Activism / Austerity / Bradford / ConDems / Council / Labour Party / Media / Politics / Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign

The best and the worst of 2013 – POLITICS

Covering all aspects of my life was turning out to be too long-winded for a single post, so I’ve decided to break it down into different areas of my life: Personal, Political, Arts, and Technology.


The best

It wasn’t that big a thing – the small light at the end of the tunnel, if you like – but it put the Tories on the back foot, when Ed Miliband announced he would freeze electricity prices when he got into power.

He could have gone further. He could have begun to dismantle the entire neo-Tory agenda of the Blair years. He could have returned Labour to its roots, to the “spirit of ’45”, in Ken Loach’s words.

He hasn’t done anything like that yet. And there is no groundswell of united left opposition to force him into a more radical position. But he’s made a start.

And one thing is certain. Though a new Labour government might not be much better than its predecessors, there’ll still be the potential to push it to the left. No Tory government will respond to grassroots pressure.

As they have demonstrated time and again during their catastrophic years, the Tories cannot fail to do what its masters in the city dictate.

Demonstrate all you like. In the absence of a united opposition, they can ignore you.

The international scene

While the collapse of socialist economics in Vietnam and other countries of the developing world, and the complexities of China’s use of capitalist growth as the driving force of its social change defy simplistic black/white analysis, the rise of the Latin American left and the survival of the Bolivarian revolution gives us cause for optimism.

Havana is now the world centre of revolutionary hope. Undoubtedly, as in China, the NEP-like economic policies carry within them enormous contradictions, but so far this has been shown to be a tactical withdrawal from “pure” socialism – as if there ever could be such an idealist animal – rather than abandonment of socialist aims.

As Chou En Lai famously said of the French revolution, it is too soon to predict the outcome.

The worst

The collapse of Respect, from the inspiration of the so-called Bradford spring to the surrender of its Bradford councillors to the concerted attack upon the party’s democratic structure – or lack of same – has dealt a serious body blow, not only to the possibility of a change in the political structure of the city, of any serious challenge to the Con-Dem-Lab consensus that has bedevilled the life of all who live there, but it has also impinged upon any hope of political change in the UK generally.

Of course, as always, this serious defeat of the forces of progress, can have a positive result if appropriate lessons can be learned. I shall deal with those when looking at the hopes and fears for 2014.

Hamba Khalie, Madiba

The death of Nelson Mandela almost swept the world away in the floods of crocodile tears and muck-filled platitudes from many who had refused to support him during his quarter-century in prison.

Only Raul Castro’s memorial address – ignored by the western media – defended Madiba’s legacy as an inspirational freedom fighter, whose Spear of the Nation – and the unprecedented defeat of the apartheid army in Angola – brought the powers of oppression to the conference table.

The media seized upon the boos which greeted South African president Jacob Zuma as proof that the African National Congress’s right to govern was no longer unassailable, and the murder of the miners of Marikana may turn out to have been the ANC’s Sharpeville.

But while right and ultra-left unite in celebrating the ANC’s disarray, and the role of the South African Communist Party in the neo-liberal agenda that has replaced racial apartheid with the economic version almost defies analysis, it is too soon to write off the ANC. And until a united opposition arises to challenge the hegemony of the De Beers and their kind, the ANC will continue to be the only hope for the Azanian people.



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