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Hubert Wulfranc (Communist) Mayor of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray: Stand Together against Barbarism.

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Memorial to Jacques Hamel. 

l’Humanité today reports.

The (Communist) Mayor of the working class town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray  (30,000 inhabitants) close to Rouen declared.

Soyons ensemble les derniers à pleurer, à être debout contre la barbarie, et dans le respect de tous » a plaidé, presque en larmes, Hubert Wulfranc.

‘Let us be together, the last to weep, standing upright,  respecting everybody, against Barbarity’ pleaded, nearly in tears, Hubert Wulfranc.

 

The French Communist Party (Parti Communiste Français) has issued this declaration.

Horreur face au lâche et abominable assassinat du prêtre de Saint Etienne de Rouvray (Olivier Dartigolles).

L’horreur a de nouveau frappé avec le lâche et abominable assassinat de Jacques Hamel, le prêtre de l’église de Saint Etienne du Rouvray. Nous adressons nos pensées  à la famille, à la communauté catholique, à la population de Saint Etienne du Rouvray, à son maire, Hubert Wulfranc.

Face à cette nouvelle tragédie, notre pays est confronté à un immense défi : vaincre Daech, assurer une meilleure sécurité pour nos concitoyens dans un état de droit, faire grandir dans notre société, par l’intervention populaire et citoyenne, les valeurs de solidarité et de progrès pour tous.

Un grand débat national s’impose pour décider de l’orientation des politiques publiques à mettre en œuvre. Que les polémiques cessent immédiatement pour laisser place au discernement, à la connaissance, à la compréhension.

Que les petits jeux politiciens et les surenchères irresponsables s’arrêtent pour un débat démocratique allant au fond des questions afin de mieux agir.

Rendered into colloquial English this dignified statement reads:

Horror in the face of the cowardly and abject murder of the Priest of Saint Etienne de Rouvray.

We are yet again struck with horror after  the cowardly and vile murder of Jacques Hamel, the Priest of the Church of Saint Etienne du Rouvray. We address our thoughts to his family, to the Catholic community, to the inhabitants of Saint Etienne du Rouvray, and to their Mayor, Hubert Wulfranc.

This tragedy leaves our country faced with enormous challenges: the defeat of Daesh, how to secure the lives of our citizens within the rule of law, and how to encourage inside our society, by democratic and open means, the values of solidarity and progress for all.

A great national debate is called for, to decide upon the direction of public policy. Now is not the time for sharp controversies. They have to stop. Now is the time for consideration, for knowledge, for understanding.

Now is the time to end  political squabbling and irresponsible hyperbole. They must be replaced by a democratic political debate which seeks to get at the root of the issues.

See also in l’Humanité today Roland Gori on  “théofascismes”: Face à la terreur, le défi est de donner des raisons d’espérer, de penser à l’avenir»

“In 1923, three years after the Tours Congress which saw the separation of the communist majority (KIS) and the minority Socialist (SFIO), Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray became one of the first cities in France to elect a communist controlled council.”

Written by Andrew Coates

July 27, 2016 at 11:01 am

To the Memory of the Victims of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

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A photo of Priest Jacques Hamel taken from the website of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray parish

In the memory of père Jacques Hamel.

I love my work and my children. God.

Is distant, difficult. Things happen

Too near the ancient troughs of blood.

Innocence is no earthly weapon.

Geoffrey Hill. Ovid in the Third Reich. *

Two attackers killed a priest and seriously wounded at least one other hostage in a church in northern France on Tuesday before they were shot dead by police. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The two assailants entered the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, during mass, taking the priest and four other people hostage, including two nuns.

Police said the men killed the priest, named as 84-year-old Jacques Hamel, by slitting his throat.

An interior ministry spokesperson said a second hostage was “between life and death”.

Le Monde says that the local Muslim leadership immediately reacted by showing their love and friendship to the victim and all those affected.

Le président du Conseil régional du culte musulman de Haute-Normandie, en charge de la mosquée de Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, inaugurée en 2000 sur une parcelle de terrain offerte par la paroisse catholique, s’est dit « effaré par le décès de [son] ami ». « C’est quelqu’un qui a donné sa vie aux autres. On est abasourdis à la mosquée », a-t-il ajouté. Le prêtre et l’imam faisaient partie d’un comité interconfessionnel depuis dix-huit mois. « Nous discutions de religion et de savoir-vivre ensemble », a précisé Mohammed Karabila.

