Monday, 24 May 2010

The Re-emergence of the Left?

I just thought that I would draw your attention to a recent article by a right wing journalist predicting the re-emergence of the political left in the next few years. If so, this will mean a welcome end to new labour liberalism but maybe also the return of old fashioned 'investment strikes' should the left happen to seize power somewhere....

You can read the article at:

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is the son of the famous anthropologist EE Evans Pritchard. He is pretty far to the right politically;, but he is one of my favourite journalists because his anaylsis of contemporary political-economic affairs has been proved uncannily accurate in the past. Like many of his ilk, he is also ruthlessly objective...Please follow him if you want a sound analysis of the current events...

Not so much a post as a recommendation...




  1. We've discussed this before haven't we? the conditions are right for leftist activities, especially thanks to the austerity cuts just announced to day by the coalition. David (or Ed, i forget which) has pronounced the death of 'new labour' and thus must (I presume) move back to the bosom of the unions whose power is, it seems, growing as seen in the crushing of the court order against the BA strike. I do think that conditions aren't enough though. The great problem that the left has always had is lack of leadership, a centre of the disparate movement. There needs to be an ideological movement with the full support of a new literature tailoring socialism to its new late-capitalism, post-productionism requirements perhaps directing itself to the now huge 'white-collar' proletariat of the tertiary industries. But first there needs to be a catalyst, something horrific that rallies the disaffected and spurs them into action... we shall see

  2. Yes - but I thought that you might want to look into the economic dimension of the current crisis a bit more...Even good old fashioned Marxists are aware that economics determines politics in the last instance! AEP is the man to read here I think...

    As an aside, the left in this country is probably in no fit state to mount any kind of resistance to the current at attempt to 'deflate' our way out of the crsis. But this might not be the case elsewhere according to AEP...7

    I am not sure if I agree with his analysis but it is interesting and telling because it is coming from the right of the political spectrum

    Anyway, read AEP and see what you think...

    Neil Turnbull

  3. fred dux wrote

    "David (or Ed, i forget which) has pronounced the death of 'new labour' and thus must (I presume) move back to the bosom of the unions whose power is, it seems, growing as seen in the crushing of the court order against the BA strike."

    Speaking as a trade union full time official I think this comment from Fred is a might simplistic and misunderstands the nature of the relationship between the unions and the Labour Party.

    Those with loyalties in the Labour Party see the unions as the industrial wing of the Labour Party. many trade unionists see the Labour Party as the political wing of the unions.

    The reality is neither of these two positions are correct. Yes, the Labour Party was once the political wing of the union movement. But it is no longer.

    One should really view them both as players and allies in the wider "labour movement." Most often, these players often have a co-incidence of goals, but the goals are sometimes different, and even in conflict. But, that I believe, is inevitable as the two organisations serve different purposes.

    There have been strains in the relationship between the party and unions that pre date New Labour - Jack Jones (former Gen Sec of TGWU in the 60s and 70s) famously said of the relationship between the unions and the party "murder maybe, divorce never."

    As for the "crushing court order" that Unite won, believe me it is still very very difficult to run a lawful industrial action ballot in the UK. There are some very tricky bureaucratic hurdles to negotiate and it is very easy to challenge. We have some of the most restrictive industrial action labour laws in the developed world. Perhaps there is a philosophical point (beyond that of solely a Marxist one) around the right and freedom of workers to mount non violent collective action?

    As for the opportunities for the left we face massive public service cuts and there is a possibility this could result in a change in the collective consciousness of significant sections of the public and result in a gain for the left.

    But this could be wishful thinking.

    I am old enough to remember Thatcher - who was decisive but there was no great left wing resurgence under her reign.

    I think there is going to have to be some grassroots organising done if the left are to re emerge. We cannot just rely on the material economic conditions to do our work.

    An anonymous trade union bureaucrat

  4. point taken, though my simplistic point has a lot to do with concerns for brevity but yes I should be more careful in future.
    It is interesting,as the article notes, how many economists question the effectiveness of the EU/IMF fund at such a late stage. Such a huge expenditure of money would surely make things worse for the payers if the **** hits the fan; yet as the article points out, its the north and south looking after their own interests.
    I did think that your point, anonymous bureaucrat, about thatcher was rather pertinent. As you say there was a real reason for leftist action under her yet no real coherent opposition materialised. Aside, of course, from the massive demonstrations against the poll tax which was more of a one off, across the social spectrum thing.
    I think there is a difference however. In the 80s, and im speculating here since I wasnt born until 86, the crippling strikes of the 70s were still fresh in people's minds; many had lost sympathy with the strikers and wanted order, hence thatcher. Now we only have a period of good times to look back on so there may be less resentment of those who are angry. Again though Im speculating

  5. Think you are right about the desire for order from many people after the constant industrial strife of the 70s. Many old lefties I knows say we were very close to a left wing revolution in the 70s. Maybe we were, but perhaps the moral of the 70s is that if you are going to have constant industrial unrest for a prolonged period you'd better make it work and get your revolution otherwise what will follow will hit you hard.

    Poll tax - one of the most notable things here was the very wide range of people involved. You had your usual leftie types, anarchists and assorted politicos. But you also had a wide range of "ordinary people" (young and old; black and white; working and middle class) who had never been involved in politics before. If the left are to have any impact in the post credit crunch period we need another similar rainbow alliance. Hence my comments about grass roots organising.

    We shall see - being a bureaucrat breeds caution but my bureaucratic caution is mixed with hope.

    The anonymous union bureaucrat

  6. The left were much more active politically in the 1980s than they are now. Nobody seems to have mentioned the miner's strike! This was the key political event of the 1980s and it represented a historic defeat for the British left (at least as traditionally conceived, and the left-liberal 'rainbow coalition' that you refer to grew out of this).

    Thatcher and her sidekick, the late Nick Ridely, had prepared very carefully and had a well worked out strategy for taking on and defeating Scargill and the NUM. This shows how much left were feared; and for a moment in 1984 Thatcher thought that she was going to lose. It really was 'touch and go' for Thatcherism at one point....

    As far as the new Tory government are concerned, the public sector unions are the 21st century equivalent of the NUM. However, I not sure how well either side are prepared this time....

    On the original post. It is interesting that AEP quotes Simon Schama - who has predicted a new 'age of rage'. Scary stuff. If we see 1992-2008 as the era of what a number of economists have termed 'the great moderation', based upon a tight control of wages supplemented by easy access to credit, I hope that with the withdrawl of the latter that the 'great moderation' doesn't become 'the great antagonism!

    Neil Turnbull