Red Ken outrage

Russell Grinker grinker at
Sat May 13 04:08:09 MDT 2000

Mark Jones wrote:
>Russell, do you think that confrontational politics, Westminster-style, is
>better, less bourgeois etc than continental-style consensus-seeking PR-type

Less bourgeois - dunno.  But at least it still allows some sort of popular
choice via the traditional franchise.  Surely this is preferable to the
choreographed charade of the "consensus-seeking" approach which degrades
even limited democratic participation yet further?

>I'm sure you don't. But are you then opposed to all forms of bourgeois

In the current circumstances, rather defend and try to extend the
traditional forms while exposing their limitations.  The old Livingstone GLC
was a case in point.  While recognising the limitations of local democracy a
la Red Ken, it was better to have another channel for political activity and
necessary to fight to extend it and to defend it against Thatcher.
Livingstone's current cross-party approach ("forget the political
differences and lets all muck in to solve the tehcnical problems") seems to
me to undermine the last dregs of democratic possibilities in the new

>What kind of Canute like act of defiance of historical processes did you
>from Sinn Fein, for example?

I expect nothing from them. They're finished as a progressive political

>It would be simply to mock  both contemporary,hopeful, Irish realities, and
of the horrific events and desperate struggles of the past, not to
acknowledge and base ourselves on the given facts of
>bourgeois renewal.

You seem to be almost irrationally enamoured of what you term "bourgeois
renewal".  Have they suddenly become progressive or what? It seems to me
that in Ireland at least what has happened is a defeat of historic
porportions and can hardly be described as any kind of renewal.

>Anyway, there is no connection whatever between Irish realities and the
>accession to power of a new London mayor.

True.  But there certainly is a connection between the kind of politics
behind the NI Assembly and the non-confrontational, cross-party travesties
proposed by both Blair and Livingstone in their different ways.  What is
common to them all is the further debasement of democratic accountability of
any kind.

If I lived in Ireland and had to
>raise a family there, then I would support Adams, Blair, the process of
>'conflict-resolution' and consensus seeking.

That's up to you but it seems, from what I know about the new SF, that you
don't have very high expectations of what a political organisation should
deliver or fight for.

>What would you do?

Having never lived in Ireland or had the desire to advise the movement there
on what it should do, I can't really say for sure.

>But struggling against WTO, against terminator-seed technology, against the
Narmada dams, against the neoliberal order, and doing so right here in
London, and getting elected to high office
>in the process: that is important.

I somehow doubt that Ken's all-party "government of city-wide unity" which
in practice (not in "high holiday" speeches) plays down political
differences and concentrates on "techncial" solutions to London's problems,
will solve anything for the majority in the city.


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