Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Left

Should the Left Back Insulate Britain or Condemn them as an Elitist Hobbyists?

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Desperate woman following mum's ambulance begs Insulate Britain protesters  to move as they block four corners of London

Climate Protest as a Disruptive Hobby.

“For Hobbyists, their left wing politics are their identity, their raison d’être, and the source of much of their self-worth. But unlike earlier radicals, they are not at the vanguard of any movement, but are instead largely removed from the groups they seek to represent.”

David Swift. A Left for itself, Left-wing Hobbyists and Performative Radicalism. Zero Books. 2019.

Swift harked back to groups that claim to stand for a variety of inter-sectional struggles, and he made a sweeping judgement. But you can’t help feeling that the Climate Change and Insulate Britain movements fit the hobbyist bill.

Following the set back to the governing prospects of Corbynism and distant from the mass labour movement they also mark a return to the leftist folk politics of direct action.

A difference with the identity left or right is that they claim to stand for the whole human race and planet, if not a few more things besides. This is the basis on which to act in elitist vanguard ways. They have so far succeeded in alienating ordinary people without an express interest in their cause but have also cut them off from a large section of potential supporters.

Today it is blocking roads. Not long ago it was a variety of counter-produtive actions.

Such as this one:

One of the most ridiculous actions of Extinction Rebellion in East Anglia was the defacement of Ipswich Borough Council’s Offices in Russell Road. In February 2021 a spin off from the movement, Burning Pink, they sprayed the front of the building with large graffiti. Ipswich Council has a Labour majority and takes the issue of Climate Change very seriously.

Two women have been arrested after the main office of Ipswich Borough Council was daubed in pink graffiti by members of a political party.

The council’s Grafton House office in Russell Road was targeted by environmentalists on Monday morning, February 15.

A message in bright pink paint reading “tough love” and “12 demands ultimatum” was sprayed on the front door and windows and the Burning Pink party has claimed responsibility.

Several police cars attended the scene, while the council’s graffiti team removed the message early Monday morning.

A spokesman for Burning Pink confirmed the party were behind the vandalism, which came as part of a move against 15 councils nationwide who in their opinion have failed to act on their promises after declaring a climate emergency.

This is what the left of centre and Green conscious Council said,

The group that is thought to have carried out this vandalism is making demands around climate change. However, the council has already declared a climate emergency, has been reducing its carbon footprint for years and has a plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

“Just last week the council’s executive agreed to acquire a site for a new carbon neutral depot to run key services from; we’ve already spent millions on new electric and lower emission vehicles, made thousands of council houses more energy efficient through solar panels and better insulation and have planted hundreds of new trees.

“Climate change is everyone’s responsibility – while the council is playing its part, the government and others need to do their bit too.”

Burning Pink, campaigning on climate change and plans to abolish democracy and replace it with a system of citizens’ assemblies chosen by lot to reflect the’ real’ poulation, got these votes.

Date of electionConstituencyCandidateVotes%Position
2021 London mayoral electionLondon-wideValerie Brown5,3050.2%20th (last)
2021 Bristol City Council electionWindmill HillRachel Lunnon901.7%9th (last)
2021 Ipswich Borough Council electionSt Margaret’sSue Hagley781.2%5th (last)
2021 Oxfordshire County Council electionHanborough and Minster LovellDave Baldwin340.9%5th (last)
2021 Suffolk County Council electionSt Margaret’s and WestgateTina Smith1682.1%7th (last)

The latest incarnation of this mouvance is Insulate Britain, ““set up by people in XR and related networks”.

This elitist group is shy about how its internal decisions work. It is suspected that it works by ‘consensus decision making’ between a handful of activists. There is no democratic membership structure. Those prepared to engage in the vanguard politics of blocking roads are largely self-selected. The nature of the protests, which involve potential physical harm to motorists and demonstrators, as well as arrests, excludes mass participation and promotes those willing to ‘sacrifice’ themselves.

Socialist Worker argues that the left should support the campaign.

Climate activists are right to block roads (21st September.)

The Tories and right wing media have launched huge attacks on the climate action group, Insulate Britain. But Sophie Squire argues that in the face of government inaction and repression it’s right for protests to be disruptive.

But the Tories and the right wing press have whipped up a backlash against the “eco mob” and “enviro zealots”.

The left must not line up behind this onslaught and has to defend the need for protests to be disruptive.

The SWP does however note, “Direct action is most effective when large numbers of people take part. Thousands participating in this kind of action at the Cop26 protest could not only block a road but have the power to shut down a whole city.”

This is what people are increasingly saying,

But with their actions causing further division rather than instigating positive change, what are they actually trying to achieve? If it just to raise awareness of climate change – then the vast majority of people agree that something needs to drastically change. However, blocking roads is clearly causing nothing but harm to everyday working people’s lives.

The below are reasons why Insulate Britain are getting spurned:

Few are going to listen to this,

 Insulate Britain released a statement saying: “We share the frustration of the people being delayed on the roads today. Does our government know what to do? The disorder on the roads today suggests otherwise.

“The Insulate Britain protests could end immediately, the government has a choice: make a meaningful statement that we can trust on insulating our homes, or make the decision to imprison those people who are more scared of the destruction of their country than they are of fines or a six-month sentence.”

