Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Labour Party

Left Bloc at the People’s Vote March: On lâche rien!

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At the Left Bloc Behind the Banner ‘Stop Tory Brexit’ (Photos from Mike H).

After short speeches in Old Park Lane, by a number of people, including Michael Chessum, Hilary Wainwright and Mary Kaldor, hundreds joined the Left Bloc at the People’s Vote March.

It was felt that a serious left presence was needed to show that the ‘another Europe is possible’ can be a political force within anti-Brexit protests, the Labour Party and the labour movement.

The intervention was well received, apart from unfavourable reactions from a few Liberal Democrats.

At the post-Demo discussion and Party in Lambeth, people thanked the organisers’ for their hard work, which had  paid, off.

The strategy is now to build the campaign for a People’s Vote in the Labour Party and the trade unions.

There was serious discussion on the grounded, mass, and worked out alternative to the ‘Lexit’ sovereigntist left which needs to be built.

It was an exceptional day.

The warmth and enthusiasm of the left bloc reminded this writer of one of his favourite film moments – Blue is the Warmest Colour, (Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2).

On lâche rien!

 

People’s Vote march: ‘More than 700,000 protesters’ call for second referendum on Brexit in ‘largest demonstration since Iraq War’

After the March there was a Post-demo Party in Lambeth.

 

 

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Thanks for to the gallery of photos by Mike Hirst.

And (nicked from LM):

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 21, 2018 at 10:46 am

Alan Simpson, latest Labour left-winger to join calls from the Left Against Brexit.

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Alan Simpson is a well known and respected figure on the Labour left, and a Labour MP from 1992 to  2010.

He is is currently the Shadow Chancellor’s Adviser on Sustainable Economics.

Meanwhile, living the dream of a People’s Brexit, Counterfire’s Lindsy German opines,

The crisis for Theresa May and the Tories continues to deepen, their only lifeline would be a second referendum.

Most people will dismiss the claim that a Second Referendum, whatever the problems it poses, would help May’s tottering position.

This is rhetoric.

You can turn the Tory crisis into anything you want, PM

Bojo, Rees Mogg as future Chancellor…..

But it is very hard to see how a Second Referendum, which would be ferociously opposed by her right-wing Brexit mad MPs and a substantial layer of her members, would save her from….them.

German does raise a series of core issues which should be answered.

There will be a number of left wingers on it regardless, promoting the myth that ‘another Europe is possible’. It certainly is, but not if you pin your hopes on the EU. The position of ‘stay in and change the EU’ is simply utopian, since there is no democratic mechanism for doing so, and relies on a wilful refusal to look reality in the face. The growth of the far right in Europe is being fuelled by EU policies, and the resultant victories for far right politicians are blithely accepted in most cases. Flexibility at work, low wages, shameful treatment of migrants, all are deliberate policies from the EU. So it’s not the time to be sowing illusions in it, or giving failed politicians a leg up.

The British state has been shaped into a neoliberal institution – right down to the contracting out of the means to solve some of the mess created by Universal Credit to charities.

The government debt is owned by….bond holders, not the people. One might suggest that this indicates that it has something to do with capitalism.

Flexibility at work conditions has been a goal of successive UK governments; one of the constraints on it have been EU regulations (such as the Working Time Directive).

Did the EU stop Chancellor Merkel – while German’s grotesque Stop the War Coalition stood aside – welcoming Syrian refugees and other asylum seekers,  more than 1.4 million, almost half of the total applications across the bloc  in the last decade?

What are the prospects for democratic control over the economy outside the EU?

You cannot wish away the world economy, ‘globalisation’ and inter-Europe production flows.

People’s Brexiteers, so far as I am aware, do not propose to leave the World Trade Organisation(WTO).

This will be a key body regulating the famous “deals” with other countries in a post-EU UK.

The WTO is ‘neo-liberal’, though the polices of neo-liberal free trade at present caught up in the fall out from the sovereigntist attempts by pro-Brexit Trump to put ‘American First’.

