Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Tony Blair

Tony Blair to launch British version of Macron’s La République en marche?

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Admirers of French President Emmanuel Macron may be plentiful on the British centre. But few have been bothered to get in touch with his movement ‘party’. It is however easy, “La République En Marche! (LREM) considers every person who submits identification information (date of birth, email, full address and telephone number) and adheres to the party’s charter to be an adherent. Unlike other political parties, it does not require adherents to make a monetary donation. ”

Not many people in Britain have been interested in Macron either. An exception has been former Labour Minister Denis MacShane who attended the February 2017 Macron election launch meeting in Central Hall Westminster, London, as an “observer”. Denis has written on the French President, and his insights are worth reading: After Macron’s victory, what should Britain do?

There is a long list of bad Macron policies, from reforms of the welfare state to the privatisation of public assets (the equivalent of the National Lottery, Airports), and raising the age of retirement to 65 (the UK already has it at 66). Macron is also heavy-handed on policing, would obviously prefer that trade unions were simply polite lobbying groups, dislikes protests and people who make a fuss, and, let us just say, somewhat aloof at times.

But while this horror pales when compared to those Boris Johnson’s gang of alt right chancers. there is one thing that stands out when people begin to talk about the “fading” of old parties and that the future lies in this kind of “progressive” who spans left and right. His own movement, now dubbed Renaissance, and Ensemble, (it involves micro-parties like the ‘left of centre’ Territories of Progress. of new Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne) for the June Parliamentary elections, LREM has no democratic structure.

For example its 2017 Congress was made of 200 people, not elected but chosen by lot from the list of members. There no internal elections. Positions within the ‘party’ are filled by ” by co-options, appointments by consensus, cross-appointments and by drawing lots (for example for the ‘Conference’ above).

This is how it functions:

  • By Agreement: all the members (whose role, not very detailed in the presentation made on July 8, 2017, seems to adopt by consensus or acclamation the orientations presented by the national management and to vote, electronically, on statutory modifications).
  • National Council: parliament (not elected) of the party, made up of 80% of parliamentarians, regional and local figures and representatives of the across the country (members by right) and 20% of advisers drawn by lot “at regular intervals” from among the members. The council elects the national management from among its members: 20 of the members of the executive office and the general delegate(s). It defines the broad direction of the movement and controls the action of the national leadership.
  • Executive office: executive of the movement, joint body, composed of about thirty members, 20 elected by the council, 10 co-opted by its members. It appoints national delegates on relevant political social issues from among its members.
  • General delegates: position responsible for leading the movement for a three-year term.

The whole structure is directed by the centre, that is, Emmanuel Macron and his close aides.

Yet this chap seems to like them.

Tony Blair is organizing a conference in late June alongside a new group dubbed the British version of Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche. 

The Future of Britain conference, set to take place on June 30, is hosted by former BBC broadcasters Jon Sopel and Emily Maitlis, according to several people involved in its planning. It is intended to discuss progressive solutions to the biggest issues facing Britain, including the economy, technology and climate change. 

Blair will address the event. Others on the program include the U.S. economist Larry Summers, financial journalist Martin Lewis and former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson.

This is them,

The Britain Project

We want to counteract the current forces of populism, and focus on our sustainable growth as a nation. We want to rebuild the politics of consensus and moderation by drawing on our pride and success as a nation and rejecting the politics of division. We are liaising with campaigning organisations and social movements to develop progressive networks across the UK. Together, we are looking forward to shaping a more hopeful and positive future.

It might be interesting to discuss this claim – in France Macron has at various points been called a populism for his direct appeal to the ‘people’ ( Emmanuel Macron fait-il du populisme ? January 2022) but we should be clear one thing: please, anti-populist or not, LREM is no democratic alternative.

Despite it being a right-wing comment this has a point as well.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 28, 2022 at 12:29 pm

Tony Blair, The “War on Woke” and “From Red Walls to Red Bridges”.

