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Pierre Laurent “We are not condemned to remain deadlocked”

Translated Saturday 27 June 2015, by Adrian Jordan

By special correspondent in Vienne.

In Poitou-Charentes, a stop on his tour of France, the national secretary of the PCF, Pierre Laurent, believes that, faced with a “government [that] kills hope” in business as well as in working-class neighbourhoods, the left should rise to the challenge of a new plan of liberation.

Freeing himself from the media circus to take time for local debate. The declared ambition of the national secretary of the PCF (French Communist Party), Pierre Laurent, from the start of his tour of France in January, which reached its highpoint mid-week in Poitou-Charentes, in working-class neighbourhoods as well as on the doorsteps of businesses. In Châtelleraudais where waves of redundancies are being made, it was the future of industry which inspired a number of visits on Wednesday. And with reason: “The feeling amongst we communists, is the issue in question is overcoming this capitalist system and the chaos which follows, to devise a new mode of social and economic development”, noted the Paris senator on Tuesday evening – invited to talk to students of Sciences-Po Poitiers on communism in the twenty-first century. “When in a year Alstom is sold to General Electric, Alcatel to Nokia and Areva is abandoned, the risk of a profound collapse of industry is there", he further explained to unionists the following day.

The “normalisation of the FN is a media scam”

And here is something certain. “Federal Mogul, Isodelta-Autoliv, Magnetti Marelli... If nothing is done, we will no longer have any industry”, notes Yves Jamain, departmental head of the PCF. Certainty, particularly for Itron in Chasseneuil-du-Poitou (manufacturer of electric meters), where workers are struggling. While Pierre Laurent gave them his support on Wednesday, the general assembly decided to lift its blockade of the site. But the mobilisation does not stop there, promises Bruno Richard, secretary of the CGT (union). Referring to “economic redundancies” for which the Paris senator was trying to hold the minister of economy to account: “Some come to support you when you are in dispute but in the Assembly vote for laws which block your actions.” Like in the case of the 2013 law dubbed “security of employment” which took away a right to challenge redundancies on economic grounds. A situation further aggravated by the Macron law.

A short distance away, in the working-class area of La Plaine d’Ozon, in Châtellerault, inequalities and discrimination were at the heart of change. “For the governing party, I have the impression that when it comes to Muslims, everything is trivialised. How far do they want to push us? Soon we will be wearing a green star...” protested the owner of Le Samovar cafe, located on the periphery of the market. Even though it has been withdrawn, the measure of denoting the religion of pupils in Béziers from their first name, extolled by the extreme right wing mayor, has left its mark. “The reaction of the state is not up to par: when a mayor breaks the law, he should be punished. Such impunity cannot be allowed to spread”, proffers Pierre Laurent, for whom, additionally, the “normalisation of the FN is a media scam”. “It is not the anti-Semitic diatribe of Le Pen the father, it is another form of racism, equally as dangerous”, he remarked when questioned on the subject by a Sciences-Po student.

“While they have the nationality, our children do not feel French because of all the discrimination”, remarked Naima in one of the aisles of the market in Plaine d’Ozon. Mother of four, she has firmly decided to fight for equality. Starting with school. As, in the neighbourhood, two teaching jobs will be lost. “For them, it is all about money, our children are numbers.” “They string the people along, pretending to increase resources but people realise this”, responded Pierre Laurent later, when meeting members of the teaching profession. “I would never have thought that a left wing government could do this to us”, said Naima. Though she is determined to “fight with her vote”, she does not know to whom to turn. “The Left Front, it’s not that I don’t believe them but I am wary of all politicians”, Naima said obliquely. “What the government is doing kills hope”, conceded Pierre Laurent but “we are not condemned to obscurity or the deadlock which is typified by the political system”, he assured. A challenge for the left, which, according to the senator, is not condemned by “the failure of the PS”; and, which should reinvent itself around another focal point. “All this takes longer than one would desire but the questions will grow, millions of people are already asking them.”

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