SEOUL — One by one they came, taking seats next to a United Nations flag and stating their names for the record. Some kept calm. Some wept. One, as he spoke, used his left hand to clamp his trembling right hand to the table.They told stories about North Korea’s brutal network of criminal detention and political prison camps, and their evidence was physical: burns on their backs, scars on their heads, bodies ravaged by torture for acts that amount to crimes only in the North. They described forced abortions, public executions, constant hunger and ghoulish mind games played by prison guards, whose permission was needed even to catch and eat the camps’ many rats and mice.
Archive for the ‘Stalinism’ Category
Just when most of us thought that Mother Agnes (Mère Agnès-Mariam de la Croix( had disappeared from the political scene, George Galloway appears determined to resurrect her.
George Galloway interviews Mother Agnes
It is wonderful to see two dear and respected friends join forces for the sake of justice and peace.
This interview is part of George’s innovative new program, screening through “Russia Today” – “SPUTNIK… Orbiting the World with George Galloway”.
You can see the full episode (no.3) here.
Or indeed here, with the bonus of seeing John Wight, of the Socialist Unity Blog of Andrew Newman (Labour Party PPC),
In defending Mother Agnes, John Wight and Galloway thus join the ’9/11′ denial site Voltaire Net, and its founder, Thierry Meyssan – who currently lives in Damscus, Syria.
We have already Blogged on Mother Agnes and those interested can find here why we find this massacre-denying supporter of the Syrian regime beyond the pale.
With Breast Expanded. Brian Behan. MacGibbon 1964.
“For my own part. I had always contested the right of any party to control my actions and to force me to carry out decisions with which I did not agree. I believed then as I do now that a man must finally be true to his own conscience and follow the dictates of his own experience. The greatest of saints and humanists can founder and do terrible harm once they relinquish this right. My whole life has been a search for an organisation that would bring happiness to humanity, only to find that all organisations become an end in themselves, thriving on, and perpetuating, human misery and backwardness. As far I’m concerned, any organisation of more than one person (except one man and one woman) is suspect.” Brian Behan. With Breast Expanded. Page 42.
“Brendan and Brian did not share the same views, especially when the question of politics or nationalism arose. Brendan on his deathbed (presumably in jest) asked Cathal Goulding (Behan’s half-brother following a relationship between Stephen Behan and Goulding’s mother), then the Chief of Staff of the IRA, to ‘have that bastard Brian shot—we’ve had all sorts in our family, but never a traitor!’” Brendan Behan Wikipedia.
One of the best books ever written about the left is With Breast Expanded. It is a memoir, not a political tract. But many of the things we talk about today, about parties, about ‘democratic centralism’ and – above all – authority – come up in what was an extraordinary life.
The author, Brian Behan (1926 – 2002) was the brother of Brendan, who has an entry in the Oxford Companion to English Literature, and whose play, the Quaere Fellow remains seared in many people’s minds. Their family, raised in the Dublin slums and, then, council estates, of the 1930s and 40s, was left-wing, republican, and trade unionist. They were closely linked to the, pre- and post independence, IRA. His mother was a friend of Micheal Collins. The brothers (there was another, the songwriter, Dominic) were part of a circle of exceptionally talented working class and bohemian radicals. There was also a sister, Carmen.
Brendan was actively involved in the IRA from the age of 16. For his self-appointed attempt to blow up Liverpool Docks in 1939 Brendan served time in the Suffolk youth penal institution, Hollesley Bay. He wrote about this sentence in Borstal Boy.
Brian recalls in With Breast Expanded, “It still warms my heart to remember the long letters Brendan wrote me from Bostral when I was in Malin. (Page 202) Malin, the Artane Industrial School, was where petty thieving led Brian to spend his teens. Run by the Christian Brothers, “where the rule of the boot and the fist still predominates”, it was a physically and sexually abusive institution. Its control methods “would have put Stalin to shame.” (Page 27)
After Malin there was the Army Construction Corps, labouring, a job creation scheme (the ‘Turf camps’), Brian developed as a left-wing and trade union activist. Some accounts put him already as an anarcho-syndicalist. But With Breast Expanded he says that he was a Communist and met up with left-wing IRA men, influenced by Marxism. This “put me in violent opposition to nine-nine-point-nine per cent of my fellow men. Since a child I had known that the bosses were our enemy. And to me, my enemy’s enemy must be my friends. It never entered my head they might just be peas in a pod.”(Page 37)
Exported to to England.
Facing long-term unemployment and continuous trouble with the Irish authorities Brian left for England. “For hundreds of years prime cattle and mature men have been Ireland’s chief export to England.”(Page 95) The meat of With Breast Expanded is the account of his experiences on building sites, and as rank and file trade union activist. Hard manual labour, hard digs, and hard men, surrounded him. But Brian found the time, and the energy, to become politically active in the Communist Party of Great Britain. During a landmark strike on the Festival of Britain site, they were selling 180 Daily Workers a day and “defended every last action of Joe Stalin’s.”(Page 134)
During a campaign against the post-war ban on May Day marches Brain found himself sentenced to two months in Brixton Prison. Discharged the CP were waiting for him to take bring him to a public meeting on Korea, “At that precise moment I would sooner have shown my arse, or anything else for that matter, but a public meeting was not my idea of the best way to spend my first day of freedom.”(Page 124) held out in the open the defence of North Korea only attracted the “anger of the toilers”.
Brian’s account of the CPGB remains instructive. He felt real anger (which leaps from the page into your gut) about life in the Soviet bloc. The Soviet Embassy in London lavished food and free fags on the ‘labour movement’ guests at their regular beanos and did they same to those who visited their lands. In Moscow the city centre was like Hyde Park. But in the outskirts, “were slums, the likes of which I hadn’t seen since Dublin. Worse still, I found building workers toiling away under the threat of armed guards. I was told the guards were there to prevent sabotage. But it also seemed also a magnificently handy way to discourage agitation.”(Page 128) A trip as part of delegation to China showed the same divisions, “”in one you ate old paptoa leaves, in the other you wined and dined till your guts ached.”(Ibid)
Behan, as a rank-and-file building workers’ leader, ended up elected to National Executive Committee of the Communist Party, “selected by the top, and blessed by the sheep down below, would be a better description.”(Page 131)
The Communist Party was stuck in the doldrums. The contrast, well known to everybody on the (British) left, between influence in the trade unions and irrelevance in the ballot box clearly rankled with Behan, who described the former as the result of the reward of dedicated “fanatics”. The theory that the latter dismal results – he had got around 181 votes in an election – show the “mathematical average of loonies in each area of Britain” is appealing. (Page 146) If this is true the number of the mentally challenged has a much greater variety of electoral choices today, from UKIP further onwards, and has grown in size.
Hungary and After.
Deeper issues were at stake. Behan instinctively revolted at the lack of workers’ rights in Russia, and at accusations that Communists fiddled votes in the E.T.U. Discontent came to a boil over the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. He stood up for Edith Bone – a Hungarian born British Communist. The rebels released her. Nobody had heard of her for seven years. As Francis Beckett puts it, she was “tortured, half-starved, tormented by arthritis, her guts ravaged by the prison food, ragged and barefoot.” (1) An attempt to publicly condemn Bone’s imprisonment was lost – 31 to 1 on the National Executive. This was not the end of it. “..the Hungarian Revolution turned me upside down.”(Page 151) He wavered from supporting the revolution, but finally was driven to leave the Party. “It may have made little or no difference, but I would be a much happier person today it I’d fought harder for people who were resisting the guns and tanks of state capitalism.”(Page 151)
Behan did not desert the building sites, and battled – with further time in gaol – in the great South Bank strike of 1959. Left politics still loomed large in his life. Outside prison and outside the CP, he resolved to join one of the “fanatical little groups who waited to net the stranded fish. They were latter-day Communists hoping and praying for a return of a Trotskyite Russia. They rattled his old bones with all the fervour of black with-doctors. Each little sect claimed that it was the inheritor of the revealed truth.”(Page 169)
Healy and After.
