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Recent Articles

Crewe and Nantwich: Beginning of the End

by Alan Thomas     May 22, 2008 at 2:20 pm

If the polls are to be believed, today’s by-election in Crewe and Nantwich will deliver a widely expected drubbing to New Labour. Indeed, following a juvenile (at best) and deeply unpleasant (at worst) campaign run by Birmingham Hall Green MP Steve McCabe, it’s precisely what they deserve.

It does however raise the ongoing problem for “heartland” working class Labour voters of being stuck without a viable alternative to arrogant and ossified local Labour machines. If Tamsin “the hereditary MP” Dunwoody is beaten, it is likely to be by patrician Tory Edward Timpson.

Timpson may well be a nice man, jolly charming at parties and a regular giver to charity or whatever, but he is still a Tory and thus no more capable of representing working class voters in Crewe than the various Blair/Brownite pillocks who have spent the past few weeks either running around the city in top hats and tails, or else handing out shameful leaflets which come at the Tories from the right on immigration. The Labour campaign is utterly disgraceful, as commentators have rightly pointed out.
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Where is the Agency, John?

by Alan Thomas     May 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm

There is an article by John McDonnell published in yesterday’s Morning Star, which I feel at once encapsulates the reasons why people on the left feel a lingering affection for the Labour Party and also why that Party is in reality a no-goer. And indeed I think McDonnell himself is emblematic of that same duality.

In the article, McDonnell begins with his ususal rallying cry “New Labour is dead” and seeks to take us forward via the construcation of a new set of economic policies (dare one say an Alternative Economic Strategy?) based on left-wing and socialist politics. He appears to be offering the notion that thus we will be able to take control of the Labour Party’s political direction via victory in a sub-Gramscian war of ideas.
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Where to now, Labour left?

by Alan Thomas     May 5, 2008 at 7:35 am

Until very recently I would broadly have fallen into the category of the ‘Labour Left’.

I was never totally comfortable with attempts by sections of the left to pull away from the Labour Party, which I had been brought up since childhood to see as “my” party, and which latterly I had come to see as a vehicle via which the Labour Movement could exercise its influence in the party political field: Lenin’s classic formulation of the “bourgeois workers’ party” could not describe it better.

In spite of a brief spell as a member of the Socialist Alliance, I quickly rejoined Labour and argued tooth and nail with comrades that things hadn’t changed so very much. It is now self-evident that I was wrong.
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Maybe it’s because I’m not a Londoner…

by Alan Thomas     March 23, 2008 at 10:12 am

… that I’d rather not support Ken Livingstone for Mayor? Somehow I just can’t muster any massive enthusiasm for Livingstone, nor do I feel the chilling terror of his major opponent (Tory buffoon Boris Johnson) that the Mayor’s re-election campaign appears to be trying to instil in the electorate. To hear the statements coming from some of Livingstone’s supporters you’d think that this was a race between Che Guevara and some kind of combination of Adolf Hitler and Satan, and I just can’t see what is effectively a council election on steroids in such apocalyptic terms. I also, try as I might, just can’t bring myself to like the oleaginous Livingstone, who is still trying to morph himself from his previous status as a grinning celebrity chat show guest, to having some kind of political gravitas. Ironically of course, Johnson is a product of the same media clowning circuit that Livingstone is. Bojo versus Bozo – what an appetising choice for the people of London. continue reading… »

Turkish troops out of Kurdistan!

by Alan Thomas     February 24, 2008 at 9:53 am

Within the past four days, following a lengthy campaign of aerial bombings, a Turkish ground invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan has begun. 10,000 troops in total rolled across the border on Thursday night, according to the Turkish Daily News. This was on the pretext of hunting members of the PKK who live in camps around the mountainous north of the region. As the troops (whose numbers have been massing on the Iraqi border for months) went into Iraqi Kurdish territory at around 7 pm, the Turkish army’s general staff issued a statement which said:

“The Turkish Armed Forces, which attach great importance to Iraq’s territorial integrity and stability, will return home in the shortest time possible after its goals have been achieved”

Whether this is to be believed or not remains to be seen. Indeed, if the “achievement of its goals” is the elimination of the PKK “threat” then even taken at face value the statement is cold comfort for the Kurds – previous failed attempts by the Turkish army to eradicate Kurdish nationalism resulted in a bloody and drawn-out conflict between 1984 and 1999 which is reckoned to have claimed over 30,000 lives.

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What’s wrong with Hillary Clinton?

by Alan Thomas     January 16, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Since writing my recent article supporting John Edwards in the Democratic primary race, a number of people have asked me why my arguments (which centre around the election of a Democratic president galvanising more radical change by opening up a space to that party’s left) would not simply hold true for any Democratic candidate. Those on the left who don’t think I’m wrong even to advocate a Democratic vote point out that whilst Edwards would be the preferable nominee, his name not being on the ballot paper doesn’t completely change the underlying process. Even Hillary Clinton’s election would surely be politically preferable to that of, say, Mike Huckabee. Further it would be supported by a majority of the US working class, and would mark a decisive break with the Bush era.

Yet I think there is a difference, and one which goes beyond the obvious fact that Edwards’ political stances are well to the left of Clinton’s. Unfashionable though it is on today’s left to mention such things, I think there is an issue of character that would prevent me from advocating a Clinton vote.

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Latest Iowa Poll

by Alan Thomas     December 31, 2007 at 7:47 am

A new poll taken in Iowa has John Edwards leading the field, Hillary Clinton’s vote falling, and a surprising late surge from Bill Richardson. Looks like there’s still everything to play for.

Why I’m supporting John Edwards – an appeal to the Left

by Alan Thomas     December 26, 2007 at 5:15 pm

At both the last US Presidential election, I took a stance that is not popular on the UK left – one of support for a critical Democratic vote. For those of you who are unaware of my political heritage and who may be surprised that such an apparently uncontroversial stance would excite any kind of debate at all on the liberal-left, allow me to explain. The political background from which I come is one of the left in union and wider labour movement politics, where Trotskyist groups, all of which have a visceral loathing for the Democrats, have loomed large. Indeed, they were only ever really willing to call for a vote for the Labour Party in the UK based on a combination of recruitment raiding, and Byzantine theorising that attached an almost religious significance to the never-exercised trade union link with Labour.

Both of these factors having withered on the vine over the past ten years, most of the left (barring a few real no-hopers) have pulled back from automatic support for Labour, and indeed have ended up in many cases in something of a state of confused hopelessness as a consequence. Some indeed have ended up wandering down blind alleys such as the laughably misnamed “Respect” coalition, following quixotic figures such as George Galloway in the desperate hope of being led to a new dawn. Of course, that dawn will transpire to be a mirage, and most have already seen it. But such is the myopic faith even of ex-trotskyists in their will to follow a “line” that some will continue to do so – even as they spend every passing day tearing each other to pieces and opening themselves up for widespread mockery on this blog amongst others. It’s hardly an edifying spectacle.

So in light of such an extraordinary fiasco, what on earth could a refugee from such a risible political community possibly have to contribute to a debate being held on a far larger arena, in the USA? One of the reasons is because I like to think that people can and do learn lessons, and that therefore they are not doomed to carry on repeating the mistakes of the past. continue reading… »

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