Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Cancelling Laurence Fox, and Steve Bray.

leave a comment »

Cold War Steve On Attempt to Silence Steve Bray.

A few days ago former Actor, Detective Sergent James Hathaway, Laurence Fox, stood in the 2021 London Mayoral Contest, to “fight against extreme political correctness”  for his own luxury micro-party, The Reclaim Party. His entry into the culture wars, “the UKIP for culture”, was endorsed by Reform UK (ex-Brexit Party) and backed by Nigel Farage. The major source of Fox’s campaign funds was Brexit backer Jeremy Hosking who gave £1,153,300 in donations. He got 1,9% of the vote and lost his deposit.

A couple of days ago the man who made it impossible to watch repeats of the detective drama Lewis had got involved in a new spot of controversy.

Laurence Fox’s Twitter account was locked this morning after the Lewis actor-turned-London Mayor hopeful changed his profile image to one that was manipulated to resemble a ‘swastika’.

The Reclaim Party leader enraged many on Sunday evening, after he shared an image on his page of four Progress Pride flags manipulated in such a way that a swastika symbol – once an ancient religious symbol, but is now widely recognised for its appropriation by the Nazi Party and neo-Nazis – could be seen.

He had written alongside the image, which, while it is no longer his profile picture, still remains as a post on his feed: ‘I’ve updated my profile picture for the remainder of the holy month.

‘Blessed be the fruit.’

Metro.

This morning Fox fancies himself as something of wit:

Yesterday Steve Bray, the chap who stands outside Parliament shouting anti-Brexit messages, loudly, got the old Bill on his tracks:

This is a fair judgement:

Bray is not giving up. Today:

Written by Andrew Coates

June 29, 2022 at 11:39 am

Slavoj Žižek on Ukraine and NATO.

with one comment

Žižek: “For me, John Lennon’s mega-hit Imagine was always a song popular for the wrong reasons. Imagine that “the world will live as one” is the best way to end in hell.”

Recently keen Spotters noticed this, Slavoj Žižek, a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic, is a contributing editor of Compact magazine. What is the nature of this journal? “The magazine was co-founded by Marxist populist Edwin Aponte, former editor of the conservative ecumenical journal First Things, Matthew Schmitz, and conservative opinion journalist Sohrab Ahmari.” The paper promotes a mixture of contrarianism, confusionism, national populism and red-brown ideas. A case in point. Reaction to the US Supreme Court decision to allow the banning of abortion, ” “Legal abortion ensured that nothing need come before a woman’s career.” “Feminism, which once envisioned alternatives to capitalism, is now invoked to justify capitalism’s present form. It maximizes profits while promising liberation. The destruction of the family wage, hailed as a sign of progress for women, created a larger and cheaper labor pool.” Matthew Schmitz.

Let us flesh this out by pointing to some names some of whom perhaps only known to a British and Irish audience, “Slavoj Žižek joined anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner Paul Embery (Blue ‘Labour’) , Thomas Fazi, ‘left’ Brexit ultra published by Pluto, Conspiracist Glen Greenwald, and frequent Fox News guest, and, the creams on the tart: How NATO Lost Its Way Peter Hitchens. and Ukraine Is the Ruling Class’s Latest Propaganda Ploy Lee Smith.”

Smith’s squib had hardly got into its first sentences before he talked of “the all-out effort to promote Ukraine’s cause in America—an effort grafted on to a long series of ongoing propaganda campaigns deployed by US institutions and industries against the same target: the American public. These campaigns have used the same methods, personnel, platforms, and even catchwords to deceive, harass, and punish working- and middle-class Americans to the benefit of the country’s increasingly powerful ruling oligarchy.”

One imagines that Žižek’s old mucker Smithy is not too happy with this, “Pacifism is the wrong response to the war in Ukraine Slavoj Žižek. The least we owe Ukraine is full support, and to do this we need a stronger Nato.”

Now many agree with Stand with Ukraine, just about everybody (bar some confusionnistes and red-browners – see above). Emotionally it is a red-hot issue; the solidarity and warmth we feel for the victims is tragically reinforced with today’s news about the Russian attack on the Kremenchuk shopping centre.

“The disorientation caused by the Ukrainian war is producing strange bedfellows like Henry Kissinger and Noam Chomsky who “come from opposing ends of the political spectrum – Kissinger serving as secretary of state under Republican presidents and Chomsky one of the leading leftwing intellectuals in the United States – and have frequently clashed. But when it comes to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both recently advocated for Ukraine to consider a settlement that could see it dropping claim to some land to achieve a quicker peace deal.”

In short, the two stand for the same version of “pacifism” which only works if we neglect the key fact that the war is not about Ukraine but a moment of the brutal attempt to change our entire geopolitical situation. The true target of the war is the dismantlement of the European unity advocated not only by the US conservatives and Russia but also by the European extreme right and left – at this point, in France, Mélenchon meets Le Pen.”

Mélenchon, one hopes to soon to be in quasi-retirement out of the National Assembly, has stated this when his adversary Emmanuel Macron visited Ukraine in May, “I associate myself with his message of solidarity with Ukraine”, declared Mélenchon who “found it good that the President of the Republic publicly and spectacularly recalls which side the French are on, all without exception“. Le Pen too declares, for all her visits to the Russian President, that she is on Ukraine’s side. Both, observers of French politics will know, have backtracked considerably on their anti EU statements of the past, as (in the case of the NUPES alliance) can be seen in detailed press reports ( La Nupes veut-elle sortir de l’Europe, comme l’affirment plusieurs ministres d’Emmanuel Macron ?).

Apart from this claim, it is a huge leap to say that the “entire geopolitical situation” and European Unity is the target for the Russian invasion. Many would begin by examining this, in detail, as a basic framework, before going into geopolitical speculation based on Peter the Great’s exploits, not to mention, Eurasianism.

The Russian leader’s initial aim was to overrun Ukraine and depose its government, ending for good its desire to join the Western defensive alliance Nato. After a month of failures, he abandoned his bid to capture the capital Kyiv and turned his ambitions to Ukraine’s east and south.

Launching the invasion on 24 February he told the Russian people his goal was to “demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine“. His declared aim was to protect people subjected to what he called eight years of bullying and genocide by Ukraine’s government. Another objective was soon added: ensuring Ukraine’s neutral status .

Many of us will thoroughly dislike Žižek’s late in the day hectoring – and I hope nobody is going to say this Blog has been shy about criticising those who fail to stand with Ukraine.

Today, one cannot be a leftist if one does not unequivocally stand behind Ukraine. To be a leftist who “shows understanding” for Russia is like to be one of those leftists who, before Germany attacked the Soviet Union, took seriously German “anti-imperialist” rhetoric directed at the UK and advocated neutrality in the war of Germany against France and the UK.

From the rightist standpoint, Ukraine fights for European values against the non-European authoritarians; from the leftist standpoint, Ukraine fights for global freedom, inclusive of the freedom of Russians themselves. That’s why the heart of every true Russian patriot beats for Ukraine.

Let us recall Žižek’s own words in April, “Vladimir Putin’s war engine is being sustained not just by European payments for Russian oil and gas but also by a complicit class of “lumpen-bourgeoisie” motivated solely by the trappings of material wealth. Ukrainians, and everyone else, are learning the hard way how global capitalism trumps democracy and human rights.” War in a World that Stands for Nothing.

So what “values” does NATO, surely something to do with “global capitalism”, have that marks the divide he wishes to make on the left? What on earth is he rabbiting on about when he says, “we need a stronger Nato – but not as a prolongation of the US politics.” “There are only two ways for Europe to step out of this place: to play the game of neutrality – a short-cut to catastrophe – or to become an autonomous agent. ” Does the Lacanian philosopher think that all this is happening as a  “symbolic register” in which he can parade any amount of concepts about the Other (Russia) and declare what he likes about European politics as if he were a strategist at the helm of decision-making about what a range of countries do in relation to NATO and Ukraine?  What, if not an unobtainable object of desire (‘objet petit‘), would such a perspective, mixing a critique of “global capitalism”, NATO, and a new “autonomous agent”?

As the author of numerous books Žižek has got attention for this article. It would be easy to continue into the way in which the erudite philosopher has lost his way when he extends his no doubt considerable authority to speak about war, international relations and NATO. We already have left-wing specialists in such matters, extending their expertise across the planet, and no doubt further, people like Tariq Ali and the above Noam Chomsky who take an opposing view.

A good demolition job, pushing over the flimsy scaffolding, is offered today by the Irish Marxist Blog Žižek and Ukraine. It concludes,

Chomsky has apparently said that Žižek’s views are often too obscure to be communicated usefully to common people.  In this case, while they are frequently confused and confusing, they are also bald statements in support of ‘Ukraine’ and NATO so are very easy to understand.  In this he adds nothing.  For someone with so much to say he ends up saying nothing that hasn’t been said a thousand times before.

A much weaker polemic is offered by Counterpunch: Slavoj Zizek Does His Christopher Hitchens Impression. Ron Jacobs.

The Morning Star publishes this now under a starker title: Zizek nails his colours to the imperialist mast The limelight-hogging philosopher’s conversion to Nato is as opportunistic as it is offensive to the left and anti-war activists in particular, writes RON JACOBS.

On Chomsky, via Jim D, some critiques of Chomsky on Ukraine that are thoroughly intelligible,

Socialist Internationalism and the Ukraine War.

Rohini Hensman.

Artem Chapeye, a socialist who had translated Noam Chomsky’s work into Ukrainian, was aghast at Chomsky’s repetition of Kremlin lies to the effect that the Maidan uprising of 2014 ‘amounted to a coup with US support that… led Russia to annex Crimea, mainly to protect its sole warm-water port and naval base’.48 Syrian Marxist Yassin al-Haj Saleh, who had translated Chomsky’s work into Arabic, was equally critical of Chomsky’s statement that Putin’s intervention in Syria was not imperialist because ‘supporting a government is not imperialism’ – even if that ‘government’ is a dictatorship about to fall to a democratic uprising, and supporting it involves killing 23,000 civilians in six years and getting a port and military bases in return!49 (By that logic, the US intervention in Vietnam was not imperialism, because it was supporting the government of South Vietnam.) Not that Chomsky has any good words to say for Putin or Assad, but his endorsement of the Putin regime’s lies is also a form of support.

And the shoddy scholarship of this eminent scholar when he relies on Kremlin propaganda and ill-informed Western commentators to come to his conclusions rather than the work of much more knowledgeable Syrians, Ukrainians and Russians is indeed disappointing, along with his inability to understand that Putin and Assad can manufacture consent for their monstrous crimes by pouring out a constant stream of lies on their captive media and social media while incarcerating and killing anyone who tells the truth. Most depressing of all is his Orientalist portrayal of non-Western peoples struggling against Putin and his allies as dupes of the West and devoid of all agency.

We now have some answers to the question we started with: how do we overcome divisions among working people resulting from ethnic supremacism and nationalism? First, oppose all imperialisms, because apart from their roots in ethnic supremacism they involve national oppression. Second, support struggles for national independence that are predominantly democratic; more authoritarian ones should receive only critical support provided they represent people of all ethnicities. Ethnic definitions of nationhood should never be supported. On the other hand, a socialist programme has to include the rights of ethnic minorities to full equality before the law and their right to have their own language and culture, as well as local and regional self-government, which is important in any democracy but even more so for enclaves where minorities predominate. If socialists are serious about the interests of working people everywhere, then they have to foreground struggles for democracy, which are also struggles against various forms of discrimination and persecution, and this not only in their own countries but in terms of solidarity with the class struggle of workers of all countries. Finally, in a world where hostility to refugee

Written by Andrew Coates

June 28, 2022 at 12:51 pm

NUPES: France’s Left Alliance in Parliament, How to Stand up to Macron?

with 4 comments

Left Unity: Leading French Trotskyist Amongst New NUPES MPs.

NUPES, the Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale, has 130 MPs in France’s lower house, the National Assembly, brings together the main parts of France Left, from the Socialists (PS), the Greens (EELV), the Communists (PCF) to Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI). Rejecting the latter’s call to form a single Parliamentary group they have created an “inter-group” of the parties. France Info notes, “unlike the “classic” parliamentary groups, this structure similar to the intergroups of the European Parliament will remain informal.” It will meet every week to discuss joint work. “

“Within this coalition, we agreed on a programme, with 650 measures. Of these 650 measures, there are 95% that we defend in common and 5% for which there are minor differences that “We will deal with Parliament. On the 95% of the points of the programme, we are committed to voting the same thing, so we will vote the same thing” , explained the deputy LFI Manuel Bompard on franceinfo, Friday June 24. “These differences could also concern the question of a motion of no confidence against Elisabeth Borne, at the beginning of July. While the Prime Minister may not submit to a vote of confidence following her declaration of general policy, the deputies of La France insoumise will “probably be forced” to table a motion to oppose giving confidence in the government.”

The Communist leader, Fabien Roussel, whose critics assert that he is motivated by a wish to cut an independent figure has declared a lack of interest in this motion against the new government of PM ‘Élisabeth Borne ,” Other Nupes deputies, like Valérie Rabault, are cautious. “We cannot say that we have no confidence in the government when we do not know what it is proposing” , evacuated the socialist deputy on France 2, Friday.

Some see Emmanuel Macron’s manoeuvres at work, and could cite a spate of articles in the French media on how coalitions work in many European countries as a sign of his intentions. The President of the Republic mentioned discussions to form a “government of action” and floated the idea that it could go “from the Communists to the LR (classic Right)” excluding LFI (“not a governing party”, that is, a party that can be considered a potential one) to form a possible coalition. This idea, to broaden the government to the left, was firmly rejected by Adrien Quatennens, LFI coordinator, ““We have a clear mandate to be in the opposition”. Anybody who joined this “grand coalition” would face an immediate “purge” (his word, identical in English). (Adrien Quatennens, député LFI du Nord : participer à un gouvernement de coalition « n’aurait aucun sens » pour la Nupes).

It is interesting to see that the NUPES bloc has itself brought together a wide variety of forces to coalesce around a common electoral project.

The main parties are well-known and cited above.

They also include, within the mini-coalition of the Pôle écologiste, not only France’s largest Green party, Europe Écologie Les Verts EELV, 16 MPs and 11,000 members Génération.s, founded by former Socialist Presidential candidate (2017) and red-green Benoît Hamon (no longer politically active), ‘60,000 members’ (claimed, I am on their E-Mail list and may be included….) and 4 MPs, Génération écologie, 3 MPS, ex-Macron backers, the micro-parties, Cap21, Écologie au centre, (no MPs), and the Mouvement des progressistes, created in 2009 by former Communist Party leader Robert Hue (Presidential candidate in 1995 and 2002), which has one MP.

Linked to the Pôle écologiste Bloc are Les Nouveaux Démocrates, dissident Macron supporters, who claim 600 members and who have one MP.

The Bloc of La France insoumise includes not only LFI proper but also:

The Parti de gauche, Mélenchon’s original breakaway from the Socialists, it has played a part in La France insoumise since its creation, 6,000 members and 17 MPs. Unlike LFI it has a democratic internal structure, and aspires to be a « forum politique » et un espace de débats pour la gauche insoumise”. Adrien Quatennens (cited above) is a member. It defines itself as Ecosocialist. You do not hear much, if anything about the PG; the English Wiki entry does not look updated since about 2018. PG members are present on the national executive of La France insoumise.

Ensemble ! (they tried to sue Macron for breach of copyright over his use of the same name for the electoral alliance he led of La République En Marche! (LREM), Democratic Movement (MoDem), AgirTerritories of Progress (TDP), HorizonsEn commun, and the Progressive Federation.) is a Mouvement pour une Alternative de Gauche, Ecologiste et Solidaire. It is a political party, also with a democratic structure, 2,500 members and 4 MPs, of whom Clémentine Autain is the best known. Its founding members have included former supporters of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA), the tendencies, Curant unitaire anticapitaliste  and the Gauche Anticapitaliste, and the historic self-management current Les Alternatifs (which can in part be traced back to the left wing of the Parti Socialiste Unifié, PSU, a force on the left in the 1960s), and others such as Fédération pour une Alternative Sociale et Ecologique, (FASE) which had former Communist Party members. The youth section has had close links with the Fourth International. Ensemble insoumis is their group which is most closely aligned with La France insoumise. There are differences between them and others in Ensemble, debated over this issue: 2e tour de l’élection présidentielle. Ensemble is involved in a number of local collectives, Actualités des collectifs locaux.

The Gauche démocratique et sociale, of long-term and respected activist Gérard Filoche, is also listed, as is the deep green (to say the least, they are ‘anti-speciest’ to begin with) La Révolution écologique pour le vivant (REV), which has one MP.

John Mullen states that,

 at least three small revolutionary groups, two of around a hundred members each (Gauche révolutionnaire and Révolution!) and one larger current (Ensemble Insoumis) are active inside the FI.

This gives the impression that Mélenchon’s La France insoumise is a democratic organisation in which groups, such as GR (which was on the fringes of the NPA at one point) or – Révolution!, an entryist faction in the Communist PCF at one point over a decade ago, can work around building their mini-party (1). While it may not be entirely the chief’s personal property LFI says it is a ‘network movement’ (mouvement réseau ) with a self-proclaimed ‘gazeux’ (effervescent) in which people do not become members but supporters and activists. The yearly Conference, the Convention Nationale (two thirds attending are selected by lot, not elected) is described as “un show de rock stars”. On the ground LFI is organised in largely self-financing “groupes d’action”. activists have considerable autonomy on how to apply the line, and organise local campaigning, deciding by consensus (“privilégient la recherche du consentement plutôt que le vote”). You can be chucked out without any right of appeal. (Le populisme de gauche – Sociologie de la France insoumise. Manuel Cervera Marzal. 2021)

This is the body, the host one might say, that Ian Birchall declares is an “an open organisation with different currents within it”. Indeed. You can ‘join’ by the click of a few keyboard letters – you don’t even need money, initially . Having a democratic say is another matter. There are some who detect different approaches, with a wider impact between, say François Ruffin and Clementine Autain, in other words, between members of the National Assembly, both of whom promoted wider openings to the left before NUPES was formed with Mélenchon’s blessing. But these views were not the result of an organised campaign at the grass-roots. Decisions within LFI are made from the top down.

The Gauche Révolutionnaire is the French wing of the Socialist Party’s Committee for a Workers International. Its grip on reality can be seen in this recent article, “Campagne de la TUSC au Royaume-Uni, un pas en avant ! (TUSC Campaign, A Step Forward) Pendant plusieurs semaines, nos camarades des Socialist Party (organisation sœur de la Gauche Révolutionnaire en Angleterre et pays de Galles) et Socialist Party Scotland (toujours notre organisation sœur mais en Ecosse) ont mené une campagne combative avec la Coalition Syndicaliste et Socialiste (Trade-union and Socialist Coalition, TUSC) pour les élections locales de 2022 au Royaume-Uni.”

The other group, Révolution ! is the branch of Socialist Appeal.

Need one say more?

Amongst La France insoumise MPs is also a more serious Trotskyist.

This, Spotted last week, may well be the first time a current member of a Trotskyist group – in this case part of the national leadership of the Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI) – has been elected as a MP. Former, ex, and youthful Trotskyists of course are far from rare in the National Assembly. Apart from Mélenchon, who was a cadre in the Lambertist Trotskyist movement (notably, between 1972 to 1976, he was the leader of the OCI in Besançon) there is former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin had been ‘close’ to the same Organisation Communiste Internationaliste, forerunner of the POI, and the national secretary of the Parti Socialiste until 2017, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, who had been a MP, was also a member of the OCI/PCI till 1986.

As the below suggests this event passed largely unnoticed.

Jérôme Legavre is a French Trotskyist trade unionist and politician , born in 1972 in Rennes ( Ille-et-Vilaine ). A member of the national leadership of the Independent Workers’ Party Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI), he was elected deputy in 2022 in the twelfth constituency of Seine-Saint-Denis.”

That is the Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI), the Lamberists (now at less than a 1,000 members but once thousands strong, Mélenchon entered politics through this current when it was known as the OCI)….

Pierre Lambert (real name Pierre Boussel; June 9, 1920 – January 16, 2008) was a French Trotskyist leader, who for many years acted as the central leader of the French Courant Communiste Internationaliste (CCI) which founded the Parti des Travailleurs (Note now split into the above POI and their rivals the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID), who stood in the legislatives and got absolutely nowhere).

The debates within NUPES will be focused on those forces present inside the ‘Intergroup’. What impact bodies on the outside left will have on the decisions of the 131 NUPES deputies will be beyond limited. As L’Humanité said on Friday, ” l’heure est à la reparlementarisation de la vie politique.” – the moment is one of the reparliamentisation of political life”. This does not only refer to putting the President in his place…..

Perhaps this, published today, is a useful signpost to the future of La France insoumise

It remains to imagine how LFI will manage to impose itself in the political arena over the long term. The lack of pluralism and the verticality imposed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon has certainly given way to an acceleration of the culture of compromise during the constitution of the Nupes. But can this relaxation of the ideological machine to work in concert with allies..

LFI : du pari à la mutation ? Manuel Cervera-Marzal.

….

(1) “Its section in France, Révolution (formerly La Riposte), practiced entryism in the French Communist Party. In 2008, La Riposte supported an alternative platform at the PCF party conference which received the support of 15% of voters, following which Révolution left the French Communist Party and became a member of La France Insoumise while La Riposte stayed within the PCF and are no longer a section of the International Marxist Tendency.”

Update and Correction.

The mouvement des progressistes, alliance écologique indépendante ( écologie au centre) and Cap 21 are no longer in the pôle écologiste thus not part of the NUPES.

“Le Mouvement des Progressistes, membre fondateur du Pôle écolo aux côtés d’EELV, Génération.S et Génération Ecologie, n’a pas signé d’accord avec LFi et ne rejoindra donc pas la Nouvelle Union Populaire Écologiste et Sociale.”


“Plusieurs petits partis écologistes opposés à l’accord de la Nouvelle union populaire écologique et sociale (Nupes), comme Cap 21 ou le Mouvement des progressistes, se sont rassemblés pour les législatives, où ils présentent 250 candidats pour une “écologie qui donne envie”.”

Les écologistes anti Nupes se rassemblent pour les législatives.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 27, 2022 at 1:16 pm

Momentum for Electoral Reform Grows as Andy Burnham Backs Proportional Representation.

with 4 comments

Andy Burnham says Labour must ‘seize moment’ and back proportional representation.

Labour should back proportional representation for Westminster elections to allow more cooperation between political parties on a programme of urgently needed social reform, says Andy Burnham.

Writing for the Observer in the aftermath of two byelection defeats for the Tories, brought about in part by tactical voting by Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters, the mayor of Greater Manchester says PR should be at the heart of an entirely new approach to politics and policymaking.”

A key body pushing for this is the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform.

Chartist Magazine has been one of the forums on the left which had promoted electoral reform:

In the UK PR has been the only system, through the European elections, which has given a big voice to the national populist far-right. Notably, UKIP 2014, (27.5%) of any British party, 24 MEPs, Brexit Party, 2019, (30.52%) 29 seats.

Although this Blog is in principle in favour of PR (see articles above) it is also hard not to recall that Jean-Marie Le Pen gained his first foothold in French national politics when François Mitterrand introduced a proportional voting system, the “party list” method, for the French legislative elections in 1986.

The intention, as the far right Front National (FN) led by Le Pen was bubbling support out in the country, and some tentative alliances with the classical right were in the air, was to divide the Socialist Party President’s opponents. Despite some who warmed to the FN anti-immigration theme, the Gaullists (Rassemblement pour la République RPR) and centre-Right (Union pour la démocratie française, UDF) had many reasons to be wary of the FN not least those who recalled Le Pen’s own fight for Algérie Française against the General. The measure, equally transparently, was intended to shore up left support, easier to express nationally than through constituency battles.

In elections  the RPR/UDF coalition obtained 43,9 % and were the largest group. Consequently, for the first time of the history of the Fifth Republic, the parliamentary majority was opposed to the President. Thus began a period of “cohabitation”, between the Right, led by PM Jacques Chirac, and Mitterrand, a division of power which the founder, in 1959, of the constitutional framework Charles de Gaulle, did not foresee. (La cohabitation de 1986-1988, une première sous la Ve République.)

The FN was able to form a parliamentary group with its 35 elected members (9,65% of the vote). It marked their entry onto the national political scene, and helped give them, a previously fringe movement with origins in ‘national revolutionary’ tendencies, legitimacy.

PR for Parliamentary elections was abolished by Prime Minister Chirac. Reelected in 1988 Mitterrand did not re-introduce the system for the legislative elections held in the same year.

Nevertheless, “Since their creation in 1986, France’s regional councils were first elected according to a proportional system (used three times between 1986 and 1998) and then, since 2003, through a mixed system which combines proportional distribution and majority bonus in a two-round ballot.

This “tailor-made” election method, which is different than what is used for the National Assembly and departmental councils (two-round binominal system), as well as the European Parliament (single-round proportional election) is similar to that which is used by town councils of cities over 1,000 inhabitants where the majority bonus is greater (50%).”

Chris Williamson labelled by Twitter as “Iran state-affiliated media.”

with one comment

Former UK MP and Host of Press TV’s Palestine Declassified Chris Williamson.

For the last few years Chris Williamson has posed a champion of the left. He even set up his own micro-party,  RESISTMovement for a People’s Party (trademarked no less, “based on Festival of Resistance Ltd, the RESIST: Movement for a People’s Party trademark is used in the following business: Political advice; Political advisory services; Political information services; Political lobbying services; Political research and analysis; Political services; Organisation of political meetings. .”). Little has been heard of this movement, whose main attempt at “political meetings” was a venture into a national festival as sad and sparse as a plate of the celebrated Vegan’s left-overs.

Yet all is not going too badly.

The anti-Labour alt-news site Skwawkbox carried a puff piece for the alliance Williamson is involved in.

Rebuilding socialism outside of Labour Phil Bevin (described as former ‘Corbyn LOTO Staffer’: Note: Phil Bevin was a 2022 Workers Party of Britain candidate in Brandwood & King’s Heath in the Birmingham local election. They received 111 votes.)

Now this type has written this:

new shoots of change are growing. An informal coalition is building around the RMT Union via the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and collaborating groups. TUSC links together the RMT, Socialist Party and Resist. In recent weeks, the Workers’ Party of Britain (aka: George Galloway’s red-brown front with the CPGB (Marxist-Leninist)) has also gained observer status with TUSC. This grouping may presently represent the best hope of a political movement that may one day rival Labour. 

The comrade of small businessman Steve Walker gives vent to this interesting speculation,

through informal relationships, initially tentative ties between a Peace and Justice Party, TUSC and other groups may grow into a powerful electoral alliance.

The Grayzone’s revelation of Paul Mason’s alleged email correspondence with an MI6 agent appears to show the former journalist and would-be Labour MP raising fears about the emergence of an anti-imperialist left outside of Labour. The establishment should be worried, because it is from a loose alliance of anti-imperialist groups, as described in this article, that a meaningful challenge to the status quo will emerge.  

