Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Vote Labour! Back the Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory.

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Vote Labour Tomorrow!

SOCIALIST CAMPAIGN FOR A LABOUR VICTORY: WHERE WE STAND

Another Tory government – ruling by themselves, with the Lib Dems or, worst of all, in coalition with UKIP – would be a disaster for the working class. As socialists, we want a Labour victory, not because we support Labour’s current position – a softer version of austerity and anti-migrant politics – but to throw out the Coalition, and because Labour is linked to workers’ basic organisations, trade unions. If the unions choose to fight, they can change Labour’s direction.

We don’t want to “hold our noses” and vote Labour as a lesser evil. We want to combine campaigning for a Labour government with making clear working-class demands, to boost working-class confidence, and strengthen and transform our labour movement so it is fit to fight.

We must challenge the idea that the working class should pay for the capitalist crisis through increased inequality, lower pay, job insecurity, workplace stress, draconian ‘performance management’ and cuts to services. The labour movement should be championing every working-class fightback against the bosses’ drive to squeeze more and more profit out of our work and our lives.

In place of the dog-eat-dog, exploiting society of capitalism, we socialists are fighting for a world of collective ownership, equality and sustainable planning for people’s needs, not profit. We want to spread these ideas in the working class and among young people.

A socialist transformation of society is not immediately on the cards. Socialism is only possible when a majority of workers are convinced and organised to make it happen. But if we work to strengthen the left and working-class struggles, and reinject socialist ideas into political debate, we can push Labour to shift course and deliver at least some positive changes for the working class.

Whether on the Living Wage or the NHS, free education or zero hours contracts, rail renationalisation or fracking, we need to up the pressure on Labour. We need to advocate radical policies like reversing all cuts, taxing the rich and taking the banks into democratic public ownership. The labour movement should aim for a government that serves the working class as the Coalition serves the rich.

We are fighting for democracy in the Labour Party so that working-class voices, muffled by the New Labour machine and union bureaucracy, can be heard.

We need a labour movement responsive and accessible to the working class in all its diversity, fighting bigotry and oppression. We oppose Labour’s shameful accommodation to anti-migrant agitation by UKIP and other right-wingers. British and migrant workers have the same interests. We support freedom of movement and equal rights for all. We want working-class solidarity across Europe and the world.

In the run up to the election, we are building a network of socialists to carry out this fight. Help us, get involved!

Demands:

As part of fighting for a socialist alternative to capitalism, we are fighting for the labour movement to campaign around a “workers’ plan” of demands in the interests of the working-class, such as:

1. Stop and reverse the cuts. Make the rich pay to rebuild public services. Tax the rich! Expropriate the banks!

2. A decent income for everyone: attack inequality and precariousness. Tax the rich, curb high pay. Nationalise companies that axe jobs; create decent, secure jobs in the public sector. Wage rises that at least match inflation for all workers. Raise the National Minimum Wage to the Living Wage. Full, equal rights for part-time and agency workers; ban zero hours contracts. Stop the war on the poor, unemployed and disabled: decent benefits. Good pensions for all, public or private, at no older than 60.

3. Rebuild the NHS. A comprehensive public health service providing high quality care for all, not a logo above a marketplace of profit-making companies. End outsourcing, marketisation and PFI. A free, public social care system.

4. End privatisation and outsourcing. Expand public ownership, starting with the railways, Royal Mail, the energy companies and other utilities, under democratic and workers’ control.

5. Stop scapegoating migrants. Freedom of movement and equal rights for all. End deportations and detention.

6. Promote workers’ rights. Scrap the anti-union laws. Introduce strong rights to strike, picket and take solidarity action, and for union recognition and collective bargaining, in individual units and sectorally.

7. End the housing crisis. Build millions of council houses. Repopulate empty homes and estates; take over property left empty; tax second homes; end the sell-off of public land. Control rents.

8. Free education. A good local, comprehensive school for every child. Abolish “free schools”, academies, grammar schools, public funding for religious schools. Reverse cuts in FE. Scrap tuition fees, a living grant for every student. Reverse cuts to Sure Start, invest in early years education.

9. Strong action for equality. Crack down on police and state racism. Ensure and make real civil rights for LGBT, black, disabled people and women, and expanded social provision and redistribution to fight inequality. Universal, free public childcare and nursery provision so no parent is forced to choose between work and care. Ensure equal pay and a Living Wage for all. Free abortion on demand.

10. Slash military spending: scrap Trident. Aid for working-class and democratic movements around the world, not support for dictatorships and imperialism.

11. Drive down carbon emissions. Public investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Stop fracking. A public, integrated transport system with radically reduced fares. Workers’ plans for a just transition to a sustainable economy.

12. Expand democracy. A federal republic of Britain: abolish the monarchy and House of Lords. Votes at 16. Re-empower local government. Extend civil liberties and rights to organise and protest. Disband MI5 and special police squads, disarm the police. MPs should only be paid a worker’s wage.

We need to transform our unions so we stop just adopting good policies on paper and start fighting effectively for the interests of the working class – in strikes and struggles, but also by putting forward a working-class political alternative, including demands on Labour. What we can win depends on to what extent we can convince, organise and mobilise people to fight, and in the process renew our movement and change it for the better.

We will prioritise support for Labour candidates who advocate these kinds of policies and represent a voice of working-class opposition within the party.

Tendance Coatesy supports this campaign (see list of signatories).

With  our own secularist angle:

Respect Mark ll Emerging ? Left Unity and Ian Donovan Unite to Back Rabina Khan.

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Image result for Rising from the grave

 Respect Mark ll ?

Following Left Unity extraordinary decision to unconditionally back Rabina Khan in the election to replace convicted frauster Lutfur Rahman as Tower Hamlets Mayor, Ian Donovan says, “Left Unity are to be congratulated on this brave and principled political stance.” He noted that this comes as a response to the “to a racist coup against the elected Mayor and council of Tower Hamlets, led by the Tory/Zionist minister Eric Pickles.

Ian Donovan was expelled from the Weekly Worker group after, “espousal of views that can only be described as anti-Semitic: in his opinion, there is a Jewish “pan-national bourgeoisie”, which has constituted itself as ruling class “vanguard” in key imperialist countries, and it is this that accounts for US support for Israel. ”

Socialist Worker reports today on the immediate background

Mass rally in Tower Hamlets backs Lutfur Rahman, by Annette Mackin.

TUSC and Left Unity parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green & Bow with Lutfur Rahman at the meeting

TUSC and Left Unity parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow Glyn Robbins with Lutfur Rahman at the meeting (Pic: Kelvin Williams)

Over 1,000 people came to a Defend Democracy in Tower Hamlets meeting in east London on Thursday of last week.

It was called after Lutfur Rahman was removed as mayor of Tower Hamlets after an islamophobic witch hunt.

Councillor Alibor Choudhury was also found guilty of “corrupt practices”.

Commissioners have been sent in to run the local authority until a new mayor is elected on 11 June.

Rahman announced that councillor Rabina Khan will stand as an Independent. He said, “The establishment could not win at the ballot box—37,000 residents’ votes have been overturned.”

Other speakers included Salma Yaqoob, Lindsey German from the Stop the War coalition, local trade unionist John McLoughlin, Weyman Bennett, and Andrew Murray from the Unite union.

Socialist Worker has given up bothering to contest in any rational way whether the decisions of the electoral court were based on fact.

It’s all “Islamophobia”.

No doubt all that will cease once the SWP runs voting, supervises the ballot boxes, and local government,  on the template they have set for internal party judgements in, say, the ‘Comrade Delta’ case.

East London Lines has its own take on events,

At a public event last Thursday titled “Defend Democracy in Tower Hamlets”, ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman introduced Khan as his Tower Hamlets First party’s new candidate for the position he had formerly held, until he was found guilty on April 23 of “corrupt and illegal practices” and removed from office.

This resulted in some confusion over which party Khan would represent, as Tower Hamlets First was delisted from the register of political parties last Wednesday – the day before the event.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson said the party was delisted because the financial scheme it submitted at the time of registration was not being properly implemented.

However, some residents are sceptical about how independent a candidate Khan will be.

Writing on his website Love Wapping, Mark Baynes referred to Khan as a “puppet” of Tower Hamlets First, saying: “All the bloc votes that were previously used for the benefit of the ex-Mayor are directed towards the new ‘front person’”.

In his judgment in Rahman’s case, Electoral Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC wrote: “The selection of candidates was made by Mr Rahman personally on the basis of the prospective candidate’s commitment to Mr Rahman personally.”

At the event on Thursday, Khan stated that she originally became a councillor because Rahman “gave [her] the confidence and the faith that [she] could do it as a woman.”

Some residents believe electoral fraud has been a recurrent issue for Tower Hamlets.

Stephen Jones, 22, a research assistant from the area, said: “Tower Hamlets has always had problems with vote-rigging, whichever party the MP or mayor represents.”

However, Tower Hamlets resident Peter Perren, a business consultant, said: “If every infraction of [Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act] PPERA was acted on, there’d be no political parties in the UK.”

In a statement on her website, Khan pledged to fight for a style of politics that puts “women, families and ordinary people at the heart of policy and decision-making.”

New political party Left Unity have pledged their support for Khan. In a statement on their website, they said: “She is standing… at a time when the council is being taken over by Tory government agencies [who are] whipping up Islamophobic scare stories.”

Left Unity have called upon those on the political left to support Khan’s campaign.

Mitch Winehouse, father of late singer Amy, has also endorsed Khan’s run for mayor. A Twitter user called @LutfurForMayor tweeted a picture of Winehouse and Khan together today.

Ian Donovan’s views in Winehouse’s ethnic background are, so far unavailable.

Update: Is Tower Hamlets really an Establishment conspiracy?

Sacha Ismail makes, amongst others, this important point,

Rahman’s left supporters are very bothered about the law preventing “undue spiritual influence” in elections. Counterfire claims that this law was “introduced by the British in Ireland to stop Catholic preachers rallying the Irish! One doesn’t need much imagination to see how this legal relic will be used against Muslims.” In fact, it was introduced by Gladstone, as he was becoming a supporter of Irish Home Rule, and as part of a package of measures which also, for instance, outlawed bribery and checked employers’ ability to coerce their workers to vote a certain way.

Despite the oppressiveness of British rule in Ireland, the law was not used to repress Irish nationalists; cases were brought by more radical and anti-sectarian nationalists against less radical and more sectarian ones (by a Parnellite against an anti-Parnellite nationalist in the Co. Meath case referred to Mawrey). The Catholic Church in Ireland was not an anti-imperialist force! It waged war against the most radical and left-wing nationalists.

And here we come to the fundamental problem with the whole approach of the left. The fact that an organisation has its base in an oppressed community does not necessarily make it progressive. Counterfire (and not only Counterfire) make arguments that tend towards assuming Catholic = anti-imperialist. In the same way, they assume Muslim = anti-imperialist or in this case really left-wing. CF’s John Rees argues that Rahman has been prosecuted “not for what he has done wrong [making cuts], but for what he has done right”. The Socialist Party also implies that all would be well with Tower Hamlets council if only it fought cuts.

Left Unity in Dramatic Rightward Shift to Back Tower Hamlets First – Heralding Party Break-up?

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Support Rabina Khan for Tower Hamlets mayor

This statement has been agreed by Left Unity’s executive committee.

rabina_khanLeft Unity supports Rabina Khan in the 11 June re-run of the Tower Hamlets mayoral election.

She is standing to defend democracy in Tower Hamlets at a time when the council is being taken over by Tory government agencies, whipping up Islamophobic scare stories to justify sending in Eric Pickles and his unelected commissioners. The continuing case against Lutfur Rahman, who has vowed to clear his name, is being used as an excuse to dismantle the whole democratically elected council.

Rabina has a strong left-wing record. As cabinet member for housing in Tower Hamlets she has overseen the building of thousands of new social and affordable homes, and the investment of millions of pounds in refurbishing council housing. If successful she would become the first elected female Muslim mayor in Britain. (1)

We call on the left to unite in support of the campaign to defend democracy in Tower Hamlets and in support of Rabina Khan’s candidacy.

There is more about the campaign at Rabina Khan’s website.

Note:

  • No indication of how Khan was selected (an interesting form of ‘democracy’ for a start).
  • No indication of what the substantial Tower Hamlets First’s programme is, how it operates, and why it is so preferable to the Labour Party. Or why it is ‘left’ let alone in line with Left Unity’s ideas. Labour in Ipswich Borough Council have not just refurbished but  built Council houses – so on this basis (the only one offered) they are more to the left than Tower Hamlets First.
  • Blanket acceptance of Lutfur Rahman’s claim that he is innocent of fraud and corruption, despite the lengthy legal judgement.
  • No answer to accusations of Big Boss’ culture, of ‘communalism’ and links with the Islamist far-right against Tower Hamlets First, and other forms of clientalism. Not to mention intimidation.
  • Why is Khan’s religious identity so important to mention in a declaration that is concerned with reasons to back her?

Most significantly: Left Unity takes no critical stand towards the whole system of directly elected Mayors that many people charge with responsibility for the whole mess Tower Hamlets has found itself in.

We confidently predict that this hasty decision will herald serious signs of a break-up in Left Unity. The sordid manipulative, and communalist, past of several leading figures, mired in Galloway’s manoeuvres, has come back to haunt the ‘new’ organisation. 

Yes: Step Forward Kate Hudson.

You have to ask: is this not Respect Redux?

Further:

Shiraz Socialist posts this incisive letter.

I agree with Jim Denham’s critique (M Star April 29) of the editorial (M Star April 27) defending directly elected former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfar Rahman.

However, as both fail to point out, the Communist Party manifesto calls for “abolition of  … directly elected mayors.”

As I wrote in The State and Local Government, such mayors should be abolished. These offices lead to cronyism, patronage and corruption. They are the optimal internal management arrangement for privatised local services.

Moreover, they remove the working class from this layer of local democracy, favouring full-time career politicians.

This undemocratic system has not increased voter turnout or support, only being recallable if there is proof of law-breaking.

The support for Rahman by Unite, George Galloway, Ken Livingstone and Labour’s Christine Shawcroft does not invalidate Mr Denham’s detailed arguments exposing double standards on the left, which has in the past also praised the archaic electoral court, which should be replaced with a simpler mechanism.

Power in Tower Hamlets, even before the commissioners, was too concentrated. Cabinets and directly elected mayors should be replaced with a committee system, giving all councillors the right to make policy again.

PETER LATHAM
London SE19

Is anybody seriously suggesting that this is going to fix that?

I will work with a broad coalition of people. I will not shut down ideas because they come from people I have political differences with. I will work closely with the Commissioners to ensure that the governance issues identified in last year’s auditors’ report are addressed, but at the same time, I will make sure that the Council is run for the benefit of East Enders, not Whitehall bureaucrats. And I will encourage everyone who is physically able to vote in person, not by postal ballot, because democracy is precious and the people of Tower Hamlets must show their strength at the ballot box.

I like to think that fixing everyday issues can be part of a bigger picture, something that shows we have the power to do politics differently. In Scotland we’ve seen how the main parties have been completely and utterly left behind, and for the first time in a generation people feel energised by politics because politics is giving something back to them. Here, while the main parties obsess over decades’ worth of vendettas, we have a chance to focus on the future, strengthen our communities and create an open, rainbow politics where no one is left outside the room.

Rabina Khan’s website.

What was Rahman’s role in her selection?

(1) Compare: Noted Tower Hamlets Property Deal: Fury at Tower Hamlets over knock-down sale of old Poplar Town Hall (January 2014).

Russell Brand: A Note from the Ministry of Truth.

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Note from Ministry of Truth – Minitrue – Dayorder Rectify.

Delete, Brand, Russell Prolefeed, Ownlife: conspiracy nutter, vain pontificating idiot, cretin, overpaid fool who knits own yoghurt.

Replace Brand, Russell, Doubleplus Class Hero.

Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Ingsoc Russell Brand Ungood.

Facecrime, Duckspeak: Joycamp.

Demonstration to thank Russell Brand, Corn Hill Ipswich 14.00.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 5, 2015 at 10:33 am

Gunmen shot dead at Texan “Draw Mohammad” Contest: Background and Comment.

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Garland shooting: Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest organisers condemn attack as ‘war on free speech’ after police kill two gunmen.

Independent.

Two gunmen have been shot dead in Texas after attacking an anti-Islamic event exhibiting cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed, in what the organiser has called an act of “war on free speech”.

Extra security including SWAT teams had been posted to the event at a school building in the city of Garland, and the event had faced criticism for being openly inflammatory and anti-Islamic.

Police said the incident at around 7pm on Sunday evening lasted “seconds”. Two suspects drove up to the building as the event was ending, got out and open fire with automatic rifles on an unarmed member of the security staff.

The event was organised by Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI) – which has been described as a hate group by civil rights advocates and has previously sponsored anti-Islamic advertising campaigns across the country.

Organisers themselves linked the event heavily to the Charlie Hebdo magazine shootings, when gunmen killed 12 people in Paris over satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohamed. The venue for Sunday’s event was chosen, Geller said, because it was where American Muslim leaders held a conference on combating Islamophobia a week after the Paris attacks.

Background (Guardian)

“The co-founder of the group behind the contest to award $10,000 for the best cartoon depiction of Muhammad is a New Yorker who runs a blog that campaigns to stop the “Islamification” of America.

Pamela Geller used her blog Atlas Shrugs to declare “this is war” in the hours after the shooting of two gunmen at the contest. The event had been organised by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group she set up with Robert Spencer in 2010.

Geller, the winner of numerous awards from far-right organisations such as the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is credited with coining the term “ground zero mega mosque” as part of highly publicised campaign against the development of a community centre, which included a mosque, a few blocks from where the twin towers once stood in New York.

She became politically active after 11 September and has told various newspapers she had never heard of Osama Bin Laden until the day of the attacks but started educating herself as a housewife living in Long Island raising four children. She eventually started a blog, Atlas Shrugs.

A prolific poster – the blog usually has between 10 and 15 posts per day – Geller took to it soon after two armed gunmen were shot outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas on Sunday.

“This is a war. This is war on free speech. What are we going to do? Are we going to surrender to these monsters? Two men with rifles and backpacks attacked police outside our event. A cop was shot; his injuries are not life-threatening, thank Gd. Please keep him in your prayers,” she posted.

“The bomb squad has been called to the event site to investigate a backpack left at the event site. The war is here.”

The American Freedom Defense Initiative is listed under its other name Stop Islamization of America as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. It has previously gained publicity for funding advertisements which the group says are to encourage people who want to leave Islam but feel unsafe doing so. The group has had to fight for the right to run some of the advertisements, which refer to Muslims killing Jews, in court.

Dutch anti-Islam activist, Geert Wilders, was due to speak at the event on Sunday and has previously worked with Geller and Spencer. In 2009 they hosted a talk by Wilders at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference. Wilders ca

Posting on her blog ahead of the event, Gellers criticised media coverage that referred to the event as anti-Islam.

“How is free speech an attack on Islam? And why are they portrayed as the victim when we are the victims of supremacism and jihad?” she wrote.

In another post after the shootings, Geller accused the Daily Mail of being cowards for blurring out the face in cartoons depicting Muhammad.

“The cowardice of the ‘enemedia’ has reached monstrous proportions. They will stop at nothing to appease bloodthirsty jihad terrorists. They are not journalists. They are water-carriers for the forces of oppression, hatred, and forcible censorship,” she wrote.

Geller lives in New York after receiving almost US$10m from the combination of her divorce settlement in 2007 and the life insurance policy of her ex-husband, Michael Oshry, who died in 2008.

She is credited with helping start the Obama birther movement, which questioned if Barack Obama was really an American, after she posted a theory from a reader that Obama was the love child of Malcolm X.

Geller has repeatedly said she is not anti-Muslim but does not believe moderate Islam can exist.

‘They say I’m anti-Muslim. I’m not anti-Muslim. I don’t see how anyone could say I’m anti-Muslim. I love Muslims,” she told the New York Village Voice in 2012.

Atlas Shurgs, a reference to one of Geller’s heroes Ayn Rand, was one of the blogs referenced in the online manifesto of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. He feared a Muslim takeover and shot and killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, 69 of whom were part of the Workers’ Youth League (AUF) summer camp on the island of Utøya.

You can make up your own minds on how offensive the Blog and Exhibition are at LIVESTREAM: AFDI/Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest.

In our opinion nothing whatsoever can justify this attack.

In this respect, and this respect alone, we do not care that the people mounting this exhibition are from the right-wing, or that we loathe the rest of their unsavoury opinions.

Indeed anybody who names a Blog afte one of the most wooden and arrogant novels by Ayn Rand gets our everlasting contempt (and pity).

But it is wrong, wrong, wrong, to attempt the slaughter of them for their unfunny ‘cartoon’ show.

We sincerely hope that there will be no ignoble attempts to find excuses for those who wished to commit murder.

 

Mohammad-Contest-Drawing-1-small

 

Green Party Goes Post Modern.

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The Most Inane Slogan Ever? 

Postmodernism was fashionable about thirty years ago.

It was a cluster of artistic, literary, architectural styles and philosophical ideas. These overlapping trends were “characterised by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories.”

Philosophically it was “critical of the foundational assumptions and universalizing tendency of Western philosophy. It emphasizes the importance of power relationships, personalization and discourse in the “construction” of truth and world views.”

Amongst the more directly political themes advanced by theorists associated with the term were;

  • Relativism – the idea that not only are there no “foundational” truths, but that political practice should be directed against agencies that seek to work with any.
  • An end to “meta-narratives” – to overarching accounts of history, such the Marxism (historical materialism), or the economy (neo-liberalism).
  • Support for identity politics: ” The identity of the oppressed group gives rise to a political basis around which they can unite.” Now known as “inter-sectionality”, ” intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination or discrimination. An example is black feminism, which argues that the experience of being a black woman cannot be understood in terms of being black, and of being a woman, considered independently, but must include the interactions, which frequently reinforce each other.”
  • Other forms of localised fights against the dominant power relationships: regionalism, nationalist separatism, defending the rights of religious groups and other species.

 Green politics is a political ideology that aims to create an ecologically sustainable society rooted in environmentalism, non-violence, social justice, and grassroots democracy.

It cannot be reduced to postmodernism.

Indeed some of the strands associated with the Greens are described as ‘fundamentalists’ – deep ecology, primitivism.

But the ghost of dead postmodernism lingers over Britain’s Green Party – as it does over the Leninist Left.

As a section of  the left backs Lutfur Rahmen – dropping a concern for truth and the ‘meta-narrative’ of class struggle for the local Boss of Tower Hamlets and the ‘community’, not to mention the ‘rights’ of Islamists, the Green party is also undergoing its own ‘post-modernist turn.

 This list is not at all exhaustive.

But it show that what tends to come out of Green politics is a kind of ‘post-modernist’ strategy. This is a bit by bit accumulation of ideas, as relativism (the idea that people should ‘just do what they want to do – who are you to tell me what to do!) co-exists with very clear messages about what you should do (animal rights), and messages from the Authority of a wide range of groups (speaking ‘Asa’).

Their ideas are a jumble but the drift is clear.

The Green Party values the diversity of ways in which people relate to each other and the natural environment. It seeks a balance between a number of different processes which contribute to human well-being, rather than stressing one at the expense of all others. It refuses to treat any single value, whether freedom, wealth or equality, as a supreme criterion of political success. In an ecological society a wide range of lifestyle choices will be promoted as individuals and communities seek to establish the most appropriate means of implementing sustainability. (Philosophical Basis of the Green Party.)

We reject the view that wealth can be measured solely in monetary units, a view which allows its adherents to think it consists primarily of the results of human labour. This error has caused successive governments to pursue objectives which appear to increase the nation’s wealth while in fact they reduce it. Symbols of wealth, like money, reinforce the error and dominate political decision making. Economic growth is a poor guide to human welfare.

We seek a society in which people are empowered and involved in making the decisions which affect them. We advocate participatory and democratic politics. Leadership should always be accountable, consensus-driven and moral. We reject the hierarchical structure of leaders and followers.

Property laws should permit neither states nor individuals to treat their property in whatever way they choose. Instead they should aim to ensure that all people, where they wish it, have their needs met through access to the land and its resources, while maintaining its quality for future generations. Property laws should therefore impose duties on owners as well as granting rights.

We do not believe that there is only one way to change society, or that we have all the answers. We seek to be part of a wider green movement that works for these principles through a variety of means. We generally support those who use reasonable and non-violent forms of direct action to further just aims.

Imposing ‘duties’ on property owners, however much wealth is “symbolic” does not seem an easy thing to do by “consensus”.

Why is wealth not a ‘life-style choice’ amongst others?

It is hardly worth going further.

The Green Party’s policies that result are an attempt to look at the world as it is and the world as it might be.

As a wish-list, drawn up by (largely) well-meaning people they appeal to the kind of fragmented interest groups typical of ‘post-modern’ politics. In the 1980s and 1990s this was often called the  “post-materialist” constituency. Their French electorate is more recently described as “bobos” – bourgeois bohemians.

This political support is inherently unstable – as the rapid shrinking of the French Green (Europe Écologie Les Verts EELV) vote has indicated. This has gone from 16,28% (European elections 2009), 5,46 % (General Election, 2012),  8.95 (Europeans elections 2014) to 2,03%  in this year’s regional elections (départmentals). They are on the point of breaking into separate parties, one aligned to the ruling Parti Socialiste, the other to the Front de gauche.

It would be tempting to go into the experience of the British Greens in local government, notably Brighton, where there politics have singularly failed.

But since this will be instantly dismissed as the result of Coalition policies t finish, this is an example of the British Green’s approach.

Citizen’s Income is both universal, and very post-modern: it would be given to all (within a nation state), and post-mdoern – detatched from any relationship to ‘production’ class struggle and history.

But…

The Green party’s flagship economic policy, the £72 a week “citizen’s income”, would hit the poorest hardest unless it was made more complicated by including a means-tested element, the leading advocate of the policy has conceded.

The Citizen’s Income Trust (CIT), which has given advice to the Green party and been repeatedly cited by the Greens, has modelled its scheme and discovered it would mean 35.15% of households would be losers, with many of the biggest losers among the poorest households.

More Guardian.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 3, 2015 at 11:26 am

Police to Open Inquiry into Rahman and Tower Hamlets First as Post-Modern Left rallies to his Support.

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Post-Modern Politics in a Fedora Hat.

Lutfur Rahman: Police poised to re-open inquiry after election scandal.

​Police are re-investigating the electoral fraud scandal surrounding Lutfur Rahman, the former mayor of Tower Hamlets in London, after four new allegations came to light in an official report.​

Scotland Yard confirmed last week’s High Court electoral fraud judgment into Rahman, Britain’s first elected Muslim mayor, contained new material which had not been previously reported to them.

It means the inquiry into Rahman and potential collaborators​ could now be formally re-opened, bringing into question the Metropolitan Police’s decision to previously shut down the investigation.

James Bloodworth comments on this fiasco, (Daily Beast): Lutfur Rahman Turned East London into a Banana Republic.

Political correctness and left-wing myopia helped protect Britain’s first democratically-elected Muslim mayor from corruption charges for years. Eventually justice caught up with him.

Comrade Bloodworth notes,

Rumours of Rahman’s links with extremist politics, whether accurate or not, only appeared to heighten his attractiveness to a certain type of activist. In this respect Rahman was merely the latest footnote in a sorry tale of the pro-Islamist Left—the Hitler/Stalin pact of the twenty-first century. Those who would automatically reject any compromise with the British establishment were once again ready to collaborate with the most reactionary sections of the Muslim community. George Galloway’s Respect party, a significant player in Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First, was conceived in 2004 out of an amalgamation of the Leninist Socialist Workers’ Party and the Muslim Association of Britain, one of Britain’s most radical Islamist groups. As the French writer Pascal Bruckner mockingly put it, on the far-left hatred of the market was ‘worth a few compromises regarding fundamental rights’.

The judge’s ruling appears to have done little to dampen support for the deposed mayor on the far Left. Last night, a week after the damning verdict, a rally of hundreds of supporters took place in Stepney Green in East London, where Rahman confirmed that he was “exploring the possibility” of challenging the judgment. The rally was made up largely of Rahman’s Bangladeshi supporters—and left-wing activists, including Andrew Murray, the chief of staff at Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, Respect party MP George Galloway, who appeared via video link, former London mayor Ken Livingstone and Christine Shawcross from Labour’s National Executive Committee. Shawcross, who is expected to be disciplined by the Labour party for continuing to support Rahman, is also reported to be acting as a trustee of Rahman’s legal defence fund. The corrupt former mayor used the rally to launch a fundraising drive to pay his £1 million legal fees and to insist—again­—that he was the victim of smears.

He adds,

Another thing which seemed to rankle with the Left (and which made defending the disgraced mayor a point of honor) was the fact that, for their own reasons, right-wing newspapers didn’t much like Rahman either. One of the journalists who fought hard to bring Rahman down was Andrew Gilligan of the conservative Daily Telegraph. The British Left, keener on the verbal diarrhea of Slavoj Zizek than the windowpane prose of George Orwell, had clearly forgotten the latter’s injunction that “Some things are true, even though the Daily Telegraph says they are true.”

Read the rest of the article here.

We do not agree with all of this analysis, the ‘far-left’ is by no means unanimous in its backing for Rahman to start with, and it the ‘pre-Islamists are a mixture of the credulous, the well-intentioned who have no idea of what they’ve got into,  and the less savoury. But  James Bloodworth much of it echoes the point we made a few days ago about Putin’s Russia and his chief ‘political technologist’.

Surkov, we are not in the least surprised to learn, is a fan of post-modern theories of simulacra. Pomerantsev does not name the texts in detail, but you can instantly feel the presence of Jean Baudrillard at work – or should we say, his lingering hyper-réalité. From the façades of Kaliningrad to the wars between Moscow business-gangster clans, the Oligarchs, to the battles in Ukraine, there are so many kinds of ‘surface’, that even the master-players get lost. They speak « several languages at the same time ». This is not just double-think, a split between what you say in the public and the private derision you cover it with, but, contrary to Pomerantsev’s own judgement, but a boundless enthusiasm for playing.

Is this just a Russian phenomenon ? Former Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his Tower Hamlets First Party look in many respects to have come out of Surkov’s tool-kit. A little anti-austerity for the left, a little religious enthusiasm for the ‘community’, the brazen funding of ‘players’, the ‘management’ of elections, the cajoling, the bullying…

The SWP, Socialist Action, Left Unity, Counterfire, the list is long of those caught up in this ‘post-modern politics’ where any means are good to keep the ‘Boss’ in power.

Defend Democracy in Tower Hamlets: meeting report

Glyn Robbins, who is standing as a joint Left Unity – Trade Unionist and Socialists candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, made a stirring speech evoking the memory of the battle of Cable Street against the fascists of Oswald Mosley back in the 1930s, and today marching arm in arm with Lutfur Rahman to stop the English Defence League storming through Tower Hamlets on three occasions. He noted that Labour candidate Rushanara Ali has refused to comment on what’s happened. As Glyn wrote in a leaflet distributed to the meeting:

“Anger and resentment are rising in Tower Hamlets following the election court decision on 23 April. Even people who didn’t previously support Lutfur Rahman recognise the ruling as a hypocritical, state-sponsored attack on local democracy, with strong racist and Islamophobic under-currents… The election court judgement is an attempt to intimidate and neuter political dissent and shore-up the political establishment.

“Lutfur Rahman’s administration has reinstated EMAs, maintained Council Tax Benefits and celebrated St Patrick’s Day and LGBT culture. In stark contrast to the Labour council leader who preceded him, Lutfur Rahman took a courageous and principled position to oppose the EDL.

“We need a united, determined campaign to defend our community against cuts and direct rule by Westminster on the form of Eric Pickles’ government commissioners and to demand a better future for Tower Hamlets… On May 7 the people of Tower Hamlets have another chance to tell the establishment ‘we’ll decide who to vote for and who runs our borough’.”

Cable Street, Rahman, arm in arm….Robbins is in full Russian propaganda drive against ‘fascism’ with a dribble of Pickles…

Rahman celebrated St Patrick’s Day!

Gay Rights!

And no doubt the Birthday of the ‘Prophet.

No mention of how exactly Tower Hamlets First came to select (so, so, quickly) Rabina Khan as Rahman’s chosen successor.

Big City Boss……

Oddly these people are not rushing to join Tower Hamlets First………

More: Lutfur Rahman announces new Tower Hamlets mayoral candidate following dismissal.

Femen Protests Against Marine Le Pen.

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Des militantes Femen interrompent le discours de Marine Le Pen en déployant des drapeaux et en faisant le salut nazi, le 1er mai à Paris.

Femen Protest Disrupt French Far-Right May Day Rally.

Femen crashes Marine Le Pen’s May Day Front National speech. (Deutsche Welle)

Three Femen activists have disrupted Marine Le Pen’s planned May Day speech in Paris, with slogans like “Heil Le Pen” and “Stop Fascism” painted on their bare chests. Le Pen’s father played an uninvited cameo role too.

A Marine Le Pen speech designed as an attack on her political rivals in France was hijacked both by feminist activists and by Le Pen’s 86-year-old father on Friday.

Three Femen members, topless with slogans criticizing Le Pen’s Front National (FN) party on their chests and backs, gained access to the balcony from which the FN leader was speaking. They unfurled two large banners reading “Heil Le Pen” and stood side-by-side carrying out a Nazi salute.

Reports indicate that the Femen activists were initially removed by the staff of the Hotel where they had begun their protest and then violently assaulted by the Front National’s ‘Service d’ordre’ (Libération)

Selon l’avocat des Femen, interrogé par France TV Info, les activistes vont porter plainte contre X pour «violences, violation de domicile et arrestation arbitraire». De son côté, le FN a promis une plainte contre les Femen pour  «violences volontaires» et «atteintes à a liberté de manifeste».

According to the lawyer of Femen, speaking to France TV Info, the activists will begin legal proceedings against ‘X’ for “violence, violation of their home (that is, having paid for the Hotel room), and arbitrary arrest. For their part the Front National has also made a legal complaint against the Femen protesters for ‘deliberate violence’ and ‘ damage to the freedom to demonstrate’.

Journalists were also caught up in the mêlée.

Some have accused the Front National of manhandling and punching them.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 2, 2015 at 10:35 am

George Galloway: Religious Communalism in Action.

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Best for Bradford-page-006

These are, apparently,  GALLOWAY’S 6 DEMANDS FOR BRADFORD WEST.

Look hard and you will not discover any distinctively socialist politics.

Tower Hamlets schools have been transformed by Blair-Brown and Cameron.

Pleading for government offices to be transferred to Bradford, well….

Car Insurance? Bride Price?

Of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 135 have reconsidered Palestine (something we too support) – and you can bet that not many are socialist either.

He also stands for this:

 

View image on Twitter

 

Ah yes, this was his speech about Charlie Hebdo at the infamous ‘Rally of Hate':

 

we will not allow this Charlie Hebdo magazine to be described as a king of loveable, anarchic, fun book of cartoons.

“These are not cartoons, these are not depictions of the Prophet, these are pornographic, obscene insults to the Prophet and by extension, 1.7billion human beings on this earth and there are limits.

“There are limits. There limits to free speech and free expression especially in France.”

Embedded image permalink

 

 

Latest from Bradford (Independent)

..many confess to also being impressed by the Labour candidate’s candour. Riza, a mother-of-two leaving a grocery store emblazoned with Respect posters, said: “I think she was brave to stand up like that. It can be difficult to be an Asian woman and I think it shows a strength of character. She’s up against a lot of men – and I don’t just mean the guy on those posters.”

Mr Galloway suggests he is on track for victory with a potential tally of 15,000 votes, though the bookies say the result is likely to be close with the fedora-wearing Respect leader a narrow favourite ahead of Ms Shah.

In the event of defeat, Mr Galloway has hinted he may consider turning his sights on London and running as mayor. In the meantime, his fierce gaze remains firmly on Bradford West, where he has raised the issue of curbing the taxi app Uber as part of his pitch.

This the style, this is the man, beyond parody.

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World Press Freedom Day Sees List of Honour Back Charlie Hebdo as 145 Writers Join List of Shame.

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The List of Honour of those who Back Charlie and Freedom.

Not in our name: World Press Freedom Day 116 days after Charlie Hebdo.

On World Press Freedom Day, 116 days after the attack at the office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 11 dead and 12 wounded, we, the undersigned, reaffirm our commitment to defending the right to freedom of expression, even when that right is being used to express views that we and others may find difficult, or even offensive.

The Charlie Hebdo attack – a horrific reminder of the violence many journalists around the world face daily in the course of their work – provoked a series of worrying reactions across the globe.

In January, the office of the German daily Hamburger Morgenpost was firebombed following the paper’s publishing of several Charlie Hebdo images. In Turkey, journalists reported receiving death threats following their re-publishing of images taken from Charlie Hebdo. In February, a gunman apparently inspired by the attack in Paris, opened fire at a free expression event in Copenhagen; his target was a controversial Swedish cartoonist who had depicted the prophet Muhammad in his drawings.

But many of the most disturbing reactions – and the most serious threats to freedom of expression – have come from governments.

A Turkish court blocked web pages that had carried images of Charlie Hebdo’s front cover; Russia’s communications watchdog warned six media outlets that publishing religious-themed cartoons “could be viewed as a violation of the laws on mass media and extremism”; Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi empowered the prime minister to ban any foreign publication deemed offensive to religion; the editor of the Kenyan newspaper The Star was summoned by the government’s media council, asked to explain his “unprofessional conduct” in publishing images of Charlie Hebdo, and his newspaper had to issue a public apology; Senegal banned Charlie Hebdo and other publications that re-printed its images; in India, Mumbai police used laws covering threats to public order and offensive content to block access to websites carrying Charlie Hebdo images. This list is far from exhaustive.

Perhaps the most long-reaching threats to freedom of expression have come from governments ostensibly motivated by security concerns. Following the attack on Charlie Hebdo, 11 interior ministers from European Union countries, including France, Britain and Germany, issued a statement in which they called on internet service providers to identify and remove online content “that aims to incite hatred and terror”. In the UK, despite the already gross intrusion of the British intelligence services into private data, Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that the country should go a step further and ban internet services that did not give the government the ability to monitor all encrypted chats and calls.

This kind of governmental response is chilling because a particularly insidious threat to our right to free expression is self-censorship. In order to fully exercise the right to freedom of expression, individuals must be able to communicate without fear of intrusion by the state. Under international law, the right to freedom of expression also protects speech that some may find shocking, offensive or disturbing. Importantly, the right to freedom of expression means that those who feel offended also have the right to challenge others through free debate and open discussion, or through peaceful protest.

On World Press Freedom Day, we, the undersigned, call on all governments to;

  • Uphold their international obligations to protect the rights of freedom of expression and information for all, especially journalists, writers, artists and human rights defenders to publish, write and speak freely.
  • Promote a safe and enabling environment for those who exercise their right to freedom of expression, especially for journalists, artists and human rights defenders to perform their work without interference.
  • Combat impunity for threats and violations aimed at journalists and others threatened for exercising their right to freedom of expression and ensure impartial, speedy, thorough, independent and effective investigations that bring masterminds behind attacks on journalists to justice, and ensure victims and their families have speedy access to appropriate remedies.
  • Repeal legislation which restricts the right to legitimate freedom of expression, especially such as vague and overbroad national security, sedition, blasphemy and criminal defamation laws and other legislation used to imprison, harass and silence journalists and others exercising free expression
  • Promote voluntary self-regulation mechanisms, completely independent of governments, for print media
  • Ensure that the respect of human rights is at the heart of communication surveillance policy. Laws and legal standards governing communication surveillance must therefore be updated, strengthened and brought under legislative and judicial control. Any interference can only be justified if it is clearly defined by law, pursues a legitimate aim and is strictly necessary to the aim pursued.

PEN International
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Africa Freedom of Information Centre
Albanian Media Institute
Article19
Association of European Journalists
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Belarusian PEN
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Centre for Independent Journalism – Malaysia
Danish PEN
Derechos Digitales
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
English PEN
Ethical Journalism Initiative
Finnish PEN
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Fundamedios – Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Globe International Center
Guardian News Media Limited
Icelandic PEN
Index on Censorship
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
International Federation of Journalists
International Press Institute
International Publishers Association
Malawi PEN
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
Media Watch
Mexico PEN
Norwegian PEN
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión – OLA
Pacific Islands News Association
PEN Afrikaans
PEN American Center
PEN Catalan
PEN Lithuania
PEN Quebec
Russian PEN
San Miguel Allende PEN
PEN South Africa
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
Swedish PEN
Turkish PEN
Wales PEN Cymru
West African Journalists Association
World Press Freedom Committee.

Good on all who back this letter.

Vous serez honoré(e)s parmi toutes les Nations. 

Partisans de la ligne de Charlie, Moblisez-Vous!

Here is the declaration of Shame.

Junot Díaz, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Eric Bogosian and Michael Cunningham are among the 145 writers who have signed a letter protesting PEN American Center’s decision to award its “freedom of expression courage” award to the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, because the award seems to endorse drawings of the prophet Muhammad and other images that “must be seen as being intended to cause further humiliation and suffering” among France’s embattled Muslims.

“It is clear and inarguable that the murder of a dozen people in the Charlie Hebdo offices is sickening and tragic,” the letter states, referring to the attack by Islamic extremists in Paris in January. “What is neither clear nor inarguable is the decision to confer an award for courageous freedom of expression on Charlie Hebdo or what criteria exactly were used to make that decision.”

By honoring Charlie Hebdo, the letter said, “PEN is not simply conveying support for freedom of expression but also valorizing selectively offensive material: material that intensifies the anti-Islamic, anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.”

New York Times.

I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list…..

More Smears Against Charlie Hebdo.

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Eloge du blasphème

Partisans de la ligne de Charlie: mobilisez-vous!

The continuing attack on Charlie Hebdo

Patrick Murphy

Workers Liberty.

On Sunday 26 April I saw a Facebook posting which carried the pithy comment “anyone still Charlie”? The posting shared a story from “OurAfricaBlog” about an allegedly outrageous cartoon which, the blog claimed, appeared in the French satirical magazine whose leading staff members were brutally murdered by religious fascists earlier this year.

The cartoon dealt with the horrific drowning of migrants in the Mediterranean the previous week. It featured roughly-drawn black figures falling to the bottom of the ocean under the headline “Regroupement Familial En Mediterranee”. The blog translated this as “Family reunion in the Mediterranean”, described the cartoon as “Charlie Hebdo ridiculing the African migrants who drowned whilst on the way to Europe” and finished their commentary on the item as “speechless”.

This Facebook status was from an SWP member. After a bit of research it became obvious that this link was being shared widely on social media and that most people were responding with the full range of outrage, moralism and, most of all, demands that those who had shown solidarity with the French publication apologise, recant and accept the claim that CH is a racist publication.

There are two problems with this story. And they are the same problems that dogged all attempts to smear Charlie Hebdo immediately after the murders at their offices.

Problem number one: the story isn’t true.

Charlie Hebdo didn’t publish the cartoon. It was drawn by a cartoonist called Ali Dilem and published in an Algerian paper called Liberté. There is a link, in that Ali Dilem had recently been appointed to work for CH. (Note by Andrew Coates:  here is the cartoon, it is indeed by a more than well-known Algerian cartoonist).

Problem number two: the cartoon is an attack on a racist immigration policy introduced by the French government.

“Regroupement Familial” is a policy for non-EU residents in France being joined by other family members from abroad. This requires an 18 month initial stay (12 for Algerians) before they can come and be given formal status.

The point being made by the cartoonist is that this policy has contributed to the Mediterranean disaster and there is likely to be more such tragedies if the policy is not overturned. This, the satirist’s argument goes, is what “regroupement familial” really means. Whether people agree that satire and cartoons can properly deal with an issue of this gravity and misery, the purpose of this particular example was very plainly anti-racist and for more open borders.

Another aspect of this latest attempt to whip up a scandal was the lack of any attempt to examine the context, to investigate what the magazine’s attitude to the Mediterranean tragedy was.

It wouldn’t have taken much effort. Last week’s edition of Charlie Hebdo carried a full front page cartoon of a crowded boat called Titanic sinking with a female figurehead singing Celine Dion’s song from the movie of the same name. The figurehead looks very much to me like Marine Le Pen. The headline is “Une Titanic Par Semaine” (A Titanic Every Week). The message is that the racist attitudes toward refugees promoted by the likes of Le Pen will lead to more deaths at sea.

The determination of much of the British left to smear Charlie Hebdo, months after the murderous attack on their office can seem incomprehensible at times. The persistence and desperation has all the appearance of an especially odd obsession. We should resist that conclusion though. It is nothing of the sort.

The attack by religious fascists on journalists and cartoonists who dared publish material they find offensive really was an affront to humanity and to liberty.

Political questions don’t get any easier than “how should we respond to this”? Socialists, democrats, anyone with a shred of humanitarianism owed these victims a basic duty of solidarity. That didn’t have to mean enthusiasm for everything (or indeed anything) they published or necessarily declaring that “we are all Charlie”. But it did mean understanding that were clear sides here, there was a barricade, and there was only one side we could possibly be on.

Instead a far-too-large portion of the British left at best ducked the issue and at worst took the wrong side. Attempts to change the argument and portray Charlie Hebdo as racist before the victims were even buried were shameful and indefensible but they were also widespread. These attempts failed and discredited all those who took part in them.

But the persistence of the attack on the magazine is not an odd obsession and nor is it incomprehensible. Rather it is the inevitable product of a political and moral collapse on sections of the left. Until CH can be proven to be what its enemies say it is, until the smears can be made to stick, those that failed to show it any solidarity cannot recover the ground they lost after the attacks. They don’t deserve to.

A socialist politics that equivocates on issues like free speech and fascism is worthless and can play no role in the liberation of the working class.

Meanwhile Emmanuel Todd, whose most recent political incarnation (there are too many to count) was to support François Hollande, on the basis of a “hollandisme révolutionnaire” has decided the take up arms against Charlie Hebdo.

Emmanuel Todd : “Le 11 janvier a été une imposture.

His main charge is the demonstrations in support of Charlie were a sign of “false consciousness”. That Charlie has attacked the weakest people in society (les gens les plus faibles de la société), and, apparently, many of the marchers came from the “least republican regions of France”.

While he admits that anti-Semitism is a problem in the French banlieues, Todd considered that the actions of a few mentally ill individuals should not mean that the whole Muslim population should be shunned – as the Jews were in the 1930s.

That is indeed true.

But there is no reason to sneer at Charlie.

The reasons are simple: Charlie is anti-racist, anti-discrimination and against the very people who would tread underfoot any oppressed minority whatsoever.

This morning on France-Inter the gay feminist secularist Caroline Fourest defended, against Todd (and one assumes, the notorious “dégonflé(e)s” authors who protested against PEN’s decision to honour the beloved martyers of Charlie),  the ‘right to blaspheme’.

(Hear this on the radio station: Caroline Fourest : “Défions-nous de ceux qui utilisent l’islam pour diviser et asservir”)

She pointed out simply that (1) Charlie attacked the most powerful people in France, from the President to the Front National. (2) Islamists, from Boko Haram and Daesh onwards, were not the “weakest”, but oppressors of the powerless and frail.

As the marchers: it was a magnificent display of social solidarity – something a ‘republican’ like Todd should welcome.

On the wider issue of Charlie’s right to poke fun at religion Fourest has just published this: Eloge du blasphème.

More on her views: Caroline Fourest : Le combat pour la laïcité passe aussi par le droit au blasphème

Lutfur Rahman Forced Out by Racism, Says Socialist Worker as Former Mayor Hand-Picks Successor.

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Meanwhile Lutfur is Busy Picking Heir to the Throne. 

Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman forced out by a campaign of racism by Annette Macki.

Socialist Worker

The long Islamophobic witch hunt against Lutfur Rahman continued last week with his removal as mayor of Tower Hamlets in east London.

Election commissioner Richard Mawrey said Rahman had breached election rules and declared his re-election last year as void.

Rahman, who won with a 3,000 majority, has been banned from standing again. He has also been ordered to pay £250,000 in costs.

It continues,

The judgement perpetuates the racist myth of Muslims as passive zombies manipulated by their leaders. It says, “A distinction must be made between a sophisticated, highly educated and politically literate community and a community which is traditional, respectful of authority and, possibly, not fully integrated with the other communities living in the same area.”

It upholds the claim that Rahman used “spiritual influence”.  Mawrey cites a letter signed by 101 imams stating it was a “religious duty” to vote. But there was no outcry in March when a letter from Catholic bishops was read out at masses across England and Wales urging people to “think carefully” about who to vote for in the general election.

The judgement criticises Rahman for referring “to the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets as if it were a small beleaguered ethnic minority in a sea of hostile racial prejudice”.

The article does not deal with any of the charges in the case.

There is no mention of the list of the offences Lutfur has been convicted of and the details of the manipulation of  ‘spiritual influence’, the screams of ‘Zionist’ ‘Racist’, was a reality in Tower Hamlets. That it very clearly worked for support for one party, Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First!

As far as we are aware the Bishops did not tie their ‘spiritual influence’ to any single party – if they did, shame on them!

If Socialist Worker discovers, through its ace -reporters, that Tower Hamlets First benefited from spiritual backing, that is religious campaigning that channelled the  backing of religious organisations behind Lutfur,  we have no doubt that they will discuss this: as every single mainstream media outlet has done at great, great, length.

Socialists have often suffered from this kind of interference, the case of Italy being one of the most notorious.

It might be worth a mention.

Annette Macki also makes no reference to George Galloway’s former warm endorsement of the same Richard Mawrey who made this “racist” prosecution.

But that was when a judgement went in Galloway’s favour. *

Naturally.

Clearly there will be no need for electoral courts  if Socialist Worker has its way.

Or indeed looking at ‘bourgeois’ and ‘racist’ evidence’.

Organising resistance

A meeting to organise the fightback against the attack on democracy on Tower Hamlets has been called for Thursday of this week.

Speakers were set to include Lutfur Rahman, Salma Yaqoob, Stop the War convenor Lindsey German and Weyman Bennett from Unite Against Fascism.

Last November some 1,000 people came to a meeting in Tower Hamlets after Tory minister Eric Pickles sentin a takeover squad to run the council.

This showed the potential to build resistance to the attacks. The general election will be another opportunity.

TUSC and Left Unity candidate in Bethnal Green and Bow Glyn Robbins will be leafleting in the borough this Saturday.

He said, “On 7 May we have the chance to tell the establishment, ‘We’ll decide who to vote for and who runs our borough’ and vote for a socialist.”

Vote for the SWP and make sure there’s more electoral courts!

They will “decide who to vote for!”

******

In the meantime in the post-modern political world of Tower Hamlet First and its ‘simulation’ of democracy:

Lutfur to offer Rabina Khan chance of becoming Tower Hamlets First mayoral candidate: scrutiny begins 

Trial by Jeory.

Further to this post last night, I understand from sources close to Lutfur Rahman that Cllr Rabina Khan is to be offeees the chance of being Tower Hamlets First’s candidate for mayor in June’s election.

She may well speak at the Water Lilly rally on Thursday night.

Lutfur’s camp are expecting some fall out from this decision. They know there is anger about the way this decision has been made, ie by Lutfur’s “kitchen cabinet” whose number includes of course Rabina’s husband, Cllr Aminur Khan.

They think it could even precipitate a number of THF councillors to break away from the “party” and speak out about how Lutfur has been conducting affairs. Some think Rabina is easier to control. So watch this space on that one.

Now that Oli Rahman has been overlooked, I suspect he may not feel the acting mayor role for six weeks is worth his job at the DWP. Read last night’s post for details on that.

This means he would have two options. He could quit as deputy mayor and thus acting mayor and thus leave it to someone else to nominate who should act as mayor until June 11. Clearly, Lutfur would like that person to be Rabina to boost her profile.

Or he could nominate a deputy before he resigns and that person could become acting mayor. He may appoint former deputy mayor Cllr Ohid Ahmed to that role.

I think Richard Mawrey QC’s aside that the governance of Tower Hamlets may need further examination will prove prescient.

More on Trial by Jeory site.

 

* Details of this (from 2007) here: George Galloway – Who Once Endorsed Richard Mawrey QC – Says Lutfur Conviction for Fraud and Illegal Practices “Shameful”.

Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. Peter Pomerantsev. Review: Coming to You – Now!

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Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. Adventures in Modern Russia. Peter Pomerantsev. Faber and Faber 2005.

The richest man in Britain is Odessa born Len Blavatnik. He made billions from Russian oil after the collapse of the Soviet Union, owns Warner Music and lives in a £41m mansion in Kensington. Many other billionaires, whose fortune originates in post-Communist capitalism, appeared in last weekend’s Sunday Times Rich List.

Russia, Nothing is True begins, is the homeland of the “new jet set”, the “the richest, the most powerful, the most dangerous.” In Moscow, Peter Pomerantsev continues, “performance” is what counts. Life is one “glittering masquerade”.

Moscow even has a high performing English language television station, available on free-view in the UK. Russia Today, now known as RT, was set up by Presidential decree and a generous budget. George Galloway MP has his own show, Sputnik. Other figures on the outer circles of the British left, including the Stop the War Coalition, and supporters of convicted electoral fraudster, the former Tower Hamlets Mayor, Lutfur Rahman, appear regularly on RT (though the man himself is oddly absent).  They are treated with the respect they perhaps consider that they unfairly lack in mainstream political life.

Pomerantsev, British born and educated, with fluent Russian from his émigré parents, plunged deeply into the whirlwind world of post-Soviet energy-capitalism. Nothing is True tells of his time working in television, “factual entertainment”.

As a producer Pomerantsev was employed for the station TNT, sponsored by the planet’s largest gas company. His first commission was How to Marry a Millionaire A Gold Digger’s Guide. He meets ‘former’ gangsters, like Vitaly Djomochka, who’d won fame through a mini-series about the life of criminals, The Spets, featuring real guns and bullets. He encounters a one-time Irish academic economist, Benedict, who’d run the gamut of Russian double-dealing and corruption before washing up at RT – only to be tossed aside when he will not co-operate with secret service. The Irishman, approaching retirement, retreated to Kaliningrad, the home of his wife. This Russian enclave in the Baltic has a waterfront that’s a replica of “seventeenth-century gingerbread German town”. These building are “hollow to the touch, painted Perspex, and plaster imitating stone, timber and iron.”

Raw tragedy comes to Pomerantsev when investigating the apparent suicide in New York of former supermodel, Ruslana Korshunova. She is linked to a “personal development” cult, Rose of the World. Its techniques come from a training programme used by Lifespring – the subject of numerous lawsuits in the United States. The television producer becomes interested in other post-Soviet cults. There was Kashpirovsky, who miraculously charged water via television with “healing energy”. There are the Night Wolves, ultra-nationalist bikers presently re-enacting the progress of the Red Army into Eastern Europe. There are lots, and lots, of other ultra-nationalists, New Age sects, like Vissarion’s New New Testament, and Orthodox traditionalists proclaiming anew Moscow as the Third Rome. Overt racists, Stalin worshipers dot the scenery.

Nothing is True is an in-depth trip into the landscape sketched in the BBC 3 series, Reggie Yates’ Extreme Russia. It could be read as fantasy reportage – part Narnia, part Mordor. But if this sounds a refined, and frankly, brilliant, essay on Kitsch – a word springing to mind during the portraits of the festivals of the Russian wealthy – Nothing is True is never less than serious. The Kremlin ‘demiurge’, Vladislav Surkov, “the political technologist of all of Rus”, may be Sauron. But he also Aslan. “The brilliance of this new type of authoritarianism is that instead of simply oppressing opposition, as has been the case with twentieth century strains, it climbs inside all ideologies and movements, exploiting them and rendering them absurd.” (Page 79) Pomerantsev worked as a generously paid consultant for a liberal media house, SNOB, which stands as a case study in the official tolerance and promotion of such “oppositions”.

Post-Modern Politics.

Surkov, we are not in the least surprised to learn, is a fan of post-modern theories of simulacra. Pomerantsev does not name the texts in detail, but you can instantly feel the presence of Jean Baudrillard at work – or should we say, his lingering hyper-réalité. From the façades of Kaliningrad to the wars between Moscow business-gangster clans, the Oligarchs, to the battles in Ukraine, there are so many kinds of ‘surface’, that even the master-players get lost. They speak « several languages at the same time ». This is not just double-think, a split between what you say in the public and the private derision you cover it with, but, contrary to Pomerantsev’s own judgement, but a boundless enthusiasm for playing.

Is this just a Russian phenomenon ? Former Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his Tower Hamlets First Party look in many respects to have come out of Surkov’s tool-kit. A little anti-austerity for the left, a little religious enthusiasm for the ‘community’, the brazen funding of ‘players’, the ‘management’ of elections, the cajoling, the bullying…..

People, and not just ideologies, get mangled in this game. The ‘anti-hegemonic’ message of RT seduces European nationalists with anti-EU messages, religious reactionaries by the Kremlin’s fight against homosexuality, the far-left by tales of fighting US imperialism, the grinning ninnies of the Keisler Report try win business converts by criticising Western financial malpractice.

But the baron-bureaucrats of Moscow are not principally interested in taunting the West from the inside. They are part of a wealth accumulating machine that will crush anybody who gets in their way: rival oligarchs and masters of democratic and ultra-nationalist simulation in the Ukraine, the Russian masses, that is, anybody who does business with them.

“The worst thing is, that in all this interactive ferment, there is not the even the shadow of a new political space, or a new public spirit.” (“Le plus grave est qu’il n’y a pas dans tout ce bouillonnment interactif, l’ombre d’un nouvel espace politique ou d’un nouvel esprit public.” Jean Baudrillard. La Gauche Divine. 1985.)

Posts by Peter Pomerantsev LRB.

Posadist Relaunch in UK: Flying Saucers, the Revolutionary States of Iran, Tower Hamlets, and the Transition to Socialism?

with 10 comments

 

All scientific stuff.

(Hat-Tip: RB)

Come to the Book Launch of ‘Revolutionary State and Transition to Socialism’.

by the author J Posadas

Revolutionary State and Transition to Socialism – by J. Posadas, was published November 2014 in the Scientific, Cultural and Political Editions.

It will be formally launched: on Saturday 30 May 2015 at the Marx Memorial Library, London EC1R ODU from 11am to 5pm, with a light buffet

Free entry but participation must be booked by contacting mlsculturaleditions@yahoo.com – or 0770 993 2267

There will be a presentation of the book’s contents, followed by introductory speeches on the extra-Planetary  State of Tower Hamlets, and on the Revolutionary States of Orion, Bolivia and Iran today.

