Immediate post-election thoughts

Some observations on the general election results of last night:

  1. The electorate hasn’t really shifted since 2010. The share of left-centre votes vs right-centre votes is very similar. The results cannot really be understood in terms of a rightwards shift.
  2. The two big losers, Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats, share one thing in common which no other parties do: they were seen to have teamed up with the Tories (in Better Together or in Government). The Tories are the second most hated brand in the UK, beating Ryanair and Marmite and beaten only by UKIP. People’s positive feelings towards their own party are nothing to their hatred of the Tories. Sadly I think that this is more to do with brand identity than ideology.
  3. The two big winners, UKIP and the SNP, again only share one thing in common: nationalism. Clearly their policy platforms could not be more different but they share in common a belief that the problems in society come from outside the nation: the EU or Westminster. I am not saying that the two parties should be considered in the same way – the SNP is of course vastly preferable to UKIP – but the reasons behind their support are not a million miles apart. If it were true that the SNP’s rise was simply an attack on Labour from the left, we would have seen a significant difference in the results for left-wing Labour MPs like Katy Clark, or an SNP manifesto much further to to the left of Labour’s. We didn’t.
  4. Left-of-Labour parties continue to have no success under first past the post. The #Greensurge resulted in no additional seats, despite mobilising tons of activists and securing a better media presence than ever before. The Labour Party continues to be the only way that we can defeat the Tories.
  5. The fight in the Labour Party in the coming months is going to be incredibly important. The Labour Right will argue that Miliband was too left-wing, particularly on immigration, ‘the market’ and public services. The Labour Left have to make the case that politics is not won or lost on this consumerist basis. We have to argue that class politics is the only thing that can defeat nationalism and individualism, and that over-turning 35 years of neoliberal hegemony takes time.This needs socialists to fight for their ideas, and the trade unions to fight for their policies to be taken up by the party.

If you agree with this, especially points 4 and 5, then you should join the Labour Party and join the fight.

Two short lessons from Syriza’s youth movement

I’ve just come out of a meeting hosted by the leadership of Syriza’s youth movement. The Labour Party’s Greek sister party, after allying with the right to implement austerity, look set to be wiped out in tomorrow’s election and it is likely that Syriza will form the first serious left government in Europe. Syriza is not perfect but the progress is has made should give leftists everywhere pause for thought.

They made two points which struck me as relevant to Young Labour Continue reading

London Young Labour Conference 2014 Report

Note: this is, to my best knowledge, an accurate account of the conference. It is nonetheless a political account, based on my own political views. I’d be interested to hear the views of other attendees!

London Young Labour (LYL) Conference this weekend marked a serious step forward for socialist politics in Young Labour. The conference atmosphere was cheerful and good-spirited, despite plenty of disagreement, and the outgoing committee deserve credit for that. Strong left-wing policy came out of the motions debates and, although we do not yet know the ‘Block’ result, the new committee looks to be very promising. We also hosted a successful fringe meeting about the Labour Campaign for Free Education.

Sadly, the conference was marred by poor organisation of the motions process and an outrageous attempt to stifle London Young Labour democracy.

Here are my thoughts on the conference: two good things and two areas for improvement. Continue reading

In Defence of Telling the Truth

This article was originally published on Slaney Street on 28th October 2014. It was removed a few hours later. I hope that it is put back up eventually but for the meantime I have put it here as a matter of record.

The 46-strong NUS National Executive Council (NEC) all support action in solidarity with Kurdistan, yet have voted to do nothing about it. A motion with the line “no confidence in US intervention” has been condemned as pro-intervention. Daniel Cooper, who was not so long ago hounded by the right-wing press, is now accused of being their stooge. It is difficult to make sense of it all. Continue reading

The Yes campaign is a campaign for Scottish nationalism

You would be forgiven for considering this obvious, but it is in fact deeply controversial. For many of its supporters a Yes vote bears no relation to nationalism; it is a vote for democracy, fairness, and progress. This is not deceit either. They are not trying to sell nationalism falsely. They believe that their progressive ideals can be best realised through Independence. They are socialists, progressives and radicals, not nationalists. Nonetheless, they have joined a nationalist campaign, justified primarily by implicitly nationalist arguments

The Yes campaign is the largest nationalist mobilisation in modern Scottish history and it is bolstered by every Yes supporter. The inability to recognise this prevents the progressive Yeses from seeing the danger ahead. Continue reading