Sunday 9 January 2011

There will be more than one alternative - #netrootsuk report

Saturday's first netrootsuk conference was an interesting attempt to bring people together to discuss the links between online and offline campaigning. I spoke in the opening session on strategies against the cuts. There are links about the session below.

As the speakers were broadly in agreement, much of the audience felt a more participatory format would have better fitted the ethos of the event, but the session did capture both the key challenges for anti-cuts campaigners, especially in Nigel Stanley's very good opening presentation, the means of doing this (from Clifford Singer), while also touching on some of the potential pitfalls for a diverse movement of different campaigners.

As Nigel's slides show, tracking polls suggest that the public have now moved from "necessary and fair" to "unfair, but still maybe necessary". As he argued, this could be the route to getting a sustained majority for "unnecessary and unfair" but arguments about growth and economics have been more difficult to get traction on.

I argued that we should be confident about our ability to persuade the public - based on our success in winning the fairness argument over the last six months, as I set out at Left Foot Forward yesterday. It is the "there is no alternative" argument which was increasingly preaching only to the already converted. Having won the pointy-headed battles of the graphs this summer and Autumn, we now had to personalise and localise these issues - as the cuts themselves become less abstract and more concrete, and geography and place become ever more important as local cuts come in - as False Economy is seeking to do with its testimony banks.

So I agreed with Nigel, but my central point was about the limits of marching-in-step unity give the scale of the diverse and plural coalition we will need. The event brought together hundreds of people, representing organisations and networks with the ability to mobilise many tens of thousands. We are never going to agree about everything - and have to make that a strength for a broad coalition whose job is to persuade 15 or 20 million people that these cuts aren't inevitable or fair.

There is a shared project. False Economy articulate the common ground succinctly:

"False Economy is for everyone who thinks the coalition is cutting too much, too fast and wants to do something about it".

How we handle inevitable disagreements within that will be one essential test of whether the movement can be a sustained and successful one. My point was along the lines of: "If you want to oppose the closure of your local library, you don't have to produce and cost an alternative Comprehensive Spending Review, while its different if you are the Shadow Chancellor: people will expect at least the broad brush strokes of your an alternative budget".

Laurie Penny of the New Statesman - a talented writer, who has a rising profile as an emerging voice from a new generation of the radical and feminist left - rather misrepresented this point, whether accidentally or just to serve a polemical purpose, by mangling this comment on twitter into:

Sunder Katwala says it's the shadow chancellor's job to propose economic alternatives, not workers'. Pity Labour has no idea

I certainly don't think about the shadow chancellor and "workers". Indeed, I didn't mention "workers" - except that I went on to to say that unions have a distinctive role too.

So I'd like to clear up the idea that I want everybody has to fall in behind the Shadow Chancellor, given that I was making precisely the opposite argument. My point was the (surely self-evident?) one that different actors have both different motivations, ambitions and goals in a plural coalition. (Of course, anybody campaigning against a cut to their local library might also be advocating a different CSR and a strategy for economic growth - but they wouldn't be well advised to make George Osborne's lack of a strategy for growth the focus when talking to the local newspaper about the library. This was the gist of my comments on this at the event:

That broad coalition of those campaigning against the cuts are going to provide a range of alternatives, not a single alternative.

We come to these issues because we are motivated by different things. Some people want to stop their local library closing; a small number of people still hope all of this will somehow lead to the revolution. More of us will want to elect a Labour government; build up the Green party, or perhaps try to shift the LibDems towards the kind of party that many of their voters thought that they were. Envionmentalists whose priority is to shift towards a low carbon economy, feminists, those whose priority is jobs and growth campaigners on race or disability, local campaigners on specific services in their area and others will all bring different starting points, ideas and ambitions to a plural coalition.

There is not going to be unified leadership, or one unified alternative agenda. It is in the nature of such a campaigning coalition that people will propose a range of different alternative strategies.

So we are going to disagree - sometimes over really quite big questions.

Some people will think stopping half of the cuts would represent tens of billions of pounds of real change in people's lives. Others would think that would leave tens of billions of further cuts which should be stopped too.

That's going to be an important policy argument. But we can and should respect those differences while making common cause.

For me, the biggest test of our ability to find common ground and then disagree with respect within a broad campaigning coalition is that we agree that we share responsibility for shifting public opinion against the government on the question of whether its cuts are both necessary and fair.

The thing we're not going to do is create a unified leadership that agree on everything. So I think it would be a mistake to think that it is somehow a failure on the part of Ed Miliband, Caroline Lucas, Polly Toynbee, the unions or anybody else if they haven't somehow articulated the alternative plan for a fairer, greener economy and society which can bring everybody who opposes the government's cuts on board.

The argument "we must have complete unity - and we will get there on the basis of everybody agreeing with me" will be futile, whether it is made by Alan Johnson, Brendan Barber, Caroline Lucas, Sunder Katwala, Laurie Penny or indeed SWP-style perspectives, perhaps captured by the passionately anti-Labour speaker from the floor, who lambasted Labour as a complete sell-out over Iraq and everything else, before saying "Of course, we want Left Unity but it will have to be about Labour coming to us".

There is not going to be a central coordinating committee where UK Uncut, the trade unions, Age UK, Greenpeace, the Green Party or the Labour frontbench get to agree or veto the advocacy of other groups. Thank God for that (and/or a plural range of non-deities as appropriate). Nigel Stanley was right to say that they need to do better than "don't cut us; cut somebody else" and engage with broader strategic arguments.

Of course, party activists, MPs, trade unions and other left voices are going to produce and debate different economic alternatives. Relatively recent contributions have included those from ippr, Compass, NEF and the green new deal, Will Straw of Left Foot Forward, False Economy, Danny Blanchflower, the TUC, the Green party, the Social Liberal Forum of the LibDems, and indeed the Socialist Worker too.

These cover a range of sometimes complementary and overlapping, sometimes contrasting and competing perspectives.

Not every alternative is going to happen.

Ultimately, the central purpose of politics is the articulation, negotiation and resolution of differences in society.

I want to make it possible to create an alternative government, if we are to have a different overall strategy. Such a government would have to make choices - and shifting coalitions of support and opposition will no doubt emerge in response. Any party or group that wants to seek election is going to have to agree and put forward its own specific programme and secure sufficient consent to make it happen. Labour, the Greens and perhaps the LibDems by 2015 have to do that themselves. The strategies for change of other groups are different where they don't involve seeking election, but their public-facing advocacy has the potential to do quite a lot to shape the context in which those choices are made, on central issues like growth, spending and taxation. Tax avoidance campaigns are one potentially effective example of this.

So disagreement with respect absolutely can't and shouldn't mean closing down disagreement. Obviously, my argument entails that it is entirely legitimate for Laurie Penny and everybody else to advocate entirely different strategies to both shifting public arguments and producing radical alternatives. Wherever a more plural, no doubt sometimes unruly, campaign can help to shift the argument that the government's strategy is unavoidable and unfair - including to make deeper changes possible, I am often going to want to support that, including where effective arguments are coming from a different political perspective from my own.

But I am going to (respectfully) disagree with campaign tactics or policy arguments which seem to me likely to make winning those public arguments more difficult, and I will try to reserve head-on and vocal challenges only those contributions made in a language of "betrayal", especially where these seem designed to close down the space to build alternatives, and to persuade people to choose them.

However, disagreement with respect is going to work better where we can disagree on the basis of what people are actually arguing, rather than to caricature or misrepresent arguments, even if this facilitates Penny's further (and entertainingly) polemical claim on twitter that:

We're listening politely whilst appointed arbiters of the centre-left mow the grassroots into a neat, acceptable bourgeois lawn

Not my project - though I will admit to being enormously sceptical about "bourgeois" as a rhetorical tool of political persuasion. Beyond its hoary, coalition-narrowing desire to brand all non-prole participation as illegitimate, there is some considerable dissonance in that being deployed by somebody who so identifiably represents an emerging strand of the Staggers' proud - mainly middle-class - radical traditions. The middle-class left have historically been one significant strand of many effective campaigns - from anti-slavery and votes for women to the creation of the NHS and the welfare state, the abolition of the death penalty, liberal equalities campaigning on feminism, apartheid and gay rights. A particuarly obvious example is the student protests and occupations of recent weeks. (Indeed, can anybody identify any major social change from the French Revolution onwards which did not depend on a cross-class coalition of support?)

Still, whereever Laurie Penny and her unruly, unmowed grassroots can successfully shift attitudes and appetites for greater equality, let a thousand flowers bloom, and no doubt one or two weeds too.


A netroots wrap

Thanks to Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy, John Wood and his colleagues at the TUC, and the many other campaigning groups who helped to put it together.

Contributors preview the event at Comment is Free.

OurKingdom's preview from Niki Seth-Smith on how far online activism has come.

Opening session

Reuters reports on Brendan Barber's opening contribution on building new alliances

Duncan Robinson of the Staggers says the central theme was hacktivists of the world unite

Nigel Stanley challenges for campaigners.

Sunder Katwala on how the government lost the fairness argument at Left Foot Forward.

Clifford Singer on the potential for alliances with the angry middle of the Daily Mail.

Shamik Das sums up the opening session - and which arguments we're winning on Left Foot Forward.

Useful summary from Nick Anstead on both speakers and audience debate.

Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy on the goals of a netroots movement.

Guido Fawkes website produces a pretty straight report on what the blog calls the "nutroots" event, while right-wing libertarian Old Holborn really didn't have anything better to do than blog and tweet about why it was all pointless.

Workshops and plenary

The Guardian's Matthew Taylor blogged across the day

Jon Worth wanted less on cuts and more about online advocacy. We could learn more from netroots Sweden than the US, he argues.

Nick Anstead on engaging with politicians online, and Mark Pack talks about how to do that.

Gethyn Williams has a delegate's report and lots of handy netroots links and resources too.

Caroline Crampton of Total Politics found delegates wanted more practical advice and less general commentary.

Latte Labour is a netroots sceptic.

Left Foot Forward on Heather Brooks' advice on how freedom of information can help anti-cuts campaigns.

Luke Bozier has posted his netroots presentation on engaging locally online

Jessica Riches opens her new blog, on her talk to the event on organising the UCL occupation.

Raven reports for London Masala and Chips

John's Labour blog has a quick post, with a promise of more today.

Will Straw on the growth and future challenges of the netroots movement.

And much tweeting at #netrootsuk.

If you've blogged about the event too, do please put a link in the comments here, and I'll try to add a few more to the post.


alex said...


Thanks very much for such a helpful and comprehensive post.

If I get you right, you would agree that the agenda can bring together all people across the UK, regardless of their political persuasion, who believe the cuts that affect them to be unjust or without merit.

That means they might read the Daily Mail in Kingston upon Thames, or the Herald in Inverness.

I agree with the comment in the middle of the article that people are looking for pracical ways to have their voices heard.

Denny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Denny said...

Some proof-reading for you:

First blockquote (from False Economy) has a closing double-quote with no opening double-quote.

Superfluous word (or some other problem) in "Not every alternative is going to be happen."

Don't know what's going on in "The strategies for change of other groups are different don't involve seeking election", but it's presumably not quite right. More missing words?

I think 'whereever' is a spelling mistake or typo, but I could be wrong.

"Sunder Katwala on how the government lost the fairness government" should presumably be fairness argument.


Those aside, I think you may have misrepresented Maeve McKeown's anti-Labour comments a bit, in that (if I'm remembering correctly) she didn't mention Iraq (et al) as an example of Labour 'selling out', she mentioned it as an example of them not listening to their supporters - which puts the 'they need to come to us' in a slightly different context, I think?