To be exact he joined the group that later became the Workers’ Revolutionary Party, at the time known as the Club before it became known as the Socialist Labour League. (2) With Breast Expanded describes its leader, Gerry Healy, as follows, “He as a small man, made revolutionary by his failure to make a fortune selling floor-polish door to door.” (Page 169) A dispute, which Behan puts down to his proposal to put the Party’s printing press under workers’ control and others link to his hostility to Healy’s proposal to ‘enter’ (merge into) the Labour Party, soon erupted. (3) It was not long before Behan, and his friends, were expelled.
That is as may be, but this rings true. Healy shouting at a meeting, “I want all you comrades to appreciate that M.I.5 have now developed a new device which they simply point towards a window and pick up the sound vibrations that bounces off it.” “I ask all comrades to speak with their backs to the window, and if possible direct your sound waves to the floor.” “..as one man, lecturers, trade unionists and working women turned their chairs away from the window and commenced looking to the ground. One man, a psychoanalyst in a big London hospital, was bent double, his waves smashing into the wood blocks.””(Pages 170 – 171)
Behan briefly worked with London based anarchists and syndicalists, including some of the historic Spanish exiles. He had only a brief encounter with the latter. Of the former, and thinking of the Wobblies he describes them (and himself) as “the leavings of the great movement that rolled across the American prairie organising lumberjacks, wheat men and cotton pickers. Any resemblance between us and them was purely coincidental.”(Page 183) Behan noted the self-regard of one “conceited wretch” who brought a tape recorder to keep intact his meeting speech – and his alone – for posterity. Yet these were not the anarchists in fashion in the late 50s and early 60s, as CND and the Committee of 100 rose. He was spared the high-minded, but even more narcissistic, pacifist anarchists recently brought to the screen in the recent Ginger and Rosa (2012).
It is not the intention to write a précis of With Breast Expanded, though the memoir is so good that a horde of further anecdotes and incisive words come to mind. Behan, if not always likable, is lovable. He is all the better for this final citation, about his brother Brendan – amongst many, less complementary thoughts, “When, in my ignorance, I sneered at homosexuals, he turned on me like a tiger and told me to keep my dirty ignorant thoughts to myself.”(Page 201) We could equally note that he, despite admiration for his formidable mother Kathleen, never exactly caught the importance of feminism,. His wife, Celia, appears on in a side-role. The book’s epigraph is not designed to win friends in that quarter. Brian’s further career (he died in 2002 at 75 years old) as a lecturer, writer and a playwright, was impressive. He never did find the organisation that would take decisions he never disagreed with, or indeed, any party at all. Perhaps we are all better off for that.
Thanks to JM for information on the Dublin Left.
(1) Page 134. The Enemy Within, The Rise and Fall of the British Communist Party, Francis Beckett. 1995. Beckett offers an excellent account of the effect of the Hungarian Revolution on the British Communist Party.