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pol/ - Tony Blair rails against the WOKE agends - Politically Incorrect -  4chan

“Blair calls for Labour to reject ‘wokeism’”. The papers have taken up the polling survey ‘From Red Walls to Red Bridges: Rebuilding Labour’s Voter Coalition’ by Peter Kellner on the basis of Tony Blair’s comment in the Foreword, “We should openly embrace liberal, tolerant but common-sense positions on the “culture” issues, and emphatically reject the “wokeism” of a small though vocal minority.” This is no throwaway, “in 2019 – this time with the far left in control – we suffered our worst defeat, and for pretty much the same reasons, but this time without that engraved Labour vote.” underlines the Third Way Labour leader. “The leadership should continue to push the far left back to the margins. The country must know there is no question of negotiating the terms of power with them.”

The Mail, in case anybody has the wish to unlink the two, binds left and woke together,”Tony Blair has urged Labour to ’emphatically reject’ wokeism and push the party’s hard-Left factions ‘to the margins’ if it is to win power again.”

The former Labour Prime Minister has every right to speak for himself in the publications of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. He is not alone. There have been unconfirmed suggestions that Blair has followed his ally, centrist President Emmanuel Macron. The French head of state has got his Minister of Education  Jean-Michel Blanquer to set up a Think Tank to fight “le wokisme”. (C’est quoi le « wokisme », cette idéologie que Jean-Michel Blanquer dit vouloir combattre ?). Supporters of New Labour must look with envy at Macron’s la République en marche (LRM) which is not only solidly based on the centre ground, has no internal elections, whose policy is decided by the movement’s leaders, and whose election candidates are selected by a centrally appointed ” commission d’investiture”.

The report, produced under the name of Kellner, who was educated at one point at what was known, while he was there, as Minchenden Grammar School in the most prosperous part of Southgate North London, and who is married to Labour politician Catherine Margaret Ashton, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, stands on its own merits. It is based on canvassing from Deltapoll – which questioned more than 2,500 former Labour voters and more than 3,000 who remained supporters.

Political analysts will look at the study in depth. It covers an issue at the heart of Labour strategy, “Peter Pulzer, one of the most eminent political scientists of his generation, wrote in 1967: “Class is the basis of British party politics; all else is embellishment and detail.” He was right at the time. But in subsequent years, the links between class and voting began to fray. Today they have largely gone, their disappearance marked by the Conservative gains of 2019 of an array of traditionally safe, “red-wall” Labour seats across the Midlands and northern England – from Bishop Auckland (County Durham) to Bolsover (Derbyshire), Wakefield (Yorkshire) to Wolverhampton (West Midlands).”

But the study does underline the point about the culture wars, wokeism onwards: (Executive Summary).

So-called cultural issues, such as Brexit and immigration, have contributed to Labour’s recent problems. This is despite the fact that British attitudes have become steadily more liberal in recent decades on a range of issues: the death penalty, abortion and homosexuality, but also on race and immigration. Labour maintained its clear majority support among manual workers in the early post-war decades despite the views of its core voters on these issues, not because of them. Liberal reforms were tolerated as long as voters were confident the party would deliver on jobs, homes, health, tackling poverty and boosting pensions. Today that confidence has gone. Economics no longer trumps culture.

The Conclusion of the report (PDF) says,

Just over 18 months after electing a very different leader from his predecessor, the party’s reputation remains toxic among far too many of the voters it needs to attract. Voters of all stripes want a government that helps ordinary workers, pensioners and the poor, but too many think Labour prefers to defend minorities instead of tackling Britain’s everyday economic and social problems. It’s not so much that these target voters are obsessed by the cultural battles that Labour is doomed to lose. Rather, it is that Labour has gained the reputation of fighting the wrong battles by choice. It risks the most damning of political verdicts: irrelevance to people’s daily lives.

A few provisional points can be made.

The political debate about the decline of working class politics goes back some time, as far back as (at least) Barry Hindess’ The Decline of Working Class Politics 1971. This was framed in very different terms. Hindess wrote of the Labour Party, “the determination of local policy is now very largely in the hands of activists in the more middle-class areas”, and that politics, at that time did not offer a choice outside of a narrow consensus (a 1960’s version of “post-politics”).

Today we have (Red Walls to Red Bridges):

Labour has failed to adapt to the loss of its historic, core voter base: manual workers in heavy industry, belonging to a trade union and living in council homes. Labour’s collectivist politics used to chime with the lives of millions of its voters. The death of heavy industry, sale of council homes and the rise of consumer society all undermined Labour’s traditional appeal.

