Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's in a name?

I was intrigued to read David Maddox's recent post in the Steamie about the Party of European Socialists' apparent plan to change their name to the 'Alliance of Social Democrats'. Maddox explains in a matter-of-fact way that this amounts to a recognition of the fact that the parties that make up the group aren't actually socialists anymore. Curious that, because the swiftest of Google searches reveals that the true story is somewhat different. The PES are in fact extremely reluctant to change their name (hardly surprising given that so many of their constituent parties retain - at least nominally - a socialist identity), but feel compelled to do so to secure the full affiliation of Italy's principal centre-left party, which contains strong non-socialist elements.

Maddox also makes some other claims that I'm slightly dubious about. He implies that the SNP would be thrilled to join the PES if only Labour would let them in (really?) and he also suggests rather implausibly that the name change might encourage the European Greens to join the group. The article I read in fact suggested that the PES is considering ditching its current informal 'grand coalition' with the European People's Party to form a similar arrangement with the Greens. Is that where Maddox is getting his ideas from, I wonder? If so, he's misunderstanding what's really going on at a fairly basic level.

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