Perhaps Counterfire would support launching a UK First campaign in retaliation.

These are just some responses.

For a more systematic reply to the Brexit Bolsheviks see;

Alena Ivanova and Michael Chessum (THE LEFT AGAINST BREXIT AN INTERNATIONALIST CASE FOR EUROPE. ANOTHER EUROPE IS POSSIBLE)

The British left is at a crossroads unlike any other in its history. Just as the Corbyn moment gives us hope, the Brexit moment presents us with an unprecedented crisis. Domestically, we face an entrenched regime of deregulation combined with an emboldened far right whose anti-immigration narrative has soaked into the mainstream.

The choices we face are not unique to us. From the emerging splits in Germany’s Die Linke to the ‘sovereigntist’ approach of some on the French left, the temptation to give in to the politics of nationalism and border-building is stronger than ever.

Our strategy for battling Brexit and the rising far right starts from an understanding that only the left can win against the encroaching darkness. Only a transformative, socialist vision can compete with the politics of hate and the reality of social crisis. And the agents of change will be workers and ordinary people – in all their diversity – not the morally bankrupt establishment. But what comes next is not just a question of understanding or analysis – it is a question of doing. Intervening into the mechanics of Brexit and trying to stop the train crash seems like an arduous task, but it is essential. The price of defeat would be the biggest expansion of immigration controls in Britain’s recent history, a decimation of  46 THE LEFT AGAINST BREXIT our rights, a deregulatory trading agenda that will make TTIP look progressive, and a major economic crisis.

Here is a further response:

STOP TORY BREXIT – MARCH WITH US ON OCTOBER 20TH

It’s time for the left and the labour movement to mobilise – and take the reigns back from the political establishment.

On October 20th, hundreds of thousands will march to demand that the people are given the final say. We cannot allow the anti-Brexit movement to be dominated by the political establishment.

The time has come for the left to march, with a clear message of hope and solidarity. We will bring a sea of red flags, green flags, placards, flares and banners. Bring your trade union branch, your local Labour Party, your local Green Party, your Momentum group, your activist network.

There is only one kind of Brexit on offer – Tory Brexit. It is an attempt to further deregulate the economy, attack migrants, and undermine the rights and prosperity of working class people. When the Tories talk about “getting rid of the red tape”, he means our environmental standards, maternity pay and human rights.

But the fight to stop Brexit is not a fight for the status quo. We want to build a better society, with a radical social and economic programme, and we want to take on the right wing establishment in Brussels just as much the one in Westminster. We need to end fortress Europe, not build fortress Britain.

Join us on October 20th. Meet from 11am outside the Hard Rock Cafe on Old Park Lane/Piccadilly, W1K 1QZ.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 17, 2018 at 1:13 pm

Bust up on the Labour Left.

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Jewish Voice for Labour Standing Next to….

Labour List reports.

Lansman Slams Left Rival CLPD Slate For Key Disciplinary Committee

Momentum chief Jon Lansman has attacked the slate put forward by left-wing group Campaign for Labour Party Democracy for Labour’s key disciplinary committee.

This morning, CLPD published its slate of candidates – also backed by Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) and the Labour Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (LCND) – in the contest for the national constitutional committee (NCC).

The three left-wing organisations have endorsed Kaneez AktharAnnabelle HarleGary Heather, JVL activist Stephen Marks, lawyer Khaled Moyeed and Cecile Wright.

But Lansman tweeted his disapproval of the South East/London-centrism of the CLPD slate, adding: “I regret that CLPD launched their campaign today without agreement.” Pre-empting a meeting due to be held later today, he confirmed that Momentum would be supporting a different set of NCC candidates.

Momentum were in negotiations with CLPD and other Labour left groups to put together a single left-wing NCC slate and were surprised by the CLPD announcement this morning, LabourList understands.

The Momentum chair’s open criticism of CLPD follows a row held during the summer over the candidacy of Pete Willsman for Labour’s national executive committee (NEC). Momentum dropped their endorsement of Willsman after a recording of his comments on antisemitism leaked – but CLPD remained supportive of his bid, which was ultimately successful.

