Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Richard Seymour follows up on Jeremy Corbyn's electoral success by highlighting the importance of a grassroots progressive movement which stays active and vibrant between election cycles:
Labour needs only a small swing to win a majority if there were to be another election, and current polling suggests they would get it. On top of this, the government’s appalling handling of the Grenfell fire, in contrast to Corbyn’s widely welcomed intervention, has blown apart May’s already shaken personal authority. It has also exposed a wider crisis of legitimacy for the growth model that has dominated British society since the 1980s – neoliberalism, wherein markets and competition are sacrosanct. There is a moment of radicalisation taking place, such as we have not seen in years, and it could propel to office the most radical, reforming government since 1945. So, the ‘eyes on the prize’ mentality makes sense. 

But proximity to government raises urgent strategic problems, unique in Labour’s history. The current Labour leadership is, for the first time, systematically trying to drive British politics to the Left. Its method of doing so has been to lever into political activity and electoral engagement large groups of people long abandoned by the political system, by making them a political offer they haven’t heard in years. It relies on people being excited enough by the alternative to fight for it. And it is how Labour turned Tory seats red, marginals into safe seats, and safe seats into towering majorities, with thousands of activists ignoring the defensive campaign run by Labour HQ and campaigning through Momentum.
Labour’s manifesto is a compromise between a traditional Labour agenda, and that of the radical left. It is rather that the compromises Corbyn would be forced to make would be determined, largely, by the political momentum within the country. 
A Corbyn-led Labour government would, quite unusually, need an activist, critical base to hold its feet to the fire. Activists, of course, are always free to go further than their leaders, to build support for ideas going further than ministers are able to go. But in the event of a Labour government, paradoxically, as Corbyn and his allies negotiate with far more powerful institutions, activists may need to build public pressure and even protest in support of government policy.

Corbyn is right to call for permanent campaign mode. But if he is to lead the most reforming government since 1945, the campaigning must not end after election day.
- In one area where there's room for public protest to make a significant difference in government policy, Kathleen Harris offers a look at the Libs' security state legislation - which among other things goes beyond even the spread of state authority under C-51 by extending disruption powers to the Communications Security Establishment. And Ryan Maloney reports on the Libs' broken promises on access to information - as well as Thomas Mulcair's pointed critique in response.

- Karl Nerenberg writes that disrespect for Parliament is just one more area where it's impossible to tell the Trudeau Libs apart from their predecessors.

- Finally, Bill Tieleman writes that the Clark Libs are standing in the way of desperately-needed governance by clinging to power as temporary placeholders. And Mike Harcourt argues that B.C. needs to put an end to the Site C debacle for once and for all.

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