left party alternatives

Spring in our step

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Respect's landslide by-election victory, which swept George Galloway back into parliament as the MP for Bradford West, sent shockwaves through the mainstream parties. Mark L Thomas looks at why Galloway won and what his victory shows about the possibility of success for electoral challenges to the left of Labour

A few days after the Bradford West by-election, a shellshocked Labour activist described his experience of the campaign: "From around 15 March till the 22.... it seemed we were going to win - we had our headquarters set up in each ward and our campaign was leaps ahead in backing, money and numbers....[then] during this last week I'd check the #bradfordwest hash tag, and for every pro-Labour tweet there were easily ten pro-Galloway ones, seemingly from young Asian Bradford constituents...We'd pass kids in the street who would shout 'Galloway' at us all the time.

France: turmoil ahead

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The results of the first round of the French presidential elections on 22 April were another sign of the deep political turmoil which sometimes bursts into open struggle and sometimes simmers just under the surface across the whole of Europe. They are a signal of momentous battles to come.

The Socialist Party's François Hollande topped the poll, just ahead of right wing President Nicolas Sarkozy. It is the first time ever that a sitting president has lost in the first round.

The rejection of Sarkozy is welcome. But the biggest winner at the polls was Marine Le Pen for the fascist National Front (FN). She grasped nearly 6.5 million votes, 17.9 percent of the poll.

Is this the end of Sarkozy?

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As the French presidential elections near, Sylvestre Jaffard charts the declining fortunes of Nicolas Sarkozy and looks at the dangers from the right, with the fascist Marine Le Pen buoyed by the polls, and the opportunities for the left to challenge neoliberalism and austerity

On 22 April voters throughout France and the overseas territories still under its control will go to the polls for the first round of the presidential elections. This comes after ten years of Nicolas Sarkozy being in power, the last five as president. The French Tories have managed to score some important victories for the ruling class over that decade. Two successive pension reforms have raised the retirement age while cutting pensions. Social Security (equivalent to the NHS) has been cut so that the sick now have to pay much more out of their own pockets.

France: confronting state power

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"On Monday we strike, on Tuesday we strike, on Wednesday we strike, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday too - and it'll only be over when we've won."


Photo: Phototeque.org

This song has become a hit on the mass demonstrations in France. After four days of national strikes and weekly demonstrations since 7 September the government has still not caved in. In just the last four days of action more than 3 million protesters have taken to the streets across the country. As the law to increase the retirement age was about to be passed in the Senate the unions called two new days of strikes and protests.

Eurozone crisis: German rifts revealed by bailout

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The bailout of Greece may have averted a eurozone meltdown, but it has opened rifts in the German ruling class who resent paying for Greek debt. At the same time the Left Party faces tough choices, writes Phil Butland.

In the wake of the Greek crisis Bild Zeitung, the German equivalent of the Sun newspaper, made a predictable attack on Greek workers. Bild promoted the idea that all Greeks are comfortably off and work a few years in public service non-jobs before taking well paid early retirement. With headlines like "Billions for Greece, and what about us?" it tried to drive a wedge between "hard-working German tax payers" and "lazy Greeks".

The Labour debate

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Working class people are angry at Labour, but at the same time they are fearful of the prospect of a Tory government. Judith Orr responds to the arguments about Labour and the election

The debate we are having on the pages of Socialist Review about whether socialists should call for a vote for Labour where there isn't a left alternative reflects a very real debate happening across the wider working class movement. After 13 years of Labour in government the bitterness against it among workers is intense.

Ilham Moussaid: A proud tribune of the oppressed

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The candidacy of New Anti-capitalist Party activist Ilham Moussaïd caused controversy in France because she chooses to wear a hijab. She spoke to Jim Wolfreys about challenging capitalism and Islamophobia

Nadine Morano, a member of the right wing government of François Fillon, was questioned recently about the compatibility between Islam and the French Republic. She replied, "What I want from a young Muslim, when he's French, is that he loves his country, that he finds a job, that he doesn't speak back slang, and that he doesn't put his cap on back to front."

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition: a beacon of resistance

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Trade union branches including some from the RMT, Unite, the UCU and the CWU, were discussing backing a new left alternative to Labour last month.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (Tusc) has been launched to contest seats in the coming general election on a clear anti-cuts and socialist programme.

The coalition includes the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party, a number of groups of individual councillors from across the country and trade union leaders Bob Crow of the RMT transport workers' union and Brian Caton of the prison officers' POA. Several RMT branches have also pledged support alongside many leading officers of the public sector PCS union.

Should socialists argue for a vote for Labour?

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Against: "A waste of time"

Ask me to vote Labour? Never again!

When the editor of Socialist Review rang and asked me for an article on why I believe we shouldn't vote Labour at the next general election, I jumped at the chance.

I recently heard SWP national secretary Martin Smith say that he was meeting more and more young people who vowed they would never vote Labour again. I can well see why.

Should socialists argue for a vote for Labour?

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In favour: "Hold your nose"

The looming general election and the possibility of a Tory government have reignited debates about the nature of the Labour Party and whether or not socialists should call for people to "hold their nose" and vote for it. From privatisation and the MPs' expenses scandal to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, New Labour has betrayed the hopes of millions of voters. But do these betrayals mean that Labour is now just the same as the Tories?

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