Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Stand Together.

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Image result for coronavirus virus trade union congress

 

Follow comrade Alastair’s advice.

 

Believe me this geezer is one of the truest of the true, stood with us on Europe, et j’en passe….

Alasdair Ross

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 19, 2020 at 11:54 am

Coronavirus and Communist Party of Britain: “Not Helpful”, when “Party members rush into the public domain with unproven theories and unsubstantiated claims.”

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“Breach of democratic-centralism for Party members to make comments online which are not consistent with our democratically agreed policy…”

This morning  I saw an elderly lady buying supplies of Breakfast cereal  Town centre Sainsbury’s  check-out.

We spoke.

They are for for her daughter.

It is hardly worth mentioning that  very simple love of her action is deeply moving.

This  set in train of thought that finished at the way we lot in Ipswich stuck together during the Steve Wright murders.

A protest, initiated by two young anarchist women, gallivised the town in solidarity.

The Salvation Army, the Trades Council,  Tories, Liberals, Greens, the Labour Party, Marxist parties, we all marched to defend the sex workers.

Somebody’s Daughter, was our banner.

One would hope that something of that spirit, generous and selfless, by the lady looking out for her daughter and grandchildren,  would be shown at the moment.

There is no doubt that it is.

I can seriously feel it.

Across the country people have responded to the Coronavirus crisis with real solidarity.

Alas, it not much in evidence here.

This reference is to the fact that the CPB, aka, the Morning Star and its allies, like Skwawkbox, have been fearmongering.

Communist Party advice on the COVID-19 CRISIS

It is a breach of democratic-centralism for Party members to make comments online which are not consistent with our democratically agreed policy. This is as true of the Labour Party (and non-participation in its leadership ballots) and support for the Morning Star as it is of women’s rights, the EU, Brexit and climate change.

Nor is it helpful when Party members rush into the public domain with unproven theories and unsubstantiated claims about the current Corovirus (sic) crisis.

Comrades who believe that democratic-centralism does not apply to them should consider whether they really belong in a disciplined, revolutionary Communist Party. 

GIven the nutters that lot attract…

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 17, 2020 at 2:08 pm

First Round of French Local Elections: Set Back for Macron, Greens and Left in Strong Position.

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Second Round May Be Postponed.

The Right wing daily Le Figaro began its report on the first round of the French local elections by citing supporters of President Macron’s Party, LaREM, (1) lamenting their set-back, “Pas bon du tout»«catastrophique»«c’est un échec»…”

******

(1) I like this Wikipedia explanation, “La République En Marche ![a] (frequently abbreviated REMLRM or LREM, officially LaREM; possible translation: “The Republic on the move!”), sometimes called En Marche ! (French: [ɑ̃ maʁʃ]; English translation: “Forward!”,[11][12] “Onward!”,[13] “Working!” or “On The Move!”)” Some might suggest this indicates a pretty transient name for a political party.

Putting back the Second Round will create a legal headache.

Despite the bizarre conditions in which the vote took place, the left and the Greens have still something to be happy about:

The Greens (EELV) are in a good position in Bordeaux, (an historic bastion of the right)  Lyon, Strasbourg, Poitiers and Besançon as wella s to keep control of Grenoble, where most of the left have gathered on a united list.

EELV are encouraged by the results:

The Paris vote was good for the left.

The Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, (LaREM) did not win in the first round in Le Havre,  his Communist Opponent performed strongly.

Municipales : c’est loin d’être gagné pour Edouard Philippe au Havre

Phillippe scored  43,6 % and his Communist rival, Jean-Paul Lecoq, backed by La France insoumise, won  35,88 %. The Greens, supposed by the Parti Socialiste, got 8,3% and the far-right RN, had 7,27%.

This prediction for the Second Round may be optimistic:

The French Communist Party (PCF) is encouraged more widely (l’Humanité).

Les maires PCF de Montreuil, Gennevilliers, Dieppe, Martigues, Vierzon, Montataire, Saint-Amand-les-Eaux et Tarnos ont, notamment, été réélus dès hier.

The far-right consolidated its position but apart from Perpignan (which is personally saddening) made no gains.

There was therefore no breakthrough for the far right.

Sur fond d’abstention record, la formation de Marine Le Pen a profité comme les autres partis de la «prime» aux sortants. Mais à part Perpignan, elle n’apparaît pas en mesure d’agrandir sa toile.

The election atmosphere is reported to have been extremely odd.

The rate of abstention  was, unsurprisingly,  very high:

Green surge and low turnout as virus fears weigh on French local elections

France 24.

French voters cast their ballots Sunday in nationwide municipal elections marked by record-low turnout after the government imposed stringent restrictions on public life in an increasingly frantic effort to slow the progress of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The report continues,

In the most keenly watched race, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo took a commanding lead with 30% of the first-round ballot, 8 points ahead of her conservative challenger; the candidate for Macron’s ruling party was a distant third.

Running for re-election in Le Havre, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe topped the first round but faced the prospect of a tough run-off vote against a united left.

The famous port, Le Havre, was Communist run City until 1995. I visited it, circa 1994, and out of curiosity, went to the union offices in the Bourse du Travail where a T & G card did wonders.

They recommended me the Town Hall, where I was received by the PCF run team with great respect, a snack, and they talked about their municipal politics.

Apart from the shock administered to Macron’s Prime Minister it is good to see how low the far-right vote was in that City.

Peter Taaffe Stands Down as Socialist Party General Secretary and Warns of Keir Starmer “right-wing ‘counterrevolution'”.

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Peter Taaffe. Socialist Party Political Secretary. 

Following a very successful Socialist Party national congress the newly elected Socialist Party executive committee has unanimously agreed that Peter Taaffe will become political secretary, while Hannah Sell will become general secretary.

Peter has been general secretary since the inception of the Socialist Party, and prior to that was editor of the Militant newspaper. He will remain on the executive committee.

The Socialist.

In his keynote speech to the Congress Taaffe issued this warning about the Labour Party leadership election,

If Starmer wins, this will represent a right-wing ‘counterrevolution’ in the party, regardless of the more ‘left’ face he has been forced to present in order to try and win the contest. With Starmer as leader it would be necessary to find another route to the building of a mass workers’ party in England and Wales.

Taaffe was GSec from 1997 until this year, 2020.

Some suggest that Taaffe has followed the lead of Harry Pollitt, who, after handing over the Communist Party of Great Britain job to John Gollan in 1956, had a new and more or less honorary job created for him, party Chairman.

The Socialist Party underwent a split last year.

In analysing this division and the history of his faction Taaffe found much to congratulate himself as he recounts in In defence of Trotskyism.

Introduction 12th of December 2019.

 ….we stubbornly but correctly defended the historic role and potential of the working class in the forthcoming battles that were likely to open up internationally.

We were very soon vindicated in action in the mass revolutionary upheavals that erupted, particularly in France in 1968 with the working class reaching out for power through a general strike and organised occupations of the factories.

Our general approach allowed us to subsequently face up to winning and mobilising the best working-class youth, and at the same time winning a significant layer of student youth in the universities who put themselves politically and historically on the standpoint of the working class.

One would have, perhaps, to be closely attuned to the higher secrets of the Marxist dialectic to appreciate the full text.

Yet these further extracts are of some interest to a wider, lay, audience,

Marxism historically has consistently first sought to unify the working class in action – and particularly women workers with their male counterparts – at the point of production in the factories, the workplaces, in the localities and in general society. Our opponents – the long-term sectarians, together with those on the right wing of the labour movement and their quasi-left political cousins – of course deny that is their aim. But in practice this is what invariably takes place.

In war – including the class war – the first casualty is truth! This bourgeois maxim is taken for granted amongst the ruling class. However, with the labour movement, and particularly those who claim to be Marxists or Trotskyists, it behoves those who seek to represent the working class to tell the truth both about the objective situation and to seek to answer criticisms honestly. However, Lenin stressed that in Russia he had never come across a really honest labour movement tendency outside of the ranks of the Bolsheviks, the genuine representatives of Marxism and the working class.

It is impossible to answer all the myriad lies used against us. This should be kept in mind when reading some of the slanderous documents, and the language and shameful behaviour of those who supported identity politics in the ideological struggle.

Slander and shameful behaviour are not the end of it:

The starting point of the sectarians and advocates of identity politics is firstly to hone in, to seek to emphasise and magnify any differences in consciousness between sections of the working class. A Marxist and Trotskyist approach does the opposite: it seeks to emphasise what unites working people in struggle. Of course, we recognise the special oppression of different groups and accordingly formulate specific demands. But we at the same time always seek to unify in action the struggles of working people through a common programme, instilling confidence in their ranks with a strategy for victory. We recognise the points of difference where they exist, which means supporting particular demands, but also we have the responsibility to seek to enhance the general struggles of the working class, to free them from opportunist and sectarian leaders and unify them on a fighting programme.

One hopes that the youth will learn the lessons of this magisterial volume!

The answer to how to undertake this colossal task can be found – particularly by the new generation – in reading and absorbing the lessons of this book and the method of Trotsky and Lenin to forge the political weapons that will create a new socialist world.

The Socialist Party monthly, Socialism Today, drew up a balance sheet also relating to the butter debate his February.

The New Party Gen Sec, Hannah Sell, a long-standing opponent of ‘identity politics’ (Unpacking the rucksack) writes,

Featured article from February 2020 Socialism Today (Monthly journal of the Socialist Party- CWI England & Wales.

Socialists debate identity politics

The relationship between fighting women’s oppression, identity politics, and the struggle for socialism is a feature of many debates in the workers’ movement internationally. Mistakes made on this question by the Irish Socialist Party were central to the division that took place in the Committee for a Workers’ International in 2019. In the wake of the Irish general election HANNAH SELL draws up a balance sheet.

In 2019 a major debate took place in the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), the international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated. The debate resulted in a split in the CWI with some of its former supporters moving in a rightward opportunist direction.

One of the main triggers for the debate was the mistaken approach of the leadership of the Irish Socialist Party (then the CWI’s affiliate in Ireland) towards the fight against women’s oppression, and its relationship to the struggle for socialism. The debate on these issues has important lessons for the workers’ movement internationally, particularly in this period where identity, rather than class, is frequently put forward as the central divide in society by individuals and forces who claim to be on the left.

Issues relating to this will come up in different forms again and again in future struggles. Just as Lenin and the Bolshevik Party would have been unable to successfully lead the Russian working class to power in 1917 without a correct approach to the right of nations to self-determination, it will be essential to future struggles to change society that a correct approach is taken to all the many forms of special oppression.

The Socialist Party (the group publishing The Socialist, and previously known as Militant) has split after a special congress on 21 July. So has the CWI, the international network of groups of which the SP was the pivot.

SP delegates voted 173-35-0 to “refound” the Committee for a Workers’ International by calling an international conference in 2020. The congress also declared that people continuing to support the existing CWI would place themselves outside of Socialist Party membership, effectively expelling the minority in Britain who support the (apparent) majority internationally within the CWI (bit.ly/cwi-26).

The split concludes months of bitter and increasingly public fighting within the Socialist Party (public due to lack of computer skills by some, rather than to any spirit of open debate).

The faction led by longstanding SP leader Peter Taaffe accused their opponents of “capitulating to petit bourgeois identity politics”. The opposition contended that Taaffe’s standoffish approach to feminist or other broader political mobilisations takes away the opportunity to fight for working-class politics in these movements.

Now they are moblising against the “counter-revolution”, that is those in the Labour Party who back Keir Starmer.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 14, 2020 at 5:44 pm

France: is President Macron turning left to face the Coronavirus Crisis?

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Coronavirus is France’s ‘greatest health crisis in a century’, says Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said that the coronavirus epidemic was France’s worst health crisis in a century and announced that schools throughout the country would close from next week.
Creches, schools and also universities would close from Monday “until further notice”, Macron said in an address to the nation on the fight against the coronavirus. He also urged all people older than 70, those who suffer chronic diseases, respiratory troubles and the handicapped, “to stay at home” if possible.

But the president also said that nationwide local elections scheduled for Sunday will not be postponed.

“We are just at the beginning of this crisis,” Macron said.

“In spite of all our efforts to break it, this virus is continuing to propagate and to accelerate.”

The speech was widely welcomed and stand in contrast to the shifty response by our own PM.

Some saw something of a  new “alter-globalisation” Macron.

 Macron’s defence of the welfare state and need to protect services “outside the laws of the market” appeared to signal a leftward shift in the President’s politics.

Face au coronavirus, les habits neufs du docteur Macron

Sylvain Courage  Nouvel Obs.

Avec des accents qui ont dû réjouir l’aile gauche de la majorité et estomaquer ses opposants socialistes et « insoumis », il appelle à « interroger le modèle de développement dans lequel s’est engagé notre monde depuis des décennies et qui dévoile ses failles au grand jour ». Sus à la mondialisation ? Macron vante désormais le service public de santé, l’Etat-providence et tous ces « biens et services qui doivent être placés en dehors des lois du marché.  Déléguer notre alimentation, notre protection, notre capacité à soigner, notre cadre de vie, au fond, à d’autres est une folie », assure-t-il.”

With accents that must have cheered the left wing of the majority and come as a belly blow to his socialist and “insoumises” (La France insoumise) opponents, he  put in  “question the development model in which our world has engaged for decades and which has now clearly shown its flaws Is globalisation itself in question? Macron has now praised the public health service, the welfare state and all those “goods and services which must be placed outside the laws of the market” . “Delegating our food, our protection, our ability to care, our way of life, to others is, basically,  madness,” he said.

Another commentator  Serge Raffy argues in the same Novel Obs that Macron has turned to national sovereigntism, putting the needs of the nation first.

Coronavirus : Macron converti au souverainisme ?

Raffey argues that some of the measures, including a break from tight financial controls, may be conjunctural. Others seem as if they are part of a national moblisation, a war against the Virus, “Contre un virus malin” the malign symbol, despite itself, or a process of globalisation on its last legs.

Others were even more reserved.

In Libération Alain Auffray and Christophe Alix  take a sceptical angle on the kind of “rupture”, or break, with globalisation and liberal economics, offered by President Macron.

Allocution : Macron, atteint par le virus de l’altermondialisme ?

When the globalised economy appears on the brink and a financial crisis looms, Emmanuel Macron has been happy to use radical language . Thursday evening, at the conclusion of his address to the French people, the Head of State estimated that the epidemic revealed “in broad daylight” the flaws of the “development model” in which our world has been engaged for decades. “What this pandemic has shown is that there are goods and services that must be placed outside the laws of the market,” he said as the champion  the welfare state, beginning with  the free universal health service, “an essential asset when tragedy  strikes” .

The journalists compare this to radical statements made by former President Nicolas Sarkozy faced with the 2008 Banking Crisis. The head of state at that time talked of a “refondation du capitalisme” and a sustainable model of growth, “«croissance durable».

This rhetoric re amounted to little concrete, long-term, action once the crisis passed its peak.

Others are even less happy:

(Note the use of the hard-right term “globalist”)

 

You can see the Macron speech here:

 

This response is far from isolated.

Germany is already contemplating nationalisations in the wake of the coronavirus crisis on the economy.

European authorities are increasing efforts to try to stave off the economic effects of coronavirus.

Coronavirus: Europe ramps up support for ailing firmsThe European Union (EU) will put a package of measures in place including a €37bn euro (£33bn) investment initiative.

And German finance minister Olaf Scholz said his country could part nationalise firms to tackle the crisis.

Some of these responses seem an extension of state response in line with the analysis offered last week by Phil Hearse,

Emergency government measures to combat the virus, and the development of a vaccine, are the key priorities today. But world solutions are needed, because even if the outbreak dies down in more advanced countries, it is likely to continue to rage in countries with less developed health systems. If the small number of cases in South Africa spreads, in a country were hundreds of thousand are HIV-positive with rock bottom immune systems, the impact could be devastating. The Republic’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has already warned that there will be a national crisis. If the virus rages in poorer countries, it will rebound back into countries where the virus has died down.

In the longer-term, humanity needs to ask pointed questions about the wave of pandemics that have swept the world in the last twenty years.

The Virus – Apocalypse Now?

It would appear that, faced with the emergency, many states are responding with strong measures.

Welcome as this may be, with strong reservations about the details, it is not the same thing as a turn to the left.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 14, 2020 at 12:52 pm

Skwawkbox Spreads Panic on Coronavirus, “Johnson’s aim is to allow the virus to spread until at least 90% of the UK’s population has been infected – which will involve a huge death toll.”

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Fake News Site Says, “Johnson’s aim is to allow the virus to spread until at least 90% of the UK’s population has been infected – which will involve a huge death toll.”

 

The fake news site says:  JOHNSON’S HERD-IMMUNITY PLAN WOULD MEAN LETTING 90% OF UK CATCH COVID-19 – AND A MILLION OR MORE DIE

Johnson’s ‘herd immunity’ plan appears to mean a decision by the Tory government to stand back while – in the most optimistic scenario – hundreds of thousands of our people die.

To Johnson, Cummings and their fellow fans of eugenics, that might just mean ‘the herd’. But to you and me, that’s our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues – if we’re lucky enough to survive their plan ourselves.

The people the government says its first duty is to protect – and under that kind of a government, there is no reason at all for such optimism.

Postscript: Johnson’s refusal this afternoon to close schools, when Ireland will do so from tomorrow, is entirely in line with his ‘plan’.

Conspis are already commenting on the site,

Johnson, Cummings and the string pullers are revealing their true nature. What a tragedy that the ” moderates, centrists” Blairites, Labour first, Starmer, Thornberry et al all have played a part in these hideous people having the levers of power.

Another,

Bet those pensioners that selfishly voted Tory didn’t realise they were volunteering for a far right eugenics experiment with them as the guinea pigs.
Bet they are foaming at the mouth over their Daily Bile.

Not too long ago Swawkbox restricted itself to publishing stories attacking Keir Starmer, and Lisa Nandy , giving a platform to poor old  Richard Burgon, “by far the outstanding candidate in that contest”,  and this kind of piece,

REVOR PHILLIPS SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXPELLED WELL BEFORE NOW – BUT HIS CASE ILLUMINATES CENTRIST DOUBLE-STANDARD

 

Now it’s a return to the old days with scaremongering to the fore: endless stories about Coronavirus.

What old days?

 

These old days:  “DISABLED CLAIMANTS TOLD: 2 YRS TO GET JOB OR BE SANCTIONED FOR A YEAR.”  17th of July. 2017

And this, also in 2017.

On 16 June, in an article headed “Video: Govt puts ‘D-notice’ gag on real #Grenfell death toll #nationalsecurity”, Skwawkbox took up the claim made by grime MC Saskilla on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme that the number of victims in the Grenfell Tower fire was far greater than had yet been officially admitted, with as many as 200 people having died.

Skwawkbox used this claim to give credence to rumours that the government was engaged in an attempt to prevent the media reporting the true extent of the disaster: “At the same time, multiple sources told the SKWAWKBOX that the government has placed a ‘D-notice’ (sometimes called a ‘DA Notice’) on the real number of deaths in the blaze.”

This was followed by a screenshot of an entry from Wikipedia, which defined a DA-Notice as “an official request to news editors not to publish or broadcast items on specified subjects for reasons of national security”. The Skwawkbox article then continued: “In effect, although voluntary, this amounts to a gag on the mainstream media — and note that it is applied for for reasons of national security only.”.

….

Faced with the collapse of its story, Skwawkbox was forced to back off and post a grudging retraction: “EDIT: the SKWAWKBOX is now satisfied that no D-notice was issued. No plain answer to this blog’s question of other restrictions on information about lives lost at Grenfell has yet been provided, but a ‘D-notice’ (or DSMA-notice as they are now termed) was not.”

Did Skwawkbox apologise for getting the story wrong and offer assurances that there would be no repetition of this stupid and provocative reporting? You must be joking. Instead, Skwawkbox’s proprietor was stung by the well-deserved criticism of his article into posting an indignant defence of his shoddy journalistic methods. In a quite astonishing display of chutzpah, he declared that he himself had been the victim of “fake news”!

Written by Andrew Coates

March 12, 2020 at 6:27 pm

European Stock Markets Fall: “U.S. limiting entry to foreign nationals from Europe has the potential to cause another world depression.”

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Trump’s Travel Ban has “potential to cause another world depression.”

European stocks plunge after Trump coronavirus travel ban announcement

France 24.

Europe’s major stock markets fell through the floor again on Thursday after Donald Trump banned all travel from mainland Europe to the US for a month to fight the coronavirus – with the London, Paris and Frankfurt stock exchanges all falling by more than 5 percent – ramping up fears the global economy will careen into recession.

Shortly after the open, London‘s benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 5.3 percent, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 plunged 5.8 percent, the Paris CAC 40 tumbled 5.1 percent and Madrid’s stock exchange down by 5.5 percent. Switzerland’s bourse got off a little more lightly, falling by 4.8 percent.

The news came after the World Health Organization officially labelled the outbreak a pandemic and hit out at “alarming levels of inaction” for its spread.

France 24 continues,

The losses followed another brutal session on Wall Street, with wave after wave of bad news, including Hilton withdrawing its earnings forecast and Boeing saying it would suspend most hiring and overtime pay.

The Dow fell into a bear market having lost more than 20 percent since its recent high, and futures pointed Thursday to another rout in New York and Europe.

The coronavirus outbreak has left virtually no sector untouched, though travel and tourism have been particularly hard-hit as countries institute travel bans and quarantine requirements, with Italy in a country-wide lockdown.

The number of cases across the globe has risen to more than 124,000 with 4,500 deaths, according to an AFP tally.

In announcing the Europe ban – which excludes the UK and Ireland – Trump said the continent had seen a surge in new cases because governments failed to stop travel from China, where the COVID-19 epidemic began.

He said the prohibitions would also “apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo”, and “various other things as we get approval”.

However, the White House afterwards clarified that “the people transporting goods will not be admitted into the country, but the goods will be”.

The Guardian reports,

Stock markets tumble as Trump’s Europe travel ban shocks investors – business live

The Top French financial daily Les Echos. carries the came story.

Coronavirus : les Bourses européennes s’effondrent après les annonces de Trump

The whole world is affected:

This a key comment on the MSF

Some analysts were a bit more alarmed.

“The U.S. limiting entry to foreign nationals from Europe has the potential to cause another world depression again even if it is for reasons that seek to stop the spread of the coronavirus,” MUFG economist Chris Rupkey said. “Business activity is going to hit the brakes around the world and stock markets around the world are in freefall as the spread of this deadly pandemic virus has the potential to slow the global economy to a crawl.”

New York Times.

Meanwhile  British national populists make this tasteless story their lead.

Spiked.

The worrying rise of ‘catastrofashion’

For a certain section of society, there is always a crisis on the horizon, whether it’s the climate emergency or Brexit. And they need us all to know they are worried about it. Coronavirus is undoubtedly dangerous, but there are serious consequences to the hysteria, too.

The usual supermarket sweeps are taking place as fearful faddists stockpile every last supply of hand sanitiser, toilet roll, paracetamol and can of preserved foods. No thought is given to those who might genuinely need those products and will now find the shelves totally empty. Meanwhile, a lifetime’s supply of Andrex and Cuticura clog up loft conversions across the country.

…..

Every era has some form of ‘catastrofashion’ and doomsday cultists. Brexit, the climate emergency and now coronavirus have acted as open invitations for the same self-absorbed, healthy, affluent and privileged few to warn us that the end is nigh unless we listen to them.

Alexandra Phillips is a former Brexit Party MEP for South East England.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 12, 2020 at 1:20 pm

Soon-to-be-father of his 6th Child George Galloway’s Workers’ Party in New Campaign.

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Soon-to-be-new Father Galloway Appeals to Those Disillusioned with Labour.

Who’s not sick of ” clean air cycle lanes lesbians gays transexuals genders..” ?

The Workers Party is unequivocally committed to class politics. Though the fashion of the times is to divide working people along identity lines, we seek to unite them, based on their shared class interest. It is not ‘homophobic’ or ‘racist’ for socialists to focus their attention on those contradictions that concern the whole working class in its struggle for socialism. While being totally opposed to discrimination on grounds of race, sex or sexual proclivity, we declare that obsession with identity politics, including sexual politics, divides the working class.

Introducing the Workers Party LEADER: George Galloway :: Deputy leader: Joti Brar

What progressive patriot cannot agree that the British people should be rid of a “unemployed feckless rump living off cheap imported food and the plastic-electronic consumables of global capitalist anarchy”?

Disillusioned supporters of Rebecca  Long-Bailey are said to be flocking to the Galloway-led Workers’ Party of Britain,

Now comes this happy news….

Firebrand politician George Galloway to be dad again at 65.

The Daily Record reports.

The Scots former MP is expecting a baby with his fourth wife, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi, who is 30 years his junior.

The baby is due in the summer and will be the couple’s third child together and Galloway’s sixth in total.

Galloway posted a photograph on social media of his wife sporting her pregnancy bump after she attended a 20 week scan.

Galloway has not let his joy stop him from campaigning…

Galloway’s Workers’ Party of Britain is on the rise:

You can see why!

The Party has appealed to the “mob” to attend:

Coronavirus looms.

But, help is at hand:

Background:

Birth of the Workers party

The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) welcomed the announcement made by George Galloway in the days following the general election.

This formation of the Workers Party of Britain (WPB) represents a genuine effort to break a section of workers away from the stranglehold of the Labour party, which has once again shown itself incapable of leading the British working class to socialism.

The Corbyn period of leadership was the period which should once and for all kill off the myth that with a ‘socialist’ at its head the Labour party can deliver for working people.

Though communists may recognise the truth of the above statement, as yet thousands of well-intentioned workers do not. These sections of the working class are unable to take the necessary steps alone; they need to be guided, as any student must, in drawing out the necessary conclusions from their own practical experience.

The Workers party has the potential to assist in this process, which is of historical importance for the British working class.

Lalkar extends its congratulations to the CPGB-ML and to Joti Brar, one of CPGB-ML’s vice-chairs, who was elected the deputy leader of the Workers Party of Britain at its founding congress. This meeting also elected a large 40-person members council with strong working-class representation.

….

More than ever, the political analysis of Marxist-Leninists is needed by workers in Britain. Our job is to defend principles whilst wedding Marxism to the workers.

We hope that all those whose left-social-democratic illusions now lie in tatters will join the Workers Party as a positive step towards their total political redemption; there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance

More to follow:

Written by Andrew Coates

March 11, 2020 at 12:32 pm

Rebecca Long Bailey Would Let Luciana Berger *and* Alistair Campbell back into the Labour Party: RLB Supporters in Melt-Down.

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Chris Williamson says RLB is Bending over backwards to facilitate right-wing saboteurs, while simultaneously doubling down against anti-racist socialists, who’ve been smeared by those selfsame saboteurs, suggests Labour isn’t a home for socialists nor a vehicle to deliver a modest socialist programme.”

The Jewish Chronicle reports,

Rebecca Long Bailey says she would let Luciana Berger back into Labour, despite standing for Lib Dems

Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long Bailey has said that she would let Luciana Berger back into the party if she becomes leader, despite the former MP standing for the Liberal Democrats.

She told the Evening Standard: “The circumstances for what happened to Luciana were very different from an MP who was just angry with the leadership. She had a terrible time.”

Party rules exclude those who have stood in an election for a rival party or against a Labour candidate from returning as members.

Ms Berger stood for the Liberal Democrats in December’s general election in Finchley and Golders Green, after defecting from Labour in February last year due to “a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation”.

Ms Long Bailey added the treatment of Jewish female MPs, including Ms Berger, Dame Louise Ellman and Ruth Smeeth was “terrible” because “it should never have happened within our party. We should have done more”.

She admitted one of her “big regrets” was not reaching out to them. “I didn’t speak to Louise or Luciana or Ruth directly. I wish I had,” she said.

The candidate, who is widely regarded as the continuity Corbyn choice, also said she would like to see Alastair Campbell – Tony Blair’s former spin doctor who was expelled from the party for voting Liberal Democrat – return to the party as well, citing his “expertise”.

In the original interview in the Evening Standard Long-Bailey also would not say, despite earlier claims to welcome Jeremy Corbyn as a Shadow Minister that,

While she won’t be drawn on whether Corbyn and McDonnell would make it into her shadow cabinet, she says: “I’m friends with both of them. I’ll be in touch with them for many years to come.” She is also clear that she will not personally criticise them for Labour’s election defeat in December, and blames Brexit and how the party communicated its policies.

There’s something about hair-gel, or whatever and this:

One issue Long-Bailey felt had not helped Labour was the Party’s support for WASPI women’s demands,

She also criticised the timing of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) funding policy. WASPI is a voluntary UK-based organisation that campaigns against the way in which the state pension age for men and women was equalised. It calls for the millions of women affected by the change to receive compensation. “We had spent five years building up that economic credibility, costing everything to within an inch of its life. And adding that as an extra policy after the grey book went out was an ideal opportunity for the Conservatives to attack us.”

Her views on Labour Election Policies, including the Party membership’s decision to back the possibility of a Second Referendum, were, well you can make them out if you can,

On Labour’s Brexit policy shambles, she “wouldn’t pin the blame on any particular individual” but says there was “definitely a tendency to not really understand what was happening in many of our communities and understanding the strength of feeling”.

On the transsexual debate Long-Bailey stands for niceness.

Asked about those who use TERF as an insult.

I don’t like it. The whole terf business within the party hasn’t been very nice at all. It’s led to many people within the party feeling very alienated, both those who are fighting for the rights and the respect of trans people and those fighting for the protection of women and the safety of women. We need to change that culture within the party.”

This is the key section cited in the Jewish Chronicle,

She would welcome back Luciana Berger even though she stood for a rival party at the last election. “The circumstances for what happened to Luciana were very different from an MP who was just angry with the leadership. She had a terrible time.” And she would also like to see Alastair Campbell return. “He’s got a lot of expertise and capability that I wish had been there to help us prior to December.” She jokes that he could maybe head up the rebuttal unit she wants to set up to attack anti-Labour media smears.

The Progressive Patriot has warm feelings for the Monarchy,

She also says she wouldn’t get rid of the monarchy when the Queen dies. “We’ve got more important things to worry about. Anyway, I met Charles inadvertently when I was eight or nine when I gave flowers to Princess Diana. She was lovely. She didn’t speak to me for very long, but she said, ‘Now that we’ve met we will be friends forever.’”

Many of Long-Bailey’s supporters are said to be unhappy with this interview:

Followed by,

Here is one very unhappy Cde:

More to follow….

Update, Latest Polls:

Written by Andrew Coates

March 10, 2020 at 1:17 pm

Right-Wing Identity Politics and the Trans Debate: the New Reactionaries.

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Image result for Rappel à l'ordre. livre

 

“In cultural matters the old division of right and left has come to look more like two Puritan sects, one plaintively conservative, the other posing as revolutionary but using academic complaint as a way of evading engagement in the real world.”

Robert Hughes, The Culture of Complaint. 1993. (1)

Trevor Phillips has been suspended from the Labour Party for alleged Islamophobia. What looks like a parting factional swipe at a long-standing opponent of Corbynism, only adds to the culture wars. After the crisis over anti-Semitism recent weeks have seen a new battle, over Transsexuals, reach a peak. Some have demanded that transphobes be added to the list of the expelled. Defenders of family, faith and flag from Blue Labour, self-identifying libertarians, and supporters of the Brexit Party in Spiked, full-blown national populists, and radical feminists have joined together to attack demands for trans rights.

Judith Butler wrote in her critique of ‘foundational’ identity politics, Gender Trouble (2007) “If I were to rewrite this book under present circumstances, I would include a discussion of transgender and intersexuality, the way that ideal gender dimorphism work in both ways to discourses, the different relations to surgical intervention that these related concern.” At present it looks improbable that differences between gender-critical, or “materialist feminists”, and those defending transsexuals, can take place within reasonable limits.

For Blue Labour, citing the inevitable Christopher Lasch on ‘narcissism’, Jonathan Rutherford asserts that, “Like other forms of identity politics, the language of its more extreme advocates has the same mix of moral self-righteousness and ideological certainty. Scientific facts that compromise ideology are dismissed.” “Identity politics becomes the singular pursuit of self-interest detached from social obligations.” He claims, “It is a struggle that many women feel is all the more threatening because of the involvement of powerful lobby and corporate interests.” (The Trans Debate And The Labour Party)The nastiness of a minority amongst those defending absolute ‘cis’ gender has shredded that hope to pieces. The Suzanne Moore affair has opened up a breach that is unlikely to be bridged. (2)

In 1993 Robert Hughes was one of the first to suggest that Marxism, dead after the collapse of official Communism, has had an afterlife by shifting away from “economic and class struggle in the real world”, theorising instead a variety of oppressions and “discursive” articulations and antagonisms. This ‘cultural Marxism’, exploring themes from German and French left theory, has become a target for conservatives railing against “multiculturalism”. Speech codes, the “PC wars” of the 90s, and. fast-forward. Today we have Mark Lilla’s 2018 left of centre critique of “liberal identity politics” (The Once and Future Liberal), and Douglas Murray’s conservative broadside against “identity politics and intersectionality”, “the last part of a Marxist subculture” (The Madness of Crowds. Gender, Race and Identity. 2019) (3)

National Populism.

