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Is English Politics stuck in the merde?

Three by-elections – three victories for Labour. In the 80’s that would have been cause for cheer, with visions of booting out the hated Tories.
Fast forward to today, and we have to acknowledge it’s not what it says on the tin.
For UK’s Labour, read PSOE of Spain or PASOK in Greece or the Social Democrats in Germany. Why not mention U-turn Hollande in Paris too?

The only ones crowing last night were UKIP – a decidedly nasty party which uses the BNP as a foil to say that it’s not fascist or racist, simply patriotic.

So, why did BNP activists canvass and campaign on behalf of UKIP?

The dirty little secret in the UK was that we did have a political force every bit as vile as Marie le Pen’s National Front in France and its equivalent in Holland, Italy, Hungary and Finland.

English politics can be classified so:

Far-Right: BNP & English Defence League
Hard-Right: UKIP
Right: Tories
Centre-Right: Lib-Dems & New Labour
Left: Individual Labour MP’s/activists / Greens (though
with a powerful German Greenesque cabal) &
Respect (controlled by a theocratic Right wing)

England is now shifting to the Hard Right. UKIP don’t need to win any Parliamentary seats in this rotten electoral system which discriminates against smaller parties.
UKIP has set the agenda. All parties, especially the One Nation Labour Party, is bowing down to this.
The shrill anti-immigration rhetoric of all parties is what we shall see more of before 2015. The opportunistic anti-EU budget stance of Miliband and Labour shows what’s in play.

To secure the southern English seats, Miliband will shift further to the right (while keeping to populist anti-banks slogans).
His model is France’s Francois Hollande.
Fool the Commentariat, appeal to the ‘progressive vote bank’ and let Ed Balls do a deal with the City of London.

Make no mistake, as people were fooled with Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems in 2010, they look like repeating that mistake with Ed Miliband in 2014-15 (as I did in 1997 with Tony Blair).
So, if Miliband does become PM (with help from LibDem Cable), we should except the Labour administration to follow similar hollowed out Socialists on the mainland and continue with the neo-liberal agenda of inequality in the name of efficiency.

I see no basis for a English Syriza to rise later in this decade.
There is no sign now, and precious little in its history, to show that that there is any appetite for rebellion.

Instead, I fear that an embittered England, finding it difficult coming to terms with the departing Scots, will recreate a Harsh Right tinged Identity politics.
Exclusion, forced patriotism & a backs-to-the-wall siege mentality will dictate the discourse.

After all, the background to this is the fact the UK is one of the most highly indebted states on this planet where its elite refuses to re-invent the state into a peaceful European entity.
The Greeks continued to spend on armaments even while the economy was tanking.
England continues the same (spending almost twice as much per head as most of Europe). Imperial delusions and a servile relationship with the USA demand that the only strategy is for obeisance to the City of London and sacrificing the working classes and the Precariat.
The welfare state has no protectors in any of the mainstream parties. There are some startling similarities between the Spanish and English elite.
Both are now looking to drive down the economy and make it Low-Cost.
Both are counting on the majority to meekly allow this social and economic engineering to reach its conclusion.
In Iberia, it looks like the rebellion will manifest itself in independence movements and the final break up of Imperial Spain.
On this island, the Scots will leave eventually.
What then for the English?

How does “English jobs for English workers” sound? Good, Bad or Ugly?

At the Labour Party conference, Chris Bryant, Shadow Immigration Minister said:

“…. I think there are three industries, the hospitality industry, the construction industry and agriculture who have done remarkably little to make sure there are British people able to come in [and work in] those industries.

“Why is it that you go to a hotel in France and you’re welcomed by a French person, that’s delightful.

“You’ve actually got to invest in skills and training and make sure you’ve got the balance and work force that is going to take on those jobs.”

OK. Between 1997 to 2010, didn’t Labour invest in skills and training, then? I thought they did.
If not, why not?
If it did, why do British businesses employ foreign workers?
And what does Chris Bryant mean regarding British businesses need to do more? How?
How will he ensure that restaurants and hotels employ more people from Britain, to match his vision of France? Quotas? If it’s left to market forces, how long would it take to up-skill people? Then, isn’t this a long term project being sold as a short term fix?

