ISJ: Alex Callinicos on the left in Britain

The new issue of the International Socialism journal has several articles relevant to the debates among revolutionary socialists in Britain. It opens with an editorial piece from Alex Callinicos looking at prospects for the radical left in Britain today.

Alex traces the crisis currently facing the Conservative party and argues that this is likely to lead to the Tories losing the next election. While Labour’s lacklustre performance certainly opens a space for the radical left, Alex disputes the views of those who believe the left in Britain can replicate the success of Syriza in Greece.

It seems more plausible to see Syriza’s breakthrough as exceptional. More specifically, it was a product of two conditions. First, the Pasok government of Andreas Papandreou transformed an already severe economic crisis into a 1930s-scale slump… But the fact that the radical left was the main beneficiary of Pasok’s collapse… must be put down to the second condition, namely the intensity of the social struggles that Greece has experienced…

How well do these conditions translate into the British situation? Regrettably, not at all… Miliband has presided over a significant revival in the party’s electoral fortunes after the low point reached in June 2010, when Labour did only marginally better than it did in the historic disaster of June 1983.

Thatcher’s landslide then was, of course, made possible by the right wing breakaway from Labour by the Social Democratic Party, which, in alliance with the Liberals, split the left of centre vote. This time, however, it is the right that is split.

Read “Where is the British left going?” here.


Note: This piece was published before rs21 was established as an independent organisation in January 2014. rs21 was founded by a group of people who had been in the opposition within the SWP and who left in response to its persistent mishandling of rape and sexual harassment allegations against a leading member.


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