Certainly to me (a floating voter) it looks as if Labour have moved a long way to the right and to the authoritarian over the last 15 years or so, and if they want their old supporters to listen to them, they may have to migrate back a bit to get the conversation started. That doesn't mean the supporters won't need to move too, but I can see why they wouldn't want to move first... the right is crowded enough already.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I have a few questions.

Must lay cards on table- am unshaven. Mainly because I am a woman. You were aware that 72% of these cuts will be paid for by women0- and they will pay with their homes, their jobs, their futures, and their poverty= as well as their childrens outcomes?
No? Didnt think so- given the mention of women in your article. Stil, reflects Netroots yesterday.

Could you explain to me and my friends(many of whom rely on housing benefit to work, many of whom need ESA because they cant)- how Labour are our best hope? Given their policies are er....the same.

Radical that I am- was just wondering.

Was also wondering if you knew that opposition to the cuts agenda was not solely an opportunity for Labour and the 'left' to redefine themselves- and that WE are affected not because we are on the left- but because of our income, gender, where we live in the country, employment etc... The reason I ask is that many people affected arent even on the left-= some even read The Sun and the Daily Mail. Do they get a say in how the cuts are fought? Or have the fabians just decided that they dont count? Like Labour did.

Re: False Economy- No, I cannot imagine a use for a website which explains economic concepts in a simple way- at a time like this. Cannot imagine at all. Best leave it to Alan JOhson eh? Has someone told him what the rate of NI is yet?

I am relieved at reading your post. THere was me thinking the next few years were going to be miserable, and we were going to have to fight tooth and nail to maintain any semblence of quality to our lives, and it turns out all that needed to happen was that we should wait for some clean shaven, well groomed fabians and the labour party to come save us.

Oh- by the way- friend asks- if you are doorstepping in Oldham-could you take away some of their binbags. As many politicians as there have been in Oldham this last week- there havent been many bin men.

When you come north to save us- I suggest you book your ticket in advance. Can be steep. Cost £140 to get to Netroots this weekend. Luckily I was speaking upstairs in the session about 'engaging women'(apparently we are not engaged if we dont use the main 4 political blogs) and the TUC paid it.

If you book in advance you should get a discount. The north is the bit after Watford.

Anonymous said...

Also- am I a prole- or a non prole? Until 6 months ago, I was just a mum- so am confused.

Anonymous said...

I have a report of the event at Though Cowards Flinch blog []

Sunder Katwala said...


I am a bit puzzled - eg is "unshaven" responding to something? I can see you're angry not only at the impact of the cuts, but at what you see this piece is arguing. But it feels to me like it is picking lots of fights - mostly complaining about stereotypes of you and your friends, but then throwing around stereotypes yourself.

Thanks for telling me where the north is. As it happens, I was born in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, and grew up near Ellesmere Port in Cheshire in the 1980s, so I had quite a strong scouse accent until I was 14. But I hope I would be able to make the argument I made in the session about how the regional impact of the cuts on the north would become really clear this year if I had been born and bred in London.

Yes, of course I think we need to connect with people who aren't on the left - Clifford Singer talked a lot about the Mail. (See link) - and everybody who wants to oppose the scale and speed of cuts.

I am not claiming the Fabians have all the answers. The most useful thing we've done for these campaigns is building a new model for the TUC and Unison modelling who uses public services and who the cuts hit. This has been a good campaigning tool, letting people work out how they are affected. The TUC got lots of coverage using it as their main media argument at conference last September - and this helped shift the "is it fair?" argument with the public.

That modelling by our colleague Howard Reed helped to generate the analysis in the campaign briefing on gender impact of cuts for Women's Budget Group (PDF file) campaigning materials on how the cuts hit women.

Of course, the research is not going to be much use without national and local campaigning of the kind you are talking about and involved in. The way you quote findings do show how research of the kind we have been doing is useful to campaigners.

