Rapprochement, but for what?


According to The Guardian on April 3, moves are afoot in France to achieve unity on the left in order to mount a more effective challenge to the country’s right wing government.

This was reflected in a rally in a Paris sports stadium on April 2 arranged by the national secretary of the Parti Communiste Francais (PCF), Robert Hue. Alongside Hue at the rally was Lionel Jospin, the first secretary of the Socialist Party, as well as leading figures in liberal organisations and the French Greens. Alain Krivine of the Trotskyist Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire (LCR) was also one of the principals figuring at the rally.

Hue described the meeting as “historic”. The Guardian endorsed this view, saying that there is no precedent in France for this kind of political event, embracing such diverse trends. In fact, there have been moves under way for some time at grassroots level, with the LCR seeking joint discussion and action with the PCF, for example. In the past the PCF would turn aside such overtures. It does not seem to be doing this now.

Hue has made clear that he wants the PCF to be part of a future government. The PCF has done deals with the Socialist Party in the past, notably in 1981, when for a time there were four of their members in the new government of president Francois Mitterrand.

In his book Which Road, Jack Conrad says the PCF ministers were used as a “left cover” for the austerity measures of Mitterrand, and this is a correct appraisal. It also illustrates the danger of history repeating itself, with Hue and the PCF and perhaps others acting as a cover for another government of austerity dominated by the Socialist Party.

France was gripped by strikes during this winter just past, as workers fought back against their government’s policies in a manner that should set an example to us in Britain. Any movement of the left should build on this experience and not base itself on repeating 1981. Left unity is all very well, but it must be aimed at fighting capitalism, not perpetuating it.

Steve Kay