Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Trotskyism

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

with 4 comments

Left Unity: Leading French Trotskyist Amongst New NUPES MPs.

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

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

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

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

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

The main parties are well-known and cited above.

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Mullen states that,

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

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

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

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

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

Need one say more?

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

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

As the below suggests this event passed largely unnoticed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Update and Correction.

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

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

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

Les écologistes anti Nupes se rassemblent pour les législatives.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 27, 2022 at 1:16 pm

Paul Mason on Labour Long-List for Stretford and Urmston Candidacy.

with 13 comments

Paul Mason as Labour Party Candidate?

Paul Mason is familiar to most people on the left, and, through his work on Channel Four News, Newsnight and, more recently, his column in the New European, to a wider audience. With long-standing ties to the internationalist left Mason has been a campaigner against Brexit, during and after the referendum, stating in 2018 “The opposition should back a second referendum, and vote to remain.” He is opposed to Chinese social imperialism, saying that, “the left must stand against Xi Jinping’s totalitarian China. The Chinese communist elite is the enemy of the Chinese workers. ” Mason has been active in defence of Ukraine against the Russian invasion. With a U.K. left and trade union delegation he went to Kiev in February just before Putin launched his war. In April Paul spoke at the  Whitehall UK trade unions rally in solidarity with Ukraine.

Beginning in politics (during the 1980s) close to the Trotskyist current, the League for the 5th International/Workers Power, the author of Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being (2019), has become a champion of the humanist Marxism of figures such as Raya Dunayevskaya.

Amongst Paul’s other books, Why it’s Kicking Off Everywhere. The New Global Revolutions. 2012., PostCapitalism: A Guide to our Future 2015, his most recent, How to Stop Fascism, History, Ideology, Resistance. Paul Mason. 2021, was reviewed last year by the Tendance on this Blog. “The left needs the kind of call to arms against these new forms of right and far-right politics made by Paul Mason, even if we may not agree on the details of his programme. Against the far-right, and against populism, alliances between democrats, socialists and progressives (which formed the basis of 1970s anti-National Front campaigning) are needed.”

Alex Callinicos (21.2.2002) has alleged that for Mason, following the reasoning of the book, which he recommends (as does the Tendance) we reach an expansion of antifascism to mean something like an international struggle between states in which the West should be supported. “In a new development (or should one say degeneration?) of your Popular Frontism, the US antagonism with China and Russia is now framed as an “antifascist” struggle in which the left should unite with liberal imperialism against the “authoritarian, socially conservative” regimes in Beijing and Moscow.”

There is undoubtably a danger that such a drift could take place, and apart from the ‘West’ (a bloc that includes, for Brexit supporting SWP, the EU, European “imperialist powers”, “bound to the US through a nexus of institutions”), few will idealise the Ukrainian state and their own oligarchs. But, apart from the lack of evidence for their drive for colonialisation and territorial expansion, there is no ‘Western’ attempt to conquer anybody in the present conflict. In the case of Ukraine one can only begin by siding with the people who are the victims of Putin and back their call to have the means to repel the invasion from whatever quarter they can find it. One is not aware of any similar call for military aid to the targets and casualties, workers, Hong Kong Democrats, and above all Uighurs, of the CCP bourgeoisie and state apparatus.

Callinicos equally fails to look deeply into the political issues arising of the nature of these former Official Communist countries’ imperialism, both in the export of capital in the age of globalisation (China) and straight-forward territorial expansion and rule. The SWP, which calls the conflict in Ukraine, the result of “geopolitical competition against the background of global economic integration” without looking at the specifically nationalist and political projects of Putin’s circle. The Russian leaders, it is said, take some of their inspiration from “Eurasianism”, the basis for a “a kind of messianic “third way” for their state and an expanded, ‘living space’, an ideology which lies between national populism and some themes of classical fascism. (Black WindWhite Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism, Charles Clover. 2017) This gives the present war a dimension, coloured with a deeply anti-democratic chauvinism, which the SWP, and other groups, title of “inter-imperialist” proxy war cannot grapple with.