Stephen Marks, a member of controversial group Jewish Voice for Labour, is thought to be one of the choices Momentum is not inclined to back. Like Willsman, Marks has previously denied claims of antisemitism within Labour, and in 2016 he signed a letter describing such accusations as “part of a wider campaign against the Labour leadership”. However, a Momentum source denied the report by Skwawkbox that “Momentum representatives” tried to “veto” Marks at meetings earlier this week.

The Skwawky one has just said.

BREAKING: MOMENTUM SET TO ANNOUNCE OWN SLATE LATER TODAY

Momentum founder Jon Lansman has cited concerns about the geographical balance of the CLPD slate, but says that Momentum had been prepared to back Jewish Voice for Labour’s (JVL) Stephen Marks although Lansman personally expressed concerns.

I shall only make one comment: it seems that Lansman actually knows Stephen Marks. and is aware of his recent political behaviour…

Written by Andrew Coates

October 11, 2018 at 12:35 pm

New Blows for Tony Greenstein Led Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

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Nerve Specialist Sir Roderick Glossop on Watch as News Breaks of New Crisis for Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

Posts by a Jewish blogger in London have been removed from US-based writing platform Medium after he alleged that the antisemitism rally in Manchester last month was supported by the far-right.

Reports the Jewish News today.

The Medium story has already been revealed by our ace reporters but this aspect is not:

Following a complaint from the Board of Deputies, the site took action against Tony Greenstein, who has been expelled from the Labour Party. He currently co-chairs Labour Against the Witch-hunt, which argues that the party’s antisemitism scandal is purposefully overblown and counts MP Chris Williamson among its supporters.

The Board drew attention to Greenstein’s article titled: ‘NW [North West] Friends of Israel, Tommy Robinson and the EDL [English Defence League] are Holding a Demonstration Against Antisemitism in Manchester.’

Anthony Silkoff of the Board said: “This is a complete lie with no factual basis… There was absolutely no involvement of the EDL and Tommy Robinson, indeed the organisations involved have denounced Tommy Robinson multiple times.”

Meanwhile … Labour Against the Witch-Hunt backer Williamson has difficulties of his own:

Labour MP Chris Williamson Facing Deselection Threat After Union Anger

The Labour MP for Derby North, Chris Williamson, will “definitely” be challenged under new party rules that have made it easier to oust sitting MPs, several sources have said.

Williamson is expected to face a “trigger ballot” in his marginal Westminster constituency as local activists take advantage of changes that mean just a third of union branches are needed to force a contest.

………

He’s definitely going to be triggered,” a source at one of the big trade union told HuffPost UK. “No doubt about it.”

A key figure in another major union, who preferred not to be named, confirmed Williamson would be targeted, as members wanted an MP who was less divisive and who was fully committed to the union link.

Even non-union party members locally are understood to be unhappy that Williamson hasn’t been focusing enough on Derby – where Labour lost control of the council to the Conservatives this year – rather than touring the country.

“He doesn’t realise how unpopular he is,” one said. Another source said that Williamson’s decision to hold his roadshow in the seats of some strongly union-backed MPs was another factor. “If the unions get a strong enough local candidate, he could well lose.”

And in case anybody wonders why many on the left are not fond of Williamson look no further than this article in the Huff Post:

Labour MP Chris Williamson’s Praise For Blogger Who Called Jo Cox A ‘Warmongering Blairite’

The party is ‘looking into’ Chris Williamson’s comments.

 

Noted Nerve Specialist Sir Roderick Glossop is said to be at the ready to help, in a caring way, with any crises that Greenstein may have after reading the Jewish News report.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Tariq Ali Joins the Labour Party.

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Tariq Ali: on Charlie Hebdo slaughter “when satirical magazines taunt them, they react. It’s as simple as that.”

Those not familiar with the history of the British left may recall Lord Ali.

