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As Greens Contemplate ‘Confidence and Supply’ Agreement with Conservatives Ipswich Green ‘Hasn’t the heart’ to Oppose Tory MP.

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Mark Ereira-Guyer

Suffolk Green Leader, Mark Ereira-Guyer ‘Hasn’t the heart’ to stand against Ipswich Tory MP.

Latest news on the Green Front,

The resurgent Green party is to target a dozen seats across England, which it believes it could either win or come close to seizing in next May’s general election, as membership rises and confidence grows that it could outpoll the Lib Dems.

……..

As the Greens have gained more media attention, Bennett has thought seriously about post-election possibilities, and what role her party might play in supporting a Tory- or Labour-led government. “I can’t imagine circumstances in which we would prop up a Tory government,” she says. “Our first inclination would be a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement, rather than a coalition, because it means you provide stable government – you don’t get the ministerial cars but you keep your conscience and you don’t have to vote for tuition fees, for example.”

Guardian site.

The Ipswich Star reported on October the 10th,

Ipswich: Green Party candidate “hasn’t the heart” to take on MP Ben Gummer at General Election

Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of the Green and independent group on Suffolk County Council and an experienced election campaigner, was chosen earlier this year to fight for the Ipswich seat, but has now dropped out.

In a letter to the Ipswich Green Party he said his business and council commitments meant he was not able to devote enough time to fighting the seat and he wanted the party to have time to find another candidate.

….

He added: “Although I find Conservative policies odious and overly focused on free market fundamentalism, crass cost-cutting measures and ecological destitution, I am of the view that the current MP Ben Gummer is dedicated and hardworking.

“I respect his honest endeavours for the town. And, therefore, I can’t drum up sufficient energies to really take him on. I like my politics to work on a human level, and not in a tribalist way.”

“Mr Gummer was flattered to hear Mr Ereira-Guyer’s comments. He said: “I’m sorry he won’t be standing because I have a lot of time for him and I think we would have some good debates on the hustings. I hope he remains on the political scene in Suffolk.”

The Greens are due to select another candidate.

Whether this endorsement of the Ipswich Conservative candidate, or at the very least, glowing tribute, is to be followed in the rest of the country is unclear.

It would certainly smooth the way for a “confidence and supply” agreement if the Greens helped other Tories in marginals.

There are suggestions from greens that Mr Ereira-Guyer’s decision is not unrelated to the failure of the national Green Party to give the sprightly Suffolk leader the recognition he feels is consummate with his talents.

He failed to become the Party’s deputy leader.

Sources close to the Suffolk Labour Party have commented that he certainly has a high opinion of himself.

This is from the Tories’ favourite Green’s own Blog site,

We must all move from being a reckless ego-centric society to an eco-centric one. We need to ensure everyone has enough for a decent life wherever they live in the world. We should perhaps recall the adage: there is no wealth but life. We need to find a way of living where we all find joy and fulfillment in ‘enough’.

As a Councillor I will continually work to encourage and explain the kind of changes required that can meet our – and the rest of biodiversity’s – needs in a way that our current ego-centric system isn’t and simply can’t.

Many will had enough of this after the first sentence!

Ereira-Guyer also cites this,

We need to appreciate that we can and should be winning votes from the right and the left, because we are NOT a party of the left.

Even if we think we are, we should not be using that term, because the Green Party’s prime USP is that we as a society will not approach equality until we recognise that there are limits to growth.

R Lindsay, Journalist & Green Party member

You can keep up to date with Ipswich Green Party on their site - which has yet to register this decision.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 21, 2014 at 10:34 am

The Establishment. And how they get away with it. Owen Jones. A Socialist Review.

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The Establishment. And how they get away with it. Owen Jones. Allen Lane 2014.

Last Tuesday supporters of the Suffolk People’s Assembly and the PCS trade union lobbied Ipswich Conservative MP, Ben Gummer. Part of the TUC campaign “Britain Needs a Pay Rise” we were there to raise concerns from the decline in the real value of public sector pay, the growing cost of living, declining working conditions, to the attacks on those receiving welfare benefits. Gummer, after admitting that he had the privileged background (Cabinet Minister dad, public school and Cambridge in case you ask) understood our worries. He knew “where we were coming from”. But tight budgets and a squeeze on spending had been needed to deal with the legacy of the last government. Now the country was on the mend.

The Honourable Member ended by evoking his recent visit to a local school Academy. Its intake includes many of the less than privileged. Yet these students were rearing to compete on the global market. Equipping them to stand up their counterparts on the East, to give them “opportunity”, was, Ben’s words suggested, a task his government had begun in earnest.

Right in the first chapter of Owen Jones’ The Establishment, one comes across Gummer’s other constituency: the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Jones meets it founder, Matthew Elliot, who founded this “unashamedly populist” campaign for lower taxation. Inspired by the American hard-right Tea Party, its influence began before the 2008 Bankers’ crash. The Alliance now boasts that it got the Tories from saying they wanted to “match Labour’s spending plans to talk about spending cuts”. The ‘shock’ of crashing banks gave them a golden opportunity to go further and further.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance awarded Ipswich MP Ben its monthly  ‘pin up’ status a couple of years ago for his attempt to rename National Insurance a Tax. (1) This is not the only link. Jones signals their campaign to end Trade Union facility time. Mr Gummer – the members of the PCS present at the lobby were well aware – has very publicly pursued this demand locally.

Needless to say the socially and (genuinely) caring liberal Ben, can quickly turn into a ferocious tigress protecting her young when the interests of one group of taxpayers, finance, are at stake. It was not so long ago that he floated the idea of reviving the ‘business vote’, an extra ballot paper for companies (no doubt with an eye on Labour controlled Ipswich Borough Council).

Dig a little and what is the core of the up and coming Conservative’s politics? For Ben Gummer the City of London, which Jones describes as marked by a “reluctance to pay taxes and an acute hostility to any form of government intervention” (Page 241) is the foundation of UK prosperity. Above all he ducks the banks’ responsibility for the economic crisis, and the government’s deficit (critics might begin with the bank bail-out….), and loads it onto the ‘tax and spend’ policies of Blair and Brown.

It is not a long journey from The Establishment to Ipswich. The previous story is an illustration of how the author succeeds in showing “how they get away with it”. Activists on the left will find many similar echoes from their own experiences of contact with professional politicians (not just Conservatives and Liberals), and “movers and shakers” in the country.

Outriders.

As most reviewers, even if they might disagree with many of Jones’ views,  have said, The Establishment is a thoughtful and thorough exploration of the world of “powerful”, who “manage democracy”. This “oligarchy”, a self-selecting elite, as Ferdinand Mount has described it, it is one profoundly changed since the 1980s (The New Few or a Very British Oligarchy. 2012) To Jones it’s “politicians who make laws, media barons who set the terms of debate; business and financiers who run the economy; police forces that enforce a law which is rigged in favour of the powerful.” What ties them together is a belief in their own rightness that they are “worth” their positions.

In their ‘heroic age’, Thatcherites could consider themselves as radicals sweeping away the old system. Now the free-market consensus has taken on a life of its own. It’s an apparatuses, helped by ‘hired hands’ and driven by the undoubted profits of financial institutions and, increasingly, a revenue flow from the state into private owners of public assets.