(2) “Then, in 1958, Brian Behan obtained work as a labourer on McAlpines South Bank site. Whoever took him on very quickly learned their mistake, a very costly mistake. Behan was fired and, despite the fact that there were a number of inexperienced and unorganised workers on the site, the shop stewards committee – which was led by Hugh Cassidy and was both experienced and resolute – called a strike. The whole organisational weight of the Club was thrown behind the dispute. Special issues of The Newsletter were produced and strike bulletins and leaflets rolled off the press. For the first time since the general strike of 1926, middle class revolutionaries joined the workers on the picket line. Brian Behan’s brother Brendan (the playwright) appeared dispensing ten bob notes and not a few pints of Guinness. The police were much in evidence, arrests were made and, after one fracas, Brian Behan was arrested and given three months in Shepton Mallet prison.” Jim Higgins. 1956 and All That (1993)
(3) “Politically, Behan could offer no serious alternative to Healy’s opportunism, his call for the proclamation of a revolutionary party by a few hundred militants being foolishly ultra-leftist. But, contrary to Healyite mythology, Behan was not so sectarian that he denied the need for fraction work in the Labour Party. Nor was he incapable of making some correct criticisms of Healy’s unprincipled political manoeuvring. ‘The zig-zags of policy from “right” to “left” and back again’, Behan wrote, ‘result from the opportunist considerations of a small clique …. Those who opposed the turn to open work a year ago were denounced as reformists and capitulators to the right wing, but now the leadership are fighting to return to the old form of work in the Labour Party.”
“It was on the organisational question – the concentration of power in Healy’s hands – that Behan’s attack really hit home. Not only did Healy hold the posts of SLL general secretary, IC secretary and, in practice, League treasurer and print shop manager, Behan pointed out, but he hired and fired full-timers and purchased expensive equipment, all without prior consultation with the League’s elected bodies. Behan also opposed as grossly undemocratic Healy’s control of the organisation’s assets, the SLL’s press being jointly owned by Healy, the Banda brothers and Bob Shaw. Behan described it as ‘farcical that even if the whole conference should decide on a change of policy, four people could frustrate the will of the conference by simply splitting and walking away with the assets’. He proposed to place all the League’s property under the control of the membership.” Bob Pitt. The Rise and Fall of Gerry Healy. Chapter 5.
Is this Enough?
An important interview with Joseph Daher, a member of the Syrian Revolutionary Left Current, in International Viewpoint today makes the following point,
What is your response to some on the left who assert that the Syrian opposition are proxies for Western imperialism and the oil rich Gulf states?
The problem with some of the Western left, especially the Stalinists, is that they have been analysing the Syrian revolutionary process from a geo-political perspective, ignoring completely the socio-economic and political dynamism on the ground in Syria. Many of them also consider Iran, Russia, or Syria to be anti-imperialist states struggling against the USA, which is wrong on every aspect. Our choice should not be to choose between on one side the USA and Saudi Arabia and on the other side Iran and Russia, our choice is revolutionary masses struggling for their emancipation.
The background to this is the assessment that the democratic and social revolution against Assad, through local coordinating committees, continues.
We have to understand more generally the crucial role played by the popular committees and organisations in the continuation of the revolutionary process, they are the ultimate actors that allow the popular movement to resist. This is not to undermine the role played by the armed resistance, but even they are dependent on the popular movement to continue the battle, otherwise without it we would not stand a chance.
In this respect the role of the Islamists has been challenged,
The Syrian revolutionary masses have increasingly opposed the authoritarian and reactionary policies of these groups. In the city of Raqqa, which has been liberated from the forces of the regime since March 2013, many popular demonstrations occurred against the authoritarian actions of Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS in the city. Similar demonstrations took place with masses challenging this kind of behavior in Aleppo and other cities.
It should be said as well that Jabhat al Nusra has not hesitated to strike deals with the Assad regime, for example the regime is paying more than $150 million Syrian lire [AU $2.4 million] monthly to them to guarantee oil is kept pumping through two major pipelines in Banias and Latakia. Jabhat al Nusra fighters have also been involved in other businesses.
The Syrian National Council, instead of defending the principles of the revolution and doing everything possible to develop the democratic components of the FSA, have let these groups, which are and were part of the counter-revolution since their establishment, to develop without condemning them and actually providing them with cover. These groups, just like the Syrian regime want to divide the Syrian people into sectarian and ethnic entities. The Syrian revolution wants to break the sectarian and ethnic division.
Different leftist forces have been involved in the Syrian revolutionary process since the revolutionary process began. We can find numerous smaller leftist groups and youth in Syria participating in the revolutionary process, in popular committees on the ground, organisation of demonstrations and of the provision of services to the population. The left has mostly been engaged in the civil work, in opposition to the armed work.
From the very beginning, despite our modest capacities, we, the Current of the Revolutionary Left has not once faltered in our engagement with the revolution, calling for democracy and socialism. We have struggled alongside the people and all democratic forces for the victory of this great popular revolution, just as we struggle for the formation of a socialist workers’ party.
The Labour Representation Committee makes this, very different, assessment of the forces opposed to Assad.
The tragedy for the Syrian people is that what began as a mass movement for democracy, as part of the wider Arab spring, has been largely hijacked by western-backed and Gulf-funded anti-secular and anti-democratic groups, some linked to Al Qaeda and extreme forms of Islamic fundamentalism, as Owen Jones recently pointed out (Independent – Owen Jones). The success of such forces could lead to a wholesale sectarian bloodbath.
This analysis is based on the following,
As Sami Ramadani pointed out in the July edition of Labour Briefing: ‘During the past two years, an assortment of terrorists flooded in from Libya, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Europe. Some are flown to Turkey to receive their arms and funds, an effort coordinated by a specially set up CIA HQ in Turkey. Saudi rulers generally back the Wahhabi Salafis and pro-Saudi secular forces associated with the Lebanese right wing, while Qatar backs the Muslim Brotherhood. However, Qatari and Saudi funds were given freely, especially during the 18 months of the fighting, to anyone who wanted to fight in Syria or defect from the regime. Qatar’s dictatorial rulers alone have spent $3 billion within two years in its efforts to topple Assad’s regime.’ (Labour Briefing – Battleground Syria).
We note, with great interest, that the Novueau Parti Anticapitaliste, (part of the Fourth International that Publishes International Viewpoint) has this to say about what should have been done to avert these developments.
Mais nous réaffirmons que les grandes puissances occidentales, en refusant de livrer les armes que réclament depuis tant de mois les structures collectives de lutte dont s’est doté ce peuple, portent aussi une lourde responsabilité dans la perpétuation du régime assassin, tout en contribuant au développement de courants obscurantistes religieux qui constituent un second ennemi mortel pour le peuple syrien.
But, we reaffirm that the principal Western Powers, by refusing the supply arms – demanded for months by the Syrian people’s collective structures of struggle – bear a heavy responsibility in sustaining the murdering regime. This has equally contributed to the development of religious obscurantist currents, who are mortal enemies of the Syrian people.
This call for arming the Syrian opposition has not unnaturally caused waves inside the NPA – see here,
All the evidence points to the Labour’s Representation Committee being right and the NPA/International Viewpoint having wildly exaggerated the strength of democratic and left forces in the Syrian opposition as it is presently fighting.
Behind this are wider differences inside the Arab left.
Nicolas Dot-Pouillard in le Monde Diplomatique noted last year that
“..unlike Egypt and Tunisia, the Syrian revolt has not had unanimous support from the Arab left. There is a split between those who sympathise with the protestors’ demands and those who fear foreign interference, both political and military”
….unconditional supporters of the revolution do not seem to be in the majority either. Most of them are on the far left of the political spectrum, usually Trotskyist (the Socialist Forum in Lebanon, the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt) or Maoist (the Democratic Way in Morocco). They have links with sections of the opposition, such as Ghayath Naisse’s Syrian Revolutionary Left. Since spring 2011 they have taken part in occasional demonstrations in front of Syrian embassies and consulates in their own countries. There are also some independent leftwing intellectuals who support insurrection, like the Lebanese historian Fawwaz Traboulsi. They demand the fall of the regime, and rule out dialogue. Even though they champion peaceful popular protest, they believe the rebels have the right to resort to force of arms. Far left supporters of revolution distance themselves from the Syrian National Council (SNC) (5), one of the main opposition coalitions, because they believe its links with countries such as Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia could compromise the independence of the popular movement.