The piece doesn't anywhere argue Labour is people's best or only hope. That is one of the things some people will advocate and others won't. Hence references to Greens, feminists, environmentalists, trade unions, etc. I don't want Labour people to dominate these campaigns - it won't work. I want us to play a part alongside lots of other people.

Do you think I am arguing False Economy isn't a useful tool? I don't follow the train of thought there. Why respond to a piece saying of course we can't leave it all to Alan Johnson by attributing that argument again?

By the way, I wasn't involved in planning netroots; I simply accepted an invitation, about a fortnight ago, to speak at it, because of the research we've been doing on cuts. I don't think any brand new organisation is going to get everything right - there wasn't enough participation in the opening session - but I think its important to try and build these links. Its impressive that you came a long way to take part, and of course it is going to be important to hold events like these in the north, where I hope you won't let those dastardly southerners rule the roost.

PS: Of course, "non-prole" and "prole" was ironic, complaining about the silliness of saying we didn't want any "bourgeous" involvement.

Anonymous said...

Sunder - you have covered the political arguments that went on at Netroots UK well here. But was all this really the point of the conference? I feel that we spent too much time having these intra-left arguments (no thanks to the likes of Laurie Penny) and maybe not enough time on the question of how to use online campaigning effectively.

Anyway as requested, a link to my blog post on Netroots UK :-)

Penny Red said...

Hi Sunder,

I'm sorry if you feel misrepresented, but what you said at the plenary wasn't what you've written here, although what you've written here may be what you meant to say. What you said (and I was taking notes) was that it's locals and library workers' jobs to prevent the closre of local libraries, and the Shadow Chancellor's job to make the economic arguments against the Coalition spending review. I reacted strongly to those words because I believe that they are utterly the wrong message to be putting out at a conference that was meant to be about pluralism and mutual respect.

It is emphatically not just the Shadow Chancellor's job to make the economic case for action on the left, particularly because the man Miliband picked, Alan Johnson, is practically economically illiterate and has made jokes about it in public ('economics for dummies'?) - jokes that ring very hollow when what the people of this country need is a clear alternative to the cuts, something that Labour is absolutely NOT providing. Contrary to what you're saying in this post, I know many local activists who can and do articulate alternative economic strategy - in such simple, powerful terms as tax the rich, protect jobs, save welfare - quite clearly when talking to local media and elsewhere. Unlike Labour, they have a clear sense of totality of resistance which seems to have utterly escaped the Labour party.

Instead of mucking in with the multifarious resistance movement - which, as you rightly state here, does not require universal agreement in order to progress, that sort of Leninist thinking is weedkiller to the grassroots - Labour is already positioning itself for the next election, terrified of doing anything at all which might upset the few swing voters in key marginal seats that the party has repositioned itself towards over the past twenty years.

I am not dissing the middle-class left, by the way. The middle-class left, of which I am part (I went to a private school in Sussex FFS) has historically had a huge role to play in shaping the debate. What I am criticising, and will continue to criticise, is the escalating inability of the middle-class left to talk to or about anyone who is NOT middle class and middle-aged as if they are human beings, to really listen to their needs and thoughts and strategies and accept that they too have political ideas which are just as important as yours.

I'm afraid it's just another example of elitism on the part of the Labour party, an utter disconnect from the real lives of real people, an inability to contemplate the notion that the opinions of people outside think tank land might actually matter. People like Lisa (deeplyflawedbuttrying) who gave a moving and passionately articulate speech at Netroots about her experiences as a single mum and a social worker only to be patronisingly thanked by the chair for 'keeping it real'.

On a related note, it's nice to actually have a political debate with you, Sunder, because I recall that when I was interning for you at the Fabian society as an ickle 20 year old, before I was famous-on-the-internet, you wouldn't give me the time of day. No wonder I wasn't tempted to join the party!

Sunder Katwala said...


