Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Socialist Unity

Socialist Unity to Back Russell Brand Political Bid?

with 6 comments

Russell Brand

New Oscar Wilde says Socialist Unity.

Under the title,

Russell Brand waxes lyrical on politics, corporations, revolution.

Andy Newman says in the comment’s box,

There seems to be a lot of interest in an alternative to the Lib/Lab/Con.

A certain ‘John’, more than familiar to readers of the magnificent Blog, Socialist Unity, says,

Russell Brand is an asset to progressive politics.

He puts me in mind of a 21st century Oscar Wilde.

But a sterner voice, Comrade Newman, then adds, with his best grammar,

But seriously, there is a problem with saying voting makes no difference, you dont have to be a Labour supporter to recognise how my worse this govt is than that of Gordon Brown.

So voting made a difference to all those blighted by the bedroom tax, etc

We will make a helpful suggestion.

Why not select Russell Brand for a key political position?

Deputy to George Galloway for London Mayor?

This, we add is perhaps Brand’s finest political and cultural movement,

Russell Brand is an English comedian,actor and presenter of television and radio. He guest starred in an Season 22 episode called Angry Dad: The Movie as himself. His ex-wife Katy Perryguest starred in the Season 22 episode The Flight Before Christmas as herself.


Written by Andrew Coates

October 25, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Socialist Unity: Worst Political Blog, We Wonder why…..

with 8 comments


Thus Spake the Strop.

Phil has published the eagerly awaited list of “Worst Political Blogs 2013“.

Socialist Unity comes tops,

Andy Newman comments,

Over the past several years I have detected a slight hint that this blog, and me personally, are not universally popular, and obviously this has caused me many sleepless nights, and I often burst spontaneously into tears. However, I soldier on, and despite the risk of further damage to my delicate and sensitive ego, it is worth perhaps considering the state of blogging, as revealed by this poll.

Newman is to be saluted as the brave little soldier he is.

He then says (accurately),

The phenomenon of “blogging” has moved on, and probably declined, compared to a few years ago. It has to an extent been overtaken by Twitter and Facebook, and it is rarer for new blogs to be able to break through into the public consciousness. There is certainly less of a sense of a blogging “community”, that used to be evidenced through “memes” and “carnivals” by blogs with shared affinities.

This means that “blogging” has in a sense transformed into a form of hybrid online publishing, whereas it used to be more of a peer to peer exchange. Blogging has ceased to be a “social scene”, and the heroic era has settled down into a much more staid and even formulaic collection of fairly well defined websites, who produce few surprises. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a different thing.

This is not only true but the debate on the veil on this Blog has been carried out in more detail on Facebook.

For reference (Hat-Tip Rosie), most of the arguments, for or against,  are covered here.

Yes but… the Niqab debate

In its own entry into these complex issues Socialist Unity has helpfully reminded us of its mettle.

A certain ‘John’ – no doubt related to John Wight the roaring apologist for the Iranian regime – comments on this post,

“Fascism in our midst courtesy of the Sun”

This is on the Sun’s hostile views on the face-veil.

A certain ‘John’ comments,

there are some on the ‘left’ who will approve of the Sun’s campaign. They need to be spurned and unveiled as the racists they truly are.

Who approves of the ‘Sun’s views’ is left unsaid.

But we can guess that this inaccurate claim is aimed somewhere.

Is it Jean-Luc Mélenchon?

Or somebody closer to home?

Whatabout the women?

These are John Wight’s views on women’s rights in Iran,

Following the Revolution the status of women changed. The main social group to inherit political power– the traditional middle class – valued most highly the traditional role of women in a segregated society. Accordingly, laws were enacted to restrict the role of women in public life; these laws affected primarily women of the secularized middle and upper classes. The attire of women became a major issue. Although it was not mandated that women who had never worn a chador would have to wear this garment, it was required that whenever women appeared in public they had to have their hair and skin covered, except for the face and hands. The law has been controversial among secularised women, although for the majority of women, who had worn the chador even before the Revolution, the law had only a negligible impact.

