After DiEM25 published its collective decision to back fifteen Parliamentary candidates in tomorrow’s UK General Election, we received some interesting missives – mostly critical that included non-Labour candidates, including (lo and behold) Nick Clegg. This is a welcome ‘backlash’, in the sense that it gives us an opportunity to put things straight.
DiEM25 was not created just to support existing political parties. Our task is tougher and more important than this: it is to forge the Progressive International that Europe needs, and to promote its values and principles politics in every country. Of course, when a political party is close to our principles and agenda we will do our utmost to support it.
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are two politicians who have steered Labour in a direction very close to DiEM25’s principles and aspirations. Naturally, we back them wholeheartedly. However, the Labour Party still leaves much to be desired – as Jeremy and John would readily admit. A certain sectarian attitude (e.g. fielding candidates against progressives, and DiEM25ers, like Caroline Lucas), a strong tribal tendency, support for first-past-the-post, powerful forces within that are keen to return to a Blairite deep establishment posture – these are examples of why we believe that DiEM25 had to do more than simply support Labour.
In endorsing candidates from different political parties, with a solid rationale for each one of them (see here), DiEM25 is demonstrating in practice the kind of new, progressive politics that would end the neoliberals’ near monopoly of power in the UK and usher in a progressive government. Notice that in constituencies where we supported non-Labour candidates we selected candidates that have a strong chance of toppling a sitting Tory. Notice further that, if our endorsements had also been adopted by the Labour Party, the probability of a Jeremy Corbyn 10 Downing Street would have been enhanced. In short, DiEM25 is genuinely behind Jeremy and John – except in our own special way!
Lastly, on the ‘small’ matter of endorsing Nick Clegg I must say that this was not a choice that I voted for. Nick may have had a change of heart recently, and has called for a progressive alliance government in the UK – all good, proper and in concert with DiEM25’s agenda. BUT, he stands condemned for his connivance in the class war against the weak; i.e. the austerity policies of George Osborne and David Cameron. He also stands condemned for having acceded to various anti-social, uncivilised Tory policies, e.g. trebling university tuition fees. NEVERTHELESS, DiEM25 is a boisterous, democratic movement that combines horizontal decision making with all-member votes. That very process, which we cherish at DiEM25, yielded this particular recommendation – one that I must, and I do, accept.