(i) Let's check the tape. I definitely think yr tweet misquoted me. But I am sure I said "you don't have to" have an alternative CSR to oppose the closure of your local library. (I didn't mention workers or library workers). and that I specifically spoke about the difference between "oppose half the cuts" as billions of cuts stopped, or billions kept, as an important difference.

(ii) Where in the post do I say local activists don't articulate alternative economic strategies?

(Doesn't "Of course, anybody campaigning against a cut to their local library might also be advocating a different CSR and a strategy for economic growth" say the opposite).

(ii) Very interested to hear your arguments about how the Labour party can maximise its support by taking more radical positions. Where it can be shown to be in the party's interests, there are stronger incentives for leaderships to listen, and others to advocate it. We've shown that on tax questions, for example.

Your final point. If that's your view, so be it. I remember giving you career advice and you talking about your attempts to get going in journalism, so "wouldn't give you the time of day" sounds like an exaggeration. It seems unnecessarily rude, and I'm afraid I didn't know you felt that, as you've always been friendly to me in person, including since leaving the Fabians, and I was pleased we asked you to speak at our AGM and at our new year conference.

Penny Red said...

Sunder, I'm sorry if you felt me rude. I have felt honoured to be so welcomed by the Fabians and by yourself in the time since I left, and I really am interested in having this debate, but whilst interning I really was taken aback by the culture of hierarchy and deference not just in the Fabians but across liberal think-tanks, the structures of gender and power and who was and wasn't allowed to contribute to the debate, compared to my subsequent experiences in the activist movement, where even very young, inexperienced people are treated as equals. Part of this, of course, relates to my issues with the internship system as a whole - and the fact that I'm an awkward bitch and always have been.

Anyway, re Labour - there is so much to discuss here, but essentially the issue is that the emotional structures and aspirations of the lower middle and working class are undergoing a sea change such as has not been seen since the 1980s. Labour has an unique opportunity to capitalise on that to make a real difference in communities and at the ballot box. There is a genuine reaction against capitalism that goes well beyond theory and reaches into everyday lives.

Rupert said...

Thanks Sunder. Good thinking, pluralistic (though I found Gary Banham’s critical post very impressive: ).
The crucial thing that is important to keep open – and that you DO keep open here, whereas _sometimes_, it seems to me, FalseEconomy don’t – again picked up well by Gary B. in his piece, is this: one cannot assume that something that this anti-cuts coalition agrees upon is that the resumption of growth is the answer. Most Greens vigorously support anti-cuts-activism, but do NOT support growthism. By contrast, we see the Green New Deal etc. as a prelude to a steady-state economy.
The anti-cuts coalition will fracture if it is assumed or proclaimed that the alternative to savage cuts has to include economic growth.

Sunder Katwala said...

Thank you. I/we all always thought you were both mouthy and talented, as turns out to be true. So let's stay friends. I'm sure there's something in the broad cultural point. (You should run something one day - a magazine or pressure group - and show us how to do it better!)

The last point is interesting.
There are lots of swirling new currents. I doubt anyone knows where they will end up.

But how would we know if it is a reaction against capitalism? (As many people think the cuts have to happen as don't). I think what people want is "a fair deal". The type of mixed capitalist market economy and welfare society we had for much of the post-war period seemed to do that. Since a few years before the crash, about 2005, increasing numbers of people think its rigged against them - eg, you work hard and jobs are lost and real wages fall. We have to describe alternatives that are fairer.

Describing it as "putting markets in their place" is probably a good idea, with potentially very broad appeal across society; offering some kind of "fundamental break with capitalism" probably plays to half of the mostly onside one-third.

Unknown said...