The President of the Haute-Normandie Regional Council of Muslims, which oversees the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray Mosque, built on a plot of land offered by the Catholic parish, has said he was “in agony” at the death of his friend. “He was somebody who devoted his life to others. At the mosque we are utterly devastated” he added. For a year and a half the Priest and the Imam had both been part of an inter-faith committee. Mohammed Karabila talked of their activity, “We discussed our faith and how we can get good community relations.”

I cite Geoffrey Hill above because the attack on a early day mass immediately made me think of seeing a priest celebrating Morning prayers  in a place the poet wrote about, the ancient St Michael the Archangel – ‘In Framlingham Church’. *

It was a weekday morning about five years ago and there was only a handful of people there.

But it was solemn and of great dignity.

Goodness is far more important than anything else. 

 

* Both in: Geoffrey Hill, Broken Hierarchies. Poems. 1952 – 2012. Oxford. 2013.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 26, 2016 at 3:59 pm

HDP and Party of European Socialists and Party of the European Left Declarations on Turkish Situation as Amnesty Raises Torture Evidence.

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Erdoğan  Regime Faces Torture Charges after Failed Coup.  

Amnesty International:

Turkey: Independent monitors must be allowed to access detainees amid torture allegations

Amnesty International has gathered credible evidence that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centres in the country.

The organisation is calling for independent monitors to be given immediate access to detainees in all facilities in the wake of the coup attempt, which include police headquarters, sports centres and courthouses. More than 10,000 people have been detained since the failed coup.

Amnesty International has credible reports that Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul are holding detainees in stress positions for up to 48 hours, denying them food, water and medical treatment, and verbally abusing and threatening them. In the worst cases some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.

“Reports of abuse including beatings and rape in detention are extremely alarming, especially given the scale of detentions that we have seen in the past week. The grim details that we have documented are just a snapshot of the abuses that might be happening in places of detention,” said Amnesty International’s Europe director John Dalhuisen.

“It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held.”

HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party (Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP), Kurdish: Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan) statements: 

The Way Out of This Crisis is not Declaring State of Emergency, but Democracy

HDP Imrali Delegation’s Press Release on Ocalan’s condition.

The concerns and unlawful treatments regarding Mr. Abdullah Ocalan, kept in solitary confinement in Imrali Island since April 5th 2015, increasingly continue, particularly after the coup attempt on July 15th.  Both the analysis made by Mr Ocalan regarding how Imrali Island might be affected by a likely coup attempt, and news and information taking place in Turkish media, as well as, inadequate and careless attitude of government officials, towards the requests concerning worries and unlawful treatments regarding Mr. Abdullah Ocalan increase mistrust between the public and the state.

Our committee contacted government and state officials right after the coup attempt and delivered these concerns. We have stated the need for Ocalan’s family and lawyers, as well as, an unbiased committee’s visit to remove these concerns. As a matter of fact, the information gathered from these talks with officials was announced to the public, and we repeated our warnings applying their historical significance. While our concerns remain without response, Mr. Ocalan and other prisoners kept in Imrali Island, hindered from their rights to write and receive letters, receive phone calls and visits from family members and lawyers long before the coup attempt, are once again aggrieved by the declaration of state of emergency and its consequences by local court order.

This court order creates a more vicious solitary confinement. It is a provocative order targetting the common future of peoples seeking a way out of the civil and military coup vortex. It is an illegal and unlawful move against law, justice and democratic resolution. Withdrawal of this order carries a great importance. We also would like to stress the urgent need and importance of direct contact with Mr Ocalan to eliminate concerns and prevent increases in social tensions. Turkey’s only and main way out of this crisis is the resolution of the Kurdish question and other accumulated,long-standing problems. What needs to be done for this resolution is not imposing  solitary confinement, but providing conditions for a democratic negotiation. It’s essential to provide equal and free negotiation conditions for Mr. Ocalan, who foresaw the coup mechanics which are recorded in official reports, and he had warned state officials long before the attempt. A contrary move will serve the benefit of coup-plotters and risk bringing  our people into darker days.  This concerns not only the peoples of Turkey and Kurdistan, but also all peoples of the Middle East and the world without a doubt.

