Earlier this month Eamon Brennan wrote an article for Sporting Polemics calling for the need for an alliance of progressive parties. I believe on this he is spot on. During the hustings from the last election, my heart sank when Ed Miliband declared unambiguously that he would never entry into an alliance with the SNP. This was not only politically inept but strategically muddle-headed, especially when you consider that at that point in time the SNP was far to the left of Labour on virtually every issue. Miliband, playing to the agenda set by the Tories, fell head-first into their trap.
At the very least he should have remained silent, thereby keeping his political options open. Contrary to Miliband’s dogmatic stance, Brennan, after outlining the historical pattern of increasing fragmentation of the popular vote, recommends that: Labour would be better off looking at a grand coalition of the left rather than attacking the Welsh and Scottish heartlands in an effort to win back votes from other like-minded parties.
I think this is precisely the correct direction of travel, but not only within the UK but within Europe and beyond. Capital is transnational and has been for some time. If national parties are going to have even the remotest chance of challenging the hegemony of the global corporates then a pan continental alliance is the bare minimum required. With the emergence of political parties such as Syriza and Podemos, and the growing consolidation of the SNP and Sein Fein, this strategy has now become a concrete possibility for a Corbyn led Labour Party. A European Alliance of the Left has traction both in terms of electoral clout and as an ideological weapon. For the British Labour Party to battle on in isolation, no matter how heroically, is to be fighting twenty first century battles with a twentieth century mind-set.
The European electorate is rightly cynical about the performance and intentions of the mainstream parties. That is why they are increasingly turning to radical parties of the left and right. It has become clear, even to the most conservative of voters, that the much heralded centre ground is a media construct aimed at camouflaging the structural failings of the neo-liberal socio-economic agenda. Any political system that consistently produces 50% youth unemployment is simply not fit for purpose. Any political system that consistently fails to address the chronic housing shortage of affordable housing is a bankrupt model. The trickle down benefits espoused by the Chicago School of economics has simply not materialised. Instead, the gap between the wealthy elite and the vast majority of Europe’s population just keeps growing wider and wider. So too do the fault-lines within the global economic system. It would be a brave economic forecaster who rules out another crippling financial crisis in the near future. In fact, as the levels of both sovereign and personal debt soar, another financial crisis seems almost inevitable.
Getting into Downing Street should not be the main preoccupation for Corbyn, though doing so would be bloody marvellous. No, the key priority for the moment is to capture, in the public imagination, the belief that an alternative approach to organising our societies is both necessary and doable.. And that is the hardest task of all. To break the monopoly of vision that the corporates have carefully constructed is a herculean task but one that confronts not just the British Labour Party but the whole of humanity. It involves raising once again the spectre of the social ownership of the world’s resources. In various forms, both utopian and scientific, this demand has been raised throughout the ages, but it seems to be the fate of mankind to keep returning to unfinished business. A UK alliance of progressive parties, as part of a European socialist alliance would be a fine starting point for the task ahead. And It would give a whole new meaning to the concept of New Labour.