Bevin has, to put it mildly, a ‘thing’ about some issues, “the 2018 “antisemitism crisis”, when the left capitulated to the right’s demands that the party adopt the deeply flawed IHRA definition of antisemitism, leading to a campaign, which activists justifiably describe as “the witch hunt”.”

He has a lot of other ‘theories’,

Just this week, the Grayzone published a report alleging “a plot by pro-Leave elites to sabotage Theresa May’s Brexit deal, infiltrate government, spy on campaign groups, and replace May with Boris Johnson”, which was in play as early as 2018. Former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove, whom emails revealed to have been involved, apparently believed Johnson represented the best chance of “seeing off” Corbyn and “accommodating the Farage Threat.”

The forces working behind the scenes in the pro-Leave camp apparently saw ousting May and a hard Brexit delivered by a Johnson premiership as key to defeating Corbyn. 

It looks as if another chap with lots of theories in this vein is in the line of fire:

This is the duo worrying the ‘Establishment’….

Written by Andrew Coates

June 25, 2022 at 4:11 pm

Ipswich Solidarity with the RMT Strike.

leave a comment »

Support Came From Passer-by on the road by Ipswich Station, Motorists and Bus Drivers.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 25, 2022 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Trade Unions

Tagged with , ,

By-Elections: Lib Dem Landslide Win in Tiverton and Honiton, Labour Victory in Wakefield, Northern Independence Party Beaten by Official Monster Raving Party.

with 7 comments

Official Monster Raving Loony Party: Celebrating Victory Over Northern Independence Party Till the Wee Hours.

Tiverton and Honiton:

The Liberal Democrats have overturned a 24,000 Tory majority to win the Tiverton and Honiton by-election.

A dramatic swing of almost 30% from the Tories to the Liberal Democrats saw Richard Foord achieve a majority of 6,144 in the Devon constituency on Thursday.

Sky

Wakefield:

Labour has won the Wakefield by-election to regain the West Yorkshire seat it lost to the Conservatives at the 2019 General Election.

Simon Lightwood defeated Tory candidate Nadeem Ahmed by 4,925 votes in the poll to overturn a majority of 3,358.

The vote followed the resignation of ex-Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan, who was jailed in May for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008.

The victory signifies Labour’s first by-election gain since Corby in 2012.

BBC.

Trainspotters did not fail to notice the triumph of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, candidate Sir Archibald Earl Eaton Stanton 171 ballot papers over their so-called rivals of the Northern Independence Party (NIP) – represented by Christopher Jones, 84 votes.

It was not long ago that the leftish media published respectful articles about the newly founded NIPs. Created by the thinker, Phillip Proudfoot, the scion of an ancient Hobbit family known to J.R. Tolkien, was seen as potentially “the start of a more general realignment in British politics”. A piece in New Left Review declared that the Nippers were no “unicium” (translation, one-off). It had a place in the “remarkable rise in regionalist sentiment; conflicts between Catalans, Basques and Spaniards, Northerners and mezzogiornisti, Flemings and Walloons all puncture the post-national age.”

What were its politics? ” The nip is demanding that the uk Parliament hold a referendum on an Independent Northern England, with a ‘yes’ vote leading to ‘the establishment of a sovereign Northern Republic.’” The self-identifying democratic socialist party called for the creation of an independent state restoring an ancient anglo-saxon kingdom in Northumbria that had existed between the 7th and 10th century.

Proudfoot’s party has friendly relations with the more borders Left Unity party (who also back Scottish nationalist plans to create more European frontiers), and other micro parties in the Left. A high point was enthusiastically reported by the anti-Labour site Skwawkbox, “NIP, Breakthrough Party, Left Unity, TUSC and others announce new PAL electoral coalition.” (20.1.22) The alt news site Novara Media was still describing NIP as a significant force back in April, “The Northern Independence Party Is a Triple Threat to Labour. Strong northern identity, unapologetic socialism and passionate activists – the NIP has everything Starmer doesn’t.” Ell Folan.

Pal’s friendship with TUSC was not to last – there was an acrimonious bust up over George Galloway a few months ago. But the Nips did not faced any left competition in the Wakefield election. The field, we might say, was clear for their “unapologetic socialism” and fired up supporters.

Alas….

It looks as if not only the Monster Raving Loonies have beaten the NIPs but that what regionalist feeling there is in Wakefield has been captured by the social democratic Yorkshire Party, which “campaigns for the establishment of a devolved Yorkshire Assembly within the UK, with powers over education, environment, transport and housing.” Their candidate, David Herdson, scored a respectable 1182 votes.

Wakefield
NamePartyVotes%
AHMED, NadeemThe Conservative Party Candidate824130.0
AKBAR, AkefIndependent20907.6
BICKERDIKE, PaulChristian Peoples Alliance1440.5
DODGSON, MickFreedom Alliance. Real People. Real Alternative1870.7
EARL ‘EATON, Sir Archibald StantonThe Official Monster Raving Loony Party1710.6
FRANSEN, JaydaIndependent230.1
GASKELL, Jordan JamesUK Independence Party (UKIP)1240.5
HERDSON, David John RowntreeYorkshire Party11824.3
HIRST, ThereseEnglish Democrats – `Putting England First`1350.5
JONES, Christopher RichardNorthern Independence Party – Nationalise Energy Companies840.3
LIGHTWOOD, Simon Robert (Elected)Labour Party1316647.9
NEEDLE, Jamie LukeLiberal Democrats5081.8
ROUTH, Ashley Theo BlueGreen Party5872.1
SIMON, AshleaBritain First – No To Immigration3111.1
WALSH, ChrisReform UK5131.9
Majority492517.9
Spoiled Votes62
% turnout39.5
Total Votes27,466

Class War in the UK.

leave a comment »

Anarchy in the UK: Coming Sometime, Now.

I don’t recall much humour during the 1970s and 1980s industrial disputes.

This was the kind of cartoon the mass readership far right press published at the time:

Anthony Burgess, chiefly remembered for the film based on his book A Clockwork Orange, published this in 1978, which expresses the mood of the right and sections of the rightward moving intelligentsia.

1985 (from James Nicholl Reviews – if anything too kind, the prose is worse even than the ideas and plot).

Britain, or Tucland (from Trades Union Congress) as it is known in 1985, languishes under the doleful lash of syndicalist trade unionism. Britain has been transformed from the vibrant (if, as Burgess admits in his essays, steadfastly stupid) society of yesteryear to one in which predatory tribes of homosexuals roam unchecked, an alien society quietly infiltrates, and any worker can provoke a general strike for such absurd goals as a reasonable wage and safe working conditions.

Poor Bev Jones, once a paid intellectual, was driven out academia when his sort of academia was defunded for irrelevancy in the eyes of the dullards now running Tucland. Now a — unionized, of course! — confectioner, he lives a not-especially-fulfilling life with a wife whom he apparently loves in the passionless, vaguely repelled way of the British of Burgess’ sort. The couple has a daughter, whose promiscuous ways and general lack of intelligence make her a perfect example of the modern Tuclander.

Bev abandons his moping submissiveness after his wife is left to burn to death as a result of a fireman’s strike. He becomes a steadfast anti-unionist. Unfortunately, while the author seems to be on Bev’s side, most of his fellow Britons are not. Bev’s feeble attempts to speak out against the flaws of Modern Society see him stripped of his union card, his job, and his humble niche in society. 

There seems to be a ray of hope when Bev discovers the Free Britons, who oppose Tucland for their own reasons. As Bev will discover to his cost, just because he is on their side does not mean that they are on his.

Burgess did not shy away from racism,

Bev’s underage daughter Bessie, who is addicted to soft pornographic TV shows, at one point is found watching “Spiro and Spero” (Latin for ‘I breathe’ and ‘I hope’ respectively), who transpire to be “a pair of cartoon dolphins who spoke English on the Chinese model: You Say He Not Come I Know He Come I Know He Come Soon.” Later, she sends him a postcard from the city of Ghadan (Arabic for ‘tomorrow’), where she has become part of the harem of an Arab sheikh, which reads “der dad i am alrit ere tely very gud i am ok luv besi.’

From Anthony Burgess’s other invented languages.

But today:

Lynch’s reply:

Yet, even the Spectator has began to publish some kind words for unions.

The Spectator has published this …

“Mick Lynch is not a normal union leader in that he is, well, normal. It’s as if he has taken the best bits of previous examples of the job and moulded them into a finished article – the working-classness of a Ron Todd, the temperament of Bill Jordan, the passion of Rodney Bickerstaffe and the wit and wisdom of another rail union leader, Jimmy Knapp, one of the nicest I ever dealt with.”

Still….

Written by Andrew Coates

June 23, 2022 at 4:30 pm

As the Class Struggle intensifies Confusionist Grayzone Agents step up attack on Comrade Paul Mason.

with 11 comments

Grayzone Political Confusionism.

“The “mutually hostile offshoots from the Enlightenment, liberalism and Marxism, can at least now mount a joint defence operation against fascism.” wrote Paul Mason in How to Stop Fascism, History, Ideology, Resistance. (2021). He argued that “social, economic, climate and racial justice” could form the framework of this alliance against a resurgent far right.

Mason argued that modern fascism wanted a “global race war that reshapes the world into ethnic monocultures and ends modern society”. Yet, the national populist parties of Europe are not mass totalitarian parties, tightly organised “conspiratorial” quasi-military structures in full view (as Hannah Arendt called them), which could mount such a Armageddon. Their importance lies in electorally significant forms and their ideology which has seeped into the wider society.

From Spain’s Vox, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, Denmark’s: Fremskridtspartiet, Poland’s ruling Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, Hungary’s Fidesz – Magyar Polgári Szövetség and France’s Rassemblement National, who now have an unprecedented 89 seats in the National Assembly, and the other parties in Europe, are anti-immigration (believers in the Great Replacement threat), welfare chauvinist (protecting their ‘own people’), ‘anti woke’ and defenders of national identity and sovereignty. The ruling Boris Johnson Cabinet in Britain has a lot in common – to cite their policies towards refugees alone – with these parties.

The ideas peddled by fellow-travelling national populist networks such as Spiked, GB TV, and a range of media outlets in France, from Valeurs Actuelles, Causer to CNews, centre on issues such as defending Brexit, attack “the bourgeois left”,  the liberal “elite”, “PC” (the old word for ‘Woke’), take up issues such as gender, and (in France) “l’écriture inclusive” – making the French language inclusive of real human genders. Mick Hume, the former editor of Living Marxism’s successor, LM, is at the heart of this nexus in the UK, writing in the Mail, ““The Remainstream TV media’s hysterical anti-Boris Johnson obsession is nothing less than an attempted coup,” No doubt those familiar with other countries could add to this brief list. Éric Zemmour, who got 7,07% of the vote in the first round of France’s Presidential elections, after having been credited with between 15 and 18% at one point, and whose 120,00 strong party, La Reconquête, won no MPs in the June Parliamentary elections, has been more important in spreading and popularising these views than its efforts at conquering political power.

In response, this is the nearest thing to a new Popular Front that we have, an immensely heartening vote for the united left in the France, Greens, Socialists, Communists, la France insoumise, and many smaller parties.

One development helping popularise far right themes is confusionism: the disintegration of political landmarks previously stabilised around the left-right axis. In breaking down the left right division those who follow what can be called the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’, align with any anti-West forces. The Grayzone stands accused. “It is known for misleading reporting[20] and sympathetic coverage of authoritarian regimes,[2][13][21] in addition to its denial of the Uyghur genocide.[25] The Grayzone has spread conspiracy theories about VenezuelaXinjiangSyria, and other regions. “

Conspiratorial claims about left-wing figures can also play a key role…..

Comrade Paul Mason has been attacked again and again by the Grayzone.

Anybody might think their real aim is to shut him out of the left, and stymie any attempt at creating a new popular front.

British security state collaborator Paul Mason’s war on ‘rogue academics’ exposed

KIT KLARENBERG AND DAVID MILLER·JUNE 21, 2022

Grayzone has found new friends to confuse:

Written by Andrew Coates

June 22, 2022 at 1:20 pm

As Far-Right Tories try to stir up anti-Trade Union Hatred: Solidarity with the RMT!

with one comment

Last Week…

Nostalgia for the 1970s began to grow a couple of weeks ago. Now Kate Bush (too good not to cite) tops the charts, artic roll is on the menu, and Abigail is having a party. Kipper ties are said to be making a comeback.

Then there is…

I can recall having vicious arguments in the 1970s about unions. Having left school at 16 I worked, first in manual jobs, then in central London offices. There were lots of strikes, many involving car workers and dockers, including in 1971 a TUC Day of Action ‘Kill the Bill’, a one-day General Strike, against the Industrial Relations Act. If there was a current of solidarity, the class hatred against strikers from right-wingers, and people who considered work stoppages something against the natural order of things, was so strong you could almost touch it. The 1979 Winter of Discontent 1978-9 is said to have capped the decade with widespread strikes in the public and private sector.

At Uni in the latter part of the decade students attended trade union marches in the West Midlands, in Birmingham and Coventry, at which there were engineering and car workers. We went regularly, by mini-bus from Leamington, driven by the indefatigable ‘Reg’, and then coaches which started at Warwick, to support the dispute involving trade union recognition at the Grunwick Film Processing Laboratories in Willesden that led to a two-year strike between 1976 and 1978.

Those of us who were there will vividly remember the day this chap turned up at Grunwicks, with the miners, to show solidarity:

We also remember red-baiting stuff on the telly and papers. In response there were private armies formed (not kidding) to resist the Marxist threat in the UK. ” General Sir Walter Colyear Walker (1912–2001) was a British army officer. Walker has been accused of forming a private army with the intention of overthrowing the British government or seizing power if trade unionists rendered the country ungovernable.”

Back to the present…

This the Interview:

Or is it the 1980s….?

Things are obviously getting polarised. But solidarity continues:

Solidarity with the RMT at Ipswich today from the Ipswich trades council, the NEU, Unison and Unite branches including of course the SUC!

A massed and coordinated show of solidarity is being mustered for 10am on Saturday (June 25th) on the pavement opposite the railway station,

please join it if you can, and bring your banners, placards and flags.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 21, 2022 at 4:40 pm

France: Macron Fails to get Governing Majority, Left becomes Principal Opposition, Far Right in Breakthrough.

with 2 comments

Macron’s Front, Ensemble! fails to get the 289 seats needed for a Governing Majority.

France’s new left-wing bloc, Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale, NUPES, (72, La France insoumise, LFI, Greens, EELV, Europe Écologie Les Verts, 23 , PS, Socialist, 26, PCF Communist, 12) has become the largest opposition force in parliament.

Five years after having almost disappeared from the French Parliament, the ‘Hemicycle’, the left has returned to the National Assembly. Together, Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise (LFI), the socialists, the ecologists and the communists won 133 seats. That is 75 more MPs than in 2017 and marks the entry of the greens, EELV, (strictly speaking, the mini-coalition, le pôle écologiste) with 23 MPs – they had only one after the previous elections – and a big increase in LFI representation, up from 17 in 2017 to 72 today.

The left has not returned to the scores of a decades past, for example in 2012 when the total of the different parties, Socialists, Communists, Front de gauche, Greens, reached 316 deputies. But it did a lot better than could have been predicted only a few years back. After the 2017 triumph of President Macron it looked as if the French left-wing parties, divided on the Socialists’ term of office under François Hollande, and issues, ranging from ecology to Europe, with part of the formerly governing Parti Socialiste abandoning ship for office, local or national, for Macron’s centrist La République en Marche (LREM), were locked in decline. The largest force, La France insoumise polarised the left, and offered an uncertain future in what used to be called left-wing populism. Some started to make comparisons with Italy where the socially liberal Partito Democratico, PD, partly emerging from the Communists and Socialists, has sucked up the Italian left in a form of technocratic pro-market social democracy that draws more from American liberalism than any form of socialism. Outside of the PD Italy’s left barely exists.

The mainstay of the NUPES agreement could be said to be radical green democratic socialism, within the perspective of ‘another Europe’. This has involved developing, indeed transforming, key elements of the LFI programme. That is, watering down Mélenchon’s previous sovereigntist self-assertion within the European Union, including threats to break treaties that pleased anti-European forces elsewhere, including on the UK Lexit left, and smothering the rhetoric about a Citizens’ Revolution. In their place are specific proposals for democratic and social reforms and defending living standards. The days of declaring that the French are a special “revolutionary people”, ready to fight to ‘elite’, la caste’ have gone. Today there is the prospect of fighting Macron’s right-of-centre legislation from the benches of the Palais Bourbon, up to devices such a vote of censure, with, one hopes, street protests and union activity to complement their work.

The French left also, despite the low turn out – 46% – has retained a popular base, adapting to new class structures, said to be more fragmented, subject to greater managerial control, in precarious conditions under the threat of the sack, and getting support by uniting people rather than dividing them on ethnic grounds . NUPES did well in the big conurbations, notably the Ile-de-France, and won in 9 constituencies in the East of Paris – including areas previously held by Macron’s LREM. Symbolical perhaps was the victory in Val-de-Marne, of Rachel Kéké, a hotel housekeeper, originally from the Côte d’Ivoire, a CGT activist, who led a very long strike for better pay and conditions at one of the biggest hotels in Paris.

By contrast the long term decline of the left continued in the previous strongholds, analogous to the ‘Red Wall’ of the Hautes-de-France now, after the decline of industry, mining and class solidarity, a base of a different kind of working class and self-employed, often known as “peripheral France”. Support for the far right is said to thrive in these “rooted” communities, beyond the metropolitan multi-cultural ‘elite’. Whatever the truth of these – contested – claims – in this region, not untypical, NUPES got 8 MPs, and Marine le Pen’s Rassemblement National 20. At Hénin-Beaumont Marine Le Pen was re-elected with a 61% landslide. In this region there were 5 RN deputies in 2017.

The success of the national populists of the RN has been widely reported in the media, including in the English speaking world. The election of an unprecedented 89 far-right MPs (17.3% of the vote) is very bad news. Its extent was not foreseen by pollsters – which had led to some squirming by professionals from the industry (which has a generally high reputation in the Hexagone) this morning on France Inter and elsewhere. To the traditional complaint that not everybody will publicly admit to casting a ballot for the Front National – renamed Rassemblement National – there has been a breakdown of what is known as the “republican front”. That is a barrage against the right in the run off elections – meaning either support for anybody standing against them, or at the least, a call not to vote for them. Many Macron supporters appeared to put NUPES in the same bag as the RN, and a great deal of wavering took place from all quarters. Given the virulence some Macron voters would have gone to the RN when they faced NUPES and some anti-Macron forces it is alleged some NUPES voters went over to the RN in Ensemble/RN run offs. There is one fact to remember: France has the biggest number of elected far right MPs in its history,

Jean-Luc Mélenchon had a strategy of winning over some Le Pen’s voters, “fâches pas fachos” , angry but not fash, those who might have been active in , or sympathised with, the Gilets Jaunes, the ‘white van’ man who wants cheap petrol, lower taxes, and who detests Macron. How this was to be done was always unclear, as Manuel Cervera Marzal pointed out in Le populisme de gauche, Sociologie de la France insoumise (2021). The electorate of the RN is heavily motivated by dislike of foreigners (putting immigration at the top of their concerns) and, Marzal noted, more simply, “le racisme” (Page 260). Nothing the left says is going to say about wider social problems, for example against Macrons’ welfare reforms which bear some resemblance to UK punitive schemes and could involve a form of workfare for those on the minimum benefits, is going to convince in the short term those who simply want rid of immigrants. The re-election of the LFI activist-journalist François Ruffin, «gars du coin» of Picardie , who underlined his regional identity (“Picardie debout !“) and appealed to voters with that ringing in their ears, looks a one off that fails to deal with these issues. (Législatives: dans la Somme, François Ruffin facilement réélu.)

If, Ruffin excepted, there was little evidence of this happening in the past these results indicate that the left has not been notably successful when confronted with a face to face ‘duel’ in conditions where the far-right is strong, “The analysis of 362 duels contested by Nupes candidates in the second round shows that the left alliance lost a little more than one face-to-face out of two against the National Rally. In some regions, the proportion of defeats against Marine Le Pen’s party was even higher. In Hauts-de-France, for example, Nupes was beaten in 9 out of 13 constituencies against the far-right party. Similarly, in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, the Nupes lost in 6 out of 8 duels.

It looks as if, rather than focusing on only Macron’s failure to make true his promise to marginalise the far right, or his own ambiguities on how to confront them, one needs an analysis of how the themes of Marine le Pen’s national populism has not just been against La Macronie, but have appealed to a wide constituency in France. Or (reviewed on the Tendance Blog): FRÉDÉRIQUE MATONTI Comment sommes-nous devenus réacs ? 2021. Just one point on the issues that surround this, above all secularism. The NUPES positon is:

  • Défendre la République indivisible, laïque, universelle, démocratique, sociale et écologique
  • Protéger la liberté de conscience et d’expression, combattre tous les communautarismes et l’usage politique des religions.
  • Defend the indivisible, secular, universal, democratic, social and ecological Republic
  • Protect freedom of conscience and expression, fight all forms of communitarianism and the political use of religions.

(Programme partagé de gouvernement de la Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale)

The British far right are already celebrating: Gavin Mortimer How Marine Le Pen silenced her critics (Spectator). Le Pen’s success shows she was right to ‘de-demonise’ the party founded by her father. One can expect more in this vein.

That the diverse French left, with long traditions, and long divisions, going back to the 1920s split between Socialists and Communists, to cite but one example, can unite for elections will send cheer to other lefts. EELV, Socialists (PS), LFI and (with help from past allies) the Communists have enough MPs to form their own Parliamentary groups, essential for a range of technical support.

One thing is going to be clear, the alliance has not been and will not be, as one left populist claims, “Jean Luc Mélenchon’s NUPES“. Each group has its own identity. How far they will continue to co-operate, in the National Assembly as an ‘inter-group’ and outside, will become clearer in the coming days. Their organisational structures are very different, from LFI’s party/movement with no grass roots democracy but a virtual centrally directed one that uses devices like selecting conference delegates by lot, and has no proper local branches only “supporters’ groups” who carry out centrally directed campaigns, to one heavily dominated by ‘notables’ like the PS. The role of ‘charismatic’ Jean Luc Mélenchon, now out of Parliament, remains controversial. Some hope that a large Parliamentary LFI presence will lead to an independent centre outside the inner circle of the veteran Chief wishing him a happy retirement and an advisory rather than a directing role. This, it is said, may be a condition of creating an “enduring organisation”.

…..

……Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s proposal for a single Nupes parliamentary group has not convinced the left.

Le Monde.

******

For more details on the left which this post draws on see: Législatives 2022 : sept graphiques pour analyser les résultats de la Nupes au second tour. Mathieu Lehot-Couette.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 20, 2022 at 1:35 pm

Young Communist League Accused of Breaching Communist Party of Britain Democratic Centralism Rules on “Adulation of Stalin”.

with 3 comments

YCL, Mostly Masked, Accused of Chanting Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara…Stalin on TUC Demo.

These are serious charges but the evidence of the YCL breach of discipline is there for all to see:

We await a full report in the Morning Star, the daily paper of the left, and wholly independent of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB).

Labour movement voices are calling on the CPB Political Committee (PC) to organise a Control Commission to root out these wrecking forces undermining democratic centralism.

Here is a link to the guidelines these petty bourgeois elements are accused of breaking:

All progressive people hope that the anti-party clique behind these acts will be brought to heel.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 19, 2022 at 7:09 pm

Tunisia: Protests Against Constitutional ‘Reform’ Follow Mass Public Sector Strike.

leave a comment »

Flights were cancelled, public transport ground to a halt and government offices were closed in a nationwide strike by Tunisia’s main trade union confederation Thursday, that piled pressure on a president already facing a string of crises.

France 24. 16. 6.2022,

The powerful UGTT confederation had called on up to three million public sector workers to strike, halting work at 159 state agencies and public companies to demand concessions on salaries and threatened reforms.

The action appeared to be widely observed in the capital Tunis, where post offices and public utilities were closed.

Police were present in large numbers outside UGTT headquarters as strikers began to gather for a rally.

The government has presented a reform plan to the global lender which includes a freeze on the public sector wage bill, progressive cuts to some subsidies and a restructuring of publicly owned companies.

But the UGTT, which has warned against “painful reforms” aimed at pleasing the IMF, has demanded guarantees that state sector firms, including some monopolies, will remain publicly owned.

The UGTT said Wednesday that its strike action aimed to defend workers’ economic and social rights after the “dithering of the government in the face of their legitimate demands”.

Employment Minister Nasreddine Nsibi said the government reserved the right to requisition some workers to allow essential services to operate.

While the UGTT insists the strike is not political, it comes as President Kais Saied faces intense criticism for excluding opposition forces from his “national dialogue” — part of a push to overhaul the Tunisian state and consolidate an ongoing power grab.

The president sacked the government and suspended an elected parliament in July last year, before dissolving the legislature in March and sacking scores of judges by decree earlier this month.

The UGTT was invited to take part in the national dialogue, but refused on the grounds that key political forces were not. It also argued that the process aimed to push through “conclusions decided unilaterally in advance”.

The UGTT, a co-laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts in a previous national dialogue in the wake of Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, had originally backed Saied when he sacked the government and suspended parliament.

But it has become increasingly critical as Saied has extended his power grab, which some of his rivals describe as a coup in the only democracy to emerge from the Arab uprisings of 2011.

Kaboub said democratisation had failed to deliver key economic reforms such as boosting food and energy sovereignty and investing in high value-added industries.

“It’s time for the IMF, the Tunisian government and the UGTT to formulate an alternative vision for economic development in Tunisia,” he said.

Tunisians protest against constitution referendum as opposition grows

TUNIS, June 18 (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Tunis on Saturday in opposition to a referendum on a new constitution called by President Kais Saied that would cement his hold on power.

The protest led by Abir Moussi, leader of the Free Constitutional Party, reflected growing opposition to Saied since he seized executive power last year, dissolving parliament and ruling by decree in a move opponents called a coup.

Another protest called by other opposition parties, including the Ennahda Islamist party, is expected on Sunday to protest against the referendum and Saied’s latest decrees, such as the dismissal of dozens of judges and military trials for some politicians.

The president’s supporters say he is standing up to elite forces whose bungling and corruption have condemned Tunisia to a decade of political paralysis and economic stagnation.

Tunisie : 5 partis politiques lancent une campagne pour “renverser” le référendum constitutionnel

– Les partis concernés sont les suivants: le Parti Républicain, le Courant démocrate, le Forum démocratique pour le Travail et les Libertés, le Parti des Travailleurs et le Pôle (gauche)

 Joint statement by the Republican Party, the Democratic Current, the Democratic Forum for Labour and Freedoms, the Workers’ Party and the Pole (left), which was read by the Secretary General of the Party of the workers, Hamma Hammami, during a press conference held in the capital, Tunis.