He was once a leading figure of the International Marxist Group. The only thing I can recall about it is his support, and I agree with him on this, for the legislation of cannabis, ( his application to join the Labour Party in Crouch End was refused, though one may relate the things,….. I am not sure).

Since those halcyon days he has been after many political peregrinations, a prominent supporter of the Liberal Democrats, and most, recently, a voter for the Green Party in his previous domain Highgate.

In his new new estate, Islington, tofu toff Ali had invented himself as Jeremy Corbyn’s oldest friend.

Here is another of his oldest mates.

 

Bless!

Written by Andrew Coates

September 25, 2018 at 11:50 am

John McDonnell argues for UKIP Voters’ Veto on Labour Brexit Policy.

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Vetoed by UKIP Supporters, Says John McDonnell.

John McDonnell: Labour wants to push ahead with Brexit

On eve of conference, shadow chancellor defies calls for party to promise second referendum.

The Guardian Political Editor,    cites this,

Earlier, speaking as Labour prepares to gather in Liverpool for its annual conference, with Brexit high on the agenda, the shadow chancellor told the Guardian he would expect his party’s stance to be similar to the one it took in 2017.

“We would be in the same situation there, where we would be saying: we’re accepting that original vote; this is the sort of deal that we want,” McDonnell said.

“I really think people want this sorted. That means negotiating a deal that will meet people’s objectives. So you don’t get hung up on the semantics; you do the deal that will protect their jobs, and address some of the concerns that they had during the referendum.”

He underlined his scepticism about the idea of a vote on the final deal, which will be discussed in Liverpool after more than a hundred constituency Labour parties, and the Labour-supporting unions, called for it to be put on the agenda.

“The debate around the next manifesto will go on, but I really worry about another referendum,” he said.

I’m desperately trying to avoid any rise of xenophobia that happened last time around; I’m desperately trying to avoid giving any opportunity to Ukip or the far right. I think there’s the real risk of that. We’re not ruling out a people’s vote, but there’s a real risk, and I think people need to take that into account when we’re arguing for one.”

Stewart notes,

Much of Labour’s manifesto, if there was a snap poll, would probably be based on last year’s document, The Many, Not the Few, drafted by Corbyn’s policy chief, Andrew Fisher. But the final version would have to be approved by a committee of senior party figures at a so-called clause V meeting – and would be expected to take party conference resolutions into account.

And, apparently, Labour Policy will have to be approved or least found tolerable by the UKIP and the far-right…

The new Pamphlet from the Left Against Brexit says.

“Brexit is a hard right Tory project – the only way to resist it is from the left. This pamphlet puts forward our distinct, left wing reasons to oppose leaving the EU.”

It’s increasingly clear that there is no such thing as a ‘good Brexit’, let alone a ‘people’s’ or ‘left’ Brexit – and this reality is gradually becoming obvious to millions of people in Britain. Brexit, after all, has always been a right wing project. Ardent eurosceptics from Nigel Farage to Daniel Hannan have long harboured a nationalist dislike for the idea of European unity – a hostility that has always gone alongside an aggressive support for Thatcherism and an extreme free-market ideology that yearns to emulate the US by, for example, abolishing the NHS.

….

There is a distinct radical case for staying in the EU, which starts from the assumption we cannot light a path to a new society through nationalist division. Instead, we need to work together with our allies across Europe to realise a bold and transformative socialism.Radicals need to make an unromantic assessment of the tasks at hand across the continent. The EU has many negative qualities – just look at its treatment of Greece (page 29). But the solution to this can only be brought about – like so many issues we encounter in the twenty-first century – through international cooperation, not ‘going it alone’. Staying in the EU and working across borders to tackle the many problems the continent faces is the best and only viable option. The alternative is to roll the dice on a Tory hard Brexit and hope for the best. Faced with this choice, leadership from the left is now required.

(Introduction, Luke Cooper).

Download this essential Pamphlet!