Within this context, we urge the attention of particularly the United Nations, the European Parliament, institutions of the European Union, CPT, Amnesty International, and national and international institutions, as well as, our people and public who stand with democracy and peace….

 

Wikipedia. “The Peoples’ Democratic Party (Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP), Kurdish: Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan[12]), or Democratic Party of the Peoples, is a pro-Kurdish and pro-minority political party in Turkey. Generally left-wing, the party places a strong emphasis on participatory democracy, minority rights, and egalitarianism. It is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists (PES) and consultative member of the Socialist International.”

 

Party of European Socialists:

REINTRODUCING DEATH PENALTY IN TURKEY COULD HARM COUNTRY’S RELATIONS WITH THE EU

The Party of European Socialists would like to express its concern about the thousands of suspensions in the military, in the police, in the justice system following the attempted coup in Turkey. The PES is worried the most about the debate on the re-introduction of the death penalty, initiated by the Turkish Government.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said: “Death penalty is brutal and fundamentally unjust. We are deeply worried that the Turkish leadership is promoting the idea of re-introducing it. We call on the government for maximum restraint and caution in the aftermath of the attempted coup. Any step in the direction of reintroducing the death penalty could harm the relations between Turkey and the EU. Rejecting the death penalty is a specific request to all the countries which apply for EU membership.”

As it was made clear in the initial statement of the PES from the 16th of July in support of democracy in Turkey, the coup, should not be used as a pretext to undermine human rights.

Stanishev said: “Any attempt of a power grab through major constitutional changes will push Turkey farther away from the EU and will jeopardize a much needed reconciliation in Turkey”.

 

European left (alliance of left European parties)  declaration.

 

No military coup in Turkey and no civilian coup either

The European Left sharply condemns the attempt of a military coup d’etat in Turkey. This is no way to establish democracy and no way to secure human rights.

At the same time we are very clear in our condemnation of the current arbitrary reprisals against real or presumed enemies of the Erdogan government. The perpetrators of the military coup have to face the judicial consequences of their deeds but the imprisonment of thousands of people on the flimsiest of pretexts is in contravention of the rule of law and creates new divisions in an already fragmented society.

We strongly warn against the reintroduction of the death penalty in Turkey and we are appalled about the way Erdogan and his AKP government are using the current situation as a chance to reinforce the authoritarian presidential regime.

The Party of the European Left supports a real democratic perspective for Turkey. We therefore request the European Union to cancel the dirty refugee-deal with Erdogan and to apply pressure towards an end of curfews in Kurdish cities, of hostilities and massacres in the Kurdish regions of Turkey and the re-establishing of parliamentary immunity for the HDP parliamentarians. Our solidarity belongs to the progressive and democratic forces in Turkey and offer our solidarity in their fight against repression.

More statements:

French Communist Party (PCF):

 

Turquie : “La France doit cesser son soutien au régime sanguinaire d’Erdogan” (PCF)

Turkey:  France must end its backing to the bloodstained Erdogan regime.

 

We have witnessed a coup process second by second on 15th July evening with all its uncertainties, hesitations, countermoves of opposing sides and ferocities. This bloody night, which will be remembered with the clashes between the soldiers and the police, occupations in the media channels, images of massacred civilians and lynched soldiers and bombing of the National Assembly as a peak point, appear as one of the last scenes of the power struggle between the old partners inside the state that AKP and Gülen congregation built in cooperation. Based on the fact that Erdoğan regime does not hesitate to have resort to chaos and civil war atmosphere in order to maintain his hegemony since the elections on 7th June 2015, following the push down of the coup attempt in a very short time and reappearances of the government members on the media channels with refreshed images, many conspirative evaluations, that this attempt was designed for Erdoğan’s dictatorial lust to be actualized, had broad repercussion. Under the circumstances where the regime was consolidated with almost 50 percent of the votes in the last elections, a more reasonable interpretation is that Gülen supporters, who faced a huge discharge operation, and some sections in the army they are in cooperation with, have drawn the coup plan forth in a hurry.

Support our Turkish and Kurdish sisters and bothers against this Islamist despot!

An important article on the background to the present crisis.

Review of Cihan Tuğal, The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism, Verso: London and New York 2016,

CE TEMELKURAN  GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE MIDDLE EAST? Latest New Left Review – just out.

Extract:

 

The ‘fall of the Turkish model’ announced by Tuğal in his book’s title could have multiple, overlapping meanings. Has the model failed because it could not be exported to the rest of the Middle East—Egypt and Tunisia in particular? Was that because of its inherent flaws, or because social and political conditions were very different in those countries, as Tuğal demonstrates? However tarnished it may now be, we should not assume that the AKP’s political model has ‘fallen’, in the sense of being incapable of retaining power or mass support. Its followers have been encouraged to believe that social rights are a form of political charity that should only be available to those who vote AKP. They are mobilized by a gigantic propaganda machine which promotes a visceral hatred of the party’s adversaries; Erdoğan can break his promises whenever he sees fit, and anyone who dares to raise the matter will find themselves branded as the enemy. It is considered perfectly acceptable for AKP leaders to incite crowds to boo the family of a fifteen-year-old, Berkin Elvan, who was killed by a police bullet during the Gezi uprising. Turkey’s Constitutional Court was also anathematized when it ordered the release of journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. Between August 2015 and February 2016, sixty people were charged with insulting Erdoğan and prosecuted, with each ‘criminal’ facing a year or two in prison. Recently, a woman in the process of divorcing her husband accused him of insulting the President, hoping to get the upper hand in the divorce proceedings. Business owners of all kinds are kept in line, with the AKP’s sword hanging over their heads.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 25, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste accuses of ‘left’ Presidential candidate Mélenchon of using far-right rhetoric.

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Accused of being  nationalist, chauvinist, racist, germanophobe and a great friend of Putin.

Le NPA accuse Mélenchon de reprendre “la rhétorique de l’extrême droite”.

Reports the Huffington Post French edition.

Leading Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste figure, Olivier Besancenot, said this: one gaff too many?

The NPA has published a virulent – to say the very least – attack on ‘populist’ Mélenchon who standing as a candidate in next year’s French Presidential election and is the leader of a small group, the Parti de gauche (left party), essentially a political club around his own personality.

At present his campaign  « La France insoumise, le peuple souverain. » (internet JLM2017) has become ‘populist’ and aims to be mobilise the ‘people’ against the ‘elites’. (1) He has declared that unless the European Union changes France should follow the UK and leave (Brexit: «L’UE, on la change ou on la quitte», affirme Jean-Luc Mélenchon)

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5juinevt.jpg

He is neck and neck in the opinion polls with the Parti Socialiste François Hollande and present President – which is not saying much since at 15% each  not a single poll gives either any chance of winning.

Mélenchon : le dérapage de trop ?

More on this article here:  « Travailleurs détachés » : Le NPA accuse Mélenchon de reprendre « la rhétorique de l’extrême droite »  CLAVEL Geoffroy, RAGUET Alexandre.

The reason?

Jean-Luc Mélenchon made a speech in which he accused workers employed in France, but still formally under the  pay andconditions of their home countries (posted employees), of stealing the bread out of the mouths of local workers.

This is his expression: the  “travailleurs détachés” qui “vole(nt leur) pain” aux travailleurs locaux.”

Travailleurs détachés : les curieux propos de Mélenchon

Je crois que l’Europe qui a été construite, c’est une Europe de la violence sociale, comme nous le voyons dans chaque pays chaque fois qu’arrive un travailleur détaché, qui vole son pain aux travailleurs qui se trouvent sur place. »

I consider that the Europe that has been built is a Europe based on social violence, as we seen in every country when a posted worker comes and steals the bread out of the mouths of the workers who are already there.

As the article title suggests, the original reads just as oddly as the translation which I have rendered into colloquial English.

Many on the French left are now criticising the former leading figure of the Front de gauche, who launched on his own initiative a Presidential bid, addressing ‘The People’,   of being “nationaliste, chauvin, raciste, germanophobe et poutinophile” – nationalist, chauvinist, racist, germanophobe and a great friend of Putin.

(1) Populisme et hégémonies culturelles : débat Laclau-Mouffe-Mélenchon.

The polemic continues.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 22, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Honour and Glory to the Memory of Feminist Qandeel Baloch.

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Honour and Glory to the Memory of Qandeel Baloch.

Karachi, Pakistan – Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch, who was known for her daring posts, has been killed by her brother.

Al Jazeera. 

Police on Saturday told Al Jazeera that Baloch’s father, Mohammed Azeem, had filed a case against his son Waseem Azeem. The father also testified against another of his sons, who works in the army and reportedly encouraged his sibling to carry out the killing.

