What should we make of the rise of the Green Party in the recent elections?
In Bristol, the party became the joint biggest on the council with a whopping 24 seats after taking12 from Labour.
Labour was punished by such activists for abandoning the left and radical environmental politics, and ditching Jeremy Corbyn.
When fighting Labour opponents the Greens play up their radical credentials. They highlight policies that will benefit poor and working class people so when Labour shifts to the right they will pick up the progressive vote.
But the party also competes with the Lib Dems and Tories for seats. So in more affluent areas its push is centred on simplified arguments for preservation of the countryside and “green spaces”—and building “green” businesses.
So the Greens on the one hand tell people that we need radical systemic change. But on the other hand reassure those with a vested interest in keeping the existing order that they won’t be threatened.
That logic has seen the Greens do deals with parties that are far to the right of it.
I also worry that the Greens can lure people away from campaigning on the streets and instead blunt their activism and energy through too much focus on the ballot box and the council chamber.
If we are serious about issues including racism, environmental destruction, defending refugees and Palestinian rights then mobilising in the streets is key.
As we’ve just witnessed in Glasgow, it is there that people experience a taste of their own individual and collective power—and learn not to trust the authorities.
A focus on elections can pose a real danger to radicals if it moves activists away from campaigns involving thousands to those that assume we need only be represented by an enlightened handful.
I, like most socialists, will be working alongside people in the Greens, and those who’ve voted Green. But I’ll argue that to win the struggles for social and environmental justice, we need more radicalism than they can offer.
Ian Rappel,Talgarth, Powys
A crisis of Labourism
After the elections earlier this month, the possibility of a Labour government is looking less likely.
As Labour’s decline continues, socialists must be part of the discussion.
I think the party’s decline can be traced back to the Great Miners’ Strike of 1984-5. Neil Kinnock emerged from the left to become party leader but soon moved to the right.
Two of his decisions really highlight this.
First, the attacks on miners’ leader Arthur Scargill and the NUM union. In this he was aided by the failure of other trade union leaders to properly support the miners.
Second, the attack on the Militant Tendency, which ultimately was expelled from the party.
The defeat of the miners helped Tory Margaret Thatcher enormously and led to further defeats for dock workers and printers.
Finally, in 1997, we got rig of the Thatcher and John Major Tory governments.
But Labour’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown dashed our hopes by continuing many of the Tories’ policies—especially the Private Finance Initiative.
They used this to build hospitals but saddled us with a huge debt overhang.
The failure of Labour then and now raises important questions for us.
If the Labour Party isn’t up to job, what kind of political organisation is required to begin the process of renewal and fightback to permanent political change?
Eddie Prevost, Harlow, Essex
This is an opportunity
Readers have probably seen interviews with restaurant and hotel managers complaining about the lack of staff in the wake of lockdown.
Labour shortages in the industry could have big effects.
It is estimated that around 700,000 workers from the European Union have left London in recent months.
Many of those worked in the service sector, including as highly skilled workers, such as chefs.
During the pandemic thousands of colleagues lost their jobs and around two million employees were kept on furlough.
Now businesses are opening up again, employers are finding that many furloughed employees don’t want to come back to work.
Who wants to return to low pay, long hours and poor treatment?
That’s why this is good time to get organised in trade unions.
We should demand better pay and working conditions in an industry for too long rife with high staff turnover, unpaid hours, zero hour contracts, and abuse.
Rafel Sanchis, East London
Was Craig Murray singled out for jail?
Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and campaigner for Scottish independence, has been found guilty of contempt of court and has been sentenced to eight months in prison.
In his blog, Murray commented on a court case involving sexual misconduct allegations brought against Alex Salmond.
Salmond was found not guilty of all charges, although he admitted to “inappropriate behaviour”.
However, while not naming the women who brought allegations against Salmond, the court decided that Craig Murray’s blog contained enough information to allow a “jigsaw identification” of the complainants.
In the wake of this trial, supporters of Salmond left the Scottish National Party, and some joined his new Alba party.
From the start Alba was tainted with homophobia and transphobia. Despite this, thousands joined.
The sentence is seen as harsh for a number of reasons. Murray’s age and health, the fact that he has a young family and he has waited months for sentencing. Also, others had revealed the names of the women involved and have not been charged.
The welfare of the women at the centre of this case has been ignored. Many will now have no confidence in the systems in place to deal with sexual harassment.
Charlotte Ahmed, Glasgow
Scandal of fire and rehire
Our problem on fire and rehire (Socialist Worker, 12 May) is our Tory government wants companies to fire and rehire.
They don’t care that a majority of people are against it. That will all be forgotten by the next election, they believe.
A round of fire and rehire every couple of years will really keep redundancy awards down.
Linda Evans, On Facebook
Our dashed Labour hope
Surely anyone who thinks that democratic socialism is the best way forward must by now have realised that the Labour Party is not the vehicle for that?
The current, small group of left wing MPs in the Labour Party, with one or two exceptions, is keeping quiet and presumably will do so indefinitely.
John Lincoln, On Facebook
How many really died?
You are right to point out that the pandemic continues, despite the media attempt to “move on” (Socialist Worker, 12 May).
Research that compares recorded deaths to excess deaths this week suggested that up to 13 million people across the world may have died.
The Indian government in particular is allowing the systematic under‑reporting of Covid-19 deaths.
Jason Edgar, Brighton
What choice for Myanmar?
Your reporting of the uprising in Myanmar has been useful in charting the resistance.
But do I notice a tone of regret in your reports about the recent turn towards armed resistance and assassinations?
Faced with the hyper aggressive police and army, surely logic compels that democracy fighters respond in kind?
In battle there must be symmetry. Isn’t that something Lenin learned?
Santoshi Lahiri, West Bengal, India