Those attracted to national populism, who disdain the causes of minorities, have become champions of identity, of the “Somewhere” plain folks against the identity politics of the ‘Anywhere” cosmopolitan elites. This strategy is not confined to the English-speaking world. “The ambition is to imitate the activism of minorities – postcolonial or LGBT – fed by French theory …..in order to serve the cause of identity” writes Nicholas Truong in this Saturday’s Le Monde (Il s’érige contre la « dictature » de la « bien-pensance » : l’essor du national-populisme intellectuel et médiatique). In France, “national populism”, a “catéchisme néo-réactionnaire”, the theme of immigration, the fear of the “great replacement”, the ‘Islamisation’ of urban spaces, up to hostility to human-rights “mongering” (droits de l’hommisme) , and the “terror” of feminist campaigns against sexual violence and harassment. The denunciation of multiculturalist “bobos” (Bourgeois bohemians) parallels British sneers, from Blue Labour, Spiked to the Morning Star at the ‘Islington left”. Truong, with good reason, compares this to French Communist language of the past century attacking the “petty bourgeois”.

In Le rappel à l’ordre (2002) Daniel Lindenberg outlined the way a group of French writers had begun to denounce May 68, human rights, feminism, anti-racism, multiculturalism, Islam, and “globalism” (mondialisme). These “new reactionaries” had moved from the left critiques of market liberalism to national republicanism, He suggested that anti-globalisation could serve as a crossing-point

A “crude piece of work” commented Perry Anderson. It takes no more than a few minutes to see some names, Marcel Gauchet, Alain Finkielkraut, reappear in Truong’s article, some, like Eric Zemmour, and Jean-Pierre le Goff, author of a study that is recalled or its postscript on the enduring impact of “cultural leftism” post-68, had yet to come to wider attention. Others, like the once respected historian of the French left, Jacques Julliard are much more recent entries, though one was perhaps forewarned by his willingness to debate Jean-Claude Michéa, who asserts that the original sin of French socialism was its Dreyfus Affair alignment with democratic liberal human rights defenders. That one of these figures, Michel Onfray, a self-styled anarchist and pop philosopher has extended his openness to reaction by contributing to the pages of the Nouvelle Droite Eléments, is the occasion for sadness. (4)

Realignments to the right that have yet to go so far could be seen in the UK during the EU Referendum and Brexit process. The Full Brexit brought together left sovereigntists, Blue Labour, Labour Leave, activists in Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, and members of the Communist Party of Britain. They contrasted the real popular sovereignty of the nation against the workings of the globalist EU elites. Andrew Murray has expressed the widely shared views of these sections with his hostility towards “rancid identity politics”, pitting the rights of “peoples” against the “poisonous seeds” of human rights (The Fall and Rise of the British Left. 2019)

The French new reactionaries have, Truong outlines, a strong and highly visible media presence right in the mainstream, the MSM. For those inflamed with hatred for identity politics Britain offers the consolations of Spiked, the Spectator, and the hard right press for those hostile to all things Woke, with the occasional television platform like Sky Press reviews. As interest in Brexit has waned some of  this new sect of plaintitive reactionaries  has taken up the cudgels against transsexuals. Elsewhere Verso Books publishes Andrew Murray, who thanks Tariq Ali for his “support and political commitment., The journal of Perry Anderson, New Left Review, is home to Wolfgang Streeck, a supporter of the Full Brexit, who believes that national borders are the “last line of Defence”….

 

*****

  1. Page 60. The Culture of Complaint, The Fraying of America. Robert Hughes. Harvill. 1994.
  2. Page xxviii. Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Judith Butler. Routledge 2007.
  3. Lecture 2. Multi-Culti and its Discontents. Robert Hughes. Op cit. “PC Wars” in Chapter 8. New Consensus for Old. One Market Under God, Thomas Frank. Vintage 2002.
  4. Page 169. Perry Anderson The New Old World. Verso. 2009 Jean-Claude Michéa and Jacques Julliard La Gauche et le Peuple. Champs. 2014.
  5. Page ix. Andrew Murray. The Rise and Fall of the British left. Verso, 2019

As the Weekly Worker Group Prepares for Split Socialist Fight (SF/Continuity, Gerry Downing) and Socialist Fight (SF/Real Core, Ian Donovan) Battle it out.

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“This is a temporary phase of course, reminiscent in some ways of the days of Marx and Engels, but it is where we are at today.”

As the Weekly Worker (CPGB, Provisional Central Committee Group prepares for a major split its mighty organs are silent on the dispute.

The Labour Party Marxist is said to be in turmoil

The future of this faction, central in running Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW), a campaign backed by Tony Greenstein, Noam Chomsky, Alexei Sayle, Ken Loach and others, including Jackie Walker, may be in doubt.

Will LAW survive the turmoil?

Fight the Weekly Worker Purge!

By contrast this week’s, late, issue of the Weekly Worker publishes this letter by a Cde Ian Donovan.

Pathetic

In a measured he tone explains the background to the split between Socialist Fight (SF/Continuity Gerry Downing) and Socialist Fight (SF/Real Core, Ian Donovan)….

Gerry Downing’s pathetic letter claiming that the ‘Trotskyist Faction’ including myself were ‘expelled’ from Socialist Fight is pure fraud (February 27). He does not have a majority of full members of SF willing to vote for such a measure. No meeting of members has or will be called to do so. Nor has he been able to exclude our supporters from the international forums of the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International. When he tried to do so, in defiance of the most basic tenets of workers’ and party democracy, his actions were repudiated by other comrades internationally and our supporters were reinstated. This ‘expulsion’ is dead in the water.

It is just about Gerry Downing farting out his denunciations on a stolen website, using a stolen banner. The joke is that a “unanimous vote” in his fantasy version of ‘Socialist Fight’ is when Gerry Downing, Ella Downing and his race-baiting, Islamophobic, white South African crony, Gareth Martin, each put up both of their hands. Their six hands outvoted all the members of Socialist Fight who failed to vote for Gerry’s pro-Zionist statement the last time Socialist Fight had a genuine national vote, in January. And he calls that “unanimous”! That’s where Gerry’s ‘majority’ comes from.

…….

His fascist-baiting, mendacious half-quotes are designed to ‘prove’ that those in Socialist Fight who failed to salute his fascist-baiting attack on Gilad Atzmon are worshippers of the Ku Klux Klan. …

And so it goes….until it (mercifully) ends with this:

Well, we in the Trotskyist Faction don’t accept that move to the right and will fight it to the bitter end. Gerry may have stolen our website, which our subs paid for over the past several years just as much as his did. But we don’t accept his common theft – of our website, our publication or our name. The Trotskyist Faction has its own website up and running, on http://www.socialistfight.org, or alternatively trotskyistfaction.org, and in due course we will have our own publication to replace that which has been stolen. We will continue the politics of the old Socialist Fight. Renegades and capitulators to Zionism will not be allowed to steal our banner.

Ian Donovan
Trotskyist Faction, Socialist Fight

Key documents are only just emerging on the split between Socialist Fight (SF/Continuity Gerry Downing) and Socialist Fight (SF/Real Core, Ian Donovan)….

Published on the Trotskyist Faction site:

Trotskyist Faction takes on the mantle of Socialist Fight.

Extracts:

GD, was an oppositionist in the Healyite Workers Revolutionary Party at the time of its 1985 explosion and collapse, one of many active participants. He then went through various organisations: the Revolutionary Internationalist League, International Socialist Group, the Workers International League, Workers Fight with 2 other ex-WRP cadre with varied politics, then the Committee for a Marxist Party in alliance with the CPGB/Weekly Worker.

He then founded Socialist Fight in 2009 with two other ex-ISG cadre, whom he then split from over the issue of their defence of the film director Roman Polanksi, who admitted to statutory rape of a 13 year old girl and appears from the evidence to be guilty of actual rape. After breaking with his initial collaborators he then fused his rump group with some Brazilian and Argentinian Trotskyists groups in 2013 as part of an anti-imperialist response to imperialist intervention in Syria and Libya, to form the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (LCFI). This gave an international dimension to his politics that meant it was no longer his operation.

Ploughing through the documents, which include reference to Hannah Arendt, and many, many, others, we reach this key point, “all this is just a means to an end for GD. The real target of all this rancid pro-Zionist hate propaganda was the Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism.” “In conversation with Atzmon in 2018, GD rejected criticisms of its supposed ‘anti-Semitism’ as ‘Zionism’. But now as the concluding point of his renegade, pro-Zionist faction he writes:

“We now repudiate the use of the term ‘the world “Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie”’ and the whole notion of a Jewish-Zionist imperialist vanguard as antisemitic tropes. We will in future use the term ‘Zionism’ alone in describing the political tendency within the Jewish ethnicity that commits such dreadful crimes under international law against the Palestinian citizens of Israel and those expelled Palestinians primarily in 1948, ‘67 and ‘73, all of whom have the right of return.”

Donovan does score one major point.

However, GD had a problem even with this, as he had stood on a public platform at a joint Socialist Fight public meeting in July 2017, a rather large meeting attended by around 150 people, with Vanessa Beeley, a defender of the Syrian regime and an uncritical Assad supporter, speaking in defence of Syria against the US/UK/Israel backed jihadist destabilisation and proxy war. She has written regularly for Veterans Today for several years. So in denouncing ID for sharing material from Veterans Today calling into question the legitimacy of the result of the UK General Election, GD was also implicitly attacking some of his best known work. If it was impermissible to share articles from Veterans Today, then surely it was impermissible to share a platform with Vanessa Beeley?

For those who can be arsed to read it there is plenty more!

Here is Donovan’s nemesis, Gerry Downing giving his side of the story.

Socialist Fight, Ian Donovan and the Trotskyist Faction

We have been now forced to set up a new bank account because Ian and Turan have control of the Socialist Fight bank account and this, they believe, should give them control of the group. Ian has refused to accept the votes of the majority of the group. He has decided that John Carty is not a member and his membership subscriptions are ‘donations’ and not subscriptions. My daughter, Ella, Gareth Martin, and Charlie Walsh cannot join as candidate members for six months because he disagrees with them over what Gilad Atzmon’s politics are. He has refused to bank their subscriptions that I sent to him, said I was buying their membership and he was keeping the cheques as evidence of my ‘corruption’.

Let us not ignore the outright fascism of Gilad Atzmon: “Fascism, I believe, more than any other ideology, deserves our attention, as it was an attempt to integrate Left and Right: the dream and the concrete into a unified political system. … It was “overwhelmingly popular and productive for a while because it managed to bridge the abyss between the ‘fantasy’ and the ‘actual.’”

This row would not be complete without Tony Greenstein getting his oar in:

Socialist Fight Drops Its Support for Ian Donovan’s Anti-Semitic Theories about a pan-national Jewish-Zionist Bourgeoisie – or does it?

 

Morning Star, “recycled fragments of the ultra left now line up with the main vehicles of the Labour right wing and much of the liberal and neoliberal media.”

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Image result for ultra leftism in britain Betty reid

Be Alert: Keep a Copy of this Handbook Close at all Times!

The leadership contest has revealed new contours in Labour’s ideological topography. Nick Wright.

 

(5 Retweets).

The former Straight left stalwart writes in the Morning Star, independent of the Communist Party of Britain and owned by the Co-op.

This article may be seen as a response to the Guardian column, The Labour leadership contest has exposed new factions in the party ( ).

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth was this section,

 The orthodox left still basically wants to implement the Communist party’s 1951 plan, The British Road to Socialism, with its vision of socialism being implemented in one country by a strong, centralised national government. They lean heavily towards a pro-Brexit position, while tending to interpret support for Brexit among working-class voters as incipient class consciousness rather than tabloid-inspired xenophobia.

Followed by,

The radical left is still a very new, fragile and inexperienced tendency that has a long way to go before emerging as a mature political formation. It brings together the more libertarian strands of the hard left, the more radical strands of the soft left, and a new generation of activists from outside the traditions of the Labour party.

Wright makes a clarion call for the whole of the left to support Long-Bailey, and follow the doughty progressive patriot for better reasons than the (official) left who back her, “mainly out of sheer loyalty to her mentor, John McDonnell, that most of the radical left have supported her.”

He aims to dampen down this deviation:  “Privately, many on the radical left agree with former MP Alan Simpson that the dogmatic and authoritarian tendencies of the orthodox left smothered the creative and democratic potential of Corbynism, contributing to its eventual downfall.

The Communist Party of Britain sage writes of Labour’s General Election Campaign.

The disparate elements that Corbyn’s election united has ended and the wide legitimacy that Labour’s radical programme commanded is now challenged by people who attribute the election defeat to “socialist policies” which must be abandoned.

With the help of ace-reporters Wright discovers that Labour was, at one point, on the brink of victory,

…. a wave of popular participation, an effective social media operation, skilled targeting of swing seats and a bold manifesto (along with the divisions in the Tory ranks and a weakened Liberal Democrat Party) produced a surge in support that eroded a 20-point Tory lead and took Corbyn within a few thousand votes of No 10.

We may not have noticed that, but he did!

The fault lay in a failure to respect the decision to respect the Brexit vote, something which Wight and his comrades tirelessly campaigned for.

Instead of becoming a springboard for a further assault on a divided ruling class — this itself apparent in a highly conflicted Tory Party in government — this hopeful prospect was dissipated as Labour’s activists and mass base were sidelined by a parliamentary party intent on subverting the clear decision to respect the referendum result.

Worse was to come,

Labour (was)  corralled into an increasingly Get Brexit Undone policy, the way was open for Labour’s manifesto to be driven to the margins of public discussion.

The People’s Vote campaign, a middle class mass movement, had sown confusion in Labour ranks.

The success of the Remain camp in conflating “internationalism” with a kind of shared European privilege to travel, study and work freely threatens to undermine the deeper internationalism that found an expression in the mass movement against neoliberal trade deals, in the Stop the War movement, the anti-racist and solidarity action with refugees and migrant workers and the Palestine solidarity movement.

The kind of internationalism that has stood by while Assad, Russia and Iran,  attack Idid in Syria, in short.

Remain, unlike Boris Johnson and the ERG, had a “neoliberal project.”

Worse the pro-EU side has  echoes of fascism, foretold in  ” manifesto of Oswald Mosley’s postwar racist revival”.

He cites Gilbert (above), without mentioning (surely an oversight),  the passage of the British Road to Socialism,

It is to Jeremy Gilbert, professor of cultural and political theory at the University of East London, that we owe the insight that the leadership contest has revealed new contours in Labour’s ideological topography and that the only way for Labour to win is to ditch “Labourism.”

Writing about Labour’s so-called “soft left,” he writes: “Despite the failures of both Kinnock and Miliband, their default assumption remains that progressive government can be achieved by selling moderate social democracy to the electorate, led by a guy in a smart suit.”

Worse is to come….

It is to this inspiring standard that the recycled fragments of the ultra left now line up with the main vehicles of the Labour right wing and much of the liberal and neoliberal media.

The Morning Star writer has a warning to them:

While it might suit some to reduce much of politics to the clash of cultures, no-one should underestimate the political potency of questions of nationhood, patriotism and identity.

As in progressive patriotism.

Cde Wright ends with a stirring call for unity behind the banner of the “Orthodox Left”-  including these “recycled fragments”, supporters of a neoliberal project, who admire something with the odour of Oswald Mosley “?

A dog-eared copy of Betty Reid’s, ‘Ultra Leftism in Britain’, (1969. CPGB) would surely show the dangers of the “ultra left” in their true light.

The Blair Government Reconsidered. Jon Davis, John Rentoul. Review: Blairism Rehabilitated?

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Image result for The Blair Government Reconsidered. Heroes or Villains?

 

The Blair Government Reconsidered. Heroes or Villains? Jon Davis, John Rentoul  Oxford 2019.

“Will New Labour in retrospect be judged to have failed for the same reasons that Very Old Labour failed in 1929 – 31, namely a refusal to break with current economic orthodoxy?”

Eric Hobsbawm. Marxism Today. November/December 1998. (‘The Death of Neoliberalism’).

In a special one-off, titled Wrong, the Editor of Marxism Today, whose End had been announced in 1991, wrote, “New Labour did not usher in a new era but more properly belongs to the previous one.” Martin Jacques was followed by other heavyweights. Stuart Hall stated that, “Labour has been quietly seduced by the neo-liberal view that, as far as possible, the economy must be treated as a machine; obeying economic ‘laws’ without human intervention”. In words that resonate today about those now asserting the need to attract pro-Brexit voters, and the “Somewhere” people he asserted that Blair’s “key constituency in the run up to the election was ‘Middle England’ – a profoundly traditionalist and backward looking cultural investment.”

In reply Geoff Mulgan defended the “open” debate about the Third Way, synthesising centre-left traditions, and Labour commitment to practical radical reform. Citing Walter Benjamin, the Demos director complained about intellectual “peaceful negativity” – endless carping from the outside. History had moved on, and Blair’s “permanent revisionism” was the future.

Accusations of resurrecting New Labour, of “Blairism” have been anything but part of a serene critique in Labour’s present day leadership contest. Voices outside Labour, relayed within, predict a defeat for the left in the wake of a Keir Starmer Armageddon. Party democracy, in the view of the Socialist Party and the SWP and some claiming to be on the Labour left, has been thwarted; the ‘Blairites’ have not been purged. A historic defeat looms. The time has come again to mobilise outside the Party….

New Labour in Power.

In these conditions is there space for an in-depth account of New Labour in power? Discussion of what ‘Blairism’ actually was, and what remains of it could hardly avoid this. Davis and Rentoul, who teach on “the Blair Years” at King’s College, begin The Blair Government stating, that Tony Blair was “the political colossus in Britain for thirteen years after he became leader of the Labour Party in 1994. He was prime minister for ten years, second only in length of service to Margaret Thatcher (11 and a half).” Yet, as they note in the conclusion, “Much of the difference between Blair and Thatcher is explained by how much they are regarded by supporters of their own party, Where Blair is reviled by many Labour voters, Thatcher is revered by Conservatives.” (Page 300) By contrast, “The purpose of this book is to assess criticisms of him and his government in a dispassionate way…”(Page 2)

The first thing that strikes the considered reader is that The Blair Government is, far too much for the politically committed reader, focused on “government works” and “how Blair run his administration”. The charge that the Prime Minister accepted the ‘Thatcher consensus’ that privatised nationalised industries, utilities and transport, introduced anti-trade union laws, and the modelling of public services after private business practice. There is little on the role of the Labour Party itself. There is nothing on the international difficulties and evolution of social democracy, which some began to compare with New Labour at tis zenith The book focuses on the “conduct of government”, issues such as Prime Ministerial versus Cabinet government, “sofa government”, the Civil Service faced with an increased role of Special Advisers (‘Spads’), that occupy this account of the nuts and bolts of Blair’s time in office. (1)

The relationship between Blair and Gordon Brown is of interest to any biographer. The independence of the Bank of England and its relationship with the Treasury gets in-depth treatment, as does Brown’s partnership with Ed Balls. . The critics’ charge of economic orthodoxy rang and rings true. In this field, PPS, Public private Partnerships, rightly attacked for critics on cost grounds and as a “hallway house to privatisation” is considered in terms of “mobilising private funds for public purposes”. (Page 224). Brown’s project, Davis and Rentoul note, was in line “redistributive market liberalism. A significant role of government is to remedy market failure in areas such as healthcare, not to intervene in the foundations of the economy (Page 227).

 

The Third Way.

The Blair Government does not discuss the Third Way, the social-ism, adapted to the “new capitalism” that Tony Blair, or at least his supporters, spun during his years up to government and in power. There was the emphasis on “community” sometimes drawn from communitarian political philosophy, more often from homely speeches about balancing rights and obligations, “mutual responsibility”. One responsibility dominated. People needed to be equipped with skills to compete on the global market; there should be “equality of opportunity” for the aspirational to succeed. The welfare-to-work New Deal, outsourced to private providers, fell short of offering quality training and opportunities to the majority of its clients. If the minimum wage and tax credits helped the low-paid, this – undeniably important help – went with the idea of improving individuals’ market capacity within an “open economy”. (2)

The difficulty was not only that this strategy was bound to skirt around forces pushing rising inequality, a world wide trend left-wing writers link to finance driven ‘neo-liberal’ globalisation. Public services had been kept going, even expanded in some areas, although its higher reaches became subject to stiff fees. When the “dynamism of the economy” faltered, and “boom and bust” reappeared in the 2008-banking crisis, the period of Gordon Brown’s Premiership that followed this study’s focus, these measures teetered on the brink. Eric Hobsbawm’s warning proved right as orthodoxy, with the aid of a bit of bank saving, prevailed, austerity began. The bulk of policy initiatives, or tinkering, proved not to be structural, lasting, reforms. Whatever trace of equality they had sustained vanished quickly with the return of the Conservatives to power. Schemes for sanction-ruled and pared down welfare amidst the expansion of precarious employment have erased their memory. Brexit has set in train a new form of free-market rule, national neoliberalism, backed by Boris Johnson’s national populism. 

Davis and Rentoul are more forthcoming on the Iraq War. Regardless of the merits of the decision to play a full part in the invasion of Iraq, Blair acted out of “deep conviction”. He gave public support to President Bush. The issue of ‘humanitarian intervention’, one that preoccupied many people on the left at the time, is ignored. What counted is that it could be seen as poor policy, “on planning for the aftermath, he failed to consider how badly it could turn and…If a fraction of the intelligence effort devoted to weapons of mass destruction had been devoted to war-gaming the results of toppling Saddam, a better decision might have been reached.” (Page 280) Or it might not…..

The Blair Government Reconsidered  is a fluent, accessible study. That said, if there’s anything that all the candidates for the Labour leadership have noted is this, the Blair years claim that “What matters is what works”. New Labour’s package of policies, though not without electoral victories that should make us pause, did not, as a whole, work.

 

***********

(1) The Retreat of Social Democracy. John Callaghan. Manchester University Press.  2001

(2) Alex Callinicos. Against the Third Way. Polity 2001.

London Protest Against Far-Right Italian National Populist Leader Salvini.

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Image

London Protests Against No-Show Salvini.

Inspired by Italy’s anti-far right, and anti-Salvini movement, the Sardines, people protested in London yesterday against the visit of the Italian national populist leader to the British capital.

The fact that his flight was cancelled because of the Coronavirus did not stop people demonstrating.

This is the movement in Italy: Sardines against Salvini 

Socialist Resistance.

December 2019.

A few weeks ago four thirty year olds from Bologna were complaining about the victory of Salvini’s  hard right Lega (League) in the Umbrian regional elections and the danger of him winning their traditionally left of centre region in the January elections, writes Dave Kellaway. They then did something that is typical of angry thirty year olds. They went onto social media and cooked up the Sardines idea.

Put simply, it was to fill the squares of Italy with people against the Lega.  The reference to the sea was twofold. Firstly, small fish group together in massive shoals to defend themselves against predators and secondly Salvini was the notorious interior minister who was happy to let migrants die in the Mediterranean by closing the ports.

As sometimes happens, the whole idea exploded on social media and the squares of Bologna and other places across the region were successfully taken over by huge crowds. A majority were young but people of all ages came too.

On December 3 there were 25,000 in Milan and tens of thousands in Florence and Naples. The weather has been as bad in Italy recently as it has been here.  Given that the merest hint of rain on an Italian beach sees them emptied very quickly, this showed the strength of this movement as a sea of umbrellas covered the squares.

And:  New “sardine” movement in Italy. Hugh Edwards.

Solidarity.

December 2019.

In the past few weeks, as if from nowhere, a new movement, calling itself “the sardines”, has filled the squares of Italy, originating from Emilia Romagna’s capital city, Bologna.

25,000 came out in Milan on Sunday 1 December, and there will be a mass national demo of all groups and organisational conference in Rome on 15 December.

Drawing in thousands of the young, and often very young, the dynamic of the mobilisation is focused against the reactionary racist extremism of Matteo Salvini and his party, La Lega nationale.

Radical anti-Fascists took part.

This is the Sardines UK.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 4, 2020 at 2:19 pm

Memoirs of a Critical Communist. Towards a History of the Fourth International. Livio Maitan. Review.

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Memoirs of a Critical Communist. Towards a History of the Fourth International. Livio Maitan. Resistance Books/Merlin Press. 2019.

(This review appears in the latest, March-April, Chartist Magazine.).

Livio Maitan (1923 – 2004) was a leading figure in the international Trotskyist Movement who won respect and had an influence, on the wider left. Memoirs of a Critical Communist, published in Italian in 2006, his last book, is a “contribution” to the history of the Fourth International. The Italian was, with Pierre Frank, (France) and the influential economist Ernest Mandel (Belgium), a leading figure in the main branch of Trotskyism. Maitan had, the late French Marxist philosopher Daniel Bensaïd, writes in the Preface, “a sense of humour and self-irony”, a warmth and intellectual breadth, which is far from the general picture of a Trotskyist leader.

Maitan’s book  Party, Army and Masses in China (published in Italian in 1969), appeared in English in 1976. Written with an audience sympathetic to the Cultural Revolution in mind it was critical of the Chinese bureaucracy but falls far short of the robust demolition of Mao’s “sterilising totalitarianism,” by Simon Leys.

The present volume ranges much wider. It is a “history of the activities of the activities of the international leadership” of his current until his passing. Pages cover the disputes within Trotskyism during the Cold War, the anti-colonial revolutions, the 68 upheavals, the Portuguese Carnation Revolution of 1974, up to what Franco Turigliatto has called “the congress of “disillusionment” of 1995. This tried to come to terms with the fall of Communism and world-wide setbacks for the whole the left (Livio Maitan’s last book). This saw an end of hopes for democratic left-wing developments in what Trotskyists considered to be “bureaucratised transitional societies”.

Latin American Left.

Memoirs recounts Maitan’s extensive involvement with the Latin American left. The faction run by Posadas, best known today for its belief in flying saucers, but in the ‘sixties for asserting that the world revolution was now led from Latin America and Africa, was one of many to stress the importance of these countries. The guerrilla strategy of Che Guevara, who had “read, and liked Mandel’s Marxist Economic Theory”, attracted support in Bolivia, where Trotskyism had influence in the workers’ movement.

The practice of armed struggle led to intense debates across the continent, and the creation of “political-military” groups committed to armed struggle. Disputes in Argentina, where Trotskyism, continues to have an influence, took place against the background of extreme state repression, and calls for militaristic responses. The niceties of Maitan’s account, which also covers Chile and Mexico, including the row with the ‘Moreno’ tendency that continued till the 1980s, will interest specialists.

Maitan has an eye for detail. He describes the Militant leader Ted Grant carting around Marxist relics in his briefcase to quote Trotsky “chapter and verse”. Talented Rally Speaker Tariq Ali is cited as returning from a visit to  North Korea in 1971 with “fairly positive opinion” about its economic development.

The American Socialist Workers Party (no relation to the UK SWP), the oldest Trotskyist party in the world, and an influence on the celebrated list of 1930s New York Intellectuals under the impact of Jack Barnes today subordinates its politics to the Cuban state. Maitan charges them with their leader’s “authoritarian behaviour” and purging their group by accusations of “disloyalty”. He does not explore allegations of ‘cultism’ and  being “Trotskyist missionaries” common to those who have had contact with them in Europe.

Memoirs of a Critical Communist is far from the work of a cultist. If not always an easy read, even for those familiar with the personalities involved and the movements. From optimism in 1968 “during the heat of the action”, to criticism of one of Trotskyism most abiding traits, leaders “wedded to centralising tendencies and charismatic methods” Maitan emerges as a keen observer.

The willingness to engage with other radical movements, to rethink ideas in the light of experience, to try to build “a global anticapitalist movement” on a socialist basis, has been helped by activists of his calibre. For those prepared to plunge into the difficulties the left faces this book is an important reference point.

 

**********

See also: Book Review: Heroism of reason – On Livio Maitan’s “Memoirs” LÖWY Michael

This is of particular relevance to the Chartist article:

I confess that I don’t agree with my friend Daniel Bensaid’s criticism of Livio’s discussion of Latin America: “The comments about the controversies regarding the armed struggle in Latin America may appear incomplete and partial to many of us”. On the contrary, I find these pages among the most lively and interesting of the Memoirs. Livio’s draft on armed struggle, presented at the 9h World Congress provoked as he writes, “moment of highest tension and passionate interest”, both among the Latin American delegates and the others. [4] He recognizes that prioritizing rural guerrilla was a mistake, but explains that these were the views of our main organizations in the continent, in Bolivia and Argentina. There are a few very moving pages about Roberto Santucho, the main leader of the the PRT (Revolutionary Workers Party), the Argentinian section of the FI until 1973, both criticizing his wrong views – the illusion that, by leaving the FI, he would get weapons from the “Soviet comrades” – and paying homage to an intransigent revolutionary who gave his life for the cause.

…..

Taking stock of four decades since the foundation of the FI, Livio raises the difficult question: why has our movement failed to play a leading role anywhere ? Among the reasons: the destructive splits, the negative role of authoritarian, centralist, even “Bonapartist” leaders (the list of names is too long), propagandist and voluntarist attitudes, and, for some, a dogmatic approach, exclusively based on the Russian experience of 1917, and on quotes from Leon Trotsky. But the main factor was objective: the force of attraction of the USSR, China, Cuba. Castroism had a special power of attraction for the radical left, and this led to the last split, when the SWP (under the leadership of Jack Barnes) broke with the FI (in 1990), gave up Trotskyism and uncritically adopted the line of the Cuban government.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 3, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Hope Not Hate Report: Brexit Helped Mainstream “far-right notions around immigration and identity”

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Brexit has both marginalised the far right but also contributed to the mainstreaming of some far-right notions around immigration and identity.”

 

Brexit making far-right ideas mainstream, major report finds

Independent.

‘Cordon sanitaire’ keeping far-right discourse out of mainstream politics has collapsed, Hope Not Hate says

Brexit is causing far-right views on immigration and identity to be drawn into the mainstream, a report has warned.

Research by Hope Not Hate found that Britain’s departure from the EU has fuelled discussions of loyalty, elites and patriotism, “drawing people who might have otherwise have been attracted to the far right back into the mainstream right”.

“The blurring of these boundaries has seen mainstream politicians and commentators using language and rhetoric that was previously found only on the far right [and] seen anti-Muslim prejudice, demeaning rhetoric on migrants and refugees and notions of a ‘cultural war’ against social liberalism increasingly being adopted,” the group’s annual report said.

“This is partly as a consequence of politicians co-opting far-right narratives to gain support and partly because of the newer far right engaging in wider issues.”

Hope Not Hate said the change was responsible for weakening traditional far-right street movements in Britain, seeing a decline in membership and events.

Its report noted that several extremist figures and groups, including Tommy Robinson and Britain First, had called for their supporters to support Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party since he became leader.

“Past and present far-right leaders even attended Brexit Day celebrations in Parliament Square,” it added.

“The ‘cordon sanitaire’ which once kept far-right groups and thought out of mainstream discourse has collapsed, both here and on the continent.”

Extracts from this important report: FAR RIGHT TERROR GOES GLOBAL.

Editorial Nick Lowles. 

This is partly the consequence of the far right engaging in wider cultural and identity issues, but also because centre-right politicians have tried to embrace far-right narratives to win support.

Who really needs far-right propagandists when you have more mainstream commentators like Rod Liddle, Richard Littlejohn, Toby Young and James Delingpole all weighing into the fray?

The ‘cordon sanitaire’ which once kept far-right groups and thought out of mainstream discourse has collapsed, both here and on the Continent.Belgium’s King Philippe has held an official meeting at the Royal Palace with the head of the far-right Vlaams Belang party. It is the first time a Belgian monarch has met a far-right leader since 1936. In Germany, a significant group of Christian Democrat politicians have called for a deal with the far-right Alternative for Germany Party.

The decline of the traditional far right has been happening for some time. As far back as 1999 the British National Party recognised that its strong racist and anti-immigrant message had decreasing traction in a multicultural society where some non-whites were already second or third generation British.

However, this decline has been quickened by the emergence of the internet and the rapidly evolving digital landscape, plus the loosening ties between political parties and people, which has given us all a far wider choice to move between causes and campaigns.

The far right has also been constrained by police action and social media deplatforming. Leaders of many of the more violent far-right groups have been imprisoned, while the action of some social media companies to limit hate speech has massively curtailed the ability of far-right figures to reach audiences and raise money.
………
But it has been Brexit that has really quickened the far right decline. Brexit has dominated the political discourse over the past three years and the traditional far-right organisations have struggled to get their issues heard amid the Brexit roar.

Figures such as Yaxley-Lennon tried to jump aboard the Brexit bandwagon, but after admitting that he hadn’t actually voted in the EU Referendum, he struggled to have any meaningful impact beyond complaining about Muslims and his own sense of persecution.

Last summer, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party was formed and topped the poll in the European elections all within two months. Along the way it claimed to have recruited 150,000 supporters and millions in donations. However, almost as quickly as it emerged it sunk, as Boris Johnson promised to deliver what Farage could only dream about.

This does not mean an end to the far-right. Just as anti-immigrant and anti “cultural leftist” people like Éric Zemmour  is part of the national political landscape in France, so have many of their far-right ideas become part of the British cultural and political terrain.

This may stand for the UK as well, “Raphaël Glucksmann described Zemmour as having “a very clear ambition, which is to erase the divide between the Republican right and the far right under the banner of the far right.”

CULTURAL WAR

The far right are enthusiastic and extreme participants in the culture war and have successfully sought to portray themselves as victims of political correctness, the liberal establishment and gender equality.
And in this they successfully tap into an anxiety and lack of control over their lives that many feel, especially those who feel most pessimistic about the future and those who have been top of the social hierarchies but now feel they are losing out to others.

The report explores how the ‘manosphere’ has snowballed into an ideology that has taken on a life beyond an online niche. Though its organised elements and online communities are still a fringe issue, it taps into broader reactionary attitudes towards towards women, feminism and progressive politics.

More:

“….particular far-right tropes, especially those with a conspiratorial angle, have received attention from mainstream politicians. These include ‘The Great Replacement’ and other identitarian ideas influencing far-right European Parliamentary election campaigns, to Britain’s Nigel Farage using the antisemitic ‘globalist’ dogwhistle and Conservative MP Suella Braverman using another, ‘Cultural Marxism’. On some topics mainstreaming has gone even further. HOPE not hate polling released in June highlighted the worrying extent of British Conservative party supporters’ Islamophobic beliefs, including in once-fringe Islamophobic tropes such as ‘no-go zones’.

..

When it comes to resisting the spread of far-right ideas, the culture war over deplatforming those who spread hate continued in 2019, with doing so continuing to be framed, often cynically by the far right, in terms of a danger to freedom of speech.

Likewise, moral equivocating of the far right and antifascists continued, not least from Trump who in April reiterated a form of his ‘both sides’ response (that he gave when reacting to news of the murder of antiracist demonstrator Heather Heyer in Charlottesville in 2017).

Through our American newsletter, CARD, edited by Melissa Ryan, we also drew attention to  home of the narratives and conspiracies which have begun to gain more of a footing, including the antiLGBTQ+ and misogynist ‘Gender Ideology’ conspiracy which was central, for example, to the Polish far right’s parliamentary election campaigns.”

 

Amongst other issues the section on Labour and Anti-Semitism remains significant.

The relationship between between the Jewish community and the Labour Party was in pretty dire straits at the start of 2019. The summer of 2018 had been dominated by a row over Labour’s eventual acceptance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which occurred after the unprecedented ‘Enough is Enough’ rally led by Jewish community organisations in Parliament Square.

This stands out,

Chris Williamson.

The disgraced former MP for Derby North became a symbol of Jew-baiting and hatred, and caused an unnecessary saga that took far too long to resolve. Williamson came into 2019 still facing calls for the Labour whip to be suspended from him for sharing platforms with expelled members, denying antisemitism in the Labour Party and signing a petition in support of controversial jazz musician Gilad Atzmon.

Despite this, Jeremy Corbyn told Derbyshire Live: “Chris Williamson is a very good, very effective Labour MP. He’s a very strong anti-racist campaigner. He is not antisemitic in any way.”

Williamson further angered anti-racists in Labour by booking a room in Parliament to host a film screening in Parliament for then-suspended member Jackie Walker. In late February, footage was uncovered of Williamson saying that Labour was “too apologetic” over antisemitism. The party confirmed that he would be under investigation for a pattern of behaviour but would remain as an MP. However, after much anger from then-deputy leader Tom Watson, backbench MPs and a statement from HOPE not Hate, he was suspended.

Unfortunately, this did not prove to be the end of this sorry tale. In June, Williamson’s suspension was lifted by a three-person NEC panel and he was issued with a formal warning. It then took two days, and pressure from 120 MPs and peers, plus 70 Labour staff members, for his suspension to be reimposed. He unsuccessfully attempted to return as a Labour MP through the courts and after he was refused permission to stand as a Labour Party candidate in the General Election, he resigned from the party. He got his final kicking of the year at the ballot box, receiving just 635 votes and losing his deposit in Derby North. However, it should be remembered that his case was yet another that dragged out so long that Labour never had to take the final decision to expel him.

This is one response to the section that mentions one individual:

The Conservatives face this charge:

Limited disciplinary action, a membership riven by Islamophobic views and a leadership which has brushed off criticism – the conservative party’s approach to its islamophobia crisis is deeply disappointing writes Gregory Davis.

Last year there were growing calls for the Conservative Party to tackle the Islamophobia crisis within its ranks. A steady drip-feed of allegations emerged throughout the year of Islamophobic behaviour from individuals at every level of the party, ranging from the grassroots up to the very top with the leadership.

Yet the party has appeared reluctant to acknowledge the scale of the problem, which is the first step towards tackling any issue effectively. It has seemed, at times, as though the party was intent on repeating every mistake that Labour has made in its handling of its antisemitism crisis.

Despite the party’s claims that its disciplinary procedures were ‘transparent’, a consistent refusal to provide basic information about the number of complaints, or their outcomes, has made it impossible for outside observers to verify the actions taken or true scale of the problem. As it stands, the evidence we have already suggests that the problem is larger than the leadership cares to admit.

Identity Politics.

Brexit, it was predicted by some on the left, would lead to a ‘Carnival of Reaction’.

From immigration to national identity the right has gained an advantage by playing the issue of national sovereignty against internationalism and human rights.

There is another way far-right, or, national populist, ideas have shaped the terrain of political debate.

 

The rise of right-wing identity politics, and the inability of the pro-Brexit left to answer without claiming an identity politics of their own, based on the “real” working class, pro-Brexit opposed to “Metropolitan” pro EU “elites”, is striking.

The Morning Star and others, the Socialist Party, Blue Labour and the alliance between the sovereigntist left and the Brexit Party backers, the Full Brexit, have played this game.

Explaining Labour’s defeat Beck Robertson says in the Morning Star,

To win back the working class we must ditch identity politics

The right has seized on our insistence upon all things woke and have used this to parody our whole movement.

…..though Brexit was undoubtedly important, and Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity may have played a part, there is another long-ignored factor — identity politics and its role in the perception of the party as a vehicle for middle-class Islingtonites.

..

Traditional working-class Labour voters, who in their droves turned away from Labour this election, have long complained the party has become London-centric, middle class and out of touch, with too much focus on liberal identity politics.

Nobody is going to tackle national populism and the far right  by pitting the ‘left-behind’, the “Somewhere” working class against the imaginary London metropolitan left – a city with its own working ‘cosmopolitan;’ working class.

Their arguments serve only to reinforce right-wing views, not challenge them.

Not to mention that they sound like Toby Young whingeing about all that ‘identity’ intersectional PC, Woke, nonsense.

Britain to Drop European Human Rights Laws, a Victory for Brexit Sovereignty?

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End to the “poisonous seeds of the politics of personal identity and human rights”? Andrew Murray.

This the news today:

Britain is preparing to reject EU demands to guarantee that the country will continue to be bound by European human rights laws once the UK becomes fully independent, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

British negotiators will refuse to accept proposed clauses in a post-Brexit trade agreement that would require Britain remain signed up to the European Convention of Human Rights, leaving the door open to break away from the treaty as soon as next year, the Sunday Telegraph said.

Andrew Murray, until recently a key Jeremy Corbyn’s adviser  expressed these views in The Rise and Fall of the British Left (2019).

The “imperialist left” of the 2006 Euston Manifesto, which championed the right of humanitarian intervention, claimed to base the argument on human rights.  Such rights trump the “rights of nations” and justify Western, external, use of force to impose claims of human rights.

He attacked the standpoint that “articulated the preference for individual rights over the collective, which has come to preponderate on much of the Western left, a flowering of the more poisonous seeds of the politics of personal identity and human rights.”(Page 97) 

The thrust of anti-human rights ideology can be seen on the national populist Spiked site run by the ex-Revolutionary Communist Party network.

Human rights: a reactionary cause. Luke Gittos.

The movement for human rights was born of a fear of democracy.

In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, many Remainers were keen to emphasise that leaving the European Union (EU) did not mean leaving the remit of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). As they saw it, retaining the human-rights regime was a means to retain some vestige of what they perceived to be the progressive European project. It was as though they felt, in the aftermath of Brexit, that all was not lost as long as they could hold on to human-rights laws. Hence, human-rights proponents were keen to highlight the fact that the Human Rights Act was passed into English law by the UK parliament and did not represent a law ‘imposed by Brussels’ – a retort they find useful when the human-rights regime is called ‘undemocratic’.

The conclusion is simple, “The existence of a human-rights framework owes everything to postwar elites’ attempt to exert economic and political control over the heads of European peoples.”

This is a complete fabrication.

The human rights demands of social movements, theorised by writers such as Claude Lefort and Étienne Balibar, are written off as they are part the culture of narcissistic complaint. Leftort , in Essais sur le politique : XIXe et XXe siècles, 1986, argue that the political dynamics attached to the affirmation of human rights could not be dismissed as part of the “formal” democracy, but reached into the development of the social basis of democracy. IT is possible to see the limits of legal rights, as the early 19th century writings of Marx on the issue indicated, but also to consider that the fight for rights is, as Justine Lacroix and Jean-Yves Pranchère put it, “a source of disorder and egalitarian reordering” (Was Karl Marx truly against human rights? 2012.)

In a similar vein Balibar has written of the “operation of inventing rights, or of continually setting their history back into motion..” Masses, Classes and Ideas,1994. During the last decade Balibar has written of the convergence of citizenry and humanity, both in human rights documents and in the political imaginary (La proposition de l’égaliberté. 2010)

More radically the cultural critic of political theorist Jacques  Rancière’s account sees human rights emerge through political action and speech. They are products of excluded voices that  seek to enact equality as speaking subjects and demonstrate inequality within the social order: ‘the Rights of Man are the rights of those who have not the rights that they have and have the rights that they have not’ (Who Is the Subject of the Rights of Man? 2004).

Many argue that, to illustrate the point, that the trade union movement, which came from “outside” the political system,  is the biggest movement for human rights in history.

From the radical internationalists to figures like Keir Starmer human rights have become an important part of the politics of the left.

But what are these fights without legal recourse?

Agreements like the European Convention on Human Rights exist to  give at least some reality to these the demands of the powerless.

Bexiteers assert that only national, sovereign, states, can guarantee rights – an argument that goes back to Edmund Burke, and taken, as a counsel of despair, by Hannah Arendt in the wake of the Second World War and the Shoah.

These positions, taken up and simplified by sovereigntist ideologues many Brexiters, of right and left, have wished to detach themselves from any such international obligations. based on humanity, not nation states.

It is no accident that Boris Johnson and his adviser Cummings attack the European Convention, and assert national sovereignty over human rights. National neoliberalism, national populism, and national rights….

Those who argued in favour of such unlimited national sovereign rights, and wished that Labour had a made a deal collaborating with the Tories in Brexit, can now see where their stand can lead.

What a People’s Brexit they have helped bring into being…

 

 

 

 

Boosts for Rebecca Long-Bailey from Corbyn and Weekly Worker.

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Breaking, if offered a frontbench job under the new leader Corbyn would graciously accept the shadow foreign secretary role.

Rebecca Long-Bailey received two major boosts for her campaign this weekend.

The senior commentators of the Weekly Worker publish this statement.

Use the ballot

“David Shearer of Labour Party Marxists urges a tactical vote for Rebecca Long-Bailey – despite her monarchism, vague politics and accommodation with the right.”

We in Labour Party Marxists are clear that, despite the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn and the clear move to the right in the party, the space for the left to operate and argue in can be defended. This means voting for Rebecca Long-Bailey for leader and Richard Burgon for deputy – but vote with your eyes open. Expect nothing from an RBL leadership – except betrayal and further moves to appease.

There follows stuff about ‘Zionism’.

You;d have already guessed it.

 Long-Bailey said she supported separate Palestinian and Israeli states, “so I suppose that makes me a Zionist, because I agree with Israel’s right to exist”. Would she have argued in support of apartheid South Africa’s right to exist?

The arm of the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee) then tackled an issue which many may have missed, although the Newshounds of this Blog noticed the new People’s Princess showing off her touching Diana picture.

Then there was the February 17 Channel 4 TV hustings, when candidates were asked how they would vote in a referendum on keeping the monarchy. Lisa Nandy replied: “I’m a democrat, so I would vote to scrap it”, although she did not think it was “the priority as a country” to do so. And even the expected leadership victor, Keir Starmer, said he would “downsize” the monarchy. But on this Long-Bailey was more reactionary than the two candidates to her right. She stated categorically: “I wouldn’t vote to abolish the monarchy” – after all, there were “more important things” to be done.

 

As if to accentuate this position, on February 23 the Sunday Mirror ran a story (accompanied by a touching photograph) about how in 1988 Long-Bailey, when she was just nine, had presented a bouquet on behalf of her school to the late princess, Diana Windsor.2 The tone of the article was entirely sympathetic, and it read as though the Mirror had dug up this information completely independently. But the Daily Mail’s subsequent online headline began: “Labour hopeful Rebecca Long-Bailey reveals photo of her meeting Diana” (my emphasis).3

I suspect that is accurate. Long-Bailey is trying to appeal to the Labour right and wants to show just how ‘respectable’ she is.

Steel hardened cadre Sherar has a go at the vagueness of the programme Long-Bailey offers,

So “socialism” merely means a “better life” – to be achieved by people working “together”.

Her “green industrial revolution” is equally vague: it will be “the aspirational socialist project, around which we build a winning majority for change”. It will bring “social justice” and “good, green jobs to every community”. As for concrete proposals, forget it.

Eagle-eyed Cds, they finish by noting this,

Another witch-hunt?

Of course, RLB adheres absolutely to political correctness and so will quickly sign up to each and every call to end discrimination against minorities – without, it seems, bothering too much about the detail of what some are proposing.

So, along with Emily Thornberry and Lisa Nandy, Long-Bailey has signed up to a statement drawn up by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights, which labels organisations like Woman’s Place UK “trans-exclusionist hate groups” for their insistence that there are only two biological sexes. According to the LCTR, such an insistence is “transphobic” and Labour members who support it should be expelled.

…..

It is essential that those claiming to be on the left – not least Rebecca Long-Bailey herself – should renounce this witch-hunt (along with any new one relating to ‘transphobia’). However, even in the absence of such a renunciation, it is essential , as I have stated, to remain focused on the central battle over the nature of the Labour Party itself: the aim must be to transform it into a united front of the entire working class, free of all pro-capitalist elements.

Breaking update:

The rumour from our ace-reporters is that, the UK’s number one sectarian and (relatively newly) entryist group is splitting, with a prominent member expelled. What next for the Weekly Worker Group?

In a lesser boost this has happened: Jeremy Corbyn comes off fence to back Rebecca Long-Bailey in race for Labour leader

The Standard reports,

Jeremy Corbyn abandoned his pledge to stay neutral during the Labour leadership race as his protégé fights for second place.

The current Labour leader said Rebecca Long-Bailey would have his “absolute support” in a video released on her social media today.

In the clip, showing Ms Long-Bailey being interviewed by Mr Corbyn in Westminster, she tells him: “And obviously, when I’m leader of the party, you’ll be there supporting me as a green revolutionary.”

He replies: “Absolute support.”

This the latest in Corbyn’s efforts to support Long Bailey,

Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn urges frontrunner Keir Starmer to publish major donations to his campaign

Independent. 

On the donation issue,

Responding to Mr Corbyn’s comments, a source in Sir Keir’s campaign team told The Independent: “The campaign publishes its donations in line with the law and rules set out by the Labour Party for this contest. The first tranche were published last month.

“We’ve submitted our next tranche to the parliamentary authorities and expect it to be published next week.”

But all eyes will be on this demand.

Labour leader also says he would prefer shadow foreign secretary job if offered role on successor’s frontbench​.

In a surprise intervention, the Labour leader also insisted he will not be “disappearing” when his successor is unveiled, and said if he is offered a frontbench job under the new leader he would prefer the shadow foreign secretary role.

All’s fair when you need to give advice to Labour on selecting another winning leader!

Written by Andrew Coates

February 29, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Solidarity with the Victims of Communal Violence in Delhi.

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Delhi Riots: Mosques and Huts Burned, Children Attacked, at Least 2 Dead in Mustafabad

Naomi Barton and Avichal Dubey

At least two mosques in the northeasrt Delhi neighbourhood have been vandalised and attacked with stones, reportedly by a Hindutva mob. Elsewhere in the area, masked men shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ torched Muslim huts.

New Delhi: The Mustafabad area in north east Delhi also saw violence on Tuesday evening as a Hindutva mob attacked the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest site, injuring sevhttps://twitter.com/SAsiaSolidarity/status/1232951475896307712?s=20eral people including children.

According to residents, a mob of around 50 men gathered in the area and began to pelt stones.

At least two mosques in the area have been vandalised and attacked with stones, by the same mob.

Residents told The Wire that men armed with rods and pistols gathered outside the mosques in the area and attacked them. At the time, several children were inside the mosque and were attacked.

The locals rescued several children from the mosque and some have severe injuries. The Wire saw a 15-year-old boy with severe head and leg injuries being rescued from inside the mosque. He was unable to walk and claimed that he had been attacked by rods.

 

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS)

India: WSS strongly condemns the State Sponsored Hindutva Violence in Delhi!

In light of the extraordinary situation with which we are confronted, WSS strongly and unequivocally condemns the BJP-RSS-Bajrang Dal led violence. We also condemn the inaction and silence of the state and central government in the wake of the violence. We demand:

1. Immediate restoration of law and order, de-escalation of violence, and fulfilment of the duties of law enforcement agencies.

2. The Delhi government must immediately begin serious efforts to restore the right to safe living of the Muslim community – men, women, children – in these violence-wracked neighbourhoods and across the city. All efforts must be made to ensure that those who have been forced to flee are able to return and live in their homes safely.

3. The Supreme court should take suo moto cognisance of the violent situation and act urgently to contain the violence.

4. The state should be providing immediate medical relief on site, in homes of the injured, and ambulance services to those injured. People trapped in these areas should be provided rations by the state government, in light of the destruction of their homes, livelihoods and property.

5. Immediate and stringent action against BJP ex-MLA Kapil Mishra for inciting violence, as well as all individuals and policemen seen engaged in stone-pelting and beatings.

6. The ongoing violence should be investigated by a SIT.

7. Immediate resignation of the Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, Delhi LG Anil Baijal and Home Minister Amit Shah.

UK’s Corbyn condemns violence against Muslims in Delhi

Labour chief and leader of the opposition in the British parliament, Jeremy Corbyn, has condemned violence against Muslims in Delhi by extremist Hindu groups linked with the ruling Bhartya Janata Party (BJP).

In an exclusive interview with Geo News, the Labour leader said he’s saddened and shocked at the killing of innocent Muslims in Delhi riots, initiated by the extremist Hindutva groups linked with Narendra Modi’s government.

“I am totally shocked by what has happened and totally deplore the killings that have happened. I stand by those who have protested for their rights. They have the right to protest and they have the right to disagree, that’s what a democracy is all about,” he said.

“The basis of international law has to be the universal declaration of international human rights which of course guarantees and protects the right of religious freedom and assembly and the right of equality before the law of citizenship,” he added.

When asked about his views on the ruling party BJP supporting a progrom against Muslims, the Labour leader said all faiths are equal and no faith has the right to attack others.

“There has to be a basis in every society that there is no supremacy of one faith or ethnic group over another. That’s what a democracy is all about, equality before the law irrespective of your ethnicity of your faith.”

Finally there is this:

And this:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 28, 2020 at 1:18 pm

After Morning Star Apology for “cartoon which was offensive to trans people” controversy continues.

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Image result for morning star trans cartoon

 

There have been further strong reactions to this cartoon, followed by a belated retraction.

Last Sunday the Morning Star issued a statement.

An apology for the cartoon published last Tuesday

The Morning Star apologises unreservedly for the publication last Tuesday of a cartoon which was offensive to trans people.

The cartoon had not been authorised for publication and its appearance in the print edition represents a failure to follow our own procedures for approving submissions. It was removed from online editions of the paper the same day, as soon as it was seen by the editor.

A notice was sent round staff on Tuesday reminding them of the process by which cartoon submissions must be approved before publication and we are determined that such a lapse in standards will not recur.

Again, we apologise for the offence caused by this cartoon, especially to our trans contributors and readers whom we have let down.

The Metro picked up the story:

Newspaper apologises after transphobic cartoon sparks outrage.  Lucy Middleton

A newspaper has been forced to apologise after printing a transphobic cartoon this week. The picture, published in socialist paper The Morning Star on Tuesday, shows a crocodile slithering into a small pond containing newts. In speech bubbles, the newts can be seen saying, ‘But you can’t come in here! This is our safe space!’ The crocodile then replies: ‘Don’t worry your pretty little heads! I’m transitioning as a newt!’

Critics of the cartoon, drawn by Stella Perrett, accused it of perpetuating false stereotypes about trans people being predatory and dangerous to others in society. One person on Twitter wrote: ‘Could barely believe my eyes seeing this dehumanising, fascist imagery in a socialist paper.

Mumsnet became involved in the controversy,

This statement is interesting:

Kristina Harrison (prominent gender. critical transwoman, WPUK supporter) just posted this on Twitter – apparently it was published in the Morning Star.

KH wrote “This cartoon appeared in The Morning Star earlier this week @M_Star_Online It is a horrific, generalised demonisation of trans people which does not belong in a civilised society, let alone a socialist newspaper. I condemn it utterly. Trans people & progressive opponents of identity politics are owed an unequivocal apology, an explanation & reassurance about what action is being taken to ensure that the line between fierce but legitimate argument and bigotry is never crossed again. Totally unacceptable. (not posting a direct link as I don’t want to facilitate any pile on against Kristina, clearly this is a sensitive personal issue for a transwoman).

Comments are supportive of KH so far. I thought it’d be a good topic for discussion here – does this ‘demonise trans people’ or does it baldly illustrate safeguarding concerns with self-ID? Is it different from the popular/accepted(?) ‘Fox identifying into the henhouse’ analogy? Hopefully we can keep things civil and respectful with no personal criticisms of Kristina.

The issue for many  has not been about the freedom to offend, but the why a self-identifying left daily chose to publish this material.

The Morning Star is no defender of the absolute right to say what you want about anybody.

This is what one of their columnists  said about the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper-Casher murders in 2015,

Muslims held to a double standard

….some faux-left journalists who gave enthusiastic backing to the Blair-Bush wars and are now equally gung-ho about giving the widest possible circulation of material intended to enrage Muslims.

B52 liberal Nick Cohen accuses of cowardice those choosing not to carry anti-Muslim cartoons and alleges that radical Islam is winning successive battles, including effective introduction of a blasphemy law by means of self-censorship.

……

Why should running images of Mohammed be seen as the acid test of commitment to press freedom?

Powerful people’s wealth has prevented more stories from being published than pressure from any religious quarter.

Charles Windsor’s recent success in the pulling of a TV programme examining his finances exposes the reality behind claims of unlimited media freedom.

Would our freedom of expression be enhanced by publication of cartoons depicting Jesus being buggered by the Holy Ghost or a naked Muslim woman with a piece of blue cloth protruding from her anus and the comment that burkhas can be worn but only on the inside?

The only thing worse than publishing such puerile work would be reacting repressively by banning it.

But,

Why would any left-wing journalist or cartoonist jeopardise that essential by insulting fellow workers simply because they can?

 

Women’s Place UK  criticised the cartoon on reasonable grounds:

The crocodile cartoon that appeared in the Morning Star this week works against the respectful debate and discussion to which WPUK is committed – it was misjudged and offensive and it is right that the Morning Star has apologised.

WPUK has been calling for respectful discussion since our inception and it is to their credit that the Morning Star has hosted many articles from different viewpoints on the subject which have enabled this discussion to take place. These articles have brought a clarity to such discussions.

We are grateful to those trans people who have worked with us, spoken at our meetings and supported the sex based rights of women and girls. Their solidarity has meant so much to so many and we stand beside them now.

We have been the subject of much offensive imagery and we have always condemned it. We are happy to do so now.

Let’s move forward progressively and in solidarity.

23rd February 2020

UNISON has responded:

Left-wing newspaper that published ‘vile transphobic cartoon’ slammed by UK’s largest trade union

Pink News.

The Morning Star was condemned this week for printing a “dehumanising, fascist, transphobic” cartoon – and now, Britain’s largest trade union has said that the newspaper has sunk to “a new low”.

UNISON, which represents staff who provide public services, said the “shocking, vile, transphobic cartoon” saw “the paper sink to a new low”.

“When I saw the image shared on social media over the weekend, I assumed it had been published in the Daily Mail, not for one moment did I think the dreadful drawing had appeared in the Morning Star,” wrote Liz Snape, UNISON’s assistant general secretary, in an open letter to the newspaper’s editor, Ben Chacko.

Snape added: “Images like this peddle the dangerous myth that trans people are a threat, when they’re the ones whose safety is most at risk. The irresponsible publishing of such appalling images does nothing to make them feel more secure.

“By publishing this hurtful cartoon, the publication so many trade unionists support and hold dear risks appearing no better than the right-wing media they despise.”

Solidarity has published this analysis:

The Morning Star (linked to the Communist Party of Britain) has been forced to apologise for printing a transphobic cartoon by Stella Perrett, published in the print edition of Tuesday 18 February.

The cartoon depicting a slavering, slithering crocodile ogling terrified and defenceless newts and invading their “safe space” with the excuse that the crocodile is “transitioning to a newt”. The cartoon is grossly offensive, showing trans people as predatory and deceitful and cis women as weak and in need of protection.

As the cartoon circulated online, trade union LGBT+ groups began to organise against the Star, calling for withdrawal of union funds. A petition was set up by PCS Rainbow Collective which attracted hundreds of signatures in a few hours. The Morning Star was called out on Twitter.

The cartoon was removed from the online version of the paper with an apology claiming it “had not been authorised for publication and its appearance in the print edition represents a failure to follow… procedures for approving submissions.” The apology doesn’t explain how the cartoon was commissioned and printed without the editor noticing. The apology also skirts around the fact that the cartoon was not an aberration, but a logical conclusion of a longstanding pattern of the Morning Star publishing transphobic articles. The moral panic around “protecting women’s spaces” from trans women stems from seeing trans women as innately dangerous and threatening to cis women.

…………

The cartoon has shone a light on the official labour movement’s extensive funding and support for the Morning Star. According to the Star, Community, CWU, FBU, GMB, NUM, POA, RMT, and Unite are represented on its management committee.

It has yet to be seen if the apology is enough to dampen the calls for unions to distance themselves from the paper. I certainly hope not. The Morning Star should be made to account for its scapegoating of an oppressed minority, dividing workers against each other and propagating the myth that our rights run counter to each other.

Though our unions fund the paper, most of us do not regularly read it and would be shocked by the lies that flow readily from its pages. As well as transphobic cartoons, activists in Boycott the Morning Star have unearthed cartoons by Stella Perrett containing antisemitic caricatures which were published in 2016.

The paper repeats Chinese state lies to cover the persecution of the Uyghur people, one of the Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region. It celebrated the “liberation” of Aleppo by Assad. It repeated right wing lies about migrants driving down wages.

Reactionary, conservative politics dressed up as left-wing are the bread and butter of the Morning Star. It is about time our unions stopped paying for it.

While this furore continues the following event in planned.

The presence of  anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner and stalwart of the Arron banks backed ‘Trade Unionists’ Against the EU (supported by the Morning Star and the Socialist Party)   Paul Embery is causing concern.

This is a recent Embery tweet:

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 27, 2020 at 2:10 pm

Pro-Brexit Left accuses “dumb centrist” anti-Brexit Keir Starmer of Responsibility for Labour Defeat.

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Dolchstoßlegende: Labour stabbed in the back by its anti-Brexit membership.

A couple of weeks ago the Morning Star published this assertion,

…in my view Starmer doesn’t seem electable at all — with his anti-Brexit views I don’t think he has a hope in hell of winning back our heartlands.

It was Starmer who was at the heart of our Brexit volte-face between 2017 and 2019, the biggest reason we lost 2.5 million votes. He has done nothing to own this calamity of the highest order and doesn’t seem to be able to accept his huge role in it. If he can’t see the problem how on earth can he try to put it right?

The answer is not Sir Keir Starmer

The author, Rick Evans, is apparently a Labour Party activist linked the ‘Red Labour’.

These are his politics:

But the claim that Labour lost the election because of Starmer is not an isolated one.

The pro-Brexit Counterfire makes the same charge,

Labour lost Leave constituencies because it became a Remain party, with Starmer and others mounting pressure on the party leadership to support a second referendum, and stating that they would campaign for Remain regardless of what was in any prospective Labour deal.

Starmer argued that this was the path to victory for Labour. In reality, it was a disastrous approach that alienated traditional Labour voters and drove them to the Tories. It’s difficult to defend Starmer’s leadership credentials when he was behind such a great miscalculation.

No socialist should vote for Keir Starmer

It looks as if the former supporters of George Galloway’s Respect Party are preparing for possible defeat and a return to their political isolation.

This is their more recent description of Starmer’s politics:

Starmer sides with Trump against Assange: expect more of the same if he’s leader

….unquestioning loyalty to the establishment on both sides of the Atlantic. But they can also expect Sir Keir to be a dumb centrist who will be out manoeuvred by the Tories…

Apart from Counterfire mocking the mute,  this is the kind of catch-all rhetoric we can expect from their side in weeks to come.

At is core is a new  Dolchstoßlegende, that Starmer stabbed Labour in the back by supporting the massive protests against Brexit.

It has equally expressed in an intellectual version.

New Left Review Editor and Brexiteer, Susan Watkins imagines, with the blessing of hindsight, that Labour could have let Brexit pass under Boris Johnson,

Placing the Labour leadership candidate within the “Remainer elite” who “betrayed” the working class she suggests that a better way would have been to follow the wiles of Harold Wilson and allow Labour MP’s to back the Tories and ignore the decisions of their Party Conferences.

The Parliamentary Party, acting alone (without reference to democratically agreed policy on the ‘tests’ on an acceptable Brexit deal, and favouring the option a Second Referendum), could, by

…giving Labour mps a free vote on Brexit legislation in 2019, ‘according to their conscience’, as Harold Wilson had done on the divisive 1975 referendum on the uk’s entry into the Common Market. With the ‘northern group’ voting for the bill and two dozen Labour abstentions, Johnson would have been denied the chance to make electoral hay out of the obstruction of Brexit, and the prospect of combating a much weaker Tory administration would have lain ahead at the next election. A Labour government could then have fought for an open immigration policy, or its own recalibration of the eu’s ‘four freedoms’.

Britian’s Decade  of Crisis Editorial Susan Watkins.

Lexit Left’s Responsibility for Defeat.

In reality the Lexit left share in the responsibility for Labour’s defeat: they sided with the hard right in voting for Leave, and encouraged the illusion that there was a “People’s Brexit’ waiting to emerge from the break with the EU. That is, they encouraged the very pro-Brexit feeling that Remainers like Starmer are alleged to have ignored, and let the red to blue switch-overs with a ready-made justification for their vote.

Not only did an alternative socialist Brexit not happen, it could not happen.

The Brexit project was part of the very hard-right, national neoliberalism, aligned with the “‘outward-orientation’ ” of sections of capital, “in the era of bubblenomics”, which was, and is “above all Atlanticist. ”

With this as the backdrop, Watkin’s strategy had been ruled out by the domestic political landscape as condensed in the House of Commons.

The idea that Labour could have left pro-Brexit MP’s vote, en masse, for the Leave legislation, was dead in the early years of the 2017 May government.

The option that The NLR Editor and friends have dreamt up was, it’s becoming clear, was already not on the cards.

Mike Phipps, in a review of this book,  May at 10, by Anthony Seldon,  indicates why.

These are the relevant sections of the article:

Some Party activists have suggested that Labour should have voted for Brexit to get it out of the way so that the 2019 general election could have been about issues less divisive for Labour voters and members.

There are several problems with this analysis. First, to have called for a vote for May’s particular form of Brexit would have collaborated in creating the bonfire of workplace rights and environmental safeguards that would follow leaving the EU. Secondly, it would have split the party down the middle, with most members and MPs opposed to Brexit. Thirdly, with some Labour MPs already breaking the whip, any attempt to impose a hard Brexit on the parliamentary party would have provoked not just more defiance but possibly a challenge to the leadership, Fourthly, it was only in April 2019 that the May government indicated a preparedness to negotiate with Labour – but there was no real willingness to move towards Labour‘s proposal for a permanent customs union.

Worse, the government was by now falling to pieces. Seldon suggests that Labour’s front bench was in intransigent pre-election mode, but the reality was that the talks ground to a halt when May’s own departure was being briefed to the media, with no commitment that any agreement reached would be honoured by her successor.

Mike continues,

Should Labour have adopted a different position to the compromise it made with itself over Brexit?

Leavers say it should never have floated the idea of a second referendum, which indicated contempt for the 2016 verdict of the voters. Remainers say Labour should have come out for a People’s Vote earlier, pointing to the slump in the Labour vote in the 2019 EU parliamentary elections and the rise in support for Remain parties such as the Lib Dems and the Greens.

The debate will rumble on in relation to the 2019 general election, but two things should be borne in mind.

Firstly, Labour’s position on Brexit was not seen by voters as the principal reason for rejecting the party in 2019.

Secondly, whatever position Labour might have adopted, it would probably not have changed the course of events prior to the election, which were not controlled by the party’s leadership.

This are the standout points,

The assumption that if Labour had somehow got Brexit out of the way, it could have fought the general election on different terrain overlooks the obvious point that, with Brexit done, there may not have been an election in 2019 at all, or 2020 or 2021. Johnson gambled in 2019, but he would have preferred to call a general election when the polls could give the Tories a clearer lead.

True, it would not have been the ‘Brexit election’, but the mobilisation of nationalist sentiment and the weaponisation of the Labour leader’s patriotism are themes that the Tories have used repeatedly in the past and are still exploiting now post-election. We shouldn’t be surprised: the rise of authoritarian nationalist conservatism is a global phenomenon challenging social democratic parties across the world.

He concludes,

With hindsight, we can see we were a long way from that and much more political and practical preparation was necessary after 2017 to make it possible. Furthermore, the absence of industrial struggle or a more generalised upsurge against government policy over the last nine years should have told us that there was something fundamental missing in the combination of ingredients that might bring a socialist government to power. Instead, we suffered a colossal defeat – and one from which we have to learn lessons.

While the Lexiteers may have helped soften up opinion for the Tories their influence was far from decisive. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that, while it did have some effect (above all in letting convinced Labour turncoats with a ready excuse for their ballot), that, “Labour’s position on Brexit was not seen by voters as the principal reason for rejecting the party in 2019” Leadership is the most cited reason for not backing the Party.

Mike is also right to underline that Labour politicians of any side  were, a minority in parliament, able to determine the way the issue played out as the election agenda was set, “whatever position Labour might have adopted, it would probably not have changed the course of events prior to the election, which were not controlled by the party’s leadership.”

Brexit has not gone away, at least in Labour debate.

Starmer comes under fire from Long-Bailey and Nandy over Brexit

Guardian.

Labour leadership hustings saw frontrunner criticised for party’s ‘tone-deaf’ approach

Long-Bailey implicitly condemned Starmer’s Commons-based tactics against Theresa May’s minority government, saying: “Unfortunately, we focused a lot on what was happening within Westminster, and didn’t convey what we were trying to do to our community. And that led to a lack of trust.

“It took so many other things down with it. So in the election, when we should have been talking about jobs, aspiration, industry, what the future will look like, we were talking about Brexit and trying to justify our position, which was confusing.”

Speaking later in the event, Nandy said Labour’s problem with Brexit was that it “took all the wrong lessons from what the public were trying to tell us”.

She said: “Brexit was a real problem for us, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And the reason it was a problem was because our response was so utterly tone-deaf.”

The “public” were not one group. Labour, as a party of over 500,000 members is part of the public, so are those who filled the streets protesting against Brexit, mass currents of opinion and street activity, the latter the”movementists” of Counterfire ignore, or denigrate.

This drew a measured response,

…Starmer vehemently rejected this analysis, saying that “fairly or unfairly, rightly or wrongly”, Corbyn’s leadership was the number one issue on the doorstep, as well as what he called “manifesto overload”.

Starmer said: “Whether what was in the manifesto was right or wrong, there was too much. There was a tipping point, and it didn’t matter whether it was good or bad, because people didn’t believe we could deliver it.”

“And every team was talking about what was coming up on the doorstep, the big issues. And there was complete uniformity across the country; it was number one, the leadership. Fairly or unfairly, rightly or wrongly, anybody who was in that campaign knows that was the number one thing that came up. I’m not saying it’s right; I’m just saying let’s be honest about it.

The second thing was Brexit, of course. But that came up differently. If you were campaigning in the Midlands, it came up in a particular way. If you were campaigning in Scotland, it came up in a completely different way. But it did come up, I accept that.

The third thing that came up – this is not me, this is the teams reporting to me – was the manifesto overload. Now, whether what was in the manifesto was right or wrong, there was too much. There was a tipping point, and it did not matter whether it was good or bad, because people did not believe we could deliver it. And once you got past that point, there was no coming back.

And I’m really sad to say, but in all honesty antisemitism came up … It came up as a values issue and as a competency issue.”

Exactly. 

 

Labour Leadership Contest hots up as Paul Mason says the Candidate they’re calling the “People’s Princess” is backed by “Stalinists”.

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The Tweet that “provoked anger” says RT.

The comment  probably refers, in the first instance to this report.

 

Paul Mason may, though I doubt it, be referring to this thought-provoking article,

Like it or not, Stalinism remains a live force in the UK labour movement. Martin Thomas.

Stalinism is a live political current today, and a reactionary one. The central place in the Labour Leader’s Office of Stalinists such as Seamus Milne and (until he resigned this week) Andrew Murray, and the support for the Morning Star by a number of national trade unions and many Labour MPs, are dangers.

Better if we had a better word than “Stalinism”, which suggests only a school of thought, and probably one defunct. Even though Milne and Murray were members of the most diehard Stalinist faction of the old Communist Party in the years before its break-up (“Straight Left”), and give no evidence of a shift in fundamental views since then, they don’t blazon themselves as Stalinist: few have, since 1956.

Better if the large historical phenomenon were not labelled with the name of an individual, especially since, as we’ll see, the role of Stalin himself in it was anomalous.

“Stalinism” is, however, the best-available single word for:

• a form of society modelled on the stabilised version of the outcome of Stalin’s counter-revolution in the once worker-ruled USSR, and exemplified today only by North Korea and Cuba
• the ideology which sees that form of society as the good and available alternative to capitalism (usually calling it “socialism”)
• the political formations shaped around that ideology.

Long-Bailey supporters are outraged and, after inventing their own version of Paul Mason’s comment,  have their own theories about the dark forces at work in his Tweet..

NOTE: Mason said that, “the Stalinists who destroyed Corbynism are backing RLB”, not that those who back her are Stalinists.

Others are fuming at the attack on the candidate they call the up and coming People’s Princess.

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'Aaron Bastani INCUTS @AaronBastani The next Labour government needs to open up the Diana files. Sunday Mirror @TheSund... 24m EXCLUSIVE: Rebecca Long-Bailey and Princess Diana's poignant meeting thanks to raffle win mirror.co.uk/newspois/..'

No wonder RT, sparing a moment from boosting Putin, gallantly leapt to Long-Bailey’s defence!

British journalist ridiculed online after lashing out at ‘Stalinists’ within Labour Party

Mason – a vocal supporter of Labour’s second referendum Brexit policy, which many party members blame for PM Boris Johnson’s landslide victory in December – hit out at those planning to vote for Rebecca Long-Bailey as Jeremy Corbyn’s successor.

The former BBC and Channel 4 News journalist took to Twitter on Monday as voting for a new Labour leader got under way. He urged Labour members to vote for pro-EU, center-left candidate Keir Starmer, calling it a “no-brainer” of a choice and branding those opting for Long-Bailey – the democratic socialist candidate – as “Stalinists.”

Mason’s swipe at members opposed to Starmer – the supposed ‘unity’ candidate –provoked anger from many Labour supporters on Twitter. Many of those who took a pop at Mason saw his comments as anything but ‘unifying.’

He also received a backlash for blaming certain Long-Bailey supporters for having “destroyed Corbynism,” with some taking aim at him over pushing for a ‘people’s vote’ or second referendum on Brexit. One person tweeted: “Who are the Stalinists? It was the People’s Vote fanatics like you that destroyed Corbyn.”

Others ridiculed his somewhat over-the-top characterization of those who had the temerity to disagree with him, with the irony not being lost on some of his critics. One Labour supporter sarcastically tweeted that he should learn the true meaning of ‘Stalinist’, adding: “The clue is, it’s not someone disagreeing with you or being left of you… I mean, the Teletubbies are left of you right now.”

Here is Paul Mason’s most recent article on the issue of Europe.

With the UK’s European door closed, it’s open season for xenophobia

This Blog wholly agrees with the following analysis:

 Labour—still reeling from its election defeat—does not look well equipped for this fight. Since Jeremy Corbyn’s party lost the election, its hard left, incapable of facing up to its own failures to connect with working-class voters, has heaped all blame on Labour’s pro-European wing (and implicitly the 80 per cent or so of its members and voters opposed to Brexit).

Rather than resisting this blame game, two of the three remaining contenders to succeed Corbyn have gone along with it. Lisa Nandy—an MP for an ex-mining constituency—and Rebecca Long-Bailey have suggested it was the fault of the pro-Remain left, and its figurehead, Keir Starmer, that Labour couldn’t connect with elderly, English-nationalist voters.

Starmer—who looks set to win the leadership contest—has responded by assuring everyone that the Brexit debate is over, though he will go on fighting for a close relationship with Europe during the coming talks.

What much of the Labour left does not want to recognise is that the debate over Brexit has simply transmuted into a debate over sovereignty and immigration. The purpose of Johnson’s rhetoric is not to bounce Europe into a deal—it is, as it was before, to provide a casus belli for a no-deal Brexit in December, and tar Labour and its allies with the brush of cosmopolitanism.

Moral collapse

In an atmosphere where parts of the British left are frantically trying to renew their nationalist economic credentials, to ‘reconnect’ with the towns Labour lost, there is a real danger that the party will morally collapse in the face of Johnson’s anti-European propaganda.

The principled course of action is clear: to oppose the UK negotiating position, as set out, in Parliament; to hold out the prospect of a new, strategically close relationship with the EU; to vote down the new immigration rules, and to build solidarity with the three million EU citizens already in the UK.

Of the three Labour leadership contenders, only Starmer has committed to fight for the principle of free movement. The only way to honour that principle would be to seek to amend the immigration bill in a way that gives extra points to EU citizens, removes language restrictions and gives EU workers already in the country full citizenship rights in the UK, including the right to vote.

Racism factor

And it’s time to be clear about what the British left is facing. I understand why politicians are reticent to say this, but it’s very clear that, for some of the 900,000 habitual Labour voters who switched to the Tories, racism was a factor. Certainly Corbyn’s reputational suicide played a part, as did concerns over Labour’s ultra-radical economic programme. But Johnson is the first Tory leader since Thatcher who has played on Empire-nostalgic racism.

We either fight this morally and politically, or we accept it. On the Question Time programme, the young Asian left academic Ash Sarkar waged that moral fight magnificently. She told the racist woman: ‘The facts don’t care about your feelings.’ And she defended migration, not just on grounds of economic functionality: ‘It is a human story that’s got worth and cannot be measured in GDP.’

The encounter crystallised a cultural conflict which is set to continue. The British left needs to get ready for that conflict—not duck out of it.

 

Here

Written by Andrew Coates

February 25, 2020 at 12:00 pm

The Twittering Machine. Richard Seymour. From Internet Addiction to “post-Truth” politics.

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Image result for the twittering machine

 

The Twittering Machine. Richard Seymour. The Indigo Press. 2019.

This month Benjamin Griveaux, candidate for Paris Mayor from President Macron’s party, La République en Marche, stood down. Peter Pavlinski had posted on the Internet a video of the Macronist stalwart having ‘virtual sex’. Images of the candidate tossing himself off in a previous online exchange with the Russian exile’s girlfriend, Alexandra de Taddeo, had been taken, without, he claims, her knowledge, from her computer. Published on Paveninski’s site, Pornopolitique, it looked like a victory on the Web for those challenging what Richard Seymour in the Foreword to his new book calls the monopoly “formerly enjoyed by media and entertainment companies”. Pavlinski called it a blow against the “hypocrisy” of politicians.

The Twittering Machine is “an attempt” “to work out a new language into what is coming into being” in this “new techno-political system”. The title is short for the whole range of digital platforms. The book is a sustained critique of the “techno-utopians” dream of “creative autonomy” that has gone with the rise of the “bloom of the web”. Beyond being an “addiction machine” it has important political effects. Nobody is any doubt that the Affaire Griveaux would not have happened without the Net’s “ubiquitous publicity. This may be added to the growth of what Seymour calls “cyber-cynicism”.

Debate has raged over making public these “sextos”, and more online regulation, with some defending the confidentiality of intimate relations ( Griveaux scandal revives France’s will to regulate social media). For others it illustrates how “connectivity” can become the fantasy of sharing solitary pleasure. Others relate it to the  #MeToo movement, ,#BalanceTonPorc, and the way sexual issues, from harassment, and rape to infidelity, are no longer considered private in France.

Political Twilight Zone.

Less noticed internationally is the presence of Juan Branco. The author of Crépuscule (2018) and self-styled leftist he is one of the lawyers for Julian Assange. The advocate now represents Pavlinski and is, in effect, part of his public voice (Le Monde. Derrière la chute de Benjamin Griveaux, enquête sur le rôle d’un trio sans foi ni loi.)

Announcing the twilight of President Macron, the book (initially available for free on the Net) has been fiercely criticised on the left for its portrait of high-society plots, the international ‘Gotha’ of the international, elite schooling, moralism, dislike of ‘degenerates’ and venom against homosexuals. Crépuscule is studded with lengthy passages on the networks and manoeuvring of one gay man, Gabriel Attal, charged with organising Macron’s youth wing. For at least some this would-be Revolutionary Prosecutor looks more at home in the world of far-right ‘anti-globalists’ and 4Chan than the left. It comes as no surprise that Branco vaunts how, on Twitter, he had exposed media cover-ups of the oligarchs’ activities. (1)

Richard Seymour offers a way of looking at how figures like Branco and Pavlinski have become political players. Some readers will be disappointed at the absence of discussion about Lenin’s Tomb, Race-play BDSM and the merits of poking fun at people with severe facial injuries. But they will find that the author puts such “anti-celebrities”, the “propagandists of human failure” in their place. Seymour has also written a thoroughly readable thoughtful book.

Trolls and Trolling.

Many of the stories set out in The Twittering Machine, are more tragic than the fate of Benjamin Griveaux. Between our addiction to the instant rewards of ‘like’ on Facebook, the ‘community’ run for profit, the surveillance capitalism, we have the space where trolls gloated on young people’s plight and helped drive them to suicide. The taunting of Océane, her death in front of a high-speed train, her “protest” against an ex-boyfriend’s rape, her remote father, “a profiteer in the sex industry”, and society, made us weep. Seymour, in a sensitive account, talks of the yearning for popularity, for renown, and puts charge of self-regard in its place, “complaints about narcissism are almost always, as Kristin Dombek writes, about the ‘selfishness of others’.” (Page 94) In this world of intense self-promotion come moments of pack hunting. Vigilantes react against the baiting. “Trolling, and the backlash against trolling, is for the most part good money.” (Page 123)

Citing Jean Baudrillard it becomes clear that in a world of simulacra there is a “darkly dystopian potential”. In “post-truth politics” “new fascisms are emerging round micro celebrities, mini-patriarchs and the flow of homogenised messages.” Racist propaganda has “compensatory, antidepressant effects”. The Islamic State, ISIS, another “far right social movement” based on religious-racism spread on the Web with “snuff videos”, “It self-consciously incarnated the antithesis of everything liberal modernity stood for” (Page 187) These “collective hallucinations” have real effects, far-right murders, Daesh’s genocidal state. And there is the first “Twitter President” Donald Trump….

Digital Democracy? 

Can the Internet still have progressive potential? The Twittering Machine cites the role of the early pre-Net French system, Minitel a videotex online service. Seymour says that this played a role in student protests way back in 1986 – although while present out of solidarity at many of them, including the most violent, I failed to notice its impact. Have its successors now become a “sub-hegemonic practice” keeping us in line to the “emerging techno-political regime”? This is at least is certain.

Yet, it was not the technology used but that anti-democratic folk politics principle of “consensus” decision-making that hampered movements like Occupy, accelerating their own lack of a political strategy that could have an effect. The scope of “digital democracy” remains open. Parties organised digitally, like La France insoumise, have their own ways of blocking dissenting voices, by prohibiting any organised opposition. It is impossible to imagine the modern left without social media platforms, Blogs, YouTube, web sites, even Instagram, and the use of Twitter during protests.

In its opening chapters  The Twittering Machine speculates on the “subterranean” drives that attach us to a world in which “we are all scripturient”, writers of texts. The seemingly detached cyberspace in which letters are typed is equally one where we work “without remuneration the better to sell us as a product” (Page 215) Behind lies a taste of B.F. Skinner’s behaviourist ‘utopia’ for business, as surveillance capitalism shadowing the Twitter Machine. Behind the digital revolution and the time consuming Monster, the ‘Chronophage’, is profit from human lab rats. .

The Twittering Machine raises more questions than than it offers plausible conclusions. No left activist in the heat of a political struggle is going to leave behind her mobile, tablet, laptop, or PC and stroll in “the park with nothing but a notepad and a nice pen”. Nobody who wishes to express his or her views is going to rely on speaking or the postal system. Perhaps the “post-Baudrillard” writers, Gilles Lipovetsky and Jean Serrory are onto something when they write that amongst the promotion of the self, and the aesthetic capitalism on Facebook and the Net, may also inspire people to see in themselves their own artistic desires, that it may also allow personal creativity outside of mass consummation and simulacra. This leaves a place for a “utopia”, not exclusively of writing, but certainly fit to occupy the “dreamspace”. (2)

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(1) Crépuscule ou l’erreur de la confusion. À propos de l’idole BrancoAjoutez aussi –- car tout y est — ses pulsions homophobes, qui transparaissent dans une note où l’effondrement de notre civilisation est associé à deux figures gay — Gabriel Attal et Edouard Louis — si dissemblables qu’on se demande ce qui peut les réunir si ce n’est l’homophobie de l’auteur et le vieux thème de la décadence homosexuelle.

On the alt-right use of the Internet see: Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right Angela Nagel. 2017 Zed Books.

(2) Pages 479 – 480 Gilles Lipovetsky and Jean Serror. L’esthétisation du monde. 2013. Folio.

______________

See also, RS 21.

Review: The Twittering Machine Mark Murphy

Notably,

It is important to note that the last major book ‘left-wing’ book that gave an account of the impact of social media on our politics was Angela Nagel’s Kill All Normies. The problem with her writing is that it is less a description of the material circumstances of our current digital predicament and more of a moralising screed against the current state of left-wing politics. Likewise, before Nagel, we had Exiting the Vampire Castle by Mark Fisher, who began tracing the jouissance (toxic pleasure) laden tendencies that social media brought out in the left. He tells us that the Vampire Castle – his metaphor for the horror story of social media – is driven by a ‘priest’s desire to excommunicate and condemn, an academic-pedant’s desire to be the first to be seen to spot a mistake, and a hipster’s desire to be one of the in-crowd.’ The problem with Fisher and Nagel’s work, in short, is that they have both become a resource for those who moralise against moralism rather than explain our addiction to moralism.

Seymour’s work is vital because he refuses to be drawn into any form of moralising. The psychoanalytic insight, which underpins Seymour’s work, therefore resists externalising, moralising and fetishising the return of the writing repressed. Instead, he argues that it needs to be looked at honestly as we are a part of it whether we like it or not. Against the all too common ‘techlash’ theme, he argues that social media does indeed bring out fascistic and conspiratorial impulses, but it has also given a voice to the marginalised. Moreover, even if the Twittering Machine does give the marginalised more voice, it does so at the expense of handing power to huge corporate entities like Google that monetise our attention.

 

Far-Right Conspiracy Group ‘Keep Talking’ Involves: Piers Corbyn, Gilad Atzmon and Vanessa Beeley.

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This Guardian report is deeply concerning.

UK left activists attended events with far right antisemites

Former Labour party members have regularly met elements of the far right to discuss and propagate antisemitic conspiracy theories, an undercover investigation has found.

Infiltration of the conspiracy theorist group Keep Talking found that Jeremy Corbyn supporters and confidantes of former Labour MPs have attended meetings addressed by Holocaust deniers.

During one gathering in London last year, suspended Labour supporters heard James Thring, an infamous antisemite linked to the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, speak openly and unchallenged about Holocaust denial.

A covert recording of Thring at the meeting captured him claiming that no deaths were recorded at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, where 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, were systematically murdered.

Among ex-Labour members at Keep Talking events – though not the one attended by Thring – was Elleanne Green. Once a Labour member in Westminster, Green founded the secret Facebook group Palestine Live, exposed in 2018 as featuring Holocaust denial and theories that Israel was responsible for 9/11.

Corbyn and other senior Labour party figures had been members of the Facebook group at various points since its creation in 2013. Green, suspended by the party in July 2018, accompanied ex-MP Chris Williamson to court when he sued the party in an antisemitism row. Undercover investigators first noticed Green at a Keep Talking event in September 2018.

A number of names, familiar to those who’ve followed the issue, and recognise that Labour has indeed had a problem with some anti-semitic activists, appear in the article:

During the meeting at which Thring spoke, on 5 March 2019 at a Kentish Town cafe, ex-Labour party member Peter Gregson was the guest speaker with a speech titled: “The loss of freedom of speech on Israel, thanks to bogus antisemitism claims.”

Gregson, who was thrown out of the GMB union and suspended by the Labour party over antisemitic allegations, has founded a group called Labour Against Zionism and Islamophobic Racism (Lazir).

Also present in the audience was Ian Fantom, co-founder of Keep Talking and a 9/11 “truther”, who has appeared alongside Piers Corbyn, older brother of the Labour leader, at a Keep Talking event.

Footage taken during the Kentish Town meeting has also identified Gill Kaffash, former secretary of the Camden branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, whose membership application was rejected by the Labour party in 2016 because she had promoted Holocaust revisionism.

Other Keep Talking attendees include Holocaust denier and far-right activist Alison Chabloz, who the Jewish News reported in 2015 became a supporter of the Labour party and “declared loyalty to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in several blog posts”.

Chabloz was convicted of antisemitism in 2018 after publishing videos of herself singing antisemitic songs denying the Holocaust at a meeting of the London Forum, a far-right organisation with links to the US alt-right.

Another speaker at Keep Talking meetings was Israeli writer Miko Peled, who addressed the group after appearing at a Labour party conference fringe event in Brighton in 2019.

During a Labour party conference in 2017 he reportedly told a fringe event that: “This is about free speech, the freedom to criticise and to discuss every issue, whether it’s the Holocaust: yes or no, Palestine, the liberation, the whole spectrum.”

The other co-founder of Keep Talking, Nick Kollerstrom, is a Holocaust denier who has referred to “storybook gas chambers” when describing Auschwitz.

There is one defender of Palestine Live around:

This might give a clue that this not an isolated fringe:

“Funded by disgraced academic and Holocaust denier Nicholas Kollerstrom. Speakers include conspiracy theorists and fellow travellers, such as Piers Corbyn, Gilad Atzmon and Vanessa Beeley. Suspended Labour members have rubbed shoulders with far right activists.”

Piers has well-known mental health issues, but as for Atzmon, and Beeley…

Chris Williamson promoted petition in support of Gilad Atzmon, who denounced ‘Holocaust religion’.

And,

Beeley is a regular on RT:

 

Vanessa Beeley is a regular on Russian state-backed media

 

Further Background 

 

Hope not Hate. 5.3.2018.

 

Keep Talking, run by Ian Fantom, is an obscure London-based group for conspiracy theorists of all types, ranging from Holocaust deniers, climate change deniers and 9/11 ‘Truthers’. The group had organised a series of six events at Conway Hall on Red Lion Square in London.

The first event in a run of six – due to take place tonight – was to feature contributions from the infamous Holocaust denier Nick Kollerstrom, who takes organising duties at the meetings. Kollerstom has called the 9/11 attack in New York ‘a constructed, fabricated event’ and argues that the 7/7 attacks in London were a ‘false flag’ terror attack.

However, he is best known for his denial of the Holocaust, after the publication of an article titled ‘The Auschwitz Gas Chamber Illusion’ on the website of the infamous denial organisation the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust. In it he claimed that there was “never a centrally-coordinated Nazi program of exterminating Jews in Germany. Lethal gas chambers did not function in German labour-camps, that’s just an illusion.”

Here is more:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 23, 2020 at 1:08 pm

Syria: The Left’s Forgotten War.

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Labour Candidates for “Party of Peace” Ignore Syrian War Crimes.

Nobody can say they did not know this was happening: it’s been on the television every night.

Oz Katerji writes,

The promises made by the international community after the fall of Nazi Germany have once again been shown to be worthless. 

We’re going to see a massacre on a scale that has never been seen during this entire war.” These are the words of UN deputy regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Mark Cutts, speaking to Sky News about the Assad regime’s ongoing Russian and Iranian-backed slaughter of Idlib.

For years the entirety of the international community has had exhaustive and irrefutable proof that Syria’s dictatorship has been carrying out a campaign of human extermination against its civilian population, with a death toll in the hundreds of thousands. There is indisputable evidence that the regime has been responsible for using chemical weapons and deliberately targeting hospitalsUN aid convoys, paramedics, schools, civilian homes and civilian infrastructure.

This regime has used starvation, torture, rape and displacement as weapons of war. How much worse can it get? Idlib is home to three million Syrians, one million of them children, with the overwhelming majority of the population already displaced from other parts of the country. How did those people end up in Idlib?

The Syria Campaign is deeply concerned.

Our co-fouder, Abdulaziz almashi, was on Sky News today to talk about the current situation in Idlib. He says the international community must come together to stop the upcoming massacres in Idlib. #IdlibUnderFire #SpeakUpForIdlib

Yesterday the Morning Star headlined,

Long-Bailey and Burgon the only candidates to declare Labour should be ‘party of peace’

People would be forgiven for thinking that when it comes to issues of war and peace the Labour Party candidates had taken an interest in the worst civil war of the 21st century, Syria.

The article continues,

The candidates were asked whether they each agreed that recent wars waged by Britain have been “disastrous” and whether they, if they were to be elected in leadership roles, would call for an end to foreign policy based on “wars of aggression.”

The letter also had questions over whether Britain’s foreign policy should be independent of the US, whether the candidates would support the immediate withdrawal of troops from the Middle East, and if Britain should end arms sales to oppressive regimes.

Not a word on Syria there but,

Ms Long Bailey’s response was received on Thursday. She said that outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn apologising for the party’s role in the Iraq war under Tony Blair’s premiership was a “moment we should all be proud of, but never should have been necessary.”

She added: “Not only must Labour be a party of peace, we must have an internationalist approach that we can achieve peace and global justice and through this ensure global stability.”

Ms Long Bailey also condemned arms sales to Saudi Arabia, spoke against “outsourcing” foreign policy to the US and Donald Trump’s “one-sided attempt to impose an unjust solution on Palestinians,” and in favour of “ridding the world of nuclear weapons.”

Mr Wakefield said that it is important that the next cohort of Labour leaders are anti-war to reflect the membership.

It concluded,

“Anyone who wants to lead the party needs to show that the previous Labour government’s record on these issues was a disaster, and that they would follow a different course,” he said.

“It’s disappointing that we haven’t heard from the other candidates, and it’s not a good sign going forward.”

Leadership candidates Sir Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy, and deputy candidates Dawn Butler, Angela Rayner, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan and Ian Murray had not responded to the letter at the time the Star went to print.

In fact about the only theme one can see is that these candidates support “Don’t Bomb Syria”.

It is not forgotten that the liar tweeting below got support from some sections of the British left, including former MP Chris Williamson.

This moral bankrupt expresses the only issue that matters to some of these “anti-imperialists”:

This, meanwhile, is happening:

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 22, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Morning Star Warms of Labour “Thermidor” and Attacks ‘Neoliberal” Keir Starmer’s “Bat Squeaks”.

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Communists Advising on Labour Strategy: “Starmer’s base is, “metropolitan stratum that derives from socially liberal and economically unadventurous middle-class values”.

The Morning Star, wholly independent of the Communist Party of Britain and owned by the Co-op gives prominent space to the views of one Nick Wright, responsible for the Communist Party of Britain’s media work, (and a former member of Straight Left)  on Labour Party “contradictions”.

Make no mistake — the competition is between the neoliberal wing and the class conscious wing of the party, writes NICK WRIGHT

Two poles of understanding seem to be emerging. On one hand we have a liberal pole of which the best exemplar is Starmer. This is gaining an impressive number of constituency nominations in meetings which, by some accounts seem older and reinforced by those who departed the scene after Jeremy Corbyn renewed his leadership and now see their Thermidor.

“Thermidor”, a word that has strayed from Trotskyist supporters of  Red Flag to the Morning Star (” Starmer represents the victory of the Thermidorian reaction”)

The word was used by Trotsky to refer to the way Stalin establish his power to rein in the Russian Revolution. It quickly fell out of use when it was pointed out that the ‘Thermidor’ which put an end to the Terror in the French Revolution, was not only inappropriate for a rule that vastly expanded the terror in the USSR, it  referred to the way one fraction of radical bourgeoisie and its allies, during the bourgeois revolution was replaced by another, bourgeois,fraction. (1)

WHat on earth this has to do with the Labour Party leadership election is even less clear.

Is Wright suggesting that Corbyn led a bourgeois revolution, or a new Soviet Revolution  and that its gravedigger, Starmer, is in the wings?

One the other hand we have a more explicitly socialist pole given clearest expression by Rebecca Long Bailey.

What is important here are the bat-squeaks. These are emitted at such a high frequency that to hear them requires devoted attention. Comrade Starmer has doubled down on his pledges to respect the Corbyn heritage and presents a package of policies modelled in all surface appearances on the most distinctive elements in the 2017 and 2019 manifestos.

Cde Wright battens onto his favourite candidate, continuing the permanent revolution,

These, by contrast,  are the politics we need,

 ….a more thoroughgoing critique of capitalism, encapsulated in classically class-conscious language and predicated on an assumption that fighting for these policies is an existential challenge to the main features of contemporary British capitalism……

Rebecca Long Bailey has made a good job of clothing this class perspective in the kind of thought-out detail that can convince the electorate. Her command of the Green New Deal, which she authored, must be a central feature of Labour’s pitch whoever comes out on top in the leadership contest.

The Green New Deal has not been a surefire winner for European left parties.

Benoît Hamon scored  6.36% of the vote in the French Presidential election, as the Parti Socialiste candidate,  after making this, dubbed “ecological transition”, a central part of his platform.

He won a 3,27% and no seats in the 2019  European election after his splinter group, Génération.s ran a list in co-operation with DieM25 and others,   which centred on the issues, called the “federalist European Green New Deal”.

The Podemos breakway Más País, led by  Íñigo Errejón has also given priority to the “La transición ecológica”.

After repeated failure (in the  2019 Spanish General Eleciton they got 2.40% of the vote  3 seats in the Spanish Parliament)  they have now retreated back to their Madrid bases, or “put in a draw” as the Spanish press puts it, “Errejón guarda Más País en un cajón“).

But nothing douses Wright’s ethusiasm for Long-Bailey.

What a contrast, he laments, with Keir Starmer,

Starmer’s particular appeal (as was Thornberry’s) to a spectrum of opinion that wants to move on from, away from, or even reverse Corbyn’s positions is clothed in the cultural and linguistic signifiers of a metropolitan stratum that derives from socially liberal and economically unadventurous middle-class values.

As they say down at the Slaughtered Lamb, “wot bleeding linguistic signifiers are these? How do they, deal with the Brexit “contradiction between working-class priorities and middle-class values”? More like Starmer embodies “the class interests of the dominant section of Britain’s capitalist class underpinned the Remain campaign and the People’s Vote device.”

In a master stroke Wright show’s the issues at stake, “if this leadership contest results in a more-clearly articulated distinction between the liberal pole in Labour politics and the class-politics pole so much the better.”

On Lisa Nanday he has these kind words,

But the logic of her challenge has compelled her to re-energise several strands of traditionally reactionary politics in British Labour. The result is a cacophony of conflicting messages which are acquiring coherence only by her now more-precisely articulated reactionary ideas.

This Blog will not deal with his further reflections as surely the news turns that, hope against hope, a window opens for Labour to “emulate Corbyn at his best.”

Rebecca long-Bailey is said to be gladdened at this response to her heartfelt appeal.

Labour can look forward to Corbyn’s winning advice for a long time to come!

Meanwhile in East Anglia:

The signatories include Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere, the leader of the Labour opposition at Suffolk County Council Sarah Adams and the Labour group leaders on both East and West Suffolk councils Peter Byatt and Diane Hind.

 

Here

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(1) On this point, and why Trotskyists questioned the term see: Chapter 1. Michel Lequenne. Le Trotskisme, une histoire sans fard (2018 edition)

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 21, 2020 at 1:20 pm

Internationalist Left: Laura Parker, former Momentum Chief and Jeremy Corbyn Aide, Backs Keir Starmer.

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The pro-European, internationalist, left is backing Keir Starmer.

The internationalist left, as indicated by Laura Parker’s public stand,  is moving towards Starmer.

 

Laura Parker: Why I’m backing Keir Starmer for Labour leader

She was at the 2018 AEIP National Conference.

Parker’s support reflects the way that radical human rights supporters and internationalists have their place in Starmer’s unity campaign.

More support for Starmer comes from Susan Press, a well-known and respected figure on the Labour left.

Susan Press, Keir Starmer for Labour Leader

It is hard to part company with comrades on the left but the truth is it was crystal clear we were heading for catastrophe and we didn’t have an oven-ready candidate experienced enough to replace Jeremy. Had the result not been such a disaster, there was a lingering if unlikely hope that John McDonnell (who had actually wanted to be Leader and would have commanded support still) might be persuaded to stand. But that ship sailed with Johnson’s 80-seat majority.

These days I am not just a Labour Left activist. As a councillor for the past six years I represent a ward in West Yorkshire with two food banks and a lot of deprivation. But there are also people who are doing OK, people who didn’t vote for us last time or even vote at all. We need all of them on board to stand any chance at all of clawing back ground – let alone forming a government.

Does the PLP bear any responsibility for this? Sure they do. However the turn the Party as a whole took after the so-called chicken coup by MPs didn’t just lose us support. It spawned a bunker mentality and understandable determination to protect the leadership from the top right down to the grassroots. It got toxic. Very. Any criticism of Corbyn and you were a Tory. Anti-semitism was an invention (trust me as a member of the NCC, it wasn’t). Any concerns about election prospects were dismissed on an increasingly hysterical social media amid the cries of ‘bring it on’ and JC4PM. To be frank a lot of it was delusional. And as much to blame as Brexit for what followed.

This is Susan’s analysis of what we face at present.

So here we are with another leadership campaign. But it is not 2015. What made that campaign so amazing was its message of hope and authenticity from someone who had spent his life in the labour movement. Someone who didn’t have to keep saying the s-word as everyone knew he was a socialist and always had been. We wanted a fundamental shift in the Labour Party after years of watering down our values and we were right even if it went wrong in the end. Hindsight is easy and luck wasn’t on our side as neither was the media but that has always been the case even if this time it was unprecedentedly vile. A lot of mistakes were also made by the LOTO office according to those closer to the coal face and all that will no doubt be revealed in due course. However there has been a game-changing shift. Which may help us in the difficult years ahead.

Not one of the leadership candidates could in all honesty be described as on the right of the Party. And whatever silliness is being said about ‘ true’ and ‘proper’ socialists, after 40 years on the left of the Party I am not buying the line there is only one candidate we can vote for. Truth is there is not a batsqueak policy-wise between them.

So like that well-known Blairite Paul Mason I am voting for Keir Starmer – the candidate who has best chance of inspiring trust and convincing the unconvinced to come home to Labour. Who can cope with the pressure and take Johnson apart at the dispatch box and hold him to account when Brexit unravels. And, with no disrespect to the others, someone with a much longer track-record of standing up for human rights and social justice.

 

When you wish upon a Starmer

Keir Starmer received another big boost to his leadership bid when Laura Parker wrote a piece for LabourList yesterday about why she was endorsing him. Why is this significant? Parker was national coordinator of Momentum until just two months ago, and previously worked as Jeremy Corbyn’s private secretary. As you will know, Momentum is backing Rebecca Long-Bailey for the leadership and its chair, Jon Lansman, is director of her campaign.

This news is also remarkable when you think that Parker was working in the Labour leader’s office at the time that the mass shadow cabinet resignation and subsequent leadership challenge took place in 2016. These factors make Parker’s support the clearest realisation so far of Starmer’s broad appeal within the party – and it offers another example of the recent fragmentation of the Labour left. Of course, it would be remiss not to note that Brexit – with Parker and Starmer being on the same side – continues to play a huge role in this shake-up of factional allegiances.

The warring fragments of the left opposed to Starmer are still at it!

The Morning Star compares Starmer to Neil Kinnock…..but in reality  they are speaking for Kinnock’s pro-Brexit son.

We have been here before. Back in the 1980s when Kinnock became leader he believed in public ownership, he believed in unilateral disarmament, he had principles — or so we thought. But by the time his second general election came in 1992 he had long jettisoned them (and we still lost).

At this stage I have less faith in Starmer than I did when Kinnock became leader in 1983. You see it all comes down to who appears more electable.

This ‘betrayal narrative’ shows just how desperate the old comrades of Andrew Murray (who has just left as a Corbyn top aide)  have got.

They ignore the damage their own pro-Brexit campaigns, reflected through the influence of the  ‘corridor clique’ around Corbyn, have been to Labour’s vote in the December election.

 

The revolutionary socialists of Counterfire are another group of crystal ball gazers.

They consider, after a heap of slurs on Starmer’s human rights record,  and the claim that being against the hard-right Brexit project was wrong, that,

If Keir Starmer were to win, he would take Labour back to the centre-ground that proved so disastrous for Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and social democracy across Europe and beyond. He is no friend of the left and no committed socialist should vote for him.

Unlike the left’s  friends of the less than a hundred strong Counterfire.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 20, 2020 at 12:06 pm

A Critique of Susan Watkins – New Left Review – on “After Brexit”.

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Let Brexit Be Done!

 

“Holloa, my republican friend, d—n it, that’s a nasty lick you’ve got, and from one of people too; that makes it harder to bear, eh? Never mind, he’s worse off than you are.” It was, 1814, the time of the French Restauration. London had been celebrating a visit by His Sacred Majesty, the Bourbon King Louis the 18th. Zachariah Coleman a Dissenter and Radical, had not doffed his cap as the French King appeared. Hit by a burley Drayman’s fist, saved by the intervention of the above Major, the hero of The Revolution in Tanner’s Lane (1887. Mark Rutherford, W.H. White) could stand for the left after the blow of December’s General Election. We are still reeling as the People have cheered, or at least, voted, Boris Johnson into office.

In Britain’s Decade of Crisis, Susan Watkins talks of this present-day “restoration”. “The Tories are back in office with their largest majority since the 1980s, thanks to the long-ignored northern working class”. Like the Bourbons, the PM’s “ traditional ruling-class persona” gave the trappings of “decisiveness, vitality, enjoyment”. Rolling these phrases the Editor of New Left Review sees no cause to revise her judgement on the Leave victory in the 2016 Referendum. “Critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret this knocks against it, against which the whole global order establishment – Obama, Merkel, Modi, Junker, to Xi – has inveigled.” (1)

In another return to the old order New Left Review clutches at Tom Nairn’s portrait of British capitalist development. The “rising bourgeoisie was absorbed into the existing aristocratic state and civil structures”. “The world dominance of the City of London served to divert investment away from the northern industrial regions: higher returns were to be found overseas.” To cut a long, and contentious, story short, the country ended up with this: “While London remained the financial capital of Europe, ‘outward-orientation’ in the era of bubblenomics was above all Atlanticist.”

In other words, leaving the EU was not a knock to the neoliberal global order, or to “southern-based financialised capitalism”. Those gaining from “bubblenomics”, some of the funders of the Leave movement, show that much. The multinational state, Nairn’s bugbear, which he calls by the laborious name of Ukania, may be under strain. Watkins cites the ‘Scottish Rebellion’. She does not mention the sage’s speculation that “the breakup of Britain will be accompanied by the dissolution of its heartland or Southern nationalism into a larger European entity”. (2)

UKIP’s ‘National Independence” movement.

A belated English national independence struggle, led by UKIP, and with wider roots in the Northern Rust Belt, fuelled the demand for Leave. “England without London”, the alliance of the “disaggregated” working and middle classes who backed Leave, the ignored “will of the working class” given voice in Tory support is the result. But like the former mining and industrial districts of Northern France that have turned to Marine Le Pen, this is an alliance of the less-well off with their betters, the traditional reactionary wing of the right. French and British legitimists may add colour to the bloc; former mining families, self-pitying pathos. Racism, xenophobic, the germs of popular base for national populism, could be cited. They are not. One equally suspects that Simon Kuper is onto something when he talks of the “middle class anti-elitist” as the vanguard of Leave support, not the working class and poor ‘left behind’. (3)

Britain’s Decade of Crisis skirts over the movements against austerity that grew after the 2008 Banking crisis and state cuts. The People’s Assembly, run at the top by the small left group, Counterfire, funded by trade unions, such as UNITE, it galvanised and brought together grassroots protests. Prefiguring the election of Jeremy Corbyn, anti-austerity campaigns brought together left activists, local councillors, trade unionists and a big slice of community groups. Many involved joined the Labour Party – actively encouraged by the unions, and the transitional stage of supporters’ membership – under the new leadership. Some saw this as the basis for Labour insurgency, a challenge to “capitalist realism” in civil society. Yet, paradoxically or not, the anti-austerity movement began to fade the moment Jeremy Corbyn was elected and Momentum was floated as the new ‘social movement’. There is little doubt that placards and demos can only go so far when confronted with Council budgets and the Fortress of the DWP. (4)

Labour, Corbyn and the Media.

Watkins jumps to the challenge “from the Labour Left under Jeremy Corbyn: an appeal to redistribute wealth and recast foreign policy, distancing the UK from NATO’s wars.” We learn little about how Labour’s team prepared to turn these policies into a digestible form and the criticisms they faced, up to, and during the election about the unintelligibility and volume, of their plans Indeed the difficulties that the ‘Corbyn project’ faced are externalised.

We hear a lot about how the Parliamentary Party tried to frustrate Corbyn, and a great deal, a very great deal about the media’s hostility to Labour. The “Labour leader came under an unprecedented three-way assault—from the establishment intelligentsia, from his own parliamentary party and from opponents of his anti-war foreign policy.”

Nobody pointed out, that blaming foreign wars, with barely audible qualification, for the Manchester bomb attack – mass murder – was factually and politically doubtful. Nobody questioned Labour’s failure to give more than tepid support for Syrians killed by Baathist, Russian and Iranian forces, or do anything to back the Kurds, to back democrats against Assad, was reflected the ethically bankrupt ‘anti-imperialism’ of key Corbyn advisers. Nobody mentioned it in New Left Review!

Instead the issue of anti-semitism loomed over all others. She concludes“… given the scale and toxicity of the establishment onslaught, besides which the concoction of the Zinoviev Letter in 1924 appears the work of amateurs, the first duty is to salute the moral integrity of Corbyn and his courageous Jewish allies.” This no-holds, no concessions, defence offers little to resolve an over-commented issue. It is hard to credit that Corbyn supporters who reacted with as much vitriol as their critics helped resolve the issue, or that the way some treated the Labour Party as  a place to play out their absolute anti-Zionism, was not the best way to deal with a predictable attack from this quarter, helped. 

“The media’s anti semitism campaign represented a damaging assault on Corbyn’s Labour from above.” Far from the only one, but Watkins is eager to go for the next issue. “Brexit hurt the party from below—dividing it from an important section of its historic voter base.” Again, without surveying the influence of those called the Corridor Cabal, who backed Brexit even more enthusiastically than Watkins, or the turn outs on some of the biggest mass demonstrations ever seen in Britain, for remaining in the EU, she concludes, “ Instead of proposing an alternative solution to the crisis, as in 2017, Labour was the main force blocking the implementation of the popular vote, in a defence of the status quo—aligned with the Supreme Court, the House of Lords, the ‘Remainer elite’.”

Let Brexit be Done!

Any attempt to stop Brexit was not only doomed, it frustrated an alternative. “Corbyn could have avoided this position by giving Labour mps a free vote on Brexit legislation in 2019, ‘according to their conscience’, as Harold Wilson had done on the divisive 1975 referendum on the UK’s entry into the Common Market. With the ‘northern group’ voting for the bill and two dozen Labour abstentions, Johnson would have been denied the chance to make electoral hay out of the obstruction of Brexit, and the prospect of combating a much weaker Tory administration would have lain ahead at the next election.”

In other words, Labour should have let Brexit pass. The Northern patriots would have been appeased, Johnson, his key policy given the green light, his own remain opponents tossed aside, and pro-EU protesters rattled, would be in a mess. Or “much weaker”.

With the blessing of hindsight  Zachariah Coleman should have tipped his hat to the Bourbon King.

Having cheered him on his way, the Dissenter would only have to wait till 1830 to see the elite gone, and a fine musical, Les Misérables, written to celebrate it.

What now for Labour and the Left. Momentum, according to some reports, has frazzled out. Long-Bailey looks unlikely to hold the Corbyn candle. The pro-Corbyn left is fragmenting.  “The new left keeps open the prospect of taking the fight to the terrain of the future with bold solutions for inequality, climate change and the international order, as the Corbyn leadership tried to do” states Susan Watkins towards the conclusion of the New Left Review Editorial. This looks like a rerun of the alter-globalisation folk politics of the past, without any prospect of power.

What constituencies should the new left and Labour address? Reworking the themes of the Somewhere and Nowhere people, the Metropolitan and the Periphery, the political and electoral cartography stands as this: For Paul Mason, the progressive alliance of the future lies squarely with the ‘internationals’, the young metropolitan professionals of the Remain camp. For Wolfgang Streeck, the national level offers the only effective basis for democratic accountability, for calling the ravening forces of capital to order.” Paul Mason, internationalist, opponent of right-wing populism and “national neoliberalism”. Wolfgang Streeck, star writer for New Left Review, member of the alliance between left sovereigntists and Brexit Party supporters, the Full Brexit, the man who thinks national borders are the “last line of defence”…. The Editor leaves little doubt about where her support goes….(5)

*****

  1. Susan Watkins. Casting off? Editorial. NLR No 100. 2016.
  2. Page 391. The Enchanted Glass. Britain and its Monarchy. Tom Nairn. Radius 1988.
  3. Simon Kuper. The revenge of the middle-class anti-elitist. Financial Times. Feb 13th. 2010. Most British Leave voters lived in the south of England, and 59 per cent were middle class (social classes A, B or C1), writes Danny Dorling, geographer at Oxford University.
  4. Exiting the Vampire Castle. Mark Fisher. 2013. “One of the things that broke me out of this depressive stupor was going to the People’s Assembly in Ipswich, near where I live. The People’s Assembly had been greeted with the usual sneers and snarks. This was, we were told, a useless stunt, in which media leftists, including Jones, were aggrandising themselves in yet another display of top-down celebrity culture. What actually happened at the Assembly in Ipswich was very different to this caricature. The first half of the evening – culminating in a rousing speech by Owen Jones – was certainly led by the top-table speakers. But the second half of the meeting saw working class activists from all over Suffolk talking to each other, supporting one another, sharing experiences and strategies. Far from being another example of hierarchical leftism, the People’s Assembly was an example of how the vertical can be combined with the horizontal: media power and charisma could draw people who hadn’t previously been to a political meeting into the room, where they could talk and strategise with seasoned activists. The atmosphere was anti-racist and anti-sexist, but refreshingly free of the paralysing feeling of guilt and suspicion which hangs over left-wing twitter like an acrid, stifling fog.
  5. From the Demise of Social Democracy to the ‘End of Capitalism’: The Intellectual Trajectory of Wolfgang Streeck. Jerome Roos. 2019 HISTORICAL MATERIALISM 27(2): 248-288

As an example of how the pro-Corbyn left is splintering this could not be better:

 

Here

Gerry Downing, “I now repudiate the use of the term “the world ‘Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie’” and the whole notion of a Jewish-Zionist imperialist vanguard as antisemitic tropes.”

with 12 comments

Image result for andrew neil gerry downing antisemitism

“I now repudiate the use of the term “the world ‘Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie’” and the whole notion of a Jewish-Zionist imperialist vanguard as antisemitic tropes.”

Narked on Nietzsche, Angst on Amazon, the world Trotskyist Movement has been torn asunder in recent days.

Note: 

To be honest, from what this Blog hears and can see, Gerry Downing is what he says. 

Is he a lost sheep returning to the fold?

That is less clear, but this is a welcome step in the right direction.

The issue of anti-semitism can lead came on the BBC only last night.

In France the weekend saw this event:

Réunions le vendredi 14 et le samedi 15 février à Paris 13e : Le négationnisme et la gauche, un mensonge antisémite pour la cause ?

Meetings on Friday February 14 and Saturday February 15 in Paris 13th: Holocaust denial and the left, an anti-Semitic lie for the cause?

The meetings went into not just holocaust denial on the ‘left, but the wider issue of left-wing anti-semitism.

…il existe un négationnisme de gauche. Porté depuis 1945, par des militants dont l’histoire politique a commencé dans le camp des progressismes et des révolutions sociales, dans les avant-gardes politiques et culturelles, et dont l’antisémitisme a été nié, toléré, et même approuvé, parfois largement. De Rassinier à Dieudonné, en passant par certains courants d’ultra-gauche qui ont finalement abouti aux mêmes horreurs que les courants staliniens qu’ils prétendaient critiquer, le négationnisme a trouvé divers prétextes pour tenter de s’imposer comme allié de gauche : le pacifisme, la dénonciation de l’antifascisme comme suppôt du capitalisme, l’antisionisme.

Holocaust denial exists on the left. It’s been borne, since 1945, by activists whose political history began in the camp of progressivism and social revolution, in the political and cultural avant-garde, and whose anti-Semitism has been denied, tolerated, and even approved, sometimes widely. From Rassinier to Dieudonné, passing through certain ultra-left currents which ultimately led to the same horrors as the Stalinist currents they claimed to criticise, Holocaust denial found various pretexts to try to assert itself as an ally of the left: from pacifism, the denunciation of anti-fascism as a support for capitalism, to anti-Zionism.

Now we learn:

On the Crisis in Socialist Fight and my own responsibility for it

By Gerry Downing 17 February 2020

Gerry Downing took the only principled stance a revolutionary Trotskyist could take in that interview.

Extracts: I accept the central line of the document below by Alonso from France that sets out my responsibility for the crisis in SF.  I also accept his judgment on Ian Donovan’s lurch to the right since 2015:

When the fusion in 2015 only took place, I did not examine too closely the politics of Ian’s Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism  in 2014, which I now repudiate. [1] The second mistake was to accept too easily, again without serious examination, the assurances Ian gave me that Gilad Atzmon was not antisemitic and was indeed only a left wing Jew who defended the Palestinians by denouncing his own ethnicity. I made no political concessions in the interview with Atzmon in January 2018 and I was entirely correct in the first paragraph but no longer agree fully with the ending of the introductory statement to the article.

After a far closer examination of his politics I now think he has no place in the struggle against Zionism and can only do damage to the cause of the Palestinians by painting opponents of Zionism as fascists. I now believe he is not only racist and antisemitic but also a left fascist ideologically.

……..

I made the ill-considered concession because I had lost two Trotskyist militants from SF who were politically educated in the history of Marxism but who capitulated to the right wing pressures. I desperate needed someone who understood the history of the Marxism-Leninism-Trotskyism, at least to a certain level and so made that alliance with Ian, which I now recognise as opportunist. It is in general impossible for Marxist theoreticians to encounter another that agrees with him or her on every detail; Marx and Engels had differences and so had Lenin and Trotsky, nonetheless the former had close enough agreement to found the science of Marxism and the latter enough to lead the Russian Revolution to victory.

Subsequent arguments saw Ian defend Atzmon’s admiration for Ku Klux Klan man David Duke. He wrote to me on Facebook:

“If you understood why Political Zionism is worse than Apartheid and Jim Crow you might gain some insight. Clue: read Moshe Machover on different types of settler colonialism. If you understand that, you might understand why (Alan) Dershowitz (arch Zionist) is worse than David Duke. Some forms of colonialism are genocidal. Some are not.”

In September 2019 I encountered a post forwarded by one Devon Nola which contained the following sentence:

 “One of the first new laws created by the Jewish Bolsheviks when they took over Russia was to make “antisemitism” punishable by jail or death. Despite its freedoms, the United States is now following in Russia’s footsteps, with Jews like Chuck Schumer leading the charge.” [3]

The subsequent defence of this outrageous fascistic post, the notion that the Russian Revolution was a Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy and other far rightist positions, many that repeat the propaganda of the White Armies and the Nazis against the Russian Revolution, by Devon Nola and Gilad Atzmon demonstrated to me that they were enemies of Trotskyism and socialism in general. [4] This shock and subsequent acrimonious debates with Ian and his Trotskyist Faction convinced me that this political current was, in fact, left Strasserite-Mussolini fascists. Ian Donovan and his Trotskyist Faction made it an absolute principle to defend this fascistic current.

Here he declared himself a fascist. As these arguments developed it became clear Ian had developed a full blown ideological outlook in lockstep with Atzmon

Gerry Downing states,

Draft Theses on the Jews rejected now repudiate the use of the term “the world ‘Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie’” and the whole notion of a Jewish-Zionist imperialist vanguard as antisemitic tropes.

More: Alonso’s comment from France

It was not that anybody followed the Socialist Fight “line” in the first place, but the way it reflected the existence of a Red-Brown trend that concerned people.

The further evolution of Donovan will be of interest.

This is his immediate response:

This has to be the most pathetic, humiliating document I have read in many years in politics.”

..

There is nothing new about this behaviour. All revisionists and betrayers of Marxist politics always behave like this. You will be exposed just the same way as previous betrayers.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 18, 2020 at 12:20 pm

Counterfire on “Post-Corbynism”, “Rebecca Long-Bailey is not continuity Corbyn enough” .

with 11 comments

Image result for the sea of faith arnold
Post-Corbynism. 

Labour in vain? – weekly briefing

Lindsey German, on “ Post Corbynism” .

The leader of the revolutionary socialist Counterfire is already retreating from Long-Bailey.

And what’s more, she has, in-between defensive remarks based on her own group’s unique standpoint, begun to talk sense.

The main thrust is to undermine the claim that Long-Bailey is the ‘real’ left candidate to lead Labour.

The problem for the left however is that Rebecca Long-Bailey is not continuity Corbyn enough. She advocates the use of nuclear weapons. She declared herself a Zionist at the Jewish Labour Movement hustings. And she has signed a statement over trans policies in Labour which contradicts the manifesto pledges, and which threatens to lead to a witch-hunt against some feminists. I understand the pressure that she is under, but we can see from the experience of Jeremy Corbyn himself over the past four years that giving in to pressure doesn’t mean it gets easier further on down the line.

Lindsey German may be wrong to highlight ‘Zionism’ as a be-all-and-end-it all issue.

She ignores the pressing issue of Syria. Many would like to see Labour leadership candidates confronted with the need to support the Kurdish fight and that of democrats against Assad and wider Middle East. Other democratic struggles, across the world, are pressing, from Hong Kong to South America.

Labour’s whole flawed foreign policy needs dropping.

As Rohini Hessman says,

The attempt by the Corbyn team to cover up the brutality of Russian airstrikes in Syria illustrates what I call their pseudo-anti-imperialism: opposition only to Western imperialisms while supporting non-Western imperialisms like Russian imperialism and Iranian regional imperialism, which share responsibility with brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad for over half a million dead and over half the population displaced in Syria.[17] Putin’s is a far-right regime which has provided funding and other support to neo-fascist parties throughout Europe,[18] and to far-right politicians – including Trump – in the rest of the world. Evidence has emerged that it has supported Boris Johnson too.[19] One reason why it has bombed Syrian civilians and democracy activists in support of Bashar al-Assad is to entrench its power in the Middle East; but another is to support its neo-fascist allies in Europe by giving them an ‘enemy’ to demonise, namely millions of Syrian refugees fleeing for their lives.[20] It is disturbing that Corbyn’s team would want to cover up the crimes of such a regime; equally disturbing is the implicit contempt for Syrian working people struggling against unemployment, poverty and authoritarianism.

 It is important that the Labour left – and indeed all socialists – abandon the simplistic notion that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ which has been used to support anti-Western tyrants and imperialists, and take a consistent position in solidarity with all struggles against oppression and exploitation. They need to be able to deal with complexity; to understand that it is possible to oppose military assaults on Iran and sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians, and at the same time oppose the repressive, extreme right-wing Islamic regime; to acknowledge that prejudice against Jews is racist and antisemitic, but denying Palestinians the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is also racist, and campaigning for those rights is not antisemitic.

German continues on Long-Bailey,

She will get the majority of the left’s votes, although some of those will go to Keir Starmer, who is tacking very much to the left at the moment. His support for Owen Smith back in 2016, his record at the DPP, his ultra-remain politics, are all on the back burner for the next month and a half. Lisa Nandy is the most right wing of the candidates and has already signalled retreat on nationalisation. All three of the remaining candidates have distanced themselves from Jeremy Corbyn in a number of ways, even though December was clearly a Brexit election and even though there are many signs that Labour’s policies were, and remain, popular.

This is where it get sticky.

The Brexit election…German means an election in which Counterfire backed Brexit, and,  with the help of a rag-bag of parties like the Communist Party of Britain, the SWP, left sovereigntists, ‘traditional’ Labour nationalists helped confuse politics by supporting an imaginary ‘People’s Brexit’.

‘Remain’ was the right policy for internationalists, the prefix “ultra” signifying Counterfire’s annoyance at the consistent and principled influence on the left and the Labour Party of groups like Another Europe is Possible.

German opines further on Labour’s  popular policies,

Equally fanciful is the idea that the left-wing policies put forward by Corbyn were unpopular. Indeed if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then we should look at the way in which Johnson’s government is scooping up a number of these policies and claiming them as its own. We’ve already had the nationalisation of Northern Rail, and rail nationalisation is likely to go much further. Now Johnson has declared massive spending on bus services, something that Corbyn was ridiculed over just a couple of months ago.

As has been said time and time again, such clear policies were swamped in the sheer volume of announcements the Labour Party put out.

The faith in Corbyn, a man with many merits, but not a charismatic leader for most of the population, is disintegrating.

Is this one answer?

Rebecca Long-Bailey would offer Jeremy Corbyn a place in her shadow Cabinet

The need to remove the failed team, the “corridor cabal”  that botched an already hard election battle, and to build a united Labour party, would suggest otherwise.

One threat has emerged.

On trans issues German says,

It should be possible for socialists to discuss these issues and reach a position which opposes all oppression. The trans debate in the Labour Party is in danger of ending up in a bad place if it does not do this. Some of the pledges put out by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights are in my view unacceptable, especially those calling organisations like Woman’s Place UK transphobic, and calling for expulsions of transphobes (presumably including members of WPUK). What I find most worrying here is that women who are good socialists are being branded as transphobes because they have a different perspective on women’s rights and trans rights, and that there are repeated moves to close down this discussion. This is being done in an authoritarian manner through threatening expulsion. We have already seen protests at WPUK meetings, attempts at no platforming women such as historian Selena Todd, and attempts to sack women who disagree.

This leads to a situation where it is impossible to move the debate forward. Labour’s manifesto called for full support for trans rights, but also for retention of rights relating to women as a sex under the 2010 Equality Act. Both Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey seem to have dropped this approach in favour of signing the pledge. Laura Pidcock’s eminently sensible call for discussion led to a stream of abuse directed at her. It really has to stop.

For a very different view (this Blog tends to agree with German on this issue but this is an important, heartfelt, article) see:

What’s Wrong With Woman’s Place?

There have been few more bitter struggles on the left in recent years than the conflict between those who support trans inclusion and those who style themselves as Gender Critical and refuse to accept that trans people should be socially or legally treated as their aquired gender.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 17, 2020 at 12:43 pm

Progressive Patriot Long-Bailey, “Our role now is to set out a positive vision of what Great Britain looks like outside of the European Union.” as she fuels Trans Row.

with 4 comments

 

Image result for our path to power long bailey

Path to Power: Positive Vision of Great Britain, and Continued Labour Row over Trans Rights.

 

Apart from these comments, which included a call, despite her “personal view”,and support for some voting rights,  to be “pragmatic” about ending freedom of movement, Long Bailey also poured petrol on the fire by announcing this,

Rebecca Long-Bailey says women’s refuges must accept trans women and urges Labour members to ‘stop having this debate’

Rebecca Long-Bailey has vowed to change the law to prevent women’s refuges excluding trans women, telling Labour members to “stop having this debate”.

The leadership candidate explained her stance after signing up to a campaign to “fight” women’s groups deemed to be “transphobic” and for offending party members to be expelled.

“There is no conflict between rights of women and the protection of women, and safety in particular places, and trans rights,” Ms Long-Bailey argued.

“And we need to stop having this debate within this party on that basis….there doesn’t need to be a differentiation between the two.”

She called for changes to the 2010 Equality Act, which allows exclusions from women-only spaces, saying: “I want a right to self id [identification] for trans people, it’s not an easy journey to go on.”

It was put to Ms Long-Bailey that female victims of domestic violence have spoken of their “debilitating terror” and of the vital importance of a woman-only refuge.

But she replied: “We can’t use that as an argument to discriminate against transpeople.”

The BBC’s Andrew Marr suggested that – if holding such views triggered expulsion – “an awful lot of good feminists inside the Labour party would be caught by this”.

He quoted Jess Phillips’ support for women-only spaces, asking: “Jess Phillips could be kicked out of the Labour party if Rebecca Long-Bailey becomes leader?”

 

The contest’s leftwing candidate replied she didn’t believe her former rival had said “anything transphobic” and said it was “right to listen to concerns about domestic abuse”.

The interview laid bare how the controversy has exploded into the leadership debate, after Ms Long-Bailey signed the 12-point charter put forward by a group called Labour Campaign for Trans Rights.

Is the demand that people stop speaking Long-Bailey’s final word?

 

Women’s Place say,

Rebecca Long-Bailey on Marr this morning questioned about signing the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights pledge and repeatedly challenged over whether she thought WPUK was a transphobic hate organisation. She swerved a lot but one thing is clear: she supports self-ID and the removal of the single-sex exemptions in the Equality Act (even though the Labour Party manifesto says it will uphold them). From 49.46.

 

Will she answer this call?

Woman’s Place UK demands evidence for allegation on pledge card signed by some candidates

Labour leadership candidates who signed a pledge calling several organisations “trans-exclusionist hate groups” are facing demands to produce evidence for the allegation.

A row over a pledge card drawn up by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights group broke out last week after Rebecca Long-Bailey, Emily Thornberry and Lisa Nandy, as well as deputy leadership candidates Angela Rayner and Dawn Butler, all expressed support for the charter. It calls on Labour to expel “transphobic” members, and describes campaigns including Woman’s Place UK as “trans-exclusionist hate groups”.

Woman’s Place UK has now written to the leadership figures demanding to see the evidence behind the claim. The group has also written to the candidates who have not signed the pledge, asking to meet them to discuss the growing row. It said none of the candidates had yet replied.

Business Insider reported yesterday,

The Labour party will lose the next general election if it elects an “establishment” leader like Keir Starmer, the Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey has told Business Insider, in her strongest attack yet on the frontrunner to replace Jeremy Corbyn.

In a clear reference to Starmer, who is currently leading the race to become the UK’s official opposition party leader, leadership candidate Long-Bailey said that Labour risks making the mistake of thinking “you [can just] put on a nice suit and be a bit suave and think that’s a route into Downing Street.

She continued this personal attack.

Long Bailey seemed to suggest that the Tories love Starmer.

The above Toff, Stramer, has not signed up to the purge call but he has backed this:

Image

Earthquake for President Macron’s Party in France after the “Political Porn’ of the ‘Affaire Griveaux’

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Image result for benjamin griveaux vidéo

 

French radio this morning was full of suggestions that the scandal that brought down Macron supported Paris Mayor candidate, Benjamin Griveaux, could be called an act of “revenge porn” (pornodivulgation or vengeance).

Reports of this appeared across the media:

Le Monde leads with this headline:

Le « séisme politique » de l’affaire Griveaux atteint Macron

Beyond the municipal elections, the announcement of the withdrawal of the LRM candidate in Paris has hampered moves to win back the public opinion behind the Head of State, which had been mounted to counter the slump in support generated by the pension reform plan (and the protests against it!).

France 24 uses the same metaphor,

Sex tape triggers French ‘political earthquake’, leaving Macron’s Paris bid in tatters

Benjamin Griveaux’s troubled campaign for mayor of Paris came to a startling end on Friday after an online leak of sexual images led Emmanuel Macron’s close ally to pull out of the race, leaving the ruling party without a candidate for next month’s municipal elections.

It also dealt a stinging blow to France’s ruling LREM party, which has been rocked by unprecedented divisions – some stemming from the bitter contest that resulted in Griveaux getting the nomination in the first place.

……

“This is a huge blow for the ruling party, and a huge blow for French politics in general,” Bruno Cautrès, a political analyst at Sciences-Po Paris, told FRANCE 24, describing the manner of Griveaux’s demise as a “political earthquake”.

The former mayoral candidate is a high-profile public figure, Cautrès noted, one of Macron’s earliest supporters, a lawmaker and a former government spokesman. He was running for the most coveted of France’s municipalities, a political fiefdom that has been used in the past, notably by former French President Jacques Chirac, as a springboard for higher office – and one Macron’s camp was desperate to claim.

 

According to French daily Libération, the video was first published online by a Russian performance artist who wished to expose Griveaux’s “hypocrisy”. Pyotr Pavlensky reportedly said he got the video from a “source” who had a consensual relationship with Griveaux.

The immediate political effect has been to sow confusion in the ranks of the Paris  La République En Marche (LERM). They are undecided about whether to launch another candidate or to fuse with other lists (after a prolonged row with a dissident Macron supporter,  Cédric Villani, who is standing without the support of the President’s party and scores around 10% in opinion polls).

Fusion avec d’autres listes, nouveau candidat… Dans le camp Griveaux, plusieurs lignes s’opposent.

Libération concludes,

Does Villani really believe in the possibility of a merger with the LREM list? Judging by his statement on Friday evening (“My project remains open to those who wish to offer a new start in Paris on the basis of progressive and ecological values”), it is far from obvious. “Cédric will not become the candidate of LREM”, firmly stated one of his lieutenants.

This was one of the most recent polls before the scandal broke (for the First Round of a Two Round election):

Anne Hidalgo , (Socialist, Left parties, some Greens) 23 %   Rachida Dati (LR) (classical Right)  20 %,  Benjamin Griveaux (LREM), 16 %. EELV,  (Greens) David Belliard (14,5 %)  Cédric Villani (10 %).

les Echos.

These results suggested that the Socialist Mayor Hidalgo had a good chance of  winning in the second round with the transfers from those backing the Green EELV in the first.

Now everything is up for grabs, with some claiming that Macron supporters could alky with any number of political groups…

The political class has denounced the video:

Le Monde talks of the abassement of democracy and an attack on the right of people to pursue consensual sexual relations in private.

Affaire Benjamin Griveaux : l’abaissement de la démocratie

La France insoumise declines to gloat:

Others have explored the wider issues of the affaire:

Writing of the “tyranny of transparency” Vanessa Jérôme writes in Libération,

«Ce qui est aussi frappant, pour ne pas dire irresponsable et lassant, c’est qu’à aucun moment, on n’insiste sur le fait qu’il s’agit – sauf information contraire ultérieure – d’une vidéo diffusée dans le cadre d’une relation librement consentie, peut-être même sentimentale ou amoureuse, dont on ne sait rien des attendus et de la temporalité”

What is also striking, not to say irresponsible and tiresome, is that at no time is anyone insisting that this is – unless stated otherwise later – a video broadcast about a consensual, freely agreed,  relationship, perhaps even an affectionate and loving one, about whose expectations and unfolding we know nothing.

The ‘Performance’ artist behind the leak has no regrets.

Russian artist defends sex tape leak that ended Paris mayoral bid

Russian protest artist Piotr Pavlensky on Friday confirmed to AFP that he posted a sex video that tanked the Paris mayoral bid of ruling party candidate Benjamin Griveaux, calling his action a fight against political “hypocrisy”.

…..

The controversial Pavlensky, who enjoys political asylum in France, said leaked images of a man masturbating were the first contribution to a “political porn” website created to expose what he considered deceitful behaviour by people in power.

“I have launched the first ‘political porn’ platform,” he said after Griveaux dropped out of the mayoral race citing concern for his wife and children.

“Obviously I need sources. I hope that I will have enough material.”

Known for some startling stunts, which have included nailing his scrotum to Red Square in Moscow, Pavlensky insisted his problem was not with Griveaux’s morals or personal choices, but political deceit.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 15, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Communist Party of Britain Hails “achievement” of Leaving the European Union.

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Image result for communist party Brexit

Peoples of Britain Rise Up! Communists Hail Brexit “Achievement.

Thanks LH.

The leader of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), said to have influence on the independent daily, the Morning Star, owned by the “Co-op”, recently declared – two weeks ago……

EU, BREXIT, THE PEOPLES – communist party general secretary Robert Griffiths says,

“Today we begin the process of finally leaving the European Union. This achievement, which required many struggles, must not be underestimated. It certainly won’t be in the City and ruling circles of the EU.


The vote of 2016, demonstrated the desire of people for more democracy, self- government and an end to austerity. The result came as a shock to the ruling class in Britain and its allies abroad.


This year is an opportunity to fight for a Brexit that delivers legislation and policies that serve the people’s interests, not the City and big business.


There is much to play for. This is not a strong government. It can be stopped. The communists will play the leading role expected of them, in the struggle to come. We urge supporters to consider applying for membership to our growing party.

Message of Hope.


Britain leaving the EU sends a message of hope to beleaguered peoples on the continent who share our opposition to the Bosses’ Club and yearn for more democracy, rather than ECJ, ECB and Commission diktat.


The Communists will campaign for greater cooperation across all of Europe and beyond, for medical and scientific cooperation and coordinated measures to deal with the climate change crisis. This weekend, we reject the doom and gloom brigade and as a sign of our confidence in the future, announce a new edition of the CP programme ‘Britain’s Road to Socialism’, will be released on 15 March to coincide with the commemoration of Marx at Highgate cemetery.”

The CPB has sage words for the Labour leadership contenders.

In their party sheet they declare,

Labour would be wrong to argue for a close alignment to the EU as John McDonnell suggested on the andrew Marr show early this month.

This would tie the parliamentary left to the Labour right wing’s strategy and weaken the position of a future Labour government. it gives cover to those whose strategy made electoral
defeat inevitable. it is a slap in the face of working class commitment to Brexit, denies the lessons of the election defeat and erects new barriers to rebuilding working class political strength in the deindustrialised areas where Labour is weakened.

The Communist Party has joined with allies to strengthen the Leave – Fight – Transform, Campaign. LeFT makes the case for what can be achieved outside the EU and to fight to rebuild the left in our communities in all of Britain.

In particular, the Communist Party leader said the labour movement should spell out how Brexit could benefit working-class communities.

This week they declared:

CP urges left to advance not retreat

Reporting to the Communist Party’s political committee on Wednesday evening (February 12), the party’s trade union organiser Andy Bain said the Labour leadership contests had so far been a ‘dispiriting fiasco’.

‘Too many candidates are capitulating to the witch-hunting demands of outside bodies that feminists and supporters of Palestinian rights should be silenced if not driven out of the Labour Party altogether’, Mr Bain charged.  ‘This comes on top of the willingness of most of Labour’s possible leaders and deputy leaders to press the nuclear button and cause millions of civilian deaths instead resolving the cause of the conflict’, he added.

At the root of the problem, the former president of transport staff union TSSA declared, was the shift away from a socialist class analysis of society to the non-class politics of personal and group identity.  ‘The seeds of disunity and intolerance are being sewn by people who in some cases are not interested in promoting unity against all the forms of oppression that assist capital’s exploitation of labour’, Mr Bain argued.

Instead of abandoning class-based left-wing policies, he urged labour movement activists to renew mass campaigning in workplaces and local communities for workers’ rights, the ‘Green New Deal’, public investment, a ‘people’s Brexit’, peace and nuclear disarmament.

‘The trade unions, trades councils, the People’s Assembly, CND, LeFT, Stand Up to Racism and similar movements have a vital part to play in the struggle for left, democratic and progressive policies’, the CP trade union organiser concluded.

Britain’s Communists urged big turnouts for events around International Women’s Day (March 8), International Anti-Racism Day (March 21) and May Day, and for the Marx Oration at Highgate Cemetery on March 15 when the main speakers will be CP General Secretary Robert Griffiths and Joginder Bains of the Indian Workers Association (GB).

 

There is more on the People’s Brexit!

 

What’s not to like!

BRITISH TRAVELLERS FACE BEING TURNED AWAY AT EU AIRPORTS OVER NEW PASSPORT EXPIRY RULES AFTER BREXIT.

Today:  Boris Johnson assembles DREAM TEAM with historic first – Brexiteers delighted

The far-right Express continues,

BORIS Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle means the Prime Minister now has a dream team of Brexit ministers – with all four great offices of state now occupied by Leavers.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 14, 2020 at 12:06 pm

As Support for Keir Starmer Grows and Grows Socialist Worker Attacks “Right-wing Labour Leadership Candidate.”

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Peter Tatchell, Starmer would make a “fine Labour Leader”.

The Newsnight debate yesterday.

This is highly recommended:

Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner and longtime acquaintance of Starmer, remembered him as always being “very open to representation from outside his own circle” as DPP.

“I was involved in helping to defend two Balochistan activists who the government of Pakistan was trying to frame on terrorism charges,” he said. “When I approached Keir about the case he immediately said ‘Come in and see me. Let’s talk about it.’ He was a very high-profile, busy man at the time but he took the time, you know, which I think is a measure of his character and integrity.”

Tatchell said Starmer would make a “fine Labour leader” but said he hoped he would take on some of the “very thoughtful, intelligent proposals” made by Clive Lewis, the left-wing Labour MP who dropped out of the leadership contest in the early stages.

“I think the Keir you see today is pretty much the Keir of 30 years ago,” Tatchell added. “He’s got a very sharp mind and is very articulate. I think it would be a great asset if he can work on a sense of humour as well. … Yeah, it’s a bit hidden.”

Keir Starmer Is Not Who You Think He Is. Emily Ashton.

James McAsh writes on Labour List.

Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner are in the lead by a considerable margin. Each has approximately 60% of nominations. Two in five CLPs have nominated both candidates, one in five have nominated each one alone, and only one in five have nominated neither.

……

 Perspective on the EU is still a factor. CLPs nominating Starmer and Thornberry are more likely to be in areas that voted Remain, while those supporting Long-Bailey or Nandy more often voted Leave.

Nonetheless, the Brexit vote does not disrupt the headline results: Starmer has won a majority of both groups, Long-Bailey is in second place, and Nandy is beating Thornberry to third place. Perhaps we’re not so divided after all.

It is all but impossible that Starmer and Rayner will lose. Moreover, their staggering leads make it clear that they have hoovered up support from both previous Corbyn supporters and his critics. Is this a new era of unity? A happy compromise between those who want the Corbyn project to enter a new stage, and those who want it to end? Or rather, will the expectations for the new leadership be ultimately irreconcilable? Only time will tell.

As the Labour Party looks to a new leadership to replace the failed pro-“People’s Brexit’ Corridor Cabal that damaged the party during the election.

From the SWP sidelines comes further reasons to back Starmer charging him, falsely with wanting to “move to the right”, and sneering at his human rights work, and, correctly, with having been pro-internationalist on the issue of the European Union.

The SWP no doubt thinks that if they repeat the claim that Starmer is a “right-winger” long enough people might believe them.

Right wingers lead as Labour leadership race enters final stage

Right wing Labour leadership candidate Keir Starmer looked set to enter the final round of the contest with the most nominations by far.

Starmer had won backing from 280 Constituency Labour Parties—local party organisations—as Socialist Worker went to press.

His nominations surpassed the left’s candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey, who had the backing of 131 CLPs, and the two other candidates Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry.

Among those nominating him last week was Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency Islington North—prompting gloating from the Labour right and barely concealed joy from political pundits.

The deadline for nominations was Friday this week. The final stage of the contest—a ballot of individual members and affiliated supporters—was set to run from Friday of next week until Thursday 2 April.

Yet the scale of the nominations for Starmer is an indication that the mass support that sustained Corbyn’s leadership may not become backing for Long-Bailey.

Starmer says Labour has to move right to be electable—and activists worry that this is swaying members.

He has tried to cultivate an image as ­someone who supported workers as a campaigning lawyer.

Yet he also relies on his image as a “respectable” politician due to his background as Labour’s shadow Brexit ­minister and as Director of Public Prosecutions.

Starmer was one of those responsible for Labour’s slide towards backing a second referendum—which was central to the disastrous 2019 general election result.

He also ­publicly backed ­remaining in the European Union. Yet demoralisation among Labour members mean some are pulled by the idea that Labour needs a leader more acceptable to the right and the media.

Meanwhile, Long-Bailey was attacked for promising to ban bosses from forcing workers to answer emails out of working hours, and to ­support “every” strike.

Yet her campaign has also made concessions to the right—including ­backing MP Angela Rayner over the left wing Richard Burgon for deputy leader. She’s also backed rules that would allow left wing activists to be purged from Labour for anything more than the ­mildest criticism of Israel.

Labour lost the general election partly because its leadership under Corbyn consistently conceded to right wing arguments, allowing them to take hold and undermine him.

Now the pressures of “unity” and “electability” look set to drag the party even ­further to the right.

Fellow supporters of Brexit, Spiked, are also anti-Starmer.

On another identity issue, the ‘Trans pledge’, the leadership debate has seen Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey back calls to purge Labour of feminist dissent on the issue.

In thoughtful and reasoned comment Lindsey German said earlier in the week said that the issue should not be used to shout down debate,

No platform should only be for fascists

Laura Pidcock, the former Labour MP who has such a good record on the left, has come under attack in the past week for making the following statement as part of a much longer article: ‘The women’s movement needs space to talk about sex and gender without fear of being “no platformed”’. She has been called bigoted and transphobic. Yet what she says is absolutely true. There is no justification for refusing a platform to someone who wants to discuss these highly controversial issues. They are not fascists, indeed many have a long record of fighting oppression. Moreover, they are as resolutely opposed to attacks on, abuse of, or discrimination against trans people as are the people attacking them. So they cannot be lumped in with right wingers who want to deny trans rights.

The truth is there is no automatic unity of the oppressed and positions need to be argued and fought for. Demonstration against feminists who are concerned about transgender issues, shouting them down, trying to get them sacked or removed as speakers, should have no place on the left. It’s 50 years since the first women’s liberation conference in this country and, guess what, women’s oppression remains a major factor in our society.

Here is Starmer’s reaction to the calls for a witch-hunt on the issue of trans rights.

Instead he backs this democratic pledge:

 

 

 

Brexit and Analysing Labour’s “Disastrous Result”.

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Image

Starmer Unites the Party After Election Disaster.

The Brexit supporting Morning Star declares,

The unity we need is a unity of the socialist left — including a willingness to stand up and fight for comrades who are targeted by a political right, inside and outside Labour, that is running rings around us.

Editorial: Britain’s left is facing a sustained ideological offensive.

There have been many articles looking in depth at the December General Election.

Can the left ignore the divisions opened up over Brexit?

This Blog has argued that the pro-Brexit wing of Labour, encouraged by groups like Counterfire, the Communist Party of Britain, and the Socialist Party, played a part in the defeat. They confused the issue of the Hard Right Brexit project, and gave false hopes in a ‘People’s Brexit’ that never existed.

Rohini Hensman looks at these ambiguities of the Party’s stand and how this contributed to election failure.

What are the Lessons of the UK Election? On two underemphasised factors

Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières

By 2019, the Labour Party’s Brexit position seemed designed to alienate Leavers and Remainers alike. Corbyn’s proposal for a soft Brexit encountered the criticism that although creating less economic disruption than a hard Brexit, it would leave the UK subject to EU rules in which it would no longer have any say, thus resulting in a loss, not gain, of control. In addition, Labour Leavers impatient to get Brexit over and done with were offered the prospect of yet another period of negotiations with an uncertain outcome. On the other side, the position offered nothing to Labour Remainers. The debacle was amplified by Labour MPs who voted in parliament for the Tory Brexit deals, leaving Labour Remainers in their constituencies – probably the majority of Labour voters even in predominantly Leave constituencies – with no one to vote for.

….

Corbyn’s advisors as well as some Lexiteers, rather than making these points, opposed even a confirmatory referendum until the ‘Brexit-embodies-the-people’s-will’ propaganda was too entrenched to challenge. In fact, their position throughout was a weaker version of Johnson’s ‘Get Brexit Done’. Their contention that Labour lost because it supported a People’s Vote is contradicted by the fact that Labour lost over 2.5 million votes while the Tories and Brexit Party picked up just 335,000, and Labour lost almost twice as many voters to the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Scottish National Party as the 700,000-800,000 they lost to the Tories and Brexit Party.

In January 2019, officials from Hope not Hate and the TSSA union had presented Corbyn with polling evidence that in the event of an election, Labour would get a lower share of the vote in every seat in the country with a pro-Brexit position than it would with an anti-Brexit position, but the warning was dismissed. Corbyn’s U-turn from his original position destroyed his credibility, and his personal rating slumped to -50.[14] Can you trust a leader who in 2016 argues cogently that Britain should stay in the EU and a few years later changes his tune? The advisors who recommended such a shift played a significant role in trashing Corbyn’s reputation, because it convinced many progressives – precisely the people who were less likely to be swayed by the right-wing media – that he was untrustworthy.

The false claim that the “working class backed Brexit”is taken apart,

It is important to challenge the argument of the Labour right and Lexiteers that the working class supported Brexit and abandoned Labour. This presupposes an obsolete definition of ‘the working class’ as mainly engaged in industrial labour, mainly white, and mainly in permanent employment, whereas the new working class is mainly employed in the service sector, often on insecure contracts, and much more diverse in terms of ethnicity, age and gender. Many do not earn enough to support a decent standard of living. As Phil Hearse observes, these sections of the working class voted massively for Remain in the 2016 referendum, and did not abandon Labour in 2019. It was mainly a cross-class section of white pensioners in towns in the North and Midlands who were won over by the UKIP/Brexit Party/Tory right, voted heavily for Leave in 2016, and abandoned Labour in 2019. Hearse concludes, ‘The December 2019 election showed a working class divided on key issues of nationalism, immigration, and the xenophobia currently undergoing rehabilitation as “patriotism” … Labour’s Brexit position got mangled because it tried to… unite the working class behind incompatible positions… The right-wing offensive can only be countered by fighting, not by capitulation and accommodation.

The Editorial Board of Socialist Resistance offers an analysis of the election disaster.

It offers a critical overview in a similar vein on the issue of Brexit.

Analysing a disastrous result

In a wide-ranging, in-depth, account, they highlight this,

Brexit will now be completed, and in the most hard-line and reactionary form available to the Johnson government. Free movement has ended. New racist immigration laws will be introduced. A no-deal crash-out of the EU at the end of the implementation period is also highly probable because it is the model that key figures in the ERG always wanted.

The Tory Party, in the course of all this, has been transformed, into Brexit Party mark II. It is now an English nationalist/populist party with a racist as its leader and Tommy Robinson as a new recruit – with many more of his ilk to come. Maybe Farage as well? One-nation Toryism, to the extent that it still existed, has been roundly defeated.

While we may doubt that the populist surge behind Get Brexit Done will maintain the party in power the reactionary character of the Johnson regime is clear.

SR cites the same Phil Hearse article as Hensman underlining the complexity of the class vote. They say, “As Paul Mason argues in his pamphlet After Corbynism, the strongest agent of change today is now the working class in the big cities.”

In this context it is worth looking at Paul Mason’s  After Corbynism.

Remember that when you hear them blame the internationalist left for this defeat.

In the end, the reason we lost is the reason Labour voters gave for deserting us: Corbyn destroyed his own reputation for honest and principled politics; he surrounded himself with bureaucrats who could suppress dissent but never work to professional standards. The Brexit position was muddled. And people didn’t believe real change was possible. Unfortunately this resulted in an estimated 300,000 Labour Remain voters also switching to the Tories simply to keep Corbyn out. This was something never factored into the polling of the pro-Remain camp. In hindsight, it means the only way we could really have won is if Corbyn had been replaced in the May-June crisis – and there was no support for that anywhere.

We wasted half a year trying to fudge the issue of Brexit; we tried to assuage our traditional voters’ worries over crime, migration and national security with an economic offer that was too big to be believed.

Now the Tories have an 80 seat majority. The strategy of “one more heave”, which has underpinned every election campaign since we lost in 2010 – will no longer work.

To go forward we have to deal honestly with the new class dynamics of Britain, break with nostalgia and form a new social alliance.

Mason concludes,

Corbynism was an alliance of three political ideologies that cannot cohere around the new political reality described above:
• The economic nationalism and anti-imperialism of an older generation of activists, who were let back into the party after years of exclusion and alienation under Blair
• The networked anti-capitalism of the generation inspired by the student revolts of 2010, and subsequent generations attracted by Labour’s openness to antiracism, feminism and eco-socialism
• The highly effective but hierarchical left trade unionism of Unite, the CWU and the GMB.

What worked in 2017, against a disunited and incompetent May government, and a demobilised far right, failed in the face of a competent and ruthless populism of Johnson and Farage.

Over the next five years we need a realignment, both within the party and without, around a new political strategy.

“Overwhelmed  by Brexit”.

SR chimes with part of this approach:

The real problem, however, was that the manifesto did not resonate because it was overwhelmed by Brexit. Under different circumstances the presentational problems would not have had the same impact.

They emphasise this point,

The most powerful force behind Brexit – as in the 2016 referendum – despite the effort of the Labour right (and most of the radical left) to deny it – was racism and xenophobia taking the form of a visceral hatred of the most progressive aspect of the EU structures the free movement of people. Labour, unfortunately was unable to counter it with, for example, a strident defence of free movement. Racism was packaged as populism, of which Johnson, Trump, Bolsonaro, Orban and Salvini are prime examples. Simple slogans in complex situations presented as anti-politics, anti-political correctness, anti-regulation, with dog-whistle appeals to racism and bigotry.

Turning to the corrosive impact of the Brexit wing of Labour and the Lexit Left the article notes,

The role of the Lexiteers also needs comment. Brexit has not only brought down Jeremy Corbyn, and transformed the Tory party into a hard-right populist cult, it also split the radical left – with the bulk of far-left organisations, including the CPB, the Socialist party, the SWP, and Counterfire on the wrong side. Those supporting a Remain position were the smaller groups including ourselves as SR (critically), the AWL, and those involved in the campaign for a second referendum and the AEIP campaign. RS 21 were split on it.

The position taken by the Lexiteers represents a major, indeed historic, mistake with political consequences both immediate and long-term. It led them to be in denial of the fundamental politics and class nature of the Brexit project from the outset. The general election itself represented a conundrum for the Lexiteers. They could not vote for Johnson, for reputational reasons, though some individually did, because that meant explicitly supporting the most right-wing government Britain has ever seen. But they supported exit from the EU at every stage – in full knowledge that it was Johnson’s central project. During the Parliamentary battle against a no-deal Brexit they implicitly supported this reactionary option throughout.

There was an element of wilful blindness behind the Brexit left’s stand:

They refused throughout to accept that Brexit was a right-wing project driven primarily by racism, even when rising levels of racist violence was plain to see at every level of society. This included the SWP, the organisation that built the Anti-Nazi League in the 1970s and early 1980s, that now finds itself unable to identify blatant racism in the Brexit project from Boris Johnson himself to large numbers of Brexit voters, and have ended up tail-ending the CPB. They also refused to accept that racism is most strongly located in the traditional sections of the white industrial (or de-industrialised) sections of the white blue-collar working class.

During the battles over Brexit they avoided addressing either the class content or the implications of the 2016 referendum or the of the Johnson’s election victory. Nor does John Rees’s assessment of the Tory victory on the Counterfire site address Brexit as such, which he supported, and what its impact might be in terms of the future direction of the country and of the workers’ movement but focuses on the election and why Labour lost – which was a result, he argues, because of disloyalty from McDonnell and others by expressing differences with Jeremy Corbyn over Remain and a second referendum – and who are paving the way for the Blairites.

SR concludes on the impact of Brexit.

In hindsight, a Tory majority was probably inevitable, and the reason, as John McDonnell has insisted was Brexit. The centre-ground was already gone and no-one was listening – if they ever had been.

In in such a polarised situation, Jeremy Corbyn’s stance of uniting the party (and/or the country) across the Brexit divide was doomed. If Labour had taken a firm Remain position much earlier, which it should have done because it was right, it would haemorrhage votes to the Tories and to the Brexit party. If it had taken a Brexit position – which would have been politically disastrous since it would have meant supporting a reactionary Tory project – it would have haemorrhaged support to the LibDems and the Greens which it did anyway. As Richard Seymour puts it: ‘There seems to be no obvious solution on Brexit, nothing that would not be taken as ‘treason’ by someone.’

From the outset, Labour’s divisions over Brexit were more damaging and intractable than for any other party. While 60 per cent of its supporters (and 90 of its members) supported Remain, 70 per cent of Labour’s constituencies supported Brexit and many of these were prepared to desert Labour for the Tories or the Brexit Party to achieve that aim. This mean that unless something shifted, Labour could not stop a Tory majority – and when the results came in it became clear that nothing had shifted.

How does this all affect the current Labour leadership contest?

SR switches to warnings about a come-back for Labour’s right, whose achievement under Blair and Brown was  to be in government and run the country.

The Labour right is as dedicated as ever to smashing Corbynism and all it stands for. They are convinced that this leadership election gives them the best opportunity they have had to shift political discourse and practice to the right and to accommodating to the system. They are not necessarily wrong – which means that defeating them and electing those that best represent the gains of Corbynism is an absolutely essential task.

Weighing up the merits of the candidates they conclude,

The best choice we have as things stand – would be Rebecca Long-Bailey with Richard Burgon as deputy. The key word is ‘continuity’, and Long-Bailey represents this best in the leadership contest.

The big danger is Keir Starmer. He is presenting himself fraudulently as a continuity candidate when he is in effect the candidate of the right.

To back this negative assessment of Starmer they cite – genuine – concerns about his record as DPP (but he was after all DPP,  not a post that it’s easy to hold without making serious errors), and his obedience to the whip in abstaining on the Welfare Bill.

Apparently Long-Bailey is  a woman.

She has also waded, unwisely, into the debate over transexuality and called for a purge of feminists who do not accept the arguments of one side in this bitter dispute ( Long-Bailey backs call to expel ‘transphobic’ members.)

SR says,

In reality, the leadership is mainly a contest between Starmer and Long-Bailey and a win for Starmer will be seen, and would be, a total rejection of Corbynism and a huge victory for the right.

We have yet to see this.

To accept this claim would be to contribute to it, not to mention they unsteady assertion that ‘progressive patriot, aspirational Long-Bailey is the standard-bearer of the left.

Here are Starmer’s ten pledges – they look pretty left-wing to most people, while having a wider appeal.

He said: “Labour must stand by its commitment to end the national scandal of spiralling student debt and abolish tuition fees. We lost the election, but we did not lose our values or determination to tackle the injustice facing young people going to university.”

The shadow Brexit Secretary also promised to increase taxes on the richest 5 per cent of Britons, reverse the cuts in corporation tax and abolish Universal Credit, as well as establishing a “green new deal”.

Backing Jeremy Corbyn’s nationalisation plans, he added: “Public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water; end outsourcing in our NHS, local government and justice system.”

Unlike SR this Blog agrees with Paul Mason, and the above reinforces this judgement,  that Keir Starmer represents the best choice for Labour leader.

Long Bailey comes from the political stable that gave us the Labour confusion and the political space for the Lexiteers to see within the Party’s position an opportunity for them to argue for”a weaker version of Johnson’s ‘Get Brexit Done’.”

Their campaigns against the internationalist left have caused enduring damage.

That “corridor cabal” has wreaked havoc on Labour’s capacity to organise as a united force.

Many strongly doubt that Starmer will give an opening to right-wing factionalists.

But most are sure that he represents a Party without the pro-Brexit left in a commanding position of influence over the party leader.

So much the better.

Update:

No photo description available.

 

Russian Anti-Fascists Imprisoned. Defend our Comrades!

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You can support the “network” case defendants by sending them solidarity messages, donating to the support campaign, and spreading the word about the case.

See the Rupression site for details

Russia jails members of ‘non-existent’ terror group Set

BBC.

Seven Russian anarchists and anti-fascist activists have been handed lengthy jail terms on terror charges.

A court in the city of Penza sentenced the men – said to be part of a group known as Set, meaning Network – to between six and 18 years in penal colonies.

Russian authorities say they were plotting to overthrow the government.

But rights groups and lawyers say the charges were fabricated, and the men were tortured into confessing.

Prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny described the sentences as “horrific” in a tweet, and called the Set group a “fictitious terrorist organisation”.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly said he was aware of the case and had ordered authorities “to make sure everything is in line with the law”, but would not intervene.

The Guardian says,

Rights activists criticise trial, saying members of the Network were tortured.

A Russian court has issued harsh sentences to seven antifascist and anarchist activists in a controversial domestic terrorism case marred by claims that investigators tortured the defendants to elicit confessions.

The court in Penza, a city about 390 miles (630km) south-east of Moscow, sentenced the men to terms of six to 18 years in penal colonies for allegedly forming an organisation called Set, which translates as the Network, which prosecutors said planned to carry out future attacks inside Russia to overthrow the government. The men were also charged with an assortment of weapons and drugs charges.

Influential human rights groups have called the case fabricated and said the men may have been targeted for their political activism. Four of the men on trial said they had been tortured with beatings and electrocution during the investigation. In December, Memorial human rights centre, one of Russia’s oldest civil rights organisations, had called for the charges to be dropped.

The French Communist daily l’Humanité, runs the story,

RUSSIE LOURDES PEINES DE PRISON POUR DES ANTIFASCISTES

The left blog People and Nature reports,

Russia: “network” case anti-fascists jailed for 6 to 18 years

A military court yesterday convicted seven Russian anti-fascists of trumped-up charges in the “network” case, and sentenced them to between six and 18 years imprisonment. The trial of two more defendants continues in St Petersburg.

The frame-up of the “network” case defendants by security services (FSB) officers – and the repeated use of torture to obtain bogus confessions – has been denounced by human rights organisations. The jailed anti-fascists have been supported by an international solidarity campaign.

Here is a report from court yesterday, translated by the Russian Reader from Bumaga newspaper:

The Volga District Military Court, [sitting in Penza], has [convicted and] sentenced seven defendants in the Network Case.

Dmitry Pchelintsev was sentenced to 18 years in a maximum-security penal colony. Ilya Shakursky was sentenced to 16 years in a penal colony and fined 50,000 rubles.

Investigators claimed they were organizers of a “terrorist community.” Both men alleged that FSB officers had electrocuted them in order to obtain confessions.

Maxim Ivankin was given 13 years in a maximum-security penal colony, while Andrei Chernov was sentenced to 14 years, and Mikhail Kulkov, to 10 years. They were found guilty of involvement in a “terrorist community” and attempting to sell drugs.

Vasily Kuksov was sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony. He was accused of involvement in a “terrorist community” and illegal possession of a weapon. Another defendant, Arman Sagynbayev, received 6 years in prison.

The verdict handed down by the court in Penza suggests that the acquittal of the Petersburg defendants in the case is less likely, Viktor Cherkasov, the lawyer for Viktor Filinkov, a defendant in the Network Case, told Bumaga. “It sends a message,” said Cherkasov. “It is difficult to hope [for a positive outcome], but we are still determined to protect Filinkov’s interests.”

Cherkasov said that he planned in court to point to the faked evidence in the case. He also that he would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if Filinkov were found guilty. The next hearing in the Network Case in Petersburg should take place between February 25 and February 28.

[In October 2017 and January 2018], antifascists and anarchists were detained in Penza and Petersburg. They were accused of organizing a “terrorist community,” allegedly called “the network”.

……

At the end of the court hearing, Mediazona, the human rights defenders’ web site, reported:

The session is over. The sentence was read out in complete silence. Now, behind the court’s closed doors it is very noisy. Those who came to support the defendants are shouting: “Free political prisoners!”

“Stay strong, we are with you”, one of the support group shouted out.

“No, it’s we who are with you!” answered Dmitry Pchelintsev, one of the defendants. […]

People shouted “shame!” and “freedom!” […]

Outside court, a crowd gathered. Some people played drums, others sang, waiting for those convicted to be taken away in prison vans. Alongside stood security services officers in masks.

Vehicles left [the court] in a convoy. According to Mediazona’s correspondent, OMON [riot police] officers threw their coats over the convicts, so as to pass the crowds unseen. The supporters then began to go their separate ways.

 

More information:

ABOUT THE CASE

In autumn 2017 6 people were arrested in Penza – to some of them weapons and explosives were thrown up. Then FSB tortured antifascists right in the pretrial detention center: connected electrodes to different parts of body and put the electricity on, beaten, hanged upside down. While torturing security chiefs forced activists to learn by heart the testimony which FSB wants, that they had founded and participate terrorist community “Network”. At the end of January 2018, three more antifascists were arrested in St. Petersburg. They were also beaten, electrocuted and forced to incriminate themselves – to confirm that they are members of the “Network”. And in July 2018 there was a last arrest of two persons in Moscow.

By forging the evidence and tortures, the FSB fabricates a case about terrorism against antifascists. The FSB claims that the detainees planned to arrange explosions during the presidential elections and the World Cup. All this – allegedly in order to “shake the masses to further destabilize the political situation in the country” and raise an armed rebellion. Now there are ten antifascists behind the bars. Arrested face from five years up to life sentence in prison.

After the case against antifascists and tortures became widely known- actions of solidarity took place in Russia and abroad. However, this led to new repressions. The participants of the actions from Moscow were detained and criminal proceedings were opened against them. Antifascists from Chelyabinsk were detained, electrocuted and a criminal case was also opened against them.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2020 at 12:59 pm

Labour Leadership Election: No More Heroes.

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Image result for no more heroes strnagklers

 

“ The symbolic unification of the group around an individual – and here I agree with Freud – is inherent in the formation of the formation of a ‘people’.”

Ernesto Laclau.

“..a collective will cannot be constructed without some form of crystallisation of common affects, and affective bonds with a charismatic leader can play an important role in this process.”

Chantal Mouffe. (1)

“The big story of the election was not that the Conservatives imploded, but that Labour pulled off the most stunning surge in British political history”. Alex Nunns concluded The Candidate (2018 edition) by saying, “Inside the Labour Party the election result destroyed the three pretexts used by Corbyn’s opponents to justify their recalcitrance: that he was unelectable, incompetent and not a leader….As for leadership, Corbyn not only inspired millions of new voters, he had changed the political weather. “(2)

Hailing the “ascendancy of the socialist left in Britain” Corbyn adviser Andrew Murray warned of the threat of a “culture war” on the left, “rancid identity politics”, and “Brexit derangement syndrome” from those opposed to Boris Johnson’s hard right Brexit. He took comfort, “polling figures aside” – Labour’s 2019 European election disaster – at “establishment panic at the prospect of a Corbyn-led Labour government”. It is said that the Leader’s office, LOTO, believed that a last minute surge, replicating the rallies and enthusiasm of 2017, would push the Party forward. (3)

Labour Saints and Heroes.

In the Observer yesterday Andrew Rawnsley suggested otherwise (A keep-it-dull campaign is a risky way to win the Labour leadership). . In the Labour leadership campaign none of the contenders have the courage to say it was madness for Labour to fight the election with the most unpopular leader in the history of polling. This is the truth they dare not utter for fear of offending those party members who still worship of the shrine of St Jeremy.”  While Rebecca Long-Bailey and others are said to have expressed some doubts over the holy relics, it has been left to Alan Simpson to express the view that the “corridor cabal” around Corbyn, the cadres and structure running the leadership operation, was deeply flawed.

It would be unkind to dismiss the hopes placed by large numbers of people in Jeremy Corbyn. A better way of looking at this would be to question whether left politics needs “charismatic leaders”, not as symbols, but as power-points dominating politics. Thomas Carlyle considered Hero Worship the opposite of the Sceptical World, and the Hero, “a son of Order” who recognises the “necessity of authority”. Left-wing Heroes in the Twentieth century included one “strong daring man”, who bridled in a revolution more radical than the one placed under halter by Carlyle’s hero, Napoleon. Even Saints have not fared well, as Latin America and decolonised societies indicate. The “gift of grace” is not widely seen as a quality that helps left governments achieve their goals. (4)

Political Logic of Populism.

What Laclau called the “political logic” of populism appears to favour those who appeal to the authority of the sovereign nation. If the British Conservatives’ dabbling in populist rhetoric has dampened down after their victory the rise of national populism in Europe continues. Left political adventures in “constructing the people” against the Oligarchy have reached an impasse in France. Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI), a “point de rassemblement”, that is a rally, not a party with a democratic internal structure, looks set to remain on the margins. Appeals to patriotism, a revolutionary trait we are instructed by Jacobin’s European Editor, have fallen on deaf ears. As in 6,3% of the vote last year in the European elections. The uncontested leader of LFI’s humble adoption of Chantal Mouffe’s lessons on charismatic leadership, tempered by virtue,  continues regardless. By contrast the evolution of Spain’s Podemos into a democratic, collegiate, radical left party, standing as Unidas Podemos and prepared to compromise with their rivals in the Spanish Socialists, the PSOE has borne fruit – if a reduced electoral score at 12,9%, after a split with Mouffe’s friend,  Íñigo Errejón whose Más País got 2,4% (Podemos had 21,2% in 2016). (5)

In the era of the people it is perhaps better to deal with real individuals than with the forces of destiny. Labour leaders need popularity, they need radical fire, and they have to have a platform than can inspire the membership, from elected officials, activists, to card-carriers. They have to reach out to the public. In the era of the people they should, perhaps, like Podemos, appeal to individuals. That is, with reasonable not charismatic, appeals. If Keir Starmer is the front-runner in this contest for Labour leader one can say that all the candidates have taken this approach. This Blog backs Starmer but…No more heroes…..

*****

 

  1. Page 100 Ernesto Laclau. On Populist Reason. Verso. 2005. Page 70. For a Left Populism. Chantal Mouffe. Verso. 2018.
  2. Pages 376 and 382. The Candidate. Jeremy’s Improbable Path to Power. Alex Nunns. O R Books. 2018 Edition.
  3. Postscript. The Fall and Rise of the British Left. Andrew Murray. 2019.
  4. On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History. Thomas Carlyle. J.M Dent. 1926.
  5. De La Vertu. Jean-Luc Mélenchon. L’Observatoire. 2017. L’ère du peuple. Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Pluriel. 2017.

Saints have

Labour Leadership: Alan Simpson Attacks “Corridor Cabal”around Corbyn. Desperate Long-Bailey Supporters Lash Out at “Pabloites”.

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Image result for alan simpson corbyn

Alan Simpson, “Labour’s deeper problems lie more in the cadre of senior advisers surrounding Corbyn. None should be allowed within a million miles of Labour’s rebuilding.”

This news hit Long-Bailey Backers hard.

Jeremy Corbyn’s local Labour party backs Keir Starmer for leadership

Members in Islington North narrowly nominate him over Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Momentum Chief John Lansman took to Twitter.

Meanwhile Alan Simpson, a respected veteran of the left (all of us have heard and seen Alan in many meetings since the 1990s) launched into an attack on the Stalinist factionists who ran Labour’s election campaign.

The background is in a post on his blog in January.

Après le déluge January the 9th.

Corbyn inherited a PLP that wanted to lynch him and (to their credit) an office determined to stop them. Sadly, it also created a siege/control mentality that was never able to reach outwards. McDonnell brought in Lord Kerslake to oversee Treasury reform plans. No parallel Commissions ever got through the LOTO net. No national/international figures were ever brought in to raise Jeremy’s policy/leadership profile. No one who’d ever arm-wrestled in climate negotiations, trade deals or peace diplomacy came in to lead Labour’s transformation planning.

Instead, ‘corridor control’ came to dominate. Factionalism overtook radicalism. At the most senior levels, people who’d never negotiated anything more than an extended tea-break were left in charge of the policy sifting process. The most repeated Shadow Ministerial complaint was about delays in getting radical policy proposals through the LOTO soup. Sue Hayman saw a string of her Environment proposals get lost in this Never-never-land. Two years on, Alan Whitehead still awaits approval for publication of his Local Energy book (on radical decentralisation). Andy MacDonald’s pledge to set annual carbon budgets for every part of the transport sector never became the platform for transformative changes in aviation and shipping policy. His proposed ‘pendulum shift’ of funding from private to public transport infrastructures went the same way. Germany’s 10% cut in rail fares shows how popular such radical changes can be.

Corbyn’s ‘cabal’ of top aides sabotaged election campaign, says Labour leader’s close friend

Exclusive: Adviser says ‘people who’d never negotiated anything more than an extended tea-break were left in charge’, reports Rob Merrick

A close friend and adviser of Jeremy Corbyn has revealed how a “corridor cabal” of his top aides sabotaged Labour’s election campaign, blaming them for the party’s catastrophic defeat.

The explosive post-mortem heaps responsibility on the key allies – director of communications, Seumas Milne; chief of staff, Karie Murphy; and Andrew Murray, a veteran communist – for organisational chaos and for “suffocating” the leader himself.

It carries huge weight because it was written by left-winger Alan Simpson, a former Socialist Campaign Group MP and flatmate of Mr Corbyn, who returned to frontline politics to advise him on sustainable economics.

In stark contrast, Mr Simpson accuses the leader’s closest aides of “catastrophic misjudgement and ill-focused organisation” and an “obsession” with controlling both the leader and his message.

“Jeremy will inevitably carry much of the blame,” reads Mr Simpson’s submission to an independent review into the election disaster.

“But Labour’s deeper problems lie more in the cadre of senior advisers surrounding Corbyn. None should be allowed within a million miles of Labour’s rebuilding.

“People who’d never negotiated anything more than an extended tea-break were left in charge of the policy sifting process.”

Even Mr Corbyn’s acknowledged strength – his “campaigning zeal” – was turned into a negative by his office’s “siege mentality”, it argues.

“Goodness knows how many rail miles Jeremy clocked up, but it never became the ‘leadership’ peg the public were looking for,” Mr Simpson wrote.

Speaking to The Independent, Mr Simpson said, of the team led by Mr Milne, Ms Murphy and Mr Murray: “This faction took control of everything that came through Jeremy’s office – they ended up not protecting him, but suffocating him.”

The former MP for Nottingham South has impeccable pro-Corbyn credentials as an opponent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and, in the 1990s, of Tony Blair’s abolition of Clause IV.

His verdict, which he sent to the review being carried out by Ed Miliband and others in the Labour Together group, also castigates the leader’s team for such failures as:

  • Pursuing the election in December instead of leaving the prime minister to “wallow in the Brexit mess” until the spring or summer of 2020. “The trouble is that many of those closest to Corbyn always looked as if they wanted Brexit anyway,” Mr Simpson wrote;
  • Failing to bring in well-known outside figures with fresh ideas – as David Cameron successfully did – to boost public support for policy shifts;
  • Blocking an eye-catching proposal to shift funding from private to public transport – “Germany’s 10 per cent cut in rail fares shows how popular such radical changes can be”;
  • Blocking radical proposals on the environment and on ‘greening’ energy through decentralised distribution.

Electing Keir Starmer as Labour leader is a step towards removing the influence of this anti-internationalist clique and its hold on Labour policies.

No wonder Long-Bailey, the “continuity candidate” for the cabal is trying this diversion.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 9, 2020 at 11:56 am

Keir Starmer, “Victory of the Thermidorian reaction” or the best candidate, whose stand for unity is based on left-wing values?

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Starmer appeals to “a broad set of left-wing values”.

Keir Starmer, at present the front-runner in the Labour Leadership contest, has got both support and criticism.

The Daily Mail, New Left Review, the Express, Counterfire, the Morning Star, are hostile to the MP for Holborn and St Pancras.

In an often interesting interview about the future of Labour for a Socialist Europe Urte Macikene of Red Flag nevertheless says,

If Long-Bailey is elected, it will be as the continuation of the rightwards moving trajectory of compromise and conciliation, whereas Starmer represents the victory of the Thermidorian reaction.

Despite often vitriolic criticism from those who claim the Corbyn mantle it is no secret that some on the radical left back Keir Starmer.

It is hard to beat Paul’s summary.

Starmer’s appeal is across the Party.

Steven Bush, in the New Statesman,  sums up why Labour supporters are moving towards Keir Starmer.

One of the many mistakes in analysing the Labour membership, both in a derogatory fashion by Corbynsceptics and in a triumphalist one by Corbynites, has been to see the average Labour member as ideologically committed or particularly cult-like. The average Labour member is not that ideological. They have a broad set of left-wing values, but they are not committed to any particular strand of Labour thought.”

These are his values,

In the latest twist  in the campaign Rebecca Long Bailey is reported saying this,

Rebecca Long-Bailey praises Tony Blair’s record on education and criticises Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign

The ‘I’.

Seen as the most left-wing contender for the leadership, Rebecca Long-Bailey is trying to win over centrist activists

Labour leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey on Wednesday night praised Tony Blair and criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign in a pitch to win over centrist activists.

The pro-Corbyn shadow Business Secretary broke with the hard left as she celebrated New Labour’s record on education and said the outgoing leader had tried to be a “knight in shining armour”.

Asked what she admired about Mr Blair, Ms Long-Bailey told ITV’s Peston talk show: “One of the main mantras was about education and it was about aspiring and achieving in society, and certainly that’s the legacy that his government left.”

Ms Long-Bailey spoke about how she felt in the lead up to the election result: “I think perhaps I didn’t want to believe that it was going to be as bad as it was, but certainly on election night I was stood in my kitchen with my husband and my mum and dad had come round to look after my little boy before we went to the count, and I saw the numbers come up on the screen and it was literally as if somebody had pulled the ground away from under me. And I know that many of our members and MPs felt the same.”

She also refused to back a call from Richard Burgon, a candidate for deputy leader, to give Labour members a vote every time the Government is considering whether to go to war. She said: “It’s interesting, I’ve not seen the details of that yet… Clearly in matters of war decisions have to be taken very quickly.”

The Salford MP is seen as the most left-wing contender for the leadership but is trying to set out a “big tent” approach to unite the party.

One of the best critical summaries of the merits and otherwise, of the candidates, is offered by Workers’ Liberty, in Solidarity,

Rebecca Long-Bailey has challenged the other candidates to support the commitments to public ownership in the 2019 manifesto. Richard Burgon has argued for a new pro-public ownership Clause IV in the party constitution.

Keir Starmer has backed the 2019 manifesto’s plans for higher taxes on the rich and come out for re-establishing UK-EU free movement. Dawn Butler has written in the Guardian about scrapping anti-trade union laws, though on inspection what she means is pretty fuzzy.

Even rising challenger Lisa Nandy, who some see as the most plausible leadership candidate for a right-wing reaction in the party, has made mostly left-wing arguments. She was the first candidate to defend free movement.

Evidently wanting to move away from her “Leader’s Office continuity” image, Long-Bailey has said that she would widen the range of the Shadow Cabinet (presumably meaning she would bring in figures like Yvette Cooper).

The Labour leader elections continue to be muddy politically.

There are no standouts left candidates, certainly not ones without major problems politically. Workers’ Liberty conference voted by a big margin to back no candidate for leader, not yet anyway, and that still seems right to me.

We decided to quiz and press candidates on the fundamental question of democratising the party. Long-Bailey and Burgon have come out for “open selection” of MPs, but that’s pretty much it. Long-Bailey has made comments on paper about the compositing process at Labour conference which strongly implied she wanted to prevent delegates being stroppy about policy and causing difficulties for the leadership.

All of them talk as if policy is and should be something declared by the leader from on high. The idea of respecting and carrying out what conference decides, the notion that the party should controlled by its members, seems to be on the radar of none.

This still leaves the fact that Keir Starmer is  for many people in the Labour Party, including sections of the left, the best candidate, whose stand for unity is based on left-wing values.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2020 at 1:01 pm

“Starmer is the candidate for the Police, MI5 and the British State” – says Vice President of Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

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Image result for tony greenstein ken loach

Ken Loach and Friends (Greenstein on the the far left).

 

Keir Starmer is the candidate that the Deep State & the British Establishment want you to vote for.

Tony Greenstein.

Starmer is the candidate of MI5 and the Political Police – he is Establishment down to his manicured fingers. ‘Sir’ Keir has pointed to his role in providing legal advice to striking miners and print workers.  This is true but it was a long time ago when he was a socialist. Today he is the darling of the Right.

Anyone who is fooled by this ‘lurch to the left’ is truly pathetic. Starmer is the candidate for the Police, MI5 and the British State that eviscerated Corbyn.  It was just one of Corbyn’s idiocies that when Starmer resigned in the chicken coup that he was let back in to wreak more havoc.

Mr Greenstein is the Vice-President of Labour Against the Witch-hunt and a frequent contributor to the Weekly Worker.

He has also contributed to Al-Jazeera’s web site.

LAW’s honorary presidents are Professor Moshé Machover and Ken Livingstone.

LAW’s sponsors include:

  • Ken Livingstone
  • Alexei Sayle, comedian
  • Professor Moshé Machover, Israeli socialist and founder of Matzpen
  • Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers Union
  • Ken Loach, film director
  • Noam Chomsky, author and activist.

If you had doubts before, Starmer is now the candidate to back!

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 6, 2020 at 12:45 pm

White Guilt. From Stickers in Ipswich to Identitarian Politics.

with 19 comments

Racist stickers found on streets of Ipswich

A council has taken down around 60 white supremacist posters plastered around a UK town over the weekend, authorities have said.

“It’s OK to be white” and “reject white guilt” were written on signs across Ipswich, according to images shared on social media.

Max Stocker, a council spokesperson, told The Independent they have been working to remove the posters, which also included the message “beware non-white rape gangs”.

Similar messages have been spotted around different parts of the UK in recent months, including Hull and Perth, according to local media.

Signs saying “it’s OK to be white” were also put up in Bristol city centre last week.

Some of these posters bear the mark of Hundred-Hands, a group encouraging the spread of posters containing messages of white supremacy over social media.

Sam Murray, an Ipswich resident, claimed she removed 10 signs in the town herself.

“This does not have a place here,” she told The Independent.

“Ipswich is a nice town,” she said. “It is diverse and normally people just get on with their lives.”

Bryony Rudkin, deputy leader of Ipswich Borough Council, called the white supremacist messages “deplorable”.

“This racist behaviour does not represent the people of Ipswich or our town,” she said.

“Council staff have been out over the weekend taking these stickers down.”

Police are investigating the posters and aware of similar reports in other areas of the UK, a Suffolk Police spokesperson said.

“It’s OK to be white” spread as a slogan across the US several years ago, and posters started appearing across American universities.

One of the few telling points in Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission (2015) was his invention of a group called “Indigenous European – a direct response to the Indigènes de la République which claims to represent “colonial subjects” on French territory.  This is not the product of the jaded writer’s imagination. I Identity politics is the mainstay not just of campus politics but also, in Houellebecq’s twist, of an influential section of the European right. Génération Identitaire claims to stand for Europe against the “Islamisation of Europe” and the “migrant invasion”. Hope Not Hate writes that the British offshoot, Generation Identity, has this basis.

Martin Sellner, de facto spokesperson for the movement, talks of the need to preserve “ethno cultural identity” which extends back to an ancient European heritage.

Houellebecq illustrates how identity politics have moved on from the time when Naomi Klein could regret that “The need for greater diversity – the rallying call of my universality years – is now no only accepted by the culture industries. It is the mart of global capital. And identity politics, as they were practiced in the nineties, weren’t a threat, they were a gold mine.” Hollywood and the media aside, these issues have shifted into national populism, fall out from the EU Referendum, and the efforts of those who failed to oppose the Hard Right Brexit project to throw a smokescreen about Labour’s election disaster. (1)

Now we have people putting up stickers spreading the right-wing identity message. Those there say that at the Farage rally to celebrate Brexit last Friday some also repeated other ideas from this quarter, the fight against “cultural Marxism” held responsible for the other side, in the argument, liberal identity politics.

This is not just a fringe movement.

Prominent Spectator writer Douglas Murray’s Madness of Crowds (2019) is a sally against the “religion of social justice” prompted by “identity politics”. His The Strange Death of Europe (2017) is a lament about the suicide of Europe through mass immigration. The Spectator writes ends with a plea against those politicians who wish to “change our home into an utterly different place.” In short, Europe’s identity is under threat from others. Murray anglicised Éric Zemmour’s complaints against post-68 ‘cultural Marxist’ attacks on “(famille, nation, travail” with Renaud Camus’s fear of Europe’s inhabitants being replaced by newcomers, the Grand Remplacement. (2)

During Brexit we’ve often heard that the ancestral inhabitants of Britain are under threat from metropolitan, and cosmopolitan, elites. The late Roger Scruton observed in 2017 that, “The question of identity is bound up with that of sovereignty: who governs us, and from where?” Spiked runs a profitable ‘anti-woke’ troll farm promoting national populist, and pro=Brexit,  identity politics under the mask of saying, “Identity politics is really for rich white people“.   This ‘question’ has received a left response: the ‘real’ working class, who struck a blow against the capitalist EU in the Leave revolt, is under attack from liberal identity politics. Some with no doubt admirable aims speak of “the caricature of the white working class as racist and culturally conservative”.  In Haringey Labour it’s been debated that the working class needs its separate party group (Haringey: Labour members call for ‘working-class section’ in bid to regain power).

Identitarians.

The identitarians, who have branches across Europe, including Britain, were founded in France. Struggling against ‘cultural Marxism’, affirming their culture and selves. Douglas Murray has talked about “desire to continue to feel yourself guilty..” for the legacy of Empire. This is an idea can be traced back to Pascal Bruckner’s Le Sanglot de l’homme blanc (1983). From disillusionment with Third Worldism, the belief that revolution would come from the global South, the French essayist has not stopped exploiting the theme. In La Tyrannie de la Pénitance he already observed, in 2006 Western “masochism”, the desire to apologise for the, very real, crimes of imperialism. Imprisoning people in their ethnic and racial identities, leads to individuals staking up a tally of resentments, not to free themselves as a collective group with universal right. Many will sympathise with Bruckner and his conclusion that “shame” should be replaced by a common search for freedom. But most people who read La Tyrannie would retain the diatribe against those protesting at past atrocities and injustices, and his mocking at the “agglomeration of tribes” standing against the common identity of Citizenship. (4)

There is a point at which identity politics on the left meets the far right and that point has been reached by the French Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR) The PIR’s spokesperson Houria Bouteldja offers a picture of the world in imitation of US Black Power. She melds attacks on ‘Whiteness’ (Blanchité) and laments for the decline in Arab virility. Bouteldja takes it upon herself to speak for the “nous”, the “Noirs”, the blacks to the ‘vous’, the ‘Blancs’, the Whites, and has some words of advice to the “vous”, the ‘Juifs’, the Jews. In the struggle for the voice of the indigenous she affirms a belief that commemorating the memory of the Shoah is, for whites, the “the bunker of abstract humanism”. Anti-Zionism is the “space for an historic confrontation between us and the whites”. She has been pictured with a placard reading “Zionists to the Gulag”. Bouteldja is fêted in Berkley and other ‘post-colonial’ academic quarters. She has been given space in the populist US left journal, Jacobin. A certain Richard Seymour has called her “admirable”. (5)

White Guilt.

Those now rushing to affirm working class identity should take note of that adventure. Those who wish to talk about a halt to White Guilt have more in common with their approach than they might wish. Both the side attacking some kind of inheritance of ‘whiteness’ and those trying to stand up for an indigenous, left-behind, working class share something with the right-wing ‘identitarians’. That is the immense weight they claim for the past. The enemy of human rights and the French Revolution,Edmund Burke, would be amused to find that political debate has become a squabble about the “Inheritance from our forefathers”, the ” partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”

This Blog prefers another side of the dispute altogether

Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.

Tom Paine.

 

 

  1. Page 115. No Logo, Naomi Klein. Flamingo. 2000.
  2. Page 320. The Strange Death of Europe. Immigration, Identity, Islam. Douglas Murray. Bloomsbury. 2017. Eric Zemmour, Le Suicide Français. Albin Michel. 2014. Le Grand Remplacement. Renaud Camus. 2011.
  3. Page 4. Where We Are. The State of Britain Now. Roger Scruton. Bloomsbury. 2017.
  4. Page 175. Murray. Op cit.
  5. Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous. Houria Bouteldja. La Fabrique. 2016.

As Crisis in International Trotskyism Reaches Breaking Point, Hold the Front Page: Gerry Downing, Ian Donovan and the Split in the Trotskyist faction.

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a complete decay of communist consciousness and the embrace of opportunism.”

 

Take your eyes off the bleeding ball for a minute, and all hell breaks loose.

““When I interrupted Ian to call out his insane rant about the Rothschilds’ he became outraged, shouted and threw his pen on the table..”

This was a complete pack of lies from start to finish. Another comrade who was there wrote:

“Sorry, E, I do not recall Ian raising his voice and shouting at all”

Looks like a duel at dawn between Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan.

In an effort to calm things down I have volunteered to mediate

Extracts: 

Trotskyist Faction statement on Communist financial norms, democratic accountability, security and membership standards.

This statement was already written when we discovered that on 30 Jan 2020 Gerry Downing fraudulently put out his statement denouncing Gilad Atzmon and some of his associated and co-thinkers, in the name of Socialist Fight, 13 days after a 17th January vote was taken in which he failed to get a majority. He now claims that one member who had clearly lapsed, JC, whose case is addressed below, was a full member all along, and that gave him a majority after all. This question was raised at the 17th January meeting and various arguments were made to the effect that JC should be treated as a member. This was never agreed and ratified in an endorsed set of minutes in any case.

Objections had been raised by comrade Donovan in the meeting on the grounds that JC had made not paid subs, only made sporadic donations and had not been to any meetings for well over a year. The draft minutes mistakenly recorded that it was agreed that he was a member, after a hue and cry from Gerry and his ‘candidate members’ whose presence was itself contentious, and unwanted as the meeting in which it took place had originally been booked and planned by the decision of full members as a private meeting for those full members only.

Harsh words indeed,

Followed by,

Thus comrade Downing has not only betrayed the consistent anti-Zionist positions he used to uphold, he has flagrantly betrayed the democracy of his own organisation by fraudulently and retrospectively rewriting the history of a vote he didn’t win; he has fraudulently declared an ex-member to be a full member in order to claim to have ‘won’ a vote he failed to win, and he has in the process totally betrayed the Bolshevik tradition on the party question.

All this indicates, as the statement below shows, a complete decay of communist consciousness and the embrace of opportunism.

It gets hotter,

There is the smear, also against comrade Donovan, by ED. After the branch meeting at the Lucas Arms on 17 January, which was booked on the understanding it was supposed to be a private meeting to resolve this issue among full members only, but which Gerry declared Open with a public email on the day, and then GW and ED turned up and Gerry inveigled them in, after that ED made the following accusation against comrade Donovan a week later. She wrote:

“When I interrupted Ian to call out his insane rant about the Rothschilds’ he became outraged, shouted and threw his pen on the table..”

This was a complete pack of lies from start to finish. Another comrade who was there wrote:

“Sorry, E, I do not recall Ian raising his voice and shouting at all”

To which comrade Donovan responded and pointed out that he had challenged Gerry a week earlier about Gerry’s shouting in the meeting:

“Indeed. I note that when I challenged Gerry about shouting, he justified it on political grounds. But he did not say ‘well Ian shouted too’ when criticised for it by [another comrade]. If I had shouted at E he would have condemned me and been angry.

“This alone corroborates that this is untrue”.

And it did. And do E was compelled to admit:

 “Hiya folks, maybe I misspoke…“

They conclude,

To reassert principled politics, we need to draw those boundaries properly, and to re-establish Socialist Fight on proper Communist organisational norms. These are difficult and reactionary times, and some basic discipline and good security is essential to ensure that we are effective going forward.

Here is the infamous ‘statement’.

Socialist Fight statement on Gilad Atzmon, Devon Nola, Ian Greenhalgh of Veterans Today, anti-communism, racism and antisemitism 25-1-2020

The minutes of the meeting of 17 January, taken by Ian’s supporter in the Trotskyist Faction, Turan, confirming the meeting’s agreement that John Carty is a full member of Socialist Fight. Ian now says it was only Gerry Downing’s suggestion, that it was never agreed and anyway the minutes were never agreed as a true record – pathetic!

Signed by Gerry Downing, Mick Artur, Paul Humphreys, John Carty (full members), Charlie Walsh, Ella Downing, Gareth Martin (candidate members), Wilhelm Specklin (Holland), Dov Winter (USA), (International sympathisers).

 

The Socialist Fight Statement

 

Socialist Fight unreservedly condemns as racist and antisemitic Gilad Atzmon, Devon Nola and Ian Greenhalgh of Veterans Today and most of the milieu they attract and those who support them. And Gilad Atzmon notoriously said: “I despise the Jew in me and detest the Jew in you”, clearly indicating he was antisemitic. Socialist Fight rejects the Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy theories they promulgate and identify them as irreconcilable enemies of Socialist Fight, Trotskyism in general and all who wish to fight for a socialist future. [1]

The public debate is still hotting up!

This is a disjointed drivel on nonsense. So the meeting agreed that John Carty was a member. Turan, Ian’s supporter, recorded the decision on which all, including Ian, agreed but IT NEVER HAPPENED. And the only reason it never hapoened was because Ian did not like it. Democracy how are you? That and the vile abuse heaped on me, Ella and Gareth and outrageous bureaucratic attempts to prevent new members joining, to prevent even a candadate membership and alleging I had “fraudulently” paid their dues so he would not bank the cheques.

Of course support for Gilad Atzmon and his defence of David Duke is the central crime here, calculated to do the maximum possible damage to Socialist Fight. Ian had moved sharply rightwards since the defeat of Labour on 12th December. Now he is openly proclaiming that the Jewish Zionist bourgeoisie is the main enemy and is totally incapable of answering the Socialist Fight statement. Unfortunately Turan and Dipak are riding with him from the margins to the extreme margins, always alibying open racist comments by the claim that Zionism is tge main enemy. Obviously Socialist Fight will not tolerate this defence of Holocaust deniers and far right kkk racists on the excuse that “the Zionists made them do it”.

The whole notion of “left-wing anti-Semitism” is a diabolical fraud created by fascist Zionist lobbying, the CIA and Western propaganda to topsy-turvy depict anyone for the Palestinian cause, the Arab world, anti-Zionism and socialism in general as racist or even fascist.

Peace and Love Cdes!

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Galloway Launches Workers Party of Britain in Birmingham Mass Meeting.

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It’s off!

Birmingham yesterday saw the launch rally of an exciting new party that will shake the boots of the bourgeoisie and EU elites!

In a hall packed out with all the supporters they could muster, the twinkle-eyed man in the Fedora addressed the crowds who thoughtfully left many seats vacant for late-comers.

Ignore the empty chairs!

The Red Brown Front is growing as Galloway retweets this cutting edge put-down of Wokedom.

Galloway may no longer get the rave reviews from old friends  Counterfire and Socialist Worker but he has a new ally in the Daily Express.

George Galloway brilliantly explains why Brexit is ‘beginning of the end’ for ‘fading EU’

See more of the historic public launch of the Workers Party of Britain. Delegates from across the country discuss policy and the future for a real workers movement in Britain!

It’s already getting rave reviews!

Being a Tory most of my life I am pleasantly surprised that I agree with everything this party stands for. It’s time to unite the left and the right in this country.
When I joined the Labour party in 1984. The party represented men in donkey jackets and steel toe capped boot’s. Today’s Labour party represents men in high heels and a floral print dress.

The Brexit Left Hails, “the positive potential of a departure from the EU.”

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Daily Express 1 February 2020

Morning Star Sees “Positive Potential” in Brexit.

The Morning Star, wholly independent of the Communist Party of Britain and owned by the Co-Op, this week hailed the “positive potential” of Brexit Day.

Editorial.

The Morning Star claims that Labour ‘handed control’ of the Brexit process ” to enemies of the working class in Westminster and Brussels” by inflicting “defeats on the government”.

In the New Era,

Now Brexit is happening, Labour urgently needs to do what it should have done in 2016, the essence of which was actually outlined by Corbyn in 2018: to recognise the positive potential of a departure from the EU.

These include expanding public ownership without worrying about the strictures of the Lisbon Treaty, or the “rights” of parasitical firms exploiting our public services for profit; to plan economic development sustainably, intervening to clean and green our economy without allowing transnational companies a “fair playing field” on which to ruin our planet; rewriting public procurement rules so contracts are allocated based on public interest and the welfare of workers and users.

For the moment, none of this is on the table. Brexit is an opportunity, because it removes certain treaties and regulations which are barriers to a socialist transformation of society.

But every silver-lined opportunity has a cloud,

But it is no more than an opportunity. It has not liberated anyone. Britain has elected a hard-right government which is already breaking promises to end austerity and will wage ruthless war on our communities and our workforces. It is a pro-imperialist government aligned as slavishly to an aggressive White House as was Tony Blair’s.

Some on the left will blame all this on Brexit. Actually it marks a continuation of the policies of the past four decades rather than a departure from them. Labour can keep mourning the EU, keep pleading for total alignment with all its anti-worker treaties and court rulings, keep reproaching people for failing to understand what we could lose rather than inspiring them with a vision of what we can win.

Or it can move on.

And agree with the pro-Leave Morning Star.

By accepting the Boris consensus on Brexit we can finally, by leaps and bounds, engage in the real struggle. That is,

 it accepts we have left and throws itself into the fight for a better future.

Another editorial blames faith in the EU for a downturn in workers’ struggles,

A misplaced faith in the EU to protect workers’ rights has seen energies misdirected into lobbying on behalf of the supranational organisation rather than building a movement formidable enough to defend and extend rights.

The EU has prevented Britain from defending the national working class.

In fact EU rules have acted to prevent governments keeping manufacturing and construction contracts in the country to protect jobs.

The same applies to workers’ rights. Trade unions in particular have been systematically stripped of their rights over the past 40 years.

The national working class can only look to national struggles to fight for its rights.

One welcome result of Britain’s departure should therefore be abandoning the myth — laughable given the momentous struggle against attacks on pension rights currently raging in France — that the labour movement can look to the EU for protection. Workers’ rights can only be secured by the working class itself.

Only working-class action can defend workers’ rights

You wonder why the labour movement bothers with any legislation or tries to get MPs elected.

Perhaps the Morning Star will extend the CPB’s call to Boycott Labour and abstain in last year’s European Elections to the next British General Election.

Counterfire, meanwhile has held its conference.

Corbynism, socialists and the resistance – Counterfire’s conference

The revolutionary socialist organisation resolved to back Rebecca Long-Bailey in the Labour leadership contest.

In prose which only they have the secret of the groupuscule declares,

Counterfire is a revolutionary socialist organisation that differs with those in Labour about whether the party can be won to socialism and whether socialism can be attained through Parliament. Nevertheless, we were at the forefront of defending and encouraging the Corbyn project, while being fraternally critical when neccessary (sic).

They instruct,

Socialists in Labour should vote for Rebecca Long-Bailey and Richard Burgon in the current elections, it will be a boost to the entire left if left-wing candidates win the leadership and deputy leadership of the Labour Party. But the loss of the election has strengthened the right and Corbyn’s resignation is likely to lead to retreats, particularly on foreign policy issues. Increasingly the focus for socialists ought to be outside electoral politics.

On Brexit they declare,

That Brexit still represents an opportunity for rupture with Europe’s capitalist institutions and only makes sense from the left. There is no better deal for capital than the one it currently has.

Conference resolves:

In the context of the end of Corbynism and the inevitable moving rightwards of the Labour Party, to continue making the arguments within the left that making a break with the institutions of the EU is a necessary step on the road to socialism.

Agreeing with their national comrades in the Morning Star Martin Hall writes on Brexit Day that  “future is up for grabs”, to catch it the left must,

Understand that a rupture with the current model of capitalism in order to rebalance capital and labour in favour of the latter can only be achieved outside the EU.

Leaving the EU: this is about what sort of society we want – and it isn’t Johnson’s

Try wishing away this:

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Brexit Day, the Labour Party and the Left.

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The Actually Existing ‘People’s Brexit’.

“Newly dominant reactionary forces call for the undermining trade pacts and presaging trade wars, denouncing supranational institutions and cosmopolitan elites, while stoking the flames of racism and violence against migrants. Even some on the left, some herald a renewed national sovereignty to serve as a defensive weapon against the predations of neoliberalism, multinational corporations and global elites.”

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Empire, Twenty Years On.

“It was fitting that the final footage of Nigel Farage inside the European Parliament was of his microphone being hastily switched off mid-sentence by a visibly prickly chairwoman. Farage was told off for brandishing a tiny, 10x15cm Union flag. Put your flags away. You are leaving. And if you are leaving now, take them with you, she sternly instructed with matronly clarity.”

Farage..made a small symbolic nod to the country he has been elected to represent for over a quarter of a century. He was silenced for even alluding to the existence of the nation state. But if the nation state is so problematic, it begs the question of what the European Union is a union of, exactly.

Alexandra Phillips. Brexit Party MEP. Spiked.

Today is Brexit Day, the “dawn of a new era”. Who will greet this triumph? The British People, rising like Lions after slumber? The Brexiteers know how to camp up tat but few can see any emotional rivers about to burst. The Labour Party will not join the festivities or protests. But, “Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman has told journalists that ‘there will be no tears’ from the Labour leader as Britain leaves the EU this Friday.” (Left Foot Forward) Some Remainers will show their grief; most of the nearly half the electorate who voted to stay in Europe will be quiet.

Without much prompting the sovereigntist left see “possibilities that arise out of leaving the EU”. Lexiteer Larry Elliott claims to see signs in the nationalisation of Northern Rail that the Tories have “tacked left” on public spending, in response to the public shift towards leftwards on the economy (Boris Johnson has shifted the Tories left on the economy. Labour should watch out)

The uncontested leader of La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who put down Labour’s defeat to the interference of the Israeli secret services, has made a friendly nod. He suggests that the temporary public ownership of a railway company could only take place outside the European Union. From the Full Brexit and Blue Labour Maurice Glasman detects “socialist economics” in the statements of Johnson’s top man, Dominic Cummings. The “most progressive post-Brexit future” would seem to be one that negotiates within the framework created by the European Reform Group.

How will the Labour Party take on the Conservative Majority in Parliament? Will it become part of, as Tony Blair did, a consensus established by the right? Do contenders for the Labour leadership intend to become part of a post-Brexit settlement? No candidate offers an immediate challenge. The issue is being digested in the party’s guts, as supporters try to come to terms with the end of the Corbyn project. On the wilder fringes the pro-EU stand of Keir Starmer has been blamed for defeat. Taking a short break from posting material against undue ‘Jewish influence’ in Britain Verso, the publisher of New Left Review has published a hatchet job on the candidate, suggesting that he is widely blamed for the electoral disaster…..

Sir Keir broke with the leadership, refused to formulate a Leave programme (aside from his deliberately unworkable ‘six tests’), and steered the party towards a second referendum. As many have argued, this was the perhaps the single biggest reason for the disastrous general election result that followed.

The case against Keir Starmer Oliver Eagleton

Hardt and Negri remind us that more is at stake than an election. Hunkering down to a political strategy defined by the sovereignty defined by Brexit cuts the British left off from international political and economic processes. The authors of Empire (2000) believe that globalisation is still a dominant force in the world. In these conditions, “no nation-state today is able to organise and command the global order unilaterally”. Trump’s “railing against ‘globalism’ “entails a ploy for a more dominant position within, rather than an attacks upon, the global system.” Yet within the worldwide “mixed constitution” the forces of “revolutionary internationalism”, embodied in the “multitude”, the “diverse figures of social production”, a “multitudinous class”, continues to resist. (1)

Without integrating the British left into these international processes and struggles – primarily “through and against” the existing institutions of the European Union – the space is left for the sovereigntists to play in. It is not just the economic and social effects of Brexit, the immediate setback to social rights and standards and the freedoms for capital that the new settlement is built on, that should concern the left. The folk politics of an “international cycle of struggles” and the memory of the “alter-globalisation” movement aside, it’s the multitude, the diverse, “intersectional” groups of people whose voices and interests are submerged by the Conservative triumph. The cultural effects of national populist ideas are deadening. Already parts of the pro-Brexit left dismiss demands they do not like, following Corbyn adviser Andrew Murray’s description of “rancid identity politics”. Some would prefer to concentrate on meeting fears of “white shift”. As Eric Kaufman notes, “What really distinguishes Leave from remain voters is their willingness to sacrifice economic benefits to cut immigration.” (2)

Murray has also said “the preference for individual rights over the collective, which has come to preponderate on much of the Western left, a flowering of the more poisonous seeds of the politics of personal identity and human rights.” Amongst those running for the Labour leadership Keir Starmer has a long history of defence of human rights. Other candidates are less active in the field.

There have been many debates about human rights over the last centuries. Far from being grounded in human nature or fixed by the order of things or gods, new demands have been created by people themselves, as one of the most famous early – unofficial – statements, the Declaration of the Rights of Women shows. Trade unions have been called the biggest human rights movement in history. Many on the left, including the most radical, have developed human rights principles, in theory and in often-desperate movements, over the last decades. Rights are not a political strategy, but a moral area in which Labour can develop a common outlook. With his background and reference to these issues, Starmer has an important contribution to make. (3)

As Paul Mason says,

…..the party itself has to become a mass, open, democratic and election-winning alliance. It has to be a cultural and social movement as well as an election machine. And in that project it is leadership skills and personal integrity that are going to matter, alongside commitment to a decarbonised economy and a post-neoliberal economics.

That’s why I am backing Keir Starmer. Starmer is from the left, but can command the trust of Labour’s various centrist wings, as well as the silent majority of members who just want to win an election and stop the agony of food banks, Universal Credit and in-work poverty. Beyond that, experience on the doorstep suggests he is the only candidate with spontaneous name-recognition and popularity among voters who deserted us in December.

When working class people say “I don’t like Corbyn but I would vote for you if Keir Starmer was leader”, it’s not out of deference to someone with slick hair and a suit. It’s because they sense politics has become a battle of stories, values and ideals and that Starmer stands a chance in that battle, in a way the other candidates do not.

There are risks attached to Starmer. His campaign team is a mixture of the left and centre – with most of the far-left self-excluded – so all the pressure on him is coming from the right. He is cautious on policy: committed to the Green New Deal and to public ownership, but well aware that neither of these properly resonated on the doorstep.

To win again, Labour’s next leader must be honest about the reasons the party lost

We agree, even if this claim is highly doubtful,

Now the leave-remain divide must end. Defining people by how they voted in June 2016 merely upholds a divide that we must overcome. There are no leavers or remainers any more. In 2024 there will be no leave or remain constituencies.

Now Labour must end the leave-remain divide. Another future is possible

Britain, despite Tory carping, remains part of the European Convention on Human Rights and part of its Court. Perhaps it will remind us that despite Brexit Day one of the elements of internationalism already has an – imperfect – institutional, form.

Build on it, the internationalist left will not walk away from Europe.

 

  1. See also Multitude. Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri. Hamish Hamilton. 2004. and A Grammar of the multitude. Paolo Virno. Semiotext 2004.
  2. Page 214. The Fall and Rise of the British Left. Andrew Murray. Verso 2019. Page  201. White Shift. Eric Kaufmann. Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities. Penguin 2018
  3. Page 97 Andrew Murray. Op cit. See: Les droits de l’homme rendent-ils idiot ?  Justine Lacroix Jean-Yves Pranchère. Seuil, 2019

Affaire Milla: 16 Year Old Gay Lycéenne Faces Death Threats for Criticising Islam, Minister of Justice says, “Insulting Religion” is an “Attack on Freedom of Conscience”.

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Misogynist and Homophobic Hatred in Response to Mila’s Criticism of Islam.

L’affaire Mila expliquée.

Le Monde, and

(Adapted)

It could have been just another live video posted by a teenage girl on Instagram on a Saturday. It has become what is now called the “Mila affair”. This homosexual high school girl with purple hair was insulted and threatened with death for having made insulting remarks towards Islam on January the 18th.

The case took on a new dimension when the Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet, was invited to speak on the subject on Europe 1 on Wednesday January 29. She was accused of wanting to put into  question the right to blaspheme (which is not not a crime in France), declaring that insulting a religion “obviously constitutes an attack on freedom of conscience” .

….

Mila is 16 years old, she lives in the Lyon region, and is passionate about singing. It is on Instagram that she shares her opinions, speaks about her life, posts videos of her, chats with her followers, and talks openly openly about her homosexuality.

In a video she expressed this view,

“  I hate religion, (…) the Quran there is only hatred in there, Islam is shit. (…) I said what I thought about it, you are not going to make me regret it. There are still people who will get excited, I clearly don’t give a damn, I say what I want, what I think. Your religion is shit, your God, I put a finger in her arsehole, thank you, goodbye.

This was the reaction,

“I received 200 messages of pure hatred per minute”, fake accounts are created in her name, she explains to Bellica (an ‘identitarian’ rightist site) , which has posted screenshots of the ultra violent messages that she received .

Personal information concerning her, such as her address or the name of her school, was disclosed.

She says,

Unlike them, I did not insult anyone, nor threatened, nor called for violence against anyone. What I did was blasphemy, general criticism of religions, and nothing else . “

But,

“I can no longer set foot in my lycée and I can’t even change my  lycée because it’s the whole of France that wants my hide” .

This was another response,

On Thursday January 23, the general delegate of the French Council for Muslim Worship (CFCM), Abdallah Zekri, estimated in the programme Les Vraies Voix on Sud Radio  : “whoever sows the wind harvests the storm”. “She sought this, she is responsible,” he said again, while saying “against” the death threats she received.

Mila has problems at helycée where some of the students are thought to have been at the origins of the violent threats.

Her case is being dealt with by the educational authorities.

A procedure to prosecute MIla for inciting race hate has been dropped, while another investigation into the origins of the death threats has been launched.

In France after the assertion of the Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet the “affaire Mila” has taken a political dimension.

If she soon backtracked, saying the death threats are no acceptable, questions remain as to why she ever came out with this defence of hatred.

The Minister of Justice returns to her remarks concerning the Mila affair

France 24.

“We have the right to criticise a religion, it’s very clear. There is no question of coming back to this,” added Nicole Belloubet to Radio Classic’s microphone on Thursday.

It evokes a “formulation error”. Nicole Belloubet, the Minister of Justice, made a point, Thursday, January 30, the day after her remarks strongly criticized on the Mila affair. The Keeper of the Seals condemned the cyber harassment and death threats against the 16-year-old girl on Europe 1, adding that “insult to religion is an attack on freedom of conscience”.

“I didn’t have to say that, for sure”, said Nicole Belloubet, at the radio of Radio Classique. “We have the right to criticise a religion, it’s very clear. There is no question of coming back to this”, she added.

he minister had already started, on Wednesday afternoon, a mea culpa, believing that his “expression may have been awkward”“Insults and discrimination on the grounds of religious affiliation are offences. That is what I meant”, she said, denouncing a controversy “ridiculous”. And to add: “I have absolutely no justification for the offense of blasphemy.”

A stock response on the British left these last years has been to dismiss people like Mila.

Saying that Islam is shite obviously does not hold up to the high standards of those, like Terry Eagleton, who think that religious truths are a separate kind of verity that unbelievers cannot understand.

Others, who promote a communitarian view of truth, think that nobody should be rude about a community of belief.

Even the ‘free speech’ warriors of Spiked and people like Douglas Murray consider that saying nasty things about ‘gammons’ should be halted.

Charlie Hebdo came to the defence of Mila, unbowed, recalling their own bloodied martyrs.

Yesterday they published this:

Editorial by Riss: Teenagers to the stake!

Have you heard of the boot torture? It involved encasing each of the suspect’s legs between two wooden planks, tying all four tightly together and then driving wooden wedges between the two central planks, thus crushing the limbs if the suspect refused to admit the crime of which he was accused. The Chevalier de La Barre was one of the most famous victims of this torture. In 1766, aged 20, he was condemned to have his legs crushed, initially with two wedges and then with four, before having his tongue ripped out, being decapitated and being thrown into the flames. His crime: blasphemy. He was accused of having failed to doff his hat to a passing religious procession in the saintly town of Abbeville and, what is more, of mutilating a crucifix. His decapitated body was burned with a copy of Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary nailed to the torso.

Today, blasphemy is no longer punished by decapitation: it is not even against the law. Nevertheless, in 2020 there are still people clamouring for death in its name. The Chevalier de La Barre was only 20 when he was tortured. He read licentious and impious books that did not respect religion. He had the insolence of his age – an age that fears nothing – and desired only to live in freedom.

At the ripe old age of 16, the age of revolt, Mila could have been his younger sister. Last week, online, she dared to express her anger against the injustice and aberration of faith, particularly that of Islam, in terms that the Chevalier de La Barre probably wouldn’t have disavowed. Mila won’t be subjected to the boot torture, only to insults on the social networks and death threats on the Internet. Routine treatment nowadays for those who refuse to submit to religious authority.

Her anger against the arbitrariness of religion is all the more moving because it recalls that of another young girl of her generation, the now famous Greta Thunberg. They both seem to be rebelling against the same injustice: adults’ cowardliness. Adults have done nothing to stop the planet disintegrating before our eyes. Nor have they done anything to fight religious intolerance, which is becoming more invasive every day, like an oil slick that we can no longer hold back. At 16, it’s impossible not to be worried by the thought that this is the world where you have to try and live: a planet asphyxiated by exhaust gases and the toxic preaching continually emitted by the diesel engines of Islamism and fanaticism. And you can’t count on adults to protest against the pollution filling our lungs and smothering our freedom of speech.

After first being insulted by the most stupid, Mila was threatened by the most fanatical and finally abandoned by the most cowardly. Her anger and sincerity should have elicited as much support as Greta Thunberg’s. But people have turned their backs on her out of fear and intellectual laziness, because her cause is less photogenic than koalas squealing when their little backsides are toasted by the flames of an apocalyptic fire. Above all, Mila is more dangerous. Here, we’re not talking about saving life on Earth, but saving our very skins. We refuse to admit that our society is capable of torturing the innocent with the same icy certainty as our ancestors at the Chevalier de La Barre’s time. We’re so full of our own modernity that we nonchalantly brush off the impassioned indictments of a Voltaire against the inquisitors, because they make us confront our cowardice. The boots in which we crushed blasphemers’ leg bones belong to the past. We no longer need them.

Smartphones, backed up by a few Kalashnikovs and well-sharpened kitchen knives, have taken their place when it comes to intimidating the insolent who refuse to bow before the faith of the fanatics and the resigned.

Charlie Hebdo n°1436

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 30, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Blue Labour Maurice Glassman Cites Dominic Cummings, “We are going to implement a socialist economic programme centred on the working class.”

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“The Conservative Party will consolidate a new class coalition, tearing up competition rules, reversing Beeching, building real bridges not symbolic ones” Maurice Glasman, Blue ‘Labour’. 

The Full Brexit is developing fast from a Sovereigntist alliance, of  Blue Labour, Labour Leave, the Communist Party of Britain, fellow travelling Stalinist chumps, leading New Left Review contributor Wolfgang Streeck, one-time Revolutionary Communist Party cadres, now in the Spiked network, like Heartfield (born John Hughes), the man who bottled out of standing as a Brexit Party candidate against Corbyn, Arron Banks funded Trade Unionists Against the EU, oddballs and funny money chaps.

Welcome their new allies: the Tories.

These are all about a meeting of the faithful, last night, The British Left after Brexit.

Just remember this Dempsey statement when he’s invited to speak at labour movement events.

 

Not that this cranky academic below will ever get asked to speak at one

Failed Greek politician and academic dabbler Lapavitas goes further, bizarrely claiming that backing Brexit and voting Tory is part of the “revolt against neoliberalism”

 

We just cant wait to watch this:

There is a term for the new turn of the red-brown (‘left’ and hard right Brexit Party) front, and, now…..Dominic Cummings.

It’s political confusionism.

 

Morning Star Attacks John McDonnell and Labour’s “disastrous embrace of the EU.”

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Should Labour Have Adopted this strategy?

The Morning Star, independent of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and the Young Communist League (YCL), and wholly owned by the Co-op are at it again: attacking John McDonnell, the Labour Party,  and the internationalist left.

Editorial:A culture war is no substitute for class politics

Making clear their support for  the “Socialist Campaign Group’s nomination for deputy leader Richard Burgon ” and their hope he “gains the necessary trade union nominations to get onto the ballot to ensure there is a contest and a full debate on the party’s direction and priorities” the daily  looks at John McDonnell’s ” seminar programme on Labour’s future.”

They state, looking at the election disaster,

For McDonnell the culprit is the “era of the finance, data-media complex, capable of combining the traditional financial clout over economic decision-making by governments with the ability to use its ownership and influence of the various media platforms to decisively influence decision-making and even elections.”

The Boycott Labour call of the CPB (during last year’s European election) and the support for Brexit by the paper, had, they modestly assume, no influence on voters who decided to support a Boris Brexit.

Instead, behind Labour’s defeat, were those who opposed Brexit.

One of those weaknesses in Labour’s case was its approach to Brexit. With 52 of the 54 seats lost to the Tories being Leave-voting, the commitment to a second referendum must rank among the mistakes that McDonnell describes as “pretty obvious.”

The disastrous embrace of the EU reflects a failure to do exactly what McDonnell argues we must — analyse the evolution of capitalism itself and how it is changing the political game.

The European Union is an integral part of that network and its “four freedoms” relating to capital, goods, labour and services massively restrict the freedom of governments to determine independent economic policies.

….

McDonnell argues for a “culture war” which we can win with “leading edge creativity.” But that is no substitute at all for challenging the actual existing mechanisms by which corporate power is exercised. Socialism entails public ownership and control of the economy.

A serious strategy for confronting capitalism cannot ignore this. But so far Labour largely has.

Jim, at Shiraz , offers an excellent overview and history of how the Morning Star and the Lexit left helped the Tories win, by confusing people on the nature of the Hard Right Brexit project. and holding out false hopes of a workers’ or People’s Brexit.

They also ignore their own contribution in creating what became Labour’s hard-to-explain election stand.

“Left” Brexiteers re-write history

Labour’s final policy – negotiating a new Brexit deal and putting it to a referendum without stating which side it would take, “was actually drawn up by none other than, er, Dave Ward and Unite leader Len McCluskey, in an attempt to [prevent] Labour backing Remain outright.”

And in a New Statesman article last November Ward and McCluskey declared “Labour’s policy on Brexit is not only clear – it could and should be a vote-winner … it’s strengths are obvious … it offers both ‘leavers’ and ‘remainers’ what they want. It places Labour as the only party trying to speak to the whole country on this matter, looking beyond the binary division which so poisoned political life over the past few years. And it offers a democratic end to the national debater, putting people themselves in the driving seat.”

The confusion, hypocrisy and downright dishonesty of these “left” Brexiteers appears to know no bounds. But, I suppose, if you want to re-write history (including your own political history), your natural home will be amongst the specialists in that particular subject – the Stalinists of the CPB and the Morning Star.

The Full Brexit, which brings together Brexit Party members, the ‘left’, including members of the Communist Party of Britain, and a variety of oddballs,  is holding this event tonight.

No doubt Morning Star supporters will be welcome guests.

As The Full Brexit consistently warned, the left’s failure to lead a campaign for leaving the EU has resulted in electoral disaster for the Labour Party. The Corbyn project lies in ruins while the Conservatives have captured dozens of “Labour heartland” seats. Britain will finally leave the European Union, but with Boris Johnson at the helm.

What next for the British left after its disastrous handling of Brexit?

Can the Labour Party repair its relationship with working-class voters, or are they lost for good? If Labour is to be rebuilt, on what basis? Should “Corbynism” be ditched for “social conservatism”, as some are arguing? Is the future of Labour “blue”? Or is Labour’s implosion an opportunity for the left to build something new and better?

To discuss all this and more, join our panel debate, featuring:

  • Costas Lapavitsas, professor of Economics at SOAS and former member of the Greek parliament, (member of tiny group, Popular Unity , that scored 0,28% in the 2019 Greek election)
  • Maurice Glasman, founder of the Blue Labour movement, (‘Burkean”, Work, Family and Flag’ patriotic social conservative’).
  • Philip Cunliffe, senior lecturer in politics at the University of Kent, Spiked network (1) and
  • Eddie Dempsey, trade union activist. (needs no introduction).

Let’s hope the Fat Boy Who likes to make your flesh creep Dempsey does not make an exhibition of himself, as he did when he appeared at this  Full Brexit public meeting March 2019)

Eddie stated that “whatever you think of people that turn up for those Tommy Robinson demos or any other march like that – the one thing that unites those people, whatever other bigotry is going on, is their hatred of the liberal left and they are right to hate them”. He also remarked that “too many in the Labour Party have made a calculation that there’s a certain section at the top end of the working class, in alliance with people, they calculate, from ethnic minorities and liberals, that’s enough to get them into power.”

Full Brexit.

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  1. Dr Cunliffe is a Senior Lecturer in International Conflict at Kent University, “it is well known that he is closely associated with the former Living Marxism or LM network, known for promoting libertarian and anti-environmentalist ideas. Cunliffe with his Sovereignty And Its Discontents (SAID) Working Group, has been a sponsor of The Battle of Ideas organised by the Academy of Ideas (Institute of Ideas), since at least 2004, and he has participated and presented several times more recently. He like the former director and founder of the Institute of Ideas, Claire Fox, who is now an MEP for the Brexit Party, is a passionate supporter of Brexit. He describes himself on Twitter as a “Brexit Bolshevik”. He helped to found the “The Full Brexit”, a pro-Brexit campaigning network. He will be a speaker at The Battle of Ideas in September 2019.

Populocracy. The Tyranny of Authenticity and the Rise of Populism. Catherine Fieschi. The “Populist Moment”.

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Populocracy. The Tyranny of Authenticity and the Rise of Populism. Catherine Fieschi. Agenda Publishing. 2019.

Britain had no political and social upspring comparable to France’s May 68. But it did have a “cultural 68” in rock music and the Underground. The UK has not seen a populist party get near the levers of political power. At one point, with rallies, speeches against traitors, metropolitan elites, the new Brexit Party looked as if it would ride the anti-68, Europe-wide populist electoral revolt. This began in many countries before the end of the last century, and their success can be seen in Ed Balls documentary series, Travels in Euroland. Yet there was no break-through. After winning the 2019 European Elections, Nigel Farage’s alliance of former revolutionary communists, left and right sovereigntists, Tory nationalists, the remnants of UKIP, and the even further right, failed, in the December vote, to get a single seat in Parliament.

Britain has, nevertheless, seen a cultural Populist Moment. If a re-forged UKIP “grass roots insurgency” failed to get MPs its ideas have walked right across the national stage. The Conservative Party’s use of national populist themes could be seen in attacks on the European Union, tapping into “traditional British identity and values” and dislike of “a remote and unresponsive political elite”. Anti-Parliamentarian threats to declare a State of Exception to override debate in the House of Commons and attacks on the Supreme Court resembled the populist demand that the will of the people trumps law-makers and the judiciary. Boris Johnson, with his 80 strong majority, was helped by the same political “dealignment” that has affected social democracy across Europe. His party may well have tapped into fear about the “destruction” of “historic identity and the established way of life” through “hyper-ethnic” change. The only ‘globalists’ by contrast, who got in their sights, were members of the European Commission and the liberal internationalists campaigning for a Second Referendum. (1)

What is left of this Moment? “Taking back control”, through getting “Brexit done” has shrivelled to mean, We are in charge, and We will do what we like. The populist content of the Tories’ stance looks mostly the gestures Catherine Fieschi calls “style”, and appeals to “authenticity”, although one would be hard pressed to find in the present Prime Minister much evidence of a populist “charismatic leader”. Some may see in his economics some tentative moves, but, as Sten Carver writes,  “Tory attempts to ride the two horses of neoliberal free trade and publicly funded infrastructure development are highly likely to come unstuck. Their ‘escape’ from the EU into the sunny uplands of deregulated international free trade is essentially an attempt to breathe new life into neoliberal globalism. ”  (Johnson’s Economic Populism) One can see further ideological  reverberations of this delayed culture war in the way that Laurence Fox has discovered a populist vein of anti-68 ideology, berating  the Western ‘Masochism” and guilt, a theme that has been exploited for decades by Pascal Bruckner (La Tyrannie de la penitence. 2006).

The Collective Will of the People.

Populocracy offers a good opportunity to stand back and look at the ““type, texture and feel”  of populism, the “blatant untruths” that fuel populism. Inspired during her MA studies to read the works o Stuart Hall on Thatcherism and ‘authoritarian populism” she continues to “take ideology seriously”. One starting point is the way the “people/elite division plays much the same the role as the capital/workers divide might have played in socialist politics.” (Page 13) The People’s “collective will” – a “holistic, organic – amongst metaphysical” conception of the people” is at the root. For ‘left populism’ citizens have also “inalienable (human) rights worthy of collective protection….the people are the expression of the collective will of sovereign citizens.” (Page 31) The right wing ‘organic’ people conception, grounded, one would say, on Edmund Burke’s contract of the living with the dead, or Charles Barrès’ idea of the bond between the nation, the people, la Terre et les Morts, can be rooted in “racial, ethnic homogeneity”. If the left populists do not share the anti-immigration implications of these ideas, there is little indication of how exactly the “collective will” of citizens” exists– a famous problem in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract, Represented. How sovereign nation of the ‘People’ will get rid of the ‘oligarchies’, the elites, and confront the globalised economy, is the first of many other difficulties for any kind of populism. Perhaps somebody has spoken to The People. Most of us have yet to meet it and get a response. .

Fieschi does not explore these abstractions. She focuses on “the new link between citizen demands for directness, immediacy and transparency, what we have called authenticity” (Page 137) This, grounded on the “digital transformation” a “fantasy of radical transparency”, lies behind the way “populist parties have turned one of the most powerful promises of the Enlightenment – and of democracy – against itself.” (Page 157)

In the Introduction Fieschi begins with France, where she in 1996 she had met Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the Front National. A man who can switch from classical French to provocative vulgarity at the drop of hat, Le Pen “would, sing, dance, laugh, flirt. And lie. (Page 3) From federator of the post-Vichy extreme right, was a populist pioneer in “Being real”. Perhaps a key aspect of his daughter and successor, marine le Pen’s enduring presence on the French electoral scene is, Fieschi observes, her on-line presence, with 1,5 million Facebook followers and the creation of a ‘digital unit”. She concludes that the (renamed FN), the Rassemblement National has “written the handbook on populist politics in Europe” above all by promoting its version of “authentic politics”. Backing the Gilets Jaunes, she was “supportive enough without being invasive”. Marine, while facing competition on the far right with her niece Marion Maréchal le Pen, seems content to work within a “broad populist church”.

Left Populism.

The ‘left populist” Jean-Luc Mélenchon does not fare so well. The leader of La France insoumise (LFI)  having spent many pages, books and articles, explaining how he passed from “traditional socialism” to the opposition between the “people and the elites. As Fieschi notes of his efforts to mobilise the feelings of “Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité”, and the “drapeau tricolore” that he fails the authenticity game. Many listeners to the LFI leader’s often hypnotic speeches, a traditional French politicians’ forte, would agree that he if he can “talk the talk” he cannot quite “walk the walk” His “citizens’ revolution” rallies – many will barely recall them – flopped. The LFI list  got only 6.3% in last year’s European elections. Unlike Marine Le Pen the Gilets Jaunes spurned him. Another block in his path to “federate the people” is that Mélenchon has kept up his long-standing hostility towards the rest of the French left during the mass strikes and protests against Pension Reform. His bold claim to not follow Jeremy Corbyn in apologising for offence to the Jewish Community is another bad sign. (2)

Populocracy looks at the Netherlands and Geert Wilders’ campaign against “elites and multiculturalism”, the “politics of offence”. Italy, she suggests has been “Populism’s Poster Child”. The Berlusconi years, the ascension of the 5 Star Movement, to Matteo Salvini of the hard right  Lega the rising star of Italian politics, at present out of office and challenged by the ‘Sardine’ movement, saw the wipe of out of the traditional socialist and communist left. Their successors on the centre-left have not resigned internationally, and appear closer to Emmanuel Macron than social democracy or democratic socialism. They indicate how the left-of-centre colours of the apparently radical 5 Star movement were washed away in the (now terminated) coalition with the far-right Lega. For Fieschi, who grew up in the country, it indicates, the tie between populism and “the political culture fostered by digital and its fantasy of radical transparency.” (Page 116)

A chapter on the UK Referendum on Europe offers many insights. Economic deprivation and cultural factors behind the Leave vote are bolstered by a look at how appeals to ‘authentic Britishness’ helped spur hostility to the European Union. The “lie” that British ‘independence” from Brussels would “bring back control” could be further explored. Left-wing supporters of Brexit believed that once free of the EU they could have their own “People’s Brexit’. Many went so far as to dream of a coming post-Referendum popular surge to take “control” of British institutions and the economy. They were virulently hostile to the only mass movement that did arise, the People’s Vote campaign. Many of them continue to justify their ballot box alignment with the Hard Right.

Ballot Box Movements.

France is not only the home of the “prototype” populist Rassemblement National. While not as dramatically as in Italy, the country has seen its traditional socialist and communist left marginalised, and the left splintered faced with President Macron’s centre party, La République en marche. In looking at how the working class left voters became “unmoored” from the left in the North of France, Didier Eribon suggested that a vote for the far right was part of the way people constructed their identity. (Retour à Reims 2018). In the past, with a strong labour movement, bound to the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) the ballot cast was an affirmation of solidarity with a social bloc that allied manual and public sector workers. The long march of labour halted in these de-industrialised regions people look at their life and interests completely differently. A protest against foreigners, against the Left or the Right, the parties that have been in government, increased the attraction of the far-right ‘anti-system’ message. There is no real movement, only the gesture of voting. (3)

Don Flynn suggests, something no too distant has happened in Britain.

The dispute over the UK’s membership of the EU suddenly offered people who had lost the habit of digging in and fighting back the chance to at least take sides in an argument that was driven by splits in the ruling class. Rebellion in pursuit of its own interests had ceased to be a part of the daily life of these communities, but at least they could now take on a foot soldier’s role in someone else’s revolt. The vicarious pleasures to be got from identification with other people’s victories, so strongly present in the fanaticism that goes with supporting football teams, was present in the backing given to the Faragist insurgency against Europe.

After the Deluge.

Populocracy is a valuable and stimulating study. It should stimulate further debate and investigation, For the moment would seem probable that far from creating a “new political subject” such ballot box dramas play, a different ‘relation’ to politics, mediated by the digital media, play central part in populist voting than just the search for “authenticity” and “transparency.” In both political and cultural populism the extreme right has flourished – and not always ‘virtually’ as its own branch of violence and terrorism has gained a foothold. 

 

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  1. Page 275. Revolt on the Right. Explaining Support for the radical Right in Britain. Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin. Routledge. 2014. National Populism. The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy. Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin. Pelican. 2018
  2. Page 265. Le Choix de l‘insoumission. jean-Luc Melénchon. Interviews with Marc Endeweld. Seuil. 2016. and L’ère du Peuple. Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Pluriel. 2017. France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon says the UK Labour leader showed weakness by apologising for antisemitism accusations. December the 16th. 2019.
  3. Pages 127 – 160. Retour à Reims. Didier Eribon. Champs Essais. 2018 (New Edition).

Watch Out Caledonia! “George Galloway claims he will return to Scotland in RT clip.”

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The Come-Back Kid!

 

 

Galloway has been getting favourable coverage in the far-right Express:

Today,

George Galloway PERFECTLY tears apart von der Leyen and reveals EU ‘scrambling’ on Brexit

GEORGE GALLOWAY has ripped into EU chief Ursula von der Leyen as the former British MP explained why the EU was now “scrambling to catch up” to the UK for a trade deal.

All eyes are on this event as the masses prepare to join the new Workers’ Party of Britain:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 26, 2020 at 1:21 pm

Posted in Anti-Fascism, Europe

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