Labour’s failure to adapt has been masked by Britain’s growing middle class, which has in turn increased support for the party over the long term. Demographically, the new dividing line in British elections is age, together with education. Labour does best today among students and graduates aged under 30, and worst among non-graduates aged over 50. These long-term demographic forces lie at the heart of Labour’s failure to retain its so-called red-wall seats.

It is striking that in Deborah Matterson’s Beyond the Red Wall (2020), travels, talks and interviews with the ‘left behind’, this is recorded,

“Listening to Red Wall Votes talk about social class – with the conversation generally revolving around their own working class status I was struck by the intensity of their sense of belonging to that class…None of the Red Wallers that I spoke to were employed in traditional manufacturing industries any longer, although most were manual workers, with the men typically working in construction. Some were now working on what was described by people in Darlington as the ‘service sector’ -baking, retail or class centres. Others were in the ‘public sector’: local government or health, often caring roles with most of the women in very location I visited seemed to do.” “their social class was the key to their identity and a badge of pride.” (Pages 85-6)

If there was one culture war that sticks out in Matterson’s book it is Brexit. This figures from the Introduction, “Leavers thought Remainers were ‘out of touch’ ‘politically correct’, ‘superior’ and ‘stuck up’. and the Conclusions: they wanted the Tories to “Stick to your promise”, “the first and most frequently heard piece of advice.”

There would be no paradox of those angels in marble who are proud of their class identity and loyal to the bosses’ party and Brexit if we began by recognising that there has long been a strain or working class conservatism, going back to the first limited franchise for the upper reaches of workers under Disraeli (Angels in Marble: Working Class Conservatives in Urban England. Robert McKenzie. 1968)

Deference in modern terms has, some suggest, been replaced with a willingness to follow the lead offered by the right-wing pack that set itself up in the Leave campaign against “globalist” “cosmopolitan” “elites”. Attacking the “politically correct” the “woke”, covers under which to attack minorities, and backing Brexit, a totem to wield against all the previous objects, has let loose a new wave of identity politics, this time from the right. Some Blue Labour figures, such as Paul Embery, and one-time liberals, like David Goodhart, a whole slew of them in The Full Brexit, have taken the idea that the need to defend a vision of a rooted indigenous people, working class brave sons and daughters of the soil, against cosmopolitans and ‘globalists’ at work in institutions like the European Union.

This is what the talk about class can mean, defence against outsiders. It would need a lot more probing, but instead of solidarity amongst the new working class, those in service sector, public sector and manufacturing, not to mention precarious workers, one possibility on offer is a backward march to a cultural identity. This is not a class “for itself” with goals to improve the wider lot, a forward looking grouping of people based on inclusion, but a subordinated group grounded on exclusion.

Britain has not gone as far as France in this direction but readers of Christophe Guilluy’s most recent book. Le temps des gens ordinaires (2020) will be aware his defence of the “heartland” of the “classes populaires” against “l’idéologie dite progressiste” of elites, the defence of diversity for minorities. Guilluy cites Brexit, a victory for “des gens ordinaires” (ordinary people) over “des classes supérieures ” a triumph of left-behind Britain over London. He ends, as such polemics do, with a lengthy call to further regulate (restrict, end?) immigration. From Zemmour to Marine Le Pen the demand has been taken up..

Guilluy offers a highly ideological gloss on Brexit, but there is no doubt of its importance.

This is what Red Bridges says

One of the paradoxes of Britain today is that on a great range of issues, we are far more liberal (or, perhaps more accurately, less illiberal) than 40cor more years ago – but that a liberal outlook is more likely to lose votes. The Brexit referendum and the two general elections since show what can happen when the central question concerns national identity rather than economic and social progress – especially for older, once-solid Labour voters who have now deserted the party in such large numbers. In 1966, the voters of Smethwick reversed their 1964 decision. Labour regained the seat on a swing of 8 per cent. This time, culture mattered less, and the constituency behaved like the rest of Britain.
Can Labour achieve today what it did in Smethwick 18 months after losing the seat? The party might wish to say nothing about immigration,post-Brexit relations with the EU and national identity, but silence on such matters is unlikely to work during a fierce election campaign. Our research suggests two goals for the party. The first is to distinguish nationalism from patriotism – two distinct values that the Leave campaign so successfully fused together during the Brexit referendum. The second is to link patriotism to a compelling plan for improving people’s daily lives. Labour is unlikely to win any argument for closer ties with the EU, or more liberal immigration.