No democracy is without its imperfections. Under the Islamic Republic, Iranians, no matter where they happen to live throughout the world, have the right to vote in elections. Women are debarred from standing for office, which is certainly regressive in itself. However, this differs from democratic elections in the West only in the sense that debarment here is based on economic status rather than gender. In effect this ensures that only the wealthy within western societies have any meaningful chance of holding high office.

Furthermore, while women in the US and Britain can stand for election, even sit at the heads of their respective governments, the reality is that both of the aforementioned nations have been responsible for depriving women throughout the Middle East and beyond of a far more fundamental right – namely the right not to be slaughtered or see their families slaughtered in the cause of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’.

Green Party Begins to Lose its Grip.

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Mirroring the worst excesses of left wing sects?

From our good friends at Socialist Unity.

Reinstate the Bromsgrove One – Rectify the Anomaly Soon!
By Abu Jamal

As the Green Party of England and Wales gathers in Nottingham for it Spring Conference featuring the 40th Anniversary of the Founding of the Party, one person who will be not attending this event is Mark France.

Mark a longstanding Labour Movement and Socialist Activist who joined the Green Party in June 2010 was Expelled by a decision of the Green Party Regional Council at a meeting held on the Weekend of 2nd/3rd February 2012.

Mark was never given any clear indication of what charges were laid against him or provided with any evidence or documentation relating to these charges. Mark was not able to provide any defence. There was no hearing in which Mark was able to participate in nor was he able to present any defence. Mark was given no clear indication of the Disciplinary Process despite numerous unanswered attempts to clarify this with Green Party Officers.

To and insult to a series of injuries Mark was not even informed of the outcome of this Disciplinary Process until after he protested loudly via social media at his mistreatment. When he finally [19th February] received a special delivery letter from the party

For a political party of the Left with an avowed Republican Socialist Feminist, Caroline Lucas as the Green Party MP in Westminster, the treatment of Mark France seems to make a mockery of the Green Party rally cry ‘Fair is Worth Fighting For!’

The article continues,

At the same Green Party Regional Council meeting on the 3rd of February another longstanding activist from Cardiff, Anne Greasby, was also expelled from the party. Her ‘crimes’ seemed to centre on public criticism of Pippa Barlotti the Leader of the tiny semi-autonomous Green Party in Wales.

In Mark’s case, some jokey comments made on this website over two years ago were apparently used to accuse Mark of “promoting violent revolution under the banner of the Green Party” this reason for his expulsion was given to a London Federation of Green Parties meeting by a member of the GPRC.

If the “Libertarian” Green Party is capable of mirroring the worst excesses of left wing sects then something deeply disturbing is affecting the political culture in England. Finding the source of this undemocratic culture of control is something that all socialists need to address. Defence of the victims of this culture is part of rebuilding a genuine spirit of social solidarity.

More details of this sorry tale and the Greens’ “Dispute Resolution Committee”.

This should be read with the following:

Why I resigned from the Green Party

Joseph Healy, a founder member of the Green Left. 2012.

The battle lines became obvious over the issue of local government budgets and cuts at the GPEW conference in spring 2011. At that point the Greens had not yet taken control of Brighton, but it was clearly on the mind of the party leadership.

An amendment was put to an anti-cuts policy motion by Green Left and some of the Young Greens. It called for local Green councils to fight the cuts and to defy the government by setting an illegal ‘needs budget’. Councillors were dragooned by the leadership to speak against it and finally it was defeated by just 3 votes.

For many of us this was the writing on the wall and a sign that should the Greens take Brighton, they would implement the cuts. It led to a real fall in morale among many of us on the left of the party.

Painfully aware of the impact of any cuts budget in Brighton on the national party’s reputation and on its relationship with the wider anti-cuts movement, as well as the new political movements such as Occupy, I supported a motion calling for a last minute debate with a Green councillor from Brighton on the budget there. The motion fell and the majority abstained, prepared to accept any decision reached by the Brighton councillors.

It was now clear to me that the iceberg was fast approaching the SS Green Brighton, with its consequent impact on the reputation of the Green Party nationally. The collision happened when the cuts budget was passed at the end of February. However, the budget passed was even worse than predicted and was the Labour-Tory version, which the Greens swallowed whole in order to remain in office.

A few days later at the party’s national conference, despite vigorous objections from Green Left, the party voted to support the Brighton decision. Pragmatism had defeated principle, realpolitik triumphed over radicalism.

I resigned on the same day.

Healy adds this on  how the Greens Treat dissent. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew Coates

February 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Andy Newman, Witchfinder General: Does He Speak for the GMB?

with 23 comments


Andy Newman Prepares for Work.

Socialist Unity may have bitten often more than it chew.

It has indulged in what many people consider to be red-baiting of AWL member Janine Booth. She  is now London Transport rep on the RMT’s national executive. A great fault in Andy Newman’s eyes.

Andy Newman remarks that given that the,

AWL is deeply hostile to the politics of Bob Crow, then it is hard to see how productive relations between lay members and full-time officials can be maintained, when Janine is committed to writing leaflets that undermine officials who the AWL describe as bureaucrats, and by implication break confidences (telling you what the “bureaucrat” won’t).

In other words Newman insinuates that Janine Booth will break RMT rules regarding the confidential nature of union business. This is an extremely serious charge.

He goes into make this claim,

The AWL says that their aim in RMT is to “prioritise recruiting new AWL members”. Significantly this is regarded as more important than strengthening the union. To this aim in May 2011 they set up a Tube workers’ AWL branch that caucuses around introducing their controversial politics into RMT branches.

“We have prioritised political discussion in the branch, increasing our confidence to sell the paper to more and more people. Together, we discussed, wrote and moved an amendment on Libya to last month’s regional meeting. Although we lost the vote, we impressed some people by articulating clear, distinctive and thought-out views” [AWL expands on London Underground, http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2011/05/04/awl-expands-london-underground  ]

Most unions in Britain have smaller and larger alliances of left, centre, or right-wing activists who stand for election. The AWL takes part in some, and, apparently in this case, organises its members who work on the Tube around their own body.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

It is no secret.

Newman was able to find the AWL statements even from darkest Wiltshire.

But wait, London Underground workers have faced a long (very long – going back to the 1980s) campaign against them. Led by the Evening Standard.

Some of the flavour of this attack – which can be called a witch-hunt – is given last year in the same paper (Here).

The three men orchestrating the RMT union’s two weeks of strike action from behind the scenes can be named today.

Steve Hedley, Brian Munro and Pat Sikorski each have a long history of battling Tube managers and leading militant campaigns.

While RMT general secretary Bob Crow is the union’s public face, he is said to be backed by an even further-Left clique of activists.

Socialist Unity seems to think that they should make their own attack on a “far-left clique of activists”.

For a GMB Branch Secretary (Wiltshire and Swindon) – Andy Newman –  to red-bait Janine Booth in her capacity as a RMT official is a very serious breach of normal  union protocol.

Put simply, officials, including lay-officials, do not publicly attack other unions, including activists in other unions.

How does this work for the GMB?

The GMB is run democratically from the centre.

To illustrate how this happens one of its principles (from the GMB Rule Book)  is that “Members or branches must not issue any addresses or circulars without getting approval from the regional council, regional committee or Central Executive Council. Also, members must not make our business known to  unauthorised organisations, unofficial journals or the print media without getting approval. “

Is this latest attack on members of other unions known to the GMB?

We doubt it, as we have great respect for the union.

We wonder how Newman squares his Web activities with his duties to his own union.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm

In Defence of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty Against ‘Socialist’ ‘Unity’.

with 15 comments


Socialist Unity, no doubt in response to dramatically falling readership figures, has just published a bilious attack on the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL).

The article is clearly a labour of love, crafted over the long idle hours of a Swindon GMB Webmaster.

His main source of information is the no doubt up-to-the-minute,  “John Sullivan “As soon as this pub closes, the British Left Explained” 1988.

We are in all in favour of Blogs devoting time to Leftist Trainspotting.

In this vein we post a response – since Andy Newman has decided not to go for “ideological capitulation to the self-image by which Western liberalism promotes itself” and has censored my reply (Newman censors all the time, poor lamb).


Newman observes that the AWL, in its various forms (Socialist Organiser, Workers’ Fight and so on) is, we learn, a Trotskyist group – “among the most hard-line”. That “the AWL has followed a unique path of courting every other Trotskyist group, merging, and then acrimoniously splitting, taking handful of converts won through the sharp polemics.

a strategy modelled on the work of the veteran American Trotskyist James Cannon as described in a collection of his essays “The Struggle for a Proletarian Party” [Resistance Books, 2001], and is a practice known as the “French Turn”, following advice from Trotsky to his followers in France in 1934 to join the mass Socialist Party / SFIO (equivalent to the British Labour Party), and take over its youth wing. The French Trotskyists agitated against the Socialist Party forming a joint front with the Radical Party to oppose fascism, and then used this as a pretext to split the SFIO, thus creating an acrimonious and divisive faction fight that diverted energy away from the urgent struggle against fascism.

which manifests itself as being completely charming and grooming potential converts, or appearing as model members of organisations they are seeking to enter; and then once they have built a relationship, they deliberately exacerbate a climate of tension and polemic to either force potential converts to choose whether to join or leave the cult, or to split organisations they have joined, hopefully taking some recruits with them.

The author explains that, “One area where the AWL has nevertheless been consistent is their extreme hostility to the socialist countries (my emphasis) and anyone who sees any merit in them.

Newman, despite this unargued claim about ‘socialist’ countries is prepared to derive some of the AWL’s faults from the ‘Leninist’ party internal regime and its fierce disputes,

J. Arch Getty argues how internal bulletins and statements from the Bolshevik leadership were carefully drafted, with the expectation that exact phrases and careful linguistic constructions would be analysed and used, shaping both action, and a shared perception of reality within the group. Competing theories and texts were therefore hard to assimilate or compromise with; and a particular aspect of Leninist thought is the creation of symbolic categories of opponents, who are demonised, often through the use of apocryphal “atrocity stories” .

This is

consciously replicated by the AWL, whose documents stress the virtue of fierce polemic, and require all members to participate in perpetual political education classes. Their documents clearly give a messianic significance to such training as being of world-historic significance in perpetuating what they believe are the only ideas that can lead to human liberation.

He then compares the AWL to a cult, by listing various aspects of “coercive persuasion” (repetition of ideas, entrapment, weakening of members’  critical faculties).

When a combination of these techniques is employed then group consciousness subsumes individual will; one of the manifestations is that individual personalities converge towards the group norm. Cordón stresses that these techniques work on anyone, and not just the stupid or weak willed. Therefore cult members can appear highly intelligent and impressively socially adept, and yet their loyalty to the group overrides moral norms of how they behave to people outside the group.


There is some truth in this description of the AWL – as it would apply to any single small left group and factions within any party in the political spectrum.

In passing I note the worst I’ve  heard of Sean Matgamna  is that he can be overbearing.

Outside of his small circle Newman is a political innocent but even he should know that Politics are based on strong affective ties, that small groups tends to attract new recruits by ‘love bombing’, and that when people agree with what the group says they tend always to weaken their critical faculties.

As Newman does towards his hero, George Galloway – no matter how tarnished he is.

They also tend to ‘hate’ their enemies.

Newman can only expressed hatred  towards comrade Jim Denham and -in  what can only be called witch-hunting – beloved comrade Janine Booth.

He accuses the AWL of “dissembling.”

This was recently on the Socialist Unity site.

In polling conducted at the weekend, the Respect candidate in the Rotherham by-election, Yvonne Ridley, has the lead over Labour.Polling conducted in the Croydon North by-election suggests that Lee Jasper, the Respect candidate, is now neck and neck with the Labour Party to win the constituency. This overturns a Labour majority of over 16,000 at the last general election. This is nothing short of astounding and is testament to the excellent campaign team, candidate and brilliant policies we have.

Left Traditions.

I come from a very different European left tradition to the AWL.

In contrast to the large swathe of the British Trotskyist  left that is influenced by James Canon, I am influenced by his Nemesis, Michel Rapitis (‘Pablo’).

From first premises the Tendance is not in agreement with the ‘Canon strategy’ , nor for that matter with Pablo’s own brief excursion into ‘deep entrism’.

The AWL’s past can be discussed in these terms or more directly  by the experience of groups that have engaged in ‘unity’ with them, from the WSL, Briefing to the Weekly Worker.

These have not been, in many people’s view, happy times.

I would prefer to look at a contemporary real process of left unity: the French left united in the Front de Gauche – Communists, Ecologists, Trotskyists, Left Socialists and Republicans.

Socialist Unity has largely ignored this development because it does not fit into its own template.

In that kind of unity, the AWL, the Weekly Worker and the left that engages in “Western liberalism”, that is free and open debate, are welcome.

Not the mean-spirited Andy Newman.

His treament of the AWL is  indeed is a sign of the total commitment of a sectarian zealot.

Socialist Unity: From Soviet Union to the GDR, and the People’s Republic of China.

with 8 comments

The Duty of Every Revolutionary is to Defend the Soviet Union.

The Workers’ World Party, the Morning Star, the Party of Socialism and Liberation, George Galloway’s Green Shorts, and Socialist Unity, have been discussing joint-action. Internationally. That at least is the message we hear. As part of this on-going merger initiative study-groups have been organised.

The below is an extract from a verbatim account (leaked to TC)  of one such meeting. On The Socialist Sixth of the World. Hewlett Johnson (Fred Kite collection).

Introduction (Ydna Wennam).

Today is the anniversary of the publication of The Socialist Sixth of World (Second Edition, 1939). For generations this book has inspired socialists. For all its faults, and Hewett’s  account here is a little too over-optimistic; but is a useful reminder that for the majority of its citizens the Soviet Union was a society that basically worked. There mass popular participation in the organisations helped in sustaining the society. To those who talk of labour camps and GPU, NKVD, or GUGB, these bodies and their operations were actually quite popular,  at   least as far as one can tell from their  enthusiastic  endorsements at Party conferences and public rallies. There was political repression, but you need to look at what actually happened, rather than assuming some Orwellian template. The groups who were liable to be persecuted were anti-social semi-criminal people; and those who courted political (and sadly sometime just social) links with the West. Let us not forget that the Soviets were encircled by hostile powers. Or that some groups openly encouraged the ‘overthrow’ of socialist power. There were widespread reports of wrecking and illegal factional activity. We can all accept constructive reservations.  But the opposition to the Soviets seems to be towards any attempt to even understand the USSR, or to acknowledge the degree to which it deviated from the Western propaganda stereotype.

Johnson came from a religious background – like many comrades in the fast-growing Respect Party. Yet he recognised that  the Soviet Union’s official atheism allowed full scope for private belief – if kept well  and truly to oneself. In fact the regime was “Christian in spirit”. A society in which “Love is the fulfilling of the Law” (page 368) Nor was he uncritical. “The order of Soviet Union is far from perfect” he noted, “Naturally the new order lies open to criticism in a hundred minor points.”(Page 87)

The material achievements of the Soviet Union were already apparent in the 1930s when Johnson wrote. He cites the growth in the agricultural production: the sugar-beet harvest alone is to show a further increase of 37.2% – as the five year plan products. “The sale of soap in the Soviet Union has increased many dozenfold since 1913.” (Page 212). Tea-leaf output is to be increased by 1939 to 3 million!  In an amazing anticipation of modern green thinking the author states that “Home grown food saves transport” (page 159) Rippling corn fields, and ballet in the evening!

We cannot recommend this book too highly – for all the comments one may one have about its details. Its message is clear. Who could not inspired by these lines? “Dawn breaks over the east. And in that fresh dawn men see the promise of a new world, nor a perfect world, and not a Utopian world, but at least a  world freed from poverty and explotiation…a world where mankind, realised at last from much that binds it to the earth, may find within itself a nobler and more enduring goodness and beauty.”(Page 384)

I pause for a moment to let this sink in.

Nor did this progress leave everyday life unaffected. The USSR , regarding personal sexual relationships, and respect for women as being the equals of men, then the Soviet Union was a surprisingly innovative and successful society. Stalin’s closest comrades, such as Beria, gave women many opportunities. And can I say that the Party General Secretary was a good dancer, a superb one, unlike Churchill…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew Coates

October 10, 2009 at 10:07 am