  • Brexit and the hard right’s American dream . Nick Dearden
  • Free movement: a workers’ right Ana Oppenheim.Railways and the EU: time for the truth Manuel Cortes
  • Austerity and resistance in Europe.Marina Prentoulis
  • The EU, a ‘neoliberal project’? Niccolò Milanese
  • Corbynism and Europe. Mary Kaldor
  • Conclusion: Alena Ivanova and Michael Chessum

From the Conclusion.

The British left is at a crossroads unlike any other in its history. Just as the Corbyn moment gives us hope, the Brexit moment presents us with an unprecedented crisis. Domestically, we face an entrenched regime of deregulation combined with an emboldened far right whose anti-immigration narrative has soaked into the mainstream.

The choices we face are not unique to us. From the emerging splits in Germany’s Die Linke to the ‘sovereigntist’ approach of some on the French left, the temptation to give in to the politics of nationalism and border-building is stronger than ever.

Our strategy for battling Brexit and the rising far right starts from an understanding that only the left can win against the encroaching darkness. Only a transformative, socialist vision can compete with the politics of hate and the reality of social crisis. And the agents of change will be workers and ordinary people – in all their diversity – not the morally bankrupt establishment.

This analysis parallels this present Blog’s views on Sahra Wagenknecht’s Aufstehen and the French sovereigntist ‘left’. One can add that the Brexit ‘left’, which may be in a  position to dictate these view inside the Labour Party, may be visibly failing, but still needs to be defeated.

The alternative internationalist strategy of the Left Against Brexit needs active support.

As for the far-right, this is the best response:

It’s in this vein that Michael Chessum says that UKIP should not decide Labour Policy.

After May’s humiliation, Labour must seize the initiative on Brexit  (Guardian)

By backing a referendum on the deal, Corbyn can prevent a split in his party and lay the foundations for electoral success.

This should be a moment of opportunity for Labour and the wider left. The Tories’ Brexit agenda was never about restoring sovereignty to ordinary people – its purpose is to deregulate the British economy and bring us more in line with the American mode, permanently shifting the balance of power in society. By deploying a narrative about the economic crisis that blamed immigration falling living standards, the Brexit project aimed, via the means of a popular vote, to be on the winning side of history.

..

The Labour conference is likely to be dominated by this debate. After a summer in which Unite, the GMB and the TUC have slowly moved towards backing a fresh referendum, 150 motions have been submitted on Brexit. In spite of attempts to weaponise the issue against Corbyn, this is now a campaign led by the left – a grassroots surge centring on the need to defend migrants and free movement, protect the rights and prosperity of working-class people, and push back against the ideological project that Brexit represents.

Everyone now recognises that defeating the Tories’ Brexit agenda is Labour’s only path to government before 2022. There is a consensus that Labour should vote against May’s deal, if there is one, when it is presented to parliament. There is also a consensus that a general election and a radical Labour government is the goal of the strategy. But Labour needs to clarify what it would say about Brexit in any manifesto, and it needs to be clear about its demand if, as is likely, no general election happens. On both points, there is an inexorable logic that points towards a referendum on the deal.

This is a difficult time for the Corbyn project. On one flank, it faces the prospect of an SDP-style split that would fatally undermine Labour’s electoral prospects. On the other, it faces a support base that is up in arms about attempts by unions and the leadership to block open selections and enforce a higher threshold for leadership elections.

There is an alternative to a split, and to using the “party management” machine to crush the left’s own grassroots. By backing a referendum and endorsing a roadmap out of the nightmare of Tory Brexit, Corbyn can kill off the political pretext for a split from the Labour right. Instead of horse-trading with union leaderships and placating the parliamentary party, Corbyn can stick to his principles and make the case for democracy – in the party, and, ultimately, in the country.

We heartily endorse this analysis and these views.

The Fractious Background of ‘left Populist’ Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Guest of ‘The World Transformed” at the Labour Conference.

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Something Fishy about Mélenchon’s ‘left-Populism’? 

The leader of La France insoumise will soon be in Liverpool.

