Trahison des jerks

C. G. Estabrook galliher at
Mon Nov 8 14:41:47 PST 1999

So far as I can tell, neither this pathetic ploy nor the SI meeting have been mentioned in the US press. --C. G. Estabrook

* * *

French fume as Blair attacks 'Socialist' name

Paul Webster in Paris and Andy McSmith in London

Sunday November 7, 1999

Tony Blair has enraged the French Left by floating a plan to change the name

of one of Europe's oldest political institutions, the Socialist


The British Prime Minister privately suggested to French Socialist leaders

that it should be renamed the Centre-Left International.

The SI traces its roots back to the nineteenth-century International Working

Men's Federation, at which Karl Marx gave the inaugural address in 1864.

After the First International was destroyed by a rift between Marx and the

Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, a successor was launched in Paris in 1889,

principally by German Marxists.

Blair's argument was that the current IS, which has 190 affiliates, is too

dominated by European parties, when many of the best progressive political

ideas are coming from parties which which never use the word 'socialist' -

like the Democratic Party in the US. The word 'socialist' has also almost

entirely disappeared from the language of New Labour.

Blair will be addressing the SI conference in Paris tomorrow, but aides

insist that his remarks will be brief and uncontentious. He dropped plans to

write an article in the downmarket French newspaper Journal de Dimanche .

One claimed that misunderstandings had arisen from the different meanings

attached to words like 'liberal' on different sides of the Channel. He added:

'Tony isn't going to push this. He knows it's a non-starter.'

SI chairman Pierre Mauroy, who was Prime Minister of France from 1981 to

1984, revealed Blair's surprising proposals for the four-day meeting, that

include a joint free market manifesto drawn up with the German Chancellor,

Gerhard Schröder.

'We were rather taken aback when Tony Blair proposed to change the name of

one of the most powerful international political organisations in the world,'

Mauroy said. 'The Presidium (the movement's policy body) rejected the

Centre-Left idea out of hand with as much diplomacy as it could muster. We

were even more surprised when he suggested that Bill Clinton and the

Democratic Party should be invited to join us. We don't consider the

Democrats as a socialist movement.'

Guardian Unlimited (c) Guardian Newspapers Limited 1999

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