It is striking that “outriders”, from the Tax-Payers’ Alliance, ‘free-market’ think tanks, still consider themselves to be living in this time when they had to fight off the remnants of the post-War settlement, beat down trade unions, and remove left-wing politics from the national life. The Daily Mail, Jones observes, still thinks it is battling away at a ‘Liberal’ Establishment.  Paul Staines (aka “Guido Fawkes”)  also on the hard right says of the the political class: “I hate the fucking thieving cunts.”

The first chapter of Jones’ book underlines the contrary. The hard-right have succeeded in defining ‘common sense’, from the media, much of the public, to the highest reaches of power. They have “shifted the terms of debate and softened up public opinion” with the willing collaboration of media outlets, the BBC at the forefront, which never loses an opportunity to provide them with a platform. “They have helped shift the goalposts of debate in Britain, making ideas that were once ludicrous, absurd and wacky, become the new common sense. In the terminology of right-wing political thinker, they have shifted the ‘Overton Window’.”(Page 44)

Overton, we learn, was the vice-president of a US right-wing think tank, the grandly titled Mackinac Center for Public Policy. His concern was to ‘shift’ what is reasonable, opening a new Window of opportunity. But for policies to be Policy the outriders, scouting out the way, have to find collaborators willing to work with them.

If The Establishment covers the ideological and economic conditions for the rise of the free-market ‘counter-revolution’ in the 1970s and 1980s it does not stop there. Blair and Brown were happy to go along with what the Conservatives, starting with Thatcher, had created. “The government of both Blair and Brown were instrumental in transforming Thatcherism into a permanent settlement.”(P 61)

Owen Jones is not afraid to confront the Labour Ministers who profited handsomely from this agreement on free-market foundations. Tony Blair, and his immediate followers, are probably the most notorious. But it’s the special merit of Establishment to focus on less well-remembered instances.

Former Secretary of State for Health, Patricia Hewitt ended up as a lobbyist for private health companies. Perhaps even more startling in this particularly area is the case of Paul Corrigan a one-time activist in the Communist Party of Great Britain, and sociology lecturer, who is now deeply involved, a leading figure,  in the NHS privatisation process itself (see Wikipedia). Corrigan is married to Labour Peer,  Hilary Armstrong and is a  Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Pride of place must go to David Blunkett, former Home Secretary and subsequently in charge of the DWP. Jones meets the man himself. Blunkett can never resist the opportunity to re-enact the Monty Python Three Yorkshiremen sketch. After talking of a life existing on “bread and dripping” the former Minster bushes away how he personally profited from the largesse of the notoriously incompetent A4E (amongst his many other well-rewarded private posts, from News International onwards). There is no interrogation of how A4E’s exploitation of state revenue only happened because of his own legislation. The MP proffers only this, “I’m not living a flash lifestyle, but I’m very comfortable.”(Page 76) Though not quite as comfortable as David Miliband, reported by Jones to have made a million in two and a half years after his failed Labour leadership bid in 2010.

This ‘revolving door’, by which former Cabinet Ministers end up being rewarded by companies their legislation has helped, works for politicians of all parties. If the Tories do badly next year, and when the Liberals are drubbed, we will see another crop. Jones remind us that 46 of the top fifty publicly ranked traded firms in the UK had a British parliamentarian as either a director or a shareholder.

The problem is not that politicians are especially venal as such – a pretty hollow claim given the opportunities for far easier money-making in other walks of life. It is that, as Jones says, “Mainstream politicians had been transformed by policies that once belonged to the dreams of the outriders. A mentality of greed had been promoted amongst the business elite, now this mentality had infected the political elite too. Politicians became unapologetic lobbyists for private interests both inside and outside Westminster.”(Page 83)

When one reads this it’s hard not to think of this, possibility, cited in Tomas Picketty’s influential Capital in the Twenty First Century. That some would “privatise all pubic assets. According to the national accounts of various European countries, the proceeds from selling all public buildings, schools, universities, hospitals, police stations, infrastructures, and so will be roughly sufficient to pay off all outstanding public debt. 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 Capital in the Twenty-first Century. 2014).

In many respect we are paying rent to private owners for an ever-growing number of ‘public’ services. What this means is that wealth is transferred from the majority to this minority through the mechanism of taxation and charges for indispensable common goods (health onwards). If Picketty is right about the tendency of modern Capital to favour the transformation of entrepreneurs into the holders of such claims (‘rentiers’) the free-market system may be encouraging its own cannibalism. One could also investigate the way these profiteers are directly shaping a whole range of public social policies, for the institutions they themselves run.

Democratic Revolution.

There are many other themes brought up in The Establishment, covering the media, the increasing harshness of Law and  the Police, and their use to suppress protests, the demonisation of the poor, and an array of illuminating sections on the Oligarchy’s inner courts, the City, and the Tax-dodging Tycoons and corporation. I was impressed by the grasp – not common amongst political writers – of the last decade’s coercive and shambolic changes in the Benefit system and the obstacles and misery these have created for millions of people.

But it is the political alternative to the present system that should provoke the most attention. Is the ‘elite’ at fault for the way it’s recruited? There is one area where this appears blatant: professional politics. Jones, following many others, observes is that MPs are increasingly drawn from a narrow stratum of society, often with no experience of anything other than politics, and even fewer from working class backgrounds. That this is an international phenomenon can be seen in an article in Le Monde yesterday (16.10.14). It notes that only 2,6% of French MPs come from manual or ordinary clerical occupations. But can this be changed by the kind of “equality of opportunity” that the free-market’s supporters promote?

But, as he points out, we should start by considering the corporate influence on law, from the UK to the European Union. Jones is not clear on how the EU should be approached. If it inspires unbridled hatred form one section of the Establishment, in the area of Britain’s sovereignty, another endorses it, precisely because it is remote from any democratic control. He concludes, not very confidently, that, “It is the Establishment that really reigns supreme.”(Page 294).

This sounds as if he would, or is edging towards abstention on any conflict – that is the Referendum – on UK membership. The loudest yelps for liberty come from those who wish to follow the worst aspects of US policy and politics, including its boss class of slave-drivers.  What other vehicle for ‘internationalist ‘ ambitions could be offered, other that is than a refounded and transformed Social European Union, remains to be seen.

For a democratic revolution we need democrats. The grip of the free-market outriders has, Jones, considers, to be challenged by bringing the “fragments” of opposition together. One thing that implies is that more solidly organised left-wing think tanks should be formed, and backing existing ones such as the New Economic Foundation and Class. More fundamentally The Establishment advocates public ownership. But perhaps we need the kind of public owners who can run them democratically. That is, the creation of a counterpart to the ideal of dedicated public servants of the past, educated with a feeling for the common good – and kept under control by open public mechanisms. “service users and workers”.

There are plenty of other policies to develop. Probably equally ambitious is the demand that along with clamping down on tax Avoidance we should “drive the power of Big Money from politics” (Page 311).

Will these and other proposals shift the ‘Overton Window’ “away from the Establishment” and “open up been more radical possibilities”? Change Owen concludes is “not won through the goodwill and generosity of those above, but though the struggle and sacrifice of those below.” In Le Monde Diplomatique (October 2014) Jones has written of the weakness of Ed Miliband’s alternative to the Right, and even UKIP. The French Socialist government and President Hollande, for all their initial rhetoric about challenging ‘finance’ never tried these policies, and is now drifting  ever rightwards. Will those prepared to go out on the streets to act now help turn the tide to the left, or at least stem the headlong plunge to the right? Are the embers of socialism about to be relit? 

