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As we put the pieces together, these truth seekers are being vindicated, and have grown in influence as a result. The queues and overflows for Noam Chomsky’s Olof Palme lecture in May (see “Don\’t mention (the reasons) for war“), the popularity of Michael Moore’s new film Fahrenheit 9/11 and the packed houses for the Tricycle Theatre’s dramatic re-enactment Guantanamo are all signs of a critical culture seeping through the Iraq-induced cracks in mainstream politics.
Initiatives coming directly from the movement are showing a new ability to break through. Thus, this month Red Pepper profiles War Times (“The voice of alternative America“), the impressive US anti-war tabloid. And we give a platform to the Refugees, Asylum-Seekers and the Media Project (“Truth can find asylum”, page 31 in our print magazine), which counters tabloid vitriol against immigrants, and brings refugee journalists together to strengthen an alternative view.
The mainstream media, meanwhile, is up to its old tricks: hyping up the UN’s imprimatur for the Bush-Blair Iraq escape plan, and ignoring the Iraqis” dissatisfaction with the proposals (see “Avoiding Vietnam in Iraq“). On the Red Pepper website, critical media analyst Rik Hine presents a collection of essays monitoring the media’s cosy, uncritical relation with government.
But it’s not enough to win the argument. Our next problem, starkly facing us after the results of last month’s elections, is how to turn critical consciousness into relentless political challenge.
The most effective left intervention in the elections was the stopping of the British National Party (BNP). We must not underestimate the strength of racism and little Englandism. The rise of the racist UK Independence Party, with Kilroy setting himself up as the British Pym Fortun, presents our most urgent challenge over the coming months. But in the local elections, the left’s ability to build broad coalitions, to work together consistently, avoiding public rows, was decisive in thwarting the BNP. We combined nationally researched information with knowledge of local issues to ensure that our message hit home. We reached out to people completely neglected by the Labour Party, and directly challenged the racism against which few politicians are prepared openly to stand. We reached people put off by boring meetings and hectoring leaflets, and drew young people to the anti-racist banner with style. Can’t we learn from this as we prepare for the next electoral challenge: the building of an effective green-left alternative to New Labour?
Planning for the general election starts now; not in a sudden turn to parliamentary politics, but in building the foundations for a common electoral strategy rooted in extra-parliamentary campaigns. We cannot afford to repeat the division of the left vote that occurred in the June elections between the Greens and Respect. Under some proportional electoral systems different parties can stand separately and then share second-choice votes, or work together after the vote, as with the Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party. But if the radical left is ever to be a political force in England, we first have to make the initial breakthrough. Changes in the electoral system could follow.
To make that breakthrough, just as to halt the BNP, we have to build a coalition appropriate to the purpose with a manifesto of policies summing up opposition to New Labour, but which also imagines alternatives: we need to address the domestic and international questions on which we already regularly work together in many towns and cities. Come election time, we could use such coalitions to create a “mosaic” of electoral allegiance based on who supports this manifesto and who has the best chance of winning. The mosaic would include Labour MPs who have campaigned against the war and occupation, and who resist privatisation, student top-up fees, the government’s asylum policies, and so on. It would involve deals between Greens and whatever emerges from Respect or other independent left or trade-union electoral initiatives. October’s European Social Forum would be a good moment to consolidate this idea.
Drawing connections between events as disparate as the ‘social murder’ of Grenfell and recent mudslides in Sierra Leone, Remi Joseph-Salisbury points to the enduring relevance of Pan African thought for anti-racist struggle today.
We work ourselves into the ground for little economic benefit. It's high time to for a change, writes Aidan Harper.
Deregulation and tax loopholes are justified by saying that they 'protect growth'. But really, they just protect the wealthy, writes James Fox
Inequality is often treated as a law of nature - but really, it's the result of conscious political choices. It's time to choose equality, writes the IPPR's Carys Roberts.
Tom Palmer, aka Agent Kingfisher, was the 'messiah' of London's squatting scene until his death last year. But who was responsible for his fate? MI5, late capitalism or simply a drug overdose? Matt Broomfield investigates.
'Docs Not Cops' write that we must resist attempts to make our NHS any less universal
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright