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

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.
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A Canadian Corbyn?

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