Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Mélenchon to take a Back-Seat on French Left?

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Now to Take a Back Seat? 

The co-President of the Parti de Gauche, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, has expressed his weariness, and his wish to take some distance. He estimates that the Front de Gauche has suffered a setback.

(Interview à Hexagones,Exclusive Interview with Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The leader of the Left Party announces his willingness to take a step back,  recharge his batteries, and says that it is time for him to pass the baton of leadership to others. He also noted the failure of the Left Front, and denounced the role of the media in the electoral breakthrough of the National Front.)

Mélenchon cited the need to escape from the pressures that his intense political activism, over the last five years, have brought.

He expressed the view that as a “big tree” he risked stunting the growth of the others in the left political “forest”  from growing.

It is time, the former Presidential candidate for the Front de gauche said, for new faces inside the Parti de gauche (his own group inside the bloc) to take a more prominent roles.

Mélenchon offered a critical balance-sheet of the Front de gauche, notably against the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) and their electoral arrangements with the Parti Socialiste (PS).

He did not hesitate to criticise the “functionaries” who had attempted to isolate the great man. (1)

concluded that his time would be spent in giving a detailed content to the general ideas of the left. Above all, “La question pour nous n’est pas de faire un parti révolutionnaire, c’est d’aider à la naissance d’un peuple révolutionnaire». The issue for us is not to build a revolutionary party, but to help a revolutionary people be born.

Adpated from Libération.

This follows troubles inside the Parti de Gauche earlier this month.

A small number of leading figures resigned their posts, protesting at the “centralisation” of the small party.

Tensions et démissions au sein du parti de Jean-Luc Mélenchon 3.7.2014.

The set-back of the European elections has produced a number of responses.

The Parti Communiste Français has talked of building a “people’s front”, (Passer du Front de gauche au front du peuple.)

It is known that dissatisfied members of the ruling Parti Socialiste (‘frondeurs’) are upset above all with plans to cut spending and toe the line of budgetary ‘rigour’.

Ensemble, the third force in the Front de gauche (grouping a number of left currents), has proposed expanding to a broader  “anti-austerity” front.

Is something like a French People’s Assembly on the cards?

(1) Les Echoes fills in the dots,

“Sans les nommer, il met en cause Pierre Laurent, le secrétaire national du Parti communiste ainsi que Ian Brossat, adjoint communiste d’Anne Hidalgo, responsables d’une stratégie d’alliance qui a « complètement décrédibilisé ce qu’était le Front de Gauche, explosé entre ceux qui ne voulaient pas d’alliance avec le PS et ceux qui se sont vautrés dans cette alliance.»

Se montrant très critique sur la ligne adoptée par le Parti communiste « plus institutionnelle, plus traditionnelle, où on continue à penser que la gauche est une réalité partiaire, organisée et qu’on peut rectifier le tir du Parti socialiste »,

 

‘Trojan Horse’ in Birmingham: Scandal Worsens as Shahid Akmal Faces New Allegations.

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Shahid Akmal, “white women have the least amount of morals.”

The Birmingham Mail has just revealed another scandal behind the ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations,

Undercover report reveals Birmingham school chief claimed women are ‘emotionally weaker’ and that British people have ‘colonial blood’.

By Nick Sommerlad

One of the ringleaders of the Islamist plot to take over British schools is exposed today as a sexist, racist bigot.

School chief Shahid Akmal told an undercover reporter from Birmingham Mail sister paper the Mirror, that “white women have the least amount of morals”, white children were “lazy” and that British people have “colonial blood”.

Akmal claimed that women were “emotionally weaker” than men and that their role was to look after children and the home.

He defended jailing or exiling gays and adulterers under Sharia Law as a “moral position to hold”.

Until he was removed last week, Akmal was the chairman of governors at Nansen Primary School in Birmingham, where music was banned and inspectors found pupils were not sufficiently protected from radicalisation.

The hardliner revealed he has plans to set up a series of after-school tuition centres to instil “our morals and our values and our principles” in impressionable youngsters.

Over a series of meetings, Akmal made a string of extraordinary statements and defended Britons fighting in Syria and Iraq as “freedom fighters”.

In a defiant attack, Akmal claimed the Government wanted to keep Muslims “suppressed” so they are easier to control.

Asked if white children were lazy he said: “Exactly. Thank you very much. And they don’t want to accept that.” He insisted: “I tell you, our women are much, much better consciously in the heart than any white women.

“White women have the least amount of morals.”

He argued that girls should be taught skills like cooking and sewing while boys should be taught trades like construction and mechanics.

Akmal attacked women who became “high flying” politicians: “She has to sacrifice her family, she has to sacrifice her children, she has to sacrifice her husband, all in the name of equality. And there are so many marriages that have broken up because of this.”

He appeared to defend British Muslims joining rebels in Syria and Iraq, despite official warnings of a terrorism threat when they return to the UK.

He said: “The fact that he has gone there to fight, they say that he is supporting terrorists. Because they don’t believe in the freedom fight.”

The alleged Trojan Horse plotters had been attacked for “wanting the best for our children”, claimed Akmal. He said: “They basically don’t want the children to do any better because they will demand education, they will demand better qualifications, they will want to go to Oxford and Cambridge and that’s a white only place. Very few non-whites go there.

“They want to keep us suppressed. It’s easier to control. If you get education you get a mind. When you get a mind, you ask questions. They don’t like that.

This comes as the  Clarke report into Birmingham schools was formally presented.

Amongst its findings ITN highlights this,

Teachers at schools involved in the ‘Trojan Horse’ investigation allegedly claimed the murder of Lee Rigby was “some kind of staged event or hoax”, according to a government report.

The report’s author, retired counter-terrorism officer Peter Clarke, analysed the contents of a social media discussion between teachers at Park View School who called themselves ‘The Park View Brotherhood’.

The teachers allegedly joked about Lee Rigby’s death on the WhatsApp messaging service. Credit: Daniel Reinhardt/DPA/Press Association Images

Clarke’s report says the group of teachers exchanged “highly offensive comments about British service personnel” on the WhatsApp messaging service.

He also described the general contents of the teachers’ discussions as “grossly intolerant of beliefs and practices other than their own”.

School chiefs and parents ‘involved in promoting Islam’

Last updated Tue 22 Jul 2014

Governors, deputy and acting headteachers, trustees and parents were involved in a pattern of behaviour “moving between schools” in Birmingham, an inquiry into alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ schools has found.

In a 151-page report for Birmingham City Council, Ian Kershaw concluded: “The evidence shows individuals have been seeking to promote and encourage Islamic principles in the schools with which they are involved, by seeking to introduce Islamic collective worship, or raising objections to elements of the school curriculum that are viewed as anti-Islamic.”

Mr Kershaw’s report said the problems had been allowed to run “unchecked” due to what he branded “weaknesses in the system and poor oversight of governance” mainly by the city council, but also by Ofsted, the Education Funding Agency and the DfE.

In his report, Mr Clarke, who served as head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit, said he “neither specifically looked for, nor found, evidence of terrorism, radicalisation or violent extremism in the schools of concern in Birmingham”.

But he went on to say: “I found clear evidence that there are a number of people, associated with each other and in positions of influence in schools and governing bodies, who espouse, sympathise with or fail to challenge extremist views.”

The inquiry concluded: “There has been co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham.

It said witnesses had expressed three key concerns about the impact of the situation on pupils:

  • The first was that teachers feared that children are learning to be intolerant of difference and diversity.
  • Secondly, that although good academic results can be achieved by narrowing the curriculum, this means young people are not getting a broad education, and instead their horizons are narrowed.
  • Thirdly, that the evidence of young people being encouraged to “adopt an unquestioning attitude to a particular hardline strand of Sunni Islam” raises real concerns about their vulnerability to radicalisation in the future.

Criticising the role of Birmingham city council, the report concluded the authority was “aware of the practices and behaviours that were subsequently outlined in the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter long before the letter surfaced”.

It goes on to say that the council has not supported headteachers faced with “aggressive and inappropriate behaviour”.

Mr Clarke also warned that the DfE had allowed Park View Educational Trust (PVET) – the trust at the centre of the allegations – to move from running a single school to being responsible for three too quickly, without systems in place for holding the new academies to account.

” There has been no evidence of direct radicalisation or violent extremism,” she said. “But there is a clear account in the report of people in positions of influence in these schools, with a restricted and narrow interpretation of their faith, who have not promoted fundamental British values and who have failed to challenge the extremist views of others.

“Individuals associated with PVET in particular have destabilised headteachers, sometimes leading to their resignation or removal. Particularly shocking is the evidence of the social media discussion of the Park View Brotherhood group whose actions betray a collective mind-set that can fairly be described as an intolerant Islamist approach which denies the validity of alternative beliefs.”

She said that it was “upsetting” that efforts to encourage more British Muslims to become school governors had been “damaged by the actions of a few” and urged parents to continue to come forward to serve on governing bodies.

A new education commissioner is to be appointed at Birmingham City Council to oversee action to address the criticisms of the authority in the Clarke and Kershaw reports.”

 MSN news.

Shiraz Socialist commented a few days ago,

So we now have a situation in which the two reports commissioned into ‘Trojan Horse’ have both concluded that there was a real issue of organised, ultra-reactionary Islamist influence in some Birmingham schools. The newspaper at the forefront of the campaign of denial that followed the allegations has now relented and faced reality. The leader of Birmingham City Council has acknowledged what happened and apologised. But will those on the left (in particular, but not only, the SWP), who took the Guardian ‘line’ now admit their mistake? More importantly, will the NUT leadership, instead of prevaricating on the issue, now take a clear stand in support of secular education?

One solution: secular education!

Boot Religious Authority out of Schools!

Ben Gummer Ipswich MP: Reshuffled Out?

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Last Known Sighting of Ben: I Make Fun Stuff ! 

Popular Ipswich MP, Ben Gummer (Unofficial Minister for Ipswich, Honorary Mayor of Ipswich, Acting Editor, Ipswich Star, Benefactor of the Shrine of Lady Lane), has been less than visible lately.

His last major political achievement was this, “February 2014 BISHOP’S HILL LIGHTS STOPPED.”

Sadly the sprightly Latin scholar, and author of the definitive guide to the Black Death (1), does not appear to have benefited from the recent Cabinet Reshuffle.

His position as Michael Gove’s PPS has, well, lapsed.

For all his prestigious unofficial and honorary posts, Ben did not figure in the roll of honour that was at the command of Leader David Cameron.

Rumours that Ben is seeking a bolt-hole in the West County have flourished in the absence of any more definitive news.

We hope to be informed of developments on this front.

The fate of the Gummer dynasty is in the balance.

 

(1) Fittingly the last outbreak of bubonic plague in England occurred on the nearby Shotley Peninsula in 1910 (Here). 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 22, 2014 at 11:07 am

France: Pro-Palestinian Protests and anti-Semitism at Sarcelles, Defending the Right to Demonstrate.

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Defying  the Ban on pro-Palestinian marches in France, on Saturday,

About 6,000 mostly peaceful protesters assembled in the Barbès area of northern Paris in defiance of a government ban. When the march was blocked by police lines after only 500 metres, a minority of young protesters started to hurl stones, bottles and sticks at the riot police.

There is a range of accounts of the responsibility for the incidents that took place, see L’Humanité, and Libération and an important direct reportage in the same paper, here.

A leader of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA) said, “«La solidarité avec les Palestiniens doit pouvoir s’exprimer à Paris», a expliqué samedi à l’AFP Sandra Demarcq, membre de la direction du NPA, qui juge l’interdiction «illégitime et scandaleuse». We should be able to express solidarity with the Palestinians, explained to AFP Sandra Demarq, part of the leadership of the NPA, who judged the ban “illegitimate and scandalous”. According to the reporter at around 15.40,

Soudain, des groupes extrêmement équipés et organisés ont commencé à fendre la foule pour monter au contact des CRS. Ils avançaient en ligne, le visage couvert. A l’évidence, ils n’avaient rien de militants venus défendre la cause palestinienne. Certains arboraient des tee-shirts du virage Auteuil, une tribune du Parc des Princes.

Suddenly, extremely well organised and kitted out groups pushed their way through the crowd towards the front row of the CRS (riot police).

They advanced en bloc, faces covered. From what could be gleaned they had nothing of the look of activists who’d come to defend the Palestinian cause. Some of them were wearing the colours of Auteuil, a supporters’ group named after a football stand at the Parc des Princes.

In Sarcelles on Sunday however  events took a clearly and illegitimate  anti-Semitic  turn,

France’s interior minister on Monday slammed “intolerable” acts of anti-Semitism after a rally against Israel’s Gaza offensive descended into violence pitting an angry pro-Palestinian crowd against local Jewish businesses.

Sunday’s demonstration in the north Paris suburb of Sarcelles was the third to deteriorate in a week, as shops were looted and riot police lobbed tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd.

The rally had been banned amid concern the Jewish community would be targeted after protesters last weekend tried to storm two synagogues in Paris.

“When you head for the synagogue, when you burn a corner shop because it is Jewish-owned, you are committing an anti-Semitic act,”Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters outside the Sarcelles synagogue.

In the Paris suburb sometimes nicknamed “little Jerusalem” for its large community of Sephardic Jews, the rally descended into chaos when dozens of youth – some masked – set fire to bins and lit firecrackers and smoke bombs.

Eighteen people were arrested after looters wrecked shops, including a kosher foodstore and a funeral home as protesters shouted: “Fuck Israel!”.

News 24.

The Independent says,

Riot police held back a mob of youths who tried to attacks two synagogues in the town of Sarcelles in the northern Paris suburbs.

A pro-Gaza demonstration in a town with a large Jewish population began peacefully but degenerated into attacks on Jewish and Chaldean businesses and four hours of running battles between youths and police. Several cars were burned. Three shops, including a Kosher grocery (1), were burned and pillaged. A railway station was severely damaged.

The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneve said today: “When you menace synagogues and when you burn a grocery because it is  Jewish-owned, you are committing anti-semitic acts…  That is intolerable. Protest against Israel is legitimate. Nothing can justify such violence.”

…..

Roger Cuikerman, head of the French umbrella groups of Jewish organisations, CRIF, said there was a growing anxiety amongst French jews.

Protest against Israeli government actions was one thing, he said. Attacks on Jews for being Jews were “deeply disturbing”. “They are not screaming ‘death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris,” he said. “They are screaming ‘death to the Jews’. They are attacking synagogues which are places of prayer.”

Bernard Cazeneuve, speaking at Sarcelles this morning, said (Le Monde),

Devant la presse, il a estimé qu’il était « légitime » de pouvoir exprimer une position sur les événements de Gaza, où au moins 502 Palestiniens ont été tuésdepuis le 8 juillet. En revanche, il a jugé « intolérable que l’on s’en prenne à des synagogues ou à des commerces parce qu’ils sont tenus par des juifs. Rien ne peut justifier de telles violence ». Dix-huit personnes ont été interpellées après les heurts, selon la police.

In front of the press he considered that it was “legitimate” to be able to express a position on the events in Gaza, where at least 502 Palestinians have been killed since the 8th of July. By contrast he judged that it is “intolerable that people attack synagogues and businesses because they are run by Jews. Nothing can justify such violence.” According to the police 18 people have been asserted after the incidents.

(1) The shop had been already the subject of a grenade attack in September 2013 (see here).

In an important Editorial today Le Monde says that the government’s ban on demonstrations is an admission of its impotence, “Manifestations interdites : l’aveu d’impuissance du gouvernement.”

The statement  notes that President Hollande is right to be concerned about the “importation” of the Israel-Palestinian conflict into France.

But they note that the right to demonstrate, within reasonable limits, is part of the foundations of the Republic.

They cite the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man, “ nul ne doit être inquiété pour ses opinions, même religieuses, pourvu que leur manifestation ne trouble pas l’ordre public établi par la loi ». 

Article 10, “No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.”

Le Monde then accuses the government, through its ban on demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinians, of playing, “aux pompiers pyromanes.” (firefighting arsonists, figurative, “fig., personne qui provoque volontairement les maux qu’elle est censée combattre.”, somebody who creates the very problem they claim to be solving).

“Toute manifestation doit être déclarée à la Préfecture de police, en indiquant, au moins trois jours avant, sa date, son heure et son parcours. En d’autres termes, le droit de manifester fait partie des libertés publiques, mais il est légitimement encadré.”

Every demonstration, its timings, and its route,  must be notified to the Police authorities, at least 3 days in advance. In other respects the right to demonstrate, within defined limits, is part of our public freedoms.

Le Monde is absolutely right.

Positions of left parties:

Parti de Gauche “L’interdiction de la manifestation de soutien à la population de Gaza contre l’agression décidée par le gouvernement israélien était bien une provocation et une manipulation.” NPA, “La solidarité avec les Palestiniens est légitime et n’a rien à voir avec de l’antisémitisme !” Front de Gauche, “”Amplifier la solidarité avec le peuple palestinien, défendre le droit de manifester”.

Update: Declaration today (Monday 12st July) against ban on demonstrations by the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, GAZA CROULE SOUS LES BOMBES, ISRAËL S’ENFERRE DANS LA RÉPRESSION, LES INTERDICTIONS DE MANIFESTER DU GOUVERNEMENT FRANÇAIS ATTISENT LES TENSIONS

Demonstration  on Wednesday now  authorised, Le Monde. 

Religious Cleansing in Iraq: Socialists Declare for ‘Democratic, Secular’ Alternative.

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Islamists Force Christians to Leave Mosul. 

BAGHDAD (New York Times) — By 1 p.m. on Friday almost every Christian in Mosul had heard the Sunni militants’ message — they had until noon Saturday to leave the city.

Men, women and children piled into neighbors’ cars, some begged for rides to the city limits and hoped to get taxis to the nearest Christian villages. They took nothing more than the clothes on their backs, according to several who were reached late Friday.

The order from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria came after Christians decided not to attend a meeting that ISIS had arranged for Thursday night to discuss their status.

“We were so afraid to go,” said Duraid Hikmat, an expert on minorities who had done research for years in Mosul. He fled two weeks ago to Al Qosh, a largely Christian town barely an hour away, but his extended family left on Friday.

Islamic State Group Claims Baghdad Bombings  

By SAMEER N. YACOUB and RYAN LUCAS Associated Press. Baghdad.

Is there a left response?

 

 Socialist Worker (USA -no longer closely linked to SWP UK) published this on the 7th of July.

Several revolutionary Marxist and socialist organizations from the region–the Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt), Union of Iraqi Communists (Iraq), al-Munadhil-a (Morocco), Revolutionary Left Current (Syria), Leftist Workers League (Tunisia) and Socialist Forum (Lebanon)–issued a joint statement calling for revolutionary working-class unity against both sectarianism and imperialism. Here, we reprint their statement, which appeared originally at the al-Manshour website.

…….the most flagrant transgressions in the context of this campaign were the sectarian massacres committed by ISIS. There are stories about mass executions–with unparalleled brutality–of hundreds of prisoners, out of the thousands who had surrendered. This is in addition to all sorts of acts of repression, deportation and persecution for religious and ethnic reasons, not to mention the use of rape against women and girls or forcing them to marry fighters from the armed group.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

ISIS’S CONTROL culminated in the imposition of strict Sharia rules after the announcement of the “city paper” in Mosul–a 16-article document dictating the lives of citizens. One of the articles indicates that the Islamic State will be the sole authority in control of the city’s resources, and that it will punish anyone who steals from public funds. On the other hand, ISIS seized the equivalent of hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars from banks, government facilities and municipalities, and it confiscated countless quantities of weapons left behind by fleeing soldiers and officers.

The document advises all men to participate in collective prayers and prohibits the sale and consumption of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, among other Sharia restrictions. It also bans all councils, assemblies and banners under any name, in addition to carrying weapons, considering these acts as divisive and deserving of the death sentence.

The document reveals the position adopted by ISIS concerning statues and shrines, which it threatens to demolish, in addition to destroying the graves of saints. It calls on women to remain at home except in emergency situations. In summary, ISIS’s rule has left people fearful for their lives, including the armed militias “allied” to them (information indicates around 23 groups joined the campaign).

*******

1. All types of intervention in Iraqi affairs by the U.S., Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and others must be rejected, as they are not only completely incompatible with the interests of the people of Iraq, but also fuel the fire of a terrible sectarian war. We call on the UN General Assembly, in particular, to hold all countries accountable for their intervention in this situation and subject them to sanctions, according to the Uniting for Peace mechanism.

2. All political disputes in Iraq must be solved by appealing to the opinion, will and interests of Iraqis themselves. This should be through an advanced democratic process from outside the sectarian system, which ensures active political participation of all citizens, without any type of discrimination, whether in building their new state structure or through local government in all the cities and governorates.

3. The Iraqi people and liberationist factions must be at the forefront of confronting the bloody terrorism of ISIS and the counter-terrorism against it. This necessitates the self-organization of people in cities, slums and villages in armed popular committees and councils to counter the attacks of obscurantist terrorist organizations and all the opposing confessional militias. These groups should be incapacitated, defeated and their presence eliminated from Iraq.

However, this also contains an international task–a mobilization for the widest global campaign to support Iraqis in their efforts to confront the hostile forces and militias on the one hand, and the existing dictatorial sectarian capitalist regime on the other, aiming for its overthrow. This would advance the aspirations of Iraqis for a future based on justice, freedom and human dignity and prevent the disintegration of the country or its partition.

4. In the above context, the revolutionary left and democratic, feminist and progressive groups in the Arab region should work together to confront the sectarian and confessional approach and policies of Arab regimes, on the one hand, and obscurantist and reactionary right-wing groups, on the other. This is in order to defeat the sectarian/confessional threat, which is the main weapon used by the counter-revolution to attack the revolutionary space that could unite the peoples of the region.

5. Finally, there is an urgent need to provide the necessary aid to refugees and the displaced, through all sorts of international organizations, to reduce and control the impact of the current humanitarian crisis.

The regional and international conspiracy against the Iraqi people must be defeated.

Down with all imperialist interventions in Iraq.

Defeat the obscurantist assault by ISIS and its brethren.

Victory to the Iraqi people against their internal and external enemies.

For a democratic, secular, revolutionary, sovereign and independent Iraq.

Long live international people’s solidarity.

Signatories:
Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt)
Union of Iraqi Communists (Iraq)
al-Munadhil-a (Morocco)
Revolutionary Left Current (Syria)
Leftist Workers League (Tunisia)
Socialist Forum (Lebanon)

June 28, 2014

This is the pitifully truncated account Socialist Worker (UK), 1st of July, gives of this stirring declaration,

Revolutionary socialist organisations in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia, Syria and Morocco have issued a joint statement condemning the sectarianism ripping Iraq apart.

The revolutionaries blame the “interventions of regional and international powers” for the chaos.

In December 2012 a popular movement for justice erupted in Sunni majority areas. This movement was met with brutal violence from the Iraqi government.

The left appeal to “all the oppressed in Iraq” to make a revolution “against the entire system” that is breeding hate. This includes the US occupation, sectarian forces, Isis, the Iraqi government and others.

Note the absence of the words, “ democratic” and  “secular”…..

Written by Andrew Coates

July 20, 2014 at 11:00 am

Independent investigation sparked by ‘Trojan horse’ letter finds officials failed to act for fear of being accused of Islamophobia.

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SWP Placards, No Answer to Real Problems. 

Is the Guardian finally seeing sense?

This report has just appeared.

Birmingham council a ‘disastrous failure’ over Islamism in schools

Independent investigation sparked by ‘Trojan horse’ letter finds officials failed to act for fear of being accused of Islamophobia.

Birmingham council “disastrously” failed to act when a group of Muslim men began to promote, sometimes illegally, a fundamentalist version of Islam in some schools, because officials were afraid of being accused of racism or Islamophobia, a report has found.

The investigation, carried out by the independent adviser Ian Kershaw, was commissioned by Birmingham City council (BCC) as a result of concerns raised in a letter dated 27 November 2013, known as the “Trojan horse” letter, which suggested a number of schools in the city had been “taken over” to ensure they were run on strict Islamic principles.

The Birmingham report, compiled by Kershaw and overseen by a review group that included senior Home Office official Stephen Rimmer and representatives of the West Midlands police, interviewed many of the same witnesses and reviewed the same documents as the former counterterrorism police chief Peter Clarke, who was commissioned by the then education secretary Michael Gove to address extremism in Birmingham schools.

The article continues and states this,

The report found that a small group of governors had:

• placed unreasonable demands on head teachers to “modify curriculum provision, which denies students their right to access a broad and balanced curriculum, including the right to understand other world religions and the right to sex and relationship education”.

• placed “inappropriate demands on head teachers by repeatedly requesting information”.

• been “overly challenging and sometimes aggressive in the management of head teachers”.

• inappropriately appointed friends and relatives to the school staff.

• undermined head teachers during Ofsted inspections.

Kershaw found that elements of the five steps referred to in the Trojan Horse letter for taking over schools were present in a “large number of the schools considered as part of the investigation”.

These five steps were to: target poorly performing schools in Muslim areas; select parents to turn against schools; install governors to encourage Islamic ideals; identify key staff to disrupt from within; and to instigate a campaign of pressure.

Kershaw found evidence of all five steps at Golden Hillock School, Moseley school, Nansen primary school and Saltley school. All of those schools, with the exception of Moseley, were recently put into special measures after emergency Ofsted inspections downgraded them to “inadequate”.

There was no evidence of all five at Park View Academy, which has been at the centre of the controversy.

Kershaw concluded that the evidence collated to date “does not support a conclusion that there was a systematic plot to take over schools”.

He added: “There are concerns which require immediate attention, but the evidence is not sufficient to lead me to construe the behaviour to be a coordinated plan to improperly influence the direction and management of schools (or academies) serving schools of predominantly Islamic faith or Muslim background.”

More here.

Has the Guardian changed? Have all their writers  now dropped the automatic resort to charges about ‘Islamophobia’ when these problems were reaised.

Not really.

It remains trapped in religious multi-culturalism, as this accompanying article by  illustrates.

The Trojan horse plot shows we must clarify religion’s place in state schools

Isolationist and xenophobic tendencies must be challenged robustly and not accepted as part of faith or cultural practice

….we need to clarify the place of religion in state schools. For example, is it reasonable to expect a school with a majority Muslim population to hold Christian prayers during assembly, daily worship apparently being a legal requirement? Should it offer Islamic prayer instead or different assemblies for pupils of different religious and non-religious backgrounds? Does modern religious diversity mean we do away with collective worship at school or adopt a multi-faith approach? Schools around the country regularly grapple with such issues.

And,

As a result of this unfortunate episode, we need to put measures in place to ensure that the teaching of religion in schools is objective, balanced and non-discriminatory, while all school activities and practices are inclusive and devoid of narrow religious or political influences. While state schools must remain sensitive to the cultural needs of all pupils, isolationist and xenophobic tendencies must be challenged robustly and not accepted as part of faith or cultural practice. Governance structures also need to be improved so that schools are more careful about whom they appoint. Extremists, even if they are non-violent, should not be allowed to work in schools or be governors, and attempts to impose puritanical agendas on schools in the public sector must not be allowed to happen again.

How about simply removing religion from “school activities and practices”, and teaching about it within the context of philosophy and cultural anthropology  in schools?

Written by Andrew Coates

July 18, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Malaysian plane goes down in the Ukraine: Conspiracy Theorists run Wild.

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The BBC reports,

A Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 295 people has crashed in east Ukraine on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

There are no signs of survivors at the scene of the crash near the village of Grabovo, in rebel-held territory close to the border with Russia.

Both sides in Ukraine’s civil conflict accused each other of shooting down the plane with a missile. It is still not clear why the plane came down

It was only an instant and the conspiracy theorists ran over the fresh graves of the victims of the crash.

“The US has spent over $5 Billion to destabilize the Ukraine, and that doesn’t even include money from classified budgets. The US/NATO has already been widely accused of Operation Gladio false flag terrorist attacks in the Ukraine.”

Conservative News.

Hat-Tip: Heggy.

Russia Today carried this story at one point,

Malaysian Airlines MH17 plane was travelling almost the same route as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s jet shortly before the crash that killed 298, Interfax news agency reports citing sources.

“I can say that Putin’s plane and the Malaysian Boeing intersected at the same point and the same echelon. That was close to Warsaw on 330-m echelon at the height of 10,100 meters. The presidential jet was there at 16:21 Moscow time and the Malaysian aircraft – 15:44 Moscow time,” a source told the news agency on condition of anonymity.

“The contours of the aircrafts are similar, linear dimensions are also very similar, as for the coloring, at a quite remote distance they are almost identical”, the source added.

Before it’s News raved,

Stephen: Like many of you, on first hearing today that a Malaysian Airlines Flight (MH17) with 295 people on board has been shot down over the eastern Ukraine, the first thought that comes to mind is false flag – that this must be another last ditch effort to retain power.This has also occurred just as Israel has sent tanks into Gaza. A tragic distraction perhaps? It’s all too convenient, no?

1) Malaysian Air involved AGAIN after their “lost plane” false flag event a few months back.

2) The markets were looking for an excuse to hit the collapse button

3) Gold and Silver have been rumored to be “allowed” to run up very soon.

4) European banks are in deep, deep trouble and need an excuse.

5) Ukrainian gov’t came out immediately after the news hit with a story that they know that the Russians shot the plane down.

6) Obama and the EU have just laid new sanctions on Russia and are looking for support from the world.

All of the above leans me towards the conclusion that this is just another false flag event in a long, long string of many that our controllers have pulled off.

Let me be clear…this is just my hunch and it usually takes a few weeks/months before all the “conspiracy facts” come out proving the motives and methods behind the occurrence.

We are living in dangerous times so look at everything with a skeptical eye.

May the Road you choose be the Right Road.

The there is this,

777 Shot Down Over Ukraine : Getting Past The Lies

By Gordon Duff with Jim W. Dean, Veterans Today – July 18, 2014 – http://www.veteranstoday.com/2014/07/17/777-shot-down-over-ukraine/

Unconfirmed: Malaysian plane mistaken for Putin’s private jet which had flown over the area only moments before, leaving Israel and the Kiev junta as prime suspects. This may well have been an assassination attempt on Putin.

We have people on the scene now (1:45PM EST) who have found a bag of passports and medical equipment. We will keep you updated.

With the beginning of the Israeli ground attack on Gaza, might they well claim the plane was:

1: An “Egyptian horse barge,” shot down by mistake

2: Spying on Israeli troop movements

(ref: USS Liberty Israeli cover stories)

Not to mention this,

As to the plot or reason, simply blaming Israel is not supportable, no more than blaming Hamas for murdering the 3 children a few short weeks ago.

Thus, we assume these as high probability:

◾An aircraft was used, most likely an American built F15 because of range and capability.

◾Azerbaijan was used because we know of clandestine bases there, which were confirmed by military officers who defected to Iran in 2013.

◾We know Israel has some role, yet undefined, because they are spreading stories blaming Russia.

◾As this is a second Malaysian Airlines plane to go down, we look for false stories regarding Israel and Malaysian planes and reassess their meaning.

◾As is always the case, que bono, who benefits?

We ask readers to watch the world news and those in the region, report directly to our bureau there.

A French site, Le Nouvel Ordre Mondial,  suggests that  this may have been involved (and links it to the flight MH370 which  disappeared en route from Malaysia to China in March).

un message occulte qui était en fait un ordre secret donné à quelqu’un, afin de préparer un sacrifice rituel ou de créer une opération sous fausse bannière (false flag attack)?

A hidden message, which was in reality a secret order to somebody, to prepare a ritual sacrifice, or to create a false flag attack.

In the US there is this,

Rush Limbaugh couldn’t help himself on Thursday after news broke that a Malaysian Airlines jet had crashed in eastern Ukraine.

The radio show host called the disaster “an opportunity” for media outlets to distract viewers from the controversy surrounding President Obama and US border security. He suspected that CNN had already swept the immigration crisis under the rug andretreated back to its “wall-to-wall” coverage of the plane.

Limbaugh called the whole thing “very eery.”

“Talk about an opportunity to abandon the bad Obama news at the border,” he said. “I’m not suggesting anything other than how the media operates.

Huffington Post.

Update.

Socialist Unity star writer, John Wight, has also a unique take on the tragedy,

….the mind boggles that a civilian passenger aircraft should be flying anywhere near a war zone, especially one in which fighter jets, military aircraft, and military transport aircraft are playing such a key role in hostilities.

The alacrity with which Washington and its allies have sought to exploit this tragedy to attack Russia is as unedifying as it’s despicable. Whoever was responsible for downing the Malaysian passenger jet, it was clearly an accident. Moreover, the underlying causes of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, despite efforts to argue otherwise, is the toppling of the last legitimate democratically elected Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovich by an armed mob in Kiev in February, in which avowed fascists and neo-Nazis played a key role. Those fascists now occupy ministerial offices in the regime led by Petro Poroshenko and are prevalent in the violence that has been visited on the people in the east of the country, who have risen up in resistance to Kiev and its sponsors in the West.

To mild criticism Wight responds,

I’m not surprised this is your response. I just have to think back to your support for the ‘revolution’ in Libya and the ‘revolutionaries’ in Syria to be reminded of the left cover you continually provide for your own government and its foreign policy.

I still chuckle when I recall you stating during the Maidan riots that you would be on the side of the Right Sector thugs in attacking the police, doing your best of course to ensure you were throwing your rocks from a separate pile than theirs.

Trotsky, I’m sure, would be proud of the political movement he has spawned.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 18, 2014 at 11:18 am

Two nations, two states! AWL Editorial on Gaza.

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Workers Liberty (the paper of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty) has just made a carefully weighed assessment of the horrendous Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Since the latest round of Israeli air bombardments of Gaza began on 8 July, around 200 Palestinians have died.

77% of have been civilians according to UN estimates. Many have been children

On 14 July, Israel ran a ground-troop operation in Gaza, and said it would expand its list of targets for bombing to include civilian institutions with suspected links to Hamas, the Islamist party which governs Gaza. Given that Hamas’s political infrastructure is substantially enmeshed with the frail Gazan state, this could include almost any target Israel chooses. Also on 14 July, Israel began a leaflet-dropping campaign instructing residents of northern Gaza to evacuate as it was preparing to widen its bombing campaign. Hamas has instructed Gazans to stay put.

On Tuesday morning 15 July, Israel announced that it had accepted a ceasefire proposal from Egypt, but Hamas hesitated, and later that day Israel was bombing again.

Gaza’s economy, always sore beset by Israeli restrictions, managed to grow nearly 15 per cent in 2011 and 7 per cent in 2012. Hamas was also boosted by the Palestinian “unity government” announced on 2 June this year, which allowed it to hope that public-sector workers in Gaza would be paid by the Palestinian Authority.

However, since a military-dominated government took over in Egypt in July 2013, ousting Muslim Brotherhood president Morsi, Egypt has shut down many of Gaza’s routes to the outside world, and unemployment in Gaza has risen. The Palestinian Authority has stalled on paying wages: public sector workers in Gaza struck over that on 26 June.

Hamas wants to put pressure on Egypt and Israel to ease their grip on Gaza. Right-wing Israeli prime minister Netanyahu wants to keep Hamas off balance, and is under pressure from a growing far right in Israel.

The current conflict grew after three Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftal Frenkel, went missing on 12 June in the West Bank. Israeli forces raided thousands of homes in the West Bank, arresting 570 Palestinians and killing several (5 by one report, 10 by another) in the process. The teenagers were found dead near the Palestinian town of Hebron on 30 June.

Far-right Jewish nationalists abducted and murdered 16-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir on 2 July. Hamas began a barrage of rocket fire, and has now launched nearly 1,000 rockets at Israeli towns. It has also threatened to attack Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. So far, no Israelis have been killed. Israel responded by bombing Gaza.

No state, Israeli nationalists claim, should tolerate rocket barrages, however poorly aimed and ineffective, against its civilian population. That is the rational kernel to the Israeli case. But Israel’s actions go well beyond self-defence. Aerial bombardments of a densely-populated area, with an impoverished and essentially captive population, by one of the best-armed states in the world against are so disproportionate as to undermine the self-defence argument.

The Palestinians, too, have the right to defend themselves. Hamas rockets do not provide that defence.

Israel’s bombardments cannot be abstracted from Israel’s longstanding oppression of the Palestinians. Likewise, Hamas’s rockets are aimed at civilians and must be considered in the context of the social and political project of Hamas. Hamas is a clerical-fascist political party, which, despite the recent concessions to bourgeois diplomacy of some of its leaders, states its hostility to the Israeli-Jewish people even existing in historic Palestine.

Israel’s war on Hamas cannot possibly have a progressive outcome. While Israel continues settlement building in the West Bank; while it keeps the population of Gaza under semi-permanent siege; discriminates against Arabs within its own borders; and operates a regime of walls and checkpoints, it creates the conditions in which Hamas grows.

The only way out is peace. And, for peace, Israel holds all the cards. Ending the siege of Gaza, dismantling West Bank settlements, ensuring equality for Israeli-Arabs, and allowing the Palestinians their right to set up a genuinely independent state in contiguous territory alongside Israel would allow peace — and security for Israel’s people.

The hope for the future of both the Israeli and Palestinian people lies in the political potential of the Palestinian labour, women’s, and LGBT movements, and the potential of the labour movement and internationalist, anti-war left inside Israel. Those movements can provide an alternative politics for Israeli and Palestinians that cut across the nationalism and chauvinism of both sides.

That potential can be glimpsed in the demonstrations which have taken place in Israel, on 3 July and 13 July. On 3 July, thousands demonstrated in Tel Aviv demanding an end to the atmosphere of incitement and vengeance following the deaths of the Israeli teenagers. On 13 July, hundreds of anti-war activists, many from the Israeli political left, demanded an end to the bombing, and faced violent reprisals from far-right nationalists.

As Yacov Ben Efrat, wrote in the left-wing Israeli magazine Challenge following the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2010:

“Solidarity between Jewish and Arab workers is the only way to overcome the cycle of bloodshed. The supreme interest of the workers on both sides of the conflict is to build a political and social alternative, egalitarian and humane, against a right-wing Zionist chauvinism and an Islamic fundamentalism that are leading both peoples into catastrophe”.

This editorial would seem to be the right framework for any serious left-wing discussion of the issues this catastrophe raises.

Update (hat-tip JV)

This is essential and very depressing reading,  With the Oslo dream shattered, Israel must do the creative thinking. (Haaratz)

The Palestinians do not recognize the Jews’ right to a state, so Israel must take steps on its own to improve the atmosphere.

By .

I would add that this is significant, Le courageux combat des pacifistes et progressistes israéliens Israël-Palestine, Rosa Moussaou (l’Humanité)

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Written by Andrew Coates

July 17, 2014 at 11:38 am

Ex-Front National Candidate Gets 9 Months Prison for Racist Facebook Post.

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Far-Right Racist Attacks on Socialist Minister Taubira.

This was a major story on the French media this morning.

A former French local election candidate for the far-right National Front (FN) has been sentenced to nine months in prison for comparing the country’s black justice minister to a monkey. (1)

The court decision has sparked controversy in France, with anti-discrimination associations welcoming it as a reminder that racism should not be allowed to flourish but the party itself denouncing the move as “grotesquely disproportionate” and politically motivated.

Anne-Sophie Leclere provoked a storm last year when she compared Christiane Taubira to a monkey on French television and admitted to posting a photo-montage on Facebook that showed the justice minister, who is from French Guiana, alongside a baby chimpanzee.

The caption underneath the baby monkey said “At 18 months,” while the one under Taubira’s photograph read “Now”.

Leclere had been an FN candidate in Rethel in the northeastern Ardennes region for 2014 local elections, but the party soon dropped her and went on to do well in the March polls.

On Tuesday, a court in Cayenne — the capital of French Guiana — sentenced her to nine months in jail, barred her from standing in elections for five years and fined her 50,000 euros ($68,000).

It also slapped the FN with a 30,000-euro fine, putting an end to a case brought by French Guiana’s Walwari political party founded by Taubira.

Daily News.  AFP.

On France-Inter it was suggested that the absence of the accused (in French Guiana – South America) played a role in determining that there was a prison sentence.

Leclère said,

«Je n’ai pas tenu de propos racistes, j’ai juste reçu un photomontage sur Facebook dont je ne suis pas l’auteur. Je ne suis pas raciste», a affirmé l’intéressée, d’un ton empreint de colère contenue. «C’est une injustice, c’est un jugement partisan et politique», a-t-elle ajouté.

«On n’a trouvé aucun avocat pour nous représenter à Cayenne et je n’avais pas les moyens de me payer le billet d’avion», a expliqué Anne-Sophie Leclère au sujet de son absence au tribunal de Cayenne, saisi d’une plainte du mouvement guyanais Walwari destinée à «dénoncer le fond idéologique d’extrême droite du parti de Marine Le Pen».

I did not make racist remarks, I just cut and pasted a photomontage on Facebook (which I did not create). I am not racist” she asserted, her voice marked by anger, “It’s not right, it’s a politically biased decision.”

“I couldn’t find a lawyer to represent me at Cayenne, and I don’t have the resources to pay for a plane ticket there.” Anne-Sophie Leclère went on, explaining why she did not attend the Court in Cayenne, which was dealing with a complaint initiated by the Guianese movement, Walwari, which was aimed at “denouncing the basis of the extreme-right ideology of Marine Le Pen.”

Libération.

There will be appeals.

(1) The insult was truly vile: Taubira/guenon (female ape).

Reactions here.

Faith Schools Undercover: When Will we Get a Secularist Challenge to Faith Education?

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Humanists Show the Way Forward.

Faith Schools Undercover: No Clapping in Class  (Monday 14th July at 8pm on Channel 4) revealed:

  • Exclusively that even before the so-called anonymous ‘Trojan Horse’ letter came to light the Prime Minister’s office had been warned of what was going on
  • Claims by current and former members of staff at Park View – one of the schools implemented in the ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations – that male pupils were given worksheets saying women couldn’t say no to sex with their husbands and also girls at the school were sent home from a sports event because only a male coach was present
  • The ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jewish schools in the London Borough of Hackney ‘operating illegally and without the most basic health, safety and child welfare checks’. Channel 4 Dispatches has shocking evidence that Hackney Council, the Department for Education and Ofsted have all known about the schools for years

The programme began with concerns at  Oldknow Academy Birmingham. A parent had complained at Christmas not being celebrated and got short shrift. He wrote to the PM.

The most important item was on Park View school,

A former teacher said, on camera, but anonymously that,

“about 60 male pupils were given a worksheet saying women couldn’t say no to sex with their husbands.

She says: “The work sheet categorically said that you know the wife has to obey the man. Well I think it makes the boys feel that they have got that power over girls. The east Birmingham area has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country.”

This was flately, and not very convincingly, denied, by the school.

Local MP Khalid Mahmood  says: “I am not talking about here extremism in schools although ultimately it could lead to it, and that’s my fear, is that when you are grooming young people into that sort of a mind-set then its very easy once they leave school is to go that extra additional step.”

He also dismissed suggestions the controversy smacks of Islamophobia.

“Over 200 people complaining to the local authority about what’s gone on and you can’t really claim that it’s a witch-hunt,” said Mahmood, whose own actions have shown him sensitive to the difficulties raised by racist attacks on Birmingham Muslims.

There was a report on Olive Primary School in Blackburn.

During this there was evidence that  music in school was discouraged, that clapping was not encouraged, and that other “un-Islamic,” practices were frowned on.

Olive Primary  is run by the Tauheedul Education Trust, with two other secondaries in Blackburn.

The Lancashire Telegraph draws attention to one feature of the Trust’s activities,

The programme revealed trust schools hosted lectures by three extremist preachers, including Mufti Ismail Menk banned from six UK universities for preaching same-sex acts were ‘filthy’.

It showed him saying of gay people: “With all due respect to the animals, they are worse than animals.”

In Hackney illegal Jewish religious schools (for the ultra-orthodox) exist,

Channel 4 Dispatches discovered that more than 1,000 boys aged 13 to 16 have disappeared from registered schools in the London borough of Hackney.

Instead they are being sent by their parents to be educated in yeshivas – fee-paying schools where the curriculum is solely religious.

We have identified more than ten unregistered, illegal, schools.

And what’s really shocking is that Hackney Council, the Department for Education and Ofsted have all known about these schools for years.

We’ve seen internal government briefing documents that reveal as early as 2008 the Department for Education was aware of the issue. One document states the Department knows a number of schools are ‘operating illegally and without the most basic health, safety and child welfare checks’.

In 2012 the Department acknowledged those running the schools were breaking the law, but said they preferred to work cooperatively with the community.

There were shots of a school, including a room where Hasidic instruction and disputation was taking place. Students went in an out till late in the day.

The conclusion of this section was very unsettling.

Dispatches contacted the schools featured but have received no response.

Hackney Council, Ofsted and the Department for Education told Dispatches their concerns date back many years and they are aware of all the schools on our list.

They say they’ve been working to get them registered.

The Department for Education, who Ofsted and Hackney say have the power to take action against the schools, told Dispatches that ‘where applications for registration are still not forthcoming we will press for a prosecution as it is a criminal offence to operate an unregistered illegal schools.’

The programme seemed to suggest that the Council, out of concern for religious and cultural feeling, was unwilling to act.

Andrew Gilligam reports,

Government documents obtained by Channel 4’s Dispatches and the Jewish Chronicle newspaper say that many of the schools are “operating illegally and without the most basic health, safety and child welfare checks”.

Many boys in the Orthodox Jewish community in Stamford Hill, London, “will stop secular studies at the age of 13 or 14 and start attending ‘yeshivas’ where the curriculum is solely religious,” the documents say.

Between 800 and 1000 boys aged between 13 and 16 are “missing” from the school system in the borough of Hackney alone, the papers add.

Undercover filming by Dispatches in and around the schools shows the boys packed more than 50 to a classroom in dirty, run-down buildings, some converted houses. More than a hundred boys were filmed going in to an illegal school in Lynmouth Road, Stamford Hill, arriving from 7.30 in the morning and leaving late at night. The establishment is believed to be one of twelve illegal schools in the neighbourhood.

In 2011, about one third of the 20,000 state funded schools in England were faith schools, approximately 7,000 in total, of which 68% were Church of England schools and 30% were Roman Catholic . There were 42 Jewish, 12 Muslim, 3 Sikh and 1 Hindu  faith schools.

The British Humanist Association says,

“Around a third of all state-funded schools are schools ‘with a religious character’ – the legal term for ‘faith’ schools. This number has grown in recent years as successive governments have increased the influence of religious groups in the state-funded education system.”

That is, with the introduction of Academies and Free Schools, this percentage is believed to have risen.

Faith Schools Undercover noted their role in encouraging  ethnic and cultural segregation.

The idea that parents have the right to run, publicly funded, education that promotes their religion, is fundamentally wrong.

Some liberals seem unable to respond to the issues raised.

There are those who claim to be on the left who find excuses for these arrangements.

They claim that criticisms of, notably, the Birmingham schools, are an ‘Islamophobic’ conspiracy.

This completely fails to look at the problems religiously-run schools create – as indicated by the Channel Four Dispatches documentary.

It indicated that concerns had a solid basis.

The National Secular Society sets out a much better position that those wishing to sweep the subject of Faith education under the carpet.,

Rather than facilitating the segregation of pupils along religious lines, we would like to see steps taken to ensure children of all faiths and none are educated together in a respectful but religiously neutral environment.

As long as faith schools are publicly funded, we campaign for an end to exemptions from equality legislation that allow them to select pupils on the basis of the religion, or religious activities, of the child’s parents.

We are concerned that the Government’s desire for greater proportion of academies and free schools, which are independent and self-governing, will see more and more control of state funded education handed to religious organisations.

Dispatches showed more than enough reasons to back this stand.

The author of many of the pro-religious education policies, Michael Gove, is now Chief Whip.

He has been replaced by even more faith-influenced minister, Nicky Morgan, a Tory MP who voted against same-sex marriage, as  education secretary. She “continues as minister for women and equalities”.

Boko Haram chief voices support for IS ‘caliph’ and mocks Bring Back our Girls campaign.

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A screengrab from a video released by Boko Haram shows its leader Abubakar Shekau (centre) on July 13, 2014. More than 10,000 people have died in the extremists-led insurgency since 2009 (AFP).<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
” /></p>
<p>Boko Haram, and its leader, Abubakar Shekau. More than 10,000 people have died in its insurgency since 2009 (AFP).</p>
<p><a title=LAGOS (Arab News): The head of Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists, Abubakar Shekau, has voiced support for the extremist Sunni Islamic State (IS) militant group, which has taken over large swathes of Iraq and Syria, in a new video seen Sunday.

“My brethren… may Allah protect you,” Shekau said in the video given to AFP on Sunday, listing IS chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Al-Qaeda head Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Taleban leader Mullah Omar.

Baghdadi has proclaimed himself the new Islamic “caliph” and has urged all Muslims to obey him.

The IS has been condemned by Muslim scholars and other Islamist movements, including Al-Qaeda affiliates, for being too extremist.

In the 16-minute video, Shekau’s Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a June 25 bombing in the capital Abuja and an attack hours later in Lagos, which the authorities tried to cover up.

Shekau also mocked the social media campaign Bring Back Our Girls, which emerged to call attention to the plight of the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped on April 14 by the Islamists from the remote northeastern town of Chibok.

“We were the ones who detonated the bomb in filthy Abuja,” Shekau said, referring to the attack a popular shopping centre that killed at least 22 people.

Later that day, a huge blast rocked the Apapa port district of Lagos, which the authorities blamed on cooking gas explosion, with no casualties.

An AFP investigation has revealed the blast was a deliberate attack involving high explosives.

“A bomb went off in Lagos. I ordered (the bomber) who went and detonated it,” Shekau said in the video, which shows him flanked by at least ten gunmen in front of two armored personnel carriers and two pickup trucks (Arab News).

Malala: I Wish to See My Nigerian Sisters Released

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Adebiyi Adedapo in Abuja  with agency report

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl-child education campaigner, who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban, has called on Boko Haram terrorists to free the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.

Malala, who commenced a three-day visit to Nigeria on Saturday, celebrated her 17th birthday in Abuja at a dinner held in her honour at Transcorp Hilton hotel.

She spoke exclusively after the dinner that ended at about 10.40 p.m, the News Agency of Nigerian (NAN) reported.

“On my 17th birthday my wish is to see every child go to school and I want to see my Nigerian sisters being released from their abduction and I want them to be free to go to school and continue their education,” she said.

******

This has been Boko Haram’s response (DT),

Boko Haram issued a new video yesterday mocking the bring back our girls social media campaign that highlighted the plight of the 223 schoolgirls kidnapped by the group in north-east Nigeria.

In a taunting broadcast apparently released to mark the girls’s third month in captivity, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, said the girls would not be freed until the government released the “army” of Boko Haram fighters held in Nigerian jails. Shekau also claimed responsibility for three bombings last month and voiced support for the Islamic State, the fellow extremists who have seized much of northern Iraq.

The video, video obtained by AFP, served as a direct snub to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl and women’s rights campaigner who arrived in Nigerian capital, Abuja, over the weekend to voice support for the bring back our girls campaign.

Ms Yousafzai, who moved to Britain after being shot by the Taliban, met with parents of the missing girls yesterday and was also expected to hold private talks with Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian president.

However, as she did so, serious doubts emerged about the girls’ chances of ever being rescued. In briefings with The Telegraph over the weekend, Western diplomats said that despite the huge international publicity that the social media campaign has generated, the efforts to find the hostages were little further on than they were back in May, when Britain, America and France began to help. With neither a prisoner swap or a rescue considered likely, they said there was little real prospect of any “breakthrough” in the case in the foreseeable future.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 14, 2014 at 10:54 am

Charlie Kimber, SWP and Bears – a Cautionary Tale.

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Happier Days for ‘Red’ Charlie Kimber. 

 

How a respectable public schoolboy fell amongst reds and came to a horrible end.

 

“Young Charlie Kimber was a real hard red,

He even read Das Kapital in bed,

At Eton, where he studied hard,

The scholars thought him quite a card.

 

When Kimber, he was twenty-three,

His daddy bought him S.W.P.

His comrade, the honorable Alex,

Was both his helpmate and his bollix.

 

Charlie stopped the  port and vintage wine,

and going out to restaurants to dine.

Just mushy-peas and Mars-bars fried,

no more tomatoes ripe sun-dried.

 

He dropped his ‘aitches one by one,

And shouted when the Gunners won.

He drank white cider by the bucket,

And stacked his tinnies on the buffet.

 

One day their paper made a joke,

A first – against a younger Eton bloke.

A Bear and death, were cause for fun,

And a very  laboured pun.

 

Dukes and Lords, they cut him out

The papers loathed the filthy lout,

Kimber, he was full of glee,

He kept right on his prolo spree.

 

One day he journeyed to the Zoo,

It was a conservationist do.

He drank Jack Frost till he was tight,

And then he sailed off to the night.

 

Pausing by a large black cage,

A Polar bear in hopeless rage.

A paw reached out, and struck him dead.

That was the end of Charlie Red.

 

Moral

It is the duty of the wealthy man,

Not to ape the artisan.

 

 Polar Bear in London Zoo: not unlike the one that thumped Charlie Kimber.

Below: Socialist Worker. See The Independent.

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 12, 2014 at 11:08 am

Suffolk Needs a Pay Rise, Ipswich Public Services Demonstration.

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Grandma Gilles on Ipswich Demo. (Thanks Ellie).

Over 300 people  came to the demo in Ipswich called by the Trades Council and local unions, Suffolk Needs a Pay Rise,  yesterday.

In Ipswich there were well attended pickets at the Russell Road Borough and County Council offices, at Crown Pools, the Borough Council Waste depot (dust-carts – the majority of which did not go out), and HMRC offices in Lower Brook Street.

59 Suffolk schools were affected by strike action and 17 closed for the day.

At the march and rally there were members of UNISON, GMB, FBU, UNITE, PCS & NUT, NUJ, DPAC, the Peoples Assembly, other unions and campaigns, as well as members of the public.

The Suffolk People’s Assembly (Facebook)  report notes,

Many speakers at the rally expressed their anger at the wage freeze public sector workers have faced over the past 4 years. This has led to a 20% decline in real wages at the same time as increased workload. One PCS member said that he was now doing 2 peoples’ jobs and facing constant performance reviews, which was destroying his job satisfaction.

A parent talked of her support for the teachers’ strike, to defend her and other people’s education. The Ipswich NUT Secretary, Margaret  Bulaitis, spoke about how the the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, denigrated the work of her profession, and was more interested in promoting academies and privatisation than the needs of school students.

Martin, from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), gave an impassioned speech on the effects cuts and changes to the benefit system were having on those with disabilities.

Support came from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). Their representative suggested that Grandma Gilles (above) would not have put up with the attacks on public services by the Liberal-Conservative Coalition.

 Ipswich Tory Attacks Strikes. 

Ipswich Tory MP, Ben Gummer, disagrees.

He said (Ipswich Star) that, “public sector workers had fared better than the private sector during the recession.”

He said striking teachers were damaging the education of the children in their classes.

And he said the government was taking action to clamp down on tax avoidance by the rich and to help the low paid.

“This government has lifted two million people out of paying income tax altogether and the gap between rich and poor is getting smaller for the first time in 20 years.”

Gummer’s figures are certainly creative.

Sky news states (May 2014),

“The gap between rich and poor in Britain has become wider, with 10% of the population now owning almost half of the nation’s household wealth.

Those same one in ten households own assets worth over £1m – that’s almost 1.4 million homes.

Teachers’ Unions argue that it is Michael Gove’s ‘reforms’ are undermining education.

Their dispute about  pay, pensions and working conditions, is linked to the government’s efforts to devalue teaching, and open the way to private companies profiting from the schooling system.

Gove’s changes have created excessive workloads, and let free schools operate without democratic control and public accountability.

On public sector workers’ pay the TUC says,

Public sector workers are £2,245 worse off as a result of the coalition’s austerity policies, according to the Trades Union Congress.

NHS staff, teachers, firefighters and local government workers are among those that have lost out following pay freezes and limited pay rises since the government took office, the TUC said.

The figures, which show the average fall in real terms pay suffered by workers since May 2010, were published a day before a wave of strikes among UK public sector workers over pay, pensions and working conditions. Government policies on public sector pay have had a big impact on the spending power of almost six million UK households, according to the TUC.

The Liberal-Conservative Coalition has one overarching policy for the public sector: turning it into a source of profit for private companies.

As Thomas Picketty has noted,

Instead of holding public debt via their financial investments, the wealthiest European households would becomes the direct owners of schools, hospitals, police stations, and so on. Everyone else would then have to pay rent to use these assets and continue to produce the associated public services.”(Page 541. Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Thomas Piketty. Harvard University Press. 2014.)

The trade unions, backed by the People’s Assembly, are fighting back!

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Update: this how private companies making money out of public services in Suffolk fail to deliver:

The Return of Martin Smith (SWP’s ‘Comrade Delta’).

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Martin Smith (Comrade Delta) is back!

Hat-Tip Howie’s Corner.

Apparently with the support from some people  based in France.

By an obvious oversight, and no doubt mindful of some ‘other’ controversies involving members of political parties, Smith does not mention his most celebrated achievement.

But this is what he and his new mate say,

“Over the past 30 years both of us have been involved in one way or another with the struggle against racism and fascism.

On this blog we will carry news, discussion and debate on the rise of the far right and fascism — and the movements that are developing to challenge this threat both in Britain and Europe.

But our interests are many and varied. We will also write about other political and cultural matters.

If you don’t like football, you should look away from posts about West Ham or Spurs!

Please feel free to join the debate by posting comments.

We welcome serious comments and discussion — whether you agree or disagree.

We hope you enjoy the site.

Martin Smith and Tash Shifrin”

Dream deferred logo

The site posts this  poem.

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore — And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over — like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes

No sores on Delta then!

Our old comrade Tony Greenstein offered in 2013 the best summary of (what most people thought) lay behind Smith’s career-ending débâcle ,

SWP Crisis Over Cover-up of Rape & Sexual Harassment Allegations against former National Secretary Martin Smith

The catalyst for the crisis in the SWP were the allegations of rape by one member of the SWP and the sexual harassment of another member by Martin Smith, former SWP National Secretary.  It is of course impossible to know whether there is any foundation to the rumours, although it is unlikely that there is no smoke without fire, but how they were dealt with by the SWP leadership speaks volumes about the mentality of the leadership clique led by Alex Callinicos and Charlie Kimber and their attitude to ordinary members.  It also speaks volumes about their commitment to socialism since it is difficult to imagine a more serious and vile act than rape by a senior member of the leadership of a political group against a young comrade.

Martin Smith is, regardless of the truth of these allegations, a particularly unpleasant individual, both politically and personally. Weekly Worker of 12 July 2007 Stop thuggery in workers` movement  described how Simon Wells, who was expelled from the SWP, was attacked without provocation by Smith, at Marxism 2007, when he refused to hand over the ticket he had paid for when queuing to go into a session:  “The SWP`s national organiser angrily demanded comrade Simon`s ticket to the Marxism event and, when he refused, Smith instantly attacked him. Wrestled to the floor, comrade Simon sustained bruising, abrasions and back strain.” 

It was also Smith who was primarily responsible for the SWP hosting and politically defending Gilad Atzmon against accusations of anti-Semitism.  From 2005 to 2009 the SWP was content to make use of Atzmon’s status as a leading jazz musician, regardless of his racist views.  Martin Smith, a devotee of John Coltrane and jazz, was content to ignore Atzmon’s views as taking secondary priority to his musical affections.

We believe Smith is no longer a member of the SWP.

But we were wrong about the end of his ambitions.

There are many articles about this whole affair.

This is one particularly worth looking at: Martin Smith: a retrospective.

In his capacity as head of LMHR Smith also embarrassed the party by forging a relationship between our organisation and the jazz musician Gilad Atzmon. Smith invited him to speak at Marxism in 2004, when Atzmon began spouting some of the anti-Semitic rubbish he now specialises in. Despite SWP members challenging Atzmon from the floor, Smith continued inviting him to SWP events, and to perform with him at concerts as late as 2007.

Update: Two British leftists (originally linked to the SWP), France based, SWP influenced,  and members of Ensemble, Colin Falconer (Gauche anticapitaliste, one of the components of Ensemble), see: Le Nouveau Poireau Rouge) and John Mullen (also in Ensemble, see :John Mullen à Montreuil -Blog anticapitaliste)   participate in Martin Smith’s enterprise (as can be seen, publicly named by a Mullen article, Guest post from France: the need for a united fight against the fascists on it).

Anybody reading their attacks on the French secular left should remember who this pair are prepared to work with.

One wonders if other members of Ensemble are aware of their comrades’ British connections.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 8, 2014 at 11:18 am

The Work Agenda: What happened to the leisure society? Rory O’Kelly. Review.

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How Should We Look at Work? 

The Work Agenda: What happened to the leisure society? Rory O’Kelly.

Chartist Free E-Book.

O Laziness, have pity on our long misery! O Laziness, mother of the arts and noble virtues, be thou the balm of human anguish!

Paul Lafrague. The Right to Be Lazy. 1880.

One of the sections of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twentieth Century deals with the justification of colossal salaries and wealth. The media, he observes, is full of stories about business ‘stars’. They are used to indicate how graft and talent are rewarded. There is a “just inequality, based on merit, education, and the social utility of elites.” (1) Everything is slanted to suggest that that the majority of high-earners and the well-off deserve their rewards. Criticisms of pay and bonuses come when these are gained without apparent hard work.

Piketty enjoys pointing out that is impossible it is to demonstrate any connection between effort and reward in the modern economy. The part of social wealth going to Capital, and the well-off, increases regardless of individual cleverness or toil. Much depends on “luck”, the ability of top mangers to fix their own pay, and the influence of the wealthy to press for low taxes. Entrepreneurs, like Bill Gates, turn into rentiers, with more cash as they get older, they live off an initial innovation that was rarely one person’s discovery in the first place. In sum, to those that have, shall be given.

Many accept this case. But there are deeper problems. It is not just that certain kinds of elite work are valued, leaving others – the majority – aside. Why is ‘work’ itself such a self-evident virtue that it makes those not-in-work look as if they are afflicted by vice? O’Kelly begins the excellent and thought-provoking The Work Agenda, by stating, “Work is seen as good in itself and maximising the number of people working and the amount of work done as self-evidently right.”

This assumption looks strange in the light of 1960s (and much later) predictions about automation and the ‘leisure society’. Paul Lafargue looked forward to a time when, thanks to the abundance created by technology, slogging your guts out was not the goal of existence. The 1970s and 1980s saw criticisms of ‘productivism’ and the cult of labour in socialist ideology. André Gorz’s Adieux aux proletariat (1981) took up these ideas. He suggested that in a “post-industrial” society people should control what is produced. They could share work according to need, and wants, with a universal guaranteed income, and more and more free-time. More modestly the French left in the late 1990s thought that the 35 Hour week would be a step in this direction.

Today, however, O’Kelly says, the obsession with the absolute value of ‘work’ blocks people from considering a “rational way of sharing the output of a society across all the members of society.” Many people may well spend time on benefits, over the course of a lifetime. Others, of a whole range of reasons, may be on them for much longer. Structural long-term unemployment is a feature of all Western societies, as is the need to help those who are incapacitated

Instead of recognizing this, and adapting social spending to it, governments, from Tony Blair onwards, have tried to push everybody into work – regardless of their medical condition, the needs of the labour market, and the rights or wishes of those to be pushed in this direction.

Putting the Disabled to Work.

The Work Agenda does not dwell on the ideology of work. Instead it is devoted to how the doctrine is used to undermine the basis of social benefits. This is most obvious from changes to the benefits for the disabled. The idea that ‘work is the best form of welfare’ is applied to the sick (which covers a multitude of diverse categories of people). There is an economic rationale, “Getting people into work is pursued primarily as a way of reducing transfers between working and non-working people; in simple terms: the cost of benefits.”

Fitting square pegs into round holes barely begins to cover the injustices that have resulted from these policies. Known to the general public through the scandals surrounding ATOS, and the ‘assessments’ of those claiming disability benefits, these are part of a much wider picture. O’Kelly’s background in the social security system helps him come to grips with the detail. He clearly knows the operations of what is now the DWP inside out, and uses them to great advantage.

The Work Agenda lays out the history and rationale of the present structure, “The driver behind the Welfare Reform Act 2007 and the creation of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was the belief that by changing the definition of incapacity sick or disabled people could be made capable of work.” As he notes, “Until recently the medical situation was taken as an objective starting point to which the benefit system then had to respond. The great change in 2007 was to take the needs of the benefit system as the starting point (my emphasis) and to change clinical definitions to conform to those needs.” This was, as we know, a Labour government, or ‘New Labour’,  that made this turn.

O’Kelly argues (on the basis of close acquaintance with the civil service decision-making) that there never was a time when large numbers of people were classified as medically unfit in order to reduce the unemployment figures. There were always rigorous tests. What has changed is that governments have decided to change their nature.

Now it might seem reasonable – and it’s repeated often enough – to assert that there are large numbers of people who “choose” not to work. But in the case of invalidity benefits there is a simple way of determining this: medical advice. Present legislation is designed to alter the character of this criterion. Instead even ill people can be judged “capable” of working – according to a fairly loose test of what being able to carry out basic tasks is, including those even those objectively unwell can do. This O’Kelly says, means. “Effectively moving sick people into employment without improving their health”. This process is “likely simply to transfer the costs of sickness from the benefit system to statutory sick pay and private sick pay schemes.”

The problem then is not that ATOS is a particularly venal organisation – though opinions might differ on this after the company’s dissembling and bleating about being harassed. It is the changed nature of the tests for incapacity that drives the injustices that they have caused.

A persistent case is that mental troubles are rarely easily definable according to a check-list of questions and a short interview with an assessor. There are plenty of other not always ‘visible’ illnesses. As the pamphlet indicates, “It is a striking fact that the classes of people whom the government is most anxious to take off benefits for incapacity overlap very largely with those whom no rational employer (in either the public or the private sector) would want to take on.” As somebody who has sat, during various employment courses, with people with very serious mental-health issues, and others with deep health problems, we might equally ask why they are obliged to take these “preparation for work” training schemes.

Back to First Principles.

Returning to question the principles he began with, O’Kelly makes the observation that “Work (i.e. paid work) is essentially economic activity; the creation of goods and services. It is not a form of welfare, it is not a form of therapy and it is not a punishment. It can of course be used in any of these ways, rather as a stiletto heel can be used to hammer a nail into a wall. It does not do the job very well, however, and it is not very good for the shoe either.”

The work agenda is used, in effect, to “Micro-manage the lives of the poor”. Not only the disabled on what is now the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), but anybody on benefits,

are now subjected to close surveillance over their lives. This erodes personal autonomy, and increases dependency. The DWP, and private companies gaining rent from public contracts, are entrusted with the power to grossly interfere in people’s lives. They claim rights over claimants. They have fewer and fewer responsibilities to them.

For those “success stories” who get off benefits, O’Kelly notes, “The present system does also however offer scope for giving notional employment (or self-employment) to people who are able to do very little and who will continue to get the great bulk of their income through the benefit system whether nominally ‘employed’ or not. Some of these people will get psychological benefits from ‘working’; for others the effect will be the reverse.”

It might be suggested, as O’Kelly does, that the Ministers in charge of these policies have little experience of the world of ordinary work themselves. More insidious is the influence of the welfare-to-work industry. They influence policy to an undue degree, essentially with their claims to propel people into the – self evidently good – world of work. That claimants dislike them and that they are unable to meet the demands of their contracts (notoriously over the Work Programme) and capable of dissembling about their operations, is ignored.

In the meantime few people question the absolute value of this “work”, or why so many people spend their lives in low-paid, insecure, unrewarding employment. Or why those with Capital get so much more, including a slice of the revenue of those obliged to claim benefits – forced onto the welfare-to-work schemes run with the profits of wealthy private contractors foremost in mind. The culmination of this process will come when claimants will, as the Help to Work programme intends, have to work for their benefits. (2)

*******

(1) Page 419 Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Thomas Piketty. Harvard University Press. 2014.

(2) Picketty suggests that some free marketers propose the following “Instead of holding public debt via their financial investments, the wealthiest European households would becomes the direct owners of schools, hospitals, police stations, and so on. Everyone else would then have to pay rent to use these assets and continue to produce the associated public services.”(Page 541 – 2 Op cit). This is in effect happening in the United Kingdom, beginning with PFI. The welfare-to-work industry in effect is given a chunk of the welfare state and everybody’s taxes are used to pay rent to the owners of their enterprises.

You can read The Work Agenda as a free E-Book by clicking here.

Thunder on the Left, Lightening on the Right, Alex Callinicos’s Slow Impatience.

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Thunderclap Callinicos. 

Thunder on the left  (International Socialism Issue: 143Alex Callinicos

Alex Callinicos begins and ends his latest assessment of the “present situation” by resigning himself to the weaknesses of the “radical left”(1). A paradox, given, apparently, the SWP leader asserts,  that capital is also weak.A feeble economic recovery after the Bank crisis of 2008 is not met by any renewed left. Indeed there is a “weakness of credible anti-capitalist alternatives.” Not only in the larger continental European organised parties, he modestly cites his own small group the SWP’s ‘troubles’,  a subject which his article  addresses.

The King’s College academic stops short of advocating the “communist pessimism” of Pierre de Naville or Walter Benjamin,. But he finishes by citing Daniel Bensaïd need for “a slow impatience”—in other words, “an active waiting, an urgent patience, an endurance and a perseverance that are the opposite of a passive waiting for a miracle”. This implies, an ” effort to intervene in and shape the present …”

Callinicos claims that there was a time when all seemed sailing towards a renewed radical left. This was, “the era of good feelings (1998-2005) the impulse of a growing movement was to play down or finesse political differences in the name of unity.” Not everybody will recall the creation of communalist groups like Respect, and the part played in its formation, and self-destruction, by the megaphone Ego of George Galloway, in the same way.  The “Split” in this lash-up, in 2007, was apparently of great importance, though only the SWP (the splitters) took it as the milestone it apparently was – for the SWP. The subsequent misadventures of this ‘party’ are passed over, as if they had been written out of history.

Nor is the judgement that, “The radical left began to have an impact on the bourgeois political scene” quite as secure as it might appear. The May 2005 French referendum on the European draft constitution, lost by the neo-liberals backing it, was certainly significant. But the effect this had on the French left, notably the scission of what is now the Parti de Gauche from the French Parti Socialiste, and the formation of the Front de Gauche, are apparently (for Callinicos)  of less significance than the fact that the LCR/Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, lost three tendencies (he does not bother to name them or describe their politics) to the FdG, one at its formation in 2009  (Gauche Unitaire) the other two in May 2005.

Callinicos manages to avoid discussing the mass basis and actions of the Front de Gauche (which has plenty of its own problems, starting with Jean-Luc Mélenchon) not to mention its election results (11,11 % for Mélenchon in the  2012 Presidential election’s first round, 10 MPs, and 4 MEPs this year) . He does however devote space to criticising the much more successful electorally  Greek left bloc/party  Syriza (26.5% of the vote in the 2012 European elections), apparently on the slippery slope to neo-liberalism after backing Juncker as European Commissioner.

Let us state clearly. This analysis of left retreat is lop-sided. The results of the May European elections indicate that the ‘radical left’ did not do badly at all. Indeed in Spain they reached historically high levels of support, adding to the weight of the Greek Syriza. In France (FdG) and Germany (Die Linke) left groups remained at stable levels of support. But the Front de Gauche (for all its internal problems) remains a player in the political and social game. These observations would be extended across the continent. Only if we take the ‘revolutionary left as a measure of left influence can we reach Callinicos’s  conclusions about weakness and marginalisation.

Callinicos observes that for some  parties may be in crisis, but the movements are fine. On the basis of some well-publicised protests (beginning with Callinicos ‘ high moment’ Seattle protests of 1999, though this remains firmly stuck in the – good – period of “good feelings”  ) there has been a ” panorama of decentralised horizontal struggles that simultaneously subvert capital and outflank the ‘old left’”. These  (initially referring to Paul Mason’s wildly over- enthusiastic, Why its All Kicking off Everywhere  2012 – really? ), “started with the Arab revolutions (rebellions as much against the polarising and impoverishing effects of neoliberalism as against autocracy) and the echoes it gained in the North with the 15 May movement in the Spanish state and Occupy Wall Street and its numerous imitators.Other protests—somewhat earlier (British students, 2010) or later (Brazil and Turkey, 2013)….”

Callinicos does not discuss the view widely circulated by commentators, that these are protests of the liberal middle class, or their inability to effect any substantial change in any government’s policies- a serious balance-sheet. They have all, in other, words, been kicked into the long grass, if not brutally suppressed. The sole exception, Tunisia, looks increasingly, a ‘normal’ democracy, a welcome result compared to the alternatives. As with the mass ‘centrist’ parties (see definition of the ‘radical left below) this is carried our without any serious examination of these movements, in all their diversity. Above all there is no serious attempt to grapple with politics of the ‘movement’ that has become the focus of British activists, trade unionists, and the grass-roots left: the People’s Assembly. Instead it is largely  dismissed on the basis of the strategy of the union, UNITE, to “reclaim  Labour”.

Instead, the SWP theorist reminds us of the timeless truth, “The trouble is that the state, the broader political process of which it is the focus, and the parties that struggle over it remain fundamental determinants of the social, whatever autonomists and neoliberals fondly claim. ” Furthermore, “The wager of Leninism is that a revolutionary party can intervene in the political field in order to help bring about the overthrow of capital. From this follows, as Bensaïd also stressed, the centrality of strategy—of the determined, persistent, organised effort to relate specific tactics to the overarching aim of socialist revolution. ” There views are bolstered, by appeals to Gramsci. One might say that citing Leninist aims does nothing to answer those who see Leninist practice, or rather the SWP and other groups, in the multiple crises Callinicos only begins to sketch.

Callinicos finally gets to some genuine meat, ‘anti-politics’. “The structural divorce of the political class from the citizens it is supposed to represent and its integration into the moneyed world encourages popular rejection of all parties, summed up in “¡Que se vayan todos!”—All of them must go!—the slogan of the Argentinian revolt in 2001-2. This rejection—which can be called “anti-politics. He continues, “on the whole the right-populist currents that have been most successful in exploiting this mood are not themselves “anti-politics”.” This is not new. Known in France as “anti-system” parties, these are have been a long-standing feature of European politics, going (in the case of the Hexagone) back to General George Boulanger’s   at the end of the 19th century.

If this is fast becoming a commonplace – a much better starting point for looking at the May European elections, and the rise of groups like M5S (Italy) and UKIP, as well as the Front National, there are some systematic difficulties with Callincos’s analysis. One certainly does not have to accept a neo-Foucaulean analysis of the articulation of a neoliberal subjectivity to see that these  materialised policies  have sapped the basis of left politics. Thomas Picketty is a better guide to the ideology of justly reward success – underpinning the growth of the share taken by owners of capital, and high earners - offers an indication of how the “losers” despair at overcoming their inequality by collective action.This is a structural feature of Capital in the 21st century, a deeper causal mechanism behind economic restructuring, and the inability of the workers’ movement to oppose neo-liberalism. The transformation of the state into a gigantic renting operating – by which most of the population pay rent to private owners of public services – is a greater challenge than the venality of the political class.

Significantly Callinicos does not discuss the one leftist bloc, the Spanish Podemos, which has attempted to combine ‘anti-politics’, new methods of organising, with electoral participation and the building of a ‘broad party’.

Attacking the claim that the  Leninist ‘model’ has had its day is a necessary task for a leader of the SWP. Awareness of the largely forgotten writings of Alain Badiou on the new “political organisation” that will replace Leninism, or John Holloway’s writings, at least indicates an awareness that Lenin is not an unchallenged authority. It would take longer than this brief notice to discuss Lars Lih’s reconstruction of Lenin’s political ideas. The same applies to Callinicos’ observations of feminism – which others will not doubt discuss in detail.

But one point stands out in Thunder on the Left: what is wrong with broad parties of the left?  Why, given the present ideological and political diversity of the left, are they not the ideal vehicle (wide enough…) to work out differences? What is wrong with broad democracy – on the network model? Those who have elft the SWP, engaged in such groups inside Left Unity, are unlikely to be convinced by a  few warm words about feminism, and  criticism of the tortuous liberalism of “intersectionality”.

Why does a Leninist ‘Combat Party’ – to all the evidence in terminal decline, riddled with problems, from democracy onwards – still fascinate people like Callinicos? Some of us, who recognise strengths in Lenin’s analysis of political conjunctures, have never adopted the model of the Leninist ‘party’ in the first place. Even the Acts of the Apostles were never much of a guide to historical Christian practice. Hankering after a party’s glory years,  whose first acts on taking power were to suppress opposition groups – an ever-widening number – raises more problems than it solves.  All the evidence is, that we will have to hang around for a long time  for a new revolutionary Party that fulfils the role of a Messiah that can do better than these imperfect, “centrist” (as the Leninists call them) broad left parties.

But then the leader of the SWP shows every sign of waiting, impatiently,  a very long time in Perry Anderson’s Watchtower.

Update:

This is worth reading,

Alex Callinicos: take a look in the mirror Louis Proyect.

It ends with, “Displaying a shamelessness on the order of a Washington bourgeois politician, Callinicos spends a thousands words or so defending his party’s understanding of the “woman question” against Sharon Smith of the ISO who views Tony Cliff’s analysis as lacking to say the least. If Callinicos can’t make the connection between a certain theoretical deficiency in the SWP and the commission of inquiry that asked the female rape victim about her drinking habits, then he is beyond help.

In his conclusion, Callinicos writes:

The present crisis is much more diffuse, but in some ways more threatening, because the revolutionary left is much weaker than it was in 1979. This makes the attempts to split and even to destroy organisations such as the NPA and the SWP so irresponsible.

Now I have no idea what is going on in the French NPA since the comrades are not particularly engaged with the English-speaking left (who can blame them?) but I doubt it has anything to do with a rape investigation that had more in common with those conducted in the American military than what we would expect from a Marxist party. In terms of attempts to destroy an organization, my suggestion to Alex Callinicos is that he takes a look in the mirror at his earliest convenience. There he will find the miscreant most responsible.”

As can be seen above, we do know what happened in the NPA and Callinicos is talking bollocks.

People left it because they saw the Front de gauche (which the NPA denounced – as they memorably described their politics, “between us and the Parti Socialiste, there is nothing“) as the best way forward for broad – mass –  left politics.

 

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(1) Callinicos, “By “radical left” I mean those currents that reject neoliberalism, whether on an explicitly revolutionary basis or in a manner that avoids the choice between reform and revolution or even embraces some version of left social democracy. This is the spectrum from the NPA and the SWP to the Front de Gauche and Die Linke, with Syriza somewhere in between. In this article I concentrate mainly (though not exclusively) on Europe.” On this definition alone his claim that the left has precipitously declined is false. Taking the crisis of the remaining ‘Leninist’ groups for the left is, of course, just one of his solipsistic errors.

A new Left Opportunity? Podemos and its Critics.

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Podemos Tries to Build New Organisational Model.

Podemos, the Spanish radical left alliance, has created a lot of interest in Europe and further afield.

In the May European elections they got 7.97% of the vote and 5 seats.

The Izquierda Plural,(Plural Left) IP, an older left alliance, got 10.03% of the vote and 6 seats.

Podemos however presented itself in the ballot box for the first time this year, while the Izquierda Plural, notably its main component, the Izquierda Unida, has been around in various forms since the mid-1980s.

The best known public figure of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, cites the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) led by Alexis Tsipras as an inspiration.

It appears that Podemos, like Syriza, is itself being taken as a possible political model for leftist groups in the rest of Europe.

Adria Porta Caballe writes on RS21 (one of the groups that left the British SWP), shortly after the above results, offering an explanation for their success 

Podemos has achieved this with a different method that rejects the traditional conception of party militancy and an unconditional commitment to popular self-organisation. In particular, the last 5 months offer three examples of Podemos’ participatory nature. First, when Pablo Iglesias made the first step, he also made clear from the very beginning that he would not go further unless he was backed by at least 50,000 people. He easily achieved that number in a day, establishing a precedent of direct democracy from start.

The second and most important example of how Podemos achieved popular empowerment was the creation of so-called “Circles”, local spaces of debate and action where everybody can attend no matter his or her political affiliations. Today there are around 400 Circles spread over the Spanish State and anywhere else where its citizens have had to exile since the crisis started for economic reasons (London, Berlin, Brussels, etc). The motto “all power to the circles” represents a dose of democracy to the regime and an unprecedented tool of popular empowerment.

Finally it is also worth mentioning that Podemos is the only party in the country which used open primary elections to choose its candidates. A quick glance to the more than 50 candidates who run in the open primaries is enough evidence of what distinguishes Podemos from the rest: workers, unemployed, precarious, students, teachers… but no professional politician. No wonder that with this different method, Podemos could not reach an agreement with the traditional euro-communist party Izquierda Unida to run together in the elections. Apparently the latter was only worried about exchanging some seats in a common candidature, while Podemos was obviously demanding a much more fundamental change in the way the left approaches internal democracy.

This model has not been settled.

Nor is at all clear that they have “achieved popular empowerment”.

The French site Ensemble noted that following the elections there was a “lively” internal debate inside Podemos, opposing

 some of the party’s base, who advocate greater power for the ‘circles’ in the process of decision making, and the self-styled Podemos “promoter group”, which defends a model with less power for circles and which is all open to all citizens and voters. The fundamental question, ultimately, is to define the organisational form to be taken by Podemos and the role of the circles, and that of those not enrolled in them,  in the decision-making party people.

(El País - reporting this)  has so far identified in this debate two sides supposedly in confrontation. On the one hand, there is the Izquierda Anticapitalista (IA, anti-capitalist Left), a political party built around the initiative since its inception and, secondly, the promoter Podemos group, headed by Iñigo Errejón, and Juan Pablo Iglesias and Carlos Monedero.

In the El País article on the 9th of June supporters of the “promoter group” are cited accusing the “base” (Iquierda Anticapitalista, IA) of wanting Podemos to be the “izquierda de Izquierda Unida” – the left of Izquierda Unida”. Pablo Iglesias’s right-hand man,  Juan Carlos Monedero went so far as the accuse the IA of attempting a “coup d’état” ( “golpe de Estado”) inside the organisation – as  a party within a party.

The Izquierda anticapitalista  is in sympathy (that is, affiliated) with the Fourth International (USFI).

One of its supporters, Teresa Rodríguez, is said to be the “Number 2″ of Podemos.

Not surprisingly the Fourth International has published an article by Guillem Murcia that refers to this dispute suggesting that the El País  report may not be entirely trustworthy (given the daily’s own political allegiance, which was, in the past, with the Spanish Socialist Party, the PSOE).

Dick Nicols in Links on the 1st of July (Spanish state: Eruption of Podemos sparks turmoil left and right) does not downplay the dispute as revealed by El País and has its own analysis of the problems facing Podemos,

According to a report in the June 9 El País, close Iglesias collaborator, fellow university lecturer and La Tuerka co-presenter Juan Carlos Monedero at one point explained the need for a closed list in these words: “The idea of the [closed] lists doesn’t seem very sensible to us, but there are people conspiring to lay hold of Podemos and we don’t feel like copping that. People with responsibilities in other parties have sent emails to sympathisers giving instructions as to what to do on June 14 [date of a national meeting of Podemos sympathisers].”

This was a reference to the Anti-capitalist Left (IA), co-founder of Podemos along with Iglesias and his supporters. In response to Monedero’s comments, which included the observation that some Podemos sympathisers wanted to convert the organisation into “the left of IU”, a June 9 statement of IA said: “Whoever sees conspiracies and coups where there is only democracy has very little faith in the intelligence of Podemos people…Only those who are afraid of democracy fear debates.”

Earlier Monedero had said: “Maybe this has to break up, maybe there are two incompatible models inside Podemos, some want to turn it into a party of delegates and into an old party…If we carry on with this line of talk, what happened with 15M could happen again—we were radically democratic and radically ineffective.”

He continues,

One concern was the role in Podemos given to the maverick politician and political consultant Jorge Verstrynge, ex-leader of the post-francoist Popular Alliance and variously PSOE member, adviser to the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) and the Venezuelan military, and exponent of a massive program of deportation of migrants from Spain.

Another was the decision, taken by election campaign team to incorporate a portrait sketch of Pablo Iglesias into the official Podemos ballot paper logo, on the grounds that Iglesias had much greater visibility than the name Podemos.

A third was the removal from the final Podemos election program of any specific support for the November 9 consultation in Catalonia, even though Iglesias continued to speak out for the Catalan right to decide.

The incessantly churning Spanish social networks have not been slow to comment on such choices, with Iglesias being tagged as “the little Napoleon”, and much worse. More soberly, many have pointed out that internet-driven decision-making in “new” party-movements can cohabit with “all power to the charismatic leader”, as in Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement. There the leadership (basically Grillo?) decides what the options for voting by internet are, after which “the membership decides democratically”. For the recent decision as to which European parliamentary group the Five Star movement’s MEPs should join, Grillo offered his members the “choice” of Europe of Freedom and Democracy (chairman Nigel Farange of the xenophobic United Kingdom Independence Party), the European Conservatives and Reformists group(dominated by the British Tories) or No Grouping.

Many, on the basis of what we so far can tell, will agree with Dick Nichols’ conclusion,

Podemos will face critical questions that can’t be solved from a “people v. politicians” formula. Critical will be the concrete basis for unity with IU and left-nationalist, left-regionalist and green forces. This is particularly pressing in the Spanish state because of the disproportionality in the rigged national Spanish electoral system, which only starts to disappear after a party wins 20% of the vote. (That score wins 18% of seats, while 15% wins 10.3% of seats and 10% of the vote just 5.1% of seats.)

The consolidation of Podemos as a revolutionary-democratic movement against austerity with rigorously democratic functioning and the convergence of its advance with that of a reformed IU will surely determine the fate of the anti-capitalist struggle in the Spanish state.

But it is by no means certain that the complicated ‘on-line’ democracy and the ‘circles’ at the base of Podemos, – the one drawing to leadership power, the other away from it, will help in this.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Pablo Iglesias (PODEMOS): Gets 51 Votes as Candidate for President of European Parliament.

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A Respectable 51 Votes Yesterday. 


GUE/NGL MEP Pablo Iglesias presents his candidacy for President of the European Parliament:

“The exceptional political situation today in Europe requires not more of the same failed policies, it requires an exceptional response. Perhaps the most important lesson we can draw from the European Election results is that citizens all across Europe have rejected the status quo. People have seen that the neoliberal economic model based on greed, free market principles, and the protection of financial interests at all costs is responsible for the ravaged economies in periphery counties, particularly in the south of Europe. Hard fought for gains have been swept away: social rights, democratic principles, equality, and popular sovereignty.

“Austerity decided by the few has diminished democracy and has ruined the social fabric in southern countries and destroyed labour protection laws. You’ve seen that submission to the dictates of the Troika is economically inefficient and dramatic in terms of social and human rights and poverty.”

“All of us, as elected members, have a duty and a responsibility to defend these gains, and stop Europe being governed behind the backs of citizens. We know all too well that these methods have been proven not to work: we have a continent ruled by a self-serving group of financial elites while the majority of people from the southern countries of Europe continue to be punished by poverty, inequality, and this loss of sovereignty.”

European United Left/Nordic Green Left European Parliamentary Group

GUE/NUL

Yesterday’s votes:

Martin Schulz (S&D, DE) 409: Mr Schulz duly elected President of the European Parliament

Sajjad Karim (ECR, UK) 101

Pablo Iglesias (GUE, ES) 51

Ulrike Lunacek (Greens/EFA, AT) 51

Pablo Iglesias is a member of PODEMOS,

Podemos (meaning “We can” in Spanish) is a Spanish political party created on 11 March 2014 by Spanish leftist activists associated with the 15-M movement that emerged from the 2011–12 Spanish protests.[2] Its defacto leader is Pablo Iglesias Turrión[2] a writer, professor of Political Science at the Complutense University in Madrid and occasional Spanish television presenter for a regional political discussion program Fort Apache.[3]

This is the axis of their programme:

1. Recuperar la economía, construir la democracia

2. Conquistar la libertad, construir la democracia

3. Conquistar la igualdad, construir la democracia

4. Recuperar la fraternidad, construir la democracia

5. Conquistar la soberanía, construir la democracia

6. Recuperar la tierra, construir la democracia

Wikipedia explains,

There was a significant article in Le Monde yesterday on Pablo Iglesias and PODEMOS L’«indigné» espagnol qui veut bousculer l’Europe.

We await its equivalent in the mainstream English language media.

In the meantime International Viewpoint published this highly informative analysis of Podemos   The rise of Podemos by  Guillem Murcia.

In the European election Podemos got 8% of the vote (5 MEPs). The other left bloc  Izquierda Unida, got more votes than Podemos, at 10% (6 MEPs).

As one can imagine there is plenty of scope for controversy to explore there.

See: Débats au sein de Podemos…

Podemos, frente al reto de decidir qué tipo de democracia interna desea.

These focus on how to “construir una nueva forma de organización política.

Here is the Podemos official site.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Ex-President Sarkozy Detained for Interrogation over Corruption Charges: Sarkozy Nous Voila !

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Arrivée de Nicolas Sarkozy à l'Office anti-corruption de la Police judiciaire, le 1er juillet à Nanterre.

Arrivée de Nicolas Sarkozy à l’Office anti-corruption de la Police judiciaire, le 1er juillet à Nanterre. (Photo Dominique Faget. AFP)

The Guardian reports,

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been taken into police custody for questioning as part of an inquiry into alleged abuse of power.

The unprecedented step followed the arrest of Sarkozy’s lawyer and two magistrates who are under investigation for allegedly using their influence to obtain information about legal cases against him.

Detectives are trying to establish whether the former leader promised a top-level job in Monaco to a magistrate in return for letting him know whether corruption allegations against him would go to court. Sarkozy denies any wrong-doing.

The police move on Tuesday represents a blow to Sarkozy’s hopes of making a political comeback in 2017. The former president is said to have been hoping to profit from the disarray and lack of leadership in his centre-right UMP party, which is itself also mired in legal investigations, to stand for president again.

(Note: This has been a major story in the French press.It’s often forgotten in the UK that the success of the Front National has affected the classic Right as much as the left).

It is alleged that information obtained from tapping the former leader’s phone conversations with his lawyer, Thierry Herzog, a controversial and unusual step, suggested there had been what was referred to as a “traffic of influence”.

Police were listening in to Sarkozy’s calls as part of a separate investigation into claims he accepted illegal donations from former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi for his 2007 presidential election campaign. Sarkozy served one term in office before being beaten by the Socialist candidate François Holland in 2012.

When he discovered his phone was tapped, Sarkozy allegedly obtained another phone under the pseudonym Paul Bismuth, to talk to his lawyer.

In the taped conversations, detectives allegedly heard information that Herzog had been tipped off by a magistrate about a legal decision over yet another police investigation into whether or not Sarkozy also accepted illegal campaign funds from France’s richest woman, the L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Comment: in France traditionally these cases, or ‘affaires’,  become so involved and intricate  that they recall the famous remark by  Lord Palmerston,

The Schleswig-Holstein question is so complicated, only three men in Europe have ever understood it. One was Prince Albert, who is dead. The second was a German professor who became mad. I am the third and I have forgotten all about it.

I simply remember this,

Sarkozy Nous Voila !

 

Jean-Claude Juncker and Trotskyism.

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Juncker: Flirted with Trotskyism.

The pasts of European Commissioner José Manuel Durão Barroso and the new President of the European Commission,  Jean-Claude Juncker have been brought up by the French Communist daily L’Humanite.

The former is well known for his youthful involvement in  the extreme anti-Communist (and violent) MRPP (Movimento Reorganizativo do Partido do Proletariado).(1) Indeed he was one its leaders.  This ‘Maoist’ group, which was also supported by French ‘philosopher’ Alain Badiou and his group, the Union des communistes de France marxiste-léniniste (UCFml).

In the aftermath of the ‘Carnation Revolution’ (1974 -5) the MRPP was known for its physical attacks on Communists, trade unions, democrats and the far-left.

Barroso has more recently alleged that his support for these thugs was because he saw them as the best anti-Communists around.

L’Humanité alleges they were closely bound to the CIA.  For the paper, the  “Top level agent of the CIA, Carlucci handled and financed the MRPP .”

Which perhaps also sheds a light on Alain Badiou’s curious reticence about his own past in backing the group.

Juncker has a youthful background marked by much less explicit political engagement on the far-left.

Rue 89 in Dix choses que vous ignorez sûrement sur Jean-Claude Juncker states,

“In an interview published in 2009 on the site of the Government of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker wanted us to believe he was a rebel before he became the aged grey man mocked by his enemies:

“At 17, as a rebel, I flirted with the IV th International. I explained to my father and my mother that their bourgeois life, meant nothing at all to me.”

The former Prime Minister of Luxembourg refers to the broad Trotskyist movement in the late 60s, of which the Nouveau parti anti-capitaliste (NPA) of  Olivier Besancenot is the heir.

Juncker was not a very much of an activist: he did not leave many traces of this leftist past.”

He says that he soon grasped that this stand was misguided , although he lays claim to some enduring sympathy for the workers that he learnt from his youth  amongst a steel-worker family and neighbours.

l”Humanité alleges both figures have links with the CIA.

Juncker in particular,

was forced to resign his mandate after  a colourful case of espionage. Witnesses  suddenly became mute,although leaks suggest that the special services of the United States, including the famous NSA, have maintained discreet links with Jean-Claude Juncker…..

They conclude,

There are revealing comparisons. Barroso and Juncker were both members of so-called “far left” with direct or indirect relationship with the CIA and special service organisations in the United States.

(1) Tony Cliff. Portugal at the crossroads (1975).

MRPP

The biggest “revolutionary” organisation in the University, it seems to recruit sons of upper class CDS supporters. Its membership is characterised by a religious fervour. It was quite heroic under fascism, but even then spent much of its time denouncing the rest of the revolutionary left. Typically, today it runs slogans like “Long live the glorious MRPP – Arnaldo Matos (Secretary of MRPP), glorious leader of the proletariat”, etc.

It gained some influence in a few firms when the Communist Party was involved in strike-breaking – e.g. it has some influence in TAP and the TLP (telephone workers).

But its influence is restricted in Lisbon to at most five workers’ committees.

It is extremely unpopular with COPCON rank and file because of its references to them as the “new PIDE”.

Its position used to be distinct from that of the PCP ML/AOC, in that it did not openly back the Socialist Party. But the Socialist Party saw an advantage in claiming to defend the MRPP against the Communist Party. And recently the MRPP has provided a convenient weapon for the Socialist Party to use to break the hold of the Communist Party on certain unions in Lisbon (journalists, bank workers, clerks).

The MRPP sees the events in the North as a “peasant uprising against social fascism”. When the Communist Party defended its headquarters in Leiria, the MRPP spoke of it “shooting down peasants”.

There seems to be some sort of convergence here between the sons of the bourgeoisie and their parents.

 

Venus in Fur, Film. Review. The Limits of Masochism.

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Venus in Furs.

“But the Almighty Lord hath struck him, and hath delivered him into the hands of a woman.”

Judith, xvi. 7.

Gilles Deleuze once suggested that Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Fur was not only the inspiration for the modern word masochism but illustrated the paradoxes of punishment (Présentation de Sachar-Masoch.1967). Traditional legal systems threatened, and inflict pain, supposedly as a deterrent. By contrast the ‘desiring machine’ Severin von Kusiemski, wishes to suffer. As a parody of law,  a contract reigns over and demands the whiplash. The Biblical epigraph that heads the novel is equally misleading. Far from embodying worshiped female superiority, the Goddess Wanda, is a creation, Pygmalion style, of the narrator. In these ways one can see how the theme can take us from sexuality to forms of power. 

It is a measure of the achievement of David Ives‘ 2010 play Venus in Furs in Roman Polanski’s cinematic adaption, that it embodies these contradictions in a compelling joute between two players.

The film pans onto a Parisian boulevard. In the background is a looming thunderstorm. An unkempt actress (Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s wife), Vanda, hurries into a shabby theatre. She is auditioning for a production of Venus in Furs. Inside the director, Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) is about to leave, bemoaning on his mobile the talentless candidates he’s already seen. Vanda, late beyond excuse, but pushy to the point of breaking boundaries, persuades him to let her perform.

Vanda already has the script by heart. Alternatively thick and knowing, using the vocabulary of vulgarity and erudition, she dominates Sevrin’s delirium. His infantile ecstasy when punished by a sable-wrapped aunt (playing a role not dissimilar to Mademoiselle Lambercier for Rousseau) has swollen into an infatuation for a heartless Venus. Wanda, of the play, acts this out against the backdrop of a crackling fire. At regular intervals Vanda rails at the “sexism” of the whole scenario.

If a knife and physical pain play a role, psychological cruelty that spins at the centre of the film’s drama. As the novel says, “.Nothing can intensify my passion more than tyranny, cruelty, and especially the faithlessness of a beautiful woman.”

Vanda gets her claws into the inauthenticity of Thomas’ cosseted life with a highly-educated, monied, fiancée as one senses more than a flicker of longing for submission to her edgy presence, at the borderline of the pute. Pushing an implicit conclusion Wanda suggests that his real desire is for her handsome Officer admirer, and she helps a deliciously helpless Sevrin with make-up for his new role.

Echoes of Polanski’s films, from Knife in the Water 1962  (a weapon wielded by Wanda) to Rosemary’s Baby, 1968 (the storm outside) have been noted by critics. At its best Venus in Furs rivals Pinter’s The Servant (1963) with its intense power struggle. There one significant difference from the original novel is absence of three African women. Their presence might have given an additional theme – the  ‘race play’ fashionable in some leftist sado-masochistic circles. (1)

The strengths of the film Venus in Furs (though not the original book which is as vulgar in its pretend elegant way as Vanda) lies in its language, the conversation. This – in different registers of French – is wholly lost in the subtitles, which mix Valley Girl slang with the vocabulary of American Pie. There is no charm and little humour (though you will be able to avoid them on the DVD) It is hard to imagine the original, well received, US play by David Ives written like this.

In an age when somebody is convicted in connection with a sexual obsession with pig slurry the theme of ‘perversion’ has lost its ability to interest, let alone shock. Masochism reminds many of us more of Fifty Shades of Grey (though that was apparently female) than any deep experience or insight. But in Polanski’s film, as for the psychology – the picture is up there with the greats.

(1) Lest we forget (from the Charnel House):

Written by Andrew Coates

June 27, 2014 at 9:38 am

Islamophobia and Australian ‘Honour Killings’ Talk Cancellation.

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After the above talk is cancelled the Guardian publishes an article by  (Hat-tip JB)

Uthman Badar: both Islamophobia’s victim and unwilling accomplice

In the last two days we have seen an eruption of Australia’s public and moral outrage, regarding Hizb ut-Tahrir’s media spokesman, Uthman Badar, and his planned talk on morally justifying “honour” killings at Sydney’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas. In response to the planned event, which was cancelled after a massive backlash, we have yet again heard the typical Islamophobes scream the usual condemnation all over our televisions, our radios, our Twitter feeds and in The Daily Telegraph: “Kick Hizbut Outta Here.”

Mossi asserts that the subject of Honour killings was not the speaker’s own. In fact, “Badar wanted to give a talk at the Opera House on how Muslims are always represented as the “Other”.

“Without uttering a single word in defence of “honour” killings – not that he was ever planning to – Badar had his face plastered all over the nation’s imagination as a bigot, misogynist, and an extremist Muslim.”

Morsi concludes,

Islamophobia is better understood as a sort of unchecked energy that drives a frenzy of media scrutiny. It is marked by rituals, a sense of a story, an element of sensationalism, loaded language, to explain what is wrong with those Muslims who aren’t integrated. It is a set of questions, and a conversation with shallow answers about what it means to be us by talking about them; a ritual to purify the social space that is premised on a suspicion about the danger of those on society’s edges, on fringes defiling us; a danger that manifests itself into the face of a red-tinted Badar who is told to get out. Islamophobia is the exploiting of the Muslim for one’s own fantasies. In that sense Badar was both its victim and its unwitting accomplice.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports,

On Wednesday, Mr Badar would not tell reporters whether he believed ”honour killings” – the murder of women deemed to have brought shame or dishonour on their family – were justified.

He also declined to outline the contents of his cancelled talk, but said he was disappointed the festival had bowed to public pressure.

”I would hope they had more courage, more backbone,” he said. ”This issue has nothing to do with honour killings. Islam does not condone any form of abuse or violence towards women.”

In a speech to reporters that sometimes sounded like a sermon, Mr Badar said the ”hysterical” response to the talk’s title was a clear example of Islamophobia. If honour killings were defended by a ”white man”, the response would have been much more muted, he said. Mr Badar hinted at the issues he would have covered in the talk by saying the Western world wanted a ”monopoly on violence” through wars, invasions and puppet governments it justified with its own ideology.

The Australian newspaper also notes,

Hizb ut-Tahrir released a statement on Monday defending the actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – also known as ISIS – in Iraq, where extremist militants have seized large areas of the country. ”ISIS is being portrayed, in fantastical Hollywood style, as evil incarnate on Earth, having seemingly taken over from al-Qaeda who previously fulfilled this bogeyman role,” the statement said.

”An uprising against the systematically oppressive US-installed and backed Maliki regime is being painted as a takeover by ‘terrorists’ to justify political, and if needed military intervention whereby the interests of Western powers will be protected and furthered.”

It is not at all clear if this means support for ISIL or ISIS. Hizb have a history of essentially supporting their own affiliates – not these groups.

But some degree of sympathy would fit with the  general line of Hizb ut-Tahrir (as on their official site)

Besides, fighting to expel the enemy from the Muslims’ lands is part of the established thoughts in the Party culture. It is even one of the important rules of Islam. The party has made the obligation to fight the Kuffar, even with the collaborating rulers as long as it is a fighting against the Kuffar, thus deeming it as part of the Jihad for the sake of Allah, as part of the thoughts related to the Shari’ah rules which entail the regulating of the Ummah’s behaviour in relation to the progress of the state; it has even deemed it as one of the greatest concepts of discipline in existence. It is mentioned in the 6th concept of the “concepts of discipline” in the Party Dossier

What is the best way to react to organisations and individuals with such opinions?

Certainly not by denying their right to free speech  (an important principle for many, from socialists to liberals), even if this particular event has all the hall-marks of a stunt.

The St James Ethics Centre (behind the Festival of Dangerous Ideas) is a group promoting  debate , “broader than simply business & professional ethics..” This ,”involves the hands on examination of virtually every kind of ethical issue arising in society. Operating both in Australia and abroad, the Ethics Centre remains unique in the world for its support to the general community on ethical issues, creation and management of public debates and application of ethical principles to specific issues in public institutions, not-for-profits and companies.”

It would seem to be appropriate forum to subject the Hizbt to public exposure.

That this has not happened is obviously due the topic: honour killings are not ideas but acts of violence.

A detailed consideration of the issue of honour killings and the problematic arguments by Badar (relativising honour killings, though not condoning them) is given by Sarah AB.

There is room for analysis of the reasons why the talk has been cancelled.

But Morsi however seems have already entered this subject with the ready-made view that any criticism of Islamists of the stripe of the Hizb is “Islamophobia’.

He works himself up into paroxysms of rage describing the Australian reaction.

The Problem with Islamophobia.

There is an extremely sensitive and thoughtful piece by Shaif Rahmen on Islamophobia on Harry’s Place this morning,.

It begins by noting how the term is full of dangers, and

  • It is also unhelpful, because if left unchecked it;
  • blurs acceptable boundaries and culls debate
  • treats all criticism of Islam with equal disdain
  • equates Islamophobia with racism
  • gives a free ride to exponents of Islamism, magnifying their voices whilst countering narratives are hushed inhibits free speech which often acts as a catalyst for positive change.

Rahmen concludes,

So when does criticism of Islam become Islamophobia?

When the criticism prejudices and stigmatises Muslims rather than their beliefs.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is rightly attacked for its beliefs.

It is accused, with ample justification, of being an extreme-right wing party which aims to establish a religious dictatorship.

Its social policies are utterly reactionary.

Cod philosophy about the Muslim Other (1), melodrama and histrionics cannot deflect these criticisms.

Or silence them.

But perhaps this is Morsi’s aim?

(1) This is a brilliant unravelling  of the pretentious gibberish used by Badar  (like Morsi an adept of the Woody Allen school of Sartre and Derrida studies): The accused is the oriental other. Ophelia Benson.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 26, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Tony Greenstein Resigns from Left Unity: World’s Progressives Shaken.

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Tony Greenstein in a temperate mood.

Comrade Tony Greenstein’s resignation from Left Unity sent shock waves last month throughout the world progressive, labour, and socialist movement.

The news was published in the august pages of the Weekly Worker on the 5th of June.

Now on his Blog he explains his standpoint.

I resigned from Left Unity nearly a month ago. Set up in a blaze of publicity, it has fallen victim to identity politics and navel gazing. It reports that it has 2,000 members. If so they make next to no impact. There is no internal life in the organisation, no paper or journal, and criticism of policies such as ‘safe spaces’ for women are frowned upon or, as is the case in Manchester subject to censorship and suspension

Using dialectical tools honed in years of struggle Brighton’s Best continues.

It would be a pleasure to reproduce the text in full but for reasons of space and attention-span we confine ourselves to extracts.

Cde Greenstein has no doubt where some of the blame for the rise of UKIP lies,

….most mailings from the Centre have concerned elections for the multiplicity of posts in LU. Barely a word has been issued concerning prioritising campaigns such as the destruction of the NHS or the welfare state. Bogus issues of interest to just a handful of careerists, such as intersectionality, have been deemed of more importance instead.

It is little wonder that LU didn’t see fit to stand candidates in the European elections when it has such pressing internal issues to deal with. The result is that UKIP and its anti-immigration policies have been given a free ride and LU has abandoned what could have been an effective platform for introspective navel gazing.

This post continues in this vein and reaches this conclusion,

LU’s leadership could do worse than to look at the success of Syriza in Greece and try and learn some lessons. However I fear that they are too fixed in their views and politics to learn lessons from anyone. They insist on following the same strategies that embraced Respect and destroyed the Socialist Alliance. Politically LU has demonstrated complete impotence on questions like Ireland. My conclusion is that the time for success has now passed and what is left is a terrible missed politically opportunity.

I have therefore decided that no purpose is served by my continuing to remain a member and I have decided to resign from Left Unity.

In case anybody has sympathy with some of these views – which include  criticisms of ‘intersectionality’ (poor old Richard Seymour’s latest  hobby horse) and ‘safe spaces’, not to mention Greenstein’s comments on the LU failure to campaign on welfare – this has been brought to the Tendance’s attention (ME),


Daniel Randall and Sacha Ismail 
Lies, Damn Lies and Tony Greenstein (What Next?)

TO THOSE on the left who derive sado-masochistic entertainment from the more bilious of its internal debates, Tony Greenstein will need no introduction. But for anyone who doesn’t think that spending endless hours on email discussion lists and internet message boards is an appropriate and productive use of their time, it is necessary to provide a little background.

Tony Greenstein is a socialist based in Brighton who engages in a form of political masturbation that consists basically of attacking the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty in the most poisonous terms known to him at every possible opportunity. Tony attacks the AWL for its small size, but he is not on very firm ground arguing numbers with a group more than 100 times the size of his own: the Tony Greenstein sect of one.

Tony’s ferocious hatred of the AWL overrides all rational political thought; so, for example, when Tony stood as a candidate for the Socialist Green Unity Coalition (in which the AWL also participated) in the 2005 General Election, Tony felt it appropriate to write a letter to the CPGB newspaper Weekly Worker attacking the AWL in characteristic terms, even though he knew this would harm the coalition of which he himself was part. This sort of behaviour is illustrative of Tony’s general approach – not rational, worked-out criticism but frenzied slander. His diatribe in What Next? [‘The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty – Britain’s Revolutionary Imperialists’] is no different. It is embarrassing in its lack of rigour, in the way it substitutes anecdotal slander for political critique, and in its use of blatant lies, distortions and half-truths.

More on What next? site.

In a long political career on the outside of the outside left Cde Greenstein has accumulated a broader range of enemies than the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL)  - they extend, let us say, from senior figures in the trade union movement to just about every party and groupuscule  on the left (his latest bug-bear is Socialist Resistance).

He has even got the goat of somebody genuinely loathed by all progressives,  Gilad Atzmon.

Respect!

Last Christians in Mosul to Pay “dihmmi” Tax

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Call for Jihad.

 

Les derniers chrétiens de Mossoul, cible des jihadistes

Libération 

Sad news for the last Christians of Mosul. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (EIIL) – Daech according acronym  in Arabic, – has ordered them  to pay the jizyah,a special tax which giving them the status of second-class citizens.

This tax, according to various first-hand witnesses collected by telephone from Mosul, obliges  Christian families to pay $ 250 per employed person, or $ 500 for a couple.

“They have a choice between paying, converting or leaving  “ said father Tahir Issa, of the small Chaldean Church.

“PACT OF PROTECTION”.

This obligation to pay the jizya for Christian dhimmi - “protected” or a non-Muslim citizens in Muslim state – is compulsory.

It is also open to any non-Muslim citizen, provided they belong to a revealed religion (Judaism, Zoroastrianism, etc..). It is accompanied by other discriminatory conditions,  restricted freedom of worship, and the loss of certain rights,  in exchange for a guarantee of security for their persons and property.

According to reports from refugees in Kurdistan the jihadists have claimed that a Moslem who steals from a Christian will be executed, while those who steal from other Muslims will only have their hands cut off.

….

There are around 500 Christians left in Mosul, amongst two million inhabitants.

Father Tahrir Issa also asserts that two churches in Mosul, one named the Holy Spirit, which belongs to the Chaldeans and the other, belonging to the Armenian community have recently been completely vandalised. A statue of the Virgin in  another church was also destroyed.

There are other reports on this, and the imposition of strict Shariah law in areas under ISIS influence. See also Les seize commandements de l’Etat islamique en Irak et au Levant.

Libération takes a much more robust line than, notably, the Guardian, on these issues.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 24, 2014 at 10:30 am

Franklin Lamb (Counterpunch) ISIS, Iraq: Towards the “Liberation” of Palestine.

with 8 comments

ISIS-Iraq-Attack

Organises ‘fun days’ for kids says Franklin Lamb in Counterpunch.

Counterpunch has published some well-informed reports on the unfolding civil war in Iraq, notably by Patrick Cockburn.

The same cannot be said for the latest piece by the notorious Franklin Lamb, who has been linked to the far-right  Réseau Voltaire (Voltaire Network)  (23 articles, up to 2001).

Will ISIS Create al-Sham Caliphate & Liberate Palestine?

This is written after talks with members of ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, presently fighting its way through Iraq , with a serious presence in Syria (which he often cites under its Arabic acronym DAASH).

more than a dozen ardent supporters of The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), known locally as DAASH whose representatives allowed this observer over the past six months to interview some of its supporters

Franklin’s main interest is in what he calls the ‘liberation of Palestine”.

This is the key to understanding the following comment,

DAASH insists that it has become less active in killing anyone who works for the government of Syria or Iraq including rubbish collectors, a barbaric practice that alienated the Sunni population and that their support is growing as they increasingly provide the essential social services in the forming proto-Caliphate. “Zionists call us masked, sociopathic murderers but we are much more complicated and representative of those seeking justice than they portray us.  Are we more barbaric than the Zionist terrorists who massacred at Dier Yassin, Shatila twice at Qana, and committed dozens of other massacres?  History will judge us after we free Palestine.”A few years ago the CIA and others estimated that the Zionist occupation of Palestine will collapse in less than a decade.  DAASH claims it can do the job in 72 months.

He then allows them to state,

With respect to events surrounding its takeover of Mosel and other social media broadcast exhibitions of mass brutality, ISIS claims it was done for a purpose, the same purpose that other state and non-state actors have used over the past two decade and that is for 90% of the world 1.5 billion Muslims (Sunni) to free themselves from the oppression of the 10% (Shia).

The Reseau Voltaire contributor records this comment,

ISIS appears uniformly contemptuous of the Zionist regime and its army and also appears eager to fight them in the near future despite expectation that the regime will use nuclear weapons. “Do you think that we do not have access to nuclear devices? The Zionists know that we do and if we ever believe they are about to use theirs we will not hesitate.  After the Zionists are gone, Palestine will have to be decontaminated and rebuilt just like areas where there has been radiation released.”

Like all groups with the interest of the people at heart ISIS (apart from operating a policy of great religious tolerance) carries out the following.

DASH supporters claim that as soon as they ‘liberate” and area  invest in public works such as the  new souk in Raqqa, installs new power lines and conducts training sessions on how citizens can do-it-yourself  for more self-reliance with fixing infrastructure problems. In addition DAASH claims that it quickly fixes potholes, runs a low fare bus system, has established  a ‘green’ program to build parks and plant trees and flowers, helps farmers with harvests and runs a zakat (almsgiving) organization.

Moreover, ISIS has established a number of religious schools for children, including ones for girls where they can memorize the Koran and receive certificates if successful, while also holding “fun days” (1)  for kids including all the ice cream they can eat and inflatable slides. For their older counterparts, ISIS has established training sessions for new imams and preachers. Schedules for prayers and Koran lessons are posted at mosques. In a more worrisome development, ISIS runs training camps for “cub scouts” and houses these recruits in the group’s facilities.

Several social media reports and a few eyewitness accounts appear to confirm that DAASH has developed health and welfare programs, operates bread factories and distributes free fruits and vegetables to needy families, passing the goods out personally as well as setting up a free food kitchen in Raqqa as well as an adoption agency to place orphans with families in their areas. Unlike the Taliban and some other regimes which exhibit paranoia about vaccination campaigns, DAASH claims to be more ‘modern” and actively promotes polio-vaccination in its areas to try stop its spread.

There are no plans to attack Europe or “other places”.

With one exception,

 With respect to exactly how DAASH intends to liberate Palestine, the Iraqi’s and now the Obama administration is in possession of an encyclopedia of information about detailed DAASH plans, and tactics it will confront the Zionist occupiers with,  according to a congressional staffer via email with this observer. Reportedly the employment of large numbers of militarily untrained foreign volunteers as suicide bombers, moving on foot wearing suicide vests, or driving vehicles packed with explosives is just the tip of a deep iceberg of what DAASH is planning…

The visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University comments,

Time will reveal if DAASH achieves one or both of its objectives.  Many believe if they eject the Zionist regime from Palestine, the expanding Islamist group will set in motion historic currents that in all likelihood will be rather different from the Ehud Omert-Condeleeza Rice fantasy of “a New Middle East.

 

One feels deep disgust at anybody relishing the kind of ‘liberation’ ISIS would bring to Israel.

Certainly it would be unlikely to involve fun days and all the ice-cream you can eat.

 

(1) Compare: Video: Al-Qa’ida holds family fun day in war torn Aleppo (2013).

Written by Andrew Coates

June 22, 2014 at 11:19 am

Left Unity and the Affaire Laurie McCauley.

with one comment

Is this Working Out?

Left Unity notched up a success last week with its Homes Not Spikes campaign in London,

“The spikes are gone. Tesco buckled under the outcry after it was found to have put in ‘anti-homeless spikes’ outside a central London store, and the company was forced to remove them.”

The Tendance welcomes this result.

Left Unity has many good policies, and, unlike some of the inward looking UK left, resembles  the rest of the  (stronger)  radical European left . These include calling for continental cooperation to ‘refound’ the EU on a social basis, backing for far-reaching democracy, feminism,  and a ‘radical reformist’ set of domestic economic and social policies.

Left Unity has some respected and energetic activists and has inspired a wider audience.

These features outweigh the potential damage caused by the influence of one figure on its race policies, which look like a step backwards to 1980s  and Left Unity’s  confusing adaption to ‘intersectionality’.

While rightly opposing the deep-seated hostility to migrants and minorities, it treats “communities” as blocs. Indeed it falls victim to its own attack on hostility to “the representation of Muslims as a monolithic bloc” by defending ‘Muslims’ ….en bloc!

It is right to give priority to the racism of the government and parties like UKIP.

But without a strategy to build unity against the oppression that religious ‘communities’ can create Left Unity risks isolating itself from activists fighting for their own emancipation from “community leaders”.  This misguided approach can be seen when Left Unity ‘defends’ community leaderships, distant from the left and the labour movement,  in the Birmingham academies. The failure to see groups like Islamists as part of an international extreme right-wing movement, further weakens Left Unity’s politics

But I digress.

One area seems to have created rising tension is linked to the ‘safe spaces‘ policy.

The key contentious points include guidelines :

To behave decently toward each other and try to consider other people’s needs (as would be normal in a well unionised workplace).

Venom should be reserved as far as possible for those who would destroy our organisation and our political actions .

Tolerance of other habits and norms will be expected - for example, The Youth and elders might make more noise!

We will not ignore examples of oppression or of transgressions in matters of safe spaces, or situations where transgressions occur.

Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable and will be challenged.

Respect should be offered to each other’s physical (and emotional) boundaries.

Members are asked to try to be aware of the positions and privileges they may be conveying, including racial, class and gender privilege. Be aware of the language you use in discussion and how you relate to others

If a member of an oppressed group requests that you change your use of language, be respectful and change your use of language. Do feel free to ask for clarification on this.

……

There follows a section of Bullying.

The way out of any dispute is said to be through Resolution procedures” operated by “Reconciliation teams.”

These are real problems, shouting, screaming, bullying and harassment, are endemic in political parties of any stripe.

But will these guidelines help solve them?

Anybody with any political experience, or at least most of them, can see the potential for destructive disputes that could come from this policy. Choices of “language”, a call to be aware of “privilege”, “emotional boundaries” “tolerance ” of other people’s habits – all are open to exactly the kind of emotional manipulation (not to say intolerance) that they claim to “protect” people from.

Mike Macanir has unpicked this policy to death. He observes that, “the proposed method of addressing these issues of oppression - by mixing them up with party disciplinary/disputes procedures – has been tried and failed, over and over again, and not merely failed, but proved positively destructive.” “The method of ultimatums backed by prominently displayed anger – “speaking bitterness” – is clearly visible in comrade Dowling’s contribution and those of her supporters. It is inherent in tying together the equalities policy with the disputes/disciplinary procedure in the draft ‘safe spaces’ policy. It was unsuccessful and destructive in the movements of the oppressed in the 1970s-80s and it will be unsuccessful and destructive if we try it again in Left Unity”

Cde Macnair’s detailed argument against rules which encourage people to “speak bitterness”  can be seen here.

The Affaire Laurie McCauley.

Now with the Affaire Laurie McCauley some people’s boundaries are being sorely tested.

According to the latest Weekly Worker Left Unity “have suspended Laurie McCauley from membership for having the temerity to write a “public article” in the Weekly Worker.1 Specifically his ‘crime’ was to include “personal attacks”, “breaches of members’ privacy”, “unreasonable attacks on our branch” – and other such outrages against socialist morality. Frankly, the comrades responsible for this move should hang their heads in shame.

Is it a straightforward matter of free-speech?

For those willing to go into the “Affaire Laurie McCauley” this is the offending article, Left Unity: What ‘Safe Spaces’ lead to. (22nd May).

It begins,

I approach this short report with a certain amount of trepidation. Not because of concerns about ‘exposing’ Left Unity’s right wing here in Manchester, but because the levels of dishonesty and sheer lack of vision on show are simply embarrassing. Nevertheless it is important, as a service to the movement – and in the hope of rescuing the branch – that recent goings-on, culminating in the shutting down of the branch’s email discussion list and attempted censure of one member for comments thereon, are documented.

Left Unity was supposed to be different. A pluralist party, we were told, which could accommodate varied views within its ranks. The mistakes of the ‘old left’, of enforcing a false ideological unity that only led to splits, would be avoided. Openness and transparency were to be the order of the day.

Regular readers will know how quickly this has fallen apart in LU’s Manchester branch, where the email discussion list was shut down amidst the unedifying spectacle of one comrade – former deputy leader of Respect Dawud Islam – being demonised for the heinous crime of not coming to a snap judgement on the guilt or innocence of Steve Hedley.1Hedley had been accused of domestic violence by a former partner, but was found to have no case to answer by the RMT union and is not under investigation by the police. Comrade Islam declined to immediately sign an e-petition calling on the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to withdraw comrade Hedley’s candidacy for the May 22 local elections. He explained, reasonably enough, that he did not know enough about the specific case, and also expressed his view that candidates’ politics are the most important thing.

