left party alternatives

Marching Separately

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The rise of the new left in Europe opens up new opportunities for revolutionaries.

Is a new mass left emerging across Europe? This seems a very real possibility after a summer which has seen the emergence of the Left Party in Germany, the central role played by the LCR and the Communist Party in the victory for the 'No' vote in the French referendum, and the electoral breakthrough for Respect in England.

The No's Have It

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Alex Callinicos examines the problems facing Europe's ruling class.

Europe In Crisis' has been a regular fallback for headline writers over the decades. But now, after the referendums in France and the Netherlands, the European Union really is in crisis. Various factors have gone into the making of this crisis, some of which have been in the foreground of the debate on the proposed European Constitution - for example, the implications for the EU of enlargement to incorporate East and Central Europe.

Revolt against the elites

Polls Apart...

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Elections are one thing - the revolutionary party is another.

'You can't mean we need a Bolshevik party in Britain in 2005?' The point was put to me by a veteran socialist activist, someone who joined the Communist Party at the time of the Spanish Civil War, left after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and remains a bitter opponent of Bush and Blair today. Some 70 years of struggle did not make him feel that revolution was imminent in Britain today or that the left should be organised accordingly.

Election: The Verdict on the Blair Project

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Respect's national secretary John Rees explains why 5 May is so important to the further revival of the left in Britain.

If Respect is successful in this election it will break the entire policy on which New Labour has been fashioned. It borrowed the idea of 'triangulation' from Bill Clinton. Triangulation means that New Labour doesn't worry about its core support - it takes them for granted on the basis that they've got nowhere else to go. That leaves it free to chase the middle ground. Labour follows the Tory agenda, adopting policies it thinks will be favourable to the right wing press, to the middle class voter, and it ignores the values of the people who built and sustained its organisation.

Elections: Standing on the Left

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Since the Chartists, the left has often debated mounting electoral challenges, writes Keith Flett.

Ralph Miliband, in his classic 1961 commentary on Labourism, Parliamentary Socialism, noted that the British Labour Party had always been obsessed not about socialism, but about parliament and elections. That remains the case under Blair. However, that is not the only tradition of the British left. There is also a thread of those who have stood for election as part of a wider strategy of achieving social change.

Respect: Look to the Future

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Respect is set to challenge Labour in a number of key seats in this year's election, as Peter Morgan explains. He also speaks to psephologist Paul Whiteley about why Labour is facing declining support.

Tens of thousands take to the streets against the occupation of Iraq and demand British troops come home; anger grows against New Labour's attacks on public sector pensions; latest opinion polls show a surge in support for the Tories and a cut in Labour's lead to just a few points. These were the headlines as Socialist Review went to press this month - and with the general election probably just a few weeks away is it any wonder there is growing unease among Labour MPs?

Democracy: Getting Respect into our Councils

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Michael Lavalette tells of his puzzlement when first elected as a Respect councillor in Preston.

Just over 18 months ago I was elected to Preston council. Winning was great. But it presented me with a very immediate problem: 'What do I do as a councillor?'

My previous experience of councils was a bit one-sided. I had been on plenty of lobbies of council meetings. I also knew many of the councillors and had spoken with them on numerous occasions at protest rallies. But what did these people do?

Uniting Round the Key Issues

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Lindsey German reports from the successful first annual conference of Respect.

There have been repeated predictions of its demise - most recently from the employers' house magazine, the Economist. But Respect's first annual conference, held in London on the final weekend of last month, was a success which defied even the highest expectations. Over 300 delegates from across England and Wales were engrossed for two days in debates which ranged from Diego Garcia to Palestine, from anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) to asylum seekers.

US Elections: Nader the Twain Shall Meet

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Viewers of HBO's flagship talk-show, Real Time with Bill Maher, were in for a treat a few weeks ago. Sharing the desk with Maher were Michael Moore and Ralph Nader.

Moore, after supporting Nader in 2000, is a convert to the cause of John Kerry. At first confidently predicting a Kerry victory, Moore, his Anybody But Bush arguments faltering, was reduced to begging on his knees for Nader not to stand. Not an edifying spectacle, and all the stranger given Moore's confidence of an anti-war vote turning out for a pro-war candidate. Only last month the man Moore supports for president claimed that, 'even knowing what we know now', he would still have voted to back the invasion of Iraq, as he did in 2003. He is no better on other issues.

Putting Respect on the Map

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Mayoral candidate Lindsey German assesses the impact of the vote.

The centre cannot hold; things fall apart. That's the only conclusion to be drawn from Britain's 'Super Thursday' on 10 June, when right wing minority parties achieved high votes, but the left also put itself on the map and in some areas achieved astonishing gains.

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