The struggle of those people in Ipswich who lobbied Ben Gummer and all those who will be at Saturday’s TUC demonstration indicates some who are doing their best to do so……

Photo: Ben Gummer was photographed outside his office last week, when supporters of Suffolk Peoples Assembly and the Trades Council lobbied for the "Britain needs a Pay Rise" demonstration.</p>
<p>Ben’s smile seemed a little forced, possibly because the latest polls show Labour’s David Ellesemere is 7% ahead in polls for the Ipswich seat, with around 38% to Gummer’s 31%.   </p>
<p>UKIP are currently on 19% and the Lib Dems 6%.</p>
<p>(photo by Tony Dooley)” /></p>
<p class=Lobby of Gummer.

(1) Wikipedia. “Gummer first proposed annual tax statements to UK taxpayers, due for introduction in 2014. These will show shares of government spending in proportion to the amount of tax the taxpayer paid in the year. it was opposed by the Labour Party. Gummer’s proposal was favorably received by the press. He became The Suns Westminster “hero of the week” It was included in the 2012 Budget with George Osborne calling it “an excellent idea”. The TaxPayers’ Alliance subsequently honoured Gummer as their ‘Pin-Up of the Month‘. It also got the support of the Prime Minister.

Goldsmith’s Student Union Rejects “Eurocentric” motion to Commemorate European Genocides.

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As student supporters of the NUS decision not to back the Kurdish struggle against Islamist genociders claim that the motion to commit them would “outsource” NUS campaigning to “MI5 and MI6″ we get the following claim,

the bottom line is that Malia promised to, and has, rewritten the motion to fully condemn ISIS

Well, it’s a claim, but her supporters seem a lot, a real lot, more concerned to “defend” Malia than to anything to defend the Kurds.

Now, this crops up.

From The Tab (October the 15th).

student politicians have rejected a motion to commemorate the Holocaust – after claims it would be “eurocentric” and “colonialist”. 

A motion was proposed at the Goldsmiths Students’ Assembly yesterday to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day and victims of genocide.

Education officer Sarah El-alfy urged students to vote against the proposal, rejecting it as “eurocentric”.

….

One student added: “The motion would force people to remember things they may not want to remember.”

Another suggested she couldn’t commemorate the Holocaust because she thought the Union was explicitly “anti-Zionist”.

One of the students present said the proposal should be voted against as it would affect the Union’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The unfortunately-named President Howard Littler said after: “Someone brought up Israel-Palestine out of the blue but I made a point of information and said I didn’t want to conflate the two.”

He later audaciously added that the whole thing is just “a storm in a teacup”.

This report should be treated with extreme caution but here is the  following.

The Tab asks. 

Would you vote for or against the motion? Read it in full and have your say

Motion for the Student Union to commemorate the victims of genocide, totalitarianism and racial hatred

The Student Union recognises the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, of the other genocides, of totalitarianism and racial hatred. It further recognises that commemorating the victims of genocide, racial hatred and totalitarianism, and promoting public awareness of these crimes against humanity, is essential to sustaining and defending democratic culture and civil society, especially in the face of a resurgence of neo-fascism, racial hatred and neo-Stalinism across Europe.

The Student Union shall organise commemorative events for students and members of the public on Holocaust Memorial Day (27th of January), on the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism (23rd of August annually), on the Holodomor Genocide Memorial Day Act (4th Saturday in November, Annually) and on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day (24th April annually).

The motion fell by one vote.

The report continues.

The SU have yet to release minutes as they agree on the contents for the next meeting on 18th November.

But those attending are encouraged to live-tweet the event using the hashtag “GSUAssembly”.

One student named T. Walpole, present at the Assembly, objected: “Our union is anti-Zionist.”

They added: “This is a colonialist motion. Vote it down.

“White people should not be proposing motions to condemn genocides without a lot of thought. This does not have that thought.”

Now let’s disregard these (reported) morally cretinous comments.

The fact is that Holocaust Memorial day is not just about the Shoah,

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is the charity which promotes and supports Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). 27 January is the day for everyone to remember the millions of people killed in the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. 27 January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

Holocaust Memorial Trust.

The trust does not include the Ukraine (Holodomor) or the Armenian genocide (Turkey).

Bu Goldsmith does not include, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

Or, something many consider a genocide,  by Pakistan and  its Islamist allies, Bangladesh in 1971.

In this light, and the complications that this could cause, and vagueness about ‘civil society’, the motion appears badly worded (Hat-tip Bob B).

But the issue of how to commemorate these mass killings, even by ‘white people’, and, by people of different political ideologies and faiths or none at all,  is obscured by something which cannot be wished away.

This is what the College’s “Education officer” tweeted,

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.47.38

She now comments (I checked on the Tweet), with no further explanation whatsoever,

Thanks for mass misinforming people and wrongfully framing such an important issue.
There is also the person who tweeted this,
Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 13.09.38

LGBTQ* Officer Cyd Thomlinson also said the motion was “time wasting” and called the proposer “a toddler throwing a tantrum”.

They boasted: “We did just collectively destroy his self esteem if that helps.”

Thomlinson also argued for the inclusion of the Transgender Day of Remembrance in the motion but did not propose an amendment for it.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 15.08.00

Goldsmith’s SU has a lot of answering to do.

Updates:

More including some (evasive) ‘explanations’ from the union on the Huffington Post.

And  by the Students’ Union.

On Tuesday night a Motion was voted down by a majority at Goldsmiths Students’ Union’s Students Assembly – a democratic meeting in which all students are invited to discuss and vote on issues that are important to them.

Subsequently The Tab wrote a piece entitled ‘vile SU refuse to commemorate Holocaust [sic]’. It is worth noting at this point that the article was co-authored by the proposer of the original motion, both of whose motions were voted down at the Student Assembly.

Many baseless claims are made, however the central tenet is that the Students Assembly and the Students’ Union opposed remembering the victims of the Holocaust. This is an insulting misrepresentation. We have in the past commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day and will in the future.

A nuanced discussion about how best to effectively and collectively remember these events was had at Students Assembly. Re-drafting motions and re-entering them at a later date isn’t unusual in Students’ Unions and shouldn’t be misinterpreted as opposition. Sarah El-alfy, GSU Education officer, offered to help the proposer re-draft the motion and bring it to the next Student Assembly and this reflected the positivity in the room about the motion with the ambition to strengthen it further. A motion that includes remembering the Holocaust will be brought to the next Student Assembly in November. We feel these facts have been ignored in the subsequent reporting.

We will be writing to the Editor of The Tab in due course to seek correction of many of the factual inaccuracies in the report. Seperately, The Tab, in their article misgendered one of our students. We would like to ask for this to be corrected along with the rest of the article.

Signed

Goldsmiths SU executive team

Misgendering is the least of their problems.

What about the Tweets, starting with the one by  Sarah El-alfy?

 

Solidarity with the Beloved People of Kobane!

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View image on Twitter

Support our Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Kobane! (ShenGal ROJAVA)

Kurdish protesters clashed with police in Turkey leaving at least 14 people dead and scores injured Tuesday as demonstrators in Brussels forced their way into the European Parliament, part of Europe-wide demonstrations against the Islamic State group’s advance on a town on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Turkey’s private Dogan news agency reported 8 dead in the eastern city of Diyarbakir and that the other victims died in cities in the east as police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters who burned cars and damaged businesses.

The activists are demanding more help for the besieged Kurdish forces struggling to hold onto the Syrian town of Kobani. Some European countries are arming the Kurds, and the American-led coalition is carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic extremists, but protesters say it isn’t enough.

A demonstrator in Cyprus urged the coalition to “hit the jihadists harder” so that Kurdish forces can hold the town.

Tensions are especially high in Turkey, where Kurds have fought a 3-decade-long battle for autonomy and where Syria’s violence has taken an especially heavy toll.

Protests were reported in cities across Turkey on Tuesday, after Islamic State fighters backed by tanks and artillery engaged in heavy street battles with the town’s Kurdish defenders.

Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse demonstrators in Istanbul and in the desert town of Kucuk Kenderciler, near Kobani on the Turkish side of the border. One person in Istanbul was hospitalized after being hit in the head by a gas canister, Dogan reported.

Some protesters shouted “Murderer ISIS!” and accused Turkey’s government of collaborating with the Islamic militants.

ABC

Protesters have returned to the streets of London as they rally in solidarity with Syrian Kurds in Kobani, the town Islamic State militants threaten to seize next. Earlier on Monday activists occupied one of the busiest Tube stations.

Hundreds of people march through London carrying banners which read: “Turkey stop supporting ISIS” and “Support Kurds resisting ISIS harassment in Kobani”.

Other banners call to “unite against ISIS”.

View image on Twitter

RT

Armed police patrol at Heathrow Airport as Kurds protest against Isis

A terminal at Heathrow Airport has been occupied by Kurdish and Turkish anti-Islamic State protesters.

The campaigners have blocked ticket barriers in terminal two of the airport and have been occupying the airport since 12pm today.

A group of about 50 demonstrators are holding banners reading ‘Stop fascist attacks in Kurdistan’ and ‘Kobane’, following news the Islamic State flag was seen on the border of Turkey and Syria.

No flights have been affected and passengers are able to travel as normal through the airport.

A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard said: “We were called at 11.55am to reports of a demonstration at Heathrow Airport.

“Officers are at the scene and an appropriate policing plan is in place.”

A spokeswoman for Heathrow Airport said: “There is currently a peaceful protest taking place in Terminal 2 in the departures area. Heathrow supports the right for peaceful protest. There is no impact on operations and passengers can travel as normal through the airport.”

Passenger Adam Tuckwell said: “The protesters are in good voice but all seems peaceful.”
The same group of pro-Kurdish campaigners blockaded Oxford Circus tube station yesterday afternoon.

Transport for London were forced to evacuate the station for an hour as the demonstration blocked passengers passing ticket barriers.

Evening Standard.

I may be wrong but I do not see a single Stop the War Coalition (StWC) poster in photos of the UK protests, or any sign of support for the Kurdish struggle against Isis on their Web site.

Perhaps this sheds some light on the thinking behind their failure to stand up when you need to be counted.

Counterfire (whose leadership has great influence in running the StWC)  carried an article (October 5th) stating.

The US-led bombing of Iraq and Syria will not save the Kurds. Western policy, its military and its arms are not there to save the Kurds.

Socialist Worker has wheeled out its tired old response to the tragedies now unfolding in Syria and Iraq,

The West wants to portray itself as supporting oppressed minorities such as the Yazidis or the Kurds.

But they will never support real struggles for self-determination. They just want to give a progressive gloss to the pursuit of their own imperialist interests

Islamic State grew out of the conditions created by the West’s last war on Iraq. We must go all out to build a campaign to stop their new war.

In other words (and we cannot find anything to suggest the contrary) these groups will do precisely nothing to back the Kurds.

We can confidently predict that these groups are waiting for Kobane to fall.

Then they can  crow that it was all “imperialism’s fault”. 

This is a more productive way to look at the Kurdish fight, (Four Things the Left Should Learn from Kobane).

The article begins, perhaps, misleadingly, with some doubtful claims.

That is, to criticise those who’ve recoiled in horror at the cruelty of the Islamic State/Isis..

There are very good reasons why the ‘West’ and lots of others, have a “fixation” with the Isis/Islamic state. They have created a mobile totalitarian genocidal regime. They deserve to be looked at and analysed in their own right.They have a strong basis in the history of modern Islamism, for all their  “deviance” from the main trends and their origins in very specific chaos, the Syrian Civil War and Iraqi sectarian religious politics,

As a “discipline and punish” tyranny people  how could anybody not be horrified? 

The assertion that this is a simple “pretext” for Western intervention is therefore misleading. Not because it’s wrong to think that this is how the policy may have been decided on. But because it distracts us from looking clearly at what the jihadists have created.

So saying “..it is becoming increasingly clear that ISIS is little more than a pretext for NATO to pursue other geopolitical aims – namely removing Assad and destroying Kurdish autonomy.” diverts attention from this – the most important aspect of  Islamic State/Isis: it is a mass murdering machine.

As we have indicated, the tyranny exists on its own basis, regardless of the geopolitics of the region. That, at any rate, is the way the Tendance would look at Islamic State/Isis.

But having said this,  this, the rest of this thought-provoking post is a valuable reminder of the best way of looking at the present, Kurdish, issue.

Listen to Kurdish Voices

The Western left often suffers from a debilitating and orientalist tendency to overstate the agency of the US and relegate communities and societies affected by intervention to passive actors, not worthy of considered analysis. Indeed, it is striking the number of anti-imperialist commentaries that rely less on the experiences and dynamics of Kurdish communities and more on rehashed critiques of the logic of Great Power predation. On the one hand, this can cause the left to duplicate caricatures of ‘ugly sectarianism’ and ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ in ways that don’t seem too far off the arguments of Cameron and Obama (for some useful correctives see here and here).

On the other hand, it offers little consideration of the voices of Kurdish communities under attack since their intentions and actions simply don’t matter to opposing ‘imperialism at home’. The resultant politics can often be deleterious. We might wonder, for example, what the people of Kobanê would make of calls for ‘peaceful alternatives’ to war. This is especially important, since in Western Kurdistan (Northern Syria) Kurds are defending what is arguably the best hope for left politics in the region. Even the most cursory glance at the constitutional make-up and political achievements of Kurdish cantons would put most Western organisations to shame. Yet this week, while hunger strike sand solidarity demonstrations from Kurdish people were taking place in the UK and beyond, anti-war groups organised an entirely separate and potentially conflicting protest. The sooner the Western left abandons its penchant for reducing class to geopolitics, the sooner it can offer authentic solidarity to groups and communities that deserve and need it.

The PYD/PYD deserves a great, a really great, amount of respect for its actions in the fight against Isis/Islamic State.

We should also pay attention to their political project, which is very significant, a democratic socialist and sectionalised programme.

In one area above all the author also states we should not

close off the possibility of any non-state and anti-capitalist alternatives based on the PYD/PKK project of Democratic Autonomy.

Read the rest (via above link), on The Disorder of Things.

This should also be considered.

As Kobane Makes Last Stand, Ocalan Gives Turkey Deadline for Peace Process

ANKARA, Turkey – Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, warned that Turkey has until October 15 to act on peace with the Kurds, otherwise the process is dead.

