Punch Could Sucker Corbyn)

There is a reason that dictators have always loved plebiscites.  That is because they get to choose the questions and to frame them in such a way that they get the ‘right’ answer. Most people won’t remember Hitler’s plebiscites on the Rhine and the Saarland but they haven’t had a very good reputation ever since.

Greenstein some might say is a special case, whose vitriol is hurled  at present lie at another target:  Owen Jones – the Final Betrayal – Supporting Zionist Apartheid & the Jewish Labour Movement.  Supporting Israeli Apartheid and the Palestinians is not compatible.

But he is far from alone.

It would take a moment’s Googling to find more abuse.

Now Alan Thomas is, from the AWL, a respected activist and writer, but his reply on this point, is not convincing,

Jon Lansman identifies “sectarian elements” almost entirely with us (“Trotskyists”), but at the same time finds these “sectarians” so numerous among Momentum’s 21,000 members that the clash can be resolved only by abolishing Momentum democracy. At stake here is no “sectarianism” of ours, but the issue of what socialism is and how it can be won.

The liberation of the working class can be won only by a vivid movement where each participant is a lively contributor with her or his own ideas; which is full of bouncy debate; in which even the deepest prejudices and the most revered leaders are subject to question. In a new movement like Momentum, we have reasoned patiently and tactfully, rather than bloviating.

I leave to one side the claims about the AWL, often made by people with their own political – ‘sectarian’ agenda.

The fact is that if we can define sectarians at all – a hard task –  it is that they are loudmouths who are in a permanent storm of self-righteous attack.

Often they come out of the pages of William Hazlitt’s People with One Idea,

People of the character here spoken of, that is, who tease you to death with some one idea, generally differ in their favourite notion from the rest of the world; and indeed it is the love of distinction which is mostly at the bottom of this peculiarity.

Table Talk : Essays on Men and Manners (1821 -22)

Other times they are loyal simply to their faction, with no other loyalties.

Those familiar with the left could write a new essay, People with Too Many Correct Ideas…

One is always the Other Sectarian for a Sectarian…..

But I digress…

There are many other problems about Momentum, but whether they are numerous or not, they are still loud. Shouty. And, in Greenstein’s case – I single him out for his visibility but he is far from alone –  highly unpleasant.

Greenstein and another ‘anti-Zionist’. Gerry Downing, are very active in the Momentum Grassroots Moblising Conference. 

This is what the former says, “Lansman’s Momentum is destined for the knackers yard because without democracy you cannot have a movement.”

More simply many people do not want to become involved in a shouting match between different left groups, or, if it happens on more cordial terms, a struggle for influence.

Alan is nevertheless spot on to comment,

Yet Momentum would have contributed more, not less, if it had actively promoted a left Remain vote, free movement across borders, opposition to Trident renewal. It would be stronger now if its national office as well as its local groups had campaigned in support of workers’ disputes like at Picturehouse, and for the NHS. It would have done better if (as we urged) it had organised a presence at Labour conference 2016. It would be healthier if it had had a proper discussion on left antisemitism (in which Jon Lansman and we would have been broadly on the same side), rather than trying to quell the issue administratively. All those things are not “sectarian” caprices, but would have happened if Momentum had been allowed to develop “normally”, democratically.

This is something that Lansman ignores, many people on the democratic left, and this includes the AWL agree on these policies.

We certainly need a voice for them.

Alan may equally well be often right to say,

The new imposed constitution is out of line even with the (heavily manipulated) online survey over Christmas. That suggested decisions by online voting of all members. Under the new constitution, online votes can scarcely even stall office decisions in extreme cases. Real power rests with the office and with a seldom-meeting “coordinating group” in which only 12 out of 28 or 32 places are elected by Momentum members.

10 January was a coup. Imagine its analogue in general politics: Theresa May declares that, on the strength of a 50%-plus-one majority got in an hour’s emailing round the Cabinet, she is abolishing Cabinet, Parliament, and an imminent general election in favour of office rule plus a future “coordinating group” in which elected citizens’ representatives are a minority. Or, if that’s too much, imagine the analogue in any other left movement. Despite it all, Momentum’s local groups will continue to organise, and I don’t think the panic-stricken officials can stop them.

But the real issue is not an organisational form, and behind that whether this or that factional grouping, or alliance, is competing for power in the structures.

It is what aims and functions  does Momentum have beyond rallying support for Corbyn.

Nothing that’s happened so far has disproved the judgement of many left-wingers that clear goals, from ‘think tank’ policy-formulating (that is as a pressure group within Labour with specific ideas), and a hook between Labour and a variety of campaigns (such as Stop Trump!, or union disputes) already have vehicles in Constituency parties, Trades Councils and other bodies.

Many of us are all in favour of Momentum finding some way out of this dispute, a modus vivendi.

But…..

Momentum includes people like Nick Wrack who state (RETHINKING LABOUR: MORE OF THE SAME OR CHANGE OF COURSE?)

… it is important to recognise that there is a huge difference – a vast chasm – between what is called social democracy and socialism or communism. I use socialism and communism as synonyms for a system that is based on a complete transformation of society, breaking with the present capitalist system and the exploitation of labour to make profit. Socialism is a society based on democratic common ownership of the means of production – land, factories, transport, technology and science. It is a society based on production for social need rather than for private profit.

…..I am now of the opinion that all Marxists should, at the very least, join Momentum. We can play a key role in helping to defend Corbyn and defeating the right. Where possible, therefore, Marxists should also join Labour. This is best done as an organised group, rather than as individuals. The purpose of joining is two-fold: to strengthen the forces in defence of Corbyn and against the rightwing in Labour and the trade unions and to argue for a Marxist ideas in the mass movement around Corbyn. There is no knowing how long this battle may last or what the outcome will be. Those coming into Momentum and into the Labour Party will include thousands of people who simply want change. But many will have no clear idea of what that change should be or how it can be accomplished. Marxists have to engage with the debate. What change? How can it be achieved? What programme is necessary?

So what is he doing trying to join or influence a social democratic party?

Wrack’s position, which is shared by others,  is not so easy to dismiss as the notorious cranks who insult ‘reformists’ , ‘Zionists’ and the rest.

It is, crudely, that Momentum should be a kind of political mill pond for them to fish in to build their ‘Marxist’ line.

Never forgetting the “vast chasm” that separates them from social democracy, that is a very substantial chunk of the Labour Party membership and support.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm