The Future of the Left in Germany and the UK

Room 105 University House
Wednesday 10 October 2018 (11:00-18:00)

Institute for German Studies Symposium

2018 marks special anniversaries of two distinctive German personalities of the Left: the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx, and the centenary of the birth of Helmut Schmidt (SPD Chancellor of the West Germany, 1974-1982).

2018 is also witnessing apparent crises within the two main parties of the present-day German Left, the SPD and Die Linke, as well as within the British Labour Party. Since the financial crisis of 2008 (and perhaps even earlier), the centre-Left across Europe seems to be in retreat. 

Which way should the Left now turn? Is there still a role for international cooperation and partnership for parties on the Left? How do Left-wing politics compare across national boundaries? What are the similarities and differences between the challenges faced by the SPD and Die Linke in Germany, and those confronting Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in the UK? Do variations in national political cultures, as well as in political and voting systems, require parties on the Left to adopt different paths/solutions when responding to current challenges?

These questions, set against the distinctive political, social and economic contributions of Karl Marx and Helmut Schmidt, offer an opportunity to reflect on the situation and outlook for the Left in both Germany and the UK.


10:30   Registration

11:00   Welcome: Dr Nicholas Martin, Director of the IGS

11:15   Panel I – The Future of the Left in Germany and the UK

Prof. Tim Bale (QMUL), Dr Isabelle Hertner (KCL), Cornelia Hildebrandt (Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung), Dr Susan Milner (University of Bath)

Chair: Dr Julian Pänke (IGS)

12:30   Lunch

13:15   Panel II – Left-wing thought

Helene Albrecht (UCL): ‘Bridging philosophical traditions across the channel – Eduard Bernstein’s concept of “evolutionary socialism”’

Florencia Sannders (LMU, Munich): ‘If we really want to turn left: A re-thinking of the role of Pope Francis and the Catholic Church as global political actors’

Dr Peter Thompson (Sheffield): ‘The heart is on the left but the head is in the centre. Is there an alternative to left reformism?’

Discussants: Prof. Tim Bale (QMUL); Dr Isabelle Hertner (KCL); Dr Susan Milner (University of Bath)

Chair: Dr David Zell (IGS)

14:45   Tea/coffee

15:15   Panel III – Left-wing parties

Matthew Lloyd (KCL): ‘Why has there been a shift in the Labour Party’s economic policy since 2007?’

William Horncastle (Birmingham): ‘Assessing the current state of the Left in the UK: How did we get here and what does the future hold?’

Dr Leandros Fischer (Marburg / Cyprus) ‒ via Skype link: ‘Explaining the extraordinary resilience of Die Linke’

Discussants: Prof. Tim Bale (QMUL); Dr Isabelle Hertner (KCL); Dr Susan Milner (University of Bath)

Chair: Dr Charlotte Galpin (IGS)

16:45   Panel IV – Working with German Political Foundations

Felix Dane (Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung), Cornelia Hildebrandt (Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung), Christos Katsioulis (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung)

Chair: Dr Nicholas Martin (IGS)

17:45   Closing remarks: Dr Nicholas Martin (IGS)

18:00   Drinks reception

19:00   Dinner

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