Ocalan, whose comments came through his brother Mehmet, had earlier said that peace talks with Ankara would end if the Kurdish city of Kobane in Syria, across the border with Turkey, falls to the Islamic State (ISIS).  There were fresh air strikes by the US-led coalition on Tuesday as the city teetered on the verge of falling.

In his latest comments from his prison cell on Turkey’s Imrali island, Ocalan told his brother on Monday that Ankara must act, or accept the end of peace talks.

“We can await a resolution till October 15, after which we can have nothing to do,” his brother quoted him as saying. “They (Turkish authorities) are talking about resolution and negotiation but there exists no such thing. This is an artificial situation; we will not be able to continue anymore.”

A peace process launched by Ocalan and Ankara in March 2012 has largely lagged, with the PKK accusing Turkish authorities of dragging their feet.

Commenting on Kobane,  Ocalan said: “Our people in Kobane are going to resist to the end. Resistance will be manifested everywhere and every single Kurdish-populated area where ISIS is present.”

The PKK-affiliated People’s Protection Units (YPG) have been the main protection force in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), joined by Turkish Kurds fighting to defend Kobane.

“No concessions will ever be made to ISIS that is an artificial organization and will also cause trouble to the states, governments and persons supporting it,” Ocalan said.

“Whichever country is supporting ISIS will itself suffer damage. We will resist the ISIS to the end. Our people have to resist,” he said.

Turkey has angered its large minority Kurds be closing the border to fighters going to fight in Kobane.  Ankara fears pro-PKK Kurdish citizens returning from fighting in Syria with combat skills, and has opposed any moves that would strengthen the Kurds in Syria.

Rudaw (Kurdish News Agency)

For the moment it is of the utmost importance to join with our comrades in the Middle East, people who are our kith and kin, in solidarity.

Tehran ‘Anti-Zionist’ Conference Draws Holocaust deniers and 9/11 ‘Truthers’

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Dieudonné FanIranien

Dieudonné FanIranien.

In the news this week:

The second edition of Iran’s International New Horizon Independent Conference started its programs in the capital city of Tehran, Press TV has reported.

A number of senior investigative journalists, authors, filmmakers and renowned political activists took part in the gala.

The participants flocked to the three-day event from the UK, the United States, and several countries of Europe.

The first panel of the event hosted the presentations of several experts focused on the influence of the Zionist lobby on the West in the process of nuclear talks with Iran.

The Zionist lobby has its grip deep into different layers of the US government, American investigative journalist Wayne Madsen stated at the conference.

The Islamic Awakening movement, the role of Zionist lobbies in the European and US crises, introducing international anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist figures, and Islamic resistance against the Zionist regime are some of the topics of the conference.

The first edition of the International New Horizon Independent Conference was presented in 2012 along with a film festival centered on the related issues.

The showcased films at the festival represented Islamic resistance against the Zionist regime, war threats against Iran and anti-war movements, the Islamic Revolution of Iran, Iranophobia and Islamophobia, world without Zionism, and world without terrorism and atomic weapons.

New Horizon conference and festival is aimed at providing a platform where independent thinkers can gather together, feature their films and engage in debate and deliberation on various aspects of world and the reality of Hollywood.

To give a flavour of this event here is an extract from  the Conference’s agenda (Hat-Tip:  Harry’s Place) ,

  • Section 4 (5:15 PM – 7:15 PM)

Mossad’s Role in the 9/11 Coup d’Etat

Panelists: Thierry Meyssan, Kevin Barrett, Maurizio Blondet, & Jim Fetzer via video link

Moderator: Nader Talebzadeh

Themes:

v  Philosophy and False Flags: Neo-conservatism, Zionism and 9/11

v  Mossad-9/11 Links: The Empirical Evidence

v  History of Mossad False Flags

v  Zionist Fingerprints on the 9/11 Cover-up

v  9/11 Truth Movement Strategies and the Zionism Issue

v  9/11 and the Holocaust as pro-Zionist “Public Myths”

v  Uniting the Muslim Ummah for 9/11 Truth and Against Zionism

We are interested in this, ” Waliyic Islam, or Post-Secularism and its Discontents.”

The speaker Hasan Rahimpour Azghadi, a member of the Iranian Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution,  is noted or having said this (see link just given),

“Today, underlying all the worldwide trends of alcohol consumption, prostitution, Hollywood sex and porn, banking, usury, and sex slavery there are Zionist tendencies. This is true in the U.S., in Europe, and everywhere. There is documented data to back this up. Surprisingly, even in the days of the Prophet of Islam, they fulfilled this same role. This is true of some of them, whom the Prophet confronted for precisely these reasons. One of the allegations leveled against them in Christian Europe of the last centuries was that they are experts in controlling the markets, culture, and the media, and in seizing control of large populations by means of small groups…Zionism will not disappear through talks. The Zionist Israeli state must be annihilated.”

One aspect worth mentioning is the French collection  of “senior investigative journalists” and “renowned political activists“.

Of the French attendees we learn from the Initiative Communiste-Ouvrière that they include, amongst others,

le complotiste Thierry Meyssan, la négationniste Maria Poumier, deux représentants du parti néofasciste Parti solidaire Français : Thomas Werlet et Olivier Lemoine. Sans surprise, on retrouve également le journaliste de droite Jean-Michel Vernochet (2) et Gilles Munier, ex-soutien de Saddam Husssein et collaborateur du site d’Egalité et Réconciliation. Autre proche d’Alain Soral et de Dieudonné invité à cette rencontre : le dessinateur négationniste Joe le Corbeau.

The conspiracy theorist Thierry Meyssan (famous for 9/11 ‘false-flag’ lies), the Holocaust denier, Maria Pomier (closely associated with Meyssan), two representatives of the French neo-fascist party, Parti Solidaire Français,  Thomas Werlet et Olivier Lemoin, right-wing journalist, Jean-Michel Vernochet, and Gilles Munier, a former supporter of Saddam Hussein, and a contributor to the (far-right) web site, Egalité et Réconciliation. Another person present, who’s close to (Holocaust denier and extreme-right wing activist) Alain Soral, and  Dieudonné, the cartoonist, Joe le Corbeau – he is also somebody who questions the existence of the Shoah.

The comrades mention the presence of a Raphaël Berland – from the Cercle des Volontaires,  who claim to be independent republican journalists….

It’s to a certain Haméd Ghashghavi, an Iranian Francophone,  that we owe the charming picture of him and the racist Dieudonné, from his site FanIrnaian.

More at La fachosphère française en visite en Iran

The Anti Defamation League provides a summary of this event,

As in the pre­vi­ous con­fer­ence, this year’s New Hori­zon Con­fer­ence has drawn the par­tic­i­pa­tion of sev­eral anti-Israel activists, anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rists and Holo­caust deniers. A new pres­ence at the con­fer­ence is the par­tic­i­pa­tion of a so called Amer­i­can anti-war activist, Medea Ben­jamin, a co-founder of CODEPINK.