Hammami said the aforementioned parties will launch a “national campaign to overturn the referendum on the Constitution by refusing to participate and calling for a boycott.

“A number of activities on the ground and in the media will be carried out with the aim of protecting the country from the dangers of disintegration and fighting against all forms of violation of national sovereignty and infringement of public and individual freedoms. We will be open to all democratic and progressive political forces and personalities who meet the campaign objectives to defeat the referendum,” he explained.

The parties considered that “the referendum project is dangerous, by which the President intends to give false legitimacy to ready-made decisions”.

Libération June the 14th:

Crise constitutionnelle

En Tunisie, Kaïs Saïed saborde la IIe République.

After having granted himself full powers, the President intends to vote for a new Constitution. Decree by decree he is attacking all the institutions born of the, now decried, 2011 revolution.

The days of the Second Tunisian Republic, born of the 2011 revolution, are numbered. President Kaïs Saïed had granted himself full powers after his July 25 coup,and  he has since pursued a systematic attempt to dismantle institutions. After Parliament has been suspended, the High Council of the Judiciary, dissolved, the Authority for the fight against corruption, paralysed, the Independent Superior Authority for the elections (Isie) was reshaped by hand . Its members are no longer elected by the deputies, but appointed by the President of the Republic. One of them, the administrative judge Habib Rebii, appointed last month by a presidential decree, resigned from the electoral authority on Monday.

Today:

Written by Andrew Coates

June 19, 2022 at 3:49 pm

Jean-Louis Trintignant (1930 – 2022).

leave a comment »

Jean-Louis Trintignant, one of the best actors associated with the Nouvelle Vague, passed away yesterday at the age of 91. He performed in 120 films, as well as making a career in the theatre to which he largely devoted his later years (Jean-Louis Trintignant et son triomphe tardif au théâtre).

Ma nuit chez Maud (1969), a talking film (“un film parlant”), that could be called Pascal’s Wager and Seduction, by director-auteur Eric Rohmer, Et Dieu… créa la femme (1956), Brigitte Bardot’s most famous vehicle, Amour (2012), a beautiful study of old age, tumble out from a stream of memorable films in which Trintignant appeared. Even if only seen years after it came out, A Man and a Woman ( Un homme et une femme), 1966, in which he starred with Anouk Aimée remains one of the best cinematic love stories ever presented. Twenty years later it was followed by Un homme et une femme : Vingt ans déjà (1986).

Trintignant starred in two milestones of political cinema.  As Marcello Clerici, the agent of Mussolini’s state charged with the murder of Professor Quadri, an outspoken anti-Fascist intellectual exiled in France, in Bertolucci’s  Il conformista (1970) and the Examining Magistrate in Z (1969) by Costa-Gavras,  a lightly-fictionalised account of events around the assassination of the democratic left Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis  in 1963, are enduring performances.

Scrolling down the long list of films Trintignant appeared in there are too many to cite, from the hugely enjoyable La Crime, 1983 (short for la Brigade Criminelle) to Rouge, (1994) in the series, Blue, Blanc Rouge by Christophe Kieślowski . One of the last films in the cinema he appeared in Happy End (2017) was, like Amour, produced by the radical Austrian director and screen writer Michael Haneke.

There are also too many tributes to list. Here is a link to the Guardian’s. Jean-Louis Trintignant obituary

While not deeply involved in politics but on the left, Trintignant was a “communist sympathiser” in his youth, and during the struggle for Algerian independence, the Algerian war (1954-1962) refused to back the French military attempt to retain colonial power. 

“He was 24 years old when the latter broke out and he was called up to do his military service. He recounted in 2017 in the Journal du dimanche that the army had  “done everything to try to get me to reform. I made myself ill because I didn’t like this war at all. I was hoping not to go there but did not wish to to be a rebel either…”Finally sent to Germany, then to Algeria, the army made him pay harshly for his pacifism and his refusal to condemn the Algerian National Liberation Front which was leading the fight against colonialism.” (Jean-Louis Trintignant et la guerre d’Algérie : un épisode un peu oublié) The Algerian site Dernières Informations d ‘Algérie (DIA) says that Trintignant was a “a friend of the Algerian cause.”

In 2012, Trintigant said he was “against authority, politics” , and “rather a socialist. Even an anarchist. […] The idea of ​​anarchy appeals to me very much, even if I know that we won’t save the world with it” ” (Here)

Written by Andrew Coates

June 18, 2022 at 5:35 pm

Paul Mason, “The suggestion that I have created a “blacklist” of left-wing groups and individuals is complete nonsense and entirely made up.”

with 2 comments

The attack on Paul Mason continues, drawing some of the oddest people into the fray (see above and below).

A fellow advertisement for the merits of laying off the capitalist demon drink, adds,

Not to mention the most respected Teetotaller of them all:

In the meantime, Cde Mason replies to the claims against him:

Russian hack and smear: a reply

Last week I became the target of a Russian hack-and-leak operation, with the pro-Russian website Grayzone as the delivery mechanism. I am a high-profile journalist, critical of the Putin regime, and of its supporters in the West. This smear campaign is the penalty.

I make no comment on the purportedly hacked contents other than to repeat that they may be edited, distorted or fake.

I have criticised and investigated attempts by overt supporters of Russian and Chinese foreign policy to influence the British left — which I am part of — to gain a platform within our legitimate campaigns, and to use social media to spread disinformation.

I have called publicly for democratic states to use legal and financial scrutiny to limit the reach of Russia-aligned media outlet like Grayzone. I believe all civil society organisations, including the left, should adopt active counter-disinformation strategies.

Nobody would need to read my private emails to find that out.

The suggestion that I have created a “blacklist” of left-wing groups and individuals is complete nonsense and entirely made up. Likewise the allegation that I am the “agent” or “asset” of an intelligence agency.

These allegations are not only defamatory and false, but look designed to place my personal safety as a journalist at risk.

I have fought for justice for the trade union victims of blacklisting for decades, and for the rights of victims of the Spycops scandal.

The purpose of my journalism on this issue is to defend the left and the anti-war movement against malign state influence.

As I wrote in the New Statesman on 4 May:

If this is an information war, the solution is to arm the people and to strengthen institutions. Society is not just made up of atomised individuals plus the state: we have trade unions, parties, churches, NGOs and many other organised communities. Each has a right to operate a counter-disinformation strategy, and to draw on guidance provided by the state.

Yes, there are risks. The British state under Conservative rule has developed the muscle reflex to see the entire left and progressive movements as an enemy within. As someone targeted daily by the disinformers, both right and left, I do not trust the state to distinguish genuine security threats from legitimate criticism. So all counter-hybrid strategies and organisations must be open to scrutiny.

I would like to thank my colleagues in professional journalism who have understood that a hacking attack on a journalist’s source materials is an attack on all of us.

For those who saw this attack, by a fascist state on a left-wing journalist, as the opportunity to amplify the slanders and spread disinformation, I have only contempt.

I will go on building solidarity with the Ukrainian people regardless.

Paul Mason 16 June 2022

(Via Jim).

Written by Andrew Coates

June 18, 2022 at 12:06 pm

Paul Mason: Victim of Russian Propaganda? New Charges.

with 16 comments

Paul Mason has been the target of a sustained attack by the conspiracy site Grayzone. The latest Private Eye carries a story which alleges that the left wing journalist and author has been attacked because of his anti-Putin views and campaigning. The aim? To create, as with the spread of disinformation against other critics of Russia’s ruler, “such a bad smell” that “their natural allies steered clear of them”.

Private Eye. 15.6.2022.

The objective of making Cde Mason a pariah seems to have worked in some circles, though many have commented in the last few days that the whole affair has become too confusing to make any sense.

Those kicking up a fuss and making stink include Lindsey German, Stop the War Convenor and a leader of the revolutionary socialist groupuscule, Counterfire. Many of her points against Mason are harsh polemic, which whether you agree with her or not, are fair game. But apparently there are legal issues in what she has said:

Paul Mason: blinded by the right – weekly briefing

Counterfire has temporarily suspended access to this article after Paul Mason threatened us with legal action. We are consulting our lawyers.

George Galloway’s former bag-man Kevin Ovenden and a contributor to the anti-NATO Morning Star, the daily independent of the Communist Party of Britain and owned by the co-op, also has also written on the Counterfire site.

We publish it as a public service to the movement.

How does a socialist turn into a nark?

Kevin Ovenden on Paul Mason’s alleged plans to collude with the state to attack the anti-war left

There has been a good deal of discussion about the claims that Paul Mason has been working and looking to work more deeply with British intelligence and others to get academics sacked and to destroy the anti-war left.

I would make this point. To explain this it isn’t necessary to look for external or psychological factors. The direction of travel has been clear for the last five years.

First, the obsession with the anti-imperialist left and the liberal theory of the two extremes.

Building upon that, interventions arguing that antifascism is successful only when working with the liberal-democratic state in what he calls a popular front. I understand his book on fascism uses Greece as an example justifying that strategy. That’s the opposite of the truth. The antifascist movement intervened by slicing into the state the better to expose the critical support parts of it lent to Golden Dawn.

(Note, the phrase, “I understand” seems to indicate Ovenden has yet to read the book).

Of course, Mason argued, one must have democratic oversight of the state to make sure elite forces, and the hard right itself, don’t use it for their purposes.

But that is provided by parliamentary democracy. For all the nods to bits of Marxism, he really did mean it when he relaunched himself as a social democrat.

It’s then just a short leap to justifying to oneself that working with what used to be the unmentionables associated with the Foreign Office and Home Office – MI6, MI5 and the others – is not only justified (as part of the global struggle against the new fascism, you understand) but is without danger because you yourself will be in a position of oversight.

You are very clever. You are important. You will ensure it doesn’t get out of hand. And you will be on hand to say which academics should be purged, which should be pulled into the operation, and which persuaded to be more careful in the future.

And because you have control, this will not be an anti-left operation. Rather it will be against the “Starls” and “Tankies”, words that are used to describe the whole of the anti-imperialist left. You are the native informant who can advise who is the acceptable far left and who is an enemy of both you and of the state.

You can even tell yourself it is what Trotsky would have done if you still face any cognitive dissonance with your past.

(Trotsky did no such thing, which is why he was banned from the western imperialist states. Had he done, entire universities and institutes would have been named after him in the West.)

So all this is perfectly explicable on the known and publicly available interventions – including an obsession with and fixation upon the Morning Star newspaper and the Stop the War Coalition.

If you make a political choice that it is very important to destroy the anti-imperialist left, then this is the logical end point.

You could call it the anti-Stalinism of fools. But it is linked very closely to the pro-statism of social democracy.

Let us not forget Ovenden’s former Capo dei capi.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 16, 2022 at 8:42 am

Alt-Right Ipswich MP Tom Hunt, attacks “’elite society’ for fighting Rwanda deportations.”

with 2 comments

Tom Hunt MP: condemns “hysterical reaction to the Rwanda policy”

Tom Hunt is the Conservative MP for Ipswich – his predecessor Sandy Martin was Labour MP, 2017 – 2019.

Hunt is also aligned with the alt-right, stating of the Black Lives Matter campaign, that “some of the leadership figures of BLM have at times strayed beyond what should be a powerful yet simple and unified message in opposition to racism that still exists in our society, straying into cultural Marxism, the abolition of the nuclear family, defunding the police, overthrowing capitalism” He is a member of the alt-right Common Sense group, which got some publicity for their protest letter about the National Trust against “elitist bourgeois liberals”, “Part of our mission is to ensure that institutional custodians of history and heritage, tasked with safeguarding and celebrating British values, are not coloured by cultural Marxist dogma, colloquially known as the “woke agenda”.

Yet Hunt is otherwise largely unknown. Except to his constituents who are so fed up with his performance, and less than helpful attitude towards the local electorate that they have set up a Blocked by Tom Hunt Face Book group.

Hunt was educated at private school King’s Ely founded (970 AD), the mean streets of Cambridge, at Hills Road Sixth Form College, and after a degree at Manchester in Politics and History attended Oxford to do a MSc at Pembroke College.

Simon Kuper in Chums (2022) talks of Oxford as a machine “to funnel privately educated boys from the school to the ruling elite.” This clearly is not the case for all graduates of the University but this fits Hunty to a T. A sign of his allegiance to the traditional hunting and fishing class was the MPs time as head of media of the Countryside Alliance best known for its defence of ‘field sports’. After his election wags in Ipswich anticipated a visit of the County set of the Suffolk Hunt in town parks and the opening of a grouse moor in Bixley.

The MP is a hard-line Brexiteer with links to Brexit Central. What Leave project did he back? Kuper notes that some Tories who wanted to Leave the EU, to “turn Britain into an under-regulated free-trading offshore libertarian paradise”. Hunt asserted that the move would “unleash Britain’s potential” and” enables us to strike free trade deals across the world. Yet, some argue, that wrapped in their privilege, the author of Chums claimed, for the Tory Toffs, “Brexit was above all their generational grand project designed to protect the powers of their personal fiefdom of Westminster.” Hunt, with his doe-eyed admiration and loyalty to Boris Johnson is, many would say, determined to get a fief of his own.

He was on Politics Live yesterday:

Today Hunt again got in the news:

Tom Hunt also targets ’elite society’ for fighting Rwanda deportations – despite attending a £35,000-a-year private school. Independent.

A Conservative MP has blamed asylum seekers for severe problems in the NHS, schools and social housing – 12 years after his party came to power.

Tom Hunt claimed “uncontrolled illegal immigration” lay behind shortages of GPs, schools places and low-cost homes, as he defended the policy of deporting refugees to Rwanda.

He also argued “elite society” was leading the opposition to the Rwanda plan – despite having attended a £35,000-a-year private school and Oxford University.

“Many of the most vocal critics have been from elite society and, frankly, have never had to live with the consequences of uncontrolled immigration.”

Mr Hunt was asked what he meant by “elite society”, pointing to “some of those bishops” who have signed a joint letter condemning Boris Johnson for the move.

And he added: “It’s quite clear that some of the most vocal critics of this – who’ve been the most hysterical over this policy – have been individuals who have never had to live with the consequences of uncontrolled immigration and the impact that has on public services.”

Hunt is also very much a more borders Tory, riding on a wave of Brexit moves to control immigration.

Update.

Today he stated his opposition to human rights law that gets in the way of national sovereignty and holding back asylum seekers and foreigners.

Tom Hunt calls for rethink on Human Rights Court East Anglian Daily Times.

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has called into question the UK’s continued membership of the European Court of Human Rights after its judgement on Tuesday forced the last-minute cancellation of the first flight of asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

…….

A strong supporter of the government’s policy, he said: “My view is that we should not be signatories to treaties or conventions if they limit our ability to control our own borders.

“Being able to control your own borders is clearly crucial to being a sovereign country. I’m also of the view that British courts should be supreme. It feels very wrong to me that a foreign court can overrule our own courts when it comes to a matter like this.

“The Lord Chancellor is currently undertaking a review of all human rights legislation and my understanding is that a new British Bill of Rights will be replacing the Human Rights Act.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 15, 2022 at 10:53 am

Grayzone Conspiracy Theorist Kit Klarenberg in New Claims against “State Operative” Paul Mason.

with 11 comments

Klarenberg Publishes New “Chilling” Revelations on “Putin Proxy Watch”.

Before we post Kit Klarenberg’s latest leak from his private intelligence urinal we should pause to take the measure of the man making these accusations.

This is Klarey’s latest tweet:

Carole Cadwalladr was sued over claims linking millionaire Brexit ultra Arron Banks to Russian interests, (Guardian)

Banks, who funded the pro-Brexit Leave.EU campaign group, sued Cadwalladr personally over two instances in which she said the businessman was lying about his relationship with the Russian state – one in a Ted Talk and the other in a tweet.

And,

Steyn found Cadwalladr’s intended meaning to be “(i) the claimant lied on more than one occasion about a secret relationship he had with the Russian government; and (ii) there are questions to be asked (ie grounds to investigate) whether the source of his donations was foreign funding, accepted in breach of the law on the funding of electoral campaigns.”

The judge added: “Based on her investigation, Ms Cadwalladr had reasonable grounds to believe that (i) Mr Banks had been offered ‘sweetheart’ deals by the Russian government in the period running up to the EU referendum, although she had seen no evidence he had entered into any such deals; and (ii) Mr Banks’s financial affairs, and the source of his ability to make the biggest political donations in UK history, were opaque.”

Left wing internationalists may also recall that hard right Banks also donated to the self-identifying ‘Trade Unionists Against the EU’ a body which the Morning Star, the Socialist Party and TUSC promoted. I recall a local meeting when their blustering speaker tried to shout me down when he ranted about their ‘internationalist’ links with a Paris anti-EU meeting (in fact a front for the nationalist ‘Lambertist’ French group, POI).

Jim Denham wrote.

Donations were also made, between March and June 2016, to WAG TV Limited (who made an anti-EU film), Ukip (led at the time by Farage), Veterans for Britain… and Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU). Hang on a minute! Trade Unionists Against the EU! Isn’t that a supposedly “left wing” organisation, regularly promoted in the pages of the Morning Star? And it received funding from Arron Banks? Yes, dear reader, I have to tell you that it did: £54,000 according to the Electoral Commission.

(I add: there were accusations of further aid)

One can well imagine Klarenberg’s interest in the Cadwalladr case. Russia! Russia! Russia!

He also has this on his mind:

Again, before proceeding let’s remember some of Kitty’s stories,

Propagandist for Syria terror proxies compromised Amnesty International, leaked docs show

KIT KLARENBERG·FEBRUARY 8, 2022

Amnesty International was listed as a client of a professional propagandist for Syrian terror groups backed by the UK and US governments ..

Grayzone.

How a network of UK intel-linked operatives helped sell every alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack

KIT KLARENBERG·AUGUST 4, 2021

Questions about BBC producer’s ties to UK intelligence follow ‘Mayday’ White Helmets whitewash

KIT KLARENBERG·APRIL 7, 2021

The BBC’s Chloe Hadjimatheou produced a podcast serial designed to rehabilitate the White Helmets’ late, scandal-stained founde.

So: this is the latest:

Leaked emails expose Paul Mason’s collusion with senior British intelligence agent.

  • In leaked emails, celebrity journalist Paul Mason plots extensively with Andy Pryce of the UK Foreign Office Counter Disinformation and Media Development unit.
  • Pryce’s Counter Disinformation unit has been cloaked behind a veil of near-total secrecy since its inception. 
  • Mason and Pryce sketched a blueprint for an information warfare outfit funded “through cut-outs” and modeled after the notorious Integrity Initiative.
  • Mason pitched a “Putin Proxy Watch” project guided by “info war experts” to attack “bad actors” in the UK.
  • Mason calls for suspending UK libel law to smear targets, special effects-driven project to sensationalize Russian atrocities.
  • Researcher Emma Briant advised Mason on his leftist target list, proposing adding independent outlet Declassified UK.
  • Mason proposed astroturfed “black and Asian voices” project to push back on Black and brown critics of Ukraine proxy war.
  • Mason revealed his participation in upcoming BBC assault on Stop The War Coalition. 

“Mason highlighted his participation in a production by BBC producer Chloe Hadjimatheou on the “disinfo tactics” of the Stop The War Coalition, a prominent British grassroots antiwar organization connected to the Socialist Workers’ Party.”

Led by Hadjimatheou, the BBC released a radio program (Programme) this June which claimed to track how “academics, journalists and celebrities have shared misinformation in their attempts to raise questions about the official narrative” of the Ukraine conflict. 

In reality, the BBC’s Hadjimatheou presided over a 30 minute-long smear of Edinburgh university academic Tim Hayward and Justin Schlosberg, a media researcher at London’s Birkbeck University, to the point that the latter is considering legal action. It would be entirely unsurprising if the network’s attack piece represented the International Information Brigade’s first broadside in the public sphere.

And to top it all, ” Mason pitches Soros funding appeal, disses Greece’s Syriza. In the April 8 email (see above), Mason and Briant also discussed how to solicit funding from the Open Society Foundations (OSF) of liberal oligarch George Soros.” !!!!!

Update: One-time (not so long ago) ally of Red-Brown George Galloway, pro-Brexit ultra, and Convenor of Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey German on Paul Mason,

Lindsey German on a turncoat’s smears.

It strikes me there are three key factors in this rightward moving development. The first is that Mason developed an opposition to anti-imperialism which he posed as being pro-Russian. This led him to support his own imperialism, dressed up in popular frontist rhetoric about the Second World War and fighting fascism.  Secondly his disaffection with Corbyn and obsession with Stalinism being the greatest danger on the left led him towards pro establishment politics, especially over the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum, which sank Labour’s chance of victory in 2019. Starmer was a key vehicle for promoting this policy and as Oliver Eagleton’s book makes clear, Mason was centrally involved in plotting to make Starmer leader long before Corbyn resigned.

The third element is that these political positions led him to cooperating with the state to attack others on the left. To him, Russia being the major evil meant supporting the right wing British and EU governments regardless. There is a long and dishonourable tradition of left groups coming to terms with their own imperialism, which led some in the US to support their government’s war in Vietnam.

Note the way Brexit ultra German fails to mention her group’s objective alliance with the national populist right wing project of Brexit and manages to drag the EU into the invasion of Ukraine.

Lindsey German, John Rees and best friend George Galloway.

Note on Paul Mason:

Written by Andrew Coates

June 14, 2022 at 8:13 am

France: Return of the Left. Radical Democratic Socialism Replaces Left Populism.

leave a comment »

The French Left is Back.

The Official results of the first round of the French Parliamentary elections are out.

It is heart-warming to see that a united left has done well. Less encouraging was a record rate of abstention – only 47,51% the electorate voted.

This low-turn out tends to go against the claims of those who, not long ago, were talking of a “post-political” disengagement of people across the world from elections. The reason they claimed was that only varieties of centrist accommodation to neo-liberal globalisation were on offer in the ballot box. France had President Macron’s Ensemble! bloc moping up that vote, and what remains of the classical right outside his fronts and satellites, Les Républicains. Those who reject that consensus could choose the extreme right, and anti-globalist national populists of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National. The sovereigntist RN remains pro-domestic private enterprise, tempered by welfare for nationals, and a strong state. A very different alternative is the united left with a radical democratic green and socialist programme NUPES (Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale).

The reasons for the high stay-away percentage in France have yet to be explored in depth. Some think that once the Presidential election has taken place people lose interest in further contests so close to that election (Macron won in this April) . Others claim that for the Legislative battle the campaign was low-key – though having watched some NUPES meetings live there was plenty of stirring speechs and ideas around. No doubt there are still those around who will claim that the left was not a “real” radical alternative.

There was also a host of minor parties for all tastes and shapes. They include those from Trotskyist parties – the  Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID, Lambertist split from Lambertist POI), 115 candidats, Lutte ouvrière, 553 candidates,  Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) 17 candidats (backing NUPES in many other places),animal rights, Parti animaliste, (429 candidates), the Union des démocrates musulmans français (UMDF, 85 candidates ), and many more.

One point worth noting, Socialists and others who stood ‘dissident’ left candidacies – over 60 of them make little electoral impact, remaining marginalised. (Législatives 2022 : chez Hollande, Le Foll ou Delga, point de salut hors de la Nupes).

This result was even sweeter:

The NUPES alliance did well largely by combining together the left votes. That is by not fragmenting them in competing candidacies. Two probable results stand out, La France insoumise (LF) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon (who did not stand) is likely to win between 95 and 115 seats (in the outgoing Parlement they only held 17) the Green party, Europe écologie les verts (EELV) who do not have MPs in the National Assembly, between 20 and 30 The Socialists, PS appear likely to remain stable at 24-29 as are the Communists (PCF) at 10 to 16 seats.

A few years ago it looked as if parts of the left (not least the PCF but also the PS in their former working class constituencies ) would disappear from the national electoral map, obliterating (whatever one thinks of their historic record) historic links between the French left, the labour movement and its working class origins. While NUPES has found new strength in the diverse new working class and public sector employees in the banlieues of metropolitan France it is good to see the Communists fight the battle of the Second Round face-to-face against the far-right in the North of France (LES DUELS NUPES/RN. l’Humanité).

La Macronie continues to try to thwart the left. According to NUPES, they had the biggest national total, with  6 101 968 votes ( 26,8 %), while the Interior Ministry gives them 5 836 202 votes ( 25,7 %). By coincidence Macron’s Minister’s figure put them second, behind his Boss’s party, Ensemble, 5 857 561 25,75%……

This has not pleased NUPES:

Then there is a row over whether Macron’s bloc will call for a vote for the left if they are standing alone against the far-right in the Second Round…Known as the Front Républicain a dispute broke out last night on this issue:

Macron’s side have at least partially backtracked, after saying they would decide, ‘case by case’. Others will vote – in such duels – left against the far-right. But the state of play on this topic seems to change from hour to hour.

The character of the new left bloc that has emerged will be clearer after next week’s run-off elections. But as observers are already noting, the effect of what the Tendance and others called “Mélenchon’s toning down (of) his left-populist rhetoric about “federating the people” against the “elite”, “la caste” beyond political divisions” is sinking in. Some might wonder also how far the claim to be standing in the perspective of being a Prime Minister was serious…

For academic and populist theorisers of Mélenchon, restricted circles it is true – in France his admirers are more enchanted by his citations of Victor Hugo’s poetry than explications of the new ‘ère du peuple‘ – this turn about will be hard. All those years of mastering the jargon of left populism – the “discourse theory” of Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (on the creation and articulations of the People, ‘affects’, the signifier ‘democracy in the political imaginary, the Enemy), said to be, if not the inspirer of his strategy, or an adviser of his Movement at least a fellow left populist thinker. The time reading and listening to  the LFI leader’s own call to Federate the People against La Caste, the Oligarchy, his celebration of the Bolivarian Revolution, and ‘charismatic leaders’, not to mention Mélenchon’s call for a ‘Citizens’ Revolution’ in the Hexagon, (1) all that seems from the remote, antiquated, fading past…..

*****

(1) “Les formules sur la révolution citoyenne, l’insurrection citoyenne ont disparu du texte commun. 

C’est le chapitre sur les questions de désobéissance à l’Europe qui ont a été le plus profondément modifié, ce qui confirme le rôle des institutions européennes dans le verrouillage néolibéral de toute politique. Toutes les mesures de blocages prévues par AEC, l’utilisation du droit de véto, la désobéissance aux règles européennes, sont limitées et tournées vers la volonté de « faire bifurquer les politiques européennes », de travailler à modifier les règles incompatibles avec le programme en étant « prêts à ne pas respecter certaines règles ».

Au plan international, un chapitre sur l’OTAN est fondamentalement modifié : le retrait du commandement militaire et par étapes de l’organisation sont supprimés du texte commun (sauf pour le PCF et LFI)..dans lesquels est réitérée la volonté de renforcer et démocratiser l’ONU.

Législatives (France) : De l’Avenir en Commun au programme de la NUPES, quelles évolutions ?
LE MOAL Patrick

French Legislative Elections Today: Macron Backers sling all the Mud they can find.

with 2 comments

Legislative Elections 2022: the presidential majority and the Nupes still neck and neck, according to a final poll.

