While populist parties of the European political right garner much attention, what of those similarly grass-roots movements on the left of the spectrum? On the right, for instance, the Front National in France, headed by the charismatic Marine Le Pen, together with Britain’s UKIP, among others, are seen as a potential danger to the established order in their respective countries. The left, however, is just as trenchant in its critique of the modern political process in Europe.
In the U.K., for example, dissatisfaction with the perceived neo-globalist consensus among the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties has spawned a number of new political parties made of disgruntled Left wing activists and Members of Parliament (MPs). Most prominent among these is the Respect Party, whose most famous MP is George Galloway, a former Labour member and a candidate for the London Mayoralty later this year. Left Unity,founded by film-maker Ken Loach, is another example of a political party born out of frustration with the status quo. Left Unity is avowedly socialist too, with the dismantling of capitalism explicitly stated as one of its aims.
On a broader continental level, the past week saw the convening of European socialism’s great and good under the guise of Plan B. Essentially a gathering of members of parliament from EU member states (MEPs), academics and journalists, Plan B discussed six specific issues which it feels need to be tackled in order to effect a more equitable European society. With an opening address by former German minister of finance Oskar Lafontaine and closing remarks by French MEP Jean-Luc Melenchon, Plan B examined the future of the Euro, the international monetary system, public debt restructuring and default, economic sovereignty, cooperation and climatic, social and commercial justice.
The name Plan B has its origins in the alternative economic strategies of Alexis Tsipras and Yanis Varoufakis of the Greek Syriza party, who advocated a parallel payment system and parallel currency when it became apparent that Greece was beginning to struggle under the Eurozone’s deflationary policies.
January’s Paris summit was presented by Front De Gauche (Left Front). with much of the emphasis coming from seasoned French MEP Jean-Luc Melenchon. Writing in his blog, Melenchon is forthright in condemning the European Union in its current guise as being fundamentally undemocratic, hence the need for a”Plan B”, outlined in some detail by Melenchon below:
“Our Plan A for a democratic Europe, backed with a Plan B which shows the powers-that-be that they cannot terrorise us into submission, is inclusive and aims at appealing to the majority of Europeans. This demands a high level of preparation. Debate will strengthen its technical elements. Many ideas are already on the table: the introduction of parallel payment systems, parallel currencies, digitization of euro transactions, community based exchange systems, the euro exit and transformation of the euro into a common currency.”