In addi­tion to Ben­jamin, the conference’s offi­cial web­site pub­lished the names of sev­eral Amer­i­can and inter­na­tional anti-Semites, anti-Israel activists and Holo­caust deniers that are expected to be in atten­dance, includ­ing Maria Poumier, a French con­spir­acy the­o­rist and Holo­caust denier; Clau­dio Moffa, an Ital­ian Holo­caust denier; Kevin Bar­rett, an anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist and fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to Iran’s Eng­lish lan­guage pro­pa­ganda news net­work, Press TV; Garth Porter, an anti-Israel jour­nal­ist; Pepe Esco­bar, a Brazil­ian anti-Israel jour­nal­ist; and Art Olivier, a for­mer elected offi­cial from Cal­i­for­nia and 9/11 con­spir­acy theorist.

More­over, Iran­ian news agen­cies have reported that a num­ber of other indi­vid­u­als are sched­uled to also attend the three-day con­fer­ence in Tehran. Iran­ian news agen­cies have reported the expected par­tic­i­pa­tion of Ali­son Weir, the  direc­tor of If Amer­i­cans Knew and the Coun­cil for the National Inter­est, two grass­roots anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tions; Ken O’Keefe, an anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist for­mer U.S. Marine and a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to Press TV; Wayne Mad­sen, an anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist; Cyrus McGoldrick, the for­mer Civil Rights Man­ager for the New York chap­ter of Coun­cil on American-Islamic Rela­tions; Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, the French anti-Semitic come­dian and the cre­ator of the anti-Semitic “quenelle” ges­ture; and Mark Sil­jan­der, a for­mer U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive (R-MI) who was found guilty in 2010 of two fed­eral charges relat­ing to his ties to an Islamic char­ity alleged to have funded ter­ror­ist groups.

The con­fer­ence was opened with remarks by the per­sonal advi­sor to Supreme Leader Aya­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, Mohsen Ghomi, who boasted that the con­fer­ence itself is “the biggest threat to Zion­ists,” and that “Amer­i­can offi­cials are pup­pets of the Zion­ist lobby who are tak­ing advan­tage of Amer­i­can igno­rance.” Anti-Israel jour­nal­ist Garth Porter said dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion on Mon­day that the Mossad and CIA are respon­si­ble for man­u­fac­tur­ing the nuclear cri­sis with Iran.

The 2nd New Hori­zon Con­fer­ence comes on the heels of the 13th annual Inter­na­tional Resis­tance Film Fes­ti­val that ran in Tehran from Sep­tem­ber 22–29. The film fes­ti­val included sub­mis­sions from dozens of coun­tries, includ­ing Iran, North Korea, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, and was orga­nized by the Cin­e­matic Com­mu­nity of the Islamic Rev­o­lu­tion and Sacred Defense and the Islamic Cul­ture and Rela­tions Organization.

The “The “Islamic” State Meme, its Precursors, & the US-Israel-Saudi Triangle” appears promising.

Tehran appears ready to see the hand of Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia behind the genocidal Isis/Islamic State.

The Guardian: Everything that’s wrong with the Liberal Stand on Islamism.

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Islamism: Discipline and Punish. 

To much of the world the British daily, the Guardian is the best known English-language paper of the liberal-left.

It is important to emphasise the word ‘liberal’ (the Guardian advocated voting for the Liberal Democrats at the last election).

But the hyphen attaching the word to the ‘left’ is indissoluble.

Guardian writers, above all in the Comment in Free Section, shows the limits of what this left believes in.

The section, (run between 2001 and 2007 by former Communist Party of Great Britain member ), are, in the majority, consensus believers in a number of liberal values.

The present editor,  has stated that “Queer theory informs my politics and journalism – and made me understand Robert, my childhood alter ego.” (Here)

Some of the principles these people stand for are admirable, such as freedom of speech, promotion of diversity, human rights, gender equality, social equality, and tolerance.

Their advocacy of liberty extends to letting a range of people expressing their opinions in the paper who have very different interpretations of these ideas.

But they are heavily modified when it comes to one political and cultural  issue, the nature of Islamism.

A couple of days ago the daily published an article by George Monbiot, Why stop at Isis when we could bomb the whole Muslim world?

The author, who has previously compared European recruits to the genociders of ISIS to volunteers who defended the Spanish Republic, argues,

“Humanitarian arguments, if consistently applied, could be used to flatten the entire Middle East.”

Let’s bomb the Muslim world – all of it – to save the lives of its people. Surely this is the only consistent moral course? Why stop at Islamic State (Isis), when the Syrian government has murdered and tortured so many? This, after all, was last year’s moral imperative. What’s changed?

Nothing, according to Monbiot, the latest US-led bombing will all end in disaster, killing, and destruction by the “destroying angels of the west”. He ends his article with the observation that politicians “scatter bombs like fairy dust.”

Monbiot now deigns to mention that the group amongst the Syrian rebels, which he compared to the Spanish Republican democrats – Isis – has its faults, “the agenda and practices of Isis are disgusting. It murders and tortures, terrorises and threatens. As Obama says, it is a “network of death”(14).

But it’s one of many networks of death.

Worse still, a western crusade appears to be exactly what it wants.

So it’s just one of many. And attacking them would make them worse.

Monbiot then fails to mention any form of physical military reaction to Isis that he could support.

Sound the alarm, run to the hills, the world is about to be flattened!

We can’t do anything at all!

Today the Guardian publishes Seamus Milne.

He begins well,

Theresa May devoted over three quarters of her speech in Birmingham to Muslims and the threat of a catch-all “Islamist extremism”.

Drawing on the tricks of Tony Blair’s invasion-prone government and Thatcher’s failed campaign against the IRA, she promised yet more anti-terror laws: this time to ban nonviolent “extremists” from television and protests, and to proscribe groups with no links to terrorism.

The package amounts to a straightforward attack on freedom of speech and democracy – in the name of the “functioning of democracy”. It would alienate Muslims from mainstream politics still further and create a new, all-purpose collection of thought crimes, allowing the authorities to ban views or activities they deem likely to cause “alarm” or “distress”.

Milne is now a defender of free speech.

He would have done well at this point to oppose something he once backed, to make causing offence to religious faiths a crime. (1)

But he doesn’t.

And, in the wider news, perhaps I missed this bit,

The justifications were straight out of the Blair playbook too: from May’s insistence that we are at war with an “ideology” and that “they” hate our values rather than our violent interventions in the Muslim world – to the claim that Isis could develop weapons of mass destruction to attack us“within a few hours’ flying time of our country”.

Yes I did miss that one, because it’s from the far-right Daily Express’s spin on the May speech….

I suppose Islamic State’s tortures, rapes, genocide and the threat to hundreds of thousands of Kurds would have merited a mention from anybody with genuine left-wing feeling.

In a sense they do get mentioned,

Like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya before it, the bombing has been sold as a response to a humanitarian catastrophe and imminent threat but already shows every sign of spreading the terror it is supposed to stop. Mission creep is already upon us, as Cameron softens the public up to join the US campaign in Syria. As in the past, the war is projected to last years, has been launched against our own mutant creation, and is fanning reverse sectarian cleansing on the ground. Revenge terror attacks at home are once again seen as almost certain.

Ah, “sold as a response to a humanitarian catastrophe”.

What Milne’s views on this catastrophe are, part from the fact that they have been “sold”,  remain in decent obscurity.

One thing sticks out: no mention of the need to back the Kurdish and other fighters on the ground battling Islamic State/Isis!

But the prize for feeble-minded analysis of Islamism must go to a piece by .

