Macron the Sun King – or the Louis who lost his head?

by Revolting Europe

Emmanuel Macron’s surprise victory in France to potentially unchecked political power has invited comparisons with all powerful leaders of the Hexagon’s past. Is he the Sun King, the most supreme of all Europe’s absolute monarchs? Or perhaps like another King Louis, XVI, who faced a revolt of the masses and lost his head.

After taking the Élysée Palace in May, Macron stormed the National Assembly. His 350 (out 577) seats dwarfed the 137 for Francois Fillon’s Republicans and 44 for Benoît Hamon’s Socialists’. Yet the voter abstention rate hit record highs of 58% in the second round of the parliamentary election. Despite his shock success, Macron’s hold over France is less solid than some predicted and he would like.

Already concerns are increasing over his obsession with pomp, for which he has been rightly ridiculed in the French press. Not content with French historical comparisons Macron has been reaching into classical mythology – promoting himself as King of the Roman Gods, Jupiter, no less. Continue reading →

Why rallies work

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Rallies in politics matter, and you needn’t take my word for it any more as Alia Middleton at the LSE has crunched the numbers. She found that where Theresa May set down during the election campaign, her visits had little appreciable effect on the outcome in those seats. When Jeremy Corbyn rolled into town for one of his rallies, the party vote share change went up almost double versus constituencies he didn’t visit. Amaze.

If you cast your mind back to any point before this year’s general election campaign, some wise old wise old could be found lecturing the world about how rallies do not win elections. Indeed, some might have said they’re a complete waste of time. Why bother listening to someone tell you things you already know when you could be posting leaflets and knocking on doors? And, of course, in Jez’s case it was just another case of him being in his comfort zone talking to folks who agree with him. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Continue reading →

Five reasons why a new centre party is a stupid idea

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

It’s truly silly season if talk of a new centre party is abroad yet again. James Chapman, ex-Daily Mail and former office boss in David Davis’s Department for Exiting the European Union sparked off the latest chittery-chattery in a series of pointed posts on yours and mine’s favourite social media outlet. He said Boris Johnson should be banged up for his moronic £350m/week pledge to fund the NHS, and took several gormless ministers to task about how Brexit is affecting their briefs. Of more interest is his desire for a new ‘Democratic Party’ that would seek to overturn the result of last year’s referendum. No cheap shots on the incongruence between the name and the reluctance to accept a democratic decision, please.

Unfortunately for “Chappers” his new party fantasy is just that. It might be a dream he shares with Tony Blair, the Jolyon scene and “very interesting people”, but it’s the pantomime gesturing of a political elite left out of sorts by the post-referendum, post-election landscape. It appears superficially similar to what went before, but try as they may it rebels against them. Nothing underlines this confusion more than their stubborn, centre party meme. Here then, for the umpteenth time are five reasons why it won’t work and cannot work. Continue reading →

NPF Annual Reports – the International Commission

by David Pavett

This report by Labour’s Inernational Policy Commission follows the same non-committal, evidence-free, approach that I noted when reviewing the report from the Early Years, Education and Skills Commission. If these reports are not all written by the same person they certainly seem to closely follow the same template. The first section kicks off with hand-waving references to discussions held in which major issues get single word or phrase references. Thus

The International Policy Commission held its first meeting in early February. Emily Thornberry MP, Nia Griffith MP and Kate Osamor MP gave the Commission an overview of developments in their respective briefs and provided updates on their teams’ work since the NPF meeting. Commission members then raised a number of questions and comments relating to Brexit, the Middle East, defence spending, the aid budget and the arms trade.

Continue reading →

Donald Trump and North Korea

by Phil Burton-Cartledge

It’s 9th August 2017, 72 years to the day since a nuclear weapon was last used in anger. How might the leadership of the nation who launched that attack commemorate the event. I suppose the United States could have taken a leaf out of Barack Obama’s book and at least utter a few pious words. Then again, you can’t expect anything of the sort from Donald Trump who responded to another outburst of North Korean tough talk – this time an empty boast of their intention to launch a pre-emptive attack on the US airbase on Guam – with the threat of nuclear war. An impeccable sense of timing, that man.

