Sunday, February 21, 2010

Needed - A New Left

This is the cover of the first issue of New Left Review published 50 years ago when the New Reasoner and the Universities and Left Review merged. But it isn't a photo of my own copy for that is somewhat used and battered. For the issue contains material from Stuart Hall, Ralph Miliband, Ralph Samuel, Mervyn Jones, Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, Michael Barratt Brown, John Saville, Peter Worsley, John Rex and E.P. Thompson. They were all members of its editorial board. They were joined by other writers such as Vic Allen, Clancy Sigal and Arnold Wesker. Whilst others on the editorial board included Dorothy Thompson, Alasdair MacIntyre and Doris Lessing. Their books litter my bookshelves.(If anyone doesn't know who these all are, then they can now have a google feast).

Universities and Left Review had rejected the right-wing revisionism which had triumphed in the Labour Party and had developed a cultural critique of consumer capitalism. The New Reasoner was the publication of an oppositional current which left the Communist Party because it was shaken by the revelations about Stalinism and opposed the Soviet occupation of Hungary.

The intellectual fervor behind these two tendencies produced a synthesis that was heady stuff for a young left-wing labourite such as myself. But when Perry Anderson took over the editorship in 1962, New Left Review began to move into a field of specialised Marxist theorising and had less appeal to practical (but hopefully thinking) activists. The original project was, however, still pursued as was illustrated by the production of the "1967 New Left May Day Manifesto" which was edited by what was than the old New Left of Stuart Hall, Raymond Williams and Edward Thompson and re-emerged in an expanded Penguin Special as "May Day Manifesto 1968" with Raymond Williams as the sole editor.

The original New Left Review emerged less than a year after Labour's electoral defeat of 1959. It can only be an old man's fancy that history might be due to repeat itself.

Hat Tip - Poumista.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Robin Hood Tax

The Robin Hood Tax (based on the Tobin Tax) would be a tiny tax on bankers that would give billions to tackle poverty and climate change, here and abroad. It sounds complicated, but actually it isn’t. A tiny tax on bankers has the power to raise hundreds of billions every year – giving a vital boost to the NHS, our schools, and the fight against child poverty – as well as tackling poverty and climate change around the world.

See the campaign's fine web-site here.
Don't miss the video. Then move on to this video.

Not complicated. Just brilliant.

Here are the campaign's supporters, plus rapidly growing numbers of individuals such as myself.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Coalition For A Labour Victory

"Ed Miliband has been tasked by Gordon Brown to take responsibility for preparing Labour's manifesto for the coming election and has invited contributions and advice from within the party for this purpose. Some 45 Labour MPs, supported by dozens of Constituency parties and trade unionists, as well as Compass and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, are now launching a Coalition for a Labour Victory based on a radical redistributive programme which we believe will resonate with Labour voters whose loyalties have been strained. We are therefore pressing Ed Miliband to focus Labour's campaigning for the election around the following 5 key principles:

1 The recession should be tackled, not with cuts in essential public spending, but by a massive public investment programme in job creation in house-building, infrastructure improvement, public services, and the new green digital economy, in order steadily to reduce the deficit by getting people off dependence on benefit and into work paying tax, national insurance contributions and VAT.

2 Banks should be split up with their casino investment arms hived off. Publicly-owned retail banks should be required to meet new social and community objectives and support manufacturing, with lending to businesses and homeowners restored to 2007 levels. Pay and bonuses should be tightly regulated.

In addition there are 3 other key policy priorities:

3 A clean break must be made with market fundamentalism - de-regulation and privatisation. Public provision should be expanded - in health care, education, housing, pensions, energy and transport. Royal Mail must remain wholly in the public sector.

4 In the face of the huge and unacceptable growth in inequality, a big redistribution programme must swing resources away from the rich to provide sizeable increases in pensions, the minimum wage, the lowest benefit levels, and to fund job creation and improved public services. Union rights must be restored - it is in economic crisis that workers are most in need of that protection.

5 To achieve the 80% carbon emission reduction target by 2050, renewable sources of energy should be promoted on a far bigger scale, industry (including airlines) should be required to reduce its climate change emissions by at least 3% a year, household carbon allowances should be introduced, and the UK targets should be fully met by domestic action and not by carbon-offsetting abroad."

Labour movement support for the above statement should be sent to Ed Miliband here

Hat Tip Michael Meacher

Also see Dronfield Blather here and here.

Update 5 February : see coverage in today's Tribune.