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Has the European Green Party lost its radical edge?

In elections yesterday, the Greens were almost invisible.
In Catalonia, the result will be better, but that’s the only place in Iberia where we register our presence.

In Greece, there has been a political upheaval. Natalie Bennett, the Leader of the English & Welsh Greens called for a new Syriza here.
She couldn’t very well say the Greek Greens.

In Portugal, where are we?
In Italy?
In Ireland, the Irish Greens disastrously joined the government and did what the LibDems are doing in the UK. Lust for power = ditching principles = the people ditch you too!

In all these peripheral countries in Europe, the political situation has changed incredib;y as disillusioned people have searched for alternatives.
They have NOT looked at the Greens.

We need to ask ourselves this question and very quickly come out with an answer.
One clue to our misfortune is the disgraceful actions of the European Green co-leader, Danny Cohn Bendit.
He berated the French Greens for opposing Hollande’s austerity budget and resigned in a huff.
Good riddance.

This may be a turning point in the slow slide to mediocrity and listlessness in the face of unprecedented ecological and economic crises.
The “me-too” politics of concession, surrender and coalition at any cost proves to be electorally disastrous eventually.

But where’s the debate?

Farid Erkizia Bakht

Basques – to the left or the right?

The Basque elections yesterday resulted in the Nationalists winning almost two-thirds of the total vote.
The unionist parties were routed.
Out of 75 seats, the right-wing nationalists (PNV) won 27 while the left-wing pro-independence coalition (EH Bildu)won 21 with 25% of the total votes.

PNV now have to make a decision.
Do they rule in a coalition with fellow nationalists, the EH Bildu?
Or do they go with the so-called Socialists of PSOE (a kind of PASOK)?

Given that PNV sees Bildu as the ultimate threat to their monopoly on nationalism (as the left wing nationalists were disenfranchised for years), realpolitik would suggest that PNV will opt for PSOE.

If they did, it would be a strategic error in the medium term.
The austerity cuts will bite even deeper the next 24 months and if PNV don’t challenge Madrid effectively, it could see support ebb away to EH Bildu.
The left nationalists are a very young grouping with only one way to go: UP.
As Paul Mason says, they are a cross between Sein Fenn and Syriza.
In the long game, they are likely to gather strength (as their name implies).
They have won legitimacy.

The two highest items on the Basque agenda will be:

a) end of the Basque conflict, starting with prisoner repatriation to the Basque country and a formal agreement for peace
b) a rejection of Austerity

The right wing nationalists of PNV will struggle and thus lose support steadily in 2013 and 2014 to the Left.

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?

Let’s have an inquiry re Labour’s “light touch” let off for the City

The Tories want a quick, easily forgotten inquiry into LIBOR-fixing by twenty banks.

Labour want a long public inquiry about ” the culture of banking”

Why have an inquiry? Do a street poll and the majority of people will tell you that the ‘casino bankers” are vultures, preying on them.

Instead, Ed Balls and co could explain their 13 years of light-touch regulation and how they kow-towed to the City of London, and even gloated about it as how ‘successful economies’ should be run.

Either, take a radical approach and restructure the economy.

Or, have your own internal debate about why Labour = PASOK and Spain’s PSOE and why reform needs to start within the Labour Party now before they become irrelevant later on this decade.

Naturally, this is exactly the opposite of what will happen. The ‘strategists’ will bask in the glory of high opinion poll numbers and tinker with messages, sounding a little bit radical (with absolutely no intention to follow through when they are back in power).

Politics in this island needs a shakeup, to allow genuine debate. And choice.

I will be hopeful when the intellectual self-styled ‘progressives’ start their ‘mea culpas’ and ditch the Miliband/Balls charade, demanding that Labour rip up their out-of-date nineties mantra and look around them… the world has changed.

PASOK & PSOE have belatedly realised they are ‘yesterday’s men’. Labour are doing their best to join them.




Dangerous Decade 2

Western Europe learns about fragmentation. No more will states be created and destroyed according to whims of ambitious diplomats in London, Paris or Madrid playing God.

We all know how Belgium is papering over the cracks, but for how long?

Increasingly, England is giving up on the Union as Scotland flexes its right to independence. Matter of time. Who mentions Northern Ireland in England any more? It’s over.

Madrid is going the same way but faster. It isn’t going to hold on to the Basque country nor will it do so in Catalonia. The writing is on the wall.

France is seemingly untouched. We shall see.

Six decades of ‘fixing Germany’ and then taking over Eastern Europe and the Ukraine…. it’s over (but they don’t want to recognise it).

Italy? Tougher one to call, not least because of nasty Umberto Bossi. But Cavour and Garibaldi will be rolling in their graves.

Economics is key. And it’s not looking pretty.

Activated again!

I took a ‘sabbatical’ for the best part of a year, doing other things. Now, I am in the mood to return to putting pen to paper (or this finger to keyboard or even talking to Dragon).

Some of the things I am thinking about is how politics to the left of the spectrum reacts to the prevailing forces.

Specifically, is the universalist view of Green politics out of touch with the driving force today which is Nationalism?

In times of crisis, especially in Europe, which is in the driving seat? Green politics or Nationalist politics.

And why?

And how can Greens and Left-leaning people link up with the better part of Nationalism, akin to the National Liberation movements in what used to be called the Third World and can be seen in Europe today in the Basque country, Catalonia, Wales and Scotland…. and many places beyond?

Speak to you soon



What are the Germans up to?

German troops beyond the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan? Who would have thought it in the days before the fall of the Berlin Wall…. but nowadays no one bats an eyelid… who isn’t in Afghanistan, playing imperial games?

Now Berlin decides to sell 200 Leopard battle tanks, one the world’s most lethal, to that pillar of democracy….. wait for it…. Saudi Arabia.


It needs oil like every other fossil-fuel addicted economy… but then, it can always go to Russia for more..

At least Berlin isn’t running behind the invaders of Libya but that’s not saying much.

Being the economic powerhouse of Europe, Germany has unparalleled influence these days.

It will make or break Europe this decade.

Pity, the current right wing regime is meddling in sensitive regions in the worst possible way.

While I am happy to see the likely end of the ‘Christian’ democrats in the next elections (2013) and the entry of a Green-led coalition, the fact that the German Greens actually support the war in Afghanistan (in some misguided idea about democracy or women rights), it will be an improvement but it won’t be earth-shattering.

The two rising stars China and Germany haven’t worked out they need to change their foreign policy…….