I’m forever hopeful we won’t see war on the Korean peninsular, because anyone with half an understanding of the situation knows a conflict would exact a huge cost, even though the outcome would be a foregone conclusion. The South would pay a horrendous blood price, and the huge cost of rebuilding an entire country and dealing with millions traumatised by dictatorship, war and occupation would be on them. The Federal Republic had a hard time absorbing the former East Germany, and that was one of the world’s richest countries doing so under more benign economic circumstances. A Republic of Korea doing the same with the north after a war, and after its economic and cultural centres around Seoul have been reduced to rubble by artillery is a nightmare that doesn’t bear thinking about. Korean politicians know this, Korea-watchers know this and, crucially, Kim Jong-un knows this too. Continue reading →

On climate change, the NDP’s Niki Ashton beats Corbyn

by Chris MacMackin

While Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party have brought many improvements to party policy, much remains to be done. In particular, Corbyn has been weak on energy and climate policy. Although Labour’s election manifesto was widely interpreted to include energy nationalisation, in fact it promised no such thing. It pledged to bring the electricity grid into public ownership at some ill-defined later date, but that was the only nationalisation proposed. Instead it pledges to create “publicly owned, locally accountable energy companies and cooperatives”, which a supplementary industrial strategy paper clarifies to mean energy suppliers (the companies from which we purchase gas and electricity, rather than the companies which produce it). Despite stating “Labour understands that many people don’t have time to shop around”, strangely the party’s solution is to introduce a 7th choice to the market.
Continue reading →

Where do we go from here? Notes on a contribution from Compass

by David Pavett

The left think-tank Compass recently published an extended essay Mayism without May: the crisis of the Regressive Alliance and the challenge of Corbynism. It is offered as “an analysis of the dominant bloc that determines the common sense of our society” and as a contribution to finding a path to alliances of progressive forces inside and outside the Labour Party. It was written by Ken Spours, Professor of Post-Compulsory Education at the London Institute of Education. He previously wrote The Osborne Supremacy and The Very Modern Prince: the 21st century political party, both published by Compass.

The essay is based on four propositions: (1) Tory dominance continues but in changed circumstances opening new possibilities; (2) The Tory-led regressive alliance is in crisis but will adapt; (3) Corbyn’s Labour has achieved much but now needs to develop a “progressive combinatorial politics”; (4) the progressive bloc must be led by Labour but will require new alliance-based politics and popular mobilisation. Continue reading →

The National Policy Forum Annual Report 2017

by David Pavett

The NPF Annual Report was quietly released on 3rd August by placing it on membersnet but making no announcement of the fact. Would it have been so hard to email members to tell them the document is now available?

Despite this publicity-shy approach (the report was not even available on the Policy Forum website at the time of writing) we are told in the opening pages: “We want as many people as possible to get involved … Together we can build a policy platform to tackle the challenges our country faces …”.

You can download the full annual report here. If you have not got time to read the whole thing but would like to focus on one or more of the policy areas covered by the eight policy commissions, then here are the separate reports for printing separately: Early Years, Education and Skills, Economy, Business and Trade, Environment, Energy and Culture, Health and Care, Housing, Local Government and Transport, International, Justice and Home Affairs, Work, Pensions and Equality. The text of the reports varies between four and six pages. Continue reading →

A Canadian Corbyn?

by Chris MacMackin

Niki Ashton, NDP leadership hopeful

With the ascendancy of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the US, the Canadian Left (to the extent it exists) has been wondering what the chances are of the same happening for them. Like the United Kingdom, Canada has a party—the New Democratic Party, or NDP—linked to the unions, so could a left-wing candidate emerge there?

The history of the NDP is not encouraging. When it was founded as the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1932 it adopted the radical Regina Manifesto which memorably ends with the commitment that “No C.C.F. Government will rest content until it has eradicated capitalism and put into operation the full programme of socialized planning which will lead to the establishment in Canada of the Cooperative Commonwealth.” However, after forming government in the province of Saskatchewan in 1944, they pursued a classically reformist program, similar to that of Attlee. In 1956, moderates in the NDP replaced the Regina Manifesto with the social democratic and pro-capitalist Winnipeg Declaration. Desiring to increase links with trade unions and further moderate the party, in 1962 the CCF partnered with the Canadian Labour Congress to create the New Democratic Party. Their ambition was to replace the centrist Liberal Party as one of the two parties of government, much as happened in the UK during the 1920s. Continue reading →

Once he’s through with Venezuela, Corbyn must denounce your mum, continental breakfasts and boring rock bands

by David Osland

Demands for political opponents to undertake humiliating self-criticism before a mass audience seemingly fell out of favour roughly about the time the Chinese Communist Party wound up the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

But fashions are always cyclical. Since 2015, a wonderfully nostalgic Labour right has gleefully nicked this page from the Maoist playbook, in the form of the popular parlour game they call ‘Corbyn must denounce …’

The rules are quite simple. All you do is set your liberal commentator buddy up with a couple of quotes from a scorned backbencher, anonymously if need be. The rightwing press will take it from there. Continue reading →

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