The coalition Ensemble ! (Macron) would obtain 28% of the voting intentions against 27% for the left alliance Nupes, Nouvelle Union Populaire écologique et sociale) according to an Ipsos-Sopra Steria poll for “Le Monde” carried out on Friday June 10. Abstention could be massive on Sunday for the first round.

The French legislative elections this Sunday (first round, second round 19th of June) have turned into a ‘duel’ between Macron and the left with the far right Rassemblement National pushed to the sidelines – although they are likely to do well enough to make up a Parliamentary group.

Macron supporters have been violently attacking the left, slinging all the mud they can find.

Some people think that the image above is a parody – checking the Twitter feed it does not look like on to me, though the image is clearly flitched from the far-right Front National

Bear in mind this is what Macron’s hench-people have been saying over the last few days,

Face à Mélenchon, la macronie passe aux aveux de faiblesse

“the fiscal guillotine at all levels” (Gabriel Attal, Minister of the Budget), the advent of “Soviet regulation” where ” we will no longer even be able to cut our wood on our own property” (Christophe Castaner, former Minister of the Interior), warns of something like “the Romania of Ceausescu in the 1970s, that is to say several hours of electricity outages per day” (Olivier Becht, president of the Agir group at the Assembly). “Mélenchon is like Le Pen, they are twins of fear” (Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of Ecological Transition). “

Staline, Chavez ou Ceausescu ? Qui est Mélenchon et mange-t-il aussi les enfants ?

  • Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, president of Medef (French CBI): “The Greeks had their Mélenchon, that brought Greece to the edge of the abyss. Mélenchon, it would be an economic policy that denies reality. »
  • Christophe Castaner again: “The Nupes programme contains all the clichés of the Soviet world […] requisitions, prohibitions and nationalisations […] France Insoumise wants to ban everything” .
  • Olivier Véran, about the NUPES programme: “Do an internet search, the word ‘ ban ‘ appears 41 times” .
  • Olivier Becht, president of the Agir group (Macron satellite party) at the National Assembly: “The model is the Romania of Ceausescu in the 1970s, that is to say several hours of electricity outages per day. »
  • Stanislas Guérini (Minister of Public Transformation and Service, one-time Socialist supporter of Dominique Strauss-Kahn) finds that the programme of the NUPES “is that of the reduction of retirement pensions, that of an amnesty for thugs, of a ‘particular’ (odd) relationship to the Republic” .
  • Gabriel Attal Minister of Public Action and Accounts“The Nupes has a programme of economic ruin of the country […] with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, it is the fiscal guillotine at all levels […] with Mélenchon, our country would lose its freedom. Because a country that does not keep its accounts is not a free country. It would depend on other powers, like Russia. […] Finally, the France of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, it is less police officers and more taxes: the disorder as a political line. »
  • Bruno Le Maire Ministre de l’Économie, des Finances et de la Souveraineté industrielle et numérique attacked “the authoritarianism of a Gallic Chavez whose project would lead the country to bankruptcy and submission to political Islam” .

There is also a wider offensive against the Left alliance. Figures from the past, like former ex-President François Hollande, have been wheeled out to criticise the left and its “unrealistic” programme – although tellingly the Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin who presided over the ‘gauche plurielle’ government (left alliance) between 1997 and 2002 backs the united left (although has lent his support to an independent Socialist candidate in the 15th arrondissement in Paris). The magazine Franc Tireur (run by the secularist feminist Caroline Fourest) is one media outlet systematically supporting dissident (and therefore ‘ex’) Socialist (PS) candidates standing against NUPES. Below is a map of them, and others (Elections législatives 2022 : la recomposition politique se confirme.)

There was an attempt by PS opponents to get the agreement with NUPES invalidated. This was rejected only two days ago (Elections législatives 2022 : la justice valide en appel l’accord entre le Parti socialiste et la Nupes) The Interior Ministry also wanted to count every vote for NUPES on the basis of their candidates’ individual party membership (the bloc is an alliance of different parties) thus fragmenting their impact. That too failed.

France is undergoing a profound political change, with the three blocs, the far right (Marine Le Pen, Rassemblement National), Macron (Ensemble! – Renaissance) and the left alliance, Nupes, dominating the landscape. The good news is that is a united left stands a good chance of disputing the majority of Macron’s bloc in the National Assembly, or at least emerging as the second biggest group in the Parliament. For a left which some saw fragmenting, with the unstable force of la France insoumise, the strength of a serious union, which has gone beyond populist rhetoric to create a serious programme and electoral platform, this is a heartening development.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 12, 2022 at 12:18 pm

Leading Campaigner Against Our Lady of Heaven, Roshan M Sali, “The Taliban took over Afghanistan fairly peacefully as anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of what happened last year will know. Accusations of murder, rape etc are just made up in my view and have no evidential basis.”

with 2 comments

Leading Campaigner Against the Lady of Heaven.

There was an important article in the ‘I‘ (the daily this Blog always buys a print copy of) yesterday by Kate Maltby about the campaign against the film the Lady of Heaven.

Our attention was caught by the emphasis given to the role in stirring up religious hatred against the film by the Islamist site 5 Pillars and the “journalist” Roshan M Sali”. Roshan Muhammed Salih worked for the Iranian regime’s Press TV and was first London news editor and chief correspondent. Press TV is a division of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting  (IRIB), the only organisation legally able to transmit radio and television broadcasts inside Iran. IRIB’s head is appointed directly by the state’s supreme leader, Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei, who, apart from his role in upholding the state’s repression of opposition and ‘un-Islamic’ activities (“He issued a fatwa declaring women riding bicycles haram”) is a right-wing pillar of the conservative establishment.

In 2010, Khamenei issued a fatwa which bans any insult to the Sahabah (companions of Muhammad) as well as Muhammad’s wives. The fatwa was issued in an effort to reconcile legal, social, and political disagreements between Sunni and Shia

In 2009 Salih wrote of his paymasters, “let me turn to the Islamic Republic of Iran, from which Press TV gets its funding – I believe it is a fundamentally decent government run by a fundamentally decent man.” -in this case Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (President of Iran from 2005 to 2013).

The mouthpiece of the Islamist state, Press TV, has been reporting, although it no longer (since 2012) has a broadcast licence in the UK, on the campaign to deny people the freedom to watch Our Lady of Heaven.

Press TV, Birmingham (Friday)

Amid nationwide protests against the controversial movie ‘Lady Of Heaven’, British Muslim scholars gathered in Birmingham on Friday to condemn the controversial movie.

Representatives from the Shia, Sunni, and Sufi Islamic schools of thought signed a joint statement slamming the film as “divisive and sectarian.”

Released in the UK on June 3rd, the film depicts the life and death of Fatima Zahra, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad. 

However, the controversial depiction of the Holy Prophet’s spouse and companions has sparked protests in several countries.

Following the backlash, British media adopted the narrative of the movie writer and hate preacher Yasser Habib, portraying the protests as a Shia-Sunni conflict. 

Clearly, the divisive and sectarian narrative adopted by the British mainstream media is false. However, will the British mainstream adopt these types of events in their coverage or just continue to peddle the divisive narrative put out by the producers of this film?

Or as 5 Pillars Tweets:

5 Pillars is probably best known outside its own narrow circles for its campaign against  Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).

What price would you pay to protect the values of your children? (2020)

Yusuf Patel from SREIslamic explains how a coalition of Muslim and other faith group parents are taking the government to court to reinstate the right to withdraw our children from sex education classes.

Sex Education, Muslim parenting and the LGBTQ lobby (2022).

The site is well known for its anti-gay views:

Educator Yusuf Patel asks what is the point of electing Muslim MPs who advance causes, such as a ban on gay conversion therapy, which will detrimentally impact our children. (3 Weeks ago).

We often hear about the vital need to have Muslim MPs in Parliament fighting our corner.

On some issues where there’s little risk or there’s wider support from “white people,” they will seemingly be brave and show courage but on other issues that draw the ire of certain groups they will be noticeably silent.

Worse still are those occasions where they will support initiatives that will be deeply harmful to the Muslim community.

But Rosham Salih has become notorious for other reasons.

Policy Exchange published in 2020 this article on the man,

It is difficult to ascertain the impact of such support for the supremacy of shari’a upon British Muslims’ attitudes towards life in Britain. But it is concerning that the editor of a website that claims to be the “Largest regulated Muslim news site in Europe, Australia and the Americas” should express such views seemingly without a challenge.

In August last year, he tweeted that Muslims should not be embarrassed to defend shari’a and its harsh punishments (below).

But he has also, on numerous occasions, drawn attention to the “standard of proof” that has to be met for such punishments to be meted out, such as in a tweet also from August 2020 (below).

Yet, Salih seemed to have ignored the importance he attaches to this “standard of proof” or “stringent conditions”, when he declared, regarding the “legions” of ordinary Afghans who had worked with the British and American forces: “Ultimately, all these people committed treachery to one degree or another and sold their nation down the river to foreigners”. He seemed to have already made his mind up about their guilt.

Salih wrote that some Afghans provided reasons – “excuses” – that they needed the money to support their families. Some worked with the British and Americans because they thought they were “far better” than the Taliban. Others felt “troubled and remorseful”. But, for Salih, they are all “traitors”. He wrote: “if our general attitude is one of forgiveness to traitors who are willing to betray their own nation, then this is a recipe for eternal Western invasion, occupation and subjugation.”

Salih’s trip was funded by 5Pillars “donors”. These donations likely came via the 5Pillars website. It is unclear if the donors were aware at the time of giving that they would be funding Salih’s trip to Afghanistan and his pro-Taliban writing.

Salih was the head of news at Islam Channel between 2005-2007. Subsequently, for five years, he was the head of news at Press TV, the English language arm of the Iranian regime’s broadcast agency. During this time, in 2012, Ofcom revoked Press TV’s licence to broadcast in Britain.

5Pillars is located at Crown House in North London. Several other Islamist organisations are also based there, including Education Aid for Palestinians, which was dropped by credit card organisations and JustGiving in 2019; the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA), which has been criticised for organising “extremist preachers around British universities and mosques”; the Middle East Monitor (MEMO), directed by former MCB deputy secretary general Daud Abdullah; and the Palestine Return Centre (PRC), of which Abdullah is an Advisory Board member.

Several senior staff of these organisations are listed on 5Pillars as contributors, including Ibrahim Hewitt, a Senior Editor of MEMO; Abdurraheem Green, the Chairman of the IERA; and Hamza Tzortzis, IERA’s Lead Instructor. Other contributors include Sufyan Ismail, the founder and former CEO of MEND; Abdul Wahid, the Chairman of Hizb-ut Tahrir Britain; Moazzam Begg, the Outreach Director of CAGE; and Anas Altikriti, the CEO of the Cordoba Foundation.

5Pillars’s website instructs users of its social media pages that there should be no “racism, fascism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia”. In May this year, however, 5Pillars was investigated by Impress, an independent press regulator in the UK, following a series of complaints regarding content on its website and Facebook pages that was claimed could incite hatred towards LGBT people. Impress ruled that a video posted on the website’s Facebook page breached its code, which states that publishers must not incite hatred against any group on the basis of their sexual orientation. The video was subsequently removed under protest from Salih and Deputy Editor, Dilly Hussain, who complained “that a regulator run by secular non-Muslims has delved into an area of Islamic theology and Quranic exegesis where we feel it has absolutely no business or authority”.

Kate Maltby takes of on the views of Salih on Afghanistan:

“Unpopular opinion: We should welcome a quick victory by [the] Taliban,” he tweeted. “This will ensure more peace than Afghanistan has enjoyed since [the] Taliban last ruled. Peace gives everyone a chance to build a better society, war ensures chaos, death and destruction. Sooner [the] Taliban win, the better.”

Salih’s keenness to see things from Taliban perspectives didn’t stop with a tweet. In November, he visited the new regime. He wrote warmly about the generosity with which Taliban officials had offered “forgiveness” to former opponents and – despite the overwhelming evidence that has emerged of Taliban brutalities – insisted that under the Taliban there is “definitely no systemic policy of reprisals”, though he did acknowledge “anecdotal evidence of cases of reprisals being carried out at a local level”.

Still, Salih didn’t disguise the fact that he found soft-touch attitudes “far too forgiving”. Under the headline “Kabul’s dirty little secret – the hordes of Afghan collaborators”, he argued that Afghans who had worked with American and British to build a non-Taliban society had “sold their nation down the river to foreigners”.

He continued: “You don’t even have to be Muslim to realise that one of the most serious crimes you can commit in any country is to help a foreign power establish their authority over your nation. It’s called treason.”

Salih’s keenness to see things from Taliban perspectives didn’t stop with a tweet. In November, he visited the new regime. He wrote warmly about the generosity with which Taliban officials had offered “forgiveness” to former opponents and – despite the overwhelming evidence that has emerged of Taliban brutalities – insisted that under the Taliban there is “definitely no systemic policy of reprisals”, though he did acknowledge “anecdotal evidence of cases of reprisals being carried out at a local level”.

Still, Salih didn’t disguise the fact that he found soft-touch attitudes “far too forgiving”. Under the headline “Kabul’s dirty little secret – the hordes of Afghan collaborators”, he argued that Afghans who had worked with American and British to build a non-Taliban society had “sold their nation down the river to foreigners”.

He continued: “You don’t even have to be Muslim to realise that one of the most serious crimes you can commit in any country is to help a foreign power establish their authority over your nation. It’s called treason.”

She observes,

On Wednesday night, he popped up on BBC Newsnight as the face of a campaign “to remove the film The Lady of Heaven from UK cinemas” – a campaign amplified by the website that he runs, 5Pillars.

Salih insists that the protests that have greeted this film are not violent, although claims of death threats have circulated online. Then again, Salih’s website has form for downplaying Islamist violence: in 2013 he published an article, now removed, which questioned whether the murder of the soldier Lee Rigby by Islamists had in fact been organised by MI5 “to demonise Muslims and Islam”.

What was shocking about Salih’s interview on Newsnight was how little he was challenged on his claim to care only for community harmony. Those who seek to impose codes of Islamist censorship all too often argue that they’re simply seeking to avoid the violence that must inevitably follow “provocation”.

Newsnight is one of our greatest news programmes, but I was surprised to see Kirsty Wark nodding as Salih told the BBC that he didn’t want to see violence, but that “there’s a real danger of sectarian violence in this country and this film could very well provoke that”.

In fact he sounds like a Bond villain “I myself am a man of peace, but my friend here Mr Kneecapping, may well get provoked into violence if you upset him.”

As the I journalist notes of this open display of religious bigotry: the targets of such campaigns are often (far from always) other Muslims. The Lady of Heaven is a good example.

The film’s title refers to Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Mohamed, but she barely features: the story’s narrative is a justification of the religious position of a small community within Shia Islam – a minority within a minority. (Salih called them a “cult” on Newsnight this week – he also called executive producer Malik Shilbak “the Shia Tommy Robinson”, a classic strategy of presenting himself as moderate and his opponents as extremists.)

The line of 5 Pillars and the other religious censors is that we should defer to their interpretation of the history of Islam,

Part of the protesters’ objection is that the film uses CGI to represent the face of the Prophet – a practice now considered forbidden in much of the Muslim world, although the taboo has not been historically uniform across Islam – but their objection is as much to the historical narrative as to the imagery. On the microscale, this is a struggle between two different Muslim groups about who gets to tell the story of Islam.

For now, the Sunni censors seem to have won in Britain..

As Maltby says,

Whether or not we agree with the religious position presented by the makers of The Lady of Heaven – a group who have as much of an idiosyncratic religious agenda as any of their opponents – they have as much right to present their vision of Islamic history as the maddest of orators at Speaker’s Corner have to warn us that the End Is Nigh.

Reply:

See Shiraz: Cinema chain capitulates to demands for religious censorship

Written by Andrew Coates

June 11, 2022 at 4:29 pm

George Galloway to Join GB News?

with 5 comments

Old Chums.

From Ian F.

It is hard to know the origins of this story as Farage is clinging like a limpet to the micro-station GB News.

Perhaps it is Galloway foundering around after this:

GEORGE Galloway has learned never to meet your heroes after a hilarious Twitter exchange with billionaire Elon Musk.

The Scottish unionist and ex-Celebrity Big Brother contestant was complaining about being flagged as linked with the Russian state media on the social media site.

Galloway has previously hosted the Mother Of All Talk Shows on Radio Sputnik, a Kremlin owned broadcaster, which may be the reason that Twitter has labelled him as Russian state-affiliated.

In his indignation, the fedora sporting ex-MP threatened to sue Twitter over the label back in April, citing his 400,000-strong Twitter following and his career in Parliament as his bona fide credentials.

He said: “I work for NO Russian media. I have 400,000 followers. I’m the leader of a British political party and spent nearly 30 years in the British parliament. If you do not remove this designation I will take legal action.”

And after several weeks of complaining to Twitter and the billionaire poised to buy the social media giant, Galloway finally got a reply.

Galloway initially tweeted Musk saying: “The label above this tweet is a lie”, with the tweet showing a notice that read “Russia state-affiliated media”.

Musk got back to him with a cutting tongue-in-cheek response.

He replied saying “sorry comrade” in Russian. Oh, dear.

While it seems Galloway’s appeals are falling on deaf ears, it’s funny to see that the world’s richest man has taken notice of the world’s least self-aware.

The exchange also attracted the mirth of the twitterati with one user saying: “After weeks of George Galloway whining about the “Russia state-affiliated media” description of his Twitter account and constantly tagging Elon Musk, Musk has finally responded, and let me be the first to say AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA”

Written by Andrew Coates

June 10, 2022 at 6:33 pm

UN: war crimes warning over death sentences for Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner, and Saadoun Brahim

leave a comment »

UN issues war crimes warning over death sentences in Ukraine war. Al Jazeera.

The United Nations has declared that unfair trials of prisoners of war amounts to war crimes, after three foreigners captured while fighting with Ukraine forces were sentenced to death by pro-Russian rebels.

British citizens Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner, and Moroccan national Saadoun Brahim were sentenced to death on Thursday by pro-Russian separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine’s breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

The spokeswoman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday that authorities in the pro-Russian self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine had not met essential fair trial guarantees for some years, and “in the case of the use of the death penalty, fair trial guarantees are all the more important”.

“OHCHR is concerned about the so-called Supreme Court of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic sentencing three servicemen to death,” UN spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement.

“According to the chief command of Ukraine, all the men were part of the Ukrainian armed forces and if that is the case, they should not be considered as mercenaries,” Shamdasani said.

Such trials against prisoners of war amount to a war crime,” she added.

Russian television.

Meanwhile in modern Russia: a screaming match on state TV as to whether captured British citizens Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin should be shot, hanged, quartered or exchanged for ransom (the release of Russia’s frozen assets), as they hope to cause a rift in British society.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 10, 2022 at 5:53 pm

Ukraine, “the West Bears a Heavy Responsibility for this Conflict” – Stop the War Coalition.

with 4 comments

“West bears a heavy responsibility for this disaster.”

The revolutionary socialist groupuscule, Counterfire, leading member, Lindsey German, publishes this text from the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) – Convenor, Lindsey German.

Prolonging war and blocking peace: NATOs deadly role in Ukraine. Chris Nineham. Deputy leader of the StWC, associated with the micro-party Counterfire, and the author of Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of  György Lukács.

The anti-war movement opposed the Russian invasion from the start. But the West bears a heavy responsibility for this disaster. Senior US foreign policy figures from Henry Kissinger to Madeline Albright and from George Kennan to William J. Burns, the current head of the CIA, have advised that the eastward expansion of NATO up to the Russian borders would be deeply provocative to the Russian ruling class. NATO decision makers knew this, but carried on regardless.

The StWC then indulges itself in a vision of how things might have been, but never were,

Last minute diplomacy might well have averted the war. Many senior former US diplomats and Russia experts urged the US to accept Vladimir Putin’s offer of talks before the invasion took place in January. The advice was rejected. As Ivan Katchanovski, a Ukrainian professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa argues, “The US and UK governments show no efforts or desire to achieve peaceful settlement of the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine”.

Oddly the StWC does not mention who these ” senior former US diplomats and Russia experts” were. The link above is to “Diplomats & experts: negotiate, or expect ‘drastic escalation’ by Russia” is the record of a debate held under the aegis of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft generally identified with the realist school of American foreign policy (1). The Chair of the meeting, Anatol Lieven now argues (Guardian, May) that, “Support for Ukraine is legitimate and necessary, but it has also already achieved its most important goal: that of preserving Ukrainian independence and sovereignty over the great majority of Ukrainian territory, and deterring further Russian aggression.” Brandishing the threat of escalation Lieven leaves the issue of what Ukraine should do now in the air, while urging no more NATO/West escalation of the conflict.

The StWC follows this train of thought and warned against the following,

The British government, as ever following the US lead, is sending longer range missile systems to Ukraine for the first time. The government described the M270 weapon system they are despatching as a “cutting edge” military asset which can strike targets up to 80 kilometres away “with pinpoint accuracy.” Ukrainian soldiers are due to be brought to Britain for training in how to use the missiles.

As even some of the mainstream media point out, on top of the four precision-guided, medium-range rocket systems sent by the US last week, this decision marks a new stage in the war in which the West is prepared to provide the Ukrainian military with the capacity to strike deep in to Russian territory, something they previously carefully avoided.

This is one in a series of escalations on the part of the Western powers. It provoked immediate retaliation in words and deeds from Vladimir Putin – including the first bombardment of Kiev for five weeks – as Western leaders must have known it would.

It underlines the fact that the West is still pushing for nothing less than the complete defeat of Russia while Russian troops continue their offensive.

The StWC has this call,

The war in Ukraine is developing into a proxy war between Russia and NATO and it is the Ukrainian people who will suffer the consequences.

Rather than sending extra missiles to Ukraine, which is already awash with foreign artillery, the British government should be urging for a ceasefire and the recommencement of peace talks.

We continue to demand that Russian troops withdraw from Ukraine and that the British government stop fuelling the conflict.

Join us outside the Ministry of Defence on the International Day of Action for Peace in Ukraine on Sat 25th June to call for peace and de-escalation in Ukraine.

Stop the War Deputy president Andrew Murray says: “Yet again the British government is escalating tensions and prolonging conflict by sending arms to Ukraine.

“It is risking a wider and still worse conflict.

“It should change course and start pushing for a ceasefire and peace talks.”

Why Russia should follow the StWC’s call and withdraw, or negotiate, without the pressure of armed military resistance to their invasion, is not explained. We are left none the wiser as to what there is to “negotiate” – perhaps a concession to Putin on the Donbass, a promise never to join NATO, or the EU? “Disarmament” of Ukraine ? And “Denazification”?

Now there is this:

Aiden Aslin has also fought for the Kurdish YPG in Syria.

Aiden Aslin is a British-Ukrainian[4] national and current Ukrainian Marine[5] who previously fought with the Kurdish People’s Defence Units (YPG) militia in Rojava, northern Syria.[6] His nom de guerre is “Rojhat Rojava”[citation needed] and he served in the Lions of Rojava group which is a part of the YPG.[7] In 2018 he travelled to Ukraine and enlisted in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.[8] In April 2022, he was captured by Russian forces in the besieged city of Mariupol during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

*********

(1) This is how the  Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft has been described, (Washington’s Weirdest Think Tank. Led by Trita Parsi and backed by Charles Koch (Note: far right libertarian) and George Soros, the Quincy Institute seeks to redefine the contours of American foreign policy in the Middle East, China—and beyond. ARMIN ROSEN APRIL 28, 2021)

The Quincy Institute fills a real and, in retrospect, obvious gap in the Washington think tank environment, which helps explain why Parsi and his co-founders were successful in assembling funding and other forms of support for the group. Believers in some aspect of realism or strategic restraint could be found at a number of D.C. policy shops and throughout academia—there were the so-called “progressive realists” at the mainstream Center for a New American Security, the anti-imperialists at the leftist Center for Policy Studies, the James Baker-nostalgic right-realists at the Center for the National Interest, and the skeptics of foreign entanglement at the libertarian Cato Institute. But until Quincy, no single organization had tried to unite or organize them.

Supporters believe Quincy seeks to rebalance the foreign policy debate. “There have been strategic alliances for decades between liberals and neocons, so why not amongst their enemies?” asked Quincy nonresident fellow Samuel Moyn, a professor at Yale University who has written several books on the history of human rights, in a Zoom interview. “Even the liberal internationalist foreign policy-neoconservative alliance is a left-right alliance. So that fact alone can’t be problematic.” Moyn says that Quincy’s range of left- and right-leaning figures share “a commonality around querying the purposes of dominance, whether it’s military or not, in part because of the costs involved.”

Written by Andrew Coates

June 9, 2022 at 4:37 pm

The Grayzone in Full Attack on Paul Mason.

with 14 comments

Here is the piece Cde Paul Mason is responding to:

I flag up that the Grayzone does not just attack Paul Mason, but implicates in their piece the protests of the Ukrainian Solidarity Campaign (a body now supported by the civil service union, the PCS), and well known, respected, comrades who visited Kiev as part of a Labour and Trade Union delegation to Ukraine before the Russian invasion.

Paul Mason’s covert intelligence-linked plot to destroy The Grayzone exposed.

Leaked emails reveal British journalist Paul Mason plotting with an intel contractor to destroy The Grayzone through “relentless deplatforming” and a “full nuclear legal” attack. The scheme is part of a wider planned assault on the UK left.

“A former Trotskyist and BBC journeyman, journalist Paul Mason has made a career as the establishment’s favorite gatekeeper of the UK left. Since the Russian military incursion into Ukraine, he has cemented his position as one of Britain’s most vocal “left” cheerleaders for Western military intervention. “

“While leading a “U.K. left” delegation to Kiev and a demonstration through to streets of London in support of NATO military escalation against Russia, Mason has accordingly used his platform to assail journalists, academics, Labour party members and private citizens who oppose shipping piles of advanced weaponry to Ukraine. “

The Grayzone, meanwhile, has learned through anonymously leaked emails and documents that Mason has been engaged in a malicious secret campaign that aims to enlist the British state and “friendly” intelligence cut-outs to undermine, censor and even criminalize antiwar dissenters. 

The piece ends with this,

 Mason’s descent into paranoia about The Grayzone’s factual reporting may represent the terminal stage of a career that has taken him from the margins of Trotskyite activism to the molten core of the British establishment, still posing as an authentic radical to wage war on the UK left.

What is the Grayzone?

The Grayzone describes itself, as “an independent news website producing original investigative journalism on politics and empire.” Many people consider it to be a confusionist, blurring the distinction between left and right, vehicle always in search for a conspiracist “angle” to undermine critics of regimes, from the Chinese social imperialists, to the Syrian dictatorship, amongst other states, which are, they consider, targets of the US Empire.

As an indication of its confusionism, the site’s founder recently got some publicity for his anti-vax views: “Former Trump officials, fascists, Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal headline anti-vaxxer rally in LA.” This public red-brown front, it is said, resulted in the resignation of one of the staffers, Ben Norton.

Rational Wiki describes it as follows, “Max Blumenthal, a contributor to RT. It purports itself to be “a news and politics website dedicated to original investigative journalism on war and empire[2], but it mostly promotes AssadistRussianVenezuelan, and Chinese propaganda. It is known for using ad hominem attacks by calling critics neocon shills,[3] or Mccarthyites.[4 Those hostile to the Grayzone say that it embodies the worst side of the anti-imperialism of fools.

Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist was one of the first people to flag up the nature of the Grayzone. One of the late comrade Louis last posts began, “In a by now familiar pattern, Grayzone has taken up the cause of a powerful and oppressive state against a weaker enemy using a geopolitical litmus test. Since the USA has invaded and occupied dozens of Third World countries for over two hundred years, there’s no point in taking the side of any oppressed nationality or ethnic group since willy-nilly they are acting on behalf of Wall Street, the CIA, NATO, George Soros, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.” A Short History of Uighur Resistance | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist.

People like Bob from Brockley, Oz Katerji, and Paul Canning have continued to notify many on the Net who are unfamiliar with US red-brown and confusionist politics of Grayzone. For their pains they got personally named and insulted by the notorious US site, Oz, “ubiquitous figure in smear campaigns against anti-imperialist public figures” “Full-time neocon online troll Bob from Brockley, a pro-Israel advocate and regime-change lobbyist..” (many like the idea that a bloke from South London is a “regime change lobbyist”).  

Bob is back today:

Update:

The anti-Labour site for small businessmen and directed at “Not the real dedicated people on the left, but maybe their auntie or their uncle who reads their Facebook page.” Skwawkbox gets its oar in,

Written by Andrew Coates

June 8, 2022 at 11:26 am

Only Boris Stands Between Us and “Smirking Starmer’s Coalition of Chaos” (Mail).

with 5 comments

What Front Pages!

Forget the above. The important issues today are sniffed out by Britain’s cuddliest Vegan as part of his ongoing campaign for animal rights:

Greenstein’s allies have reacted:

Williamson has his own campaign to rejoin the left.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 7, 2022 at 8:17 am

Muslim Protests to Remove “Blasphemous” The Lady of Heaven from Cinemas.

with 3 comments

The media outlet of the theocratic Islamist regime of Iran posts,

Press tv, Birmingham

The release of a sacrilegious film in the UK has sparked protests among the country’s Muslim community.

Protests have erupted across the UK as thousands of British Muslims are expressing outrage at the release of a new film described as blasphemous and sectarian by critics.

The film is titled ‘The Lady of Heaven’ and details events surrounding the passing of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. However, the movie’s narrative has provoked protests.

Community anger is on the rise across the country and protests continue to spring up all across the UK. All demanding the same thing that British cinemas abandon the movie. An online petition has also been launched and has gained around 100k signatures in just a few days.

The reasons listed why Muslims dislike the film are various.

The film’s writer is also a matter of controversy. The movie is written by notorious UK-based hate preacher, Yasir Habib. He has a long history of spreading offensive and insulting rhetoric against Muslims.

Protesters made clear they will not stand idly by and allow a hate preacher to use a mainstream platform.

So far, the film has been a flop. Reports suggest it has performed poorly in the US and a counter-petition calling for support for the film accumulated a mere 2.5K signatures. 

However, protest leaders say they won’t stop the fight until the film is dropped from all British cinemas.

A CINEMA in Bolton has pulled a film, described as ‘blasphemous’. following protests.

The Bolton News.

Bolton Cineworld will no longer be taking booking for Our Lady in Heaven following an outcry from some Muslims in the borough.

More than 100 people turned out to protest yesterday afternoon against the showing of the film.

And Bolton Council of Mosques had sent an email to the cinema, based in The Valley.

Signed by the chairman, Asif Patel, it stated: “You many well be aware of the recently released film ‘Lady of Heaven’ which has caused much distress to Muslims across the globe.

A few months ago:

Lady of Heaven: pure, unadulterated sectarian filth writes the sectarian Islamist site 5 PIllars,

Roshan Muhammed Salih reviews Lady of Heaven, the sectarian hate film that is being platformed by cinemas in the UK and could provoke serious Sunni-Shia tensions.

There is no doubt that Lady of Heaven is going to create sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shias in the UK once it becomes widely available here.

Its trailer, released over a year ago, has already received over three million views and gave us a glimpse into the sectarian narratives that would follow.

The actual film itself has been released in the United States, Canada and Ireland and will surely hit cinemas here soon as well as prominent streaming services. After all, the film’s mysterious financial backers will have to recoup their $15 million budget somehow.

In short, the worst fears of Sunnis will be more than realised. Lady of Heaven is two hours plus of the most extreme Shia sectarian narratives about how the caliphate was supposedly “usurped” from the Ahl ul Bayt. And most Muslims will find the invective against three of the most beloved companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) shocking and disgusting.

But it is also a deeply racist film with all the main negative characters being portrayed by black actors. What’s more, the film directly disrespects the Prophet (pbuh) by showing his face.

That said, given that the scriptwriter was the notorious hate preacher Yasser Al-Habib no one should be really surprised.

There is a detailed Wikipedia entry, “The Lady of Heaven is a 2021 British epic historical drama film directed by Eli King in his directorial debut and written by the Twelver Shia Muslim Sheikh Yasser Al-Habib, the spiritual leader of The Mahdi Servants Union. “

David Taube (aka Habibi) gets retweeted:

Birmingham:

Written by Andrew Coates

June 6, 2022 at 4:42 pm

Boris Johnson Faces No-Confidence: Reflections on the Jubilee Crisis.

with one comment

Boris Johnson news – live: PM’s anti-corruption tsar quits before no-confidence vote.

 “an appetite for the latest-stirring information is excited with the return of their meals; and a glass of old port or humming ale hardly relishes as it ought without the infusion of some lively topic that had its birth with the day, and perishes before night. ‘Then come in the sweets of the evening’: — the Queen, the coronation, the last new play, the next fight, the insurrection of the Greeks or Neapolitans, the price of stocks, or death of kings, and the result of the Tory Confidence Vote, keep them on the alert till bedtime. No question comes amiss to them that is quite new — none is ever heard of that is at all old.”

“On Coffee-House Politicians” William Hazlitt. 1822.

The minstrels of the eventide, the State Coach, holding a stereoscopic magic lantern of the Royal, the ursine champion of the People’s Monarchy, have passed. Mass enjoyment of the Crown is today followed by a bitter struggle over the machinery of government, the leadership of the Conservative Party and the Premiership of the House. After decades of championing “modern” new civic nations that will “re-encounter nature, “a rapprochement “with pre-history and the bases of human society.” (Tom Nairn, Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom, Verso, 2002.) The essayist and critics of the House of Windsor’s Enchanted Glass, has finally struck gold. Historians will note the correlation between the assault on the Glamour of the Crown on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral and Boris Johnson’s contretemps turned catastrophe.

It is plain to all that Johnson, a haggard figure, is teetering on the brink. On the news this morning they said the Tory faithful were approaching their MPs with a look in their eyes as if the politician had just had a puppy die. Is the man, a disgrace, on the way to the rubbish tip?

Whatever way the Tory vote turns out Boris Johnson will be damaged. Will this benefit those whom the Scottish nationalist called its British Socialist vassals? Labour has been blowing its credentials as ” the true party of patriotism and British values.” “As we unite for the jubilee, let’s believe Britain’s best days are ahead, not behind” writes Labour’s Lucy Powell. It may be that Labour will stand tall – with a sense of State and dignity as the Tories descend into inner-party warfare.

Or will it be another chip in the old United Kingdom block. Why have we even had such a PM? How has he been allowed to wreak havoc? How can such a character hold the position? This thought may inspire, through the creation of more borders, “a new politics of democratic, national independence from the Union state” including an England that is “ecological, networked, liberty-loving, European and republican.” (Anthony Arblaster. Deciding Britain’s Future: ​​Tom Nairn, Gordon Brown, Marxism and Nationalism. 2022)

The critical approach to nationalism represents one of Marxism’s great historical achievements. Nations are not the motors of history but social formations shaped by the mode of production, class struggle, and politics. The problematic issue of nationalism and patriotism is not one of feeling, of quiet, or loud, admiration and adherence to a nationality or decency towards one’s national fellow citizens, or the fight against national oppression – highlighted in bold letters by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Nor does it lie in the invention of tradition or the medium of its imagined communities. Except in this deeper sense, as works of the political imagination nations become parts of a political project, a projection of the future, a programme for creating states, and more borders, not alliances between workers and peoples of different countries. That is a strategy for exclusion, not bringing people together,

As Tom Nairn put it, reflecting, in alembic prose, on Régis Debray’s Éloge des frontières (2010), ” what if the solution to managing power is not fewer borders but more?” He concluded, The alternative would appear to be ‘Scotland in Europe’: leaving the raft and (after the lessons learned at Holyrood) finally deciding to swim on our own. Isn’t that what the new frontiers should be for?” (Frontiers: a re-evaluation).

Boris Johnson to face confidence vote as rebel Tories mount biggest challenge to his leadership.

Following months of speculation over Boris Johnson’s leadership in the wake of the partygate allegations, enough Conservative MPs have submitted letters of no confidence in the PM. He needs half of MPs, plus one, to survive the vote.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 6, 2022 at 12:01 pm

Ajamu Baraka, former US Green Vice President Candidate, “war in Ukraine may be the most morally obscene war the U.S. has ever engaged in.”

with 2 comments

Ajamu Baraka is the national organiser of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president of the United States on the Green Party ticket. Baraka is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and was awarded the U.S. Peace Memorial 2019 Peace Prize and the Serena Shirm award for uncompromised integrity in journalism.

There are some blustering types out there on the outer political limits of campism and ‘anti-imperialism’, but not many are fuller of hectoring swag than this chap.

2016: Baraka was the Green Party nominee for Vice President of the United States on the ballot in 45] states and received 1,457,216 votes (1.07% of the popular vote).

It is hard to imagine a more morally bankrupt statement on the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian state than the above.

Why is nobody in the slightest surprise that this is the company he keeps?

Ajamu Baraka, speaking from the standpoint of the oppressed masses of the Institute for Policy Studies, (“a progressive organization dedicated to building a more equitable, ecologically sustainable, and peaceful society. In partnership with dynamic social movements, we turn transformative policy ideas into action”) where he is an Associate fellow, tweets,

The tasty Geezer has form:

Ukraine: The Tip of the Spear for the Imperialist Project

February 14, 2022 Ajamu Baraka

It is imperialism, led by the United States, that is the culprit. Its parasitic imperialist domination would be impossible without its core instrument of enforcement and control: State violence. That is why we are discussing Ukraine today. 

Imperialism: That is framework. Today, it is Ukraine. Tomorrow, it might be China. Why? Because with the seemingly sudden and spontaneous crisis that emerged with Ukraine, the steady, violent, oppressive and repressive relations of power between the United States and Western capital and the rest of humanity continues. Objective reality bears this out. While we are focused on Ukraine as the most immediate danger, the people of Afghanistan are starving, bombs are still dropping in Yemen, coups are unfolding in Africa, the United States is still pivoting to Asia, and the peoples and nations of Latin America and the Caribbean are still suffocating from the predatory weight of the U.S. hegemon.

When we remind ourselves that the doctrine of Full Spectrum Dominance animates U.S. foreign policies, we can disabuse ourselves of any illusions on what our historic task must be.

The drive for dominance has always been fueled by one objective: To position U.S. capitalist interests to be able to more effectively plunder the labor and resources of the peoples and nations of the world.

Is that not what is in play in eastern Europe? Is it not capitalist competition and its geostrategic implications that is driving events? Can we understand Ukraine, the role of NATO and the United States, without understanding the economic interests involved with Nord Stream 2 and the Eurasian Economic Union and even the Belt and Road Initiative? Was it a surprise that after being pushed out of Afghanistan, a crisis would emerge in Kazakhstan as the United States desperately tries to re-position itself in central Asia? That is why nothing short of the defeat of imperialism must be seen as our task.

This gives a flavour of what a degraded figure this man is:

In a January 2015 essay, Baraka described the March in reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shooting as a “white power march,” and the Je suis Charlie movement in general as an “arrogant rallying cry for white supremacy”.

The Charlie Hebdo White Power Rally in Paris A Celebration of Western Hypocrisy.

With typical arrogant US racism Baraka did not mention the Arab victims of the Islamist killers in the Charlie Hebdo attack: Mustapha Ourrad, Ahmed Merabet, not the Jewish woman murdered, Elsa Cayat,  amongst the 12 people caught in the slaughter.

Update:

Baraka is involved with this Marcyite (Named after Sam Marcy) (Workers World) front: “The United National Antiwar Coalition is a “peace” coalition dominated by the Workers World Party.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 5, 2022 at 11:37 am

French Left Takes Opinion Poll Lead.

with 3 comments

The French right are contemplating a less than decisive victory for President Macron’s party modestly renamed Renaissance and its electoral front, Ensemble! (bringing together ‘personalities’, the remains of the François Bayrou’s Mo-Dems, the Radical Party, and the micro-parties, En Commun, Agir, territoire de progrès, and Horizons). (1) Some polls are now giving the left a lead over what was until recently called La République en marche (LREM), denying them a majority of seats in the National Assembly after the Second Round on the 19th of June.

This morning on France-Inter Jean-François Copé, Mayor of Meaux and re-standing for the National Assembly, a leading figure in the classic right wing party Les Républicaines – gave a drubbing to Macron’s style and policies. Apart from criticising the President’s plans to reduce the budgets of local authorities he talked of candidates from the Head of State’s rally being parachuted into local contests. The right-winger, who has been in a few name-changing parties himself (RP, UMP, LR) hit on a criticism often made of the uncontested leader of Renaissance, his claim to have a direct “populist” link with the electorate without need for on the ground experienced politicians. This “populisme du centre” has now taken the form of a call for a “Conseil national de la refondation” to which all will be invited to talk, and indeed talk, about issues such as the cost of living and ecology, no doubt including climate change.

Regardless of this project Copé astutely raised the possibility that Renaissance (note, a word many loathe in this context, the rally does not even have an acronym) would not get enough seats to govern alone. He graciously offered the services of his party to form a governing majority, “if “ Mr. Macron’s deputies were not in the majority in the country” , an LR voice could emerge within the government, ” to do everything that this government does not do “, especially in terms of ” security ” “. (that, is ‘law and order’).

Macron’s own gang is concentrating its energies on attacking the united left alliance Nouvelle Union Populaire Écologique et Sociale – NUPES:

Libération runs this story today,

Législatives: quand la macronie agite l’épouvantail Mélenchon.

In the absence of a real campaign, the big beasts of the majority are multiplying their speeches against the leader of La France insoumise (LF) and the union of left-wing parties, a crude strategy which could turn against them.

You only have to watch French news channels, look at social media, read the papers, listen to the radio, to agree that the Marconistes’ campaign is “crude”.

This is encouraging, not just because it’s good to see the very disparate French left standing together for Parliamentary elections, but also not so long ago some were predicting that the French left would be marginalised by Macron and the growth of the far-right.

All the best to the French Left!

(1) For a long time French political parties have gone into elections with “allies” designed to extend their reach, although ‘micro-parties’ that have been more direct satellites have historically appeared, designed to get round party funding rules as well as ‘clubs’ tied to particular politicians. This is Macron’s latest list.

PartyAbbreviationIdeologyPositionLeader
RenaissanceLREMLiberalismCentreStanislas Guerini
Democratic MovementMoDemLiberalismChristian democracyCentre to centre-rightFrançois Bayrou
HorizonsHorizonsLiberalismCentre-rightÉdouard Philippe
AgirAgirConservative liberalismCentre-rightFranck Riester
Territories of ProgressTDPSocial liberalismsocial democracyCentre to centre-leftOlivier Dussopt
Radical PartyPRVLiberalismCentreLaurent Hénart
En CommunECGreen politicsCentre-leftPhilippe Hardouin [fr]

Written by Andrew Coates

June 4, 2022 at 4:42 pm

Solidarity with Ukraine Initiatives.

with one comment

“It cannot be said that this war is a war between imperialisms, because Ukraine is not an imperialist country, but is on the contrary penetrated by Russian and Western capital.”

This Saturday in Paris:

One network:

European network for solidarity with Ukraine | Réseau européen de solidarité avec l’Ukraine

FOR

1. The defence of an independent and democratic Ukraine!

2. The immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from all Ukrainian territory. The end of the nuclear threat posed by the alerting of Russian nuclear weapons and the bombing of Ukrainian power plants!

3. Support for the resistance (armed and unarmed) of the Ukrainian people in its diversity, in defence of its right to self-determination

4. Cancellation of Ukraine’s foreign debt!

5. The non-discriminatory reception of all refugees – from Ukraine and elsewhere!

6. Support for the anti-war and democratic movement in Russia and the guarantee of political refugee status for opponents of Putin and for Russian soldiers who desert!

7. Seizure of the assets of Russian government members, senior officials and oligarchs in Europe and around the world; and financial and economic sanctions – protecting the disadvantaged from their effects.

Beyond that, we are also fighting, together with like-minded currents in Ukraine and Russia:

8. For global nuclear disarmament. Against military escalation and the militarisation of minds.

9. For the dismantling of military blocs

10. To ensure that any aid to Ukraine is not subject to IMF or EU austerity conditions

11. Against productivism, militarism and imperialist competition for power and profit that destroy our environment and our social and democratic rights.

At the end of the First World War, the ILO was founded on a universal statement: “A universal and lasting peace can only be based on social justice.” Today, we must add environmental justice and the rule of law: we fight for peace and equality, democratic freedoms, social and climate justice, through cooperation and solidarity between peoples.

You can join:

Membership form for the European network Solidarity with Ukraine and against war

Here is also an Important Declaration:

WITH THE RESISTENCE OF THE UKRAINIAN PEOPLE FOR ITS VICTORY AGAINST THE AGGRESSION

As in the days of the Vietnamese people’s liberation struggle, we have always been on the side of the oppressed and aggressed peoples, whether by the United States (and its NATO allies) or by the USSR (and its Warsaw Pact allies).


We are aware that, crossing the various oceans and continents, the struggle for national and social liberation of peoples is unique and global.


We have never accepted, and we will never accept, that any power, or any military bloc, can prevent a people from deciding its own future, in opposition to the right of peoples to their national self-determination.


For these reasons, we stand with the Resistance of the Ukrainian people against the aggression of Russian imperialism and its attempt to rebuild the Tsarist and then Soviet Empire.

As with other national liberation struggles, our solidarity with the people of Ukraine is unconditional and independent of any judgment on their political leadership, because it is solely up to Ukraine and Ukrainians to decide the future of their country.


It is also incumbent upon the people of Ukraine to decide to continue the war for national independence and to specify the terms of peace with the aggressor.


The effective Ukrainian Resistance in the face of the invasion of the Russian superpower undoubtedly demonstrates the strength of the moral factor, and the direction that the will of the people is going, refuting the almost racist theories that make Ukrainians a mere toy in the hands of NATO. In this sense we can on the contrary say that the Ukrainian people have already won morally and politically. The military victory, which we obviously support, will be more difficult to achieve.


The war wanted by Putin’s semi-dictatorial regime:
– Is an aggression against the lives of Ukrainian citizens and against the independence of the Ukrainian people;
– Is an aggression against Russian citizen-soldiers of all nationalities, sent to the slaughterhouse and to crush Ukrainians, for the sole purpose of strengthening the Russian domestic political regime and capitalism;
– Is a threat of imperialism and Great Russian nationalism to all post-Soviet republics;
– Is an incentive to other imperial powers to carry out military interventions in the world;
– It has already had the effect of strengthening and expanding NATO, and of multiplying the military expenditures;
– Is an incentive for the proliferation of nuclear weapons, while Ukraine had voluntarily ceded to Russia the strategic and tactical nuclear warheads, as well as the carriers, which made it the third largest nuclear power in the world. In exchange, in 1994, Russia pledged to respect Ukraine’s integrity and sovereignty. It is the first State in the world (after South Africa) to have achieved nuclear disarmament unilaterally.
 
When the semi-dictatorial Russian nationalist regime, which supports many organizations of the European right, suggests that it wants to “denazify” Ukraine, it is an insult to the victims of the Holocaust, to anti-fascism, and also to the sacrifices of the Soviet peoples in the war against the Third Reich.


 
It cannot be said that this war is a war between imperialisms, because Ukraine is not an imperialist country, but is on the contrary penetrated by Russian and Western capital.


Peace cannot be presented as an agreement between imperialist powers that would divide spheres of influence to the detriment of the peoples.


We cannot simply say “stop the war!”, but we must fight for the withdrawal of the invading troops or for their military rout.
 
The people of Ukraine cannot be told “resist!” without recognizing their right to obtain the appropriate weapons for their self-defence, where and how they can.


There can be no equidistance between the Resistance of a people and the aggressor.
 
For this we demand the maximum solidarity, moral and material, with the Resistance of the Ukrainian people against Putin’s imperialist invasion. We ask for solidarity with those in Russia who oppose the war by risking many years in prison and with those Russian soldiers who refuse to continue fighting their Ukrainian brothers.
 
In addition to local initiatives of solidarity with the people of Ukraine, we propose that a World Day of Solidarity with the Ukrainian Resistance be promulgated, as happened for the liberation struggle of Vietnam and against the imperialist aggression of Iraq.
 
On the basis of our Declaration, we join the initiative of the European Network in Solidarity with Ukraine(ENSU).

First signatures

(Argentina) Horacio Tarcus, Beatriz Sarlo, Vera Carnovale, Laura Fernández Cordero, Martín Baña, Alejandro Gallian, Maristella Svampa, Pablo Stefanoni, Pablo Alabarces, Carlos Altamirano, Carlos Penelas, Mariano Schuster, Abel Gilbert, Alejandro Katz, Horacio Ricardo Silva, Karina Jannello, Adrián Gorelik, Hugo Vezzetti

(Brasil) Maria Elisa Cevasco, Vanessa Oliveira

(Canada) Jeffery R. Webber 

(Chile) Patricioi Calderón

(Cuba) Julio César Guanche

(Deutschland) Harald Etzbach, Eva Gelinsky

(Ecuador) Marc Saint-Upery

(Ellada[Ελλάδα]) Pantelis Afthinos,  Tassos Anastassiadis, Elea Foster,  Dimitris Hilaris,  Dimitris Karellas, Yannis Konias, Kostas Kousiantas, Moisis Litsis, Zetta Melambianaki, Sonia Mitralia,  Yorgos Mitralias, Louiza Mizan,  Athena Moss,  Ioannis Papadimitriou, Spyros Staveris, Manthos Tavoularis,  Sissy Vovou

(España) Jaime Pastor Verdú, Alfons Bech

(Euskal Herria) Joxe Iriarte «Bikila»

(France) Michel Antony, Michael Löwy, Richard Neuville, Dardo Scavino, Jean Puyade, Christian Mahieux, Patrick Silberstein, Robi Morder, Mariana Sanchez, Hélène Roux, Elisa Moros, Catherine Samary, Pierre Pelan, Patrick Le Trehondat, Sylvain Silberstein, Romain Descottes, Francis Sitel, Armand Creus, Jean-Paul Bruckert, Eva Roussel, Irène Paillard, Stefan Bekier, John Barzman, Laurence Boffet, Nara Caldera, Hortensia Ines, Julien Troccaz, Jan Malewski, Vincent Présumey, Julien Salingue, Michel Lanson

(India) Jairus Banaji, Rohini Hensman

(Italia) Antonella Marazzi, Roberto Massari, Michele Nobile, Riccardo Bellofiore, Oreste Scalzone, Laris Massari, Giorgio Amico, Andrea Furlan, Giovanna Vertova, Liben Massari, Dario Giansanti, Cinzia Nachira, Anna Della Ragione, Walter Baldo C., Andrea Coveri, Marco Noris, Brunello Mantelli, Gustavo Rinaldi, Debora Trevisi, Daria Lucca, Alessandro Stiglitz

(México) Rafael Mondragón, Manuel Aguilar Mora, Ismael Contreras, Jaime González, Alvaro Vázquez, José Juan Grijalva

(Nederland) Jan Lust

(Österreich) Christian Zeller

(Panama) Ligia Arreaga

(Perú) Hugo Blanco, José-Carlos Mariátegui (nieto)

(Polska) Zbigniew M. Kowalewski, Katarzyna Bielińska, Stefan Zgliczyński, Michał Siermiński, Szymon Martys, Paweł Szelegieniec, Artur Maroń, Jacek Drozda, Paweł Michał Bartolik, Michał Kozłowski

(Suisse-Schweiz-Svizzera) Stefanie Prezioso, Jean Batou

(Suomi) Nina Veikkolainen, Marcello Ganassini

(Ukraïna[Україна]) Hanna Perekhoda, Vladislav Starodubtsev, Taras Bilous, Denys Gorbach, Daria Saburova

(United Kingdom) Alessandra Mezzadri, Gilbert Achcar, Max Civino

(United States) Scott Carter, Linda Allegro, Dan La Botz, Sherry Baron, Samuel Farber, Nancy Holmstrom, Stephen R. Shalom, Tom Harrison 

(Uruguay) Gerardo Garay, Gerardo Caetano.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 3, 2022 at 4:36 pm

After Mumsnet Grilling by Che Guevara’s Hamster Johnson Booed Arriving for Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Service.

with one comment

Boris Johnson booed as he arrives at St Paul’s for platinum jubilee event

Prime minister greeted with whistles and jeers by crowd waiting at cathedral for Queen’s thanksgiving service

The signs were in the air when, a few days ago, Boris Johnson had got it in the neck from “‘Che Guevara’s Hamster’ on Mumsnet.” “Revolutionary icon Guevara’s supposed pet wondered why Mr Johnson had dispensed with the Nolan principles when he changed the ministerial code. The PM looked around the room bemused when the username was read out and then rejected the hamster’s argument.” There was also, ” ‘Tim Booth’s Eyes’ zinger: ‘Why should we believe anything you say when it has been proven you are a habitual liar?’”

Today the Fat Owl Who Should be Removed from Office got booed by the Crowd:

Written by Andrew Coates

June 3, 2022 at 12:59 pm

The Jubilee and the Monarchy.

with 7 comments

Norwich SWP Will be Holding a Stuff the Jubilee Picnic this Saturday. (Silver Jubilee, 1977 – from Splits and Fusions.)

The Tendance does not wish Queen Elizabeth anything but the best on her Platinum Jubilee. That does not call for tugging the forelock as Keir Starmer bades with this command, “it is your patriotic duty to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee”.  As a republican, this Blog favours instituions that democratically decide who is the head of state – as long as it’s not a system that allows somebody like Boris Johnson to be elected as a power-wielding President. Having no personal quarrel with either Elizabeth  II  or with those who wish to show respect it would simply be bad manners to feign support that spans honouring an institution, as much as the person.

David Kellaway writes, “Wall to wall promotion and coverage of the Jubilee gives no voice to the significant minority who are against the monarchy.” It’s also possible to make a distinction between the dignified person, the present Monarch, the theatrical ceremonies laid on, which can be less than impressive to all, the family, some of whose members often fail to excite much reverence, and the grasping narrow-minded mass who populate the present Cabinet under a coarse and clownish Prime Minister. Those who believe may contemplate his fate upon the burning plains of hell; those who do not wish the Prime Minister a humiliating exit and a lifetime of penance on a rocky isle with no Broadband.

Time was when the left across the country held Stuff the Jubilee protests (1977).

The IMG even published this:

Today, at first sight, all Socialist Worker can offer is an on-line meeting:

Stuff the Jubilee – why socialists oppose the monarchy

Wednesday 01 Jun 2022 07:00pm at Online.

But hark!

There will be a picnic in Norwich against the monarchy called ‘Stuff the Jubilee‘.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 2, 2022 at 4:47 pm

Paul Mason on Labour Long-List for Stretford and Urmston Candidacy.

with 13 comments

Paul Mason as Labour Party Candidate?

Paul Mason is familiar to most people on the left, and, through his work on Channel Four News, Newsnight and, more recently, his column in the New European, to a wider audience. With long-standing ties to the internationalist left Mason has been a campaigner against Brexit, during and after the referendum, stating in 2018 “The opposition should back a second referendum, and vote to remain.” He is opposed to Chinese social imperialism, saying that, “the left must stand against Xi Jinping’s totalitarian China. The Chinese communist elite is the enemy of the Chinese workers. ” Mason has been active in defence of Ukraine against the Russian invasion. With a U.K. left and trade union delegation he went to Kiev in February just before Putin launched his war. In April Paul spoke at the  Whitehall UK trade unions rally in solidarity with Ukraine.

Beginning in politics (during the 1980s) close to the Trotskyist current, the League for the 5th International/Workers Power, the author of Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being (2019), has become a champion of the humanist Marxism of figures such as Raya Dunayevskaya.

Amongst Paul’s other books, Why it’s Kicking Off Everywhere. The New Global Revolutions. 2012., PostCapitalism: A Guide to our Future 2015, his most recent, How to Stop Fascism, History, Ideology, Resistance. Paul Mason. 2021, was reviewed last year by the Tendance on this Blog. “The left needs the kind of call to arms against these new forms of right and far-right politics made by Paul Mason, even if we may not agree on the details of his programme. Against the far-right, and against populism, alliances between democrats, socialists and progressives (which formed the basis of 1970s anti-National Front campaigning) are needed.”

Alex Callinicos (21.2.2002) has alleged that for Mason, following the reasoning of the book, which he recommends (as does the Tendance) we reach an expansion of antifascism to mean something like an international struggle between states in which the West should be supported. “In a new development (or should one say degeneration?) of your Popular Frontism, the US antagonism with China and Russia is now framed as an “antifascist” struggle in which the left should unite with liberal imperialism against the “authoritarian, socially conservative” regimes in Beijing and Moscow.”

There is undoubtably a danger that such a drift could take place, and apart from the ‘West’ (a bloc that includes, for Brexit supporting SWP, the EU, European “imperialist powers”, “bound to the US through a nexus of institutions”), few will idealise the Ukrainian state and their own oligarchs. But, apart from the lack of evidence for their drive for colonialisation and territorial expansion, there is no ‘Western’ attempt to conquer anybody in the present conflict. In the case of Ukraine one can only begin by siding with the people who are the victims of Putin and back their call to have the means to repel the invasion from whatever quarter they can find it. One is not aware of any similar call for military aid to the targets and casualties, workers, Hong Kong Democrats, and above all Uighurs, of the CCP bourgeoisie and state apparatus.

Callinicos equally fails to look deeply into the political issues arising of the nature of these former Official Communist countries’ imperialism, both in the export of capital in the age of globalisation (China) and straight-forward territorial expansion and rule. The SWP, which calls the conflict in Ukraine, the result of “geopolitical competition against the background of global economic integration” without looking at the specifically nationalist and political projects of Putin’s circle. The Russian leaders, it is said, take some of their inspiration from “Eurasianism”, the basis for a “a kind of messianic “third way” for their state and an expanded, ‘living space’, an ideology which lies between national populism and some themes of classical fascism. (Black WindWhite Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism, Charles Clover. 2017) This gives the present war a dimension, coloured with a deeply anti-democratic chauvinism, which the SWP, and other groups, title of “inter-imperialist” proxy war cannot grapple with.

It is to be expected that those hostile to Mason, personally and politically, will now launch attacks on him. Workers Power already described him in 2018 as “stridently anti-Marxist”. The Morning Star has carried many pieces in this vein, “Self-described student Trotskyist turned ‘radical social democrat’ specialises in providing ‘left’ cover for right-wing policies” (Nick Wright). In 2020 Socialist Appeal began chewing the carpet in fury at Cde Mason, “The sad case of Paul Mason: a victim of post-modernism” “A terrible disease is spreading throughout the world. Medical science knows no cure for this sickness. There is no way of avoiding it. Neither facemasks nor handwashing will do any good. And the effects of this disease are horrible to behold. Once you have caught it, your brain turns to jelly. The unfortunate victims become human zombies, who suffer from persistent bouts of verbal diarrhoea and become utterly incapable of rational thought. The name of this terrible affliction is post-modernism.”

As David Walsh says, we can expect more of these comments in the coming days.

The letter below, by contrast, speaks for itself, a serious left-wing candidacy for Labour.

A letter to Labour members in Stretford & Urmston.

Here’s the text of the Personal Statement that will be circulated to members by the party. I’ve decided to go for this because the next Parliament is going to need experienced people prepared to stand up for democracy, radical redistribution constitutional change and internationalism. There’s more to say – but at this stage you only get one sheet of A4 to outline your pitch… and this is all I could fit… Fasten your seat-belts…

MY LABOUR STORY: I was born in Leigh, to a family that had been weavers, tailors and miners for generations. The post-war Labour governments allowed my parents to dream of a better future for their children, and make it happen. Today I want to revive that Labour dream for millions of people who’ve been told that nothing can ever change.

REAL CHANGE: The next election will be critical. We don’t just need to win. We have to inspire people to make big changes:

Raise real wages to match the soaring cost of living;

Devolve power, to give people control over the decisions that affect their lives;

Create millions of good, green jobs as we decarbonise the energy system to save the planet

Shut down offshore tax havens, netting tens of billions a year to spend on schools, healthcare, councils, policing and our armed forces

Repair the damage to our trade, industry and national security caused by the Tories’ hard Brexit.

STORY OF HOPE: I’ve spent my life reporting the struggles of people fighting injustice: from slum-dwellers in Manila, to workers in China’s sweatshops, to people in Leigh where I grew up. What I learned is: you only start winning when you tell people a story of hope.

TAKE CONTROL: The problem facing Britain? Working people can’t earn enough money to live a decent life, and don’t have enough power to make things better – while, for the rich, the avenues to prosperity, security and respect are always open. Our aim is to deliver prosperity, security and respect for all.

ACTIVIST MOVEMENT: Our party exists to bring about a fundamental and irreversible shift in wealth and power to working people. To get there we’re going to need a mobilised trade union movement, grassroots community organising and a united Labour Party. As your candidate, I will use my organising and communications skills to make this happen.

SOCIAL JUSTICE: I will focus on the policies I fought for alongside Keir Starmer in his leadership campaign – including:

Repeal the Trade Union Act.

Abolish Universal Credit and the cruel sanctions regime.

Scrap student tuition fees.

End the detention and deportation of asylum seekers. (A full list of policies forthcoming)

GREEN NEW DEAL: I’ll campaign for a Green New Deal, so that Labour’s £28 billion a year investment plan delivers well-paid jobs and cheaper energy to people in the North West. To achieve zero net carbon within a decade we need public ownership of the energy system.

QUALITY OF LIFE: I’ll lead a determined fight against the crime, high housing costs and rip-off transport prices that blight the lives of working class communities. I’ll fight for local democratic control over the big development projects planned along the Manchester Ship Canal.

FIGHT RACISM: My great-grandparents fled to the U.K. from anti-Semitic pogroms in the Russian Empire. And from the Anti-Nazi League in the 1970s to Black Lives Matter today, I’ve always stood alongside the struggles of black, Asian and minority ethnic people. I want to restore Freedom of Movement with the EU, a fair migration system, an end to the detention and deportation of refugees.

STRONG ON DEFENCE: I want the UK to build the strongest possible ties with our NATO allies. I’ve worked with Labour’s shadow defence team during the Ukraine crisis, where our party has been ahead of the Tories and got the big calls right. Unshakeable solidarity with our democratic allies, and support for our armed force are Labour traditions to be proud of.

WHAT NEXT?: Please ask your branch, union or affiliated society to nominate me. And get in touch! (Contact details circulated to members)

In solidarity

Written by Andrew Coates

June 1, 2022 at 1:29 pm

Frank Furedi: from Revolutionary Communist Party, to Spiked and National Populism, takes the Plunge into the Racist Conservative Political Action Conference, Hungary.

with 13 comments

Ex-Marxist Furedi Joins Racist Authoritarians at CPAC Hungary.

Background:

The Revolutionary Communist Party was a group on the British left founded in the late 1970s whose best known figure was Frank Richards (a very amusing party name, taken from the author of Billy Bunter), that is Frank Furedi. Furedi, a sociology lecturer at Kent, was said to regale his audience, largely students, with pamphlets such as Who Needs the Labour Party. It had a tightly centralised structure, some presence and continuous clashes with other left groups in the early 1980s (living in France at that time I fortunately escaped that). Much has been written on them, and you can be sure it is not by those who ever warmed to them.

The RCP folded in the 1997, and he group became but their journal, Living Marxism, rebranded LM in 1992, continued. It was distributed through newsagents, including in W.H. Smith. The Editor Mick Hume talked of the absence of a force for social change – in Marxist terms the agency of the working class and labour movement – and favoured “a positive case for human action in pursuit of social liberation.”. They published many contrarian pieces, James Heartfield‘Taboos: Smacking parents’ and “Wolf in sheep’s clothing Ever hit your dog? If so, you could find yourself being investigated on suspicion of child abuse and domestic violence. Brendan O’Neill reports” the latter is one of our favourites).

One of these articles ended the magazine. ITN’s successful libel challenge in 2000 to an article, that “claimed they had faked pictures of Bosnian Serb war crimes” closed them down. The ensuing award and costs arising from legal action by the ITN against LM were estimated to total around £1 million. The action bankrupted the magazine. They closed.

This further propelled a further change in direction and in from the bowels of the RCP emerged the Institute of Ideas, now the Academy of Ideas, which still holds bean feasts in London, including a conference every year.

The RCP ex, also set up the on-line magazine Spike. Confusionist, mixing right wing criticisms of political correctness, now known as woke ideas, anti-environmental quibbling – in the name of a human progress – and, a parody of contrarianism, in the figure of the original editor of the Web Site, Brendan O’Neill, it carved out a niche all of its own. Moving towards national populism, they became Brexit ultras. Key cadres of the RCP linked up with the Brexit Party of Nigel Farage and got one MEP, Claire Fox elected in 2019. Fox now sits in the House of Lords as Baroness Fox of Buckley.

Enough of the Intro.

(Marxist-Humanist initiative, inspired by the ideas of  Raya Dunayevskaya)

Here is the Ravi Bali piece, ” Furedi’s collaboration with Orbán and CPAC is an extreme example of a red-brown alliance, in which self-declared leftists become apologists for reaction.

(Thanks Bob..)

Frank Furedi––who was the foremost intellectual of UK radical-left group, the Revolutionary Communist Party, for more than 25 years––has made the transition from revolutionary Marxism into the fold of white-nationalist authoritarianism. Furedi spoke last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Budapest, Hungary. CPAC is organised by the American Conservative Union (ACU), the foremost right-wing Republican organisation in the United States.

Furedi is now employed as a part-time researcher for the Hungarian 21st Century Foundation, which is effectively a propaganda unit for the Fidesz Party of Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán. Hungarian-born and of Jewish descent, Furedi is a strange fit with an organisation that trades in anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories.

Orbánism and Trumpism

Orbán has declared that Hungary is an “illiberal democracy” that defines itself against everything liberal or from the left. This is what makes Hungary a role model for the American right wing, and what makes Orbán their darling.

Luminaries of the American hard-right were also speakers at CPAC 2022, Hungary. Former president Donald Trump addressed the gathering by video, as did Tucker Carlson, the populist, white-supremacist, Fox News host. America’s most prominent nonwhite white supremacist, Candace Owens, was there in person.

Furedi opened his talk with a “quip” about being happy to speak at an event where they did not ask him for his preferred pronouns. In a different space, this remark could be just seen as the standard trans- or feminist-bashing that many conservatives indulge in. But in the context of CPAC, it takes on an even more worrying significance. If you look at Furedi’s “joke” alongside of what Orbán has said, it is clear they are using the same playbook: “Hungary must defend itself because the Western left wing is attacking. It is trying to relativize the notion of family. Its tools for doing so are gender ideology and the LBGTQ lobby”.

Furedi and the Charlottesville Massacre

 In his CPAC talk, Furedi made a clear reference to Charlottesville, Virginia and the decision of its city council to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The city council decided that it was no longer acceptable to publicly honour someone who waged the Civil War against the US in order to retain slavery. Furedi characterized this and other decisions to remove Confederate stautes as follows: “What they’re saying is that the past is a clear and present danger––a danger to our lives in the here and now––which is why you have people in the United States getting rid of statues”.

Strangely, what bothers Furedi is not the Nazis who came to Charlottesville to oppose the removal of the statue, chanting “Jews will not replace us”. It is the anti-racists who wanted to retire the statue from public display in a park because they did not want to continue to honour a pro-slavery figure. Furedi suggests that this is part of an effort “to control our minds”.

Rolling Stone,

CPAC Europe Is a Safe Space for Authoritarians — and the Republicans Who Love Them. With the U.S. press banned but American conservatives looking on, speaker after speaker peddled the great replacement theory and spouted contempt for immigrants

Too many people do not embrace this “Western past,” explained Frank Furedi, of the Hungarian XXI Century Foundation. “What they’re saying is that the past is a clear and present danger – a danger to our lives in the here and now – which is why you have people in the United Statues getting rid of statues.” This was part of a leftwing attempt to control language, Furedi said; an attempt “to control our minds.”

Other far rightists present: Belgium, Vlaams Belang, Italy, Fratelli d’Italia,cSpain, Vox, France, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National. While most spoke (like their comrade Furedi) of culture wars, gender, adding the threat of the LGBT lobby (which even Spiked only vaguely alludes to, being more obsessed with the trans issue) , and so on, the French attendee talked of immigration.

  l’avenir du « camp patriote » européen. Le Point.

des députés du Vlaams Belang belge, à des Frères d’Italie, à des Espagnols de Vox… Quand la plupart des intervenants ont axé leur discours sur les questions de genre et la menace que fait courir à nos sociétés le « lobby LGBT », le jeune leader français, 26 ans, a décidé de parler immigration, un thème récurrent au sein du RN….

This sealing of an alliance with the national populist far right comes after Furedi eulogised the Hungarian populist Orbán’s electoral victory in April this year.

The Hungarian revolt

The re-election of Viktor Orbán is a stunning rebuke to the meddling of the EU.

Since its election in 2010, Fidesz has actively sought to contain and undermine the domestic influence of the soft, woke power of the EU and US. Indeed, in its own way, Orbán’s Hungary has provided an alternative pole of attraction to those throughout Europe who have been disturbed by the woke cultural climate prevailing across Western society.

It is unlikely that Fidesz would have done so well if a significant section of the electorate had not felt so insulted by the domestic opposition and Western media. Much like the pro-EU side during and after the Brexit vote, Orbán’s opponents have denounced voters as ignorant and stupid.

The results of this election are likely to give confidence to political movements in Europe that are devoted to the principle of national sovereignty and self-determination. Had the Hungarian government been defeated, it would have represented a major triumph for the EU bureaucracy.

The failure to dislodge Hungary’s government therefore represents a major setback to the EU’s federalist project. It is likely that the EU and other globalist opponents of Hungary will now double down in their efforts to isolate and marginalise Orbán’s government. Supporters of popular democracy everywhere should oppose this.

See Anti-statism and the trajectory from the Revolutionary Communist Party to Spiked

Late last year, I presented a paper at the online Historical Materialism conference on the RCP, Spiked and their shifting concept of the state. I had previously posted the text of my paper on my Patreon, but thought I’d post it here now as interest in the history of the RCP/LM/Spiked network has risen again with Munira Mirza’s resignation from Downing Street. I had previously written about Mirza, Spiked and the Tories’ culture war for The Guardian here. This is part of a wider project on the history of the RCP, so any feedback is most welcome.

Although it remained a tiny group during the 1980s, the Revolutionary Communist Party has become infamous for the number of ventures that grew out of the far left group and the prominent role that many of the party’s former leading members occupy in the British media and political landscape nowadays. The RCP formally dissolved in 1996, but became infamous after its journal, Living Marxism, was sued for libel by ITN regarding claims made about the news company’s coverage of aspects of the Balkan Wars. After losing the case and the winding up of LM, the magazine’s former editors, alongside other leading RCP members, formed the website, Spiked Online.

In the last twenty years, Spiked has become an increasingly vocal and visible actor in Britain’s culture wars, combining libertarianism and right-wing populism with a penchant for contrarianism. A number of its editorial team and contributors have made headway in the mainstream media, such as Frank Furedi, Joanna Williams, Mick Hume, Brendan O’Neill and Tom Slater. At the same time, Claire Fox was an MEP for the Brexit Party (and now a Baroness in the House of Lords) and Munira Mirza is a chief political advisor for Boris Johnson. As Spiked appears to have gained access to the corridors of power and scaled the heights of the media as British politics lurches to the right, this paper will discuss how the RCP transformed from a small Trotskyist party in the 1980s into the notorious website that Spiked is today, developing what critics have referred to as the RCP/LM/Spiked network.

Although the trajectory from the far left to the right is not an uncommon phenomenon, the shift en masse from the RCP to Spiked via Living Marxism, which kept much of the same leading personnel intact and with few openly breaking with the party/network, is more unique. As Chris Gilligan, a former RCP member, has noted, this network seems to be quite a conscious decision made in the late 1990s, citing Dolan Cummings writing for the Spiked Review of Books in 2007:

I never left the RCP: the organisation folded in the mid-Nineties, but few of us actually ‘recanted’ our ideas. Instead we resolved to support one another more informally as we pursued our political tradition as individuals, or launched new projects with more general aims that have also engaged people from different traditions, or none. These include spiked and the Institute of Ideas, where I now work.

Over the years, former RCP members who had made the initial transition into LM and Spiked have fallen away or become less involved, even though their public criticisms of their ex-comrades is muted.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 31, 2022 at 12:07 pm

Pro-Gun Left Comes to the UK as Greenstein says of Uvalde, “If the parents had had the guns that the Police had then the gunman would have been neutralised far earlier.”

leave a comment »

Greenstein on Uvalde: “If the parents had had the guns that the Police had then the gunman would have been neutralised far earlier.”

This Blog had not commented on the tragedy of the Texas primary school massacre, for the simple reason that there are so many informed and heart-rending writings and news programmes already made. Another reason is that it hard to control the emotions aroused by the crass gun-toting bigots whose answer to the slaughter is to repeat that it is not guns who kill but people.

But one reaction to the Uvalde, Texas massacre should be flagged. It shows something beyond the normal logorrhea and mania of Tony Greenstein.

It is distasteful beyond belief.

What Happened in Uvalde is Why the Police Should Be Defunded

 While a Gunman was Killing 19 children and their teachers in Ulvade Texan Police Handcuffed, Pepper Sprayed and Tasered the Parents Instead!

The Problem Isn’t Gun Law but America’s Violent Racist Society – Gun Law Reform Won’t Change That

If nothing else this shows that there is a need for a different, community model of policing. If the parents had had the guns that the Police had then the gunman would have been neutralised far earlier.

It is often hard to decipher the man’s low rant but this also stands out.

 The idea that gun control by itself can solve the problem of internal violence is a pipedream sown by the Democrats who, as the Ukraine war has proven, are worse imperialists than the Republicans. In Congress it was 57 Republicans who opposed the $40 billion to Ukrainian neo-Nazis. In the Senate it was 11 Republican Senators who voted against. 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 30, 2022 at 7:37 pm

France: Return of the Left?

leave a comment »

French Left Gets Serious About the National Assembly Elections and its Future.

The French left has not collapsed or been absorbed in the way its Italian counterparts have done in the face of a new centrist party (il Partito Democratico, in Italy’s case). Hopes are growing that, with Mélenchon toning down his left-populist rhetoric about “federating the people” against the “elite”, “la caste” beyond political divisions, the serious business of creating left alliances, not just in the National Assembly but on the ground, may begin.

Seventy-year-old Mélenchon is not standing in the coming elections – he has said that one can be prime minister without being an MP (technically the case for a number of former PMs). Commentators point to the candidacy of Manuel Bompard in the LFI leader’s former Marseille seat. Is he passing the reins of power over to the person who headed the negotiations that created NUPES? Can a more durable strategy of left unity come about with a new generation in charge of La France insoumise?

Full article: Return of the left in France?

For those interested in the minutiae of French Trotskyism- and who isn’t? – this is interesting. Jean Luc-Mélenchon came into politics as an activist, and regional cadre, of the ‘Lambertist’ current of Trotskyism.

That is, the Organisation communiste internationaliste, l’OCI, the Lambertists, from the pseudonym of their leader Pierre Lambert, real name Pierre Boussel (June 9, 1920 – January 16, 2008). One of the fragments left of this tendency, the Le Parti ouvrier indépendant, Independent Workers Party, (POI) (not to confused with their deadly foes, le Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID) – the feud ended in the historic 2015 split)- has been in touch with the leader of La France insoumise. More precisely they have backed Mélenchon’s electoral interventions since 2017. The POI is one of the smaller parties/groups that form part of the NUPES alliance.

Despite its decline, the POI still has a large building in Paris 87, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis. Known by its street number, 87, this workers’ fortress has a reputation, not always a glowing one, amongst those who have little fondness for the Lambertists. The HQ has been given over to meetings of Mélenchon’s Presidential front, the Union Populaire. Some say they intend to buy it. The POID are enraged,

“Pierre Lambert would turn in his grave seeing how the hard work of activists that had made it possible to acquire this premises have been betrayed. (…)The large (Meeting) room at 87, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis, yesterday adorned with red flags, portraits of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, is today adorned with te tricolour and posters glorifying the new Popular Front. ” says Daniel Gluckstein, leader of the POID.

*******

 Nouvelle Union Populaire écologique et sociale (NUPES)

PartyAbbr.IdeologyPolitical positionLeader(s)
La France Insoumise and allies
La France InsoumiseLFIDemocratic socialism
Environmentalism
Left-wing populism
Left-wing to far-leftAdrien Quatennens
Left PartyPGDemocratic socialism
Environmentalism
Left-wing populism
Left-wingJean-Christophe Sellin
Hélène Le Cacheux
Ensemble!E!Socialism
Eco-socialism
Left-wingCollective
Picardie DeboutPDSocialism
Environmentalism
Left-wing populism
Economic nationalism
Regionalism
Left-wingFrançois Ruffin
Ecological Revolution for the LivingREVDeep ecology
Green politics
Environmentalism
Pacifism
Left-wingAymeric Caron
Independent Workers’ PartyPOICommunism
Marxism
Left-wing[25] to far-leftCollective
Rézistans Égalité 974RÉ974Democratic socialism
Regionalism
Left-wing to far-leftJean-Hugues Ratenon
Ecologist Pole
Europe Ecology – The GreensEELVGreen politics
Alter-globalisation
Centre-left to left-wingJulien Bayou
Génération.sG.sDemocratic socialism
Environmentalism
Eurofederalism
Centre-left to left-wingBenoît Hamon
The New DemocratsNDSocial liberalism
Social democracy
Environmentalism
Centre-leftAurélien Taché
Émilie Cariou
Ecology GenerationGreen politics
Integral ecology
Ecofeminism
CentreDelphine Batho
Socialist Party and allies
Socialist PartyPSSocial democracyCentre-leftOlivier Faure
Place PubliquePPSocial democracy
Environmentalism
Pro-Europeanism
Centre-leftRaphaël Glucksmann
New DealNDSocial liberalism
Progressivism
Keynesianism
European federalism
Centre-left to left-wingArnaud Lelache
Aline Mouquet
French Communist Party and allies
French Communist PartyPCFCommunismLeft-wing to far-leftFabien Roussel
Pour La RéunionPLRDemocratic socialism
Post-Marxism
Regionalism
Left-wingHuguette Bello
Tavini HuiraatiraTHSocial democracy
Democratic socialism
Progressivism
French Polynesian autonomism/independence
Centre-left to left-wingOscar Temaru
Péyi-APéyi-AMartiniquean independenceCentre-left to left-wingJean-Philippe Nilor
Marcelin Nadeau

Written by Andrew Coates

May 30, 2022 at 12:23 pm

Wakefield By-Election: Micro-Party NIP (Northern Independence Party) Stands.

with 4 comments

NIP Stands in Wakefield.

Despite vague threats from George Galloway and a vicious split with the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) it now looks as if the more borders Northern Independence Party (known as the Nips) are the only self-identifying left of Labour Party standing. The contest takes place on the 23rd of June.

They are keen to underline that they are the only more borders socialist party in the village:

So far the NIP candidate has only got publicity from the anti-Labour Skwawkbox site, and from the ‘People’s Daily’, the Morning Star.

When it was formed some commentators claimed that the NIP was a sign of real political shifts, “for all its shortcomings, the rise of NIP might just be the start of a more general realignment in British politics. The rise of a left-populist party, however small, exposes a major weakness in the strategy of the Labour party under Keir Starmer” wrote Alex Niven in the Guardian (April 2021). Even James Meadway wrote, “Why you should take the tongue-in-cheek Northern Independence Party seriously Like other pop-ups – from Italy’s Five Star Movement to the Brexit Party – the NIP has the potential to crack the political faultlines wide open. (New Statesman. April 2021).

Anton Jäger hunted NIP’s creation within the picture of the North offered in Tom Hazeldine’s The Northern Question (2021) who believes that it was the real home of three attempted challenges (Chartism, the Anti-Corn Law League, and the early Labour Party) to “the hegemony of the Southern-based regime of landed-finance capital. and European regionalist and nationalist movements intent on carving out new capitalist states. “The nip is no British unicum. One of the most striking by-products of the age of globalization has been a remarkable rise in regionalist sentiment; conflicts between Catalans, Basques and Spaniards, Northerners and mezzogiornisti, Flemings and Walloons all puncture the post-national age. Political economy remains a major driver. As Wolfgang Streeck noted in 2017, a ‘new nation-state nationalism in Europe shares with regional separatism its opposition to market-opening political centralization: the one fights to prevent, the other to undo it.” (Rebel Regions. New Left Review. 128. 2021)

Hazeldine has described the vote for Leave in the 2016 through the prism of a “revolt of the rustbelt”, in large part the same North, “industrial tradition plus political discontent”. The Verso Editor at Large, claimed that the referendum “on the eu delivered its verdict on the politics of spatial inequality in the g7’s most centralized state” which the author talks of as Ukania (an unfunny joke coined by Scottish nationalist Tom Nairn many years ago, a play of the Austrian novelist Robert Musil’s name for the Austro-Hungarian Empire Kakania, shit-ania, itself a turn on the title, ““k. k.” , short for kaiserlich-königlich ) (REVOLT OF THE RUSTBELT New Left Review. 2017)

Whether or not there is a ‘Northern Question’, NIP does not look as if it’s part of a “remarkable rise” of anything. They have, it is claimed, 1,400 members and have failed to get any councillors elected, let along MPs.

Wakefield By-Election. List of candidates and parties.

PartyCandidateVotes%±%
ConservativeNadeem Ahmed
IndependentAkef Akbar
CPAPaul Bickerdike
Freedom AllianceMick Dodgson
Monster Raving LoonySir Archibald Stanton Earl ‘Eaton
IndependentJayda Fransen
UKIPJordan Gaskell
YorkshireDavid Herdson
English DemocratTherese Hirst
Northern IndependenceChristopher Jones
LabourSimon Lightwood
Liberal DemocratsJamie Needle
GreenAshley Routh
Britain FirstAshlea Simon
Reform UKChris Walsh

Will NIP beat the Yorkshire Party, and the Monster Raving Party?

The Newshounds are already out sniffing out the latest stories on NIP’s campaign in Wakefield.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 29, 2022 at 4:59 pm

Imperial Measurements Revived by Johnson: Easy ‘Common Sense’ Guide.

with 2 comments

New Government Handy Shopping, Pub and Farming Guide: 16 Drams = 1 Ounce, 4 Noggins = 1 Pint, 36 lb of Straw = I Truss.

At Junior School next the North Circular (Bowes Road) during the 1960s every pupil, (as was the rule across the land) had exercise books with the table pictured above. Learnt by rote and not forgotten: 40 Square Poles equals 1 Rood – essential measurements for the North London agricultural community.

Now:

Written by Andrew Coates

May 29, 2022 at 11:02 am

Tony Blair to launch British version of Macron’s La République en marche?

with 6 comments

Admirers of French President Emmanuel Macron may be plentiful on the British centre. But few have been bothered to get in touch with his movement ‘party’. It is however easy, “La République En Marche! (LREM) considers every person who submits identification information (date of birth, email, full address and telephone number) and adheres to the party’s charter to be an adherent. Unlike other political parties, it does not require adherents to make a monetary donation. ”

Not many people in Britain have been interested in Macron either. An exception has been former Labour Minister Denis MacShane who attended the February 2017 Macron election launch meeting in Central Hall Westminster, London, as an “observer”. Denis has written on the French President, and his insights are worth reading: After Macron’s victory, what should Britain do?

There is a long list of bad Macron policies, from reforms of the welfare state to the privatisation of public assets (the equivalent of the National Lottery, Airports), and raising the age of retirement to 65 (the UK already has it at 66). Macron is also heavy-handed on policing, would obviously prefer that trade unions were simply polite lobbying groups, dislikes protests and people who make a fuss, and, let us just say, somewhat aloof at times.

But while this horror pales when compared to those Boris Johnson’s gang of alt right chancers. there is one thing that stands out when people begin to talk about the “fading” of old parties and that the future lies in this kind of “progressive” who spans left and right. His own movement, now dubbed Renaissance, and Ensemble, (it involves micro-parties like the ‘left of centre’ Territories of Progress. of new Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne) for the June Parliamentary elections, LREM has no democratic structure.

For example its 2017 Congress was made of 200 people, not elected but chosen by lot from the list of members. There no internal elections. Positions within the ‘party’ are filled by ” by co-options, appointments by consensus, cross-appointments and by drawing lots (for example for the ‘Conference’ above).

This is how it functions:

  • By Agreement: all the members (whose role, not very detailed in the presentation made on July 8, 2017, seems to adopt by consensus or acclamation the orientations presented by the national management and to vote, electronically, on statutory modifications).
  • National Council: parliament (not elected) of the party, made up of 80% of parliamentarians, regional and local figures and representatives of the across the country (members by right) and 20% of advisers drawn by lot “at regular intervals” from among the members. The council elects the national management from among its members: 20 of the members of the executive office and the general delegate(s). It defines the broad direction of the movement and controls the action of the national leadership.
  • Executive office: executive of the movement, joint body, composed of about thirty members, 20 elected by the council, 10 co-opted by its members. It appoints national delegates on relevant political social issues from among its members.
  • General delegates: position responsible for leading the movement for a three-year term.

The whole structure is directed by the centre, that is, Emmanuel Macron and his close aides.

Yet this chap seems to like them.

Tony Blair is organizing a conference in late June alongside a new group dubbed the British version of Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche. 

The Future of Britain conference, set to take place on June 30, is hosted by former BBC broadcasters Jon Sopel and Emily Maitlis, according to several people involved in its planning. It is intended to discuss progressive solutions to the biggest issues facing Britain, including the economy, technology and climate change. 

Blair will address the event. Others on the program include the U.S. economist Larry Summers, financial journalist Martin Lewis and former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson.

This is them,

The Britain Project

We want to counteract the current forces of populism, and focus on our sustainable growth as a nation. We want to rebuild the politics of consensus and moderation by drawing on our pride and success as a nation and rejecting the politics of division. We are liaising with campaigning organisations and social movements to develop progressive networks across the UK. Together, we are looking forward to shaping a more hopeful and positive future.

It might be interesting to discuss this claim – in France Macron has at various points been called a populism for his direct appeal to the ‘people’ ( Emmanuel Macron fait-il du populisme ? January 2022) but we should be clear one thing: please, anti-populist or not, LREM is no democratic alternative.

Despite it being a right-wing comment this has a point as well.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 28, 2022 at 12:29 pm

The Starmer Project. A Journey to the Right. Oliver Eagleton. A Critical Left Review.

with 2 comments

“a whole tonne of muck to sling, not only at Starmer but at a variety of Labour figures, including the former Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell.”

Michael Ashcroft published the first, “unauthorised” biography of the leader of the Labour Party, Red Knight, earlier this year. The Conservative Peer gave an exhaustive account of Starmer’s life and character, ” “intensely ambitious.” “willing to charm anybody and everybody who might be of use to him.” Yet he was at a loss to uncover the meaning of the ‘ethical socialism’ of the MP for Holborn and St Pancras. The Telegraph observed that the book, ” tries to find dirt on Starmer, but all he unearths is decent, hardworking man and a bit of a bore”.

The Starmer Project promises much more: a critical forensic examination of the leader of the Labour Party, political formation, his legal career, his “vision, of sorts”, an analysis of the “more durable aspects of his thought-world” and an assessment of “their relevance to the present conjuncture”. Oliver Eagleton also presents a whole tonne of muck to sling, not only at Starmer but at a variety of Labour figures, including the former Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell and the obligatory swipe at Paul Mason’s criticisms of Brexit voters and Owen Jones’ unfavourable opinion of Seumas Milne’s media strategies. (1)

Starmer is, we learn, a “bureaucrat by training and disposition”, “Temperamentally ill-suited to making difficult judgement calls, in fact often cripplingly indecisive” he has still managed to revive one of the most contentious policy axis possible, “Blair-era Atlanticism”, siding with the US in “the New Cold War”. ‘Starmerism’ Oliver Eagleton writes, “is outwardly more reminiscent of the Miliband era, when the Conservatives would set the ideological tempo and Labour would promise to administer the state more humanely or efficiently within that framework” (Page 183) Elected as Labour Leader in 2020 the chief of the Shadow Cabinet has brought together “previously distinct factions of the Labour Right, from social conservatives to liberal globalists.”(Page 186)

As somebody who campaigned in the leadership election as a “unity candidate” adopting left anti-austerity policies and backing common ownership only to tumble backwards into “neoliberal economics” this looks like gross deception. For the present we have a “popular programme” of which few have heard – the Blue Labour revival of Labour Together, “values of family, work and community, to build a new coalition of voters around a story of national renewal.” This alliance of ” all traditions of the Labour movement” was to be without the left who have faced an “unsparing crackdown”.

This is a damming picture, and most of it, a political critique, could be written without engaging in any effort to present a biography. The present account of Starmer’s life has met with a mixed reception. Some of the reasons lie in the details offered by Eagleton of that career-span, but the the most serious come from where The Starmer Project presents account of recent history. These range from the assertion that he went “about ousting any Jewish members who deviated from the party line” (Page 158) to claims about a number of Labour political players, not only Starmer, but Jeremy Corbyn (hero) John McDonnell (villain) and party advisers and workers. Attacked on this Eagleton is frank about his principal political angle “a retrospective critique of Labour’s pro-Remain faction” that extends beyond the person said to be the architect of Labour’s second-referendum Brexit policy,

The Starmer Project begins with a young leftist, whose political interests began in something Eagleton calls a ‘chapter’ (branch) of the Labour Party Young Socialists in his Surrey homeland. Fast forward to Oxford Labour Club, where Starmer did a post-graduate degree, and then to Socialist Alternatives (SA), “affiliated to the International Revolutionary Marxist Tendency” and “Socialist Self-management, a tiny post-Trotskyist grouplet with links to the Pabloite factions of Labour and the Green Party, which sought to build a coalition rooted in new social movements, queer politics and ecologism.” (Page 11) The journal, Eagleton claims, folded after 5 issues, although as a Pabliste, after many decades of deep entryism, with the rest of our well-hidden ‘faction’, I have a copy of Volume 4 Number 1 (1989). That makes at least 6 (I think there are more…. ).

SA is better described as aligned to the European ‘alternative’ movements of the time which stood for ecology, feminism and self-management. These were forerunners of later radical green-left groups, Los Indignados, Podemos, the left of Labour and similar currents within social democratic parties. One descendant Les Alternatifs formed part of a larger bloc created in 2013, the French left grouping, Ensemble! which at present has 3 MPs in the Assemblée Nationale.

There are no doubt those who have waded into the chapter on the Lawyer, a lengthy excursion into Starmer’s professional career as an advocate ,and his term as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). At times the 54 pages of, no doubt commendable detail, become as unintelligible as a QR code. Yet Eagleton drums one message clearly enough, from “radical lawyer” once with the reins of legal power in his hands he issued, “notorious rulings” on the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson, to cite two of a very long list of misdeeds, to add to his role in harsh sentencing following the 2011 riots, and failing to take on Murdoch for phone-hacking . Starmer is not just a very bad, meticulously bad, person, he indulged in the use of self-aggrandising press conferences that showed an “appetite for self-fashioning” which “aided his political elevation”.

In describing Starmer’s rise as a politician it is not his lukewarm, sceptical, if not hostile, approach to the elected (2015) new leader Jeremy Corbyn. The biggest, though by no means the only, gripe that Eagleton has centres on his role as Shadow Brexit Secretary (2016 – 2019). Following the 2016 referendum vote for Leave, and the whirlpool of Labour negotiations on the shape of Brexit, the momentum for a second referendum grew. There was, he claims, despite the existence of a “left populist approach” favoured by Seumas Milne, Andrew Murray and others, an absence of a left-wing Leave platform – based on expanded state aid, radical trade union reforms, and pro-migrant policy” and the “leadership simply defaulted to mimicking the government’s Brexit plan in an attempt to neutralise the issue. ” (Pages 75 – 6)

Starmer, despite, The Starmer Project alleges, having no gut pro-EU feelings, became a standard bearer for those who opposed Brexit root-and-branch. As the anti-Brexit People’s Vote supporters demonstrated in large numbers across the country, between 500,000 and a million (hardly noticed, if at all, by Eagleton), Labour policy shifted. The result was that the party went into the 2019 General Election with this promise, “Labour will give the people the final say on Brexit. Within three months of coming to power, a Labour government will secure a sensible deal. And within six months, we will put that deal to a public vote alongside the option to remain. A Labour government will implement whatever the people decide.”

“Labour no longer had a positive message” Eagleton comments, and cites a critic of ““Brexit Derangement Syndrome” “rancid identity politics,” and “the more poisonous seeds of the politics of personal identity and human rights.” (Corbyn Adviser, Andrew Murray. The Fall and Rise of the British Left  2019) as saying “We’d said no to May’s deal, no to a joint deal no to Johnson’s deal and no to an election. What were we saying yes to?” (Page 125) To those campaigning during the 2019 election this confusion was indeed tangible, even if it was overshadowed by the personal dislike for Jeremy Corbyn that many voters volubly expressed…

One of the problems with writing recent partisan history is that rival partisans are still around. Andrew Fisher has replied in detail to this aspect of the account.

Don’t Play the Blame Game Labour Hub.

Was Jeremy Corbyn betrayed by his closest political allies over Brexit?  Former Corbyn advisor Andrew Fisher sets the record straight

In his desire to pin Brexit on Keir Starmer alone, Eagleton constructs – with the help of some fantastical accounts – a conspiracy in which Jeremy’s lifelong friends and allies, including John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, are alleged to have betrayed their forty-year friendship with Jeremy Corbyn to side with Keir Starmer. This would no doubt come as news to both Corbyn, Abbott and McDonnell, and probably to Starmer – who only recently threatened to remove the whip from Abbott and McDonnell too!

The main thing missing from Eagleton’s narrative is that Labour policy changed on Brexit because it was democratically changed by Party Conference. Even this is mistakenly individualised: “[Tom] Baldwin, with Starmer’s knowledge, had got hundreds of CLPs to submit motions calling for a public vote with Remain on the ballot.” Most of the motions that had come into Conference that year had been organised by the pro-Corbyn, pro-Remain Another Europe is Possible group, not by the People’s Vote campaign of which Baldwin was a part.

      

Fisher adds,

One particularly nasty smear is reported: “Aware that [Corbyn’s Chief of Staff Karie]Murphy went to visit her ill mother in Glasgow every Friday, McDonnell rescheduled the next meeting between the delegations for a Friday afternoon.”  This would be awful, if true. But it’s not: it was me, not McDonnell, who was co-ordinating the meetings for Labour in agreement with Theresa May’a Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell for the Tories.

For those so inclined they can read Eagleton’s reply, which says, basically, I know better than you what happened inside the Labour Party: A reply to Andrew Fisher.

The impact of the book’s account has already been made. For a contributor to the anti-Labour Skwawkbox blog, former Corbyn ‘LOTO’ staffer Phil Bevin. “Eagleton’s work essentially validates the Karie Murphy/Seumas Milne position regarding Brexit.”

The Starmer Project ends with reflections on the Corbyn moment and the future of the left under Starmer, with no prospect of finding another Corbyn. The North Islington MP rose, he asserts, with support from “disparate sections of the extra-parliamentary left” – some no doubt voting in the Labour leadership contests by ideological osmosis rather than by membership ballot. Despite their existence the party became the centre of attention, “This gave rise to a radical leadership without a robust movement, focus on winning executive power not through mass mobilisation or worker militancy, but through a policy programme that aimed to generate sufficient electoral backing amongst disenfranchised voters.” (Page 190).

This “populist short cut” failed. The reason? “The experiment could have succeeded if Corbyn had steadfastly resisted the People’s Vote campaign. But he did not.” No doubt the populist long cut, a “Left wing Leave” platform would have. In the absence of successful efforts to override the anti-Brexit views of the majority of Labour Party members, from internationalist pro-European Another Europe is Possible (AEIP) to the centrist People’s Vote campaigners, and now with Starmer’s wheel-clamp on the left, the prospects for the left staying and fighting, rebooting Corbynism – including the ‘refoundation’ of Momentum, are unclear. Eagleton does not examine the way a ‘wave’ of support for what was sometimes called (by no means by the long-standing Labour left, soft and hard) a ‘charismatic’ left populist can be so easily dispersed. Or the spiral into irrelevance of one of the Corbynista movement’s supports, the alt-left on-line media.

What is the future for Eagleton’s left?”Heterogenous initiatives” “political campaigning” “marginal, protean” might “create something resembling an anti-capitalist civil society by incremental steps.” (Afterword). A bit like some of the ideas of the European alternative groups, like the Fédération pour une Gauche Alternative, who inspired Socialist Alternatives? In short, something, outside of Labour, anything, anything at all.

****

Not the first time Eagleton has attacked Owen Jones:

A review of Owen Jones, This Land: The Story of a Movement

Olivier Eagleton.

Eagleton follows the NLR line that Labour should not have opposed Brexit. He fails to mention that his journal actively backed the vote to Leave, with Editorial Board member Tariq Ali appearing on public platforms to cast the ballot on the same side as the European Reform Group, the Tory hard right, and Nigel Farage. As he himself wrote in 2020, “Labour will never be the Party of Remain. It’s time it stopped trying.”

Eagleton focuses on the movement for a second referendum, widely backed by the Labour grassroots, and the force behind million strong marches protesting against Brexit.

While autopsies of Corbynism invariably identify the Brexit polarization as a fatal turning-point, This Land is unique in detailing how Corbyn’s ambiguous position was partially responsible for creating that chasm in the first place. His protracted indecision generated a political vacuum that enabled the arch-centrist Remain movement to grow throughout 2018, winning over previously sceptical figures like Starmer and McDonnell.

……

McDonnell thus formed a second referendum pressure group inside the shadow cabinet, swaying the perennially indecisive Corbyn after purging the Leave faction from his office. Jones acknowledges the disastrous electoral fallout of this policy, but he concludes that ‘Labour had no real choice’. ‘Whatever decisions the party made’, he writes, ‘it would not have ended well’.

Less interested in a political analysis of why Labour failed in 2019  – the obvious point being that Corbyn did not connect with the electorate, that there was gulf between the enthusiasm of the Corbynistas and the dislike of the majority of voters – Eagleton spares no words against Owen Jones, “a self-described ‘participant-observer’ in the Corbyn experiment”, marked by “instinctual conformism”, and takes a few side swipes at other highly regarded Labour people, including “Clive Lewis, the chest-thumpingly pro-nato Afghan war veteran..”

This paragraph, discovered in the thickets of ire. follows the main thrust of the book, “less a history of Corbynism than a prolonged apologia for McDonnellism.” One that refuses to challenge the idea that there was a crisis in the Party about antisemitism, and, Eagleton underlines, “.Alongside such incoherent formulations is a summary of Israeli history which ‘could have been written by Shimon Peres’, as one critic has remarked. ” Or that, “‘tough action on antisemitism’ is a proxy for antisocialism…

Over it all there is the dark figure of John McDonnell….

Just as This Land’s timeline is manipulated to indict Milne… , “The same double-standard is evident in Jones’s disinclination to criticize his political mentor. In order to sustain the representation of Milne as obtuse Stalinist and McDonnell as master strategist, the latter’s political misjudgements must either be neglected or downplayed. Like Jones himself, McDonnell warned against Corbyn’s leadership bid; opposed the leader’s anti-imperialist agenda (including his widely popular response to the Manchester bombings); advocated ihra; cosied up to New Labour leftovers like Alastair Campbell; and pushed the party towards Remain out of an irrational fear of Change uk. A serious account of Corbynism would recognize the damaging effect of these climbdowns. “

For Eagleton, “Starmerism is the end-point of McDonnellism, the logical result of Jones’s prescriptions. ”

Written by Andrew Coates

May 27, 2022 at 1:02 pm

People’s Alliance of the Left Members end ties with the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition over TUSC’s links with George Galloway’s Party.

with one comment

The anti-Labour Skwawkbox gave the ‘People’s Alliance of the Left’ a puff earlier this year in January.

Parties and groups combine to give genuine left a voice

“The new People’s Alliance of the Left (PAL) has announced an agreement among left parties and groups to form a coalition to fight the Establishment’s attempts to drag the country into a into hard-right authoritarianism.”

Alas this palship was not to last.

Statement on the Change of Relationship Between the People’s Alliance of the Left (PAL) and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)

In February 2022 the majority of the member parties of PAL (all except TUSC) decided that they could have no formal association with George Galloway’s Workers Party.

This was because of a number of statements by Galloway and the WP on a wide range of social issues (including, but not limited to, women’s rights, Trans rights and immigration) which demonstrated politics that are irreconcilable with the policy of those parties or the founding principles of PAL. In addition Galloway and leading WP members had made public statements denigrating a Breakthrough member for being non-binary.

Despite this, and in full knowledge of this decision, the all-Britain TUSC Steering Committee has accepted the request by George Galloway’s Workers Party for formal observer status within TUSC and agreed to attempt to avoid electoral clashes where possible. This creates a formal association between TUSC and the WP which TUSC is aware the majority of the other parties within PAL have decided is incompatible with PAL membership.

As a consequence the remaining PAL member parties regretfully consider that TUSC has, by its formal association with the WP, removed itself from membership of PAL at national level.

We recognise that TUSC is a coalition of different organisations and individual socialists and trade unionists who in their great majority do not share the politics of George Galloway and the WP, although they are prepared to critically collaborate with it as they (TUSC) consider it to be an organisation with origins in the labour and trade union movement. It will remain open to local PAL party members and supporters to cooperate with those socialists at a local level (provided they are not WP members).

However, there can no longer be any national alliance between PAL and TUSC for so long as it has a formal association with George Galloway’s Workers Party.

There’s still a NIP in the air as they prepare to stand in the Wakefield by-election:

Will Galloway’s Gang stand against them?

Galloway does not “rule out” running in the election.

Will PAL continue to work with Chris Williamson, red-brown ally of Galloway who has campaigned for him in the Batley and Spen by-election? The man whose closest other political ally these days is Tony Greenstein….

Nobody has heard much of Williamson’s own micro-party, the Resist movement, for a while…

It looks completely off the wall:

Written by Andrew Coates

May 26, 2022 at 4:01 pm

PCS affiliates to Ukraine Solidarity Campaign

leave a comment »

PCS affiliates to Ukrainian Solidarity Campaign

Conference today unanimously voted to affiliate with the Ukrainian Solidarity Campaign and support trade unionists in the war-torn country. 

Conference yesterday voted in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and to support their struggle against the Russian invasion. 

In affiliating with USC, the union will also support the trade union movement in Ukraine. 

Moving motion A37, Kulvinder from the Office of the Public Guardian said: “During this brutal invasion of Ukraine, it’s important that we reach out and build links with Ukraine trade unions. 

“Trade unions that were still working while Kiev was being bombed and kept the city running. 

“It’s important that we share their views of the right to self-determination.

“No Ukranian worker should have their rights and working standards exposed to what the west, or the IMF or Putin wants for them.”

Chris Hickey, from PSg – DLUHC Headquarters National Branch, said: “The USC is absolutely clear as conference was yesterday that Russia’s war mission is the denial of self determination of the people of Ukraine. 

“USC is equally clear that the labour movement’s duty is ensure a distinct solidarity and make links with trade unions, demand abolition of Ukrainian debt to demand assistance with the reconstruction of Ukraine,  to demand opening of our borders for Ukrainian refugees and for the right of Ukraine to receive weapons if it needs – and it does – to resist the Russian invasion.”

The motion called for PCS to affiliate to USC on a national basis at a cost of £150 a year, and to encourage branches to make affiliations/donations as well.

It was unanimously carried. 

Link to Ukraine Solidarity Campaign.

THE UKRAINE SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN SEEKS TO ORGANISE SOLIDARITY AND PROVIDE INFORMATION IN SUPPORT OF UKRAINIAN SOCIALISTS AND TRADE UNIONISTS, CAMPAIGNING FOR WORKING CLASS, AND DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS, AGAINST IMPERIALIST INTERVENTION AND NATIONAL CHAUVINISM. IT SEEKS TO CO-ORDINATE SOCIALIST AND LABOUR MOVEMENT ORGANISATIONS WHO AGREE ON THIS TASK, REGARDLESS OF DIFFERENCES AND OPINIONS ON OTHER QUESTIONS.
BASIC AIMS ARE:
• TO SUPPORT AND BUILD DIRECT LINKS WITH THE INDEPENDENT SOCIALISTS AND THE LABOUR MOVEMENT IN UKRAINE.
• TO SUPPORT THE RIGHT OF THE UKRAINIAN PEOPLE TO DETERMINE THEIR OWN FUTURE FREE FROM EXTERNAL INTERVENTION FROM RUSSIAN OR WESTERN IMPERIALISM.

******

This is a welcome move. It reflects the overwhelming emotion of solidarity with Ukraine from the people of this country and the rest of Europe, as well as a strong feeling within the labour movement that trade unions have a part to play in supporting our Ukrainian counterparts. It is equally a principled and well-thought-out response to the conflict.

The Ukrainian Solidarity Campaign has been attacked from fringe groups, such as the Socialist Workers Party, (“Ukraine ‘protest’ in London demands Nato escalation Protesters called for more weapons to be sent to Ukraine and more Nato expansion” SW. April 2022.)

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) is holding this meeting tonight, with a different message.

The StWC is now concentrating his own attacks on ‘The West’.

The war in Ukraine is already causing horrific suffering for the people of Ukraine. As last week’s UN food conference warned, it is now threatening to spark famine in Ukraine itself and across whole swathes of the globe.

Despite these dire warnings, the US, with strong support from Britain, continues to pile on the military pressure. Last week’s $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, largely military, is the biggest to be granted to any country in recent memory and sends a clear signal that the US is focused on a military solution.

The decision by Finland and Sweden to apply to join NATO – applauded by Boris Johnson amongst others – has ratcheted up the tension. Within days Putin cut gas supplies to the country and pledged to set up three military bases in border areas.

Perhaps most irresponsible of all has been the pressure applied by Western leaders to dissuade Zelensky from getting drawn into negotiations with Russia. Controversy about negotiations continues. Last Saturday President Zelensky publicly repeated his view that only diplomacy can end the war. The next day, the Polish Prime Minister used his speech at the Ukrainian parliament to oppose ceding any territory to Russia, arguing to do so would be a “huge blow” to the entire West.

The West’s approach to the war is to do as much damage to Russia as possible. The US defence secretary Lloyd Austin isn’t hiding the fact. In his own words:

‘We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine,’

This posture is not just prolonging the war, it is risking escalation and generating dangerous scarcities around the world. Russia’s naval blockade of the Black Sea is helping to create a huge economic crisis for Ukraine with ripple effects around the world. Massive grain stockpiles in Ukraine can go nowhere while the Black Sea Ports are blockaded.

But this comes on top of the impact of the war itself and the massive sanctions that have been imposed by the West against Russia. David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme spelt out the problem at the UN food conference last week,  “When a nation that is the breadbasket of the world becomes a nation with the longest bread line of the world, we know we have a problem.”

A global food crisis, already sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, is being driven to famine levels worldwide by the war. Food scarcity, sanctions and fuel blockades are also adding to pre-existing inflationary pressure that is already impacting on the lives of millions around the globe. The month of March saw unprecedented rises in the price of food across all categories.

Leaders on both sides remain committed to war regardless. Russia wants the leverage that would come from the successful occupation of the bulk of the Donbass. While China is the US’s main global concern, Russia is a troublesome regional competitor. As CIA Director William J Burns complained recently, Putin ‘demonstrates in a very disturbing way that declining powers can be equally as disruptive as rising ones.’

Russia is the fourth highest military spender in the world and ranks even higher in terms of firepower. Before the war started Russia was the biggest supplier of oil and gas to Europe and was developing a threatening alliance with the Chinese. Putin’s invasion gave the US an opportunity to break Europe’s ‘addiction’ to Russian oil and gas, to and to force Germany firmly back into the fold. The results are already coming clear.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz has already promised a €100 billion fund for the military, the biggest increase in the country’s military expenditure since the end of the cold war. He has also committed to spend more than 2 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product on the military.

This is a historic change and more and more European countries are following suit. The rearming of Europe has been something successive American presidents have argued for, going back as far as Eisenhower.

Never mind the chaos and misery the war is generating around the world, the chance of destroying the Putin regime, sending a message to China about what happens when you attack western allies, and remilitarizing Europe, is too good to miss for Washington and Whitehall. That is why, for Biden and Johnson, the war in Ukraine is a good war.

25 May 2022 • by Chris Nineham

Nineham, Deputy Leader of the StWC is a former member of the Socialist Workers Party (left 2010) and the author of  Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of George Lukács. Like a number of people in the Coalition (such as the Convenor Lindsey German) he is a member of the revolutionary socialist groupuscule, Counterfire.


Written by Andrew Coates

May 26, 2022 at 12:38 pm

Civil Servants Union PCS Votes to Stand with Ukraine.

with 8 comments

“Motion A225 declares solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and calls for the immediate withdrawal of Russian military forces.”

10th of March:

10 March 2022

PCS calls for Russian withdrawal and sends solidarity to Ukraine trade unionists

PCS condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine and calls for the withdrawal of its army.

The Russian government’s violence has caused thousands of Ukrainian deaths, cities under siege, and 1.5 million refugees fleeing their homes. We stand with the people of Ukraine in this time of their suffering.

As a trade union movement we must first and foremost call for peace, and an immediate end to Russian military action. We urge all governments to reach a negotiated solution.

We send solidarity to the trade unionists of Ukraine. We will support in whatever way we can the brave people demonstrating in Russia for an end to the war. PCS will offer support for all efforts aimed at establishing peace for the people of Ukraine and Russia.

We call on the UK government to welcome refugees seeking to come to the UK without imposing any restrictions. So far the government’s response has been appalling, and we condemn ministers’ prevarication over the provision of a safe haven for the Ukrainian people. The UK must offer refuge and support for people in all countries affected by wars inflicted on them by aggressor countries. 

As a means to campaign for genuine efforts towards peace, we will expose the hypocrisy of the UK government and those politicians who now express outrage at the war on Ukraine but have supported equally illegal wars such as the war against Iraq, and illegal occupations such as that of Palestine. As trade unionists we stand against all aggressive acts of war.

We call on the Conservative party to be transparent about the funding it has received from Russian oligarchs so that in government it is not compromised on the question of imposing effective sanctions.

We will convene the PCS International Committee to work on ways of offering practical support for the people and trade unions of Ukraine and we will campaign for Ukrainian refugees to be given a home in the UK.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 25, 2022 at 7:35 am

Boris Johnson, Toasts, Tories and Trots.

with 3 comments

The Tory Press Dumping Johnson?

The case for Boris Johnson:

Downing Street was, during Lockdown, a happy place, a “bubble”, where reasonably necessary, job, and a tinsey bit post-work, but toil related, gatherings were held which bore no resemblance to Omega Theta Pi house parties. During Team Building Communication workshops, staff crowded together and sat on each other’s laps. Boris Johnson was, we are informed by the Daily Express NOT PARTYING.

The issue remains: what of this photograph?

Debate must be settled. The raised glass of the fruit of the vine is a salute to hard-labouring colleague. Our forebears settled the matter, “To know what a Toast is in the country, gives as much perplexity as she herself does in town: and, indeed, the learned differ very much upon the original of this word, and the acceptation of it among the moderns. However, it is by all agreed to have a joyous and cheerful import.” wrote Addison, 17th century Statesman and Wit. He continued in the Tatler. It “an apt name for a thing which raises us in the most sovereign degree.” The person to whom the Right Honourable was addressing by this” honour which is done to the lady we mention in our liquors, who has ever since been called a “toast.” is not a lady, but Lee Cain, Director of Communications. Yet the sentiment remains, no doubt, the same..

Our Prime Minister, a Pretty Fellow, may have had “one ill effect (from all the toasting), that it inclines those who use it immoderately, to speak Latin, to the admiration, rather than information, of an audience.” 

Is now the time, as Socialist Worker says, to step up the fight? , ” As crisis over lockdown parties returns for Boris Johnson, it’s time to ramp up resistance to the Tories (Boris Johnson’s partygate crisis deepens).

For once, and certainly not for the first time, this Blog agrees with the spirit, if not the exact words of Socialist Worker

It is a lot better than logorrhea of the latest recruit to the former Revolutionary Communist Party’s Spiked, Patrick O’Flynn, (former UKIP now SDP, canal historique).

Partygate obsessives need to get a life

The Boris snaps might excite the centrist dads, but this stuff is boring the rest of us to tears.

If you are part of the liberal-left media or establishment elite, these are gripping political questions that must be obsessively further probed. If you are a normal person, they probably aren’t. Indeed, you probably decided what you think about Partygate many moons ago. It isn’t a complicated story: a lifelong maverick proves predictably incapable of sticking to the letter – or maybe even the spirit – of the complex set of rules he imposed under duress on the rest of us.

..our political, media, legal and academic networks of centrist dads and anti-Brexit irreconcilables don’t see it like that. Despite having had their spiritual leader Keir Starmer declare a police investigation into Johnson the key test of his fitness for office, they will not let his emergence from that almost unscathed get in the way of their grand pursuit.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 24, 2022 at 5:12 pm

Iran’s Global Ambitions. Review: The Shadow Commander. Arash Azizi.

leave a comment »

Iran is in the news. To begin with there have been street unrest focused on their own extreme cost of living crisis. “Protests, strikes, internet cuts: Iran rocked by unrest as food prices soar.

Last month, Iran’s hardline government, led by the newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi, declared that it had decided to cut and end subsidies for wheat and flour, calling it necessary “economic surgery”.

This has led to unprecedented price rises of as much as 300 percent for a variety of flour-based staples in a country where almost half of the 85 million population lives under the poverty line.

The government argues that the price increases are because of the global wheat crisis sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Both countries are among the biggest producers and exporters of wheat and corn (maize), as well as cooking oil.

Yesterday there was this. (BBC)

Iran will avenge the killing of a Revolutionary Guards colonel who was shot dead in Tehran, President Ebrahim Raisi has said.

Col Hassan Sayad Khodayari was killed on Sunday outside his home by assailants on motorcycles. Iran blamed “elements linked to the global arrogance”, its term for the US and its allies including Israel.

It was the most high-profile killing inside Iran since the November 2020 murder of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

The Jerusalem Post observes,

According to reports, Khodayari was close to former IRGC Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani who was killed in an American drone strike in Baghdad. 

Khodayari also commanded the IRGC’s Quds Force’s Unit 840, a relatively secret unit that builds terror infrastructure and plans attacks against Western targets and opposition groups outside Iran. 

Who was Soleimani and what is the Quds force? The Shadow Commander: Soleimani, the U.S., and Iran’s Global Ambitions by Arash Azizi is probably the best account of the former right-hand man of the Iranian regime, himself killed by a targeted US drone in January 2020, and the “the Quds Force, an IRGC division primarily responsible for extraterritorial and clandestine military operations”

Aziz’s study is a biography of Soleimani, “a boy from the margins of Iranian society” who “rose to become a commander fêted by thousands and feared by many more”. With combat experience, and a reputation for bravery, during the Iran -Iraq War, the fighter became a figure in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), “supporting liberation and right thinking movements of the oppressed” on behalf of the Islamist regime and “authentic Islamic ideology”. Between 1997 and 1988 he became Commander of the Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem) Force, the “Responsible for extraterritorial operations, the Quds Force supports non-state actors in many countries, including HezbollahHamasPalestinian Islamic JihadYemeni Houthis, and Shia militias in IraqSyria, and Afghanistan.”

The breadth of the Commander’s involvement was impressive. Soleimani oversaw Iran’s campaign against the Taliban when Tehran and the United States briefly cooperated in Afghanistan against the Taliban after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. He was an active player in Iraq, promoting a combination of “anti-Zionism with Shia sectarianism” (Page 167). Deeply implicated on the side of Assad in the Syrian civil war, Soleimani was, The Shadow Commander, states, an influence on President Putin’s commitment to back the Baathist dictator. After 2015 talks at the Kremlin, an analyst is cited saying, “without the meeting, he wouldn’t have committed to Assad the same way. ” (Page 241) At the same time the Iranians showed staunch opposition reinforced by military aid, against the genociders of ISIS. The Commander personally flew to Erbril, a Kurdish Iraqi stronghold besieged by Daesh. “The bravery that it took to fly to a city besieged by ISS wasn’t lost on anyone. “(Page 234). With their help in the admirable defence of the Turkoman town of Amerili was also saved.

Intervention and meddling in Lebanese sectarian politics, shoring up the corrupt government, has been less glorious. Defending the Syrian despot remains the deepest stain on Soleimani’s record. There are many other dark areas. In Yemen’s civil war he helped to establish more than an Iranian presence, the have an ally, “The missiles fired by the Houthis ravage their Saudi targets – and there is no mistake as to their Iranian origin.” (Page 219).

Azizi talks of a degree of jealousy towards Marxism and Communism amongst Iran’s Islamists some the effect of their student days, when they competed with leftists. Their principal reaction once in power was to imprison, and exile, if not kill, left-wingers.

In a different turn, with the fall of Official Communism some disillusioned communists in the Middle East and Iran turned to Islam, although those from other backgrounds they were marginal figures like the anti-semetic Roger Garaudy, and the mercenary renegade Carlos the Jackal, Ramírez Sánchez, who, still languishing in a French gaol, has not updated his 2003,  Revolutionary Islam.

More significant were Iranian efforts to promote an Islamic internationalism. But the call from the IRGC to stand for the oppressed did not just falter faced with the anti-Shia hatred of Sunni Islamist groups, like Al-Qaeda, or Daesh, the continuing importance of the Egypt based Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabism, or even the multitude of Salafist groups whose vision of the perfect Islamic society and law “of the “pious predecessors” (salaf), is at odds with the Shia Iranian republic.

Aziz put this starkly, “..one fact stopped Iran’s internationalist project in its tracks. Unlike Soviet Communism, it lacked a model that could be replicated elsewhere. “Iran’s ruling doctrine Welayat al-Faqih or ‘guardianship of the jurist could only work in a Shia-majoriy society. “(Page 165.) Azerbaijan, Bahrain, and (by a short majority) Iraq were the limits of this universe. There is a simple reason: the key article of faith transfers all political and religious authority to the Shia clergy and makes all of the state’s key decisions subject to approval by a supreme clerical leader, the vali-e faqih (guardian Islamic jurist)Even doctrinally modified, Iran has not created an “attractive model of Islamist politics and economics to offer the world” (ibid) Soleimani’s final blustering efforts (including drug smuggling, Azizi alleges) to expand the interventions, even to inciting Shia Muslims in Nigeria, and dark operations beyond the Middle East, show what a hollow shell their revolutionary claims have become.

Iran is dominated by a “ruling caste” whose arrogance and repression cannot conceal their difficulties. Yet, “As the Iranian currency, the rial, shrivels in value and people watch their incomes diminish with surging prices, strikes over salary disputes among bus drivers and teachers have also gained traction across the country. ” (Independent).

The Shadow Commander is important reading for anybody interested not only in the background to the assassination of Hassan Sayad Khodayari but in Iran and the fate of political Islam in power.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 23, 2022 at 12:57 pm

Australian Labor Win, Climate Change and the Left.

with 2 comments

Victory belongs to Anthony Albanese, only the fourth Labor leader since World War Two to oust a Liberal prime minister, but the 2022 Australian election was primarily a rejection of Scott Morrison and the brand of politics he has come to personify.

There is a great overview and a report on their own modest results from the Australian Socialist Alliance today: Climate change makes it mark on Australian elections

Jacob Andrewartha Sam Wainwright & Sarah Hathway

May 22, 2022

The handful of socialist candidates across the country all recorded a modest increase in their vote. In Wills, Socialist Alliance’s Sue Bolton (3.78%) and Victorian Socialist’s Emma Black (3.31%) received a combined vote of more than 7%.

Also in Melbourne, Jerome Small in Calwell and Catherine Robertson in Fraser (Victorian Socialists) won 4.91% and 5.42% respectively.

Kuku Yalanji woman Pat O’Shane, running for Socialist Alliance in the Far North Queensland seat of Leichhardt, won 4.3%.

While none of these rate much of a mention in the corporate media, it does indicate a small but growing appetite for anti-capitalist politics.

Australia’s non-Labour Left’s results are poor, but so was the score – 0.76% – of Philippe Poutou of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste and 0,57 for Lutte Ouvrière’s Nathalie Arthaud for the recent French Presidential elections. This might lead to questions about the viability of the radical left contesting elections.

In Britain the principal left electoral challenge to Labour has been TUSC (though their hard-line pro-Brexit stand is contested by many as far from left wing and internationalist). The Coalition is led by the Socialist Party, whose own political operations, and version of Trotskyism are not universally well considered,

Trade Union and Socialist Coalition Report on their results in the May Local Elections.

Summary points from the results include:

  • The total vote for all TUSC candidates on May 5th was 29,169, comprised of 23,991 votes for the council candidates, and 5,178 votes for the three mayoral candidates.
  • While the results were still modest, in all three of the directly-elected mayoral polls it contested TUSC increased both its absolute vote and percentage share compared to when it had previously stood.
  • Leading the ‘league table’ of all the TUSC results of five percent or more was the 18.3% polled in the Seven Kings ward in the London Borough of Redbridge – which secured a second place finish – followed by the 18.2% won in Knowsley council’s Northwood ward.
  • In 40 wards the TUSC candidate polled over five percent, including in eight of the twenty wards contested by TUSC in the North East London borough of Waltham Forest.
  • In Waltham Forest the TUSC candidates polled a combined total of 3,490 votes. The other councils where the TUSC candidates polled over a thousand votes were Coventry, Cardiff, Ealing, Lewisham, Newham, Sheffield and Tower Hamlets.

Once again TUSC played its role in providing a banner for trade unionists to take on the austerity politicians at the ballot box. Those standing as TUSC candidates included national executive members from UNISON, the National Education Union and NAPO; section executive members from the PCS and UNISON; and over 30 branch secretaries and other local officers from the RMT, Unite, NEU, PCS, UNISON, GMB and CWU trade unions.

TUSC also provided an inclusive space for the widest spectrum of socialists from different socialist organisations or none to stand under a common banner. This included over a dozen candidates who were previously Labour councillors or Labour Party council candidates from the time of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership who decided to carry on the fight for anti-austerity, socialist policies by standing, this time, under the TUSC umbrella.

Overall, the scale and impact of the TUSC election challenge this May was modest compared to what could have been achieved, with the potential for thousands of anti-austerity fighters standing, if the unions had organised a national drive for candidates or if Jeremy Corbyn himself had taken the initiative to organise an electoral challenge to the new New Labour party.

TUSC concludes,

But it will have added to the pressure on them to do so for next year’s council elections and the general election to come.

Given the Australian results it looks more likely that pressure on all sections of the left to make more explicit a commitment to Green issues and Climate change is on the cards. Whether this will mean support from some of the left and wider Labour electorate for the Green Party (GPEW, and its Scottish wing), or for further direct action on the lines of Extinction Rebellion! is not clear. If ER supporters can find a way to broaden their appeal away from elitist and self-sacrificial forms of protest that risk legal penalties, they may well experience growth.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 22, 2022 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Greens, Left

Tagged with , ,

Stop the War Coalition, “War in Ukraine has swiftly become a proxy one between Russia and NATO”.

with 6 comments

Without the Strength to organise their own March Stop the War to Barge into TUC June Demo with their own Breakaway Bloc.

This is the agenda of the StWC. Not to Stand with Ukraine, but to end a conflict between Russia and the West. Or, as they put it, “The war in Ukraine has swiftly become a proxy one between Russia and NATO, and now the west is talking up the risk of nuclear conflict. Join leading figures from the anti-war movement at Hamilton House on Thurs 26 May to hear how we must respond.”

Perhaps words have changed their meaning but a proxy war signifies, “an armed conflict between two states or non state actors which act on the instigation or on behalf of other parties that are not directly involved in the hostilities.” Putin and his regime acts on their own behalf. Is the StWC suggesting that Ukraine is fighting at the behest of the West/Nato?

A key element of the StWC strategy, shared by the Socialist Workers Party, Counterfire, and no doubt Andrew Murry’s old friends in the Communist Party of Britain is to link the war against Ukraine to the cost of living crisis. They intended to muscle in on the TUC June demo with this, “Sat 18 June: Build and join the anti-war bloc on the TUC cost of living demonstration.”

It is distasteful that the STWC is going to use the TUC march (“A real pay rise for every worker – and a real living wage for all, Respect and security for all workers – ban zero hours contracts, ban fire and rehire, decent sick pay now, End racism at work, Tax energy profits to pay our bills, Raise universal credit, Boost union bargaining rights now”) to try to promote their agenda. Which is, as Counterfire puts it, “no more Warmongering” by ‘Nato’ – placed on a par with the Russian use of military force to invade and slaughter Ukrainians.

Who are the “leading anti-war” people addressing the Mandar Hall.

Chris Hazard is Sein Fein MP for South Down.

Ali, German, Hudson and Murray, are old troopers taking to the boards yet again, well known only to the limited circles of the left, describe further.

The final speaker, Yuri Sheliazhenko, is an interesting chap,

“In late April Yuri Sheliazhenko, Executive Secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement (UPM), was listed as a speaker at an online meeting organised by the Socialist Labour Network (SLN).” posted Shiraz at the time. “Ukranian pacifist movement: a two-men-but-no-dog ‘organisation’.

He gets around,

The three other speakers at the meeting were:

Tony Greenstein: A man whose mission in life has been to promote left antisemitism at every opportunity and in no matter how crude a form, including fully-baked conspiracy theories and Nazi-Zionist amalgams.

David Miller: Another left-antisemitic conspiracy-theory fantasist with a speciality in particularly convoluted forms of conspiratorialism (including, more recently, Nazi-Zionist collaboration in Ukraine) and apologetics for the Assad regime in Syria.

Chris Williamson: The former Labour MP who now resides at the red-brown-alliance end of the political spectrum. Promotes, in a particularly virulent form, left antisemitism, apologetics for the Assad regime, and now apologetics for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Yuri Sheliazhenko, the UPM’s other member, churns out large amounts of tedious, verbose and meaningless (but relatively harmless) written material, not just for the UPM but also for the online journal The Truth Seeker.

Apart from re-posts, virtually all articles on UPM and Truth Seeker social media emanate from Sheliazhenko. All video clips on their social media feature Sheliazhenko, and Sheliazhenko alone. And (perhaps for good reason) the only UPM member ever to be interviewed is Sheliazhenko, not Kotsaba.

Insofar as Sheliazhenko’s writings have any substance other than platitudes (infinite variations of the formulation: War is bad, peace is good), that substance has no political credence, and often no factual credence.

A week before Putin’s invasion Sheliazhenko wrote: “Western media predict imminent war. Fail in predicting. [Presumably means: The predictions are wrong.] My friend David Swanson even put a counter to these lies about imminent Russian invasion at the website WorldBeyondWar.org.”

Sheliazhenko’s response to the invasion was to put an ‘equals’ sign between Putin and Zelensky: “Putin and Zelensky are killers if they do not immediately agree to a meeting for peace talks in the immediate future.”

In an interview conducted a week later Sheliazhenko appeared to put the blame on Zelensky for the failure to open peace talks: “He (Zelensky) pursues a military solution, and he fails to call Putin and ask him directly to stop the war.”

As if all that was needed to secure withdrawal of the Russian forces was a phone call. But in Sheliazhenko’s strange political universe, that’s actually all that is needed.

Sheliazhenko has also backed the suggestion of the Europe for Peace campaign for what amounts to a suicidal proposal for human shields (although he has failed to give a lead himself):

“European non-violent pacifists will issue an ultimatum to Putin and Zelensky: Stop the war immediately, or people will organize caravans of non-violent pacifists from all over Europe, using all possible means to travel to the conflict zones, unarmed, to act as peacekeepers among the combatants.”

Sheliazhenko defines Zelensky’s aims in the war as: “(Acceptance of) the Euro-Atlantic choice of Ukraine; her sovereignty over the Donbas and the Crimea; and the cessation of ties with Russia, following her punishment for imperialism and war crimes.”

He defines Putin’s aims as: “Multi-polarity; (recognition of) Russian security concerns in the post-Soviet region; demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, including non-alignment with military alliances; absence of nuclear weapons; recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea; independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics; non-discrimination of Russian people and culture in Ukraine; punishment of anti-Russian far-righters.”

There is clearly a gap, and a major contradiction, between these two sets of aims. But Sheliazhenko has the answer: “To assist the peace process I propose to create an independent public commission of experts for peaceful resolution of the crisis in and around Ukraine.”

Sheliazhenko’s attraction for STW (which turns a blind eye to his enthusiasm for Ukrainian membership of the EU) is his portrayal of the conflict in Ukraine as a conflict between two rival imperialisms, with NATO bearing rather more blame for the conflict than Russia:

Some feel the StWC is too soft on Nato and does not stand up for Russia and China enough.

Rumour reaches us that this lot are busy setting their own “multipolarity world” effectively pro-Russian ‘anti-war’ movement.

It is suggested that our old friends from Socialist Action are involved.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 21, 2022 at 4:01 pm

Tony Greenstein Pleads to be let back into the Labour Party.

with 2 comments

Tony Greenstein (far right) and Friends.

Toiling daily on the allotment fields, reading a big pile of books, going to the cinema to see Benedetta, Murina, Small Body, the Northman, and Blogging about Ukraine Solidarity, France’s left, the Great Replacement Conspiracy scare, and Sycops, can lead one to miss the truly important events in political life.

The wits of the Internet have been surpassed by this both moving and side-tickling philippic.

A Confidential Letter To One of My Oldest & Dearest Friends, Sir Keith Stürmer – What We Need Is Rebranding – Not so much New Labour as New Tory

If We are Going to Bury Corbyn then We Have to Be Clear About Our Message – Not ‘For the Many not the Few’ but ‘For the Few not the Many’!

Of course we all know what you stand for – unrestrained capitalism and rule by the rich for the rich. But the real problem is how to transform that into a winning electoral strategy?

Well I think I’ve cracked it. I had a chat the other day with Mandy Mandelson who was busy at the time trying to get another free ‘loan’ off a rich Zionist in exchange for a few beads. He wasn’t particular enthusiastic at first but I think I won him round.

Old Cor*** (like Lord Voldemort it’s best not to mention him by name for fear of frightening the children), whatever else you can say about him (and I know you have a lot to say!) did have one thing going for him. A catchy slogan – For the Many not the Few – which our Zionist friends changed to For the Many not the Jew!

As I say I have lots of ideas for a New Tory Party led by you. And if we adopt the Republican strategy of making it impossible for Blacks and the poor to vote then we won’t have to worry about the electoral consequences!!

Well-established rumour has it that Cde Greenstein is engaged in the ” Refounding Momentum” process and hopes to speak, if they decide to hold it, at their coming “Convention”.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 20, 2022 at 4:11 pm

French Left Presents its Common Programme.

leave a comment »

Projections of Left Vote in June French Parliamentary Elections. (Basta!).

The French left alliance of La France insoumise (Jean-Luc Mélenchon), Socialists (PS), Communists (PCF) and Greens (EELV), as well as a number of small left groups and mico-parties, NUPES, has just published its programme.

There are over 650 proposed measures, and 33, ‘nuances’ on which a consensus could not be found. The headline proposals of NUPES are: a minimum wage at 1,500 euros net, retirement at age 60, a price freeze. There is also a plan for the creation of a (more Parliamentary) new constitution, a sixth Republic, an idea long pushed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon and also the former (2017) Socialist Presidential candidate Benoît Hamon. This, enthusiasts claims, would create a truly parliamentary regime with the legislative controlling the executive (unlike a Presidential one, the main feature of the 5th Republic created by De Gaulle in 1958). This they claim will be stable, “un régime parlementaire stable, avec une nouvelle constitution adoptée par référendum” with power in the hands of the National Assembly, and allow MPs to hold the PM and Cabinet to account, “Permettre au Parlement de réellement contrôler l’action de l’exécutive”) The new governing arrangement is topped off with with Proportional Representation and citizens’ initiative referenda (culled from a call of the, very far from universally admired on the left, Gilets Jaunes).

Such a radical reduction in Presidential power and (in the vison of La France insoumise) opening the way to the recall of Deputies by constituents, would require the assent an existing President, which, with Macron as head of state, is not going to happen. One could equally ask if it would be really by the “replies sociale” dreamt of by Jean Jaurès, with a socialist slant based on self-organised – working class in the broadest sense – politics.

The latter 233 ‘nuances’ (shades of differences) , 5% of the total, includes some significant disputed issues: the position on NATO (Mélenchon wishes a gradual withdrawal, the PS wants to stay), Ukraine (all defend Ukraine’s sovereignty against Russian aggression and Putin’s war crimes, “crimes de guerre décidés par Vladimir Poutine“, but the PS and EELV want a commitment to sending more arms, and a total embargo on imports of Russian oil, coal, gas and nuclear fuel), and other issues, ranging from animal rights (EELV wishes to have their fundamental rights recognised) , how the legalisation of cannabis could be organised, sectors to be nationalised, votes at 16 (the PCF is against) and renewable energy and nuclear power (the PCF wishes the ‘transition’ to these sources to run parallel to the use of nuclear reactors – note the left (historically Communist) trade union, the CGT Mines-Energie has some strength in this industry.

On Europe the NUPES alliance promises to disobey any EU rules that get in the way of their programme, or, in slightly softer tones, to shake up the existing EU framework. Measures span ideas on how to make taxation fairer and a crack down on business tax evasion. The programme includes a promise to renationalise airports, and the motorways (drivers directly pay to use autoroutes) to have a “moratorium” on the ‘public-private partnerships’ used for a variety of projects, and marked by the inefficiency and private enrichment we see in the UK.

Those with plenty of time can read the full document: Programme partagé de gouvernement de la Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale.

A fine article in Libération outlines how the different lefts have got round their divergent approaches to the European Union:

Written by Andrew Coates

May 20, 2022 at 2:02 pm