Julian Priestley is the author of five books and many articles, reviews and opinion pieces, covering many political themes.
The left of left
The idea for a book making ‘the left of the left’ case for Europe came out of a fairly well-oiled dinner with Harlem Desir, then leader of the French Socialist party, and some British Labour friends. By the time it came to settle up the bill, I had been talked into editing a series of contributions from half-a-dozen Labour friends (MEPs and officials) showing how being members of the EU helped British socialists to advance the progressive agenda – on economic and social policy, on the environment and trade and foreign policy, in the fight against racism and in its overall political aims.
It was written with a view to impacting on the internal Labour debate in 2013/2014 and arguing against Labour supporting a referendum. Indeed on this last point, we won the argument and Labour resisted a referendum until the 2015 election results made one inevitable. I like to think that our more left-field arguments provided some material for the Corbynistas during the referendum itself. But serious debate was drowned out during the essentially ‘blue on blue’ contest.
Leftwing publishers, Lawrence & Wishart, edited and published the book and asked us to produce a second edition in 2016 pre-referendum, updating the political argument. Editing a book is sheer misery of the ‘herding cats’ variety: made for the most part bearable in this case by the genuinely interesting contributions of Glyn Ford, Linda McGavan MEP, David Martin MEP, Derek Reed, Patrick Costello and Nick Costello.