Re Sunder vs Penny REd
I wouldn't make too much opposition to the Labour Party. Its recent years in government hide the fact that the Labour movement has an amazing and unique story, itself growing from disenfranchised people organising in much the same way as the students are doing today. In the years post war it established the NHS, legal aid, Welfare state, inc child benefit, Trades disputes act,public ownership, national insurance - progressive steps that made Britain a new kind of country. Its effects are only now being butchered. Even 'the last lot' as they are dismissively referred to, changed the house of Lords (incompletely) and made a vast difference for millions on low wages with the minimum wage and much else. Also, believe it or not, the day to day life of Labour party people is not as elitist as you assume either. Activists are slogging round council estates every weekend, asking about and solving local problems, often unglamorous ones such as helping rejected asylum seekers, carers needing respite and gypsies threatened with eviction. They are in a strong position to not feed into and be refreshed by the student movement. Indeed it needs your help as I think your spat demonstrates. Alan Johnson is clearly not as qualified for the shadow chancellor role as Ed Balls is, but clearly for whatever internecine reasons it was impossible to put Balls in that position. He is no one's enemy on the Left however, and nor are either of you.

teknoddy said...

Dear Sir,

I've been quite sarcastic towards the protest movement so far, and apart from the mischievous desire to heckle a bit, I have also been paying attention to what you and other writers have been saying. I am roughly on your side. I really am, but honestly, the trouble I have had finding the relevant answers to any of the points I had in mind, it is as though no one even wants them asked.

I'm not offering any sort of advice to anyone, all I am pointing out is that to someone interested in what you and others have to say, the harder it is to get any questions answered, the more you will only seem, quite unintentionally I am sure, to be as closed and unresponsive a party as any of the others.

Unknown said...

sorry for the obvious typo.

SaltleyGates said...

Interesting to know that the Fabians copying the other middle class thinktanks use interns

Do you pay your interns?
How much?
How are they chosen? middle class background, sons and daughters of Labour Nabobs?

Laurie Penny pits here finger on a live issue the hierachy and class nature of the way Labour is run.I would add the total lack of internal Labour Party debate

Labours record in Govt was apalling
Privatisation and privatisation of the NHS backed by Labours ministers as well as War etc
mean I dont consider you a party of the Left. You are more right wing than Tories on many issues
see Votes for Prisoners, Prison Policy and racist attacks on the pakistani community.

Domuseswords said...

This right here was actually one of the most well mannered and reasoned mini-debates within the Left, not to mention debates on the internet, that I've ever seen. I'm a big believer that Social Democrats and Socialist Revolutionaries depend on each other, and to look at the Nordic countries, I think it's clear that' rather than eating into each others support base, a climate where the idea that the market matters more than actual human lives is challenged from a variety of perspectives, is a climate where Leninist, Labourist and Anarchist critiques thrive together.

Honestly with all the wrangling of these last few weeks I've seen pages of false-dichotomy and not enough (though obviously there is a bit) recognition that different tactics work well for different situations.

It's nice to see some comradely debate on the Left and some talk about the things that matter, it puts us in a good position to get organizing for the EMA protests on the 26th and the student protest on the 29th, and once you're breaking police lines or locked in a kettle together, a freezing Trot seems just about the same as a freezing Fabian.

Sunder Katwala said...

teknoddy ... what are your questions that nobody answers?

Great comments from Domuseswords and Oscar ... I guess we all spend much time in our micro-tribes talking about other micro-tribes, while talking to others inevitably means dialogue, some negotiation, some common ground, some clearer idea of real differences.

Saltley, yes, we have an intern programme. we pay expenses. we recruit by advertising and interviewing. I agree it has become a contentious issue in last couple of years.

Rupert, thanks. yes, that is another disagreement. I think "green new deal", "green/sustainable growth" and "green jobs" are going to be some of the most attractive arguments for a broad climate coalition, and for an alternative. Some of those are compatible (shift to green jobs) with post-growth strategies, and some aren't but will appeal to a greener social democracy.

Anonymous said...

For a video report on Netroots UK see ‘The Writing on the Wall is on the Web’ at Putney Debater

Raven said...

Nice round up (and thanks for the mention!) Our paths crossed many years ago when I was involved in arranging for you to meet the late Ben Pimlott).