Why we’ve invited Jean-Luc Mélenchon to The World Transformed

The World Transformed will be welcoming Jean-Luc Mélenchon to speak at its Labour conference fringe. The French politician who inspired the European left with his radical campaign for the presidency in 2017 won more than seven million votes. Since then, despite only commanding 17 MPs in the National Assembly, Mélenchon has emerged as the main resistance to the neoliberal ‘Jupiterian’ presidency of Emmanuel Macron.

The socialist veteran will appear alongside Labour shadow cabinet member Jon Trickett in one of the headline acts of our four-day festival of politics, art and music that has become a mainstay of party conference.

..the real reason for Mélenchon’s invitation to TWT is not because he is Corbyn mark 2. No, it is for the same reason that TWT is happening in the first place: as part of a democratic socialist project to shift power towards the people. The fundamental truth about the two men’s successes is that it’s not about them. It’s about what they, and TWT, represent: the left taking hold of the future.

Mélenchon ‘commands’  15 MPs, there are two allies (Clémentine Autainand Caroline Fiat) from the alliance of small left groups known as Ensemble who form the Parliamentary Group of 17.

The Ensemble site has published material, in the past, highly critical of Mélenchon. In 2016 they put up a text by  Samy Joshua arguing that his strategy of ”federating the people’ dropped the working class for left populism. « L’ère du peuple » et « l’adieu au prolétariat » ?

The World Transformed  continue.

This was encapsulated by their 2017 manifestos. It was Corbyn’s left-wing programme of nationalisation, abolishing tuition fees and improving workers’ rights that precipitated his astonishing rise in the polls. Mélenchon’s similarly dizzying rise stemmed from the bold manifesto, L’Avenir en Commun (A Shared Future), which he put forward with his party La France Insoumise (FI).

It was the promise of a Sixth Republic, based on the principles of justice and democracy, which saw young and old flock to Mélenchon’s campaign. Likewise, Corbyn promised a constitutional convention as part of his quiet political revolution. Both seek to distribute power to the people.

Shifts in political power will, however, achieve little without an attendant transfer in economic power. The resurgent left is based above all on one thing: the return of class to politics. As Corbyn put it in a speech last month, Labour is back as the party of the working class. Mélenchon was at the heart of recent protests against Macron’s zombie neoliberal ‘reforms’ targeting the once-powerful French public sector (particularly rail workers). Both would repeal restrictive trade union laws, move to protect people from precarity and rebuild national industry following the ravages of neoliberalism.

This statement lacks any recognition of a long political past, not only before the Ère  du people replaced class as the defining context of Mélenchonian ideology.

‘Dizzying’ is the is the most unlikely word that comes to mind  when describing Mélenchon’s ascension, to a position of a commanding minority (around 20%) of the electorate, and a  history of stirring up deep antagonisms on the rest of the French left. Amongst the most recent is a virulent reaction to Parti Communiste Français (PCF) criticism of his supporters who advocated tougher immigration policies, and serious doubts about his claims to take a hard-line with the EU if other member states reject the LFI’s position on their own economic sovereignty. (LFI: un des fondateurs critique l’«hégémonie» de Mélenchon et sa «posture électoraliste» sur l’Europe. August 2018)

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s political career began in the orthodox Trotskyist  current in France known as ‘Lambertist’ after the Leader of a long-standing variety of groups,  Pierre Lambert (real name, Pierre Boussel). As a student he joined, after May 68, the Lambertists, one the most rigid and authoritarian groups on the French left, the ‘Organisation communiste internationaliste (OCI). The future Presidential candidate was head of the local antennae  in  Besançon, between 1974 and 1976.

