Left unity has always proved difficult for the left. Look at the internecine battles in the Democratic Party today, which could certainly interfere with the party's ability to defeat Donald Trump in 2020, surely job #1 for the left.
Of course, it's not just in the US--it's a problem we see throughout the Western democracies. In Italy, 5 Star and the Democratic Party wouldn't play ball with one another and the result has been increased power and popularity for right wing populist Matteo Salvini. Only now are 5 Star and the Italian Democrats staring to talk about a common front to forestall a snap election and even more power for Salvini.
And in the UK, things are similarly going from bad to worse. But Paul Mason thinks there is a solution and it definitely involves left unity in a form harking back to the Popular Fronts of the 1930's.
"With a majority of just one, it is now inevitable that Britain faces a snap general election – either because Boris Johnson’s government is defeated in the Commons or because, having achieved some shabby Brexit deal, he will seize the moment to look for an electoral mandate.
For progressives, the last two weeks have shown how high the cost of losing that general election would be. The country would be ruled by a faction of elite Tories who have abandoned their moral and intellectual dividing lines with the far right. Britain would become an appendage of the United States, in foreign policy and in trade. It would be goodbye to the welfare state and the tolerant society.
What to do is the question that’s dominated discussions in the union movement, among NGOs and party activists for the past week. There is only one proven response in history that beats an alliance of far-right populists and conservative amoralists: a temporary alliance of the centre and the left. That’s what the Greens, Plaid and the Lib Dems achieved in Brecon – and it looks like a big chunk of 2017 Labour voters took part in it....
I can predict now the screams of protest from many Labour activists. But the popular-front tactic has deep antecedents in the very political traditions the modern Labour left emerged from. In 1935 the Bulgarian Communist leader Georgi Dimitrov single-handedly manouvered the Communist International into supporting calls for a “popular front” against fascism. This was about formal electoral pacts with centrist socialists, left nationalist and liberals – and it paid off within six months. In Spain, to the fury of conservatives who had formed their own electoral alliance with the fascists, the Popular Front took power in January 1936. In May that year the Popular Front won in France, giving the country its first socialist prime minister.
After Neville Chamberlain’s peace deal with Hitler in 1938, Nye Bevan and Stafford Cripps, two key figures on the Labour left, advocated an electoral pact including Communists, Liberals and anti-fascist Tories. Both were expelled from the party in March 1939, but they paved the way for Labour’s wartime coalition with Winston Churchill. So the popular-front tactic is not some piece of niche, retro-leftist memorabilia. It is the property of the western democratic tradition; the only tactic that halted or delayed the march to fascism in the 1930s. And it was invented by the Corbynistas of their day."
In unity there is strength!
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