Why is the extreme right on the rise in Europe?

Far right logosThe European Parliament is preparing to welcome the most powerful extreme right that the Old Continent has seen since the 1930s. Ignacio Ramonet discusses the factors behind this disturbing political development in a translation by Tom Gill from the French original.

One thing is certain: the European elections in late May will result in an overall rise of the far-right vote. And the arrival in the European Parliament of a wave of new ultra-right members. Currently they are gathered in two groups: the European Alliance for Freedom (EAF) and the Alliance of European National Movements (AENM). In all 47 MEPs, barely 6% of 766 euroseats. And after May 25? Double? Sufficient to block the decisions of the European Parliament and therefore the functioning of the European Union? Continue reading

Islam and the New Atheists

I do like James Bloodworth and I think he’s done a great job building up the profile of Left Foot Forward since taking up the reins. But his recent piece for The SpeccieIt’s fine to be a ‘new’ atheist, so long as you don’t object to Islam reads like it was written in haste. As such it is unsophisticated and limited, the article fails to think through the object of his polemic. And it lacks the unpardonable N-word: nuance.

The point he makes is a well-worn one. James argues that the so-called New Atheists of the Dawkins/Hitchens type are getting it in the neck for criticising Islam from some parts of the left. The exhibits wheeled out are Glenn Greenwald and Owen Jones, but you could take your pick from many, many more. Comrades like Glenn and Owen contend that against the background of a generalised antipathy toward Islam which, in turn, is stoked up by powerful vested interests on either side of the Atlantic; the reactionary and the bigoted can use the critiques of Islam by the trendy atheists for their own ends. Hence the latter have culpability for their arguments. After all, the right to free speech comes with the responsibility for it. Continue reading

Why French anti-fascists took to the streets last weekend

Thousands marched in Paris and other cities in France last weekend to protest against  violence by far right groups which claimed the life of Clément Méric, a student union and anti-fascist activist. Below is a joint statement by the organisers and supporters of the demonstrations:

Fascism kills. Together, we can fight it!

On 5 June, right-wing militants killed Clément Méric, the student union and anti-fascist activist. This outrageous murder angers and horrifies us: it follows numerous assaults in recent months by far-right groups. The situation calls for a strong response, to put a halt to the spread of these ideas and foul practices. Continue reading

A challenge for the trades union movement

Nazi saluting tanked up extremists who have sworn to rid the country of a religious minority in Britain, run amok through the heart of the capital passing within 200 metres of the House of Commons with a grand total of two police officers in pursuit.

Going through all the possible opening paragraphs for a classic news piece, I couldn’t come up with a more accurate opening salvo.

Pursuing the EDL is a precarious occupation at the best of times but is a truly chilling prospect when for at least 20 minutes there are seemingly just two officers for company. Continue reading

Lutfur Rahman: the case for reinstatement

Although Tower Hamlets has the wealth distribution profile of a least developed country, the borough has made big improvements in education, housing and other social services, both under Labour control and now under an ex-Labour executive Mayor.

Even so, in the media it has become a by-word for corruption and incompetence, but that reputation owes less to reality than to perceptions fanned by a disturbing alliance of New(ish) Labour and old-style stitch ups, with conservative little Englanders epitomised by the Telegraph and Mail.

Continue reading