I worry that if you add this to Ed Miliband’s speech in the summer when he was “sorry” about immigration, come election time, in front of a hostile media, it will be all too easy to be all too tough on immigration.

If the Tories are trying to take a sledgehammer to the EU’s freedom of movement by people, where will Labour be by the time they are courting votes in the South-east of England?
And where in all this is Blue Labour?

John Cruddas, once the darling of the Left, made me uncomfortable as I watched his interview a few weeks ago. Everything seemed to be up in the air, to be looked at.

The suspicion was that this is all a prelude to a return to Gordon Brown’s “British jobs for British Workers”.
Today, a deal on a referendum to decide Scotland’s independence was signed.
If the Scots did decide to leave, then would that slogan have to be changed to “English Jobs for English Workers”?

Now, how nasty does that sound?

Nationalism threatens the European status quo

I am not saying that it’s a bad thing.
What I am concerned about is the position or non-position among the more progressive and green parts of the spectrum in England.
Many activists might be unaware that the European Greens work together with the European Free Alliance, a group of Nationalist parties, including Plaid & SNP to EA in the Basque country and beyond.

Yesterday, Belgium via its Antwerp election took a giant step to a split.
On Sunday, 21st October, the Basques go to polls where it looks like the nationalists will win two thirds of the vote.
Catalonia has a referendum on independence on November 25th.

But I have yet to witness any debate within the Green movement on what happens if Europe splinters into new states. Wallonia anyone? Catalunya?
The EU can forget about basking in the halo of a Nobel Prize (!). The position of Brussels would need to be resolved if Belgium split.

2014 looks to be a pivotal year..

a) Scottish referendum on Independence
b) 200th anniversary of Catalan subjugation into a Spanish state & elections
c) Belgian general elections
d) European elections

Europe is changing before our very eyes. We had better recognise this and adapt or state our position.
The fight against austerity is very much linked to rising nationalism. The English question may not be being asked right now, but it will. Much sooner than we think.
What I am very afraid of is that we leave those questions to be asked by the right wing who then go on to frame a debate which focuses on exclusivity, a barely-veiled racism and an immoral economic system which unites all three mainstream Unionist parties.

Farid Erkizia Bakht

AFP reports the Belgian bombshell election this way:
Flemish nationalist leader Bart De Wever scored a breakthrough election win Sunday and immediately urged Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo to radically re-shape the federal state.

Hailing a “historic” victory for himself in Antwerp with big gains right across Dutch-speaking Flanders in local polls, De Wever said Di Rupo and his coalition partners should “assume your responsibility.”

With results from Antwerp almost all in, De Wever’s New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) bagged 37.7 percent and Socialist incumbent mayor Patrick Janssens 28.6 percent, and the win was underpinned by scores of 20-30 percent across the territory of six million people.

With backers readying for a party in City Hall, De Wever demanded negotiations “to enable both Flanders and Wallonia to look after their own affairs.”

In the run-up to tense 2014 general elections, he wants to turn Belgium into a “confederation,” effectively seeking fiscal independence for the Dutch-speaking north and French-speaking south although sharing areas like defence.

Only this, De Wever said, would allow Belgium as a whole to “find a path of solidarity,” which could also affect the future of Brussels, the largely Francophone EU, Belgian and Flemish capital.

why do Greens have a Party of England AND Wales?

Unlike the main political parties, the Green Party is not a UK wide party. There is a separate Scottish Green Party.

So why is Wales and England linked?

Is Wales an afterthought? Is it thought that there is very little Green Party support so let’s tag it on to the much larger English Green Party?

I cannot see the logic of keeping the two together if we have separated from the Irish and Scottish Greens.

It may also not be very strategic.

After all, what message does it send to Welsh voters, who may feel proud of being Welsh but not sure of going over to Plaid Cymru?

Does it also not place the Welsh Greens onto a position of “they’re just like the 3 main parties but a lot smaller”?

What if the Welsh Green Party were separate completely? It would have its independent way of operating, specific to the conditions of Wales.