A serious plan for improving people’s lives is a priority for any Labour leadership. Some many consider that patriotic enough without having to use the word – which nobody has ever managed to distinguish for any long period from nationalism. The quiet love and respect for people, the ‘classes populaires’, the working people, and those unable to work, the retired, and the left behind, is a hallmark of the best in the Labour Party and democratic socialism. Does Blair wish to boot out every single Labour activist who believes in these ideas?

We can criticise cultural campaigns whose objectives (as in much US inspired ‘woke’ movements and in Tony Blair’s Third Way) are equality of opportunity not equality of conditions for all. We can get annoyed at cancel culture – democratic socialism is based on freedom of thought and expression. We can be irked by forms of academic and political liberalism that turn illiberal as the rows about gender politics show.

But a campaign against Woke to follow the lead of right-wing identity politics?

This is to take up the themes of the worst kind of politics, whose direction Christophe Guilluy indicates all too well.

As political commentator, David Walsh says,

Too much reliance on focus groups is bad politics. I once spoke to a Millbank (as it was) staffer who told me “Inevitably after about 6 minutes a loud mouth racist emerges and everybody else there shrinks into themselves” He hated them and could not understand how some took them as gospel. Famously, John Smith went to his first one as party leader, left after an hour of CCTV and never went near one again.

******

(1)”a representative sample of 2,075 adults online throughout Great Britain between 10 and 12 September 2021. This was boosted by 6,104 further online interviews conducted between 14 September and 6 October, targeted to reach larger numbers of particular group”.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 28, 2021 at 1:49 pm

In Defence of the ‘Woke Left’.

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As Tony Blair warns that Labour could die under Starmer and the “woke  left”, is he planning a return?

Blair Wages War on Woke.

Tony Blair unleashes stinging attack on ‘woke left’ and says Labour could cease to exist.


Tony Blair
 unleashed a stinging attack on the “woke left” on Wednesday warning that Labour could cease to exist and that Sir Keir Starmer is “struggling to break through with the public”.

In a devastating verdict on the state of his party in the wake of its dismal May election results, the former Prime Minister said Labour needs a “total deconstruction and reconstruction. Nothing less will do”.

Writing in the Left-leaning New Statesman, Mr Blair added: “Keir seems sensible but not radical. He lacks a compelling economic message. And the cultural message, because he is not clarifying it, is being defined by the ‘woke’ left, whose every statement gets cut-through courtesy of the right.”

Blair joins the Spiked, who promote the identity politics of the national populist right. Or as the red-brown front put it, “the swapping of class politics for identity politics, the Britain-bashing..” wokists.

To this the Tendance says, who the bleedin’ hell are you to tell us about our problems and how to fight them.

“White Man In Hammersmith Palais”

Midnight to six man
For the first time from Jamaica
Dillinger and Leroy Smart
Delroy Wilson, your cool operator

Ken Boothe for UK pop reggae
With backing bands sound systems
And if they’ve got anything to say
There’s many black ears here to listen

But it was Four Tops all night with encores from stage right
Charging from the bass knives to the treble
But onstage they ain’t got no roots rock rebel
Onstage they ain’t got no…roots rock rebel

Dress back jump back this is a bluebeat attack

Cos it won’t get you anywhere
Fooling with your guns
The British Army is waiting out there
An’ it weighs fifteen hundred tons

White youth, black youth
Better find another solution
Why not phone up Robin Hood
And ask him for some wealth distribution

Punk rockers in the UK
They won’t notice anyway
They’re all too busy fighting
For a good place under the lighting

The new groups are not concerned
With what there is to be learned
They got Burton suits, ha you think it’s funny
Turning rebellion into money

All over people changing their votes
Along with their overcoats
If Adolf Hitler flew in today
They’d send a limousine anyway

I’m the all night drug-prowling wolf
Who looks so sick in the sun
I’m the white man in the Palais
Just lookin’ for fun

I’m only
Looking for fun

Written by Andrew Coates

May 12, 2021 at 10:01 am