Plenty of time for debate.

Scientific, Cultural and Political Editions, London W2 1NS – www-scientific-cultural-and-political-editions.org

 

PEN Members Decline to Defend Press Freedom.

with 12 comments

Forbidden to Ridicule, Say Some PEN Authors.

New York Times.

The decision by PEN American Center to give its annual Freedom of Expression Courage award to the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo has prompted six writers to withdraw as literary hosts at the group’s annual gala on May 5, adding a new twist to the continuing debate over the publication’s status as a martyr for free speech.

The novelists Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi have withdrawn from the gala, at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Gerard Biard, Charlie Hebdo’s editor in chief, and Jean-Baptiste Thoret, a Charlie Hebdo staff member who arrived late for work on Jan. 7 and missed the attack by Islamic extremists that killed 12 people, are scheduled to accept the award.

The Guardian carries this comment from the US,

I was quite upset as soon as I heard about [the award],” Prose, a former PEN American president, told Associated Press during a telephone interview on Sunday night. Prose said she was in favor of “freedom of speech without limitations” and that she “deplored” the January shootings, but added that giving an award signified “admiration and respect” for the honoree’s work.

“I couldn’t imagine being in the audience when they have a standing ovation for Charlie Hebdo,” Prose said.

As somebody who’s not heard of Prose until today I can’t imagine being in any audience with her.

This reaction is worth remembering,

Salman Rushdie, a former PEN president who lived in hiding for years after a fatwa in response to his novel “The Satanic Verses,” said the issues were perfectly clear. Mr. Ondaatje and Mr. Carey were old friends of his, he said, but they are “horribly wrong.”

“If PEN as a free speech organization can’t defend and celebrate people who have been murdered for drawing pictures, then frankly the organization is not worth the name,” Mr. Rushdie said. “What I would say to both Peter and Michael and the others is, I hope nobody ever comes after them.”

Little Atoms, Charlie Hebdo: why is solidarity so difficult for some writers?    cites a PEN statement,

“The rising prevalence of various efforts to delimit speech and narrow the bounds of any permitted speech concern us; we defend free speech above its contents. We do not believe that any of us must endorse the content of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons in order to affirm the importance of the medium of satire, or to applaud the staff’s bravery in holding fast to those values in the face of life and death threats. There is courage in refusing the very idea of forbidden statements, an urgent brilliance in saying what you have been told not to say in order to make it sayable.”

Padraig Reidy then makes the comments many of us would agree with,

It is all very well to state one’s support for free expression as an abstract, as almost everyone does, but if one cannot express solidarity with people who are murdered for exercising their free expression, then you don’t support free expression. It actually is that simple. I wonder sometimes if the likes of Carey and others tie themselves in knots over these things because the simplicity itself is unappealing: “Where’s the angle?” they think. “Where’s the fresh perspective I can bring?” “What’s the clever thing to say here?”

But while they might reject simplicity, they embrace certainty. They are quite sure that they will never be Charb, they will never be Charlie, they will never be Rushdie. They, being good and right, will never find themselves in the middle of a global storm, or staring down the barrel of a gun: not because they are scared to provoke, but because they only speak and write in self-evident truths with which no one could disagree.

Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi join a list of people who hold their liberal noses in the air when it comes to real fight for freedom of expression.

Charlie’s liberty is the freedom to ridicule abuses, to hold the bigoted up to account, and to “laugh at everything”(rire à tout).

It is the liberty to attack intolerance head on.

Follow the line of Charlie!

Update: Correspondence about this within PEN (just published).

How the story is being perceived in France: Charlie Hebdo, témoin de “l’arrogance culturelle des Français” (Des écrivains apprécient mal qu’on récompense le journal…)

PEN Charter,

Literature, national though it be in origin, knows no frontiers, and should remain common currency among nations in spite of political or international upheavals.

In all circumstances, and particularly in time of war, works of art and libraries, the heritage of humanity at large, should be left untouched by national or political passion.

Members of PEN should at all times use what influence they have in favor of good understanding and mutual respect among nations; they pledge themselves to do their utmost to dispel race, class, and national hatreds and to champion the ideal of one humanity living in peace in the world.

PEN stands for the principle of unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and among all nations, and members pledge themselves to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in their country or their community.

PEN declares for a free press and opposes arbitrary censorship in time of peace. It believes that the necessary advance of the world toward a more highly organized political and economic order renders free criticism of governments, administrations, and institutions imperative. And since freedom implies voluntary restraint, members pledge themselves to oppose such evils of a free press as mendacious publication, deliberate falsehood, and distortion of facts for political and personal ends.”

More here.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 27, 2015 at 11:56 am

George Galloway – Who Once Endorsed Richard Mawrey QC – Says Lutfur Conviction for Fraud and Illegal Practices “Shameful”.

with 24 comments

March 2007. Socialist Worker.

“George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green & Bow, spoke in the House of Commons on Monday night during a debate on public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system. Here is the full text of his speech, extracted from Hansard, the official report of parliamentary proceedings (© Parliamentary Copyright 2007).”

In Tower Hamlets last May, we witnessed the most corrupt election held in Britain since 1872. Hundreds of votes were purloined by crooks applying for postal votes and getting them redirected to an address sometimes just doors away from the registered address of the voter. Whole blocks of flats woke up to discover that every one of their residents had applied for a postal vote to be redirected to another address without their knowledge. Some 2,800 postal vote applications were delivered to the town hall in Tower Hamlets in the last hours of the last day, and many were brought in by sitting councillors. A total of 18,732 postal votes were registered in Tower Hamlets: a vast increase on the vast increase that had occurred at the general election the year before. Almost 15 percent of those were delivered on the last afternoon. A total of 946 postal votes were redirected to addresses that were not the registered address of the voter, with considerably more as a percentage in the wards where new Labour councillors were under pressure.

For the entertainment of the chamber, let me say that, despite all this, our party defeated the Labour mayor, the Labour deputy mayor, the Labour leader, the Labour deputy leader, the Labour housing convenor, the Labour deputy housing convenor – I could go on, but the house would lose patience. In one ward, New Labour councillor Bill Turner, who won by just 38 votes, himself had postal votes redirected to the address at which he said that he was living. The system is so utterly without basic democratic protection that it is virtually impossible to detect fraud with a sufficient degree of proof to bring the matter successfully before an election court, where, as might not be known, one must demonstrate that the fraud would have changed the result of the election. Fraud can therefore be demonstrated on a significant scale, but if it is not enough to change the course of the election, the matter is simply thrown out.

Two petitions were accepted, and were prayed in aid by Labour members. But we were only allowed to have the postal votes for the winning Labour candidate examined, and the only check that we could carry out was a forensic examination and comparison of the signature. None the less, the handwriting expert agreed by all sides in the petition identified 30 percent of the postal votes as questionable, and believed that the signatures were probably from different hands in almost half those votes – and that was just sampling 300 postal votes out of almost 19,000.

It continues,

On top of that – this is where the issue of complacency arises – a major police investigation into voting fraud in Tower Hamlets is ongoing, and has engaged four police officers full-time for the past ten months. No charges have yet been brought – I do not know if they will be, as it is so easy to subvert the system – but Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman has already commented, on the basis of that investigation, that postal votes are particularly susceptible to fraud. Despite all the talk of there not being many prosecutions, the Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that 390 cases of alleged electoral offences have occurred over the past seven years, and not all in inner cities. In Reading, only two of 46 postal vote applications examined were found to be authentic. Richard Mawrey QC *, who has been much quoted this evening, looked at ballots in the Birmingham city wards of Aston and nearby Bordesley Green. He said that there were at least 1,000 forged votes in Aston and 1,500 to 2,000 in Bordesley Green. The system of postal voting on demand is leading to a banana republic perception.

Like the minister, I am a former Labour Party official. I have been fighting elections for almost 40 years, almost always on the winning side. I know about elections. Now, for the first time in my political life, people ask me, ‘How do we know that they are counting these votes fairly? How do we know they are not rigging the election?’ I am not saying that that is happening, but there is a systematic undermining of confidence in the electoral process, caused largely by postal vote fraud.

Galloway observes,

Councils share the responsibility with government. Richard Mawrey QC considered our two petitions – the only two that we could get in front of the election court. I hope that the minister, who is laughing, will listen to what he said about a New Labour council just a few miles from Westminster, held by one seat that was only secured by this type of corruption. In response to our petitions, Richard Mawrey QC declared that the evidence that we presented showed ‘disturbing’ and ‘suspicious’ signs of ‘classic postal voting fraud’. He went on to say that a regime that allows electors to acquire postal voting ballots ‘on demand’ has been ‘an open invitation to fraud’, which has proved to be ‘distressingly easy’.

Yet in the wake of those comments by a Queen’s counsel, Tower Hamlets council, with its Labour majority of one, issued a press release that was such a falsification that Andrew Gilligan – remember him? The minister shakes her head. He was the only journalist to tell us the truth about the government’s lies on Iraq. He said in the Evening Standard that the council’s press release was a pack of lies. Who presided over all this? A woman called Christine Gilbert, whose intimate connections to New Labour are so personal that I would not like to go down that route. Suffice it to say that her reward for presiding over the tower of corruption in Tower Hamlets was to be made the chief inspector of schools at Ofsted. God save our children. God save the integrity of their examination results.”

Galloway is still fond of the electoral law.

Galloway refers Labour leaflet to the Director of Public Prosecutions

Posted by on Friday, April 24, 2015

A Labour election leaflet from candidate Naz Shah in Bradford West which is being delivered to every household in the constituency has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions because it contains alleged false statements aimed at affecting the election result.

Respect candidate George Galloway has made his second referral to the DPP under Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. The complaint concerns an extremely critical statement about Galloway attributed to a local businessman, a pharmacist, in the Heaton Ward of the constituency, which the man denies making.

“This was brought to my attention by a senior consultant at the Bradford Royal Infirmary, who works closely with the pharmacist,” Galloway says. “I have made inquiries and I am satisfied that the man, a highly respectable man, did not say what he is quoted as saying. These quotes were printed alongside his photograph. He is shocked and angry and claims that Labour have failed to respond to his complaint. The quotes appear to have been invented and then included in Shah’s leaflet which is now being distributed by Royal Mail to every house in Bradford West. It is an absolutely despicable and desperate act by Shah and her team, but sadly absolutely typical.”

A defence under Section 106 of the act, False Statements As To Candidates, is that the statements made are believed to be true, “There cannot be a ‘reasonable grounds’ defence when statements are invented,” Galloway added. “I am urging the DPP to urgently investigate this blatant attempt to influence the outcome of the election.

But how times change when it comes to Tower Hamlets.

Meanwhile Nick Cohen comments: Tower Hamlets: how a dictatorship flourished in the East End.

See also this claim that Richard Mawrey QC was not “qualified” to pass judgement, and hinting that he had a “particular interest” in Muslims (see above!!!).  “sitting in judgment was one man only – not a qualified judge, only a barrister (assumed by the media and even myself, to be a Judge) – who has demonstrated previously a peculiar interest in Muslims and elections. This man found Lutfur Rahman guilty of multiple offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983.” “Jen Izaakson asserts in contempt of the judgement that “. Law is, explicitly, to be applied differently to Muslims than as it applied to the ‘agnostic metropolitan elite’, whoever they are (is this the bankers in East London?).”

Here: A review of the judgement in the Lutfur Rahman case.

We learn with no surprise that Izaakson is closely linked to Richard Seymour – the ally of the militant wing of post-colonial studies, the racist and homophobic Indigènes de la République.

This is how he describes his politics,

Jen Izaakson

Jen Izaakson @Izaakson

Rootless cosmopolitan. Anti-humanist. Historical Materialist. LSE grad. PhD.

Izaakson’s ‘demolition’ of the judgement is laughable.

This incontinent drivel states,

In court one particular afternoon I watched as five Muslim witnesses were repeatedly asked, “did you say it was haram to not vote for brother Lutfur?”, as if these people were religious scholars in any position to do so. Within Islam there is a debate about whether to vote at all in elections, not about which candidate is the godly choice! To make such a claim, to decide god’s will and choose a specific man above another as more fated by god, I imagine, though I’m no sheik, would be sacrilegious.

No you are not a sheik, or a scholar or a gentleman.

Obviously the electioneering of the Muslim Brotherhood’s various branches from North Africa, Egypt and elsewhere,  has not come to the writer’s attention, to cite just one case amongst hundreds.

If Rahman was indicated as the only right ‘Muslim’ candidate is this not a problem?

If the Labour ‘Zionist’ Party was not ‘Muslim’, then is this not a problem?

Is there anything wrong with religiously motivated campaigning?

Apparently not.

There is a lot worse in this torrent of dissembling.

Just take one example,

Postal Vote Fraud

The evidence for these claims was the testimony of Andrew Gilligan, a right-wing Telegraph journalist linked to cronyism claims that has hounded Lutfur for years. Gilligan simply stated that two Tower Hamlets councilors had two addresses. To be clear: it was found that Rahman was guilty of this claim due to it simply being thought that Gilligan’s testimony was ‘credible’ (believable), without any proof. All that was believed is that two councilors had two addresses and then Gilligan’s assumption they therefore must’ve voted twice was agreed with.

See above for Gilligan’s past.

All Izaaskson demonstrates that the judge accepted the truth of a witness statement.

Has he any other alternative ‘proof’ that it was not?

No he has none.

The rest of the criticism, on organised religious pressure (see our previous post) is equally airily dismissed as the action of ” exuberant groups” – and whatabout Labour supporters own enthusiasm!

We wonder why there was a trial at all, Seymour, Rees and Izaakson could simply look at this “natural” enthusiasm with a wry smile.

Because they too backed Lutfur and wanted him to win.

* Richard Mawrey QC,“The judge who disqualified Lutfur Rahman is one of the country’s leading electoral law practitioners and has handed down previous, scathing judgments resulting in councillors being removed from office. Richard Mawrey QC, a deputy high court judge, specialises in election cases and has developed an acute awareness of voter fraud in his experience as an election commissioner – although there have been calls to improve the way the court operates.” Guardian. Wikipedia.

Lutfur Rahman, the Left and ‘spiritual influence’.

with 70 comments

https://twitter.com/donovanian999/status/591292548578152448

Luftur Gets Support.

There have been a variety of reactions to the high court ruling by Richard Mawrey QC, on Thursday that Lufter Rahman, the mayor of Tower Hamlets borough since 2010, was guilty of vote-rigging, seeking spiritual influence through local imams, and wrongly branding his Labour rival a racist.

 This carries some weight.

John Rees on the outrageous dismissal of Tower Hamlet’s first elected Muslim Mayor

The Tower Hamlets electoral fraud trial was a political event from the beginning. Indeed, everything you need to know about the decision of High Court Judge Richard Mawrey to declare void the election of Britain’s first Muslim Mayor is contained in his summary judgement. In it he said that Muslims in Tower Hamlets are ‘not a real minority’ because, apparently, there are so many of them in the borough.

Like the rest of his remarks it will fuel every racist stereotype that has ever been uttered about Tower Hamlets, and it will legitimise the long and disgraceful war by Tories, Lib-Dems and the local Labour Party to stop the rise of Bangladeshi representation in the area.

Rees asserts,

The judge’s view is so baseless that perhaps we should not be surprised that he is refusing to issue the executive summary of his judgement that he read out in court.

And what of the main charge that Lutfur Raham used ‘spiritual influence’ to gain votes? The judge obviously imagines that Muslims are so backward and superstitious that they cannot make their up their minds how to vote without religious guidance, or to ignore such advice if they wish. How confusing it must have been for those Muslim electors in wards where the front-runners were both Muslims!

And in any case in every Tower Hamlets election Muslims vote for Labour in large numbers as well as for left of Labour candidates. The Mayoral election in which Lutfur Rahman became Mayor (for the second time) was no different.

And if the use of ‘spiritual influence’ in elections is enough to declare them void then there’s going to be a few other results declared null…in Northern Ireland where the influence of Protestant and Catholic churches will remain enormous at the coming  general election for instance. Perhaps the most amazing aspect is this spiritual law under which the judge issued his verdict is archaic, first introduced by the British in Ireland to stop Catholic preachers rallying the Irish! One doesn’t need much imagination to see how this legal relic will be used against Muslims.

He also says,

Even more staggering is the judge’s accusation that Lutfur Rahman ‘played the race card’. Actually he played the anti-racist card against a Labour Party establishment which has long abused the loyalty of its supporters in Tower Hamlets.

The Judge began (Richard Mawrey QC’s ruling on Tower Hamlets election court.   Paragraph 152)

“…just as undue spiritual influence under s 115 of the 1983 Act is not confined  to Christianity, it is equally not confined to religions which have the Christian sacraments or an equivalent, the threat of withdrawal or refusal of which can be used by clergy to influence voters. Similarly, it is not an essential ingredient of the section that the spiritual influence should be that of a monotheistic religion or of a religion which contains a belief in an afterlife where punishments and rewards are meted out for conduct in this life. In an appropriate case undue spiritual influence could be created by what some might regard as a cult, such as Mr Moon’s ‘Unification Church’ or even ‘New Age’”

He observed (Para 529) ,

The Petitioners’ case may be summarised as follows.  In formulating his campaign, Mr Rahman, as well as playing the race card, was determined to play the religious card. The campaign would be targeted at Tower Hamlets ’ Muslim population with a stark message: ‘Islam is under threat: it is the religious duty of all devout Muslims to vote for Mr Rahman and his party .’  (para 530) It was not, the Petitioners said, the first time that the religious card had been played. There was a persistent history of Mr Rahman attacking his opponents who happened to be Muslim by claiming that they were not, unlike himself, devout and pious Muslims.

Continuing he remarked,

Secondly there is a substantial body of credible evidence that the Imams’ message that it was the duty of faithful Muslims to vote for Mr Rahman entered the general campaign ,with religious duty being mentioned in canvassing before the poll and to voters attending polling stations on election day.
What this meant in practice is covered in the judgment section on ‘intimidation’.

(Para 590),  Groups of supporters would approach voters, particularly Bangladeshi voters and harangue them in a manner that appeared to some onlookers to be rather aggressive.

Several witnesses from different polling stations used the phrase ‘running the gauntlet’ to describe their passage into the polling station. Others spoke of feeling ‘harassed’.

(Para 591) Both English and Bengali speaking witnesses attest to THF (Rahman’s party – note) supporters shouting, amongst other things, that a) it was the duty of Bangladeshi voters to support Mr Rahman: this was normally expressed as support for Mr Rahman rather than for THF as a party; b) similarly it was the religious duty of all faithful Muslims to support Mr Rahman; c) Mr Biggs was a ‘racist. d) the Labour Party was ‘racist’ and ‘Zionist’; e) anyone voting Labour had been brainwashed against Islam.

Rees asks,

And if ‘playing the race card’ is grounds for declaring an election void are we now going to see other candidates judged by this standard. Will UKIP councillors or MEPs be held to account? Or perhaps it’s only an accusation that applies to people who suffer racism.

Absolutely right.

He also says,

That leaves the only meaningful charge being that of misusing funds. Yet that would have to be proved in the case of every single councillor for the election as a whole to be re-run, even if it could be agreed that this is grounds for re-running elections rather than a slap on the wrist that expense fiddling MPs receive.

A serious case here of whataboutery – which we will ignore: this is the judgement on Rahman, not on the whole council.

The conclusion Rees reaches is unfortunate.

The general climate of Islamophobia (the Daily Express is already gloating) makes any accusation half believed even before it is investigated. It is of a piece with the mounting establishment hostility to the SNP. The old system is fraying and any challenge to it is being met with a full force tide of reaction. If the establishment gets away with removing one of the few councils that came to power by fighting racism and austerity, that has an admirable anti-war record, then the whole left will have suffered a setback and every racist in the country will be rejoicing. We should not let that happen.

So the whole affair can be dismissed as part of the “tide of reaction”.

Not it can’t.

The Judge ruled that there was a great deal of politiking to gain  support – through grants and other mechanisms – in the Borough.

The Independent reports,

… former mayor, who was elected to a second term last year, had focused his electoral machine on the borough’s large Bangladeshi community – effectively bribing voters by targeting them with generous grants and using the influence of a senior cleric to tell Muslims it was their duty to vote for him.Mr Mawrey said: “The evidence laid before this court has disclosed an alarming state of affairs in Tower Hamlets. This is not the consequence of the racial and religious mix of the population, nor is it linked to any ascertainable pattern of social or other deprivation. It is the result of the ruthless ambition of one man.”

It is well-known on the left that is explained away on the grounds that “this is Big City politics”, “they all do it.” That in this instance Rahman had acted in this way to serve a progressive – anti-austerity and broadly on the left – platform.

That’s as may be – it’s contestable. But what Rees raises is the issue of ‘religious guidance’, which, he considers irrelevant, since everybody can make up their own minds.

Clearly this was not the view of Rahman and his supporters.

Is the ‘spiritual influence’ that Rahman used, and described above in the judgement (there is more detail in the full text), acceptable?

Is screaming in a mass about religious duty, hatred of  ‘Zionists’, and ‘racists’ (er, oddly conjoined), to everybody about to vote something part of “fighting racism and austerity”?

Is it ‘anti-racist’ to identify one candidate with one religion and appeal, above all, to ‘faithful Muslims’?

Is labelling – systematically – your opponent a “racist” (which is  libelous if written) a campaigning strategy to follow ?

Is machine politics left politics?

Instead of yelling,  ‘Islamophobia’, we should also look at Rahman’s connections with Islamism – including some of groups who can only be called racist – as part of his way of building support for his “electoral machine”.

What exactly is his stand on, and relations with, the Jimaat-i-Islami whose leaders have been accused of complicity in genocide, the mass murder of our Bengali sisters and brothers, in 1971?

This is apparently not a problem for Counterfire.

Nor, it seems, for former London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Lutfur Rahman: Ken Livingstone says he hopes corrupt mayor will appeal High Court verdict says the Evening Standard.

“Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has slammed a High Court judge’s decision to void Lutfur Rahman’s election, calling the Election Commissioner an “unelected bureaucrat”.”

A dissenting voice, James Bloodworth, reminds us of a few home truths.

Lutfur Rahman played the Islamophobia card to silence his critics. And too many on the left fell for it

We must ignore the inevitable cries of “stitch up” that will now follow.

Those of us who have lived in Lutfur Rahman’s Tower Hamlets in recent years had a fair idea that something wasn’t right. An atmosphere of menace and intimidation prevailed at council meetings and a cult of personality was thrown up around Rahman himself, with posters carrying the Mayor’s face (and little else) increasingly ubiquitous in the borough. Extremist preachers were invited to speak in council chambers and council grants were directed away from secular organisations in favour of groups which mainly served the Bangladeshi and Muslim communities.

Lutfar Rahman Found Guilty of “corrupt and illegal practices” in Tower Hamlets Election.

with 32 comments

Guilty of ‘Corrupt and Illegal Practices”. 

Lutfur Rahman found guilty of illegal practices in Tower Hamlets election.

Hat tips to: SH, DT, Rosie and Adam.

Reports the BBC.

An east London mayoral election has been declared void and will have to be re-run after he was found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices.

Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey concluded Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman had breached election rules.

Four voters took legal action against Mr Rahman, who they alleged used “corrupt and illegal practices” in the election last year.

Mr Rahman, who denied any wrong-doing, has been banned from standing again.

‘Evasive and discursive’

At the special High Court hearing, Mr Mawrey said the mayor had “driven a coach and horses through election law and didn’t care”.

He added Rahman, who had been elected for a second term in the east London borough, would be “incapable” of standing in the new election.

Mr Mawrey – who sat as a judge – described Mr Rahman as “evasive and discursive witness whose evidence was untruthful on occasion”.

The four voters mounted the legal challenge under the 1983 Representation of the People Act.

Lawyers for the four made a series of allegations – including “personation” in postal voting and at polling stations and ballot paper tampering.

Lawyers for Mr Rahman, who was re-elected for independent party Tower Hamlets First last May, described the claims as “invention”, “exaggeration” and “in some cases downright deliberately false allegations”.

However the Election Commissioner said that Tower Hamlets First was “never really a party but the alter ego of Lutfur Rahman”.

One of Mr Rahman’s aides Alibor Choudhury was also found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices.

Rahman has been ordered to pay  £250,000 costs.

Guardian:

The mayor of Tower Hamlets has been kicked out of office after being found guilty of widespread corruption in seeking office last May.

The mayoral election in the east London borough will be rerun after Lutfur Rahman and his supporters were found to have been involved in vote-rigging, seeking spiritual influence through local imams, and wrongly branding his Labour rival a racist.

Rahman, who has been banned from seeking office again, was also found to have allocated local grants to buy votes.

Judge Richard Mawrey QC handed down his verdict on Thursday after a 10-week hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice.

A group of four residents had called for last May’s mayoral election, in which Rahman triumphed over Labour rival John Biggs, to be declared void and rerun.

Rahman – who is Britain’s first directly-elected Muslim mayor – won the ballot after a campaign of “intimidation and corruption”, the petitioners alleged.

Mawrey was asked to consider if the election was fraudulent and should be rerun. If Rahman was found to be responsible, he faced being banned from office.

The mayor denied the allegations, which he dismissed as cynical and politically motivated.

During the course of the hearing, the court heard evidence from a handwriting expert that hundreds of ballot papers carried marks suggesting they could have been filled out by the same person.

Muslim voters were told it would be “un-Islamic” not to support Rahman in last May’s ballot, it was alleged during the hearing.

Rahman was also accused of making false statements about the personal character of Biggs. The Bangladesh-born mayor was accused of “undue influence” by “means of spiritual influence” during the campaign and on polling day.

It was claimed that a Bengali newspaper, The Weekly Desh, published a letter signed by 101 Islamic leaders which was “intended to have undue influence on the Muslim population of the borough”, Hoar said. Their pronouncements had been used to cajole and control many within the local 65,000-strong Muslim community, it was claimed.

The court heard that one of the petitioners saw a voter crying outside a polling station after allegedly being told by a supporter of Rahman that it was “un-Islamic” not to vote for him, and that if you did not vote for him you were “not a good Muslim”.

Bribes were also used to win over voters, the court heard, with meals given out on election day. Hoar said that there was evidence of “interference with voters” – including in polling booths.

Rahman won the poll in the first round of the election, with 43%, and Biggs was second on 33%. In the runoff round he beat the Labour candidate by 52.7% to 47.7%.

The long-awaited verdict comes after the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, ordered a team of commissioners to ensure the council is properly run after a PwC report last year found it flouted spending rules.

Pickles took control of key functions of administration when he appointed three commissioners to oversee grant-giving, appointments, property deals and the administration of future elections in the borough.

Other functions such as education, social care provision, street cleaning, housing and homelessness services are unaffected by this move.

Rahman denied any wrongdoing in council spending, as well as the allegations surround last year’s mayoral election.

Where are they now?

Bob Pitt:  Livingstone and Galloway rail against ongoing ‘witch hunt’ of Lutfur Rahman.

and  The smear campaign against Lutfur Rahman is an insult to democracy.

Seumas Milne, “The Muslim mayor of Tower Hamlets, the former Labour councillor Lutfur Rahman – often described as “extremist-linked” in the media – has been the target of a new media onslaught. No wrongdoing has been uncovered, including by the police.

And John Rees:

And how could we forget?

Oppose Islamophobic witch hunt against Lutfur Rahman in Tower Hamlets. Socialist Worker.

 

Update:  Met considers criminal inquiry into Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman

Rahman is told to vacate post immediately after election court judge finds him guilty of widespread corruption in seeking office last May.

The mayoral election in the east London borough will be rerun after Lutfur Rahman and his supporters were found to have been involved in vote-rigging, seeking spiritual influence through local imams and wrongly branding his Labour rival a racist.

Rahman, who has been banned from seeking office again, was also found to have allocated local grants to buy votes. He was ordered to pay immediate costs of £250,000 from a bill expected to reach £1m.

Note this:

Azmal Hussain, a petitioner who said he would have lost his Brick Lane businesses if they had lost the case, dismissed claims that the judgment would be seen as racist.

“The people who have really suffered are ordinary people of all races who were supposed to accept corruption because it comes from someone claiming to be against racism. It is corruption, pure and simple, and it should be challenged,” he said.

 

More:

We concentrate on the wider political implications of this, particularly for the left.

A very well-informed source – indispensable in fact – on Tower Hamlets and its politics is  Trial by Jeory.  Latest post:  Tower Hamlets election court: Judge Richard Mawrey QC’s full ruling

Written by Andrew Coates

April 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm

American Muslim Groups Refuse to Recognise Armenian Genocide.

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Exactly 100 years ago, on 24 April 1915, the Turkish government arrested 250 Armenian intellectuals and cultural leaders in Constantinople, so beginning the Armenian genocide.

From late spring of 1915, massacres were carried out throughout Turkey. The government organised the genocide by creating death squads, passing laws to sanction deportation and confiscation, using the then cutting-edge railway and telegraph technology, and wrapping the whole thing up in the nationalist ideology of pan-Turkism.

Peter Balakian concluded,

Turkish denial comes in many forms. This year, one of its tactics aimed at undermining the memory of the genocide includes holding a centennial event for the Battle of Gallipoli on 24 April – the day Armenians worldwide remember the genocide – rather than 25 April, the usual Gallipoli commemoration date. The offence is compounded by the attendance of Prince Charles and Prince Harry at this politically concocted gathering.

That is why it was so important that last week Pope Francis affirmed that the slaughter of the Armenians was the “first genocide of the 20th century”. He showed that he would not be bullied by the Turkish state. Nor would he be cajoled by Turkey’s specious rhetoric suggesting that if he used the word “genocide” he would create a crisis between Muslims and Christians. The pope took the moral issue even further when he addressed the corruption of Turkish denial: “Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.”

On the centenary of the genocide, Turkey would do its national honour well if it listened to him. There can be no reconciliation until there is truth.

“If Armenian-American college students felt betrayed in the past day, I would not blame them. So many of them came out to support student resolutions at several universities across the country demanding divestment from the Israeli occupation.  And yet, one of the largest American Palestine solidarity organizations in this country just told these students that their grandparents’ stories still need to be verified. If you do not know what I am referring to please read this statement put out by the United States Council of Muslim Organizations.

In this statement, member organizations of the USCMO, including American Muslims for Palestine, make the case that President Obama should not refer to the “events of 1915” as a genocide without further investigation. They call for a more “balanced” approach through academic consensus based on Turkish archives that Turkey refuses to open to establish a “just memory.” The statement also refers to the importance of Turkey as an ally in the fight against ISIS. What is even worst is that it was released on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the genocide.

http://twitter.com/ramahkudaimi/status/589905206072213505/photo/1

The fact that this statement came from every major Muslim organization in America is outrageous in itself. The fact that American Muslims for Palestine signed on to this statement is doubly heinous.

How American Muslims for Palestine does not recognize the moral hypocrisy of such a denial is beyond me. Palestinians as a people have spent decades demanding the world recognize our ethnic cleansing from our homeland. For years, it was the stories of our parents and grandparents against the denial of the entirety of Israeli society. Even after the opening of Israeli state archives (that only Israeli academics had access to) confirmed what we have always known to be true, we still fight to have the Nakba and our right to return recognized. On top of all this, AMP must have forgotten that there are Armenian-Palestinians who survived this genocide.

What kind of logical acrobatics did AMP have to undertake to avoid seeing the moral hypocrisy of this statement?

To fully appreciate the self-deceit required for AMP to be a co-signor to this denial of history, one only need replace ‘Turkey’ with ‘Israel,’ ‘Armenians’ with ‘Palestinians’, ‘genocide’ with ‘ethnic-cleansing,’ and ‘ISIS’ with ‘Islamic terrorism.’ These are some of the sentences you would be reading:

‘…characterizing the events of 19(48) as (ethnic cleansing) without proper investigation of these events by independent historians will not only jeopardize the establishment of a just memory pertaining to these events, but will also damage the efforts aimed at achieving reconciliation between (Israelis) and (Palestinians).’

‘As Americans, we are concerned about alienating a key ally, (Israel)’

‘Our government has been closely cooperating with the (Israeli) government on defeating (Islamic terrorism)…’

The writers of this statement could work for the US State Department.

Thankfully, progressive Muslims, Palestinians, and solidarity activists across the country are expressing their outrage.”

The USCMO statement has been disowned by many groups:

MLFA Response to USCMO Statement on Armenian Genocide

April 20, 2015 – DALLAS – Representatives from Muslim Legal Fund of America are clarifying their organization’s position on a statement released today by United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) regarding the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

Khalil Meek, Executive Director of MLFA, said the organization he represents does not take positions on or make public statements about international issues. As a domestic-only organization, Meek emphasized that 100 percent of MLFA’s focus and efforts remains within the borders of the United States of America.

“It is not MLFA’s place nor is it part of its mission to question the Armenian genocide,” said Meek. “I apologize if the inclusion of MLFA’s name in this statement caused any confusion to our donors, supporters or anyone else.”

 The British Government has also refused to recognise the Armenian genocide.

Christian and other religious minority communities are again under threat in the Middle and Near East.

It would be interesting to see how British Muslim organisations plan to respond to the anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

Vote David Ellesmere, Vote Labour!

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Ed Miliband came to Ipswich yesterday.

He was interviewed on Look East.

Ed showed a sure grasp of the key issues facing people in the Town*

These included a low wage economy, a town centre in need of regeneration, and people working on zero hour contracts, as well as the health service and education.

The Labour leader has visibly grown in stature over the last few weeks.

He responded with clarity and modest determination.

It was impressive.

Miliband spoke to local paper, the Star,

..he said the key message he had heard from local people was that the economy had not got better for ordinary workers.

He said: “It may be better if you work in the City of London or you’re one of the highest-paid people in the country, but this idea that the wealth will trickle down is nonsense.

“The people working hard to try to improve their lives are not seeing any improvements, and it is time we changed things to ensure that any recovery is shared by everyone – not just the richest.”

David Ellesmere was present to welcome Labour’s Battle Bus.

David has also risen in – political – stature during the election campaign.

As leader of the Labour Group in Ipswich Borough Council he had headed a team dedicated to making things better for ordinary people.

Labour councillors have  has introduced the Living Wage for all its employees – and contractors.

They have banned the use of ‘workfare’ by the Council.

The Borough has engaged in a programme of building council houses (although one project has been held up by Eric Pickles).

It has invested in land, in supporting schemes to help ordinary people (such as the Credit Union), and a range of community bodies.

More broadly Ipswich Council has backed progressive policies, such as an anti-racist march.

David appeared at the first public meeting of the Suffolk People’s Assembly (SPA), along with Owen Jones, and the Secretary of the Trades Council, Teresa MacKay and other trade unionists.

Campaigning locally for the Living Wage, Ipswich Labour, local community groups, and the SPA, have tried to extend this principle.

On Suffolk County Council, the Labour leader, Sandy Martin – who also works with the SPA – has attempted to get this administration to adopt the Living Wage. The Conservatories have blocked it.

Recently David came along to a SPA/UNITE protest against the sanctions regime for benefit claimants -a  major cause of the rise of Food Banks.

Ipswich Labour, and David Ellesmere, have done a through, careful, job of making things better for ordinary people – just as Ed Miliband intends to do.

They have earned a lot of trust in the constituency.

By contrast Tory candidate Ben Gummer is looking increasingly rattled.

His efforts to claim credit for every thing positive that has happened to the town, up to and including the recent sunny weather (I made that one up – just…), are, people admit, at least pleasanter than his colleagues’ attempts to spread  fear of a Labour doomsday.

Ben Gummer tries to show his liberal side, but has come down hard in favour of the sanctions regime, and other regressive Tory policies.

Many people are tried of free-market politicians who lay ownership of economic upturns (never downturns), while disclaiming government responsibility for the precarious existence a large number of working people, not to mention benefit claimants, have to live.

I have no insight into the voting intentions of the public.

But if Ipswich is anything to go by, the hard-graft of politicians like David and his colleagues, is beginning to pay off.

 * population 133,400 – up to 200, 000 if you include the coterminous villages and small towns.

Charlie Hebdo Seminar in Queens University Belfast Cancelled Amid Fears for “Reputation” and “Security”.

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Can we Laugh About Everything? Not if Universities Have their Way.

This story broke yesterday but just how rotten the reasons given by the ‘University’ are are only just sinking in.

The decision to cancel a conference in Belfast on the fallout from the Charlie Hebdo murders in France has been labelled “a bitter irony”.

The event had been scheduled for Queen’s University, Belfast, in June.

Vice chancellor Patrick Johnston said he cancelled because of the security risk and concerns for QUB’s reputation.

But two academics who had been booked to speak said it was ironic that an event about free speech should be called off in this way.

Self censorship was one of the themes of the conference.

Professor Max Silverman from Leeds University told BBC NI’s Good Morning Ulster: “It is deeply ironic that what was going on in Paris this year to do largely with freedom of speech is actually being replicated by the university itself.

“There is a bitter irony in that the ability to discuss these topics has been taken away from us by this university decision.

“If you cannot discuss these sensitive issues in a university then I don’t know where you can discuss them. I do fear for what we value most in our democracies.”

Prof Silverman said the cancelled conference was now getting much more publicity but “for all the wrong reasons”.

‘Baffled and dismayed’

“Queen’s University has a wonderful reputation. It is a very prestigious institution. I don’t think this is going to enhance that reputation at all,” he said.

Dr Brian Klug from Oxford said he was both “baffled and dismayed” by the decision to cancel.

“Organising this was an admirable initiative and I cannot understand why the university has pulled the rug out from under their feet,” he said.

“We really don’t know what the vice chancellor was worried about. We haven’t been told what that security risk consists of. I think we are all owed an explanation.”

Dr Klug said that not only was it not the role of the university to stop freedom of speech, but it was “the responsibility of academia to respond to complex international conflicts in a constructive analytical way”.

The symposium: Understanding Charlie: New perspectives on contemporary citizenship after Charlie Hebdo, had been due to be hosted by QUB’s Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities.

Twelve people died when two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, fired on the journalists on 7 January at the satirical magazine’s offices in Paris.

Five others were killed over the two following days by one of their associates.

Padraig Reidy in Little Atoms provides essential background.

The Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Patrick Johnston, was today criticised after the cancellation of an academic symposium on the fallout from the Charlie Hebdo murders.

The symposium: Understanding Charlie: New perspectives on contemporary citizenship after Charlie Hebdo, was due to be hosted in June by QUB’s Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities. But delegates, including Oxford University philosopher Brian Klug were informed via email on Monday (20 April) that the event would not go ahead.

The email informed speakers: “The Vice Chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast has made the decision just this morning that he does not wish our symposium to go ahead. He is concerned about the security risk for delegates and about the reputation of the university.”

Doctor Klug said this morning he is “baffled” and “dismayed” by the decision.

“I don’t understand either of his concerns. The second – the reputation of the university – strikes me as ironic, as his action does not exactly reflect well on Queens,” he told Little Atoms via email.

More on Little Atoms.

Nick Cohen has commented on this story,

The Vice Chancellor at Queen’s – one Paul Johnston –  cancelled the discussion yesterday because he was “concerned about the security risk for delegates and about the reputation of the university.”

What to make of his cowardice?

The most obvious point is that senior academics now see suppression of debate as a means of protecting “the reputation of the university”. Freedom of thought and open argument, once the best reasons for having universities, are now threats which must be neutered.

Second, it is now not only difficult or impossible to satirise Islam because of fear of violence, it is becoming difficult or impossible in British universities to discuss the actual violence. Not only can you not show Charlie Hebdo cartoons, you cannot talk about the motives of the men who murdered the cartoonists. Third, although he cannot prove this, Walsh suspects that there was no real security risk, just the possibility that someone’s feelings would be hurt when he and others unequivocally condemned the murderers of cartoonists and Jews. The possibility that someone will or may hear an argument he or she does not like is now enough to justify censorship.

Finally, Queen’s has made the vice-chancellors and academics protesting against the Conservatives’ plans to ban Islamists look like perfect fools and utter hypocrites. If universities censor learned debates on Islamism, how can they possibly deny the state the right to censor Islamists?

The beloved martyr Charb’s book Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racistes has been extensively commented on in the English speaking media.

There is a very fine article today in the Independent today:

Charlie Hebdo editor’s final book: ‘Letter to the Islamophobia Frauds Who Play into the Hands of Racists’.

This is worth underlining,

Stéphane Charbonnier was a cartoonist and writer. He was a supporter of the French Communist Party. And while, under his editorship, Charlie Hebdo aggressively poked fun at Catholicism and Judaism as well as radical Islam, his book – published in France last week – is a passionate rejection of the allegations that, under his editorship, Charlie Hebdo was “racist” or “Islamophobic”.

In the book, Charb, as he was always known, defends his publication of cartoons mocking radical Islam and caricaturing (but never mocking) the Prophet Mohamed. He argues – from a left-wing, anti-racist, militantly secular viewpoint – that the word “Islamophobia” is a trap, set by an unholy alliance of Muslim radicals and the unthinking, liberal Western media. The real issue, he says, is racism and Charlie Hebdo was never racist…

The Indy’s article is essential reading.

And in French there’s more: EXCLUSIF. Le testament de Charb

Tué il y a trois mois, le directeur de “Charlie Hebdo” venait d’achever un livre où il répondait aux accusations d’islamophobie pesant sur son journal. “L’Obs” en publie aujourd’hui les extraits.

 https://i1.wp.com/cdn-parismatch.ladmedia.fr/var/news/storage/images/media/images/charia-hebdo/517440-1-fre-FR/charia-hebdo_inside_full_content_pm_v8.jpg

1o0 Lashes of the Whip if you don’t just Die Laughing.

Ken Livingstone Backs Naz Shah in Bradford as Galloway Faces Serious Challenge.

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Ken Livingstone backing Naz Shah in Bradford.

Has George Galloway met his match in Bradford West?

Parveen Akhtar

Extracts.

“Shah caught the public imagination by writing about her difficult personal life. She grew up poor and at times destitute after her father left her pregnant mother and two children for the neighbours’ 16-year-old daughter. Shah was then sent to Pakistan by her mother, who feared for her safety; there, she was forced into an arranged marriage at the age of 15. Her mother, meanwhile, suffered abuse at the hands of another man, who she ended up poisoning to death.

Shah’s journey into politics is a far cry from the PPE-at-Oxford template of the traditional upper-middle-class career politician. With this powerful story and the Labour Party political machine behind her, she is Galloway’s only credible opponent in the election.

“Galloway still has a following in Bradford West, and, as he is fond of pointing out, it’s an international one: “They’re watching this contest from Manhattan to Gaza, from Mirpur to Baghdad. They’re watching the result of this election all over the world.”

Dogged loyalists

“Galloway still has a following in Bradford West, and, as he is fond of pointing out, it’s an international one: “They’re watching this contest from Manhattan to Gaza, from Mirpur to Baghdad. They’re watching the result of this election all over the world.”

But on April 13, former Respect councillor Mohammad Shabbir released a statement announcing that he had joined the Labour Group within Bradford council. He stated that “Respect (George Galloway) is a party of one and sadly it will remain so.”

“At the end of the first hustings, an apparent Respect supporter who had heckled from the side-lines throughout asked Naz Shah a question as she was leaving for the night:

“Who will be dancing in the streets if your party wins – the Israelis or the Palestinians?”

“Human beings will,” she replied.

“Your leader’s a bacon-eating Zionist!” came the reply.

Shah responded: “Half of England eats bacon. I can’t decide my policies by that.”

 

 

Protests Grow at Katie Hopkins Migrants are “Cockroaches” Column.

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Rwanda: Never Forgotten. 

This is how Rwandan local radio incited the Hutus to violence:
‘You have to kill the Tutsis, they’re cockroaches.’
‘All those who are listening, rise so we can fight for our Rwanda. Fight with the weapons you have at your disposal: those who have arrows, with arrows, those who have spears, with spears. We must all fight.’
‘We must all fight the Tutsis. We must finish with them, exterminate them, sweep them from the whole country. There must be no refuge for them.’
‘They must be exterminated. There is no other way.’

 

Katie Hopkins petition calling for her to be sacked as The Sun columnist has almost reached 200,000 target, just three days after launch.

Katie Hopkins inspired the wrath of thousands when she described migrants desperate to reach Britain following humanitarian disasters in their own countries as “feral humans” and suggested the government deploy “gunships” to stop them landing on shore.

Her column for The Sun, in which she further labelled refugees “cockroaches”,  became the subject of heated debate over whether the language she used – and the tabloid published – broke editorial guidelines.

Not that the British public were about to wait for the results of an inquiry. An online petition quickly sprouted up on Change.orgcalling for her sacking from the paper.

From the Independent. 

Comrade  says why we are protesting.

On immigration, the language of genocide has entered the mainstream.

I have no interest in the personality of that exoskeleton of solidified bile that is Katie Hopkins. None. But as dead bodies are taken out of the sea, destined for unmarked graves, we might ask how the language she speaks, and the flaunting of murderous wishes towards people who have nothing but the clothes they are found in, has become so mainstream.

To see the vocabulary of genocide casually used by Hopkins in her Sun column has disgusted many, but it does not come out of nowhere. The “debate” around immigration is rarely a debate at all; it has become a void which people fill with more and more extreme and disconnected statements.

Those who preach “honesty” – Nigel Farage staring down the camera, telling us that we at home are thinking what he is thinking, that unlike other politicians he will “tell it as it is” – are lying. The far right’s fantasy of pulling up the drawbridge to stop this great flow of desperate humanity in transit is just that: a fantasy. The politician who promises control of all borders, and pledges to further strengthen that control by withdrawing further from Europe, is selling a simplistic idea. This idea is now indeed itself Europe-wide, as the toxic language around immigration has moved from the margin into the mainstream.

More at the Guardian. 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 20, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Tower Hamlets First Hitler sympathiser goes on DCLG-funded jolly to ‘promote integration’ (with some help from the Church)

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Andrew Coates:

In the already right-wing enough West of Suffolk.

“The weekend away in Suffolk, however, has been funded entirely by the taxpayer…through a fund set up by the man Mahbub and his Tower Hamlets First colleagues love to hate: Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

They were given a grant of £2,000 for their weekend break from the £5million Near Neighbours Fund which was set up by the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2011. The intention was to promote inter-faith dialogue in key areas throughout the UK. East London was of course one such area.”

 

“There were no Jewish people invited on this weekend away together “promoting integration” and interfaith dialogue. Which is a shame because I wonder whether they’d have discussed this”

This was posted by Ahad Miah on his Facebook page during the Gaza crisis last summer. You can see that a friend of his has written “miss him” underneath.

So a man who “salutes” Hitler for exterminating Jews has been the recipient of DCLG money that was earmarked for promoting interfaith dialogue and integration. I wonder how many others share his views. What checks did the Church Urban Fund carry out on the people going on this trip?

IMG_0408

Originally posted on Trial by Jeory:

kentwell hall

Kentwell Hall is a beautiful historic Tudor home in Long Melford, near Sudbury, Suffolk. It’s about 90 minutes away from Stepney and has a moat, wonderful gardens and a rare breed farm.

It also has accommodation for honeymooners and for anyone simply wanting a break from the Big Smoke. Its Hall Barn Lodge and Annexe can sleep up to 14 and a weekend break with a group that size in early May costs £1,150, according to a quote I was given.HB O whole back

The accommodation looks lovely. Here’s the master bedroom, another guest room and the lounge area.

And, thanks to photos posted on Twitter by the Stepney branch of the Salvation Army, these were the guests there this weekend:

Salvation Army

That’s the group having dinner on Friday night. On Saturday, they went horse-riding:

stepney fathers, near neighbours

They’d also wanted to go quad biking but I’m not sure they did in the end.

Regular readers will have spotted the…

View original 986 more words

Written by Andrew Coates

April 20, 2015 at 11:40 am

London: Nazi Sympathisers, Holocaust Deniers, Laugh at Charlie Hebdo Massacre.

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Nazi sympathizers, Holocaust deniers hold secret London meeting.

British newspaper sends undercover journalists to gathering featuring speakers from Spain, Canada, UK and US

Nazi sympathizers and Holocaust deniers gathered for a secret meeting at a London hotel last week, sparking outrage and prompting many to call for a police investigation, the Daily Mail reported Saturday.

The gathering, which took place last Saturday at the Orient Suite in London’s Grosvenor Hotel, reportedly drew a range of speakers from Spain, Canada, the UK and the US.

“The material from this white supremacist group makes ugly reading,” Jonathan Arkush, VP of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was quoted by the Mail as saying. “On the face of it, their proceedings should be investigated to ascertain whether criminal offenses have been committed, including incitement to racial hatred.”

The British daily sent an undercover team of journalists to listen in on the event, which was attended by 113 people.

We would not normally cite the Daily Mail.

But this is important.

Nazi invasion of London EXPOSED: World’s top Holocaust deniers… filmed at secret race hate rally where Jews are referred to as the ‘enemy’.

 Nazi sympathisers at meeting laughed at Charlie Hebdo massacre and cheered at the mention of Spanish Fascists

In a room draped with the Union Flag, as the event called the London Forum unfolded, the audience:

  • Sniggered at the mention of ‘ashes rising from the death camps’ crematoria’;
  • Applauded as they were urged to ‘identify, counter and break … Jewish-Zionist domination’;
  • Laughed at the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and as an African leader at the Paris memorial ceremony was described as ‘some Negro’;
  • Cheered at the mention of a brigade of Spanish Fascists who fought for the Nazis;
  • Heard gay parents branded ‘monster families’ and mixed race children described as ‘blackos’.

Last night, there were calls from Jewish community leaders for police to investigate the group for race hate crimes.

‘The material from this white supremacist group makes ugly reading,’ said barrister Jonathan Arkush, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

‘On the face of it, their proceedings should be investigated to ascertain whether criminal offences have been committed.

There are many points to be made about the ideology and activities of these people.

This is just one.

The next time people claiming to be on the left indulge in hate-speech against Charlie Hebdo, we hope they remember how the Nazis at this meeting reacted to the deaths of our beloved martyrs.

Wanking While You Work, Debate Shakes Left Unity.

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Key Debate that’s Come out of the Closet. 

The class struggle hots up.

TUSC has a general election broadcast and the  Republican Socialist Campaign for Merrie England in Bermondsey and Old Southwark, looks set to go well into a double figure vote.

The Communist League (aligned to the US paper The Militant) is also mounting a serious challenge in Manchester Central (parliamentary election), Tirsén (Bradford ward) and Andrés Mendoza (Moston ward) standing for election to Manchester City Council for the May 7 elections. In London, engineering worker and historic ‘éminence grise” of the International Marxist Group Jonathan Silberman is the Communist League candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

The CL is gaining support for its internationalism. As a doorstep exchange shows, “For us, it’s about everyone having access to the care they need,” Davies responded. “These are the values you see in Cuba, because workers and farmers took power there in 1959.

 The Workers Revolutionary Party is putting up a courageous fight, in amongst other places, the Coatesite Heimat, Hornsey & Wood Green, with comrade  Frank Sweeney as a promising candidate.

As they point out, “We are part of the World Party of Socialist Revolution, the International Committee of the Fourth International, with sections around the world. We base ourselves on Marxist theory developed by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky as a guide to the practice of building the Fourth International.”

These are just some who make up a record number of candidates to the left of Labour – says Phil,  On the Far Left’s General Election Campaign.

Socialist Worker comments, ““We are building a serious network for the battles ahead. But this raises questions about where we go next—and the possibility of a more united left.”

Indeed.

This has inspired deep strategic thinking.

As an example we can cite the following:

We learn that here’s a Left Unity Facebook thread on whether you have a “right” to masturbate at work, or, if in intersectional terms, if taking your turn at the self-service station is held back/reinforced by/against/through gender and class hierarchies, not to mention the construction of discursive oppressions and narratives.

Discussion first began inside the National Union of Students (see notice above), following concerns amongst student youth.

Details are slow to come, but apparently this is the major issue that’s tossing the British left into a whole new ball game.

More, doubtless, to follow, in the pages of the indispensable Weekly Worker.

On the Ambiguities of ‘Islamophobia'; Debate Launched by Yves Colman and AWL.

with 13 comments

The supplement Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Europe, by Yves Colman (from Ni patrie ni frontières) is published by the Alliance of Workers’ Liberty. It is essential reading.

These are some comments on one section,  About the ambiguities of the “Islamophobia” concept.

The original title is perhaps more forthright: De l’usage réactionnaire de la notion d’« islamophobie » par certains sociologues de gauche et… Amnesty International. It is also, Yves notes, “a slightly different and longer version”. In French he refers to, for example, to claims about ‘hypersensitive’ Jews, by  French academic, Olivier Esteves (joint author of De l’invisibilité à l’islamophobie : Les musulmans britanniques (1945-2010) with  Gérard Noiriel. 2011).  I doubt if anybody outside of France would be greatly  interested in Esteves, although Yves’s annoyance at the use the writer makes of Maxime Rodinson would be shared by many on the left in the scores of countries where Rodinson’s works on Islam are read and appreciated.

This, nevertheless,  suggests a wider point. The political and cultural bearings of any discussion about Islamophobia – and anti-Semitism – are different in France and Britain. This is not just that different writers can be, or need to be, cited, but   that there are some deeper distinctions. Not only has continental Europe a more direct exprience of the history of the consequences of anti-Semitism, but France has a distinct relation to Islam (North African colonialism was more ‘immediate’ than, say the Raj), and a much stronger secular and radical left, which is hostile to the kind of religiously inspired fudging of these issues that exists in the UK.

Much of this may be well-known, but it is less appreciated in the UK, and elsewhere, just how far a large chunk of the French left just does not accept the same premises on these topics. It is  doubtless partly due to the efforts of groups like the SWP, who systematically turn reports on France to fit their own ‘line’, but also from other groups, who are themselves aligned with the various (minority) French groups who make up such bodies as the Collectif contre l’Islamophobie.

We have to begin, then,  by noting that in France, to a much greater degree than in the English-speaking world, the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ remains contested, above all on the anti-racist left. Houda Asal observes that it remains “champ de bataille ” (Battle field). That is, as a political issue of great importance, its content remains to be clearly defined (Contretemps). Above all, she notes, the identification of Islamophobia (a term she backs, as a supporter of the group cited above) as a form of racism, has met with sustained objections amongst important sections of the French left. A variety of objections have been made to the word, not least by important French left parties, such as the Parti de gauche of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who are firm secularists and fear a restriction on their right to criticise reactionary religious politics.  Apart from the obvious point that faith is not in the genes, this runs up against the idea that people can have their ideas challenged and that they should be free to leave their ‘birth’ religion. 

Yves Colman begins his article by giving some reasons why the word Islamophobia is not just ‘essentially contested’ but eminently contestable. This is is so not just in terms of French debates, but for the whole international left.

He begins,

I have tried not to use the word “Islamophobia” in this article and chose expressions like “anti-Muslim paranoia”, “anti-Arab”, “anti-African” and “anti-Muslim racism”, in line with what Sacha Ismail proposed in Solidarity.

Among many other reasons, I prefer not to use the word “islamophobia” for the following motives:

• The phenomenon involved is not a simple phobia (fear) but a paranoia, therefore much more serious than a simple fear;

• This concept is manipulated by Islamists and the 57 States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to prevent any criticism both of political Islam and Islamic religion;

• It’s used by left militants and social scientists who refuse to criticise religion: for example, Clive D. Field 60 considers the rejection of sharia courts in Britain an “islamophobic” prejudice!

It remains to be seen if one can clearly distinguish paranoia and fear. Or, that there is any point in saying that because anybody intensely dislikes, say Boko Haram, they are imagining something about them.

Viewers of this week’s BBC 2 documentary Kill the Christians, might equally become fearful about Islamic religious intolerance and hatred towards non-Muslims.

It is hard to see what worse one could imagine about groups such as the Islamic State – Daesh.

Which is not to say that racists, of any stripe, are not capable of deluded fantasies about the objects of their loathing.

There are few more disgusting sights than listening to Nigel Farage speaking, and his views on Muslims are no exception.

UKIP is striking evidence of that – and spans a very wide variety of targets. ‘Populism’ in this case seems about very classical scapegoating, too simple in fact to need any sophisticated cultural, ideological/discourse analysis. However it does not have one clear target: it’s an heap of images, Polish, Gypsy, Muslim, Chavs, Africans, Caribbeans, idle British benefit claimants, Brussels,  single mothers, and, let’s not forget, the large Hindu and Sikh populations, to give a far from exhaustive summary.

But the deep rooted, all-embracing, hatred of one group has yet to take hold. There is not the obsessive loathing against Jews looked at in books such as Sartre’s  Réflexions sur la question juive (1946), with their institutional and political backing in National Socialism and other European extreme-rights, has yet to take hold in large sections of the population. There is no version of the Protocols featuring Muslim ‘Elders’. Éric Zemmour, who advocates expelling Muslims from Europe, does not lead a political party, even a groupuscule. 

These reservations should not obscure the principal point that  across Europe there is widespread intolerance against migrants and all ethnic minorities.

In this noxious mixture there are anti-Muslim strands.

How can this best be termed? Sacha Ismail’s list strikes me as right: there is “anti-Arab”, “anti-African” and “anti-Muslim racism” .  Though unfortunately one has to add a long list of other prejudices, xenophobic hatred, and biological racism to the tally. There is, though not at present of visible importance in Europe, intra-Muslim conflict, too well known to catalogue.

These qualifications said, Yves’s argument is extremely fruitful: it has implications for the left’s strategies to oppose this tide of prejudice.

The Left and ‘Islamophobia’.

As a first step we have to look at what we should not do. 

The line advanced in the pages of the Socialist Workers Party magazine, Socialist Review, by  Hassan Mahamdallie of the Muslim Institute (January 2015) gives some indications of very misleading approach.  (Resist the racist offensive against Muslims)

Mahamdallie works with this central premise,

Although the term “Islamophobia” is widely used to describe the phenomenon of hatred and discrimination against Muslims, we should regard it like other racisms as having historic roots, and a particular role to play in modern capitalist societies.

This is true in the west, whose governments are failing to deliver the needs of their working classes, whilst engaging in military interventions in regions they see as strategic. Muslims in the West are being used as scapegoats for a situation not of their making, and simultaneously being divided from the rest of the population, cast as alien, dangerous and thereby set apart from those with whom they have most in common.

‘Islamophobia’ is not at all reducible to the something that can be reduced to  a “function” or role in “scapegoating”. The expression is already flawed enough without this. But it’s the political consequences which Mahamdallie draws that are most ambiguous:

local initiatives include the vibrant campaign around the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham; the work of activists to repulse the racialisation of child abuse “grooming” cases in towns such as Rotherham; and the defence of Tower Hamlets council and schools. This is a vital bulwark against Islamophobia, not only in demonstrating that Muslims can count on the support of others, but in radicalising a new generation of activists, Muslim and non-Muslim, who can feel that they can move from the defensive to the offensive, and by doing so making themselves active in changing the world around them for the better.

These are very far from clear issues. Anybody who ‘defends’ the Birmingham schools, to start with, is misled. Why Tower Hamlets Council leadership should be ‘defended’ without any qualification (or evidence in the courts) is equally questionable. Not to mention why the left should be deeply involved in the child abuse cases, which defy any kind of rational political intervention….

Indeed the words hornet’s nest barely cover the issues Mahamdallie baldly cites.

But, (we learn)

…there are bigger issues at stake, which means breaking out of the Good Muslim/Bad Muslim framework and championing the right of Muslims to practise their religion and to express themselves culturally and politically freely and without fear, to organise against war and injustice without suffering the fate of activists such as Moazzam Begg and to defend their communities and leadership without being labelled as “fundamentalist” conspirators.

It is natural that Britain’s Muslims should reach out for allies in this struggle. The responsibility falls on the wider movement against racism and imperialism, on trade unionists and socialists to actively demonstrate, without pre-conditions, that it will consistently unite with Muslims under attack. Only then can we begin to roll back the state repression and the bigotry and discrimination that are in danger of being embedded in British society.

No socialist can accept the phrase, “Without pre-conditions’, without, pre-conditions…..

We have just seen some reasons why; there are plenty of others.

Defending those who identify as Muslims, from racist assaults, is absolutely right, in general.

But what of  organised groups, political and religious associations? Every single Salafist? And is every individual to be backed? ‘Against’ the state, and ‘against’ what else? Every, well the word begins with a ‘J’……

There is a drift, ultimately, to the blanket ‘defence’ of every Muslim, which the SWP, and many on the left, make all too often – for all their ‘yes ISIS is terrible’ but…...

Yves notes, that Islamophobia is used, in this context above all, to protect a range of figures from criticism (from Islamists to ‘traditional’ leaders, ‘conservative’ – reactionary – clerics, academics and perhaps most important, would-be political leaders) , to encircle ‘The’ (as if there is ‘one’) Muslim ‘community’ and as Charlie Hebdo’s murdered Editor, Charb says, to encourage ‘identity’ against the ‘enemies’ of Islam (Lettre ouverte aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racistes. 2015(1)

Behind this is not a powerless body of migrants, but some wealthy and powerful countries, the 57 States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Does the left defend “without pre-conditions” all of these bodies?

Clearly not.

Multiculturalism. 

Yves takes us the critique of official multiculturalism”. He singles out

“….imaginary “communities” whose self-proclaimed representatives want to impose a “traditional” law on their cultural/religious group, we can’t just look away and forget the necessity of defending democratic rights for everyone… including Muslim workers.”

The comrade from Ni patrie ni frontières looks at Amnesty International’s report 63 (April 2012).

This asserts,

“States must take measures to protect women from being pressured or coerced by third parties to dress in certain ways, and in so far as social, cultural or religious norms prescribing dress codes are a reflection of discrimination against women, the state has a positive obligation to take steps to prevent such discrimination.”

He states,

Amnesty is right to criticise the discriminatory policies adopted by Western states: in the countries where the hijab ban has been implemented (outside Turkey and Tunisia, where these decisions were taken by Muslim governments), it has only served to expel young girls from the state-run, or “non-denominational” schools, which was a major setback; it has pushed them either to abandon their studies, or to follow long-distance education and remain isolated at home, and made them more vulnerable to (self-) indoctrination; and it has reinforced the influence of private schools and religious (Christian or Muslim) schools.

I disagree that the French law on wearing ostentatious religious symbols in schools is wrong. There is no reason why a public education system should be permitted to become a battleground in which personal religious symbolism, above all, religious standards of ‘modesty’ and ‘purity’, should be allowed to enter. The French concept of laïcité for all its obvious faults (notably, the failure to tackle class and other inequalities), nevertheless represent an advance in this area: schools should not be the place for the aggressive assertion of faith, either by the instructors, or by those trying to extend the  ‘micro-powers’ of religious observance.

To those who say that we not ‘defend’ the French state, I reply: schools are funded and run by the state. Unless you plan to take them away from the public authorities we are discussing about what should happen within them. Secularists want them to be secular. Obviously some on the left do not agree.

Anti-Semitism.

“The Islamophobia concept is sometimes used to counter the necessary struggle against anti-Semitism, the latter being presented, by the most extremists, as a “Zionist” tool to prevent any criticism against Israeli war crimes (see for example the opposition raised in the left by the working definition of anti-Semitism elaborated by an European Union commission which proposed to point the limits of anti-Zionism). “

In other words, everyone but the anti-Semites are responsible for…anti-Semitism.

There is another example of this in the  Parti des Indigènes de la République, and its leading figure Houria Bouteldja (admired by Verso Books and Richard Seymour amongst others).  Bouteldja has recently argued that there is a State philosemitism  in France (philosémitisme d’État). This state, apparently, ‘uses’ this, including the Shoah, as shields (boucliers idéologiques) to disguise its own racism. Thus, Arab anti-Semitism in France is…..a reaction to this State (racist) philosemitism. (François Calaret Combattre le philosémitisme » : impasse de l’antiracisme).

We wonder where this particular journey will end.

 In provisional conclusion: Yves Colman’s discussion and the major piece, Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Europe, are essential reading for everybody on the left. The AWL are to be congratulated on publishing it.

As the comrade says,

It’s never too late to recognise our errors and wage a clear fight against all forms of racism. For this we must understand their specificities, without negating the existence of any form of racism and without building an absurd hierarchy between them.

More articles by Yves on site Ni Patrie, Ni Frontières.

More on the increasingly overtly anti-Semitic  Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR)Non au philosémitisme d’État » : un slogan indigne !  (Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples).

Update: RW points us to this translation of the speech that marked this turn by Houria Bouteldja, membre of PIR translated into English.

The most striking is this sentence, “Last question: what is it that prevents the « real left » from struggling against state philosemitism? I will answer unambiguously: the real left is itself, with a few exceptions, philosemitic.” (State racism(s) and philosemitism or how to politicise the issue of antiracism in France ?).

Yes, they like Jews those French leftists……

How awful.

(1) I am considerably more a “follower of the line of Charlie Hebdo” than Yves Colman.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 17, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Top New Statesman Writer, Francois-Cerrah, Spits on Charb and the Charlie Martyrs’ Graves.

with 7 comments

Charb: Took Advantage of Own Death to Make Money, Says New Statesman Writer.

M Francois-Cerrah

Myriam Francois-Cerrah

New Statesman writer; FL journo; Oxford PhD researcher; France, MENA, postcoloniality. Views=own. http://journalisted.com/myriam-francois-cerrah

 

 

These are some extracts (adapted)  from the book she is referring to:

“Racism and not of Islamophobia“The term ‘Islamophobia’ is badly chosen to designate the hatred that some cretins have of Muslims. It is not only badly chosen but it is also also  dangerous.”Charb wrote:”Communitarian activists try to impose on the judicial and political authorities the notion of ‘Islamophobia’. This has no other purpose than to push the victims of racism to assert that they are Muslims (…) If tomorrow all French Muslims converted to Catholicism or abandoned their religion, this would not change the main racist discourse: that foreigners or those who are French but of foreign origin are and will be always be held responsible for every kind of fault. “

“The Qu’ran or the Bible does not read like Ikea assembly instructions”

If he criticised the term “Islamophobia” Charb recognised that there is indeed a fear of Islam. But if this worry is “absurd”, it “is not a crime,” he said.

“The problem is not the Koran or the Bible, which are sleep-inducing, incoherent and poorly written novels. The problem comes from a believer who reads the Qur’an or the Bible as if they were the instructions of an Ikea shelf-kit.”

The author also believed that racist speech was unclenched under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy and his ‘debate’ on national identity:

“When the highest  authority in the State said (in effect) to every moron and fool, “say what you want, you lot’, what do you think these morons and fool will do? They began to say out loud what they had been content to yell at the end of every, well-oiled, family meal. “

 Francois-Cerrah has a very different book on the “soporific” romance of the Qur’an.

“The Qur’an was pivotal for me. I first tried to approach it in anger, as part of an attempt to prove my Muslim friend wrong. Later I began reading it with a more open mind. The opening of Al-Fatiha, with its address to the whole of mankind, psychologically stopped me in my tracks. It spoke of previous scriptures in a way which I both recognised, but also differed. It clarified many of the doubts I had about Christianity. It made me an adult as I suddenly realised that my destiny and my actions had consequences for which I alone would now be held responsible. In a world governed by relativism, it outlined objective moral truths and the foundation of morality. As someone who’d always had a keen interest in philosophy, the Qur’an felt like the culmination of all of this philosophical cogitation. It combined Kant, Hume, Sartre and Aristotle. It somehow managed to address and answer the deep philosophical questions posed over centuries of human existence and answer its most fundamental one, ‘why are we here?'”

We knew that she is one of the brigade of vultures who said of flocked around the attack on Charlie.

As she wrote in the New Statesman on January the 9th.

….they mocked the sacred symbols of many groups, but those of Muslims on a particularly frequent basis and in a distinctly racialised tone.

Not that this should ever warrant a violent response, but the eulogising of the magazine for some sort of mastery of European satirical tradition is a white wash of its chequered history as well as a capitulation to a simplistic narrative of “you’re either with the racist satirists or you’re with the terrorists”.

In weasel words she continued,

We must ensure slogans of solidarity become more than just narrow and questionable support for the targeted publication and instead provide resistance to all those voices which seek to divide France, to entrench camps and harden the already worrying divides.

Poor old Francois-Cerrah…..

Just couldn’t resist another dig at the corpses of our martyrs.

More on Charb’s much more interesting book:

A book written by the late editor of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier – known as Charb – is set to be published posthumously.

The book, which upholds the right to ridicule religion, was finished two days before Charb was killed by Islamic militants in January, publishers say.

It argues that the fight against racism is being replaced by a misguided struggle against “Islamophobia”.

Charb and 11 others were killed during a Charlie Hebdo editorial meeting.

The attack on the Paris offices of the newspaper was carried out by two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, who were later shot dead by police.

Charb had received numerous death threats following Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad in 2006. The magazine’s offices were firebombed in 2012.

Charb’s book – which goes on sale on Thursday – is entitled An Open Letter to the Fraudsters of Islamophobia who Play into Racists’ Hands.

It is both a defence of Charlie Hebdo’s editorial stance and an attack on the paper’s detractors.

“The suggestion that you can laugh at everything, except certain aspects of Islam, because Muslims are much more prickly that the rest of the population – what is that, if not discrimination?”

He condemns this position as “white, left-wing bourgeois intellectual paternalism”.

BBC.

There is also this, just out, on the book which was being written before the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper-Casher supermarket:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 16, 2015 at 12:19 pm

George Galloway Welcomed with Joy in Palestine and Across the World – as he Follows Ian Donovan.

with 10 comments

I think Netanyahu and the entire Zionist movement wants me to lose; don’t you? #BradfordWestRising #CityOfGold.

Rosie says most of what us lot have to say, “Why aren’t the gutters of Bradford running with streams of urine as people double over hooting at the bombast and sheer grossness of this garbage?”.

Galloway remains worried….

Henry Trojan Hoax Jackson Society have simple agenda; witch-hunt Muslims and defend Israel. They have two horses in Bradford.

From Twitter.

 

But Galloway has one new friend:

George Galloway followed . 12hr.

Editor Communist Explorations – journal/website. Long-time Marxist and left-wing activist. RESPECT member and advocate of principled…

https://abs.twimg.com/hashflags/2015_uk_elections/respectparty.png

Donovan had 32 followers.

Now he has 33.

The Weekly Worker, 18.9.2014.

The September 14 meeting of Left Unity’s Communist Platform saw a parting of the ways with a member of its steering committee, Ian Donovan. This followed comrade Donovan’s espousal of views that can only be described as anti-Semitic: in his opinion, there is a Jewish “pan-national bourgeoisie”, which has constituted itself as ruling class “vanguard” in key imperialist countries, and it is this that accounts for US support for Israel. Donovan says he intends to write a book laying out this ‘theory’ in detail.

Once this line of thinking had been fully revealed to other members of the steering committee, they urged him to step down from the CP. When he refused, the September 14 members’ meeting was called, which had before it a motion from comrades Jack Conrad and Moshé Machover stating that anti-Semitism is “incompatible with membership of the Communist Platform”.

 If you really want to see first-hand how mad Galloway’s new best friend, Ian Donovan, is read (or skim) this:

Weekly Worker still refuses to condemn Galloway assault: bans criticism.

Phil Kent (19 March), trying to fill in for the failure of more substantial figures such as Jack Conrad to justify the Jewish-Zionist chauvinism that pervades the CPGB’s practice, indulges in religious fetishism. He writes that I am blinded by ‘red mist’, so angry at the slaughter and abuse of the Palestinians as to excuse ‘holocaust deniers’. It’s much worse than that, Phil. Thanks to the use of the Nazi genocide (a.k.a. “Holocaust”) as a propaganda trump card to justify murder and ethnic cleaning of Arabs by Jews, large numbers of Arabs and a minority of principled anti-racists of Jewish origin, are so angered that they are inclined to disbelieve not only the instrumentalism of the genocide, but the event itself.

“Throwing the baby out with the bathwater” is a common mistake in instances where a poisonous mixture of truth and lies about history is used to justify contemporary crimes. The reaction of many to Stalinism is a case in point. It is a commonplace that such things need to be debated fearlessly. But Phil opposes this for Israel and the genocide. He regards the latter as like the Holy Grail.

This is because of his pro-Zionist chauvinism, which he learned from his guru Jack Conrad.  JC, understanding little of the Middle East and the Jewish Question, defers to would-be ‘Marxist’ promoters of identity politics (Jewish identity as something ‘progressive’ in a transcendental sense), such as Machover and Greenstein. These people vote with their feet against the CPGB’s ‘party project’ – simply by failing to join it or any other ‘Leninist’ party. Thus the ‘party’ has no independent view of the Middle East, possibly the most strategic conflict in the world today, but depends on nebulous ‘sympathisers’. Lenin would have been quite scathing about this.

Phil is saying : ‘Don’t get too angry about Arabs being massacred by Jews, because Jews are more important than Arabs in the scheme of things anyway. If you get too angry about Arabs dying, that is a terrible thing, that leads to ‘anti-semitism”, and questioning of the holocaust.”

And so it goes, including attacks on Moshe Machover for having a “Harry’s Place style Jewish chauvinist position.”

 Update: Galloway Supporters Go for Glory!

Via Harry’ s (Jackson) Place.

Embedded image permalink

 

Boko Harmen: Remembering the Chibok Abductions. Will Stop the War Coalition do too?

with 21 comments

One year anniversary Nigerian schoolgirls

Relatives rally to mark anniversary of abduction by Boko Haram and demand security from new Nigerian president.

Chibok kidnapping: one year on, hope and stoicism as girls remembered.

Let us also remember the Stop the War Coalition’s response to this tragedy,

Nigeria, Boko Haram and the fantasies of benevolent western intervention Xavier Best. May 2014 (originally from Counterpunch – where else?)

Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls and US policymakers and the “free press” have exploded into a fit of pro-interventionist hysteria. It’s hard to escape media reports about the ruthless cruelty of Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau and his vow to sell his hostages into slavery.

Outrage has covered a broad spectrum of media and political personalities from Rep. Peter King who said “If the president decided to use special forces, I certainly would not oppose them,” to Michelle Obama who joined the “Bring Back Our Girls” Twitter campaign and released a video condemning the “grown men” in Boko Haram attempting to “snuff out” the aspirations of young girls.

Missing from this hysteria is a serious look at the US role on the African continent and the credibility of its “humanitarian” claims. Since the early post-war period the US has been an overwhelmingly negative force in Africa. Shortly after the Second World War US policy makers decided that the African continent “was to be ‘exploited’ for the reconstruction of Europe.”

The author adds,

It is widely conceded that the popular base of Boko Haram is a response to severe economic inequality that has disproportionately impacted Nigeria’s northern region. Unlike the south, Nigeria’s north faces severe problems meeting basic human needs of education, healthcare and clean water. Unemployment among young males in northern Nigeria “is in excess of 50 percent.”

This stark inequality is largely a symptom of what’s commonly called its “oil curse”, nations which are extraordinarily rich in natural resources but, due to corporate and often western-backed policies, are unable to meet the basic material and educational needs of its citizens. Consequences of this curse can be deciphered in the Pentagon’s latest Quadrennial Defense Review where the Department of Defense outlines a policy “to sustain a heightened alert posture in regions like the Middle East and North Africa.” The review also highlights “the security of the global economic system” as one of the primary goals of US “National Security Strategy.”

Many would dismiss these observations as a “justification” of Boko Haram’s crimes but it’s quite the opposite. The crimes of the Nigerian state, amply documented by reputable organizations like Human Rights Watch, have done far more to strengthen the arguments of Boko Haram than any analyst ever could.

The crimes of the Nigerian state apart, as far as one can tell the StWC’s main concern was the stop a Western Military intervention…….in Nigeria!

There is absolutely no analysis of the totalitarian machine and murderous ideology of Boko Haram.

That they regard the kidnapped women as war booty, in line with their version of Islamism, is just pushed aside with a few words. ‘Hysteria’ – they call it.

Nothing about the history of the North of Nigeria, their background as Muslim states, where slavery was continued well into the twentieth century, and where the Sharia is increasingly imposed – making non-Muslims into second-class citizens.  Nothing, for these self-declared ‘anti-imperialists’, on the enduring imprint  of Shehu Usman dan Fodio (1754 – 1817) who established a government in Northern Nigeria based on Islam before the advent of Colonialism. The British Colonial Government thereafter established indirect rule in Northern Nigeria based on the structure of this Islamic government.

Nothing on how Nigerian governments have failed to tackle the deep-rooted bigotry of the Northern Islamists, and in particular the cultural presuppositions that have favoured the growth of Boko Haram, that interact with social inequalities.  Or indeed the rest of the religious-social issues in the country’s complex politics.

In these conditions religious ideology, worked out in proto-state military apparatuses like Boko Haram, are, to put it mildly, material forces.

Instead we had a range of the same commentary from the StWC  people about ‘imperialism’.

This is one:  How Nigeria’s kidnapped girls have become tools of US imperial policy in Africa. Glenn Ford 21 May 2014.

Today what does the StWC say in this issue?Look and try to find anything….Is it any wonder that the Stop the War Coalition has dwindled to irrelevance?

Written by Andrew Coates

April 14, 2015 at 12:41 pm

The Armenian Genocide: Kurdish Recognition of the Massacres.

with 16 comments

This Year we Honour the Memory of our Armenian Sisters and Brothers.

This is deeply important,

Turkey has recalled its envoy to the Vatican after Pope Francis described the mass killing of Armenians under Ottoman rule in WW1 as “genocide”.

Turkey has reacted with anger to the comment made by the Pope at a service in Rome earlier on Sunday.

Armenia and many historians say up to 1.5 million Armenian Christians were killed by Ottoman forces in 1915.

But Turkey has always disputed that figure and said the deaths were part of a civil conflict triggered by WW1.

The row has continued to sour relations between Armenia and Turkey.

‘Bleeding wound’

The Pope made the comments at a Mass in the Armenian Catholic rite at Peter’s Basilica, attended by the Armenian president and church leaders.

He said that humanity had lived through “three massive and unprecedented tragedies” in the last century.

“The first, which is widely considered ‘the first genocide of the 20th Century’, struck your own Armenian people,” he said, in a form of words used by a declaration by Pope John Paul II in 2001.

Pope Francis also referred to the crimes “perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism” and said other genocides had followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia.

He said it was his duty to honour the memories of those who were killed.

“Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” the Pope added.

Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan welcomed his comments, saying they sent a powerful message to the international community.

BBC.

Now Turkey’s Islamist leader, often called Neo-Ottoman, finds it difficult to accept responsibility for the crimes of the Caliphate.

But – and this is not so widely noticed – the Kurdish movements began the process of recognising the genocide some time ago.

Why is this important?

The genocide of Armenians by some Kurds was meticulously carried out with help from some tribal Kurds who were organized into an auxiliary force called the ‘Hamidiye Alaylari’ or Hamidiye Brigades of the government in Istanbul.

During the Van Resistance, Armenians who left via Persia took defense positions in the Bargiri, Saray and Hosap districts of Van Province. The refugee group following the Russian forces were intercepted by Kurdish forces when they crossed the mountain passes near Bargiri Pass. At the Bargiri Pass, the Armenian refugees had many casualties.

Since that time, and particularly since the 1990s,  the Kurdish democratic movement has been at the forefront, within Turkey itself, in calling for recognition.

There is a long list of Kurdish statements and acts on this issue.

Last year Ahmed Turk, a Kurdish politician in Turkey, declared that the Kurds have their share of “guilt in the genocide, too,” and apologized to the Armenians.

“Our fathers and grandfathers were used against Assyrians and Yezidis, as well as against Armenians. They persecuted these people; their hands are stained with blood. We as the descendants apologize,” Turk said. (Rudaw via Assyrian International News Agency).

This one stands out: the statements  of comrade Abdullah Öcalan (Wikipedia)

In a 10 April 1998 personal letter to Robert Kocharyan, the newly inaugurated President of Armenia, Öcalan congratulated him on his election victory and expressed hope that the genocide would be officially recognized in Turkey:

“I also welcome and endorse the passage of a resolution in the Belgian Senate calling on the Turkish government in Ankara to recognise the reality of the Armenian holocaust perpetrated by the last Ottoman regime in 1915-19 … The massacres during the First World War which shocked the civilised world then became a precedent for an even more appalling and destructive demonstration of genocide of the Jewish people by the German Nazis in the Second World War. Let us recall Hitler’s response to a critic of the ‘final solution’ of the Jewish problem: ‘Who complained about the Armenians? ’​”[9]

Öcalan reiterated this position in a letter published on 30 January 2014 by the Istanbul-based Armenian weekly Agos. Throughout the letter, written from his cell in İmralı Prison, he repeatedly used the word “genocide” to characterise the atrocities, and stated:

“Today, the entire world should confront the historical truth of what happened to the Armenians and share their pain, paving the way for mourning. Inevitably, the Turkish Republic too will have to approach this issue with maturity and confront this painful history.”

He also emphasised that the Kurdish and Armenian struggles were inseparably linked to one another, citing the 2007 assassination of Agos co-founder Hrant Dink as an example of how “anti-democratic forces” within Turkey seek to undermine both causes. Öcalan’s letter was an apparent condemnation of incendiary remarks made earlier in the month by KCK co-chair Bese Hozat regarding alleged conspiracies by “Armenian, Jewish, and Greek lobbies” to undermine the democratic movement in Turkey.

It is no surprise that the Kurdish comrades from the News Agency Rudaw gave a prominent place to the Pope’s Sunday speech.

Pope calls Armenian slaughter ‘1st genocide of 20th century’

Written by Andrew Coates

April 13, 2015 at 12:25 pm

George Galloway Delves Further Into Sewer in Campaign Against Labour’s Naz Shah.

with 72 comments

Sewer: George Galloway’s Homeland.

Galloway excels himself.

Now out: Galloway calls for Labour’s Bradford West candidate to be prosecuted.

 

George Galloway, the Respect candidate in Bradford West, has called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to charge his Labour opponent Naz Shah with perjury over evidence she gave in the trial of her mother for murder and the subsequent appeal. He has also referred her to the DPP over claims she made under Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act which concerns false representation.

“A jury in the original trial where her mother was convicted on four counts – fraud, soliciting murder, attempted murder and murder – not only unanimously decided her mother was guilty but concluded Naz Shah’s evidence was a tissue of lies, as did the appeal court,” Galloway said. “In particular she lied by claiming that she had bought samosas, which her mother had poisoned, in a shop. In fact her mother, as she subsequently agreed, made them and included a dose of arsenic she had brought back from Pakistan. Shah’s mother even stood by and watched her eat one before making her sick afterwards,’ he continued.

  “The Court of Appeal, in peremptorily dismissing her mother’s appeal, concurred. I am demanding that she is now prosecuted for perjury. Her testimony, and everything she has said since about the case, is a travesty of the truth. You can either believe the judgments or the fairy tale Ms Shah has since presented.”

 Galloway continued: “I deeply regret that Labour has continued to drag this sordid tale and this disreputable candidate and her story across Bradford West voters. There is much more but I have no wish to delve further into the sewer.”

Respect Party.

“George Galloway and his Labour rival have each now reported the other to the Director of Public Prosecutions as their battle becomes one of the most bitter and personal election campaigns in memory.

The contest has become overwhelmed by claims and counter-claims about the sad childhood of Naz Shah, Labour’s challenger for the Respect founder’s seat.

Ms Shah has described a life of Dickensian misery in which she developed poverty-related tuberculosis, was forced into a teenage marriage and then saw her mother convicted of murder for poisoning a lover by feeding him a samosa laced with arsenic.”

Here.

We assume that Galloway’s reference to “much worse” refers to the anonymous dossier, “he anonymous dossier, The Truth about Naz Shah, Bradford West’s Labour Party Candidate for 2015 General Election http://nazshah.besaba.com/#sthash.oTXRk7on.dpuf is libelous,

“”5. NAZ SHAH FOCUSES ATTENTION ON HER SCANDALOUS PERSONAL LIFE AND AVOIDS TALKING ABOUT POLICIES” “8. NAZ SHAH IS REVILED AND SHUNNED BY PEOPLE IN HER PERSONAL LIFE” “9. NAZ SHAH ASTOUNDINGLY BRAGS ABOUT BEING UNEDUCATED AND UNREAD” “. 80% OF THE INFORMATION NAZ SHAH’S PEDDLES ABOUT HER AND HER MOTHER’S HISTORY ARE LIES ” “10 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT NAZ SHAH’S MOTHER. Zoora Shah is the convicted killer mother who Naz Shah of Bradford Labour regularly praises in interviewsNAZ SHAH’S MOTHER IS A KILLER AND NOTORIOUS CRIMINAL WHO HAS BEEN FOUND GUILTY AND IMPRISONED FOR MULTIPLE CRIMES. THE SEPARATE PRISON SENTENCES SHE WAS AWARDED WERE 7 YEARS, 10 YEARS, 12 YEARS, AND ALSO A LIFE SENTENCE”.

The link appears to be no longer working.

We wonder why.

Piers Corbyn: From the IMG and Squatting to Climate Change Denial and the Daily Express.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a climate change denier is in possession of good fortune, and must be in want of right-wing sponsors.

Spiked-on-Line (ex-Living Marxism, Revolutionary Communist Party)

Hat-Tip: Adam Barnett.

Left Foot Forward carries this story: Why is the Daily Express still quoting this crank in its weather stories?

Climate change denier Piers Corbyn believes the earth is ‘cooling’.

The Express reports: Piers Corbyn, forecaster for WeatherAction, said: “It is going to be very warm and sunny, with strong sunshine making it very hot and dry.
“We could certainly beat 24C (75F) or 25C and even nudge close to a 27C (80F) in some spots which get the best of the sunshine.”

Adam notes: “Here’s Piers Corbyn on global warming, from his website” …we point out that the world is now cooling not warming and there is no observational evidence in the thousands and millions of years of data that changes in CO2 have any effect on weather or climate.”

Corbyn is wont to attack “Green Fools” who believe in climate change.

He is a one-man one-idea one-voice rebuttal of Naomi Klein.

On his more than strange website (Weather Action), this cartoon appears,

Embedded image permalink

Hilarious!

This quote gives a flavour of his thinking,

Polar bears did very well in the warmer times. They didn’t die out at all; they didn’t die out in the last 10,000 years, nor during the previous interglacial, nor the one before that. So, they’re just used as a deceitful heartthrob; you know, to pluck your heartstrings because the polar bears might die out.

This has drawn the admiration of London May Boris Johnson (Daily Telegraph. January 2013),

I wish I knew more about what is going on, and why. It is time to consult once again the learned astrophysicist, Piers Corbyn.

Now Piers has a very good record of forecasting the weather. He has been bang on about these cold winters. Like JMW Turner and the Aztecs he thinks we should be paying more attention to the Sun. According to Piers, global temperature depends not on concentrations of CO2 but on the mood of our celestial orb. Sometime too bright the eye of heaven shines, said Shakespeare, and often is his gold complexion dimmed. That is more or less right. There are times in astronomical history when the Sun has been churning out more stuff — protons and electrons and what have you — than at other times. When the Sun has plenty of sunspots, he bathes the Earth in abundant rays.

Adam is not equally  impressed,

But Mr Corbyn is in a league of his own. As a study by researchers at the University of Sunderland into his wacky method of making weather predictions months in advance reported: “Some forecasts are clearly very good, and a few are very poor, but the majority fall in the grey area in between, where an optimistic assessor would find merit, but a critical assessor would find fault.“ In other words, you could get as reliable a weather forecast by looking out of a window.

I looked out of my window during the Winter and noticed it was oddly warm the whole time, with no snow at all in Ipswich. Corbyn proved wrong! In the 1970s Piers Corbyn (Wikipedia) was a member of the International Marxist Group.

His ‘student cell’, based in London University affiliate (independent since 2007) Imperial College, was somewhat separate to other IMG  London student groups. Notably from the Central London Cell, ULU, Central London Poly and FE colleges,  (I was a member, doing my ‘A’ levels at Westminster Further Education College), and the LSE cell.

The little band of Imperial College strugglers that Piers was part of rankled the Uni authorities and the NUS top-knobs. Apart from that I personally knew little of them.

This recounts part of Piers’ political career, described in a highly unsympathetic not to say, sub-Spart, way by an anarchist, (BM Blob. 1988).

One spokesperson that became well known was Piers Corbyn. He was a Trotskyist apparatchik belonging to the International Marxist Group (before the IMG dissolved itself into the Labour party). His influence was immense as regards general Elgin Ave policy and the line taken by the squatters newspaper (EASY-Elgin Avenue Squatters? Yes! ) This newspaper emphasized getting support from this or that institution (e.g. Young Liberals or, Paddington’s then Labour MP) and rubbished the libertarian current which called for “Free Housing for all” instead of the usual “nationalize the land” nonsense. The former demand was put forward by The Diggers who had a few years earlier been based elsewhere in Notting Hill. Later they were to become the backbone of the Rainbow Tribe Tepee people (c/f above photo) and The Peace Convoy.

This continues in a similar vein:

Despite all the mystifications and contradictions surrounding an alternative lifestyle, they nonetheless in Elgin Ave and elsewhere called for a radical approach to housing. Although Corbyn was an adept entryist and able, at times, to push para-state bodies like Student Community Housing (SCH) and the obsessively legalistic, Family Squatting Advisory Service (FSHS) he also kept getting way-laid by the libertarian atmosphere of Notting Hill. He once noted for instance how a guy known as “Shaky Dave” found in building street barricades, more therapeutic help than anything social workers, asylums or drug dependence had to offer. Later – befitting the trajectory of the IMG – Corbyn became a Labour party councillor in Southwark (Elgin Ave was rehoused in Camberwell) where from his bureaucratic perch, he defended the Pullens Estate and other Southwark squatters against the more Militant controlled Southwark Council who were evicting them. Many a Southwark squatter has mouthed-off about Corbyn, often saying how his presence spreads the illusion that something can be done by reforming the Council, thus pacifying the necessary direct action. One anarchist even punched him in the face.

There was an interview with Corbyn about the Notting Hill period on the BBC 4 series, “Lefties”. He has we learn, left the Labour Party. Down in his manor another opportunity opens: The Republican Socialist Campaign in the General Election for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, 2015

Republican Socialist Stands for Bermondsey The Republican Socialist Party (RSP) has chosen its first ever parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark, the seat currently held by Simon Hughes. Steve Freeman, who stood for the constituency as an independent in 2010, has agreed to stand.

Pundits are confidently predicating that Steve may well, possibly, get into double figure votes. With all that lovely climate change denying dosh sloshing about Piers will no doubt be tempted to support a fellow struggler for truth. Or perhaps he is happy with the UKIP backing Daily Express.

Galloway in Fight for Dear Life as Mudslinging at Naz Shah Backfires.

with 81 comments

It’s all go in Bradford for Britain’s 3rd Highest Outside Earning Parliamentarian.

The BBC reports,

A hustings in the seat of Bradford West has started trending online – because of a claim by George Galloway about his opponent’s forced marriage.

The hashtag #BradfordWest has been retweeted more than 2,000 times after an exchange between the Respect candidate George Galloway and the Labour candidate Naz Shah.

After she was selected as Labour candidate, Shah published an open letter which outlined her extraordinary upbringing. She said she had grown up in severe poverty after her father eloped with a neighbour. She was then sent to Pakistan to escape her mother’s abusive partner and while there, aged 15, she says she was forced to marry. Her mother eventually killed her abusive partner and was jailed, which meant that Shah had to care for two younger siblings. She left her husband in 1992, and became active in politics after her mother’s imprisonment.

But George Galloway of the Respect Party, whom she is running against for the seat, has attacked her claim that she was forced into a marriage at 15 – or at least, that part of his hustings speech is what picked up the most attention on social media when aclip of Galloway’s speech found its way onto YouTube. Shah maintains that her version of events is true.

Galloway, we recall has an “interesting” relation to the truth.

Then comes the decisive point,

Galloway claims that Shah has “only a passing acquaintance with the truth, you claimed and gullible journalists believed you that you were subject to a forced marriage at the age of 15 but you were not 15. You were 16 and a half.” He then produces a document which he claims is Shah’s nikah (a marriage certificate produced when people are wed under Shariah law). The Guardian’s Northern Editor Helen Pidd, who attended the hustings and who was live tweeting throughout the event reported that Shah “utterly refuted the allegations and said she had the documentation to prove it.” Shah accused Galloway of sending someone to Pakistan to impersonate her dead father in order to obtain her “nikah” and vowed to sue Galloway after the general election.

The Guardian’s live tweeting of the hustings started to attract attention on Twitter, but unusually given the parties involved, Conservative commentators were among the first ones to leap to Shah’s defence online. The former Conservative MP Louise Mensch was the first to take up the issue. “HOW DID YOU OBTAIN NAZ SHAH’S PRIVATE RELIGIOUS DOCUMENTATION” she asked on Twitter. “I’m not a Labour supporter,” Mensch tweeted. “But I am a feminist. And if anyone thinks they can smear @NazShahBfd to influence an election they are mistaken.”

Yup, this is what the Guardian says, George Galloway says his Labour opponent tried to join his party

Respect MP claims Naz Shah formerly asked to represent his party, but she accuses him of ordering someone to impersonate her dead father.

Galloway said Shah made the request to represent Respect the day after initially failing to be selected by Labour, coming last in a vote by local party members. She was only chosen after the original winner, London Labour councillor Amina Ali,abruptly quit, citing childcare issues.

Shah, who has admitted she voted and campaigned for Galloway in the 2012 byelection, said she had been making a joke and could produce a conversation on messaging app Whatsapp to prove it.

She then accused Galloway of ordering someone to go to Pakistan and pretend to be her dead father in order to obtain her Islamic marriage certificate, the nikah. Galloway had earlier told hustings that Shah had lied about being forced into marriage aged 15, producing the nikah from his jacket pocket, to gasps from one half of the 200-strong audience at the Carlisle Business Centre and cheers from the other. He said the certificate proved she had in fact been 16 and a half.

Shah said she “absolutely refuted” the allegation that she had lied, insisting she had the documentation to prove it, asking Galloway: “What has my nikah got to do with Bradford West? What have your four marriages got to do with Bradford West?” She then pledged to sue Galloway after the general election.

Labour List says,

Shah has said this took place when she was 15, but Galloway went to extreme lengths last night to produce a “nikah” (an Islamic marriage certificate) from Pakistan (which Shah says was obtained by someone pretending to be her deceased father).

They comment,

Regardless, we’re not sure what difference it makes whether someone was forced into an arranged marriage at 15 or 16 – surely it’s unacceptable either way Mr Galloway?

There are claims that Galloway has broken electoral law.

This is not the first such charge.

A few days ago there was this,

George Galloway is on the campaign trail as a candidate now that Parliament has been dissolved – he is not an MP. Yet he persistently breaks electoral law by handing out leaflets which refer to him as an MP as well as failing to notify his website’s visitors that he is now no longer an elected representative.

Here is the latest Bradford West Life leaflet, currently being distributed by George Galloway for the election.

Note the line: “Monthly newsletter of George Galloway MP”

Backbencher. 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 9, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Badiou: Deleuze, Guattari and the ‘fascisme de la pomme de terre’.

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Badiou, Shanghai “la plus mémorable mobilisation démocratique que le monde ait jamais connue.Badiou: Deleuze,

Guattari and the ‘fascisme de la pomme de terre’.

Alain Badiou’s political philosophy is, apparently, grounded on singular situated truths and potential revolutions. Fidelity to the invariant truth is a matter of procedure. What he calls an ‘Idea’’ has three basic elements, “a truth procedure, a belonging to history and individual subjectivation”. Authenticity, we might say were we admirers of Sartre’s philosophy, hangs in there.

This has a range (to put it as its most modest) of applications. But Badiou is best known for his politics (which are not renowned for their modesty).

On the Chinese ‘Cultural Revolution’, the professor has aroused controversy time and time again by giving a positive, glowing, account (“at any rate from 1965 to 1968” although he does not give the exact day of the week in this time-span) of this “political truth”. (1) These have had local, indeed spatial, moorings, no doubt, for example, in Maoist re-education camps as well as some time in Shanghai. There is the also the possibility of becoming a “militant for the truth”, perhaps, one might hazard, exemplified in the acts of the Union des communistes de France (marxiste-léninistes), the UJM (M-L) founded in 1969 by Alain Badiou and others whose names, sadly or not, few can recall or care about.

On the issue of Communism the professor has declaimed that the “Idea of communism, subjectivation constituted the link between the local belonging to a political procedure and the huge forward march towards its collective emancipation. To give out a flyer in a marketplace was also to mount the stage of History” (2) In the light of, er, recent and not so recent events, Badiou is not enthusiastic about the State’s ability to deliver Communism. A True Communist Event occurs only when it is “subtracted from the power of the State. “ Yet he notes with pleasure that Mao “had begun” to deal with this issue, incarnated by Stalin, “in a number of his writings” – which Badiou has commented on “guided by the eternity of the True.” (3)

Alain Badiou is perhaps reticent, for reasons which will become apparent,  to mention that he too has mounted History’s stage. He too has experience of the “vigorous subjective existence of the communist hypothesis.” Indeed as Francis Dosse’s biography Gilles Deleuze Félix Guattari. Biographie Croisée (2009) illustrates in a fascinating snapshot, it was indeed “vigorous”.

In the journal of the UJM (M-L) Cahier Yénan (No 4. 1977) Badiou attacked the celebrated joint work of Deleuze and Guattari, L’anti-Œdipe as “vulgar moralisers”, and for ignoring the scientific teachings of Marxism-Leninism. The second piece under the pseudonym of Georges Peyrol, was titled, Le fascime de la pomme de terre. Badiou observed that the pair were “pre-fascists”. Badiou frothed at the metaphor of the “rhizome”, to grasp the tentacles of multiple being, the proliferation of social shoots (most celebrated in their Mille plateaux 1980). The Ontologist detected a parallel with Lin Biao’s revisionism, the One that dived into Two, had subtly become the One that symbolised the Tyrant. (4)

Revisionists! Pre-Fascists! During the 1970s these words did not just hang in the air in the Vincennes campus where both Badiou and Deleuze taught. Tendance Coatesy has already recorded the history of the oh-so-sage Professor’s Maoist troops during that period. Their efforts to imitate the Shanghai Commune included their assaults on another ‘revisionist’, Maria Antonitta Macciocchi. In this instance a colleague ran the intimidation from the same department of philosophy.

At the beginning the hostile M-L claque’s presence ensured that the lectures ended early. Later they would try to disrupt Deleuze’s lectures by claiming that a student union meeting to back a workers’ struggle was being held; other times the more erudite mentioned the bogey-name of Nietzsche (Deleuze’s 1963 study on whom no doubt proving by its title alone proof of serious pre-fascism). The admirers of the Little Red Book also assailed others, Jean-François Lyotard, and François Châtelet.

The stunts of the little band of Badiou’s Marxist-Leninists petered out as the decade proceeded. That has its own history, one which awaits Badiou to tell with anything resembling the truth.

When Deleuze passed away in 1995, Badiou, Dosse recounts, gave him a “vibrant homage.” He considered himself a “worthy successor” of Deleuze in his present Chair, on condition that one read him in the light of the “bonne philosophie” (the right philosophy). According to Dosse Badiou revealed that in 1991 he had proposed to Delueze to hold a public exchange of views (at the time when one of the Deleuze’s best-known works, What is Philosophy, was published). This was refused but as the resulting correspondence, giving reasons for this refusal, was apparently important. He equally refused to let this be published, which left Badiou with material he could not render public.

The book which did get to the printers, is Badiou’s, Delueze. La Clameur de l’Être (1997). It no doubt interests those fascinated by the obscurity of a (until very recent) apologist for the Khmer Rouge, and a conformed admirer of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. What rankles Dosse is that Badiou baldly repeats a much earlier idea: that Deleuze’s philosophy centres on the ONE, “C’est la venue de l’Un, renommé par Delueze l’Un-tout, que se consacre, dans sa plus haute destination, la pensée.” (5) In other words, he repeated, at the core of this ‘study’  the ridiculous claims he made back in the days of Cahier Yénan dressed up in more elliptical and pretentious language. He further – we note ourselves –  charged that Deleuze was something of a Stoic – which to many people has more than w whiff of his old ‘cultural revolution’ or more exactly Gang of Four  thinking about attacking ‘Confucius’.

Still, at least he didn’t call him once more a ‘pre-fascist’.

That’s Badiou for fidelity, hein?

(1) Page 2. The Idea of Communism. Alain Badiou. In The Idea of Communism. Edited Costas Douzinas & Slavoj Žižek. Verso. 2010. (2) Page 4. Badiou. Op cit. (3) Page 10.  Badiou. Op cit. (4) Pages 432 – 434. Francis Dosse Gilles Deleuze Félix Guattari. Biographie Croisée La Découverte. 2009 (5) Page 435. Dosse Op cit.

Everything (mostly) that you wanted to know about the politics of the fraud Badiou here: Révolution culturelle : Alain Badiou, le Grand Prestidigitateur. CLAUDE HUDELOT

This is worth noting, although it includes a link to Badiou’s evasive responses, Editor Calls Badiou a “Frozen Dinosaur”

Badiou is no stranger to Maoist militancy of his own. When he worked at the same university as Gilles Deleuze, he declared Deleuze an “enemy of the people” and would bring groups of fellow Maoist to disrupt the class.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 9, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Galloway Faces Serious Challenge. Back Naz Shah!

with 12 comments

https://tendancecoatesy.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/screen-shot-2015-04-04-at-18_38_33.png?w=412&h=276

For reasons that escape the Tendance no left party, independent of Labour, is standing against George Galloway in his fiefdom of Bradford West.

The New Statesman perhaps offers a clue: Kitty has been showing his claws a lot recently,

The notoriously good-tempered Respect politician, who recently threatened to sue Guardian writer Hadley Freeman for comments she made on Twitter, responded: “what does that mean? And should you as a licensed premises in my constituency really be writing that?” He added that the tweet was “most unwise” and that “you’ll be hearing from me after the election”.

https://tendancecoatesy.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/screen-shot-2015-04-04-at-18_42_14.png?w=465&h=274

Goodfella Galloway is without doubt a ‘wise guy’.

We note in passing that Galloway now has four mates on the council to help him in this teetotaller’s mission to deal with ‘complaints’ about a place serving alcohol (Four Bradford councillors who quit George Galloway’s Respect 18 months ago have rejoined the party after apparently making up with the MP).

His spat with Bradford Brewery, closed by the masterstroke of the cleverly disguised hint of a threat,  is the latest in a long series of rows the third highest (from outside cash) earning member of Parliament (£303,350. 2014) has had.

There was this in January (Huffington Post).

Footage has emerged showing firebrand MP George Galloway condemning the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for producing “pornographic, obscene insults” against the Prophet Muhammad.

The Respect MP for Bradford West was speaking at a freedom of speech demonstration outside Bradford City Hall on Saturday.

This is what the increasingly rattled MP said (in summary):

Embedded image permalink

People may comment that Galloway’s lessons on the ‘proper job’ of journalists and cartoonists are indeed valuable  given the endless material he provides for our edification and entertainment.

A Freedom of Speech Rally?

He’s having a larf…..

Then there was this, George Galloway demands £5,000 from Twitter users (8th of April).

Not so funny.

For our part we would vote for Naz Shah, if we lived in the constituency.

A 41-year-old British Pakistani, the mother of three has worked as a disability rights advocate and a Samaritans volunteer, chairs a mental health charity and is now the Labour parliamentary candidate for Bradford West. While her contemporaries might have Oxbridge degrees in philosophy, politics and economics, Shah’s political education was less theoretical: she spent 12 years campaigning alongside Southall Black Sisters for the release of her mother, Zoora Shah, who was jailed in 1993 for murdering a man who raped, beat and pimped her for more than a decade.

In a moving personal account, Shah explains how the terrible events her family endured helped shape her political career – and the debt she owes her mother, whose dreams, she says, are responsible for all she has achieved.

Guardian.

If that fails, Bradford Brewery has pledged to put up a candidate to oppose George Galloway if he is re-elected.

Should We Ditch Multiculturalism? Response to Kenan Malik.

with 7 comments

Kurdish Fighters for Humanity.

Should We Ditch Multiculturalism?

The 100th Anniversary of the genocide of the Armenians was on Sunday the 5th of April. Le Monde reminded us that it “was in the name of Jihad that the Ottoman Empire entered the war against the Entente on the 1st of November 1914. It was also in the name of Holy War that the massacre of the Armenian Christians took place.” (Génocide des Arménians. Gaïdz Minassian. 4.4.15).

Few will need reminding of the echoes Minassian’s words evoke today. On Sunday Pope Francis and Justin Welby the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke to a much larger audience than their religious constituencies when they deplored the exactions Christians faced across the world today. The carefully weighed dignity of these speeches does not need underlining. Their martyrs are humanity’s martyrs.

Another intervention was made on Sunday by Kenan Malik in the Observer (Diversity and Immigration are not the problem. Political courage is. 5.4.15). Malik is not afraid to confront the issue of Jihadism. While most Muslims are integrated and “proud to be British” (83%) there is a problem. He writes that official multiculturalism is based on the idea of constructing Britain as a “community of communities”. The resulting state strategy pushes people into boxes, “as if each were distinct homogeneous whole”. In this move, the “most conservative figures came to be accepted as the authentic voice of minority groups.” Government run multiculturalism has fostered a “parochial sense of identity”. In these conditions “a small group of Muslims”, have found an “identity and an authentic Islam in Islamism.”

The Observer article describes another form of identity politics in the rise of UKIP. Some of Farage’s supporters (not least his activists) are “hard-line racists”. But the party’s wider support comes “from people whose hostility towards immigrants or Islam is shaped less by old-fashioned racism than by a newfangled sense of fear and insecurity.” “Euroscepticism, nationalism, opposition to immigration and populism” have a strong appeal for the ‘left behind’, the “disadvantaged and economically secure” as Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin have argued (Revolt on the Right. Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain. 2014).

Malik explains this in terms of his criticism of multiculturalism, “Once class identity comes to be seen as a cultural attribute, then those regarded as culturally different have come to be viewed as threats.” The ‘Polish builder’ or the ‘Bangladeshi neighbour’ come to symbolise the menacing forces of globalisation.

Despite the appeal of this picture it is not at all clear that one can explain the attraction of Jihadism in purely British terms. Every European country has a different set of policies towards communities of immigrant origin. France has, to say the least, not adopted multiculturalism. There are nevertheless Islamists, from a spectrum that goes from ‘conservatives’ (the polite British way of saying reactionary when it comes to Islamic politics) aligned to the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups, a variety of Salafist forces, to those (crossing over to) active Jihadists. Those recruited to fight for the Islamic State, Daesh, come from across the continent, and from elsewhere. This includes North Africa, including democratic Tunisia, countries whose politics and culture are criss-crossed with Europe’s.

Like Jihadism the rise of UKIP cannot be explained in purely British terms. The strong vote for the French Front National in the country’s elections has indicated a similar ‘left behind’ constituency. Identical language is used to explain the FN’s support in France: a protest at “post-industrial society” a loss of references, a wounded nationalism. (Le FN perce dans de nouveaux territories. Le Monde. 25.3.15.)

Malik has already tied these themes together. In A search for identity draws jihadis to the horrors of Isis, he argued in March,

Identity politics has, over the last three decades, encouraged people to define themselves in increasingly narrow ethnic or cultural terms. A generation ago, “radicalised” Muslims would probably have been far more secular in their outlook and their radicalism would have expressed itself through political organisations. Today, they see themselves as Muslim in an almost tribal sense, and give vent to their disaffection through a stark vision of Islam.

These developments have shaped not just Muslim self-perception but that of most social groups. Many within white working-class communities are often as disengaged as their Muslim peers, and similarly see their problems not in political terms but through the lens of cultural and ethnic identity. Hence the growing hostility to immigration and diversity and, for some, the seeming attraction of far-right groups.

Racist populism and radical Islamism are both, in their different ways, expressions of social disengagement in an era of identity politics.

There are specific influences at work in Britain. In From Fatwa to Jihad. The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy (2009) Malik filled in the details about how “conservative figures” came to be seen as leaders of Muslim communities. It was protests against Salmon Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. “What it really catalysed was a transformation of Islamism in Britain. The Rushdie affair provided an opportunity to bring order to the chaos of the fissiparous Islamist landscape – and for Islamists to stake a claim for the leadership of British Muslims and to present themselves as their true representatives.”(Page 123)

If Malik asserts that today’s jihadists are ‘estranged’ from their communities, others would argued that there are overlaps between these forms of Islamist politics and the violence of Al-Queda and ISIS. Awareness of the differences between the different strands of these movements should not prevent us from noting that some groups function as ‘paserelles’ between open and clandestine Islamism. Above all the emphasis on this form of religious politics, by definition identitarian, exclusive and intolerant, indicates a constituency for the central demands of rule by the Qur’an and the Sharia alone – the core of violent jihad. The Islamist project has taken the form of areas in which the ‘Sharia’ is enforced in a limited territory, to the ambition to restore a much large ‘Caliphate’. In Europe the practice of Islamists, notably Salafists, has been to attempt to create their own ‘micro-powers’  in which their form of ‘justice’ is preached, and, if possible put into practice.

Islamism and the Left.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the publication of the Satanic Verses. But one issue has remained constant: demands for “group right.” The response of British Muslims to the massacres at Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher Supermarket were in general restrained. The small number of Moslems who raised calls in the name of this right to ban offence to the image of the Prophet marched to general indifference. They had little of the impact of the Rushdie protests – not least, as the British state does not seem at present anxious to recognise their ‘leadership’. It was left to self-proclaimed liberals and socialists to make the loudest clamour about the weekly’s ‘racist’ and ‘pornographic’ cartoons.

Why is this? As Michael Walzer has remarked, (Islamism and the Left. Dissent. Winter 2015.)

I frequently come across leftists who are more concerned with avoiding accusations of Islamophobia than they are with condemning Islamist zealotry. This is an odd position with relation to the Muslim world today, but it makes some sense in Western Europe and possibly also in America, where Muslims are recent immigrants, the objects of discrimination, police surveillance, sometimes police brutality, and popular hostility. I have heard Muslims called the “new Jews.” That’s not a helpful analogy, since Muslims in today’s Western Europe have never been attacked by Christian crusaders, expelled from one country after another, forced to wear distinctive dress, barred from many professions, and slaughtered by Nazis. In fact, right now, some Muslim militants are among the chief purveyors of anti-Semitism in Europe (they get a lot of help from neo-fascists in France and Germany and other countries, too.

He continues,

All these left responses to Islamist zealots—identification, support, sympathy, apology, tolerance, and avoidance—look very strange if we consider the actual content of their ideology. Jihadi opposition to “the West” should provoke serious worry on the left before any other response. Boko Haram began with an attack on “Western-style” schools, and other Islamist groups have undertaken similar attacks, especially on schools for girls. Values that the zealots denounce as “Western” are very much in contention here: individual liberty, democracy, gender equality, and religious pluralism.

And makes this telling point,

But individual liberty, democracy, gender equality, and religious pluralism aren’t really Western values; they are universal values that first appeared in strong, modern versions in Western Europe and the Americas. These are the values that pretty much define the left, which also first appeared in its strong, modern version in Western Europe and the Americas. The left is an eighteenth-century invention, an invention of the secular Enlightenment.

Without following the argument in details an important response has to be made to Walzar’s critic, Andrew March, who notes this,

A first dimension is a consideration of the way the Islamist challenge to post-Enlightenment left principles might cause those on the liberal left to rethink their core commitments. The model here is Marx’s critique of bourgeois rights in “On the Jewish Question,” the ur-text for all subsequent leftist skepticism about formal rights, legal equality, and individual negative freedom. There are, of course, hard and soft versions of this. A hard version dismisses rights and parliamentary democracy tout court as bourgeois fictions that obstruct rather than advance emancipation. A softer version merely cautions us against seeing the achievement of rights, representative democracy, and negative freedoms as the final victory rather than as a necessary first step toward deeper forms of freedom and solidarity.

Speaking as somebody from the ‘real left’ (apparently something these academics are fond of arguing the toss about) I agree with Walzer. I have no truck with ‘post-Enlightenment’ readings of human rights. I will stop following March’s argument at this point to make this clear, Marx’s early writings, strongly influenced by the notion that ’emancipation’ was something ‘beyond’ the individualism of bourgeois society, failed to grapple with their enduring material appeal. But the issue of the value of rights was taken up by the 19th century left and embodied in the programmes of many parties, including one of the most dogmatic, the Parti Ouvrier Français (founded 1880). Marx’s later writings include sterling defences of human rights, as Robin Blackburn’s An Unfinished Revolution: Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln (2011) indicates. They show a separation between right and power – the demands for what should be, and the actual state or government called on to deliver these declared needs. Embodied, or crystalised in substantial form, they are the backbone of the socialist and social democratic movement – as the fight over the British Welfare State demonstrates.

This applies equally to the ‘imperialist’ powers and the Islamic pro-states, to capitalism and to the (former) Stalinist regimes. Walzer emphasises Islamism for the obvious reason that it offers no possible mechanism for the translation of universal rights into power. March’s other arguments fall apart because they do not look at the importance this now holds for international politics and for the left. They are perhaps the best existing example to show that Claude Lefort’s description of a ‘totalitarian society’ as the ‘People as One’ is seriously flawed. The Islamist apparatus of power-knowledge, of surveillance, of discipline and punishment,  is the People Under the Vice-Regenency of God ( L’Invention démocratique,1981). Demands for human rights sound the trumpet of their defeat.

The flaws of the left’s position on Islam were dramatically shown in the way concern about Islamopobia has been allowed to over-ride support for democratic universal rights It is not only been the unedifying spectacle of those still trying to fish for Moslem souls for their groupuscules. The response to the massacres at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper-Casher tainted the left up its intellectual pinnacles. New Left Review has put on its website virulent attacks on French laïcité that evoke memories of the hatred of secularists – ‘laïcards’ – and Republican universalism expressed pre-Great War by Action française. Perhaps it is no coincidence that some of the Review’s authors are associated with the American Counterpunch which has seen fit to publish material questioning the innocence of Dreyfus….

Our Response.

It a different response it is important that the left responds firmly to the ‘fear and insecurity’ created by violent Islamism. This is not because of UKIP supporters’ ‘concerns’: it is to stand up for our sisters and brothers in every country where Jihadists threaten them. Few people on the left will deny that Western intervention in the Middle East has been a disaster. The UK government’s appeal to ‘British values’, apart from sounding hollow, is not an answer to a global problem. Freedom and democracy, fighting oppression and exploitation, have universal appeal. It is urgent that we stand with those fighting Islamism, and its foreign supporters, on the ground, above the heroic struggle of the Kurdish people. There is little clearer than this battle: rights and equality against genocide and slavery. These principles and objectives, which are secular and uniting, releasing us from communalist boxes, are the only ones which can confront Islamism and UKIP and the rightward – xenophobic – moving political landscape.

Malik notes the decline of the “economic and political power of the working class”. But the labour movement, in the broad sense, still has some substance in Britain. It is up to up those who are part of it to make its weight felt. Tackling austerity, bring people together for a programme of social advance may help make inroads into the constituency of the left behind. Should we then, to bolster our politics, drop all reference to multiculturalism – or more exactly the institutional policies of ‘community relations’ in the UK? Ought we instead “defend diversity and immigration”? There is little doubt that official multiculturalism is bogged down in the type of politics that has fed reactionary identity politics. But multicultural facts are not to be opposed. That in this sense it operates as  simply another word for diversity.

It’s hard to see Malik’s demands making their way to party manifestos, or onto demonstration placards. It is also far from obvious that this response that will be able to influence the wider public, left alone official policy. But there are hopeful signs for a broader change in politics that may contribute to giving them some substance.

The disgust many feel at the failure of some on the left to take a stand in favour of the anti-racist anti-fascist Charlie Hebdo, not to mention on the public murders of our Bangladeshi comrades by Islamists, the groundswell in favour of backing our Kurdish sisters and brothers, show some basis for a different approach. Diversity and the defence of immigration are part of that stand. Pro-European and world-wide internationalism another. We shall honour the martyrs by this fight. We will not let their deaths pass in silence.

Solidarity needed with the city of Salamieh under the threat of a massacre by the Islamic State

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The ‘Law’ of the Islamic State-Caliphate.

Urgent solidarity needed with the city of Salamieh under the threat of a massacre by the Islamic State

Saturday 4 April 2015

 

The city of Salamieh is surrounded and has been suffering a total blockade for several days by the ultra reactionary movement of the Islamic State threatens to commit a massacre against the local population.

On March 31, 2015, soldiers of the Islamic State committed a massacre killing 48 civilians, including women and children, in the village Maboujah, located at 25 kilometers north of Salamieh. The majority of the people had left the village before the arrival of the Islamic State.

The city of Salamieh was one of the first city in Syria to raise against the bloody Assad regime at the start of the revolution in 2011. The revolutionaries of the city suffered a fierce crackdown at the hands of the security services and militias of the regime in recent years. The revolutionary spirit and the original objectives of the revolution for democracy, social justice and equality nevertheless persisted and continued to be upheld by the numerous revolutionaries still in the city through popular demonstrations and other civil campaigns.

It is the duty of all revolutionary and internationalist to support the local population of Salamieh and revolutionaries of the city against the threat of a massacre by the Islamic State.

The revolutionaries of Salamieh launched a few days ago a campaign “Salamieh is beeing slaughtered” on social networks to alert the world of the danger they are facing.

It is absolutely necessary to bring our total and immediate solidarity with the people of Salamieh and our comrades of the Revolutionary Left Movement in Syria in the city under the threat of a new massacre by the Islamic State.

No passaran,

They have not passed

They shall not pass

No to the criminal Assad regime and no to the reactionary and fundamentalist forces

All power and wealth to the people

Revolutionary Left Movement in Syria

April 2, 2015

International Viewpoint. (the monthly English-language magazine of the Fourth International)

Some people have not abandoned their socialist internationalist principles.

All is not Lost!

It would be wrong to add any further comment.

More news on the ground situation: Islamic State releases photo report from Syria’s Hama province.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 5, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Election, Weekly Worker: Vote for Self-Managed Reptile Control.

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Cthulhu Not Standing: Vote Reptile for Money and Power!

Hat-tip D.O.

As the General Election approaches much of the British left finds itself all over the place.

Ed Miliband is putting a brave face on the challenges he faces.

His party, Labour, stands at a mere neck-and-neck level with the Tories. His  ‘reformist’ candidates have done absolutely nothing to back the Brent and Donbass Soviets and the rights of those fighting for the Caliphate.

Many on the left will not back him –  the only chance of stopping the Tories sending the poor out to scrub the streets clean with toothbrushes – even with a worn out noose.

There are those busy bottling the bath water of Scottish Nationalist leader, Nicola Sturgeon who’s at present busy denying “preferring Cameron”. Others have found much to admire in the Green Party’s plans to ban animals from London Zoo and severely restrict horse racing. The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) involves the Socialist Workers Party. Class War controversially says, ““All Fucking Wankers”.

In these times when a united front is most pressing Steve Freeman’s Bermondsey and Old Southwark campaign for Republican Socialism, and a Merrie England, is not supported by Left Unity.

An American commentator, and ‘ackney ‘ipster, Cde David Osterland, sums our plight up, “We’ve just gotten to the point that I may as well mosey down to the quinoa burger bar and eat me a whole pile of fries.”

But all is not lost!

Advanced elements in the proletariat can look to the Guide of the Weekly Worker to plan ahead.

Why vote for the lesser evil?

Cthulhu is not available in this election but we know some Green Lizards who are.

As Cde Tony Clark writes this week in a lengthy op-ed in the masses’ favourite Hebdo,  (Weekly Worker),

“The question is: is the moon a natural body or not, or only partly? This is a valid question for anyone who has examined the evidence relating to the moon.”

Indeed it is.

He continues,

Credo Mutwa told researcher David Icke that, in Zulu legend, the moon is hollow and is a reptilian base, which was brought to earth long ago. Soviet scientists Vasin and Shcherbokov came to the conclusion that the moon was artificial. In Who built the moon?, Christopher Knight and Alan Butler came to similar conclusions. The ancient Greeks knew of a people called the Proselenes, which means ‘before the moon’.

According to some researchers, Nasa has withheld information about alien activity witnessed by their astronauts. A contact said to me he was baffled when the Apollo missions were curtailed. The logical progression should have been the establishment of a moon base. Were the Americans warned off or is there secret collaboration going on?

In a previous letter I referred to how a reptilian race has manipulated human society for thousands of years. The way they do this is mainly by using their human-reptilian hybrids, who look human, but at the genetic level have a higher infusion of reptilian DNA than the general population. These illuminati bloodlines claimed descent from the gods (ie, the reptilians) and the divine right to rule. Researchers say these hybrid bloodlines still control society and they are in turn controlled by the reptilians. The moon plays a role in this story.

Tony Clark

Vote Lizard!

Vote Illuminati on a Marxist Programme!

Apply To Become An Illuminati Member: Application.

Leaked International Socialist Organization Bulletins Show New ‘SWP’ Crisis.

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https://i2.wp.com/www.internationalsocialist.org/images/WeekX.jpg

ISO: Now Where Did they Get the idea for those Placards From?

Caliphate John was recently bemoaning the good old days on the left when internal debate was carried out through secret party documents so that, no doubt, his musings in support of Isis could be decently kept from the eyes of a prying public.

But it’s not only poor old John Tummon (ex-Left Unity leading cadre)  who whinges about the new Internet culture.

The American group, the International Socialist Organization, is also prone to whining about this.

Comrade Ross Wolfe informs the world of his latest findings from this group (which published on January the 19th Ian Birchall’s anti-secularist polemic with Tendance Coatesy as part of the ‘line’ on Charlie Hebdo).

 Leaked ISO Internal Bulletins Scandal.

Below you will find the latest batch of internal bulletins from the International Socialist Organization, a US Trotskyist sect. Multiple concerned members, troubled by the group’s lack of transparency and accountability, sent me the documents via e-mail. Like last year’s set, these are marked “for members’ eyes only.” Such secrecy is usually justified by dusting off passages from Lenin’s 113-year-old tome What is to be Done?, which sought to adapt Marxist organizational principles to the tsarist police state. Police infiltration, monitoring, and surveillance of radical groups certainly continues to be a problem, as documents from 2008 confirm, but I would be hard pressed to find anyone who believes this is some sort of new COINTELPRO or Okhrana.

…….

Following a recent row resulting from my disclosure of a reported rape coverup in Solidarity-US, which implicates a prominent “socialist feminist” initialed JB (Joanna Brenner?) in the obstruction of an internal investigation, Shaun Joseph of the ISO Renewal Faction reassured me: “Character assassination is basically how these people [leftists] work, as I know all too well. All this stuff about protecting the survivor’s identity is bullshit — it’s so transparently self-interested.” Shaun was expelled from the ISO a year ago, along with the rest of the Renewal Faction en masse. Last month people tried to claim I threatened to release information about the victims in the Soli case, which was, of course, a complete fabrication. They even led a “boycott, divestment, sanction, and unfriend” campaign against me (I’m not kidding), threatening to block anyone who still had mutuals with me on Facebook. It’s pretty sad that the most politically meaningful act anyone can imagine is an ultimatum to cut ties with some person on social media. Like cutting someone off from the leper colony of the contemporary Left is some great punishment. Most people outgrew this petty bullshit in middle school.

It’s essential to read the full Charnel House post (though one doubts if many with bother with the bulletins themselves)  but I note in passing that another enemy of Coatesim and all of its works crops up in this,

Using paranoia to crush criticisms or complaints is nothing new, though it’s a tradition more strongly associated with Stalinism than with Trotskyism. Time was that you could get rid of troublemakers in the party simply by suggesting they might be “wreckers” or “British spies.” Paul Heideman and Carlos Rivera-Jones insinuated I was an informant or a snitch. Not much has changed, it seems. But it’s hard to read lines like the following as anything other than a paranoid misogynist entrapment fantasy: “If the state were to attempt to harm our organization by making false claims via infiltrators, we can assume that they would most likely do so by having consensual sex with a member, and lying afterward to claim that the encounter was non-consensual.”

Kurdish Freedom Volunteer Silan Ozcelik Waits till September for ‘ Judgement’

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SHOCK RESULT AT OLD BAILEY.

Mark Campbell
London, United Kingdom

1 Apr 2015 — The family, friends and supporters of Silan Ozcelik were shocked today to learn of the judge’s decision to adjourn the case against Silan until September, when she will face a full jury trial on terrorism charges. She will in the meantime remain in custody in Holloway Women’s Prison. We are numb and shocked at this crazy decision, this cruel act against this young girl. WE WILL INCREASE OUR CAMPAIGN, PLEASE JOIN US! Sign the petition and get active. Please email us if you want to help. Hevallo@gmail.com

Petition: FREE SHILAN OZCELIK NOW!

Guardian.

A small but noisy group of Kurdish protesters gathered outside the Old Bailey in London on Wednesday to protest at terrorism charges brought against a British teenager.

Shilan Ozcelik , an 18-year-old of Kurdish descent, was arrested earlier this year at Stansted airport.

She is believed to be the first British citizen to be arrested for allegedly trying to join the campaign against Islamic State in eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Outside the pre-trial hearing on Wednesday, Ozcelik’s supporters held up banners and could be heard chanting outside the court. She was refused bail and will remain in Holloway prison until a full hearing on 7 September.

Ozcelik, from Holloway, north London, faces one charge of engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism under the 2006 Terrorism Act.

It is understood that the charges against Ozcelik relate to the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which is outlawed in Britain and has been locked in a separatist conflict with the Turkish army for decades.

Speaking outside the court, Mark Campbell, one of the organisers of the protest, said the teenager’s arrest had come at a time when Kurdish efforts to repel Isis were gaining widespread international support.

Neither the YPJ, the main women’s Kurdish militia in northern Syria, nor the YPG, the men’s militia, are listed as terrorist organisations. Supporters say the militias “have received praise from activists and senior politicians alike for their incredible efforts fighting back Isis from Kobane and parts of northern Syria and Iraq”.

Outside the court, around two dozen protesters held up placards calling for Ozcelik to be released, with slogans including: “We are all YPJ” and: “Shilan Ozcelik is not a threat to UK national security, Isis is”.

A statement issued by Peace in Kurdistan said: “The YPG and YPJ, who had been in a tacit alliance with US and British forces in the struggle for Kobane, are not listed on any terrorist list.”

Ozcelik was arrested on 16 January as she returned to the UK from Brussels.

 

Charlie Hebdo: the Future Seriously in Question.

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Who wants to see that Gob Again? (Sarkozy – UMP Wins French Regional Elections).

Charlie Hebdo’s Future in Question.  

Libération. (Translated/adapted).

The piece,  published by Le Monde, is signed by “the Charlie Hebdo collective”:  Zineb El-Rhazoui, Simon Fieschi, Antonio Fischetti, Pascal Gros, Philippe Lançon, Laurent Léger, Luz, Mathieu Madénian, Catherine Meurisse Patrick Pelloux, Martine Rousseaux, Jean-Baptiste Thoret, Sigolène Vinson, Jean-Luc Walet and Willem. Whether cartoonists, journalists, columnists or web designers, these fifteen signatories have  raised their voices about the need the “escape the empoisoned millions” harvested by Charlie Hebdo after the attacks of January.

With the latest issue of the weekly in kiosks today with a familiar Luz cover, the statement has called “For the re-foundation of Charlie Hebdo. It contains a list of proposals to continue producing “a satirical newspaper that’s  worthy of the ideas that inspire it “ without financial and political pressures. The desired shape this would take is that of a cooperative society, not a commercial enterprise. This has been the elephant in the room during years of discussions held by those working at Charlie.The idea is to allow employees to participate “in decisions which affect the paper, without affecting the issue of personal advantage” because “devolved shares carry no right to dividends” .

The forum also discusses  threats to the title: “Today we are witnessing important decisions being taken for the newspaper’s future, often carried out by lawyers, the ins and outs of which remain unclear. We hear that a shake-up of  the title’s lay-out is being prepared, a development from which we have been excluded.” The group says they have no direct knowledge about the Foundation which is being created and linked to Charlie. They would rather that this is “a well thought-out  project discussed by all involved in the newspaper.” Beyond the issue of the use of the name Charlie, the group stands opposed to the threats against the weekly, which has become “ tempting prey” , of  “political and /or financial  manipulation”and  the menace that “a handful of individuals would take either total or partial control, in absolute contempt for those who produce Charlie and those who support it “ .

In March it was announced that newspaper’s Collective  had hired two lawyers, one of whom is Antoine Comte, who has defended Rue89 (independent news site), the Syndicat de la magistrature(left wing magistrates trade union) and Olivier Besancenot (Nouveau parti anticapitaliste). * Charlie Hebdo is currently 40% owned by Charb’s parents (of the martyred comrade, Stéphane Charbonnier) the ex- publishing director killed in the attack on 7 January, 40% by the cartoonist/designer Riss (Laurent Sourisseau)  who  is the new Editor in chief of the newspaper, and 20% by Eric Portheault, co-manager.

*Note: some of the best people who walk this planet.

See also original ‘Tribune’, Le Monde: Pour la refondation de « Charlie Hebdo.

Par le collectif du journal Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo n’est plus cette publication suivie par quelques milliers de lecteurs fidèles, ce journal dont les nostalgiques reconnaissaient en avouant ne plus le lire : « Oui, j’ai lu Charlie quand j’étais jeune… » Devenu symbole mondial, Charlie Hebdo est désormais doté d’une identité inscrite dans la chair de son équipe dont les survivants ont tous choisi, après les attentats, de reprendre le flambeau hebdomadaire. Chacun d’entre nous, au journal, mais aussi chaque lecteur se retrouve un peu propriétaire de l’esprit Charlie, un esprit de tolérance et de résistance que notre journal incarne malgré lui depuis le 7 janvier 2015. L’incroyable solidarité de tous, votre soutien massif nous rendent dépositaires, nous membres de Charlie, d’une charge symbolique exceptionnelle. Oui, nous sommes désormais un bien commun.

Charlie doit continuer, c’est pour nous une évidence, fidèle aux valeurs qui constituent son ADN, dans l’esprit de ses fondateurs et de ceux qui ont disparu : une place majeure accordée au dessin et à la caricature, une indépendance totale vis-à-vis des pouvoirs politiques et financiers, se traduisant par un actionnariat réservé aux salariés du journal, à l’exclusion de tout investisseur extérieur et de toute ressource publicitaire, défendant un modèle économique alternatif et dénonçant toutes les intolérances et les intégrismes divers et variés. Nous vivons tous le deuil de nos amis et sommes chaque jour au côté des familles, dont nous tentons d’apaiser la douleur. Nous sommes encore sous le choc de la tuerie, mais avons fait le choix de nous reconstruire en rebâtissant Charlie, et de faire ainsi notre part du devoir de mémoire que nous avons vis-à-vis de nos camarades assassinés.

Pour vous, les millions de soutiens, les millions de lecteurs, nous devons continuer à nous battre. Rester fidèle à nos valeurs. Vous assurer de la plus grande transparence. Alors comment être à la hauteur de cette charge qui pèse sur nos épaules, nous qui avons failli mourir pour ce journal, nous dessinateurs, maquettistes, administratifs, webmaster, chroniqueurs, journalistes ? Comment échapper au poison des millions qui, par des chiffres de vente hors normes, mais aussi par les dons et les abonnements, sont tombés dans les poches de Charlie ? Comment continuer à fabriquer ce journal libre d’esprit que nous aimons tant, un journal satirique et fier des idées qu’il essaie de porter ?

En remettant à plat l’architecture de Charlie. En recourant à une forme de société coopérative, dont nous discutions en interne depuis des années, et qui se situe dans la droite ligne de l’économie sociale et solidaire que Charlie prône depuis toujours ; le journal doit abandonner le statut d’entreprise commerciale. En accordant à chacun d’entre nous le droit de prendre part, collectivement, aux décisions qui engagent le journal, sans en retirer de gains personnels : les parts sociales dévolues ne donneront aucun droit à dividendes, mais nous offriront la possibilité d’être impliqué dans la reconstruction de ce qui est pour nous aujourd’hui bien plus qu’un employeur. En bloquant, comme nos camarades du Canard enchaîné, sous votre regard et par la volonté de tous les membres de Charlie, ces incroyables réserves financières qui doivent ne servir qu’à garantir la pérennité du titre à dix, vingt ou trente ans, en en affectant les fruits à la consolidation du titre, à l’apuration de ses dettes, à son développement et à sa nécessaire modernisation.

Nous n’avons aucune ambition personnelle, hormis celle de faire un journal toujours meilleur et de faire perdurer Charlie Hebdo. La cause que nous défendons n’est en rien financière, c’est une cause juste et morale. Or, nous assistons aujourd’hui à des prises de décision importantes pour le journal, souvent le fait d’avocats, dont les tenants et les aboutissants restent opaques. Nous entendons qu’une nouvelle formule se prépare, dont nous sommes exclus.

Nous ignorons tout de la fondation qui est en train d’être créée et souhaitons qu’elle soit l’émanation d’un projet mûrement réfléchi par l’ensemble du journal. Nous refusons que le journal, devenu une proie tentante, fasse l’objet de manipulations politiques et/ou financières, nous refusons qu’une poignée d’individus en prenne le contrôle, total ou partiel, dans le mépris absolu de ceux qui le fabriquent et de ceux qui le soutiennent. Surtout, nous refusons que ceux qui ont dit et écrit « Je suis Charlie » se réveillent demain matin avec la gueule de bois des illusions souillées, et constatent que leur confiance et leur attente ont été trahies.

La réorganisation du journal et l’œuvre de transparence sont un moyen de porter au mieux et tous ensemble le Charlie d’après le 7 janvier, un Charlie qui devrait donner envie de rire du pire plutôt que de s’y résigner, qui ne révérera aucun pouvoir, qui sera un journal fiable et enquêté, engagé et attentif aux nouvelles luttes politiques citoyennes, tout en accordant plus de place aux phénomènes culturels, littéraires et poétiques de notre siècle. C’est la seule façon de retrouver l’énergie, les idées, la légèreté, la capacité de créer et de nous projeter dans l’avenir.

Le collectif du journal Charlie Hebdo : Zineb El-Rhazoui, Simon Fieschi, Antonio Fischetti, Pascal Gros, Philippe Lançon, Laurent Léger, Luz, Mathieu Madénian, Catherine Meurisse, Patrick Pelloux, Martine Rousseaux, Jean-Baptiste Thoret, Sigolène Vinson, Jean-Luc Walet, Willem.

Solidarity and Love to Our Bangladeshi Sister and Brother Bloggers

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Love and Solidarity to our Beloved Bangladeshi Sisters and Brothers.

Rory Fenton writes in the Independent.

“Words cannot be killed”. This is the Facebook cover page of Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman. It’s a statement of solidarity with Avijit Roy, the Bangladeshi-American atheist blogger who was murdered last month in the capital of Dhaka by religious extremists.

Just this morning, Rahman suffered a similar fate to Roy’s. He was surrounded and stabbed to death by suspected extremists while on his way to work, in the middle of a busy street. He was 27 years old.

Far from just being two random murders, these attacks are the methodical work of vigilante extremists working through a list of atheist bloggers. The list was drawn up last year when 100,000 protesters called on the government to introduce the death penalty for blasphemy. The government refused to introduce death penalty, but it did begin a crack down on the country’s free-thinking blog community. It shut down some of its most popular sites, and imprisoned bloggers accused of “offending religious feelings”. Once known as the only place where non-religious Bangladeshis could gather safely, the internet suddenly became unsafe for atheists wanting to air their views.

Fenton’s conclusion is bleak.

This weekend I arrived in Bangladesh with the naïve hope of writing about wide-eyed idealists fighting the fight no matter what, fuelled with the zeal of Je Suis Charlie. The reality on the ground is much harsher: atheists are being hunted down for both religious retribution and political gain. Washiqur Rahman was right: words cannot be killed. But a struggling movement can only take so much battering, and Bangladeshi atheism is fighting to survive.

The Dhaka Tribune notes,

UN concerned over attacks on journalists, intellectuals

Tribune Online Report

The United Nations has expressed deep concern over attacks on different journalists and other intellectuals in Bangladesh in recent times.

 “…it’s a matter of tremendous concern that different journalists and other intellectuals have been attacked,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, at a regular briefing at the UN headquarters on Monday.

He said the UN has been calling for the respect of basic rights in Bangladesh, including the rights of people to freedom of expression.

Farhan Haq, however, said he does not have any high-level travel to Bangladesh to announce at this stage. “…but you’re aware of our concerns.”

Blogger Washiqur Rahman was hacked to death in Tejgaon Industrial area of Dhaka on Monday morning.

Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi American online activist, writer, blogger known for pioneering Bengali freethinkers’ weblog-forum, Mukto Mona, was killed and his wife, blogger Rafida Ahmed Bonya, severely injured when unidentified miscreants hacked them at TSC of Dhaka University.

For Bangladesh the British Humanist Association states,

Following Avijit’s death, campaigners in Bangladesh and around the world called on Bangladesh to do more to protect its humanist bloggers. In addition to Washiqur, Avijit, and Ahmed, who all died as a consequence of expressing non-religious beliefs and criticising religious power, various others such as Asif Mohiuddin were attacked and left with potentially fatal wounds.

The Bangladeshi writer and exile Taslima Nasrin paid her respects to Washiqur via Twitter. In her comment, she warned that ‘Bangladesh is not a place for freethinkers.’

There are growing calls on Bangladesh to legislate to prevent further blasphemy-related reprisals. Earlier this month, the British Humanist Association (BHA) raised the issue of reprisals against perceived blasphemers to the UN Human Rights Council, urging states to explicitly outlaw such attacks amid a wave of violence targeting the non-religious around the world. Blasphemy-related killings have very low prosecution and arrest rates, and there is a strong perception that those who kill for blasphemy are able to act with impunity.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Our thoughts are with Washiqur’s friends and loved ones throughout this harrowing ordeal. Once again, Bangladesh has lost a son, this time a satirist who criticised religious fundamentalism. How much more blood must be shed before Bangladesh will take action to protect its citizens? Bloody reprisals in response to perceived blasphemy have become an endemic problem, and states like Bangladesh must affirm the human right to express one’s own beliefs without fear of attack, and do more to prevent such attacks from happening in future.’

In Bangladesh itself this is the reaction of Bloggers,

Bangladesh bloggers show solidarity for Washiqur Rahman.

Washiqur Rahman was attacked and killed near his home in Dhaka. The online activist is the second blogger killed in Bangladesh since February. Fellow activists call him a “warrior” for liberty and worry who will be next.

See more here.

We atheist and secular bloggers across the world have a duty to support our beloved Bangladeshi sisters and brothers.

At present we have backed the campaign to support the imprisoned  Saudi blogger Raif Badawi (see Facebook).

It is a matter of urgency that we do all we can to back the Bangladeshi free thinkers.

Hash-tag: #WordsCannotBeKilled

Protest in Bangladesh after second blogger hacked to death.

Dhaka, March 31 (ANI): Bangladesh’s people’s resurgence platform, Gonojagoron Mancha, staged protest in Dhaka after a blogger was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants. It was the second attack in five weeks on a critic of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation. Washikur Rahman, a secular blogger, was attacked by young religious students on a busy street in the centre of Dhaka. The killing comes just weeks after US secular blogger Avijit Roy was hacked to death while returning with his wife from a book fair in Dhaka. His wife, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, suffered head injuries and lost a finger in the February 26 attack. The protesters of Gonojagoron Mancha marched onto the streets demanding strict action against the murderers as they shouted slogans and raised banners.

 

Worldwide Protests for Free Expression in Bangladesh

UK

London: The British Humanist Association is holding a leafleting protest from 10-4 p.m. outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London. Volunteers are asked to email pavan@humanism.org.uk.
28 Queen’s Gate London SW7 5JA

Written by Andrew Coates

March 31, 2015 at 11:43 am

Another Free-Thinking blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh – in Memoriam Beloved Washiqur Rahman.

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 Washiqur-Rahman

Beloved Washiqur Rahman.

Another blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh. Reports the Times of India.

DHAKA: A blogger was hacked to death in the Bangladesh capital on Monday, in the latest brutal attack on the country’s independent writers, a senior officer said. Police have arrested two men over the murder which comes just weeks after an American aethist blogger was also hacked to death in Dhaka, a crime that triggered international outrage, the officer said.

Bangladesh arrests chief suspect in US blogger murder “He was brutally hacked to death this morning with big knives just 500 yards (460 metres) from his home at Dhaka’s Begunbari area,” local police chief Wahidul Islam told AFP.

Islam said the men were arrested immediately after the attack trying to flee the scene.

Police said they were unsure whether the victim, Washiqur Rahman, 27, was also an atheist blogger but another social media writer said that he was known to write “against religious fundamentalism”.

“It appeared Rahman used to write using a penname Kutshit Hasher Chhana (Ugly Duckling),” Imran Sarker, head of Blogger and Online Activists Network in Bangladesh, told AFP.

“He was a progressive free thinker and was against religious fundamentalism,” he said.

Police have also arrested a suspect over the killing in February of American atheist writer and blogger Avijit Roy.

Roy was the second atheist blogger to have been murdered in the Muslim-majority country in the last two years and the fourth writer to have been attacked since 2004.

His killing sparked an uproar at home and abroad with hundreds of secular activists holding protests for days to demand justice.They also slammed the country’s secular government for not doing enough to protect humanist writers.

The Dhaka Tribune states,

“Two madrasa students have been detained for their alleged involvement with the killing

Blogger Washiqur Rahman has been hacked to death in the capital’s Dipika Mosque Lane in Tejgaon. Tejgaon Industrial Police OC Salauddin confirmed the Dhaka Tribune about the death. Deceased Washiqur, son of Tipu Sultan and Rehana Begum of Lakshmipur, lived in Begunbari area of Tejgaon. The incident happened just a month after the murder of secular blogger and science writer Avijit Roy. OC Salauddin said miscreants stabbed Washiqur mercilessly around 9am Monday. Locals took him to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where on-duty doctor declared him dead on arrival.

Blogger Washiqur Rahman. Photo: Collected

DMCH police outpost Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Md Sentu said the body was kept at the hospital morgue. He said none has come to claim Washiqur’s body as of 1:30pm. “His face has been distorted as the miscreants hacked him mainly on the face,” said OC Salauddin. Washiqur-Babu-Logical-Forum-Profile

Washiqur’s profile on Logical Forum

Meanwhile, police detained two madrasa students for their alleged involvement with the killing. Washiqur, known as Washiqur Babu on Facebook, was active on different blogging sites. He was also a member of Local Forum, an online discussion forum. On his Facebook account, Washiqur wrote several notes opposing irrational religious belief. WashiqurBabu-Facebook-Profile-Cover-Photo He was a admirer of another secular blogger Avijit Roy, who was killed by extremists in Dhaka one month ago. After Avijit’s killing, Washiqur paid tribute to him making his Facebook profile and cover photos with the text: #iamavijit and words cannot be killed. He was member of eight Facebook group pages including Atheist Bangladesh. The OC said he has been murdered in the same way like blogger Rajeeb Haider. Rajeeb, known as Thaba Baba in the blogging community, was hacked to death on February 15, 2013 near his Pallabi home. A US-based Bangladeshi, Avijit Roy was hacked to death near the TSC roundabout on DU campus on the evening of February 26. In the same attack, Avijit’s wife Rafida Ahmed Bonya, also an active blogger, got critically injured.” Latest Update from Bangladesh (Dhaka Tribune):

Two madrasa students have hacked blogger Oyasiqur Rahman to death for his writing against Islam. The killers are Zikrullah, 22, a student of Hathajari Madrasa in Chittagong and Ariful Islam, 22, student of Darul Ulum Madrasa, Mirpur 1 in Dhaka, said Biplop Kumar Sarker, deputy commissioner of Tejgaon Divison. Another killer Abu Taher managed to flee from the scene. No detail was found regarding him, the police official added. Zikrullah, son of Mainuddin, hailed from Raipura of Narsingdi and Ariful Islam, son of Tazul Islam, came from Barkawlia of Comilla. “They killed Oyasiqur for his writings against Islam,” the detained killers confessed to the police during primary interrogation.

One mastermind Masum is behind the killing, they also confessed, the police official said. On Sunday night, mastermind Masum, two madrasa students Zikrullah and Ariful Islam, and Abu Taher made plan, in a meeting at Hatirjheel in Dhaka, to kill Oyasiqur, said Biplop. Masum gave Zikrullah three machetes on Sunday night to complete the mission. Zikrullah became acquainted with Masum during traveling by train on way to Chittagong from Dhaka in last Ramadan while Ariful acquainted with Zikrullah in a mosque in Farmgate in the capital two months ago.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 30, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Anti-Austerity Protests and New Movements in Belgium.

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<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Crédit photo<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
: Alexandre Demarbre<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
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En front commun, les syndicats entendent protester contre les mesures du gouvernement Michel.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

Protests against Austerity – supported by all the trade union federations – are taking place in Belgium today.

They are demonstrating against the latest round of cutbacks of the Michel Coalition government (a centre-right cabinet backed by the hard-right Flemish nationalists of Bart de Wever).

On the spot news here (in French).

Tout autre chose/Hart boven Hart (Another thing Completely/ Heart Over Heart) – a citizens’ movement partly inspired by Podemos – took to the streets yesterday in Brussels for a ‘parade’.

The parade consisted of ten blocs, each representing the theme “Any other horizon”.  These were “common goods  by and for all,” “tax justice”, “a place for every generation,” “solidarity against poverty”, “dignified work”, “a nurturing environment,” “value our diversity “,” ecology:  it makes sense, “citizens without frontiers “and” dare democracy! “. Podemos, MOC (Mouvement Ouvrier Chrétien) and sp.a. (socialisten en progressieven anders, a small left split from the Flemish Socialist Partyjoined with a float  “against capitalism” during the parade. Pro-Palestinian protesters, too, decided to make their voices heard during this event.

Reports Le Soir.

17 000 personnes ont bravé la météo pour la parade Tout Autre Chose  Russia Today says,

Rainy weather in Brussels did not stop tens of thousands of people from protesting against austerity measures introduced by the new Belgian government. Attendance estimates from police and organisers differed sixfold.

The rally saw somewhere between 17,000 and 20,000 people on Sunday, RTFB broadcaster reported, citing police estimates. Meanwhile, march organisers claimed that up to 120,000 people participated.

Image from HART BOVEN HARD Facebook page Some are wondering if Belgium is about to experience a Podemos type movement.

Tunisia: March Against Terrorism, Without the Popular Front.

with 18 comments

World Social Forum, Tunis, Saturday: Against Terrorism.

Tunisia anti-terror march kicks off World Social Forum. Activists from around the globe honour victims of museum attack last week that left 21 people, mostly tourists, dead.”

Sunday: A demonstration against terrorism is being organised after the bloody attack at the Bardo Museum. Tens of thousands of people and foreign dignitaries, including French President Francois Hollande, are expected to participate.

Adapted from Libération.

People and organisations will gather from about 11:00 local time (1000 GMT) in Bab Saadoun. They will march to the front of the museum. This building, which houses an outstanding collection of mosaics, was the target of the March 18 attack that killed 22 people – 21 tourists and a policeman.

Prominent personalities, political figures and overseas guests will assemble at around 12:00 (11:00 GMT) with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi over a hundred metres along the outside of the museum prior to inaugurating a monument to the memory of the victims.

“We must now show our patriotism” said Minister of Tourism Salma Elloumi Rekik on national television. The attack was “a heavy blow (…) but this time did not kill us, he made us stronger,” she assured.

 President Caid Essebsi called Wednesday on his countrymen to massively participate in the march “to express the strength of Tunisia” and “send a message abroad that Tunisia continues its fight against terrorism.”

Tunisia, the pioneer of the “Arab Spring”, despite its internal turmoil has completed its transition to democracy with elections in late 2014. But its stability could be threatened by the rise of Jihadist threat as well as the persistence of the economic and social problems that were the root of the 2011 revolution.

French President François Hollande will be present on the day that France holds the second round of the departmental (regional) elections. Polish and Palestinian presidents Bronislaw Komorowski and Mahmoud Abbas will take part in the march, as will Italian and Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and Matteo Renzi and the Spanish and Dutch Ministers of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Garcia-Margallo and Bert Koenders.

“From now on, everyone reacts after each terrorist attack as if the attack was carried out in their own country. This is new and it’s important, “said President Caid Essebsi to the French daily Ouest-France.

This march is reminiscent of the one organised in January by President Hollande after the attacks in Paris against the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, a policewoman and a kosher supermarket.

The Islamist Ennahda party, the second political force in the country in the present coalition government, has called on supporters to participate in the march “to express the unity of Tunisians face this danger and their determination to defend their homeland (… ) preserve their freedom. “

The powerful trade union federation, the UGTT has also invited its members to attend “en masse”.

But the Popular Front ( Front populaire) the left coalition and main opposition party, announced that he would not participate. It accused ‘certain participants’ in the march of “hypocrisy” –  a clear reference to Ennahda.

The spokesman of the Front, Hamma Hammami, said that the demonstration was  “a way to cover up  the issue of the responsibility (…) for the spread of terrorism.”

Many leftist policies accuse the Islamist party of having shown excessive tolerance towards the growing Jihadist groups when in power (late 2011-early 2014). They charge it with responsibility for, or complicity, in the murders in 2013 of two members of the Popular Front, Chokri Belaid Mohamed Brahmi.

Faced with these divisions, the daily La Presse spoke of “an absurd battle”, saying that “the world (…) expects that proves us to show  that we deserve their backing, and  the wave of solidarity that this event will demonstrate throughout today. “

The attack of March 18 was claimed by the Islamic State Group (EI). But the Tunisian Interior Ministry said the attack was led by a leader of the Falange Okba Ibn Nafaa, a group affiliated with Al Qaeda chased out by the army more than two years ago from in the mountains bordering Algeria.

The Bardo Museum, is preparing to resume normal activity. On Friday, it opened its doors to school pupils, students and members of delegations. It  intends to open its doors to the public on Monday.

More on the Front Populaire’s position:

The Popular Front leader Mohamed Jmour said his party refuses to participate in the walk on Sunday, if the parties involved in terrorism are involved.

He added in a statement Friday that components of the old troika (previous government) refuse to this day to take responsibility for what has happened in Tunisia.

Mohamed Jmour also expressed also his refusal to participate in an event side by side with French leaders who are still not apologised, according to his statements, to the Tunisians for all the harm done to them during the period of the protectorate.

African Manager.

Daniel Bensaïd, Charlie Hebdo (Charb) and Tariq Ali.

with 42 comments

 Daniel Bensaïd: Illustrated by Charlie Hebdo Editor, ‘Charb’.

More on Marx, mode d’emploi (2009) on Contretemps.

Book Launch (Daniel and Charb)

Yesterday the Verso Spring catalogue arrived.

Amongst the books they present it this one:

Bensaid_-_impatient_life-max_221

Published February 2015.

“France’s leading Marxist public intellectual.” –Tariq Ali.

And this – which indicates a lot about the ideology of Verso and New Left Review.

Delphy_-_dominating_others-max_221

Verso Books.

To announce this book’s publication Verso have put this on their site by Christine Delphy (from 2007).

Religion: a private affair? A rebuttal of a commonplace idea by Christine Delphy.

The introduction by Mike Watson says,

“Among other forms of intellectual, ethical and political regression, since the massacres of 7–9 January we’ve seen a brutal and authoritarian neo-laïcisme [French state secularism] coming back into force. And let’s say it frankly: it’s targeted against Muslims. Indeed, this neo-laïcisme radically subverts whatever may have been emancipatory about secularist thought and legislation between 1880 and 1905. More particularly, today we’re again hearing the absurd refrain about the supposedly secularist need for religion to stay ‘personal’ and ‘limited to the private sphere’.

For all these reasons, we thought it opportune to republish a short but punchy history lesson, taken from a book whose title [Un universalisme si particulier; ‘A very particular universalism’] is, unfortunately, once again very much relevant.”

It begins, with her statement,

Though it is a constant element of laïcard [aggressively secularist, in an atheist key] propaganda, the idea that religion belongs to the ‘private sphere’ is rarely contested. No one ever defines this ‘private sphere’: the term ‘private’ has many different definitions depending on the context, including as regards law. The laïcards are anti-Muslim, and mask their opposition to this particular religion in claiming to be opposed to all religions.

This text (above)  is translated by David Broder.

We stumble here. David fails to note that ‘laïcard’ is by definition pejorative – it’s as if we start by saying that “Islamophobics are hostile to Islam”. That is what the suffix, ‘ard‘ means, as in Trotscard. This is argument by assertion.

It is used by the enemies of laïcite (secularism).

It is hard to see that anybody hostile to secularism ever saw anything ’emancipatory (or there ‘may have been’ something good) about it.

It is the language of the enemies of secular freedom, from the Catholic far-right onwards.

Just as the enemies of Trotskysim call Trotskyists – in French – Trotscards . 

It is true that some on the French far-left (a small minority) also use the term.

To analyse the article seriously is not worth while.

It is essentially a sustained rant, whose quality can be judged by this statement,

The laïcards don’t attack freedom of expression, but defend it; and they would even be right to do so, if only they weren’t so selective. For them, this right is absolute when it comes to ridiculing Muslims and Islam, but not when you draw a policeman with a pig’s nose, which is a grave insult against the state – indeed, it’s close to blasphemous

It ends with this hysterical scream.

Is this country doomed to stumble from one form of intolerance to another? Will atheism become a new state religion, while those who believe in a god or gods will become the new ‘freethinkers’ – hounded, persecuted and imprisoned?

If Verso thinks this kind of statement is worth reproducing – and the following obscure ruminations about sects (his dada) by former Comités communistes pour l’autogestion (CCA) member Didier Leschi – then they are in a bit of a pickle. 

This all leads us to ask about Christine Delphy’s politics. These are well known. She has some very reactionary views (against civil/gay marriage on the grounds that it is a ‘bourgeois’ institution), and is associated with figures in the orbit of the Muslim Brotherhood, Tariq Ramadan and has vauinted the British education system as a model, far better than French laïcité at accommodating Islam (indeed!) (More here).

The above text comes from the L’Indigène de la république site and this is her background with this group:

“In 2004-2005, she participated in the birth of the movement, the ‘indigènes de la République’.” (French Wikipedia).

We have covered them before, a homophobic, anti-laïcard (an expression we note with origins on the extreme right and Christian believers), the militant wing of post-colonial studies pretending to be the voice of the ‘banlieue’.

Here is one notorious example of their thinking:

Houria Bouteldja principal speaker of the  Indigènes de la République  « le mode de vie homosexuel n’existe pas dans les quartiers populaires

The homosexual way of life does not exist in working class and deprived areas.” (from here).

The Charnal House writes more widely on the groupuscle,

Marxism? Enlightenment? Universalism? Rationality? All inventions of the decadent bourgeois West, apparently. Bouteldja situates her own indigenous perspective somewhere in the rarefied epistemic space of radical alterity. Decolonial thought, she contends, “defied the imposed margins: the margins of enlightenment thinking, of western rationalism/rationality, of Marxism, of universalism, of republicanism.” She therefore implores her fellow indigènes to “resist the ideology of White universalism, human rights, and the Enlightenment.” In Bouteldja’s view, the “the cold rationality of the Enlightenment leads…to the fanaticism of market and capitalist reason,” and engenders an “outrageous and arrogant narcissism to universalize historical processes (i.e., secularism, the Enlightenment, Cartesianism) that were geographically and historically located in Western Europe.” Karl Marx himself was nothing more than a white, Eurocentric chauvinist when he dismissed religion as the opiate of the masses. “There are societies which don’t need the separation between the Church and the State, and for which religion is not a problem,” Bouteldja has written. “Religion is not the opium of the people.”

This is Tariq Ali’s comment (26th January)  on the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket massacres,

How serious is Islamophobia in France and other European countries?

France is the worst in Europe and tries to mask it by proclaiming its secular values (sound familiar?), but these values don’t apply to Islam. In fact, French secularism means anything but Islam. And when satirical magazines taunt them, they react. It’s as simple as that.

It is not expected that Verso has reproduced these cartoons by our murdered comrade Charb that appeared in Marx Mode d’emploi to illustrate the Daniel Bensaïd book.

https://i2.wp.com/www.politis.ch/carnets/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/blvspavbun14pnqfhmlzgl7vo1_500.jpg

 

 

Left Unity, the Bermondsey Crisis, John Tummon Statement.

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From Bermondsey to the English Republic,  by way of the Caliphate…..

In the interests of international revolutionary unity we publish this dossier:

“In January 1649 England was declared a ‘Commonwealth’. It was destroyed by Cromwell’s counter-revolution. Yet it remains an historic marker for democratic revolution and an inspiration for today.”

The Republican Socialist General Election Campaign for Bermondsey and Old Southwark 2015.

Republican Socialist Stands for Bermondsey

The Republican Socialist Party (RSP) has chosen its first ever parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark, the seat currently held by Simon Hughes. Steve Freeman, who stood for the constituency as an independent in 2010, has agreed to stand.

Steve Freeman

Republican Socialist candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark.

This daring and principled initiative – a matter of ‘honour’ we hear – has not been universally welcomed.

The latest CPGB (Provisional) Party Notes states,

We note with some genuine concern that Left Unity member Steve Freeman (over the years a frequent contributor to the Weekly Worker) has announced that he will contest the May 7 general election in Bermondsey and Old Southwark under the banner of the “Republican Socialist Party” (which is made up of Steve and two mates). He is therefore opposing Kingsley Abrams, a candidate jointly backed by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Left Unity. Politically, this amounts to sabotage.

 The leadership of the Communist Platform in Left Unity has issued a statement about his candidacy. Steve’s reply to Kate Hudson, which could seal his expulsion from Left Unity, is being discussed at length on Facebook and is also available in the Weekly Worker.

 We urge the comrade to behave in a responsible manner and immediately step down as a candidate. If he refuses then it is clear that the national council is duty-bound to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him under clause 18(a) of the constitution.

Communist Platform:

Communist Platform statement on the candidacy of Steve Freeman

1. Steve Freeman has announced that he is a parliamentary candidates in Bermondsey and Old Southwark for the May 7 general election. He is standing as a Republican Socialist. He is therefore opposing Kingsley Abrams, a candidate jointly backed by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Left Unity. Politically this amounts to sabotage.

2. Comrade Abrams is a former local councillor and was the official Labour candidate in the 2001 general election. He lost to Simon Hughes, but got 30% of the vote. Comrade Abrams fell foul of the Labour Party machine after speaking out against austerity. He describes himself as old Labour and recently resigned from the party after 30 years of membership. Comrade Abrams then offered to stand under the banner of Tusc and LU – an offer that was eagerly accepted at both a local and national level. Southwark LU officially endorsed him on February 25.

3. Though comrade Abrams is not a member of LU, he is without doubt the right candidate to back. He is not only challenging Simon Hughes once again, but mainstream Labour hopeful Nick Coyle. His central slogan is ‘No to austerity’. 4. Comrade Freeman is a member of Left Unity. Till recently he was in charge of its constitutional commission and put himself forward for its national council in internal elections. His criticisms of old Labour and Tusc are well founded. The idea of a Labour Party mark II is illusory and doomed to fail. However, comrade Freeman’s ‘republican socialism’ amounts to little more than a leftwing version of English nationalism. 5. Even if he advocated a politically principled socialist programme comrade Freeman would be wrong to stand. The left in Britain is woefully weak and dividing of our forces in the general election can only but damage our cause. Political criticism is perfectly legitimate – indeed it is required. But when it comes to the May 7 general election our motto should be ‘Unity in action’. 6. We urge comrade Freeman to behave in a responsible manner and immediately step down as a candidate. If he refuses then it is clear that the national council is duty-bound to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him under clause 18(a) of the constitution.

John Tummon faction statement, March 26,

The Constitution section on Tendencies states that “Tendencies have a right to be heard, to organise meetings, to produce literature, to distribute materials at LU meetings and, in general, to try to influence and/or change party policy, but must not do so in the name of LU or any of its constituent bodies”. At the initial conference, it was made clear from the acting transitional leadership body, in response to either the CPGB or some other group, that this included the right to criticise LU from the outside. This surprised me, and many others, at the time

Since Steve’s candidature is aimed solely at bringing to the rest of the Left and the wider public the argument for incorporating socialist republican principles into policy and practice, his campaign is therefore one of critical support for the LU candidate.

The history of Left participation in elections shows that the chances of either candidate getting more than 1% of the vote are slim indeed, so in what way will LU be harmed by this? At this stage in LU’s growth, electoral participation is purely about raising the profile of socialist arguments against neoliberal orthodoxy (austerity, war, smashing the public sector, etc) and there is no reason whatsoever to imagine that Kingsley Abrams’ campaign will be harmed in respect of his or the LU branch’s ability to raise an anti-capitalist profile. Kate might argue that the electorate will be confused by both Steve and Kingsley standing as rivals, but the same is the case in all of the seats where LU / TUSC are standing as rivals to the Greens, which is why I voted against LU standing in Stockport (In the event the vote went against me [3 for standing, 2 against and 2 abstentions]. The reality is that confusing the electorate only matters when a party has a chance of making a political breakthrough, which is plainly not the case in Bermondsey.

Section 3d, as Kate has interpreted it, could be used against any LU member who, like me, reserves the right not to support an LU / TUSC candidate under the circumstances of a very split local vote.

I think she would have a hard time proving a breach of the LU constitution, because a) there is a contradiction between the section she wants to use and the section on Tendencies and b) because section 3d of the constitution has nothing to say on circumstances in which a candidate is standing for an electoral alliance that includes LU and an outside organisation; you would have to convince the Disputes and Appeals bodies that 3d was clearly meant to cover electoral alliances as well. Good luck with finding evidence for that!

The fact is that many LU members have felt uncomfortable about LU standing on a joint electoral platform with TUSC for a variety of reasons, including its dubious commitment to gender equality and its economism. Basically, you are asking the organisation to privilege LU’s relationship with an external organisation over its relationship with an internal tendency.

Now the CP says the RSA comes down to English Nationalism, backed up by the usual Trotskyist hack, John Penney This is the CP’s analytical conclusion after reading through a statement which makes several references to the need to bring the lessons of Scotland to England; i.e. the Scottish democratic revolution.

Which part of the dictionary did they use to reach this, I wonder?

As a member of Left Unity, the Republican Socialist Tendency and the Republican Socialist Alliance and who has argued for months that my local branch should not be standing against the Greens, I find myself in agreeing with the suggestion of Dave Church, who told the last RSA meeting that no organisation on the Left should stand candidates anywhere unless and until they know through polling that their local, grassroots work has built up at least 5% of the vote.

For months now I have been challenging Trotskyists within LU to show me the strategic political arguments for electoralism and the silence is deafening – there is clearly nothing but habit & hope (both misplaced) that this will miraculously ‘increase our profile’. It never does – you can count on one hand the number of times more than 1% has voted for a Left candidate. LU has degenerated into one not so big ball of internal wrangling around the leadership’s consistent attempts to expel people with whom it disagrees or whose actions it finds disagreeable. The 10,000 who signed up for a new party of the Left have, as Mark says, taken a look at LU and gone with the Greens. LU has missed the boat in recruiting the people who have been politicised in the course of this parliament; the project of left unity has instead become a paper exercise of a joint venture with the suddenly well heeled SP and SWP; crucially, it does not involve having made any sustainable inroads into the mass of people.

As John Pearson has shown on the Unoffical Left Unity Facebook page, the case against Steve is thin at best but, behind it, lies a much more important issue – the culture of puffed up leftist wrangling over things that will not matter within months and don’t matter at all to the people we need to be attracting to create a socialist movement. Electoral initiatives are mostly a diversion, anyway, and one that always takes the left back to square one. What irony if this turns out to be the issue that buries LU. For the umpteenth time, can anyone tell me the political theory behind the left participating in elections, how it fits into political strategy and the evidence that it does this.

Caliphate John and the Republican Socialists, what a combination!

Tummon seems to be arguing simultaneously that the left (that is, the non-Labour left)  should not stand against the Greens, that the left should not stand if they are likely to get less than 5% (which would mean nearly everywhere, if not everywhere), and that cde Freeman should stand because he is in “critical support” of the candidate he is opposing.

Oh and why should they present candidates in elections anyway…????

Poor old Steve Freeman…. Will he now face the full might of the “the principles and guidelines of behaviour set out in the safer spaces policy (appendix 1)”? Will he follow Kate’s well meaning advice?

“I urge you to withdraw your candidacy and support the ‘Left Unity – Trade Unionists and Socialists’ candidate, Kingsley Abrams, who has been endorsed by Southwark branch and Left Unity national council.”

Looks like expulsion….

Bo ho. VOTE LABOUR! Back the Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory !

Jazz Hands Scandal Hits and Splits NUS.

with 97 comments

 Jazz Hands Avoid Anxiety.

The NUS Asked Its Student Delegates To Use Jazz Hands Instead Of Clapping To Avoid Triggering Anxiety.

The Huffington Post UK | Lucy Sherriff

The National Union of Students was the subject of ridicule on Tuesday after telling its delegates to use jazz hands instead of clapping in order to avoid triggering anxiety.

A spokesperson for the NUS justified the decision saying: “The request was made by some delegates attending the conference. We strive to make NUS events accessible and enjoyable for all, so each request is considered.”

However this didn’t stop numerous people from poking fun at the union, with some wondering whether the Twitter account was a spoof.

Nona Buckley-Irvine, general secretary at the London School of Economics Students’ Union, told Newsbeat: “Jazz hands are used  throughout NUS in place of clapping as a way to show appreciation of someone’s point without interrupting or causing disturbance, as it can create anxiety.

“I’m relatively new to this and it did feel odd at first, but once you’ve used jazz hands a couple of times it becomes a genuinely nice way to show solidarity with a point and it does add to creating a more inclusive atmosphere.”

This immediately caused a split.

@nuswomcam please can we ask people to stop clapping but do feminist jazz hands? it’s triggering some peoples’ anxiety. thank you!

Jazz Hands or Feminist Jazz Hands, that this is the major issue inside the NUS women’s conference.

Then there was this,

The tweets began receiving responses ridiculing the request.

@JLat55 tweeted: “Open palms can be triggering. Well, so can closed ones… you should just ban any outward expression of approval.”

@BookGeek_T tweeted: “@nuswomcam @Little_G2 hi, jazz hands can be triggering because of the quick movement of the hands. I vote blinking rapidly instead. Thanks”

Nona Buckley-Irvine, General Secretary at the London School of Economics Students’ Union, said: “Jazz hands are used throughout NUS in place of clapping as a way to show appreciation of someone’s point without interrupting or causing disturbance, as it can create anxiety.

“I’m relatively new to this and it did feel odd at first, but once you’ve used jazz hands a couple of times it becomes a genuinely nice way to show solidarity with a point and it does add to creating a more inclusive atmosphere.”

LSE SU women’s officer Gee Linford-Grayson added: “As someone who is new to the NUS conference culture it surprised me at first, but actually within a few rounds of jazz hands applause it began to make a lot of sense, as loud clapping and whooping can be intimidating and distracting when you’re speaking on stage.

“Plus who doesn’t like jazz hands?!”

The annual event decides the female issues for the NUS to campaign on, and elects the campaign’s representatives.

An NUS spokesperson said: “The request was made by some delegates attending the conference.

“We strive to make NUS events accessible and enjoyable for all, so each request is considered.”

Sentinel.
Follow us: @SentinelStaffs on Twitter | sentinelstaffs on Facebook.

More seriously there is this in the background of ‘Jazz Hands’.

These points by Yassamine Mather in the Weekly Worker last year are perhaps the most relevant: jazz hands are just part of a wider agenda.

Academic debates

Safe spaces or echo chambers? According to Wikipedia, an echo chamber in the media is “a situation in which information, ideas or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an ‘enclosed’ system, where different or competing views are censored or disallowed”. Others have described echo chambers as spaces where people repeat and agree with certain ideas, congratulating each other rather than discussing new, conflicting ideas.

In an echo chamber nobody learns anything new or expands their perspectives. Similarly if women, blacks or LGBTQ activists refuse to confront their opponents, ‘safe spaces’ risk becoming ‘echo chambers’. A 1998 study by Robert Boostrom questions the ‘safety’ aspect of ‘safe spaces’ in universities as counterposed to the mission of higher education to promote critical thinking. If critical thinking is desirable in higher education, it is essential in a political organisation of the left.

One of the most informative studies about ‘safe spaces’ in universities has been carried out by Betty J Barret, published in the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Under the title, ‘Is safety dangerous?’2, Barret points out a number of theoretical criticisms relating to the construction of educational communities as safe spaces for students, in support of her claim that they may indeed be counterproductive to student learning. She refers to an empirical study by Holley and Steiner (2005), which found that students overwhelmingly “placed the responsibility for the creation of safety on instructors, listing 387 instructor characteristics that defined safe space. Indeed, the number-one characteristic that students reported as defining a safe learning environment was that the instructor was perceived by students to be non-judgmental and/or unbiased.”

As you know, the BBC makes a very similar claim. In a class society faced with many contradictions, how will we identify these figures, so essential to the maintenance of safe spaces, these responsible adults who will remain “unbiased”? How can we guarantee against abuses of power by such figures themselves in the proposed ‘safe space’?

With Jazz hands the position worsens:  debate is reduced to a silent echo chamber.

 

FaceBook Jazz Hands…

Written by Andrew Coates

March 25, 2015 at 12:18 pm

International Russian Conservative Forum at St Petersburg: Far Right to ‘Unite’ Nationalist Forces.

with 27 comments

Parties represented at International Russian Conservative Forum.

ST. PETERSBURG — High-ranking members of some of Europe’s most controversial parties descended on St. Petersburg on Sunday to participate in the first International Russian Conservative Forum, an ultranationalist convention glorifying Russia as a refuge for the world’s most marginalized far-right political forces.

The forum’s speakers collectively ticked off all the boxes of intolerance and anti-Western sentiment, egged on by the enthusiasm of the audience filling a conference room at the St. Petersburg Holiday Inn. Through the course of the day, U.S. President Barack Obama was called a Nazi, white Christians were urged to reproduce, gays were referred to as perverts and murdered Russian opposition activists were said to be resting in hell.

Reports the Moscow Times (March 22nd).

United in their contempt for all things EU and their yearning for a socially conservative society, Russia and the extremes of the European political spectrum have forged a tacit alliance. Far-right leaders’ periodic visits to Moscow, combined with Russian banks’ magnanimity toward political entities that European creditors have shunned, have suggested that these parties’ gains in popularity could shift EU policy in Russia’s favor and undermine the union’s stance on the crisis in Ukraine.

Ties between Europe’s far-right and Russia became a little more concrete on Sunday, when radical right-wing party Rodina (“Motherland”), the organizer of the forum, adopted a resolution on the creation of a permanent committee to coordinate Russia’s and Europe’s conservative political forces.

The resolution was the culmination of a full day of 10-minute speeches by more than 30 ultranationalist commentators and the leaders of radical right-wing parties from seven European Union countries, including Greece, Italy, Germany and Britain. They blamed the United States for the Ukraine crisis, deplored the erosion of traditional values in the West and praised President Vladimir Putin’s peacemaking skills.

“The American way of life is not at the center of our politics, nor are gays and lesbians,” said Udo Voigt, a member of the European Parliament and the former head of Germany’s far-right National Democratic Party. “Our focus is on our families and our children.”

The parties rushed to sign the resolution after the Holiday Inn received a bomb threat some 20 minutes before the scheduled end of the speeches. Organizers, who announced the evacuation order, claimed that their “enemies” had called police to sabotage the event. The origin of the bomb threat remains unknown.

A police van stood idle in the hotel’s front parking lot throughout the course of the International Russian Conservative Forum. Security personnel and bodyguards with dangling earpieces scrutinized participants. A handful of Cossacks equipped with leather whips, members of a quasi-militant group presented as guardians of traditional values, secured the entrance to the conference room.

The event’s organizers — members of the St. Petersburg branch of far-right party Rodina, a party founded in the early 2000s by current Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin — claimed that it represented the “first forum of the national-oriented political forces of Europe and Russia in world history.”

Organizers were up-front about the objectives of the event, claiming it was meant to unite European and Russian conservative forces “in the context of European sanctions against Russia and the United States’ pressure on European countries and Russia.”

The Kremlin has neither formally endorsed the event, nor spoken out against it. In an apparent bid to draw parallels between their own views and those of the federal authorities, forum organizers included in their press kit and on their website an excerpt of Putin’s speech at the 2013 Valdai International Discussion Club.

“We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization.” Putin said at the time. “I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.”

There were no Russian lawmakers or high-ranking officials among the speakers, though State Duma Deputy Alexei Zhuravlyov, who also heads Rodina, was present. Russian Senator Igor Morozov did not speak, despite initially having been scheduled to do so.

The forum’s speakers echoed the Russian state narrative on the pervasiveness of an ill-defined “fascism” in Europe.

More on Moscow Times site.

Ex-BNP leader Nick Griffin tells right-wing conference Russia will save Europe

Undeterred by his waning power over the extremist right-wing in the UK, Nick Griffin has kept with his cause by declaring that Russia will save “Christendom”.

The former BNP leader was expelled from the organisation last year, after members accused him of attempting to “destabilise” it and of “harassing” its membership.

Griffin responded by accusing the party leadership of playing “plastic gangster games”.

At the International Russian Conservative Forum in St Petersbury over the weekend, which was organised by a pro-Kremlin ultranationalist party, Griffin warned the audience that Christendom would succumb to “a terrible civil war”, become and Islamist caliphate “or perhaps both”, BuzzFeed reported.

He added that “the survival of Christendom” is “absolutely impossible without the rise of the Third Rome: Moscow.”

Roberto Fiore of Italy’s Forza Nuova, mirrored Griffin’s comments at the event, and claimed that Moscow is currently the only nation guarding what he regards to be Western values in the way Rome once did.

“It’s not me saying this—it’s God saying it,” he said, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In an interview with the US newspaper, Griffin said Russia is “more free” than the West as a similar event would be banned in the US or the UK.

 

More: Independent.

International Russian Conservative  Forum.

We – community of political and public organizations, not indifferent to destiny of our Homeland – Russia, and all civilized mankind. We urge to unite for the sake of continuation of life on Earth, for the sake of conscientious and good-neighbourhood partnership between the nations of Europe. We decided to hold the first in world history Forum of the national focused political forces of Europe and Russia and to lay the foundation of sensible partnership in fight for preservation of traditional values of modern society: families, for spirituality and moral also we wait from each political and public organization of constructive proposals. We – Organizing committee of the International congress “International Russian Conservative Forum”:

“The Russian national cultural center – People’s House” – public organization which purpose is revival of traditional values and development of the Russian culture. “The Russian national cultural center – People’s House” combines efforts of people of all nationalities concerned by destiny of the Russian culture. It involves writers, musicians, artists, journalists, publishers, theater-goers, public figures in participation in business for return to the Russian culture of its worthy place in souls of people.

“People’s house” has to become a home for creators of the Russian culture. It helps all creators of the Russian World, irrespective of their ethnic, religious and civil origin. “… Our advance isn’t not impossible without spiritual, cultural, national self-determination, differently we will be able to resist to external and internal calls, we will be able to achieve success in conditions of the global competition” V. Putin’s performance at a meeting of the international debating club “Valdai”, the Novgorod region, 19.09.2013