Comrade McCauley now chronicles the response to this piece (19th June),

This triggered an avalanche of outrage, accusing him of at best not taking violence against women seriously, and at worst of defending those men who perpetrate such violence. Dawud refused to be hounded into signing, however, and restated his position. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was a two-line email from myself suggesting that “innocent until proven guilty” was a pretty progressive principle. This prompted Ian Parker of Socialist Resistance, who had initially posted the petition, to declare the topic “no longer suitable for discussion on this list” – an ad-hoc committee put the list under moderation tout court: all “political” and “personal” postings are blocked, with only banal organisational stuff slipping through the net.

Comrade Parker actually submitted a motion at the next meeting to censure Dawud for his comments – which were not even public statements, existing only on the branch’s internal discussion list – and refer him to LU’s disputes committee. At the most farcical point in this meeting, Ian proposed that comrade Islam actually put his own name to the motion! In the end, comrade Parker backed down after a pseudo-apology from the ‘accused’.

….

Incidentally, the dispute involving Dawud was resolved shortly after publication. But having the branch’s dirty laundry given a good airing in the pages of the Weekly Worker was clearly too much for comrades Parker and Keenan. Their appetite for cracking the bureaucratic whip was evidently only whetted by Dawud’s dressing down, as on June 8 two motions were circulated on the email list calling for myself to be referred to the disputes committee. The first motion claimed that comrades’ interventions in meetings and on email lists should be treated confidentially – hardly the model of transparency LU is supposedly committed to. The second called for my suspension from the branch, until the disputes committee had reached a decision on the case being brought against me. Both motions were unsigned, as if comrades had taken my description of Dawud’s experience as “Kafkaesque” as an encouragement.

And the case against me? The second motion condemned the “personal attacks” and “reports in public of our internal branch discussions” in my Weekly Worker article. The first point can be usefully translated as ‘criticising what someone actually said’. My report did not focus on a critique of comrades’ hairstyles or fashion sense, or anything else that could be remotely construed as a ‘personal attack’. Rather it was the politics – or lack thereof – that I had targeted. As for the second allegation, I have already made the point about transparency.

The second motion also contained nebulous and entirely unsubstantiated claims of “persistent oppressive conduct towards other members” and “persistent disruption of LU internal meetings”. No examples of this “oppressive conduct” or “disruption” have been given – nor had anyone previously pulled me up for such alleged misdemeanours. Anyone present at the meetings I have attended – or who has more than a passing acquaintance with me frankly – can only find these claims risible. I have volunteered to lead off two branch discussions, with no-one complaining. In fact the one time we had a genuine political newbie along was at one of these meetings, and we later learnt that she had decided to join her London branch of LU following our meeting.

For those still with the will to live after reading this, all we know from Left Unity’s site is that the June NC minutes record , “Report to executive on Leeds dispute, with call for Disputes and Appeals Committees to convene ASAP – Felicity Dowling – Endorsed.”

Not knowing the people involved we are not going to get bogged down in personal rancour.

Or in pub gossip.

One thing looks more than probable.

The charges relate to the Safe Spaces policy, even if apparently the Manchester Branch puts them down to behaviour that would not be accepted in any political party.

It could well be that this is not a free-speech issue, or one dependent on the rules we have discussed.

But for many it seem that this is involved, and is being used to settle scores not to end them.

The resulting row must surely exacerbate personality clashes.

It is not, as one Left Unity theorist might say, an aleatory happenstance.

It’s hard not to hope matters will be clarified, but things do not look promising.

There is already talk about another dispute erupting in Leeds involving Workers Power.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 20, 2014 at 11:19 am

Juan R Posadas, Trotskyism and Talking to Dolphins.

with 6 comments

That’s Not the Correct Line Comrade on the Left Unity Row.

Oh Yes it is!

 

The Girl who Talked to Dolphins was on BBC 4 last night.

This was a

Documentary telling the story of the most extraordinary experiment in the history of animal science. In the 1960s a powerful and charismatic scientist flooded a house. He then invited a young woman to live there full-time with a dolphin. Their intention was the ultimate in animal research – they wanted to teach the dolphin to speak English. What happened next would change all their lives. For the first time those involved in the experiment reveal the secrets of the Dolphin House.

This was great.

Trotskyism was also at the forefront of this great leap forward in interspecies communication.

Juan R Posadas, the Argentinian Trotskyist  is best known for his pioneering theories on UFOs and the probable existence of higher, communist, civilisations on other planets. He rightly observed that, “These beings from other planets come to observe life down here and laugh at humans, we who fight each other over who has the most cannons, cars and wealth.”

But he did not stop there.

Wikipedia notes,

Posadas led his movement into the development of various ideas that bordered on the New Age with writings about communicating with dolphins and humans giving birth under water.

Fortean Times explains,

Professor Igor Charkovsky’s experiments for the Soviet Academy of Sciences on ‘water birthing’ and his work on communicating with dolphins won the admiration of Posadas, as did unattributed “plans to conceive babies in space.” Charkovsky is today a celebrity of the New Age Californian bourgeois ‘water birthing’ circuit and his forays into human–dolphin communication interfaces are continued by Alexander Yushchencko at Kharkov Polytechnic, Ukraine.

In any event, Posadas’ disciples defended his most esoteric dolphin and water birthing ideas after his death, stating that: “Posadas highlighted the full significance of experiments the Soviets are making in communicating with animals (eg. dolphins) and in space exploration… this is the plane on which Comrade Posadas lived.” They also firmly believed that Posadas’ “radiant and living thought… laid down principles to see further into the future.”

Sadly these writings seem unavailable on the Web.

We await their immediate publication!

Written by Andrew Coates

June 18, 2014 at 11:39 am

Iraq: Qualified Support for the Stop the War Coalition?

with 7 comments

ISIS Islamic Justice (from Fightback, Marxist Journal).

A great deal has been said on the unfolding civil war in Iraq.

Tony Blair’s remarks, justifying past, and future, military interventions,  have, rightly, caused an uproar.

One of the most respected and reliable writers on  the Middle East, Robert Fisk, has observed,

How do they get away with these lies? Now Tony Blair tells us that Western “inaction” in Syria has produced the Iraq crisis. But since bombing Syria would have brought to power in Damascus the very Islamists who are now threatening Baghdad, it must therefore be a mercy that Barack Obama does not listen to the likes of Blair.

…..

Father Frans van der Lugt was a martyr of Homs, refusing to leave his Christian flock and Muslim friends throughout the years of siege, imploring the world to pity the innocent and the starving until, on 7 April this year, gunmen arrived in the church garden and murdered him. They came from the Nusra forces – the Assad regime called them terrorists, the opposition said, of course, that if Assad had not besieged Homs, the 72-year-old Catholic priest would not have died. He is buried a few metres away, his grave a cheap wooden cross surrounded by flowers. From a photograph, his bespectacled face stares at us. The Pope later prayed for Van der Lugt’s soul.

I suppose if the West had bombed Damascus last year – as Blair bombed Baghdad in 2003 – Father Francis might have lived. But then again, he might have been murdered much earlier by the Islamists we would have been helping.

Independent.

Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition has commented on Blair,

Stop the War Coalition convenor Lindsey German condemned his discredited views and the airtime he was given to peddle them, including an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.

Ms German told the Star: “Blair has yet again been given a lengthy platform to promote his demented warmongering.”

And she said it was precisely the bombing of the country’s infrastructures 11 years ago that lead to “disastrous consequences which are still playing out to the cost of the Iraqi people.”

Ms German called on Mr Blair to step down from his role as Middle East peace convoy.

She said it was a “a job for which he lacks a single qualification.”

Ms German wasn’t alone in her criticisms as politicians and the public piled into the ex-PM.

Former international development secretary Clare Short — who stepped down from her role over the invasion of Iraq — labelled her former boss as a “complete American neocon.”

Mr Blair’s opinions, she argued, were “absolutely, consistently wrong, wrong, wrong.”

“More bombing will not solve it, it will just exacerbate it,” she urged.

Morning Star. More from Lindsey German on the Stop the War Coalition site.

Socialist Worker, as one would expect, simply regurgitates the line that it’s all the fault of the Western Intervention.

Iraq’s spiral into a new sectarian war is a result of the occupation, and the tactics used by western forces to defeat the 2004 national uprising.

At the time, the US and its coalition allies sought to engineer sectarian tensions to divide a growing national liberation movement.

Perhaps they will enlighten us as to what this “national liberation” movement was, and where it has gone.

ISIS.

What stand then should or could people on the left take on the Iraqi tragedy?

Intervention looks set to exaggerbate the horrors: fueled by the conflicts between a wide range of forces opposed to the Baghdad government (and not just ISIS). Whether Iran and the USA will co-operate, and a host of other ‘whethers and ifs’ do not make other predictions about the outcome easy. There is also this important contribution to consider 7 Myths about the Radical Sunni Advance in Iraq which urges caution on the part of the West and a sobre approach to the threats.

In general, and in respect  to intervention, the Stop the War Coalition has got strong arguments  on its side.

But we should not forget who ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham) (Arabicالدولة الاسلامية في العراق والشام‎ ʾad-dawla ʾal-islāmiyya fīl-‘irāq waš-šām) are.

The Irish left journal Fightback sums up their nature.

The ISIS has its roots in the militias that formed the Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda. Until recently it was a marginalised group within the Islamist movement which viewed it as too extreme. It gained notoriety for its brutal and barbaric methods of crucifixion and decapitation. It was mainly isolated to desert and tribal areas of western Iraq, where the disintegration of the Iraqi state and the backwardness of these areas allowed ISIS to gain a foothold.

…….

Over the past year, the group has rapidly grown. This, combined with the increased income, allowed it to take bolder initiatives. It is on this basis that the offensive of ISIS could widen out and develop a momentum. From fighting the Iraqi army in the desert and the tribal areas the group moved into the cities. Its success came as a surprise, as it is one thing to to roam around in war ridden Syria and an entirely different matter to fight in Iraq, with its numerically overwhelming army.

The real reason why they could do this is the rotten character of the corrupt gangster regime of Nouri al-Maliki, who has been whipping up sectarian conflict for years. His gangster methods and the widespread corruption has alienated layer after layer of the population.  At the same time poverty and unemployment is rife. According to the World Bank, 28% of Iraqi families live below the poverty line. In the event that the country would face a major crisis, such as the armed conflicts of the past year, the organization’s estimates that this rate could increase by 70%. Thousands of families literally feed on garbage and live in landfills and slums.

Whether, as Fightback asserts, ISIS is the “creation of imperialism” is less clear.

The Daily Beast claims the following, “The extremist group that is threatening the existence of the Iraqi state was built and grown for years with the help of elite donors from American supposed allies in the Persian Gulf region. There, the threat of Iran, Assad, and the Sunni-Shiite sectarian war trumps the U.S. goal of stability and moderation in the region.”

More recent funding has come from their control over a variety of rackets and their seizure of oil fields.

This and other aspects of ISIS and their leader, Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri, are analysed at length by specialists.

One thing we can see immediate evidence of is the Sharia law regime they have established in Mosul.

Since taking over Mosul, members of the group have been handing out documents to residents, stating that Islamic law is binding from now on and which ban any contact with the Iraqi government and its institutions.

Police and security forces were given the opportunity to ask for a pardon, and the document stress that those who do not do so are likely to be given a death sentence.

Men will be required to participate in public worship and those who do not will be sentenced to received lashes, while women will be required to cover their faces and remain permanently in their homes and not leave them unless necessary, the documents state.

Robbers and thieves will be sentenced to death, crucifixion or cutting off of hands and feet. Carrying weapons is now prohibited, and the penalty for violating this directive is death.

The group has begun turning southward towards Baghdad, after conquering Mosul and several other northern cities this week in a lightning offensive.

ISIS rebels have also implemented Sharia law in areas of Syria which it has taken over. Steps taken include a ban on mannequins in shop displays as well as a ban on singing and dancing at weddings.

Al-Qaeda affiliated jihadist rebel groups in Syria have also warned citizens against “hurting the dignity” of the prophet Muhammad, threatening those who do so with execution. Here.

We hardly need to be reminded of their utter and undying hatred of Shias.

There are British jihadists fighting with ISIS.

One wonders if anybody will dare compare them to volunteers defending the Spanish Republic.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 17, 2014 at 10:55 am

Chartist AGM: the Pro-European Left.

with 7 comments

“Chartist was a very different animal when I took over as Editor in Spring 1974 .  The banner headline on the tabloid talked of joining a ‘joint command of revolutionary organisations and preparing for dual power’.”

Editor’s Report. 2014.

An exceptional Chartist AGM took place on Saturday the 14th of June.

The meeting began with a session of the Financial Crisis and Worker Democracy.

Prem Sikka from Essex University  gave an overview of the part accountancy, to most people one of the most  boring subjects ever invented, had played in neo-liberalism. He illustrated his case by showing how the rules of accountancy underpinned the banking crises, and the ‘outsourcing’ of state functions. This did not mean that the state, viewed in terms of spending public money, had shrunk. It has been “restructured” – to give ever greater subsidies to the private firms who now carry out many of its functions. The present privatising regime had created widespread poverty, not only for the unemployed, but for those working under ‘flexible’ zero hours contracts.  Sikka set out a list of reforms that would bring the banking and financial sector under greater public control, increase transparency,  and end widespread fraud and short-term profiteering.

Janet Williamson, Senior Policy Officer of the TUC, made the case for looking again at the proposals for worker representation in companies, last brought up by the 1970s the Bullock Report. She argued that having a voice for workers in firms decisions was essential, not just for justice, but for better wealth production and long-term stability.

In the discussion that followed  the issues of socialising the banks, the disciplining of the reserve army of the workless by workfare, and whether ‘voice’ was sufficient for socialists who wish employees to have fuller control over their working lives. The ‘shrinking’ of the state was questioned when the transfer of its functions to private companies living off tax-raised funds  had real effects on accountability and workers’ conditions.

After lunch John Palmer (former European Editor – the Guardian) spoke of What now for the left after the European elections? Palmer began by talking about the rise of the xenophobic right, particularly in the UK (UKIP) and France (the Front National). They were joined by other hard and far-right parties in Greece (Golden Dawn) and Hungary. Social Democracy, above all in france, had done very badly. Their left competitors, the Front de Gauche, had stagnated. The British Labour Party had got solid results, but had lost the lead to UKIP.  Palmer, however, pointed to the good results for the left in Southern Europe, notably Greece (Syriza), Spain (Podemos and the Izquierda Unida). From the floor Italy was added, where the centre-left Democratic Party (Partito Democratico), did well and the further left alliance (L’Altra Europa con Tsiprasre-entered the European Parliament.

Palmer explained very clearly that it was up to the Left to promote a federalist agenda as the only way to unite Europe’s left into an effective force that could shape the European Union in a different, social, direction. We need to change the terms of debate.  He cited Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century as a milestone on this journey.It had brought back inequality onto the agenda, showing how rewards to capital has grown at the expense of wage. The left’s agenda needed to centre on the European Parliament. He finished by pointed out how far Britain was isolated in its opposition to Jean-Claude Juncker. By contrast to the British Labour Party, which shares this hostility with the Liberal-Conservative Coalition, the left should be building alliances to fight austerity across the continent.

Chartist has long stood for a pro-European left. Debate and questions raised the problematic stand of some (including Palmer) who back the break-up of Britain yet want a federalist Europe. It was also noted that Picketty’s book came at a time when France’s centre-left was rediscovering the important of fighting inequality. (see The society of equals: Pierre Rosanvallon 2004.  French Edition: La Société des égaux, Le Seuil, 2011). Whether Europe, and the EU,  had played a negative role in backing US-interference the Ukrainian crisis and interventions in the Middle East and Libya was discussed.

Reports indicated that Chartist has continued to attract a wide-range of democratic socialist contributors. The Editor Mike Davis, stated that the journal is supportive of the Labour Party and progressive forces within it, and the majority do not see the way forward in independent electoral left initiatives. But the publication  also attracts Greens, the Left Unity Party,  and independent socialists. The magazine backs the People’s Assembly and has played a significant role in the Labour Assembly Against Austerity.

There were two resolutions. One called for support for the Yes campaign for Scottish Independence, and the other for Chartist backing for a London rally calling for Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom.

From the audience concern was expressed at moves to separate people on national grounds. It was also pointed out by another Chartist supporter that the mover of the resolution’s own party, Left Unity, did not endorse these views, that Chartist is not a directly campaigning group with a ‘line’ and that it was said that Alex Salmond was so vain that he drank his own bath water. We might guess who made the latter comments.

The resolution fell, supported only by its two movers.

The Chartist Magazine is now fully on-line.

The new site is up and running.You can access it here.

It is seriously worth reading.

There was a great get-together in the pub afterwards and an excellent meal in a Greek Taverna.

Jean-Luc Godard: Hollande should nominate Marine Le Pen Prime Minister.

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Godard Now Prefers Marine Le Pen.

David Thompson once commented that Jean-Luc Godard, the celebrated, and once leftist, cinéaste was fated to remain a “Young Turk” all his life.

Now approaching his dotage Godard still feels the need to make provocative statements.

Interviewed at length in yesterday’s Le Monde and asked about the European election results he announced,

J’espérais que le Front national arriverait en tête. Je trouve que Hollande devrait nommer – je l’avais dit à France Inter, mais ils l’ont supprimé – Marine Le Pen premier ministre.”

I was hoping that the Front National would come first. I find that Hollande should nominate – I said this on France Inter, but they cut it out – Marine Le Pen as Prime Minister.

Interrogé par le journal sur les raisons de cette prise de position, le réalisateur répond : “Pour que ça bouge un peu. Pour qu’on fasse semblant de bouger, si on ne bouge pas vraiment. Ce qui est mieux que de faire semblant de ne rien faire (rires)”.

Asked by the newspaper the reasons why he took this stand, the film-director responded, “To shake things up, so that we make at least some moves towards changing things, even if they don’t really do so. It’s better than pretending to do nothing.

Jean-Luc Godard continue son propos en rappelant que “le Front national avait deux sièges au Conseil national de la Résistance. A l’époque, c’était une organisation paracommuniste. N’empêche qu’elle s’appelait Front national…” 

Jean-Luc Godard continued his theme, recalling that, “The Front National had 2 seats on the National Resistance Council. At that time it was a pro-Communist organisation. Still, despite this it was called the Front National….”

L’organisation en question n’avait rien à voir avec le Front national actuel, créé en 1972 par Jean-Marie Le Pen. Ce n’est qu’une synonymie…”, font d’ailleurs remarquer les interviewers du Monde. Mais Jean-Luc Godard n’en démord pas :“Non. Si on dit que ce n’est qu’une synonymie, on reste dans les mots, pas dans les faits. C’est un fait. Vu l’importance de la nomination, et de nommer, bien sûr, que c’est une synonymie… Le premier ministre du Luxembourg s’appelle Juncker. C’était aussi le nom d’un bombardier allemand [Junkers]

The interviewers reminded him that this Front National had nothing to do with the present-day Front National, created in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, and that only the name was identical (a synonymy). Jean-Luc Godard did not back down, “No. If you say its the same word, you are stuck in words, not facts. It is a fact. Given the importance of this nomination, this is also a synonymy as well…the Prime Minister of Luxembourg is called Junker. That is also the name of the German bombers….

Le cinéaste reconnaît qu’il n’est “pas pour eux”“Il y a longtemps, Jean-Marie Le Pen avait demandé que je sois viré de France. Mais j’ai juste envie que ça bouge un peu… Les grands vainqueurs, ce sont les abstentionnistes. J’en fais partie depuis longtemps”,

The Franco-Swiss film-maker did recognise  that he was  “not one of them” (the Front National). “Jean-Marie Le Pen wanted for a long time to kick me out of France..but I simply wish that things change. The real winners (of the elections) were those who abstained, and I’ve been one of them for a long time. “

During the same interview asked about his latest film, Adieu au Langage Jean-Luc Godard further illustrated his wide culture and knowledge by asserting that the word Parole did not exist  English.

The days of Godard’s radical films, like  Le Petit Soldat (1963) , Week-end (1967), La Chinoise (1967), not to mention his involvement in the Marxist  Dziga Vertov Group, seem so distant now. 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 13, 2014 at 10:50 am

Whataboutery and Seamus Milne on Conservative Islamic Influence in Education.

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Seamus Milne Hints at Plot to Forge Trojan Horse Document.

The fallacy of relative privation, or appeal to worse problems, is an informal fallacy which attempts to suggest that the opponent’s argument should be ignored because there are more important problems in the world, despite the fact that these issues are often completely unrelated to the subject under discussion.

The word whataboutery has been used to describe this line of argument when used in protesting at inconsistent behaviour. e.g. “The British even have a term for it: whataboutery. If you are prepared to go to war to protect Libyan civilians from their government, then what about the persecuted in Bahrain?” Wikipedia.

Seamus Milne is a master of Wataboutery.

Today in the Guardian he begins an article – Michael Gove’s toxic assault on schools is based on naked discrimination – with another tactic, of ‘contextualisation’ by putting an event in terms of the worst possible context.

“The harassment of minorities on the basis of forged documents has a grim history.”

So  the official onslaught on mainly Muslim state schools in Birmingham, triggered by what has all the hallmarks of a fabricated letter outlining a supposed Islamist plot to take them over, should be cause for deep alarm.”

Left in the dark about this “history” (although we might float the words, Protocols, Elders and Zion,  around) we launch into some rhetoric before landing here,

But this extremism turns out to be a different beast from the one first trailed in lurid accusations a few months back. It is nothing to do with terrorism, or even the elastic boo-word of Islamism. The target is religious conservatism – or even just plain religiousness.

It is with interest that Milne takes so lightly criticism of Islamism (overwhelmingly from the left in countries where Islamists have murdered democrats, leftists and feminists) that he calls it a ‘boo-word’.

Milne then largely denies that there is much of a problem about the influence of conservative Islamism in schools, notes the patriotism of  Birmingham Muslims, denies that most of the reported incidents of enforcing religious norms took place, and, unable to disprove some of them admits that,

That’s not to say, of course, that there’s nothing behind the allegations, which have clearly been fed by former and current staff – or that there aren’t legitimate grievances. These are not faith schools and some have clearly pushed the schools’ religious boundaries.

He then ends with a classic whataboutery,

“There’s a powerful case for secular education. But it doesn’t exist in Britain’s schools, which are awash with religion. And unless the same rules apply to all, the result is naked discrimination.  But has Gove sent inspectors to root out anti-abortionism and homophobia in Catholic or evangelical-sponsored schools, or cultural isolation in mainly white schools where racism is rife?”

No he has not.

He has not disestablished the Church of England.

Or promoted equality and secularism.

He is a dyed-in-the-wool reactionary privatiser.

But does Milne advocate promoting the “”same rules for all”?

We await this call with interest.

This is followed by another whatabout….

But the campaign to bring to heel Birmingham’s schools and humiliate the Muslim community in the process is a wider threat in a country where war-fuelled Islamophobia is already rampant. Dog-whistling to Ukip bigotry might seem a cute electoral trick.

The problem then is not the content of the report on the schools: it’s the context in which it’s made. By this sleight of hand Milne has avoided addressing the issues

  • Is there anything wrong with the principle of religious influence in education?
  • Should the influence of conservative Islam be curtailed?
  • Should there be universal secular education?

Whatabout Iraq!

Indeed.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Le Monde on Birmingham Schools Scandal.

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Secularism Means Freedom,  Equality and Solidarity!

The infiltration of public schools in Birmingham by Islamists causes a political scandal.

Le Monde 11.6.2014. (Extracts)

Birmingham is in shock. Across the media the second city of the Kingdom is everywhere. The infiltration by Muslim extremists of six public schools in the Midlands city  has stirred up a debate not only on the evolution of British multicultural society but it has also divided the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition led by  Prime Minister David Cameron.

On Tuesday Mr Cameron announced that “The promotion of fundamental British values ​​in schools in England will have the support of all”  This followed the publication yesterday of an  explosive Ostead inspection  report on  the Islamic practices  imposed by Muslim extremists in six schools in Birmingham.