Speaking of how people treat recruits to the genociders in Australia he laments a “sudden terror panic“.  Loewenstein uses a Muslim interlocutor to express the dismay.:

“There’s a lack of context, lack of spirituality and understanding, combined with impatience. Many Isis fighters are newly converted, newly pious … these men have grown a beard in three months and they don’t give Islam time to be understood.”

He is tired of having to defend his religion against bigots who take these instant Islamists to be the authentic representation of Islam.

“Keyboard warriors often ask: “Where is the universal Muslim condemnation of terror acts?” We’re distancing ourselves, so why do you keep asking? People just aren’t listening.”

“It’s been the same narrative of apology for decades and we’re sick of it. It’s like the probation the media is trying to grant me. I want to stand back, it’s got nothing to do with me and it’s nothing to do with Islam. I don’t need to come out and prove my innocence.”

Indeed, it is remarkable that those who trumpet their religious belief, in Islam and the Qu’ran, should be called to express disapproval of those who trumpet their religious belief in Islam and the Qu’ran – Isis.

As he continues in the vein we weary.

But there is some truth in this, though “dis-empowered” – an expression now confined to ageing social workers – is not perhaps the right word.

The pressure on the Australian Muslim community is immense, a feeling of being outsiders, exacerbated by a message that they’re different and under suspicion. Many Muslim women in particular feel disempowered and not trusted by the wider, white majority. Islamophobia is now unofficial government policy and some media’s central world-view

Muslims have ample reason to be sceptical towards government and intelligence services; real journalists would investigate why. Sadly, most in the media are failing in their basic duty to question.

Islamophobia is an ageing and muddled term as well: it tries to conflate opposition to islamism with prejudice, and offers no way to distinguish them.

This will not help clear up what ‘Islam’ is.

“Islam isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Samir says. His religion, just like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and others, is complex, contradictory and open to various interpretations – but figuring that out can’t be done in an instant.

I will,  as will most readers, give up at this point….

Why does this matter?

We could say that a paper that publishes Richard Seymour is a fun journal, a good laugh, and that nobody takes the ideology in these articles seriously.

But what is striking is that not a single Guardian commentator has come close to analysing Islamism in any depth whatsoever.

That is a extreme-right-wing ideology, with a very material institutional basis, support in the pious Muslim bourgeoisie, and wider roots in the class structures of many Middle Eastern countries.

There are Marxist and other political studies which go into this in depth (Maxime RodinsonGilbert Achcar the latter’s sole contribution to the Guardian on the topic relates to ‘Holocaust denial’).

Or the rich critique of Islamism, democratic, socialist and secular,  offered by  the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan groups such as the Worker Communist parties (Mansoor Hekmat)  and other left individuals and organisations  in the Moslem world.

We could, for those interested in ‘Gender and Queer’ studies, also look at Michael Foucault’s concept of ‘micro-powers’ – intimate oppressive apparatuses that create a religious prison, in para-states and actual states.

Foucault’s Discipline and Punish  is perhaps a good starting point to the operation of the Sharia, along with Nietzsche The Genealogy of Morals. (2)

We could look at its (or rather), since Islamism is a plural formation, their patriarchal roots, and its creation of sexual apartheid.

We might even mention that every single form of Islamism is viciously oppressive towards gays.

That it is anti-democratic and ‘communitarian’ on the template of 1930s ‘organic’ far-right.

We might even consider that its religion is a load of utter cack.

But nobody in the Guardian’s comment articles says that.

Nobody.

**********

(1) “But for showing solidarity and working with Muslim organisations – whether in the anti-war movement or in campaigns against Islamophobia – leftwing groups and politicians such as the London mayor, Ken Livingstone, are now routinely damned by liberal secularists (many of whom have been keen supporters of the war in Iraq) for “betraying the enlightenment” and making common cause with “Islamofascists”, homophobes and misogynists. The pitch of these denunciations has been heightened further by the government’s plan to introduce a new criminal offence of incitement to religious hatred. This measure would extend to the most vulnerable community in the country the very modest protection already offered by race hate legislation to black people, Jews, Sikhs and all religious communities in Northern Ireland. It is not a new blasphemy law; it would not lead to a ban on Monty Python’s Life of Brian film; or rule out jokes about Ayatollah Khomeini’s contact lenses; or cover ridicule or attacks on any religion (unlike the broader Australian legislation) – but would only outlaw incitement of hatred against people because of their faith.” Guardian. December 2004

This bill was thrown up precisely because it was a new “blasphemy law”. Does Milne back its return?

(2) I am all too aware of Foucault’s morally cretinous welcome to Khomeini, What are the Iranians Dreaming About (1978). More relevant to Isis is  the way their beheadings of hostages could be compared to the violent and chaotic public torture of Robert-François Damiens analysed in Discipline and Punish (1975).

Standing up to UKIP? A Critical Appraisal.

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Will this Defeat UKIP?

Some on the left remain in mourning for the failure of the Scottish referendum to “bring their country into the world of free and sovereign nations”. Some console themselves that Alba is already a “transformed, empowered country.” (Neil Ascherson. Observer. 21.8.14.)

Westminster Centralism appears on the wane. A large constituency demands a “grant of real responsibility to local communities.” This means, they say, a change in the structure of the British constitution, perhaps an English parliament, certainly greater control for regions and cities inside and outwith Scotland’s borders.

Constitutional issues are not the preserve of Scottish nationalists or the new regionalists. UKIP has made its transition from pressure group to serious political contender by demanding that Britain be ‘free’ from the legislative power of the European Union. The issue of sovereignty is the central concern of Nigel Farage’s party. UKIP is, first and foremost, anti-EU. It wants ‘independence’ for the British people from ‘Brussels’. It is not ‘Eurosceptic’; it is Europhobic.

The Scottish separatists want to see the back of ‘Westminster’, for the good of their own people. Some, notably in the SNP, claim to see the European Union as a positive force that would help them towards that aim. With their common concern with national power we can call both parties, despite this major difference on the EU, “sovereigntists.” The party once led by Alex Salmond believes in a limited degree of pooled sovereignty in order to ‘save the nation state’ (as Milward called it), UKIP is simply wants to shore up the nation state. (1)

Stand up to UKIP.

Left-wing activists, called to support the campaign Stand up to UKIP, which plans a major demonstration outside the Party’s conference next weekend, can be forgiven for forgetting the word “independence” in the title. The launch of this campaign, after all, declares,

“It has built up its electoral base by both presenting itself as a party opposed to the European Union, but more importantly by spreading poisonous lies and hatred towards migrants and MuslimsWe believe UKIP is a racist party. This may be something Farage and the party’s leadership is quick to deny. But in the run up to the European elections UKIP’s mask slipped. UKIP presents the anti-racist movement with a major problem – dragging British politics to the right.”

Let us leave aside the claim that UKIP specialises in ‘anti-Muslim’ campaigning. This will come as news to the Bangladeshi organisers of the Ipswich ‘Multi-cultural festival’ at the end of August this year, who included a full page UKIP advertisement, along with Labour and Tory endorsements, in the day’s programme. It will also be a surprise to anybody reading official UKIP material, which does not single out the topic of Islam, but instead includes it within a blanket condemnation on multi-culturalism – the real reason to be astonished at the Ipswich anomaly.