It would be on much firmer territory in negotiating with Plaid Cymru. The latter’s policies have a lot in common with the Green Party. Their trump card is however that they can say that only Plaid Cymru is really pushing for Wales, in its vision of national liberation.

A independent Welsh Green Party (spelt in its own language) would offer an overtly Green vision of Wales, and I would assume inevitably move towards seeking greater powers and finance from London. When Scotland becomes independent, the politicians in Wales would have to make a choice between Unionism or Independence.

A Welsh Green Party would have a few years head start over the mainstream (discredited) parties that it’s primary concern is Wales .

The flip side is that an English Green Party would outflank the racist parties such as UKIP with a vision for England which can espouse a new economic and social system, equal, left-wing and REGIONAL, challenging the London dominated financial sector obsessed view of the World.

English politics will become more regional as the economic crisis bites deeply over the rest of this decade as regions clamour for clean energy industrialisation, better balance across England, more equality and even a move from the Permanent War based fossil fuel system fed by unending debt.

Unless the Greens move into English territory (accepting the importance of identity and culture) offering a global philosophy of rebuilding a society within the context of climate change, spiralling debts, Peak Oil, War, to move to fulfil the need for full employment and equality, then the mainstream parties will lurch further towards the right.

The Miliband dipping the toe into racist waters shows where English politics is heading. The Greens need to build an alternative case for an England where being proud of one’s country does not mean racism, exclusion, harassment of minorities and chauvinism.

After all, ‘Third World’ national liberation movements were and still are something Greens find easy to support because it is against colonialism (old or new), and because they wanted freedom to create a society which worked the entire population, not just the pampered few.

This is dangerous territory. One suspects there may be middle class Greens happy to live in Midsomer Murder ‘all white’ villages in tripled glazed homes and organic food, far away from ethnic minorities in London.

However, that is not Green in its real sense. Just cherry picking by latent right wingers using environmental cover to preach an end to immigration, to over-population (as in in the Global South!) and exclusion.

An English Green Party would keep its current beliefs, its refreshing ideals on immigration and its global worldview. It would instead be able to enter any political arena and not run away from St. George flags and leave people in the clutches of three shrivelled mainstream parties, espousing UKIP led diatribes.

As things get ugly with the economy, the social climate will deteriorate. Have a look at mainland Europe. With New Labour abandoning the high moral ground, only a Green movement can offer an alternative.

To do that, it has to remove doubts in people’s minds about how it approaches the vexed question of English Identity.

A major step would be to carry out the logic of having separate Irish and Scottish Green Parties into amicably splitting to form an English Green Party and a Welsh Green Party.

Banglatown & Spitalfields by-election (2)

We covered the rest of Brune House and Carter House in a sweep of flats. The reaction was particularly friendly. The other two parties had already knocked on doors and got the message through that there is another election (Dec 16th).

Last night I heard it pretty likely that there will yet another by-election by February in the same ward.

I get the sense that there is something to build on here, even if it requires patience and dedication. Lack of jobs came over this time as the big concern, on top of the permanent nightmare about in-decent housing and broken promises.

Our female candidate is finding it easier to break barriers with many of the women at the doorstep (she worked several years as a Health Visitor on the same estate) though translation is being required regularly.

Again we received the most popular reaction when we said that voters should demand that councillors not jump ship and change parties.

The better-off City employees behind Petticoat Lane haven’t given much indication they will vote. The residents of Brune & Carter House will.

How will they vote? One father said he voted Labour (as always) since he ‘didn’t know much about politics…… it’s all way above our heads’…. and that they had come and asked him.’

We didn’t dwell on trying to persuade him that actually it’s the politician who is way above his head in dealing with the harsh realities of local administration.. with swingeing outs and the onset of recession 2.

Cold and weary, we piled into a cafe run by a couple of Moroccans. They showed us a Labour flyer when he saw our Green rosettes. The one behind the counter said he would offer us free cake if we spotted the error. Being famished, we read every word ….. and found it… the bold headline proclaimed the election was to be held on ’16nd December’.

We received a plate of cake after our falafel lunch. It was worth researching the opposition. After chatting, the cafe owner & chef  volunteered the vote. While we won’t necessarily bank on that… I guess we will be back.

Farid Bakht