The self-regarding final sentence says it all.

The voice of would-be martyrs stands out as that of elitist hobbyists.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 4, 2021 at 5:30 pm

Keir Starmer’s Speech, Friends, Enemies, and Others.

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Keir Starmer speech: Labour leader finally seizes moment to show party is  once again about power, not protest

Has he made Labour “a serious party again”?

This Blog’s general impression of the Keir Starmer Speech was first of all this:

extract from Stephen Bush’s take for the New Statesman.

This was a speech that showed both Starmer’s familiar strengths (that big political argument, whatever you think of its merits, is coherent, while his efforts to demonstrate change from the Corbyn era are likewise, coherent whatever you make of their merits). He did a good job of dispelling doubts about his ability to deliver a big conference speech and the address did a good job of casting his steadiness and lack of flash as strengths, not shortcomings. But the speech also showed his familiar weaknesses: too many announcements, denied their moment to shine, announced with seemingly no thought as to how they fit into the party’s big political dividing lines.

The Tendance adds, the speech began well, “

Rent up, especially for those on the lowest incomes. Yet at this very moment, the government is putting up tax on working people. Putting up tax on small businesses and slashing Universal Credit. We have a fuel crisis, a pay crisis, a goods crisis and a cost of living crisis – all at the same time.” His family histiry ahd the ring of the genuine about it. The call for a plan to “Make Brexit” had no details, probably because Brexit is not going to ‘work’ for most people.

You wonder who will remember this, however well intentioned it is,

Leadership founded on the principles that have informed my life and with which I honour where I have come from.





I think of these values as British values. I think of them as the values that take you right to the heart of the British public. That is where this party must always be.

And I think of these values as my heirloom. The word loom, from which that idea comes, is another word for tool.





These are the tools of my trade.

And with them I will go to work.

Attacking Boris Johnson was a high point,

Sir Keir Starmer has described Boris Johnson as a “trivial man” and “a trickster who’s played his one trick”, during his closing Labour conference speech.

Attacking Mr Johnson’s government as “lost in the woods”, Sir Keir added: “Once he’d said the words, ‘get Brexit done’, his plan ran out. There is no plan.”

Not to mention, “”my dad was a toolmaker, but in a way so was Boris Johnson’s”.


This is where is began to go downhill:

Or as Owen Jones puts it:

This was being briefed pre-speech and will no doubt be hyped up now.

Sir Keir Starmer has indicated he is ready to see Labour’s far-left split from the party, declaring that winning the next general election is more important to him than maintaining internal unity.

Will those who do not feel much empathy for whatever the left-wing Campaign Group, or the majority of Momentum have got up to, rejoice at these voices? They are highly unwelcome.

“A hard rain is going to fall on the Corbynistas,” said one ally of party leader Sir Keir Starmer, referring to supporters of “hard-left” .

Starmer’s pro-business stance, emphasis on fiscal discipline and embrace of patriotism is reminiscent of Tony Blair – Labour’s thrice-elected former prime minister. But his poll ratings are far behind Blair’s at the same point in his leadership.

Financial Times.

These pearls, learnt by young factionalists at the feet of Baron Peter Mandelson it is said, keep on coming…

“Another shadow cabinet member told The Times: “We have nailed the hard left into their coffin and there’s a lot of screaming because they know they’re not coming back to life. We’ve banished the monster. People can have the confidence to vote Labour knowing they’re not going to wake up and find Jeremy Corbyn is prime minister.””

The Times.

In a more restrained mode this is the same basic story.

Shadow cabinet member Andy McDonald quit Labour’s front bench amid a contentious attack on Sir Keir.

In his resignation letter, he said Sir Keir had made Labour “more divided than ever”.

Mr McDonald also accused the Labour leader of not honouring his pledges to members.


Then there was this embarrassing and counter-productive presence.

Here is the Hard_left (Outside Labour) in person….

Then there was this reaction inside Labour’s conference – you felt a cringe every minute.


Sir Keir Starmer was disrupted by repeated heckling from left-wing Labour members waving red cards in the air during his first in-person conference speech to the party faithful.

“Normally this time on a Wednesday it’s the Tories who are heckling me. It doesn’t bother me then – and it doesn’t bother me now,” he joked as other members of the audience told the hecklers to “shut up”.

A small group of Sir Keir’s critics held up red cards and shouted “£15” at various points during the speech — a reference to the Labour leader’s refusal to back a £15 minimum wage earlier this week.

Another heckler chose to direct their anger at Sir Keir’s Brexit policy during his tenure in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, while others opted to shout “boring”, or ask the Labour leader: “Where’s Peter Mandelson?”.

Forced to raise his voice over the hecklers, Sir Keir told members: “Shouting slogans or changing lives, conference?”.

He also told his detractors in the hall “you can chant all day,” before going on to claim he had used the conference to “get our own house in order”.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 29, 2021 at 12:07 pm

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

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

The Youth of a Leader.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

The package includes:

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

These new plans were agreed by 22 votes to 12.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Andrew Coates

September 25, 2021 at 5:57 pm