Andy Jones argues, “UKIP is the main organised expression of the new anti-immigrant racism.” (International Socialism. June 2014. No 114) Nobody can deny that it has gained support for its hostility towards migration – their leaflets warning of a mass Bulgarian and Rumanian invasion are still fresh in people’s minds. Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin point to their ability to “recognise and often moblise public resentments of immigration and ethnic minorities among the white majority” (Page 159 Revolt on the Right. 2014). 

Is this part and parcel of a “party of bigots, sexists, Islamophobes and homophobes”? Perhaps. But does this imply that they have won votes as this kind of party? Stand up to UKIP clearly seems to think that “exposing” them as such will eat away at their support. Others consider that this is part of their appeal.

Ford and Godwin state that UKIP’s “electoral base is old, male, working class, white and less educated, much like the BNP’s (Ibid). Their analysis of the attitudes within the group they identify would tend to support the view that many of UKIP’s less attractive and prejudices attitudes have an echo within their constituency. Others note that the Stand up to UKIP list of bigoted opinions, slightly more politely expressed, is shared with middle class and upper class voters, the readership of the Daily Mail, Telegraph, and the Times. That UKIP voters are by no means largely working class. (2) 

In the publicity for the 27th demonstration at UKIP’s conference it’s stated, “UKIP likes to say it is the “people’s army” in opposition to the political elite in the mainstream parties. But it is a racist party that blames migrant workers for the problems in society it is acting as a shield for the bankers who are really responsible for the economic crisis.”

Is shouting “racist party” outside the UKIP meeting going to change anybody’s opinions?  I say shouting, but screaming ‘racist’ is the likely prospect. The involvement of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) signals the direction the protest is taking. This Sealed-Knot re-enactment of the Anti-Nazi League (ANL) demonstrations of yesteryear is a dead-end. The chorus, conducted by the Socialist Workers Party (Stand up’s main initiator) is not going to win over anybody outside their ranks. 

Revealing the role of UKIP as “shield for the bankers” is as unlikely undermine their support as “unmasking” them as an unsavoury load of old racists. The competition created in the labour market by migration is  – on at least some evidence deliberately encouraged by employers – is the material basis on which people ‘blame’ foreigners for low wages.

A trade union approach is to set a standard, the Living Wage, and high social benefits and work protection for all. Only unions are capable of grappling with these problems directly, bringing the actual and potential UKIP voters together with migrants on the basis of common interests. The left needs to focus on campaigns by the TUC and its affiliates, to prevent the bosses from setting one group against another. It is the European Union which should create the conditions for continent-wide higher wages and social benefits, a strategy of upgrading standards. Any form of sovereigntist politics, from UKIP, the SNP (which advocates lower corporation tax in Scotland) to the Conservative Party’s own Eurosceptic policies (the most direct threat), is an attack on this internationalist approach.

Defeating UKIP.

After Douglas Carswell’s resignation from the Tory party and decision to stand for UKIP in Clacton on the 9th of October the party is rarely out of the headline. Polls gives Carswell a wide lead. The group now has 39,143 members. The left has to think, deeply and seriously, without yelling, about how to deal with UKIP’s appeal. 

UKIP’s biggest weakness is not that it is a party with an exceptionally high membership of obsessives, xenophobes and oddballs. Having set out on a ‘populist’ path, that is, with the call for the British to rise up against the Brussels elite, its focus anti-European policies cut if off from the large numbers of people who (correctly) identify the ‘elite’ with a domestic Establishment. Many in these circles, including those who are virulently opposed to ‘Brussels’, are attracted, with a degree of ‘cultural cringe’ to the United States. They are prepared to cooperate with Washington and Wall Street in enterprises like TIIP, which open the way to an even greater extension of free-market power.

Farage’s organisation does not combine their prejudices with a degree of ‘social’ demands (protecting ‘the British worker’ ‘our NHS’). It opts for hard-line free-market policies. Continental populists, by contrast, are often opposed to ‘globalisation’ and ‘neo-liberalism’. Some European ‘populist’ parties, like the French Front National, have even tried to influence trade unions (3). This may reflect their middle class base, although the French FN equally benefits from electoral backing in middle class and wealthy areas (the traditional fiefs of the right and extreme-right in cities like Paris). 

Yet UKIP’s electoral success (27.5% of the vote in the European elections) has had exactly the same effect: a constant drag towards the right, hauling political players towards its brand of patriotism.

That they are braggarts, demagogues, that their xenophobic policies (directed against other Europeans) have racial overtones (against any ‘foreigners’ – that is, including British citizens, ethnic minorities), is important. This should be brought out and attacked.

But the only way Farage’s party will be sent back to the margins is by facing up to the issue of Sovereignty. To Stand up to UKIP is to stand up for the European Union, to engage in the transformation of its structures and to build a European Social Republic.

****

Note: for a real anti-racist campaigning group see Hope not Hate which has covered everyday racism, UKIP, the BNP and other UK far-right groups, including Islamists.

(1) The European Rescue of the Nation State (1999) by the late Alan Milward.

(2) “The data on which Ford and Goodwin base their analysis of Ukip voters consists, as they acknowledge, of people who intend to vote Ukip, rather than those who have. On the occasions when Ukip’s vote increases dramatically (such as in European elections) their new or temporary voters are more likely to be middle-class, financially secure and from Conservative backgrounds. And, while Ukip did indeed attract more former Labour voters during the later New Labour years, they have won a substantially higher proportion of Tory voters since the coalition came to power.

So there might be another explanation for the high Ukip vote in Labour areas. As the BBC’s political research editor, David Cowling, points out, in Labour’s safest seat in the country at the 2010 election, 28% of voters still supported other parties. This is not because Liverpool Walton is peppered with enclaves of bankers and stockbrokers; it’s because a substantial section of the working class has always voted for parties other than Labour and now that vote is going to Ukip. Ford and Goodwin argue that Ukip’s success has reduced the swing to Labour among old, poor and male voters. But that’s different from saying that Ukip is eating into the existing Labour vote, as it clearly is into the Conservatives’.” David Edgar.

(2) See the collection of articles in Nouveau Visages des Extrêmes Droites. Manière de Voir. Le Monde Diplomatique. 134. Avril Mai 2014.

Update: SWP Party Notes,

Stand Up to Ukip: Doncaster 27 September
Ukip look odds on to win their first MP in the Clacton by-election on 9 October following the defection of Douglas Carswell to Ukip from the Tories.
Nigel Farage hopes to exploit the tensions inside the Tory party together with rising Islamaphobia to increase Ukip’s influence. This will drag politics further to the right, further boosting racist scapegoating.

The demonstration outside Ukip’s conference in Doncaster on Saturday 27 September is a key step in developing campaign against Ukip.

Every branch needs to think about transport to Doncaster. Approach trade unions for sponsorship and to publicise the demo and we should produce tickets to sell. (a template is attached). We should leaflet FE colleges and universities as they return. Using the Stand up to Ukip statement, which has an impressive list of ‘big’ names on it around work and with people we know locally is a good way to talk to people about the importance of coming to Doncaster and showing that there is organised opposition to Ukip.

More transport has been put on over the last week – including from Huddesfield, Chesterfield, Nottingham, West Midlands, Newcastle, Derby. For the full list go to standuptoukip.org

There are SUTU public meetings tonight in Manchester and Cambridge.

To order colour 2-sided A5 leaflets advertising the demo in Doncaster, emailinfo@standuptoukip.org – 1,000 cost £15.