..the majority of the Arab left are maintaining a prudent distance from the Syrian uprising. They condemn its militarisation, which they say only benefits radical Islamist groups and the foreign fighters flocking to Syria. They criticise the sectarianism of the conflict, pitting first Alawite then Christian minorities against a Sunni majority radicalised by repression, which they fear will lead to unending civil war. And they worry about the regional and international balance of power. With Iran and Syria set against the Gulf monarchies, and Russia and China against the US, Syria has been put on the front line of a great international war game. The left tends to favour Iran and Syria, and Russia and China, rather than those they oppose.
For all their courage one gets the impression that the leftist forces in the Syrian opposition, not to mention any armed activity, are small in number. Has the “prudence” of those who did not joint them been proved wrong? The LCC’s judgement would indicate that it has not.
Dot-Pouillard’s conclusion remains valuable,
the position that much of the Arab left takes on Syria reflects its own clash with political Islam. That is why parties that normally claim to be “revolutionary” and “progressive”, even if they are not necessarily Marxist, are, paradoxically, hoping for a negotiated solution and gradual transition in Syria, for fear of disillusionment in the future.
One could add that those forces – from Counterfire to the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) – on the European left that once saw progressive aspects in political Islam are particularly in disarray.
Their allies in the Muslim Initiative are now engaged in protesting for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood – here the ally of a key player (the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood) in the anti-Assad alliance.
More openly the Muslim Association of Britain – which jointly organised with the StWC the big demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq – has this to say,
We call on all activists and workers to support the revolution in every field and arena, everywhere; and to pressurise the political establishments to take firm action against the tyrannical Assad regime.
Dr Omer El-Hamdoon – MAB President said, “Out thoughts continue to be with the Syrian people, who have faced more than two and a half years of oppression; and more recently this chemical attack.”
“It is about time the international community takes firm action to put an end to the killing and destruction that it taking place in front of our eyes.”
As a group closely aligned to the Muslim Brotherhood we await with interest an protest from the MAB against a Western armed response.
Or perhaps its ‘anti-imperialism’ was always a matter of variable geometry.
UN Investigation into North Korean Human Rights Abuses.
This has not received the attention it merits on the left.
North Korean prison camp survivors tell U.N. investigators of rights abuses
Reuters. Public executions and torture are daily occurrences in North Korea’s prisons, according to dramatic testimony from former inmates at a U.N. Commission of Inquiry that opened in South Korea’s capital on Tuesday.
This is the first time that the North’s human rights record has been examined by an expert panel, although the North, now ruled by a third generation of the founding Kim family, denies that it abuses human rights. It refuses to recognize the commission and has denied access to investigators.
Harrowing accounts from defectors now living in South Korea related how guards chopped off a man’s finger, forced inmates to eat frogs and a mother to kill her own baby.
“I had no idea at all … I thought my whole hand was going to be cut off at the wrist, so I felt thankful and grateful that only my finger was cut off,” said Shin Dong-hyuk, punished for dropping a sewing machine.
Born in a prison called Camp 14 and forced to watch the execution of his mother and brother whom he turned in for his own survival, Shin is North Korea’s best-known defector and camp survivor. He said he believed the U.N. panel was the only way to improve human rights in the isolated and impoverished state.
“Because the North Korean people cannot stand up with guns like Libya and Syria … I personally think this is the first and last hope left,” Shin said. “There is a lot for them to cover up, even though they don’t admit to anything.”
There are a 150,000-200,000 people in North Korean prison camps, according to independent estimates, and defectors say many inmates are malnourished or worked to death.
After more than a year and a half ruling North Korea, Kim Jong Un, 30, has shown few signs of changing the rigid rule of his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, state founder Kim Il Sung. Neither have there been signs of a thaw or loss of control inside the tightly controlled state.
Jee Heon-a, 34, told the Commission that from the first day of her incarceration in 1999, she discovered that salted frogs were one of the few things to eat.
