Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
The ‘bailout’ is not financial help, it is extortion – it is going to give them a €520 million profit after they intervene in the Portuguese economy. The Portuguese people know this, but the hegemonic discourse dictates that it is ‘inevitable’ and without this package, the economy will go under. However, people know that the ‘bailout’ also means more austerity, compression of the workers’ wages, less public services, more VAT and the progressive destruction of the welfare state.
We have responded through social mobilisation and by presenting concrete legislative proposals that would be able to cut superfluous spending, while at the same time raise enough revenue for the state to pay off the deficit, without sacrificing the economy and the workers. This could be done by taxing fortunes and financial transactions to off-shore banks, the implementation of a new tax bracket where the rich are taxed more, and renegotiating the public debt in order for the economy to breathe. However, the real response must come from the streets.
There are a couple of small debt default groups, but nothing compared to the movement in Greece. Both the Left Bloc and the Communist Party have a common position on how to deal with the debt crisis and the first step is to renegotiate and restructure the public debt.
Why? Defaulting the payment of the debt will automatically exclude Portugal from the euro, meaning that we would have to go back to our old currency, the escudo, which in turn would be devalued as inflation would destroy the purchasing power of the Portuguese. With the renegotiation of the debt, we can withdraw pressure from the economy, alleviate the austerity and create a decent economy. Only with the creation of employment can we then start thinking about paying the public debt, though not the private debt or the extortionate interest rates.
Portugal Uncut has been organising a series of debates, talks and actions. Its main intervention has been in the area of information, diffusing what UK Uncut and US Uncut have done, and through their example carrying out similar actions in Portugal. Their actions have been more directed at banks – how they only pay 5 per cent tax instead of 25 per cent like any other Portuguese company or shop – as well as millionaire bonuses and tax evasion schemes.
More austerity. The victory of the Portuguese right will bring more austerity for workers, instilling further precariousness and ‘flexibility’ of the work contract, as well as the dismantling of the welfare state. The Social Democratic Party, in coalition with the Popular Party [a smaller party to the right of the Social Democrats], has already stated that it will have to make profound changes in order to kick-start the economy and pay our creditors, and that can only be done with changes in the Portuguese constitution.
In order for this to happen, the Socialist Party will need to vote alongside the Portuguese right, which is quite possible since it was these three parties that struck a deal with the Troika [the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF].
The austerity measures mean that workers pay 80 per cent of the bill, whereas the banks pay the remaining 20 per cent. In economic terms this is disastrous because it will reduce consumption, which will then drive down the production levels, leading to unemployment. In the end, this means less taxation and revenue for the state to channel into social spending.
It was a major defeat for the left. Everyone recognised this except the CDU, though their total number of votes dropped too. A lot of people wanted to punish the Socialist Party, especially general secretary José Sócrates, and voted Social Democrat instead.
As far as the Left Bloc goes, we suffered a general boycott in the media, whereas the CDU did not; and in any case the CDU voter base is more rigid, whereas ours is more volatile as we compete with the Socialist Party for votes. This means we always have the possibility to grow again, as 2009 demonstrated, while the CDU stagnates at the same percentage.
However, we had other problems. The fact that the bailout deal was signed determined the direction of the vote, simply because whoever won the elections had to apply what is on that memorandum. People felt a vote for left-wing parties would not make any difference.
Also, we made some tactical errors, including not meeting with the Troika. People wanted to see the Left Bloc as a responsible party that would not auto-exclude itself from power. We could have done this without entering into the deal, using the occasion to make our proposals and denounce the Troika’s proposals. This is what the two largest trade unions did.
This was important for the Left Bloc because we look at parliamentary work as something that must always be articulated alongside social movements and extra-parliamentary political activism. Our parliamentary work sought to bring to parliament the problems that the country felt, the urgent debates of our lives. The Left Bloc brought forward the bill to legalise same-sex marriage (we also proposed same-sex adoption but this was not passed because the Socialist Party rejected it).
We also made proposals for transsexuals to be able to change sex, to criminalise illicit enrichment, and for the taxation of financial transactions and bank profits.
The Left Bloc is only 12 years old and it’s the convergence of three far-left parties, União Democrática Popular (UDP), Politica Socialista Revolucionária (PSR) and Política XXI (PXXI). All of these parties have different backgrounds and historical movements. UDP come from a Maoist tradition, PSR are Trotskyist and PXXI are social democrats. The Left Bloc was a compromise between these three small parties to leave aside some of the more theoretical divergences while bringing to the fore what united them.
The Left Bloc’s membership is now largely made up of people who are not in one of the original far-left groups. These groups still exist in the Left Bloc, as political associations that offer an ideological and theoretical platform for debate.
When it comes to the voting base, it is very diversified. Initially, the Left Bloc got most of its votes from urban intellectuals and was concentrated in two main cities: Porto and Lisbon. Since then we have been able to spread our voting throughout the whole country, ranging from university teachers to steelworkers.
The Left Bloc’s politics is based on a combative left alternative that responds for the people, and never loses sight of the fact that it stands for socialism.
Ricardo Sá Ferreira is a postgraduate student and Left Bloc organiser in Porto, Portugal’s second biggest city.
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Nick Dowson looks at the new wave of co-ops and community groups where people are building their own truly affordable homes
Hsiao-Hung Pai meets people affected by the fire, and finds sadness and suffering mixed with a continuing wariness of the official investigations
Chris Williamson MP, winner of the election's tightest marginal, Derby North, and recently reappointed shadow minister for fire services, talks to Ashish Ghadiali about Jeremy Corbyn, the housing crisis and winning from the left
The Corbyn-supporting group is preparing for another election at any moment, writes Adam Peggs – and now has the potential to create powerful training initiatives, union links and party reform efforts
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi
Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun
Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh
With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook
‘We remembered that convictions can inspire and motivate people’: interview with Lisa Nandy MP
The general election changed the rules, but there are still tricky issues for Labour to face, Lisa Nandy tells Ashish Ghadiali
Everything you know about Ebola is wrong
Vicky Crowcroft reviews Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, by Paul Richards
Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for an online editor
Closing date for applications: 1 September.
Theresa May’s new porn law is ridiculous – but dangerous
The law is almost impossible to enforce, argues Lily Sheehan, but it could still set a bad precedent
Interview: Queer British Art
James O'Nions talks to author Alex Pilcher about the Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition and her book A Queer Little History of Art
Cable the enabler: new Lib Dem leader shows a party in crisis
Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs
Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox
Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole
Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part
Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper
Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s
Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach
Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.
Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite