Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
Exceptional times require exceptional policies. Post-Brexit, UK politics has taken a massive lurch to the right. Those in charge are now setting a course for a New Jerusalem devoid of constraints, as they see them, such as the Human Rights Act or workers’ safeguards. But it won’t be a promised land for any other than the rich and powerful. The grim present for countless others could become an ugly future for so many more. Hence collective action is needed and old tribal battles put behind us.
In the 1980s and 1990s, I and others in the Scottish National Party berated Labour, often with greater virulence than shown to the Tories under Margaret Thatcher or John Major. Now, with the SNP in charge at Holyrood, Labour berates the SNP with greater venom almost than David Cameron or Theresa May. The only real winners are the Tories, who plough on leaving folk suffering in their wake.
That’s why the time has come for a progressive alliance. The next election may come soon or await the set date of 2020. However, it’s hard to see any winner other than the Tories unless exceptional action is taken. Labour on its own will struggle to form a majority with limited Scottish representation, and the SNP, having reached the high of 56 Westminster seats, will do well to maintain it, with the threat coming more from the right than the left. The likelihood of a second independence referendum before a Westminster poll is slim. The same limited prospects apply for the Greens and Lib Dems. The opposition parties of the centre and left can hang apart and lose individually, or work constructively and win collectively.
A progressive alliance has been ruled out by many and rubbished by others. But why? This is not about the careers of individual politicians or the success of particular parties. It’s about the very fabric of our welfare stare. As Thatcher demolished the old unionised heavy industries, her successors will destroy the welfare state that has nurtured so many of us. Collective action needs to be taken now.
A progressive alliance is not a coalition and can allow for parties to contest each other in seats across the country. There can, though, be an agreed platform to be implemented by the winner if returned. That platform has already been mooted by some. It could include a move to proportional representation, an abandonment of Trident, an end to enforced austerity, the right of the Scottish Parliament to call a referendum on independence. Much more should be added. Labour, SNP and Greens could all subscribe to that, and perhaps even the Lib Dems if they can rediscover their more radical soul.A progressive alliance would offer an agreed platform, not a coalition
It would be a commitment to allow an administration to be formed that would deliver radical change. It wouldn’t preclude Labour seeking to deliver in its own right if a majority were obtained, but would allow for the practical delivery of progressive policies if that wasn’t achieved. For the SNP, in the absence of independence, it could be the best way to protect and promote the interests of the people of Scotland. That, after all, along with nationhood, is the stated aim of the party. For the Greens and Lib Dems, it gives them greater relevance.
In 2014, many who had never voted or had ceased to vote were mobilised by hope to do so for independence and in particular by the thought of an end to Tory rule forever. In 2016, many in England and Wales were driven by fear to vote for Brexit, taking their anger out on political elites and blaming migrants for their woes.
To maintain the support of those who were mobilised in Scotland will require continued hope for radical change, not just blaming Westminster for the ills. South of the border it will require a radical message of hope, allied to the likelihood of its implementation, to switch those galvanised by fear.
But that can be done and a progressive alliance is the way. This is about the collective good, not individual success. Our people deserve no less.
The police spend little of their time making arrests, and most crimes are not solved, writes Alex Vitale – their real purpose is social control
Many important things happened on conference floor, reports Alex Nunns – but you wouldn’t know it from reading the newspapers
Radhika Desai says Capital by Karl Marx is still an essential read on the 150th anniversary of its publication
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
#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
Universal credit isn’t about saving money – it’s about disciplining unemployed people
The scheme has cost a fortune and done nothing but cause suffering. So why does it exist at all? Tom Walker digs into universal credit’s origins in Tory ideology
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
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death
‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum
The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes
Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
What radical writer Naomi Klein said in her guest speech to Labour Party conference
Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki
Don’t let Uber take you for a ride
Uber is no friend of passengers or workers, writes Lewis Norton – the firm has put riders at risk and exploited its drivers
Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project
Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going