Headteachers and non-Muslims or moderate Muslim teachers were harassed. Boys and girls were separated. Calls to prayer were constantly broadcast by loudspeakers. Private detectives were hired to investigate students in order to uncover  their sexual relations and report them back to parents. The Emails of recalcitrant teachers were scrutinised. Several pilgrimages to Mecca were financed with public funds. Hard-line school governors intended to stop the teaching of music and arts . They banned a picture of Jesus in a Nativity play at Christmas.

 

*********

Four of the six public schools in the spotlight are totally autonomous “academies” , completely free from local authority control, which are in principle charged with the supervision of public institutions. This reform was launched by the Blair government reform and put an end to municipal control of education and the school curriculum. It has been  by  continued by Mr Gove. The Birmingham case highlights the risk of abuses of a  system allowing freedom for schools to manage their own functions.

 

See also:

Halte à l’islamisation des écoles !

Cri de colère de l’écrivaine palestinienne Ahlam Akram contre les écoles tenues par des intégristes à Birmingham et ailleurs.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 12, 2014 at 10:38 am

Socialist Worker Sticks Head in Sand Over Conservative Islamism and Education.

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SWP Reacts to Influence of  Conservative Islam in Education. 

It had to come.

It has come.

Socialist Worker has buried its collective head in the sand about the problems raised by the influence of conservative Islam in education.

Today we read,

A Tory clampdown on schools in Birmingham has unleashed a torrent of racist filth.

The government ordered investigations after an anonymous letter alleged a Muslim “plot” to take over schools. Right wing newspapers devoted pages to personal attacks on Muslim teachers and governors.

The paper of the SWP claims that there is no evidence for any of the Ofstead charges against Oldknow Academy.

Their proof? The Academy has issued this statement stating that the report’s claims are false.

They begin by rebutting the comment about ‘white women’ being ‘prostitutes’. Then that there were anti-Christian chants, and preaching – the list of denials is contained in this excerpt.

This is completely false and taken out of context. The word ‘prostitute’ was used
once by an ex-employee but in an entirely ‘non-offensive’ context. No member of
staff has ever used the term ‘white women were prostitutes’.“And urged to join in anti-Christian chants”

The Principal’s investigation found no evidence whatsoever of such chanting having
ever happened.
“Non-Muslims were banned from taking Friday assemblies so that
they could be “preached at”
All members of staff have access to an assembly rota. Non-Muslims are not banned
from taking Friday assemblies. No one has ever been ‘preached’ at. Assemblies would
usually have an SLT member present. However, in all faith assemblies, staff are
always present. This is the first time SLT are hearing of this.

For the writers of the Socialist Worker this must be true, one assumes, because the Academy says so.

By contrast Andrew Gilligham writes (Hat-Tip Howie’s Corner).

The evidence of “incendiary preachers at school assemblies” – Sheikh Shady al-Suleiman, an al-Qaeda sympathiser, at Park View School on November 28 2013 – in fact comes from one of the school’s official newsletters, still available on its own website (see photo above, from page 17 of this PDF).

At another of the schools, Oldknow, an official Education Funding Agency report finds that the Arabic teacher, Asif Khan, led anti-Christian chanting in assemblies (though also records his denial). I too have been told about Mr Khan’s anti-Christian assembly by four separate sources, one of themon the record. There is other on-the-record testimony that Park View’s head, Mozz Hussain, preached “mind-blowing” anti-American assemblies.

The evidence of “segregated classes” comes from both this EFA report and another one, into Park View, Nansen and Golden Hillock schools,leaked to me, which states that “teachers gave [students] seats in which to sit in class by gender to avoid having to mix” and that “students told us that they were required to sit in the places which they were given by teachers,” often with “boys sitting towards the front of the class and girls at the back or around the sides.” The relevant sections of the report are published on this blog.

At Golden Hillock, according to the EFA, non-Muslim pupils “had to teach themselves” in one subject. At Nansen, there is compulsory Arabic (in a primary school!) and no teaching of the arts for one entire year group. Nansen’s deputy head, Razwan Faraz, is administrator of a group called “Educational Activists” which also includes key staff and governors from several of the other schools and which pursues, in Mr Faraz’s words, an “Islamising agenda” in Birmingham’s schools. Park View’s chair of governors, Tahir Alam, is co-author of a document which calls for the teaching of art, drama and dance to Muslims to be restricted and Muslim girls to be veiled in school.

Even if the self-assessment from Oldknow were true, Socialist Worker does not bother to consider the evidence given above from other schools, Park View, Nansen and Golden Hillock.

Socialist Worker, in short, is peddling hysterical rubbish with no concern about the facts of the case.

Its approach is on a par indeed to the false right-wing claim that ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’ are involved.

The problem is clearly that ‘conservative Islam’  has influenced  some schools in Birmingham.

Unable to deal with the issues this raises, from gender equality, and the shutting down of open-minded thinking, not to mention the undue power of religious authorities, it rants about “racist hounding”.

No doubt the SWP has a unique stand on gender equality in its own organisation.

But their position is not isolated.

Socialist Unity also works by screaming at anybody who questions their support for conservative  Islam

They cynically exploit the hatred of the left for the far-right to claim that anybody who questions their position will find, Andy Newman alleges, allies in “Britain First, the BNP, Liberty GB, UKIP, AWL, EDL, SIOE, Gates of Vienna, Pam Gellar, et al.

Apparently secularism “privileges” an indigenous culture.

By not taking sides you ‘objectively’ back a particular party.

This kind of ‘objective’ ‘logic’ is well-known in Stalinist circles.

The Enlightenment, we learn on the authority of these thinkers, was a parochial western affair.

No doubt human rights are also parochial matters and not universal. The Sharia is just one cultural ‘option’ and who are ‘we’ to criticise it from the West?

Newman and his side-kick John Wight have been compressively demolished by Nick Wright, Sandy and Francis King, not to mention Sarah AB on Harry’s Place.

The counter-argument can be summarised: secular education,  is, as Jaurès saw it, marked the absence of religious, or other, dogma. The role of the state is to make sure that individual doctrines, faiths or otherwise, do not get between students and the full range of ideas. That each student should be educated in an environment of equality, where religion plays no part in making the rules.

As the socialist Jaurès said,

The day that socialists come to found schools, I consider that the duty of the teacher would be, if I may say, to never pronounce even the word socialism in front of the children .  Pour la Laïque (1910)

We should stand for universal values of free-thought, free-inquiry, and critical education without the interference of religious dogma.

No word about that from the SWP.

Instead Socialist Worker froths at the mouth at the entirely reasonable statements made by Labour’s Shadow Education Minister  Tristram Hunt,

The Labour Party leadership’s response to the row has been despicable.

It didn’t call for an end to the racist scapegoating of Muslims or a defence of teachers and governors.

Instead Labour condemned the Tories for not witch hunting more.

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said schools had been “skewed to prevent a broad and balanced education”.

He claimed there was “gender discrimination” in schools and that children were being “exposed to extremist views”.

It would be interesting to hear Labour candidate Andy Newman’s comments on his party’s stand on this issue.

Update (Hat-Tip LS).

“Teachers forced out of schools at the centre of the Trojan Horse allegations have been gagged by the authorities.

At least 12 senior staff – most of them heads – were banned from speaking out as part of their six-figure pay-off deals, it emerged last night.

Some claim they were bullied, intimidated and threatened over the bid by extremists to target state schools in Birmingham.”

“Local MP Khalid Mahmood called on the Government and council to ensure that former staff would be released from the gagging clauses.

Mr Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, said: ‘A lot of people are still not speaking even in private because they are frightened of what may happen. “

Daily Mail. 

To those who say, that’s the Mail, will they also accuse Khalid Mahmood?

George Galloway Compares Birmingham Ofsted Report to Iraq War.

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Galloway in New Anti-War Campaign?

G · 49m

I know it’s a different league but; the Trojan Horse-shit is running out of the same stable as Iraq war. Pols/media/agencies zero in- BOOM

The “Trojan horse” hoax has morphed into an anti-Muslim witch-hunt in Birmingham which risks spreading further. Shame on those responsible

1:17 PM – 9 Jun 2014

 

Who will line up with George Galloway?

Salma Yaqoob makes this bold, but more reasonable,  claim,

She has called on Mr Gove to “listen to the voices of the children, parents and community in Birmingham”.

“We are standing up for multicultural education in this diverse city which is inclusive of all our children,” she said.

“We totally reject Ofsted’s actions and conclusions.”

There is indeed little doubt that Gove’s motivations (he supports the institutions which allow faith to intrude ever closer into education) are suspect.

He is no friend of secular freedom.

But…..

Even the Guardian’s John Harris admits,

Much as it may not have amounted to an exercise in so-called radicalisation, there are certainly questions to be asked about “an extended Islamic assembly” held at Park View in November 2013. Publicised in the school’s official literature, it was addressed by Sheikh Shady al-Suleiman, a Muslim cleric who has views running from adultery to geopolitics that a lot of people would find offensive, let alone if he was speaking at a school funded from general taxation – something politely summed up in Ofsted’s finding that “external speakers have not been vetted properly”.

And at Oldknow Primary School – another academy run by a charitable trust, the EFA found that classrooms had been segregated, with girls sitting behind boys, that there was “no evidence that governors have been chosen based on their skills”, and that “staff told us that during Friday assembly occasionally words have been used such as ‘white prostitute’ which they felt were inappropriate for young children”.

At the risk of reopening old wounds on the liberal left, for all the noise from those on the right of culture and politics, it is no good crying “witch hunt” and averting your eyes from this stuff. It should have no place in any state school, and most of it is an offence to any halfway liberal principles. It’s right to point out that there are other state-funded schools which engage in comparable philosophies and practices most of them clustered in the so-called faith sector, but that should not absolve the state schools currently under the spotlight.

The flaw in official  ‘multiculturalism’ is that is that is based on an uncritical acceptance of  ‘difference’.

Such as the views of Sheikh Shady al-Suleiman and gender segregation.

In this context far from being liberal or left-wing it is an apology for reinforcing fixed cultural and religious identities.

We might say no tolerance for the intolerant!

The Guardian Editorial contains one good section,

This is not to say that the problems Ofsted uncovered in Birmingham were not potentially serious, only to dispute the notion that they are uniquely Muslim. Indeed, if the most damning individual details from across all 21 schools inspected are picked out and lumped together – youngsters hearing about “white prostitutes” in assemblies, private investigators snooping on staff emails – it is possible to paint a very frightening picture indeed, as Mr Gove did in the House. But if what the Guardian saw on the inside of the now infamous Park View academy last month is any guide, the overall picture is different.

It then descends into the habitual Guardian liberal meandering: on the one hand….. on the other…

Faith schools have been a fact on the ground since the Victorian beginnings of state education. Education with a religious flavour is sometimes very good, but disputes between clerics and pious parents on the one hand and politicians and academics on the other about what teachers should teach are inevitable. What seems to be emerging in Birmingham is not a plot to instil jihadist values, but a more familiar tussle between “rational” and religious teaching, in the novel context of non-Christian faith. But where politicians could set boundaries and guide communities calmly through a new form of a familiar dilemma, they scream in panic.

Charges of ‘extremism’ have muddied the waters: the real issue is the role of religion in education.

Instead of British values and any faith whatsoever, education should be based on universal values, of freedom, critical thinking, and the development of every student’s abilities.

If that sounds a bit goody-two-shoes, than Cameron’s call for schools to teach respect for British “institutions” sounds frankly idiotic.

Secularism Against Religious influence in Schools, from Birmingham to Islamabad.

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Park View School in Birmingham

Government’s response worst possible one.

“Le jour où les socialistes pourraient fonder des écoles, je considère que le devoir de l’instituteur serait, si je puis ainsi dire, de ne pas prononcer devant les enfants le mot même de socialisme.”

The day that socialists come to found schools, I consider that the duty of the teacher would be, if I may say, to never pronounce even the word socialism in front of the children .

Jean Jaurès Pour la Laïque January. 1910 Chambre des Députés.

The problem with the Ofsted report into a cluster of schools in Birmingham and the role Islamist extremists is not “extremism”.

It is the influence of religion in education, and the free reign this has been given in Academies and Free Schools.

Here is what we know, at present (Monday morning), from the central findings.

The Birmingham academy trust at the centre of the so-called Trojan Horse allegations has been accused of running schools which have “taken the Islamic focus too far”.

A leaked draft report on Park View Educational Trust from the Education Funding Agency says some parts of the school curriculum are “restricted to a conservative Islamic perspective”.

It found that girls and boys had been segregated in some classes.

The trust has strongly disputed allegations of extremism.

This highly-critical report found a classroom culture in which Park View School which was not welcoming to non-Muslim pupils – even though the school is not a Muslim faith school.

It described a “madrassa curriculum” in PHSE (personal, social, health and economic) lessons and “posters written in Quranic Arabic in most of the classrooms visited”.

Staff told the inspectors that loudspeakers in the school were used to broadcast the call to prayer.

The report says there were posters in classrooms encouraging children to begin lessons with a Muslim prayer.

And there were claims of an inappropriate external speaker being brought in to talk to pupils. BBC

Some on the left will side with the schools.

They have lost their moral compass.

The subject of Jihadism has muddied the waters. But this is not about a  link between these schools and ‘extremism’. It is about the power of religious authority in education.

The worst possible response has just come from the government.

“Protecting our children is one of the first duties of government and that is why the issue of alleged Islamist extremism in Birmingham schools demands a robust response,” the prime minister said.

Cameron will chair a meeting of cabinet ministers on Monday morning to discuss the Trojan horse findings, in the wake of the public row between Michael Gove and Theresa May on the subject. Ofsted will publish the reports and then Gove will address parliament on the issue.

The Guardian has also learned that the Department for Education is investigating options to radically restructure Birmingham’s state schools in what would amount to a sweeping, city-wide shake-up of England’s largest local authority. It could lead to all the city’s schools being forced to become academies.

These measures will simply transfer religious authority to new administration.

What is at stake.

A deeper principle remains unresolved: open-minded education.

These schools, as with all faith schools that limit pluralism, close people’s minds.

The evidence is there: the schools at the centre of the report  have clearly framed their teaching in religious terms. They have created an environment constrained within faith terms. They have actively promoted one religion.

A “madrassa curriculum” is the opposite of freedom, it is narrow-minded introduction to a single point of view.

This will certainly not be solved by making schools academies, which permitted this in the first place.

What should be our reaction?

We can see one already emerging.

It is to defend these religiously influenced academies.

This is to revive the debate between secularists, like  Jaurès  and his opponents,defenders of religious (Catholic) education way back before the Great War.

Some British liberals and some on the left would have sided with the far-right  Maurice Barrès who spoke against Jean Jaurès during the 1910 debate.

Barrès argued that religion was an integral part of French culture and the basis of humanism. He defended it against “rootless” secularism.

He evoked, as some British liberals and leftists do, the contribution of faith to morality and its cultural importance.

Jaurès replied that Barrès seemed to take everything, even the French cathedrals, as  support for his personal standpoint.

We will no doubt hear the same arguments from those backing the Birmingham schools.

What is the answer?

How is the state to be involved in education?

Not by making them academies, which, to repeat, created the opportunity for religious forces in the first place.

Comrade Jaurès had the response.

Secularism means freedom from imposing any doctrine in education, even his socialism.

It is to encourage the use of people’s own reason.

“Proudhon l’a dit avec force : l’enfant a le droit d’être éclairé par tous les rayons qui viennent de tous les côtés de l’horizon, et la fonction de l’Etat, c’est d’empêcher .l’interception d’une partie de ces rayons.”

Proudhon said emphatically: the child has the right to be enlightened by every beam of light coming from every quarter. The role of the State is to prevent any one of these rays being filtered out.

 

French Front National, Eurasianism and Putin’s Russia.

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Pro-Putin French Far-Right.

This appeared in Le Monde yesterday.

Moscow-Paris-Vienna : the meetings and acquaintances of Aymeric Chauprade, Adviser of Marine Le Pen

Le Monde.  (Adapted Extracts)

The Eurodeputy for the Front National – Rassemblement Bleu Marine (RBM), -Aymeric Chauprade (wikipedia – in English), took part in strange meeting on Saturday the 31st of May in Vienna.  (Austria)

The meeting was called under the title of the 200 years of the Holy Alliance, which brought together Imperial Russia, the Austrian Empire, and the Prussian kingdom.

The event was organised by the the Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, who is linked to Ukrainian separatists in  Donetsk in the Ukraine.

According to the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger,  this get-together was held to discuss how to save  Europe from liberalism (economic and political) and the “homosexual lobby”.

Those present included  Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the far-right Austrian  FPÖ  (allies of  Marine Le Pen),  and  Volen Siderov of the Bulgarian extreme-right party  Ataka  (with whom Le Pen refuses to work).

The most striking guest was Aleksandr Gelyevich Dugin  Putin’s éminence grise  and Eurasian ideologue. (1)

M. Chauprade has already worked with the most radical wing of the Pro- Putin forces.

During the Crimean referendum in Crimea he was an observer for a NGO linked to Eurasian ideas, the Eurasian Observatory for Democracy and Elections (EODE) (2).

This body is led by  Luc Michel, European National Communitarian Party (ENCP) (3), a red-brown groupuscule  that continues the work of the neo-fascist Jean Thiriart.

The EODE  observers came from diverse quarters, from the Greek Communist Party (KKE) Die Linke, Forza italia (qui  the Flemish far-right, Vlaams Belaang  and  Enrique Ravello of  Plataforma per Catalunya.  The latter had been a member of the  Cedade,  a grouping of Spanish neo-Nazis.

References from Wikipedia.

(1) Aleksandr Gelyevich Dugin (RussianАлекса́ндр Ге́льевич Ду́гин, born 7 January 1962) is a Russian political scientisttraditionalist, and one of the most popular ideologists of the creation of a Eurasian empire that would be against the “North Atlantic interests”. He is known for his fascist views,[1][2][3][4] and had close ties to the Kremlin and Russian military.[5] Dugin serves as an adviser to State Duma speaker (and key member of the ruling United Russiaparty) Sergei Naryshkin.[6]

(2) Eurasian Observatory for Democracy and Elections (EODE) is a Russia-based far-right non-governmental organization which on its website claims that it monitors elections.[1][2] According to its website, it specializes in the “self-proclaimed republics” (AbkhaziaTransdnistriaNagorno-Karabakh).[3][1] It is led by the Belgian far-right activist Luc Michel.[4] EODE’s other leader is Jean-Pierre Vandersmissen. Both Michel and Vandermissen are followers of the Belgian Neo-Nazi politician Jean-François Thiriart.[5][6][7]

According to Oliver Bullough, on its website the organization stated that “it shares the values of “the current Russian leadership and V.V. Putin.””[8]

EODE visited Crimea during the 2014 Crimean referendum international observer team and claimed that the referendum was conducted in a legitimate manner.[9][10]

The organization has offices in Moscow, Paris, Brussels, Sochi and Chișină

(3)The Parti communautaire national-européen (PCN) is a Belgium-based political organisation led by Luc Michel, a former member of the Neo-Nazi FANE party. A largely National Bolshevik movement, it also has activists in France.[1]

The PCN was founded in 1984 as a successor to the similar Parti Communautaire Européen. The party bases its ideas on those of Jean-François Thiriart,[1] who served as an advisor to Michel for a time after the foundation of the group, and seeks the creation of a single European state stretching entity from Russia to the Atlantic coast. Including activists with origins on both the far right and far left, it seeks to liberate Europe from its ‘Yankee and Zionist enemies’.[2] Its founding membership included both those whose background was neo-fascism and former Maoists.[3] It has also been noted for giving support to controversial world leaders, most notably Iraq‘s Saddam Hussein and Libya‘s Muammar al-Gaddafi.[4] It also declared its support for ecologism.[5] According to Eric Rossi PCN belongs to a strand of the Francophone far right that he identifies as “ethno-differentialist revolutionary nationalism”, in which he also includes Nouvelle Résistance, Groupe Union Défense, Troisième voie and Groupement de recherche et d’études pour la civilisation européenne. He contrasts this with the “exclusivist nationalists” (as represented by Œuvre française) and the “supremacist racialist nationalists” (Fédération d’action nationale et européenne and Parti nationaliste français et européen), although including all three groups within a wider model of neo-fascism.[6]

The party has, from time to time, contested elections in Belgium and France (without securing elected office), although at the last Belgian elections they told their supporters to vote for the Vlaams Belang.

Comment.

It is becoming clearer what Searchlight and Gerry Gable are talking about.

Don’t Defend the Big Issue: John Bird is no friend of the Unemployed and Backs Workfare.

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Workfare Backing Bird at the launch of a Big Society initiative 

The Big Issue claims that its mission is this,

The Big Issue offers people who are homeless the opportunity to earn their own money; a livelihood.

Now its founder, John Bird (MBE) faces a challenge.

Iain Duncan Smith has said the magazine sold by the homeless, the Big Issue, is being used by immigrants to claim benefits.”

Following a speech on welfare policy in Berlin, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith was quoted in the Times newspaper as having referred to the Big Issue magazine while discussing the issue of benefit tourism.

Mr Duncan Smith praised the magazine, saying it was “a brilliant idea by a brilliant individual, who himself was homeless.”

However he added: “But actually what is happening progressively, more and more, is people mostly from southern and eastern Europe have actually ended up being Big Issue sellers and they claim, as self-employed, immediately, tax credits.”

The government also said the new earnings threshold would “help ensure that benefits only go to those who are genuinely working”, and that it was being introduced “as part of the government’s long-term plan to cap welfare and reduce immigration.”

Of the 3,500 vendors currently registered by the Big Issue, 25 per cent are Romanian or Roma, 66 per cent British and the remainder other nationalities.

But the Big Issue says that the average weekly earnings of its vendors are currently £47.10 – well below the minimum earnings threshold to qualify for in-work benefits.

Defending himself founder of the Big Issue said,

The Big Issue was set up to lift people into work and reduce the chance of people in need ever to resort to wrong doing. By giving people a hand-up rather than a hand-out it is providing a real and ongoing cost saving for the taxpayer.”  Channel Four.

Before anybody starts defending the Big Issue remember this.

Here is the reason unemployed activists loath it from the bottom of their hearts,

The best way to defend the benefit system is to remove the rotten part of it. The part that takes able-bodied people and turns them into kids waiting around for the arrival of their pocket money.

And with 85% of our prison system full of people from a workless background, you can see that these kids can get into trouble.

Since 1991 when I set up The Big Issue I have tried to get people back working rather than begging or wrongdoing.

I believe that work, any kind of work, is better than hanging around waiting for something to drop into your lap. As an ex-offender, beggar, rough sleeper and heavy drinker, I can say that it isn’t much of a life.

Yet many well-intentioned liberally minded people defend the right of people to live an often defeated life. A life where their health and mental wellbeing is destroyed. Simply because we give people a handout rather than a hand up.

I have stood against the growing use of benefits that stop people building a life for themselves. Why is it that the amount of people who are on benefit who get to our top colleges is less than 1%? How is it that many of the children whose families are trapped on benefit do poorly at school?

Why? Because benefit does not help them. It is dressed up to look like a social support system but is in fact like a big brick wall built around people who desperately need support to get out of poverty.

The benefit system needs to change. It cannot be an endless alternative to work. It has to come with strings attached. People on benefit must help people in the community who need our help – the old, the disabled and the needy.

So Bird is in favour of Workfare.

He is also in favour of his own nice littler earner.

On television  Bird went so far as to suggest that he was helping stop criminality (that is, amongst Roma migrants) by giving them work.

One might ask what that has to do with homelessness.

Some people think that the main objective of the Big Issue is to sustain its own business.

This is this individual’s political background,

A member of the Workers Revolutionary Party in the 1970s,  in March 2007 he announced his intention to stand for election to the post of Mayor of London as an independent candidate.  In May 2007 he unveiled his election manifesto for the 2008 poll.

In October 2007 he announced that he had decided not to stand for election, and was instead going to launch a movement that was “going to try and do what the CND did over the bomb, but over social injustice.”

In December 2007 he agreed with Westminster Council who declared that they were opposed to the presence of soup kitchens on the streets of London. He said:

We have to stop supplying people with the means of being emergency refugees on the streets… no one has ever got off the streets simply because they’ve been fed a good bowl of soup.[9]

In 2010 he helped to launch the writers website abctales.com

In the early 21st century, Bird became a Social Enterprise Ambassador. Social enterprises use a business to address a social or environmental need. The Social Enterprise Ambassadors programme is led by the Social Enterprise Coalition and is supported by the Office of the Third Sector, part of the UK government’s Cabinet Office.