The present chief of La France insoumise, dropped Leninism for the Parti Socialiste (PS). He became an active Freemason in the Grand Orient de France (GODF). A member of various groups in the Party he ended up creating the ‘Gauche socialiste’ with another former Trotskyist, Julien Dray (from the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (LCR). He was marked by burgeoning admiration for François Mitterrand. Indeed Mélechon is often called a “mitterrandiste “. For a variety of reasons, starting with the former French Preisdent’s role in the repression of the Algerian insurgency, and culminating in the 1983 turn of Mitterrand’s appointed Cabinet to “rigour” and retreat from radical socialism, this makes him an unlikely hero for those who would transform the world.(1)

Mélenchon left the PS in 2008, wishing, he stated, to draw clear lines with the right of the party and to have complete freedom to pursue his own left-wing course.  Forming the micro-party, the Parti de Gauche (essentially a public version of a Parti Socialiste ‘club’, ambitiously named after the German Die Linke)) in 2008,  Mélenchon entered in a long series of alliances, with forces such as the Parti Communiste Français, and smaller left groups. These culminated in the bloc, the Front de Gauche, which was marked by conflicts, over issues such the composition of electoral lists and his own version of republican laïcité.

With the creation of La France insoumise (LFI) in 2016, he has entered into a “war of manoeuvre” for hegemony over the French left. Some have compared this with the old Communist Party’s wish to impose itself over the whole left, and its tactic as to keep its supporters preoccupied by frenetic activism.

LFI is not a Party but a “movement of individual citizens those who recognise themselves in the line of action offered by JLM “un mouvement de citoyens individuels qui se reconnaissent dans la démarche de Jean-Luc Mélenchon “.

That is, is defined by allegiance to an individual.

LFI has no proper internal democracy at all.

Conferences, such as they are, a rallies in which up to 60% of the ‘delegates’ are chosen by lot from the lists of (on-Line) members who have expressed an interests. The rest are made up from those chosen by  what has been called “la petite caste” around the Leader (A La France insoumise, la démocratie interne fait débat). It’s this caste who take all the decisions.

There are no internal tendencies; on-line voting is on a limited agenda set by the central leadership.

LFI’s best known strategic objective is to “federate the people” against the oligarchy dominating French politics. This, a broad enough aim, “includes” the workers’ movement (that is skipping over the organised union federations, the CGT, CFD,  FO, FSU and SUD), just as it does ‘social movements’, like the late Nuit Debout that occupied French squares  in 2016 (freely translated as Woke Nights).

Critics say that the “people” figures in LFI’s plans as actors to follow the LFI script for the Sixth Republic. More abstractly, their disparate discourses are ‘articulated’ (voiced and linked together), in the words of the theorist of Left Populism Chantal Mouffe, to create a new, potentially hegemonic Collective Will.

It is true that those who enjoy inspiring speeches, lacked with poems, from Victor Hugo to Apollinaire, have much to hear from Jean Luc.

But the nationalist overtones of books like the Le Hareng de Bismarck, (2015 above) which rails against the “Le poison allemand” (German poison)  imposed on Europe, l’opium des riches”, un monstre born on the other side of the Rhine, are hard to ignore.

It is this thinking which leads Dan Davidson to accuse him of a “drive to tap into French patriotism rather than build international working class solidarity” (The British Left Should Be More Critical Of Jean-Luc Mélenchon)

Mélenchon defines himself as socialiste républicain. In French terms this means a belief that the Republic is the prime vehicle for socialism. The Sixth republic, in the ‘era of the People’, needs radical reform. It is hard to see how any of the political reforms proposed bring the state into the hands of the People, there is little in way of socialising ownership under self-management to start with.

As such he puts the Sovereignty of the People/France, at the top of his priorities.

The EU must change or we will leave it, was his reaction (some interpreted this as a welcome at the shock) to the Brexit result.

On international issues he is anything but an internationalist. His priority again is the national interest,  defending the French independent nuclear force outside of NATO.

The Leader of LFI has faced accusations of  conspiracism (he has been known to claim that Daesh  was created by the US) , of complaisance towards Vladimir Putin, and a failure to defend democrats (although he has taken a serious stand in defence of the Kurds)  in Syria. 

He continues to support the Maduro regime in Venezuela.

He should not be welcome at the World Transformed, still less a Labour Conference.

****

(1) Covered from his side  in Le Choix de l’insoumission, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Marc Endeweld. 2016. Less complimentary background is given by another former Lambertist, 68, et Après. Les héritages égarés. Benjamin Stora. Stock. 2018.