It is to be expected that those hostile to Mason, personally and politically, will now launch attacks on him. Workers Power already described him in 2018 as “stridently anti-Marxist”. The Morning Star has carried many pieces in this vein, “Self-described student Trotskyist turned ‘radical social democrat’ specialises in providing ‘left’ cover for right-wing policies” (Nick Wright). In 2020 Socialist Appeal began chewing the carpet in fury at Cde Mason, “The sad case of Paul Mason: a victim of post-modernism” “A terrible disease is spreading throughout the world. Medical science knows no cure for this sickness. There is no way of avoiding it. Neither facemasks nor handwashing will do any good. And the effects of this disease are horrible to behold. Once you have caught it, your brain turns to jelly. The unfortunate victims become human zombies, who suffer from persistent bouts of verbal diarrhoea and become utterly incapable of rational thought. The name of this terrible affliction is post-modernism.”

As David Walsh says, we can expect more of these comments in the coming days.

The letter below, by contrast, speaks for itself, a serious left-wing candidacy for Labour.

A letter to Labour members in Stretford & Urmston.

Here’s the text of the Personal Statement that will be circulated to members by the party. I’ve decided to go for this because the next Parliament is going to need experienced people prepared to stand up for democracy, radical redistribution constitutional change and internationalism. There’s more to say – but at this stage you only get one sheet of A4 to outline your pitch… and this is all I could fit… Fasten your seat-belts…

MY LABOUR STORY: I was born in Leigh, to a family that had been weavers, tailors and miners for generations. The post-war Labour governments allowed my parents to dream of a better future for their children, and make it happen. Today I want to revive that Labour dream for millions of people who’ve been told that nothing can ever change.

REAL CHANGE: The next election will be critical. We don’t just need to win. We have to inspire people to make big changes:

Raise real wages to match the soaring cost of living;

Devolve power, to give people control over the decisions that affect their lives;

Create millions of good, green jobs as we decarbonise the energy system to save the planet

Shut down offshore tax havens, netting tens of billions a year to spend on schools, healthcare, councils, policing and our armed forces

Repair the damage to our trade, industry and national security caused by the Tories’ hard Brexit.

STORY OF HOPE: I’ve spent my life reporting the struggles of people fighting injustice: from slum-dwellers in Manila, to workers in China’s sweatshops, to people in Leigh where I grew up. What I learned is: you only start winning when you tell people a story of hope.

TAKE CONTROL: The problem facing Britain? Working people can’t earn enough money to live a decent life, and don’t have enough power to make things better – while, for the rich, the avenues to prosperity, security and respect are always open. Our aim is to deliver prosperity, security and respect for all.

ACTIVIST MOVEMENT: Our party exists to bring about a fundamental and irreversible shift in wealth and power to working people. To get there we’re going to need a mobilised trade union movement, grassroots community organising and a united Labour Party. As your candidate, I will use my organising and communications skills to make this happen.

SOCIAL JUSTICE: I will focus on the policies I fought for alongside Keir Starmer in his leadership campaign – including:

Repeal the Trade Union Act.

Abolish Universal Credit and the cruel sanctions regime.

Scrap student tuition fees.

End the detention and deportation of asylum seekers. (A full list of policies forthcoming)

GREEN NEW DEAL: I’ll campaign for a Green New Deal, so that Labour’s £28 billion a year investment plan delivers well-paid jobs and cheaper energy to people in the North West. To achieve zero net carbon within a decade we need public ownership of the energy system.

QUALITY OF LIFE: I’ll lead a determined fight against the crime, high housing costs and rip-off transport prices that blight the lives of working class communities. I’ll fight for local democratic control over the big development projects planned along the Manchester Ship Canal.

FIGHT RACISM: My great-grandparents fled to the U.K. from anti-Semitic pogroms in the Russian Empire. And from the Anti-Nazi League in the 1970s to Black Lives Matter today, I’ve always stood alongside the struggles of black, Asian and minority ethnic people. I want to restore Freedom of Movement with the EU, a fair migration system, an end to the detention and deportation of refugees.

STRONG ON DEFENCE: I want the UK to build the strongest possible ties with our NATO allies. I’ve worked with Labour’s shadow defence team during the Ukraine crisis, where our party has been ahead of the Tories and got the big calls right. Unshakeable solidarity with our democratic allies, and support for our armed force are Labour traditions to be proud of.

WHAT NEXT?: Please ask your branch, union or affiliated society to nominate me. And get in touch! (Contact details circulated to members)

In solidarity

Written by Andrew Coates

June 1, 2022 at 1:29 pm

France: Return of the Left?

leave a comment »

French Left Gets Serious About the National Assembly Elections and its Future.