“Everyone’s eyes were sunken. They all looked like animals. Frogs were hung from the buttons of their clothes, put in a plastic bag and their skins peeled off,” she said. “They ate salted frogs and so did I.”
Speaking softly, she took a deep breath when describing in detail how a mother was forced to kill her own baby.
“It was the first time I had seen a newborn baby and I felt happy. But suddenly there were footsteps and a security guard came in and told the mother to turn the baby upside down into a bowl of water,” she said.
“The mother begged the guard to spare her, but he kept beating her. So the mother, her hands shaking, put the baby face down in the water. The crying stopped and a bubble rose up as it died. A grandmother who had delivered the baby quietly took it out.”
Few experts expect the commission to have an immediate impact on the rights situation, although it will serve to publicize a campaign that has little visibility globally.
“The U.N. has tried various ways to pressure North Korea over the years in the field of human rights, and this is a way to raise the pressure a bit,” said Bill Schabas, professor of international law at Middlesex University in Britain.
“But it’s obvious that North Korea is a tough nut to crack and the U.N.’s means are limited. There would need to be profound political changes in North Korea to make headway in the field of human rights.”
But there appeared to be little interest in the issue in Seoul. Only a few dozen people, including journalists, attended the public hearing at a city center university.
Defectors are largely shunned or ignored in South Korea and eke out an existence in menial jobs, if they have them at all, according to official data.
Kim Jong Un stepped up the nuclear weapons and rocket programs launched by his father with a third nuclear test and two rocket launches and emphasizes the military in his speeches.
This year, he threatened the United States, South Korea and Japan with nuclear attack and although the country’s bellicose moves were dismissed as empty rhetoric, Kim succeeded in driving tension on the divided Korean peninsula sharply higher.
The hope of many activists would be for the Kim dynasty to fall and for leaders in Pyongyang to be put on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, although the U.N. commission says this is not possible for the moment.
On its website, the Commission said it was “not appropriate” to comment on any ICC jurisdiction over potential crimes against humanity as North Korea had not signed the statutes that would enable the court to prosecute.
I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream. That’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor . . . and surviving.
The councillors, who were elected to Bradford council last May following Galloway’s historic byelection win in March that year, say they may quit Respect and work as independents after hearing in the media that the 58-year-old’s ambitions apparently lie in the capital, rather than West Yorkshire.
Galloway’s response on Tuesday to the criticism was to suspend two councillors for disloyalty and accuse all five of “conspiring to seize executive power”. Guardian.
Hat-tip to Liam.
Galloway replies (we have cut to the essential in a long, some might say, rambling, text).,
Karmani and the other councillors were all elected just five weeks after my by-election win in the city. None had ever been elected to anything before, none but Karmani was a legend outside his own street.
All were elected with a description on their ballot paper saying thus; The Respect Party (George Galloway). It can scarcely be doubted that they were elected on my coat tails. But that didn’t stop them stabbing me in the back. And almost as soon as the ink was dry on their party membership cards.
The proximate cause of this latest brouhaha however is about something much more prosaic. A ticket to contest a council seat in the forthcoming local elections next May.
If I had succumbed to the political blackmail of giving (I am the Respect Party’s Nominating Officer) the nomination for the Manningham Ward in Bradford West to a man these councillors demanded I should, then the Guardian piece would never have been written and neither would this response.
But I refused to do so. The man they wanted is an inconsequential obscurity except in this regard. At the time of my by-election victory he wasn’t even a member of Respect. He did absolutely nothing in my campaign. He waited until we won to join us. Unlike the nominee I did choose, who was, my chief by-election organiser.
Naturally, I have all the paper-work to prove this.
It is never wise to give in to blackmail. As Detective Inspector Khan might well have told us if he hadn’t been in the dock today, blackmailers always come back for more.
We must all hope Galloway is well.
“I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s, he’s a great man. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas” …