Bird revealed in 2010 “My guilty secret is that I’m really a working class Tory. There, I’ve said it. I’d love to be a liberal because they’re the nice people but it’s really hard work – I can’t swallow their gullibility and I think their ideas are stupid. I’d love to be someone who wanders around in a kind of Utopian paradise seeing only the good in everybody but I just can’t. I support capital punishment for a start. I know this will destroy my reputation among middle-class liberals but I’m 64 now and I should be able to breathe a bit. Wearing the corsetry of liberalism means that every now and then you have to take it off. Wikipedia.

 Nobody should defend this self-promoting right-wing  charlatan. 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 6, 2014 at 10:54 am

Two Views on the Ukraine and Fascism.

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Packed meeting in London to launch the campaign in Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine

Posted on June 3, 2014by 

 

Over 150 people packed the meeting room in London on June 2 to hear speakers and discuss the launching of the campaign in Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine.

 

The speakers were Richard Brenner from the campaign, Lindsey German from Counterfire, Boris Kagarlitsky from the (Institute for globalization studies and social movements (IGSO), Moscow) who joined via Skype as he had been unable to get a visa, Andrew Murray from the Communist Party of Britain, Alan Woods from Socialist Appeal and the International Marxist Tendency and Sergei Kirichuk from the socialist organisation Borotba in Ukraine who also spoke over a Skype call.

 

The speakers explained different aspects involved in the crisis in Ukraine, the role of US and EU imperialism, the recruitment of fascist gangs into the National Guard, how the conflict is a social and class based one rather than one based on language or ethnicity, the support of the British government for the Ukrainian authorities, the presence of far right and openly fascist elements within the Kiev government, the participation of British troops in joint NATO exercises in Ukraine, the role of the oligarchs, the attacks against the Communist Party and other left wing organisations (having their offices burnt down and ransacked, their members persecuted, threats of banning), mutinies in the Ukraine army, etc. All speakers stressed that support for the anti-fascist resistance did not at all mean support for Putin More here.

 

*******

 

Searchlight Warning to anti-fascists invited to meeting at SOAS

Published on Sunday, 01 June 2014 23:28
Written by Gerry Gable (S

The so-called Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine has called a meeting on the evening of Monday 2 June at SOAS. The British left and anti-fascist movement has been canvassed to take part. The warning below, which exposes these political crooks, comes from genuine anti-fascists in Ukraine.

 

President Putin’s media Trojan Horse, the Russia Today TV station, presents as commentators Nazis from Germany and the UK, and people involved in the far-right LaRouche cult group without explaining who they really are. Over the past few weeks RT has featured Paul Weston from the tiny Islamophobic Liberty GB party, who has been associated with the English Defence League. Weston was described on screen as a civil rights activist.

 

Also on was Manuel Ochsenreiter, editor of Zuerst!, a glossy German Nazi magazine.

 

Then came the man from LaRouche’s international Executive Intelligence Newsletter, the happy hunting ground of several intelligence services. This is the group responsible for the death in 2003 of the British student Jeremiah Duggan in Germany, a death that will be subject to a new inquest in the North London Coroner’s Court next February.

 

Our comrade who has written the paragraphs that follow, is one of the most experienced investigators of what really goes on in Moscow and  Kiev. He expresses his sorrow, as do I, about the way part of the British and European left are being manipulated by these enemies of the true anti-fascist struggle.

 

The so-called “Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine” is simply a scam. Borotba, which “represents” the Ukrainian side (their guy will address the meeting on Skype), is a fake left-wing organisation the representatives of which are now travelling across Europe to get funding for their dodgy activities. No decent left-wing group in Ukraine is cooperating with them.

 

This is very much worth reading: http://avtonomia.net/2014/03/03/statement-left-anarchist-organizations-borotba-organization/ At the same time, Borotba has been cooperating with the so-called “Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine”.

 

Its leader, Natalya Vitrenko, is a long-time associate of LaRouche: ttp://schillerinstitute.org/lar_related/2009/lyn_russia_antiglob.html http://www.larouchepub.com/pr/2014/140407_vitrenko_appeal.html Borotba also supports the self-proclaimed Donetsk People Republic, the “constitution” of which proclaims an authoritarian clerical regime. It’s really painful to see that so many people fall victim of the idiotic propaganda.

 

Comment.

The name LaRouche should send alarm bells ringing.

 

I will just cite this (there are thousands of pages on the Net about him) about this creature, ” Why is LaRouche considered a crank in some circles? Consider the following tidbits drawn from numerous similar statements over 30 years. According to LaRouche, The Beatles (who “had no genuine musical talent”) were created by the “British Psychological Warfare Division” and promoted “by agencies which are controlled by British intelligence.”

 

Furthermore, the Queen of England and the British royal family run the global drug trade. 37 LaRouche asks: “Who is pushing the world toward war?” It is “the forces behind the World Wildlife Fund, the Club of Rome, and the heritage of H.G. Wells and the evil Bertrand Russell.”38 Having a hard time as a political activist? LaRouche has the cure! He is “confident and capable of ending your political-and sexual-impotence; the two are interconnected aspects of the same problem….I am going to make you organizers…by taking your bedrooms away from you….I shall destroy your sense of safety….” From here.

Borotba strongly deny these claims,

We firmly follow internationalist antifascist and class line as our basic stance. We are against both Russian and Ukrainian nationalisms that are being used now only for dividing working class and further plundering of the country. We do not back Russian nationalist organizations as well as Ukrainian ones. All the smear campaign of our organization led by far-right groups and caught up by some admittedly ‘left’ groups will not stop us to organize anti-fascists resistance.

No Pasaran!

No gods, no masters, no nations, no borders!

Workers of all countries – unite!

This does not answer all the assertion about their links with the “Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine”, LaRouche’s outfit.

But…

It is very painful to see good comrades fall out on this.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 4, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Tariq Ramadan suggests Brussels may be lying about Jewish Museum Shooting

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Tariq Ramadan transforme les victimes israéliennes au Musée juif en instrument d’un complot

“Both tourists targeted in Brussels were working for the Israeli secret service according to Le Soir

BERNARD SCHALSCHA

Brussels May Be Lying About Museum Shootings, Professor Claims

Tariq Ramadan Claims Victims Were Israeli Secret Agents

Tariq Ramadan is Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford. He  was part of the meeting of Foreign Office group on Freedom of Religion or Belief in March this year to discuss vision and strategy chaired by Baroness Warsi.

For a serious account see of the killings Le Soir 

Gilles Kepel: «Le profil de Medhi Nemmouche ressemble à celui de Merah»

He compares the acused to Merah  who during his killing spree in 2012 killed 3  Jewish Children in Toulouse.

Entretien avec Gilles Kepel, spécialiste de l’islam.

Strangely enough the so-called plot does not get mentioned.

But we notice that after the Toulouse shooting this ‘professor’ and ‘adviser on freedom of religion’ became embroiled in another controversy: see  White-Washing Anti-Semitism after the Toulouse Attacks.

This is his latest claim: on Facebook.

“ASSASSINATS DE BRUXELLES

Les deux touristes visés à Bruxelles travaillaient pour les services secrets israéliens selon Le Soir et d’autres sources qui se recoupent. Le gouvernement ne commente pas. Par hasard. S’agit-il d’antisémitisme ou de manoeuvre de diversion quant aux vrais motifs et aux exécutants? On condamne les assassinats d’innocents et tous les racismes, sans exception, mais il faut aussi cesser de nous prendre pour des imbéciles.

Comments on the site include: 

” Ils ont même pris le pouvoir en France. Je cite Manuel Valls : “Les juifs de France sont plus que jamais à l’avant garde de la République”… Ca veut tout dire quand à leurs intentions.”

” Car ils sont riche et ils savent s’imposer et surtout ils ont des objectifs et un esprit d’appartenance.”

Here are some of the commentaries captured from Ramandan’s Facebook Page which seem to have ‘disappeared’  taken from here.

Capture-Ramadan-2

Written by Andrew Coates

June 2, 2014 at 12:05 pm

“Race play” Seymour Wades into Tower Hamlets Debate.

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Richard Seymour Advises  on Tower Hamlets Politics.

The story of Lutfur Rahman is a democratic success story. The fact that it seems dodgy to the political and media classes is indicative of how long they’ve been insulated from anything resembling real democracy.

By Richard Seymour  and Ashok Kumar  (a PhD student of Economic Geography at Oxford University. He lives in Tower Hamlets in east London.)

Compare and contrast,

The Independent.

One thing is clear, though: the Mayor is not a racist. “I grew up with black kids and white kids,” he sobbed. “I grew up with Jewish kids, Christian kids, people of no faith.”

Yet while Mr Rahman can’t take it when he’s accused of racism, some of his supporters seem happy to dish it out.

Here, for example, are comments from one supporter’s Facebook page, adorned with pictures of the Mayor: “Zionists are the root cause of all the evil on this planet right now Zionists are filthy animals with total depravity of any form of decent humanity.

“Behaviour of those who are descendants of Pigs and Monkeys (Zionist). Zionist filth!”

He is the first mayor to fund faith directly from local taxes, which some Bangladeshis themselves believe is potentially divisive.

Although money is going to synagogues and churches, so far most applicants have been mosques since Muslims are by far the most active faith group in the borough.

Lutfur Rahman is also the only mayor who has given grants to the media – over £50,000 to Bangla TV stations and newspapers whose coverage has been flattering; and to run a weekly council newspaper which the Government says has constantly promoted him and his party; and to create a logo using not just his name but also his photo – even on council dust carts.

“One of the most controversial councils in the country is facing an investigation by the Electoral Commission, after a local election vote count was finally competed Tower Hamlets in east London after five days of delays.”

Most people would have thought that Seymour would have shut up about these issues since his dispute about Race Play (see Sex, Power Play, and Trotskyism)

Most people would have considered that Seymour would have taken our kindly meant advice and done this,

“I shall eat grass and die in a ditch in the brown water where dead leaves have rotted”.

Apparently not.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 31, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Sudanese woman sentenced to death for being a Christian: Back Amnesty Campaign.

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Back Amnesty Campaign to Stop Execution..

Sudanese woman sentenced to death for being a Christian: Is this a modern day witch hunt?

Meriam Ibrahim is on death row in Sudan for refusing to renounce Christianity. Hannah Strange explores what’s really going on.

Of all the places one does not want to fall foul of religious diktats, Sudan ranks fairly high on the list. While in much of the Middle East and North Africa, apostasy – the act of abandoning one’s faith – is deemed to be a criminal act, Sudan counts as one of few countries which regard it as a mortal sin.

More by Hannah Strange here.

It is urgent that we back this campaign.

Amnesty International UK

STOP EXECUTION OF MOTHER IN SUDAN

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim has been sentenced to death for ‘apostasy’, or refusing to renounce her Christian faith. Meriam is imprisoned with her newborn baby girl and her 20-month-old son.

Meriam has also been sentenced to 100 lashes for being married to a Christian man. She is a prisoner of conscience. Ask Sudan to release her.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 30, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Morning Star and Socialist Party: We wuz wrong.

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“Right arses” Says Robert Griffiths

With  the historic votes for No2EU at  31,757 (0.2%) (-121,479, 0.9%) the Communist party of Britain and the Socialist Party issued the following declaration.

Peter Taaffe, of the Socialist Party said, “We wuz wrong”.

Robert Griffiths of the Communist Party of Britain added,

“We made right arses of ourselves standing on the No2EU Platform”.

Further comment is unnecessary.

But…..

In the 18th arrondisment of Paris the CCA (Comités communistes pour l’autogestion (CCA ) got 0 (zero) votes in the 1981 legislative elections.

The bloke standing did not even vote for himself.

The SP and CPB have yet to reach thishistoric benchmark.     

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 28, 2014 at 9:57 am

Spain: some good results for the Left.

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¡Ay Carmela

Good results for us lot in Spain.

The big story of the night were the many smaller parties. Newcomers Podemos (We Can), a political movement that emerged from Spain’s indignados, earned 7.9% of the vote, enough for 5 seats.

“We can’t talk about the end, but we can talk about the beginning of the end of bipartisanship. We have to throw them out because they’re the one who have ruined the country,” Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias told journalists on hearing the results.

The leftwing coalition United Left increased their seats from 2 to 6 while the Union, Progress and Democracy went from 1 to 4 seats.

Guardian. 

More:

Un político de izquierdas para la televisión de masas

Written by Andrew Coates

May 27, 2014 at 9:33 am

Fascism Stalks Europe.

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La une du "Bild" dimanche 25 mai.

C’est la revanche de Vichy!

Marine Le Pen’s confidence vindicated by Front National election triumph

FN leader claims ‘the people have spoken’, as far-right party polls an historic 25% of votes in the European elections

ABSTENTION : 57,0 %

24 sièges 24.95 % FN
20 sièges 20.79 % UMP
13 sièges 13.98 % PS – PRG
7 sièges 9.9 % UDI-MoDem
6 sièges 8.91 % EELV
3 sièges 6.34 % Front de Gauche
3.82 % Debout la République
2.9 % Nouvelle Donne
8.41 % Autre

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 26, 2014 at 9:42 am

Socialists in Local Elections: TUSC Goes Ever Downwards

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Does Less Well than ‘Lambertist’ rivals.

There is a strange group in France, commonly known as the Lambertists, the  Parti ouvrier indépendant, POI,  who have been  standing in elections  for a very, very,  long time.

They get derisory votes.

But they do have a few councillors (basically the equivalent of Parish members).

In fact they got over 40 in the last municipal elections (always bearing in mind that these ‘councillors’ represent in many cases communes with three inhabitants and a cat).

TUSC (who are part of rival Trotsykist  tradition) sees to have joined this doomed path.

Great TUSC victory in Southampton

Keith Morrell has re-won his council seat Coxford, standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). Keith was previously kicked out of the Labour Party for fighting against cuts.

He has been decisively re-elected with 1,654 votes, 43%. This is a great result and vindication for his stand, alongside fellow rebel councillor Don Thomas, in opposing all cuts.

Ukip came second with 796 votes, Labour third with 724 votes, the Tories fourth with 500 votes, and Lib Dems last with 168.

The result has lit up the idea that fighting councillors can help build support for a real alternative to austerity. It is in sharp contrast to the close shave for Labour council leader Simon Letts who nearly lost his seat to Ukip after two years of implementing Tory cuts.

The devil is in the detail as they admit from the figures for 100 candidates they got a round total of ….

 50,000 votes.

Do the maths baby.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 25, 2014 at 10:39 am

Congratulations to Ipswich Labour!

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Hats off to Ipswich Labour Party!

Ipswich: Labour wins two Tory seats after the town goes to the polls for borough council election

Labour won two seats from the Conservatives during the election for 17 councillors, one in each of the town’s 16 wards and a by-election in Alexandra.

Whitton and Rushmere were the two wards switching from blue to red.

And despite big UKIP votes in some wards, including Bridge, Castle Hill and Gainsborough, they were unable to secure a council seat.

EADT

Labour worked extremely hard in these elections.

The won on the basis of the good record as a Borough Council – ranging from their widely acknowledged competence, standing for the majority of the people in the town.

There have been no devastating cuts.

They have begun to build new Council Housing.

Their backing for the Living Wage, their anti-racism  (march against the EDL), to policies, such as their opposition to Workfare, have solidified good links with the labour movement, unions, and to the broad progressive  constituency.

Further remarks.

Just to give an example of things have changed politically in the UK.

This is where Tendance Coatesy lives by the centre of town (we call it a town, but  in most English speaking countries it would be called a City).

Alexandra (first two elected): John Cook (Labour) 935, Jane Riley (Labour ) 917, Jose Esteves (UKIP) 444, Mark Felix-Thomas (Conservatives) 400, James White (Green) 390, Alex Hopkins (Conservatives) 331, Robert Chambers (Liberal Demcrats) 215, Andrew Houseley (Liberal Democrats) 180. Maj: 18. Turnout: 33.58%. No change.

Notes.

UKIP beat the Tories.

The Green beat one of the Tories and both of the Liberal Democrats.

This pattern was repeated with the exception of St Margaret’s where the Liberal Democrats (aka the St Margaret’s Residents’ Association) clung on.

Further Notes:

There were no candidates standing from TUSC and other left parties, or from the Galloway communalists.

This is because most (not all) of the left in Ipswich works well with Ipswich Labour – which naturally represents a far larger constituency.

We might have our differences on this or that, but we consider in unity there is strength.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 23, 2014 at 11:38 am

Vote for a New Prince Charles!

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Royal Expert on the Ukrainian crisis.

One election not taking place today is that of heir to the throne.

Yet his political views have grabbed the headlines.

Prince Charles has reportedly compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler over his actions in Ukraine.

In a flash of royal diplomacy worthy of his father’s famous gaffes, Charles had blundered far beyond his usual “meddling” interventions in architecture, the environment and medicine into a simmering international conflict.

The Russian embassy in London has demanded talks with the Foreign Office over Prince Charles‘s comparison of Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. (Guardian.)

Most people realise that Charles is an opinionated loud-mouth whose views are a mixture of  Gaia  spirituality, support for homoeopathy and as many other crank ideas as you could stuff in a tin of  Duchy of Cornwell biscuits. (1)

Now he has been caught out indulging in one of the oldest British political games: comparing somebody whose politics you don’t like to that them there ‘itler.

We suggest we have a vote on our next head of state.

In the meantime Vote for a New Prince Charles.

(1) In case non UK readers do not believe me See:  A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales titled Islam and the Environment, Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. 2010.

all sense of reverence for the Earth which is an inseparable element in an integrated and spiritually grounded tradition like Islam – just as it was once firmly embedded in the philosophical heritage of Western thought. The Stoics of Ancient Greece, for instance, held that “right knowledge,” as they called it, is gained by living in agreement with Nature, where there is a correspondence or a sympathy between the truth of things, thought and action. They saw it as our duty to achieve an attunement between human nature and the greater scheme of the Cosmos.

This incidentally is also the teaching of Judaism. The Book of Genesis says that God placed Mankind in the garden “to tend it and take care of it,” to serve and conserve it for the sake of future generations. “Adamah” in Hebrew means “the one hewn from the Earth,” so Adam is a child of the Earth. In my own tradition of Christianity, the immanence of God is made explicit by the incarnation of Christ. But let us also not forget that throughout the Christian New Testament, Christ often refers to Himself as “the Son of Man” which, in Hebrew, is “Ben Adam.” He, too, is a “son of the Earth,” surely making the same explicit connection between human nature and the whole of Nature.

Even the apocryphal Gnostic texts are imbued with the same principle. The fragments of one of the oldest, ascribed to Mary Magdalene, instructs us that “Attachment to matter gives rise to passion against Nature. Thus, trouble arises in the whole body; this is why I tell you; be in harmony.” In all cases the message is clear. Our specific purpose is to “earth” Heaven. So, to separate ourselves within an inner darkness, leads to what the Irish poet, WB Yeats, warned of at the start of the Twentieth Century. “The falcon cannot hear the falconer,” he wrote, “things fall apart and the centre cannot hold.”

The traditional way of life within Islam is very clear about the “centre” that holds the relationship together. From what I know of its core teachings and commentaries, the important principle we must keep in mind is that there are limits to the abundance of Nature. These are not arbitrary limits, they are the limits imposed by God and, as such, if my understanding of the Qu’ran is correct, Muslims are commanded not to transgress them.

Respect Allies Turn to Tories for Religious Beliefs and Needs.

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Conservative   Home asks,

“Is it Conservative to believe that “the Islamic state is the greatest contribution to humanity”?

They report on events in Newham, ,

” in which local Conservatives have issued a leaflet aimed at what it describes as “the Muslim community” which has been translated into Urdu, Gujurati and Bengali.

The fourth of the leaflet’s ten pledges is “respect for religious beliefs and needs when making planning decisions, while point eight is “opposition to any further betting shops in Newham”.

At least one of the Tory candidates running in the council elections will endorse this view wholeheartedly.  He is Mufti Shah Sadruddin, who has called for a Muslim political identity.

“We have to create a revolution for our rights,” he is recorded as saying. “The gays can get their rights…but when Islam is being abused we can’t even save it. We have 50 million Muslims in Europe, we are good for nothing. The Jewish community, they have their anti-Semitism, they have this Holocaust. The gays got these gay rights but any Tom, Dick, Harry can make a movie, Satanic Verses…but we are 1.5 billion Muslims but we are not politically powerful. Block the roads of Newham just like Tahrir Square.”

Other statements by Sadruddin reportedly include the following: “Even Britain has a blasphemy law.  We are sleeping, brothers…The greatest threat to Islam is through the removal of Islamic politics. The Islamic state is the greatest contribution to humanity. Only politics can unite the Muslim Ummah [brotherhood]. Politics is the tool which can unite the Muslims and the Ummah.”  Shah reportedly organised and was certainly present at a rally for George Galloway last year.  Two other Conservative council candidates in Newham are former candidates for Respect.

The Express adds, 

 An ISLAMIST leader of the campaign to build a “mega mosque” near Britain’s Olympic Stadium is standing as a Tory in this month’s council elections

 Mufti Shah Sadruddin, who believes in the notion of Islamic states, has no known previous links to the Tories, and has been an enthusiastic supporter of Respect MP George Galloway.

The Conservative party in the east London borough has also selected two other candidates who have previously stood for socialist Respect..

 

From Here.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 20, 2014 at 10:32 am

DSK to sue over Welcome to New York (film).

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn "été mis hors de cause, il ne supporte pas (d'être traité de violeur)", a indiqué son avocat, Jean Veil.

“Fantasme antisémite” says Le Monde.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is to sue for defamation the makers of Welcome to New York – the scandal-struck film that is the talk of the Cannes festival – saying it contains “accusations of rape”.

The disgraced former International Monetary Fund chief’s lawyer has apparently not seen the film, which comes with a legal disclaimer but whose main character – played by Gérard Depardieu – has undeniable parallels with DSK, as he is known.

However, Jean Veil, his lawyer, told Europe1 radio on Monday that his client was “disgusted” by the movie and had asked him to file a complaint for defamation because of “the accusations and insinuations of rape throughout the film”.

Describing it as “intolerable” Mr Veil said: “We have the right to fiction, but not the right to accuse.

“DSK like everyone has the right to be forgotten,” he added.

Reports the Telegraph.

Gérard Depardieu * is probably one of the few people in the world I dislike almost as much as Nigel Farage.

Le monde reports,

Le Monde, qui avait pu voir le film, avait pointé un passage qui « verse dans le fantasme antisémite » – Le Figaro, de son côté, a dénoncé ensuite « un antisémitisme nauséabond ».

This needs no translation.

 

*” in recent years, Depardieu has attracted attention from the media and legal authorities for his behaviour  In August 2012, he was accused of assault and battery for punching a motorist in Paris.[12] In November 2012, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated after he fell from his scooter, and was found to have a blood alcohol level of 1.8 grams per litre, well above the French limit for driving of 0.5.[13]

He has been an official resident of NéchinBelgium since 7 December 2012.[14] French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayraultcriticised his move.[15] On 15 December 2012, Depardieu publicly stated he was handing back his French passport.[16][17]

 On 3 January 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an Executive Order granting Russian citizenship to Depardieu.[18] In his first interview thereafter, Depardieu attacked Putin’s critics.” (Wikipedia)

Ipswich Liberal Democrats: is This the Saddest Election leaflet ever?

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Ipswich Regent

This gaff could be yours if you vote Ipswich Liberal Democrats.

Just got a leaflet from the Ipswich Liberal Democrats.

If I could cut and paste it I would but they are not up to putting it on-Line.

Time was and they had a councillor in our ward: a certain, well he’s better off spending more time with himself and his closest friend and love partner  (as in right arm) .

So they are standing.

The leaflet spends most of its time going on about how their candidates support Ipswich Town FC.

Er, that’s about it.

If you want to read more you can see their site,

Ipswich Liberal Democrats

Working for Ipswich.

And read this.

Sir Bob’s Diary 3rd May 2014

Article: May 6, 2014

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 17, 2014 at 10:55 am