The French left has not collapsed or been absorbed in the way its Italian counterparts have done in the face of a new centrist party (il Partito Democratico, in Italy’s case). Hopes are growing that, with Mélenchon toning down his left-populist rhetoric about “federating the people” against the “elite”, “la caste” beyond political divisions, the serious business of creating left alliances, not just in the National Assembly but on the ground, may begin.

Seventy-year-old Mélenchon is not standing in the coming elections – he has said that one can be prime minister without being an MP (technically the case for a number of former PMs). Commentators point to the candidacy of Manuel Bompard in the LFI leader’s former Marseille seat. Is he passing the reins of power over to the person who headed the negotiations that created NUPES? Can a more durable strategy of left unity come about with a new generation in charge of La France insoumise?

Full article: Return of the left in France?

For those interested in the minutiae of French Trotskyism- and who isn’t? – this is interesting. Jean Luc-Mélenchon came into politics as an activist, and regional cadre, of the ‘Lambertist’ current of Trotskyism.

That is, the Organisation communiste internationaliste, l’OCI, the Lambertists, from the pseudonym of their leader Pierre Lambert, real name Pierre Boussel (June 9, 1920 – January 16, 2008). One of the fragments left of this tendency, the Le Parti ouvrier indépendant, Independent Workers Party, (POI) (not to confused with their deadly foes, le Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID) – the feud ended in the historic 2015 split)- has been in touch with the leader of La France insoumise. More precisely they have backed Mélenchon’s electoral interventions since 2017. The POI is one of the smaller parties/groups that form part of the NUPES alliance.

Despite its decline, the POI still has a large building in Paris 87, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis. Known by its street number, 87, this workers’ fortress has a reputation, not always a glowing one, amongst those who have little fondness for the Lambertists. The HQ has been given over to meetings of Mélenchon’s Presidential front, the Union Populaire. Some say they intend to buy it. The POID are enraged,

“Pierre Lambert would turn in his grave seeing how the hard work of activists that had made it possible to acquire this premises have been betrayed. (…)The large (Meeting) room at 87, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis, yesterday adorned with red flags, portraits of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, is today adorned with te tricolour and posters glorifying the new Popular Front. ” says Daniel Gluckstein, leader of the POID.


 Nouvelle Union Populaire écologique et sociale (NUPES)

PartyAbbr.IdeologyPolitical positionLeader(s)
La France Insoumise and allies
La France InsoumiseLFIDemocratic socialism
Left-wing populism
Left-wing to far-leftAdrien Quatennens
Left PartyPGDemocratic socialism
Left-wing populism
Left-wingJean-Christophe Sellin
Hélène Le Cacheux
Picardie DeboutPDSocialism
Left-wing populism
Economic nationalism
Left-wingFrançois Ruffin
Ecological Revolution for the LivingREVDeep ecology
Green politics
Left-wingAymeric Caron
Independent Workers’ PartyPOICommunism
Left-wing[25] to far-leftCollective
Rézistans Égalité 974RÉ974Democratic socialism
Left-wing to far-leftJean-Hugues Ratenon
Ecologist Pole
Europe Ecology – The GreensEELVGreen politics
Centre-left to left-wingJulien Bayou
Génération.sG.sDemocratic socialism
Centre-left to left-wingBenoît Hamon
The New DemocratsNDSocial liberalism
Social democracy
Centre-leftAurélien Taché
Émilie Cariou
Ecology GenerationGreen politics
Integral ecology
CentreDelphine Batho
Socialist Party and allies
Socialist PartyPSSocial democracyCentre-leftOlivier Faure
Place PubliquePPSocial democracy
Centre-leftRaphaël Glucksmann
New DealNDSocial liberalism
European federalism
Centre-left to left-wingArnaud Lelache
Aline Mouquet
French Communist Party and allies
French Communist PartyPCFCommunismLeft-wing to far-leftFabien Roussel
Pour La RéunionPLRDemocratic socialism
Left-wingHuguette Bello
Tavini HuiraatiraTHSocial democracy
Democratic socialism
French Polynesian autonomism/independence
Centre-left to left-wingOscar Temaru
Péyi-APéyi-AMartiniquean independenceCentre-left to left-wingJean-Philippe Nilor
Marcelin Nadeau

Written by Andrew Coates

May 30, 2022 at 12:23 pm