Waseem was in the family home in Multan when Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, died.

Both sons went missing as news of the killing spread.

But late on Saturday, Waseem was found some 100 kilometres from Multan in Dera Ghazi Khan and arrested. Police presented him with his face covered during a press conference, during which he said he “killed for honour” and had “no regrets”.

Baloch divided opinion in Pakistan, a largely conservative nation, as she appeared on television to speak about female empowerment, often dressed in non-traditional, revealing clothes.

She began her career by auditioning on Pakistan Idol and soon after launched a social media enterprise, posting videos that went viral.

On her final, July 4 post to her Facebook page, which has almost 800,000 fans, she wrote: “I am trying to change the typical orthodox mindset of people who don’t wanna come out of their shells of false beliefs and old practices.”

Her apparent “honour killing” has caused outrage.

‘Honour killings are epidemic’

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who won an Oscar for a film about honour-based violence, told Al Jazeera that such attacks were an “epidemic”.

“I’m very shaken up today. Activists in Pakistan have been screaming hoarse about honour killings; it is an epidemic, it takes place not only in towns, but in major cities as well.

“What are we going to do as a nation?”

Chinoy added that an anti-honour killing bill should be passed.

“It’s upon the lawmakers to punish these people. We need to start making examples of people. It appears it is very easy to kill a woman in this country – and you can walk off scot-free.”

Nabila Ghazzanfar, a Punjab Police spokeswoman, said that the initial post mortem showed that the 26-year-old’s nose and mouth had been pinned shut before she died, blocking off her airways.

More reports.

Pakistani authorities have barred murdered social media sensation Qandeel Baloch’s family from “forgiving” her brother for strangling her under an Islamic law, taking a rare stand against “honour killings”.

Police in Qandeel’s hometown of Multan confirmed that Section 311 of the Pakistan Penal Code had been added to her murder case, barring her family from pardoning the alleged killer under the “Qisas and Diyat” law.

City police chief Azhar Akram said the Islamic law, whereby the family or heirs of the victim can pardon the murderer, could not be applied in Qandeel’s case after police added Section 311, through which the state becomes the plaintiff.

Read: Cleric in selfie with Qandeel Baloch provoked her murder, alleges mother

Qandeel’s brother Muhammad Waseem drugged and strangled her on Friday in a murder that shocked the conservative Muslim nation, where the 26-year-old had titillated and outraged people with her racy social media photos and videos.

Waseem, after being arrested on Monday, said he had no regrets because his sister had dishonoured the family by making a controversial video with Mufti Abdul Qavi.

Read: Qandeel Baloch’s brother ‘proudly’ accepts drugging, killing her, has no regrets

Qandeel’s father would not be able to forgive Waseem and other suspects in his daughter’s murder if he decided to do so at any point, Akram explained. Under Section 311, the discretion of accepting a pardon from the victim’s family is left to the judge handling the case.

Hindustan Times.

What the “honour killing” of celebrity feminist Qandeel Baloch reveals about Pakistani liberals

KUNWAR KHULDUNE SHAHID

The cultural icon, known as “Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian”, was killed by her brother, in a country where more than 1,000 such murders occur per year.

Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was strangled to death by her brother at her residence early Saturday morning, in the most high-profile of the over 1,000 honour killings that take place in the country on average annually.

Qandeel, whose official Facebook page has 783,667 likes, gathered her huge following through her social media posts that had, over the past year or so, evolved from eccentric trolling of Pakistan’s patriarchal tendencies to a powerful feminist rallying cry

Written by Andrew Coates

July 20, 2016 at 12:34 pm

As Soon as this Pub Closes: Sectarian Test for Tyros.

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Sectarian Test.

As journalists and others are now claiming to be experts in left-wing politics we set this short exam to test their knowledge.

In the 1953 break in the Trotskyist movement who was right?

  • Michael Raptis- Pablo.
  • Michael Raptis -Pablo.

Which side would you have backed in the mid-1970s IMG?

  • Tendency A
  • Tendency B.
  • The Faction.

In the WRP who had the nicest bum:

  • Gerry Healy.
  • Vanessa Redgrave.
  • Michael Ezra.

How many Fourth Internationals are there?

  • One, the FI.
  • The League for the 5th International is the only real Marxist international group.
  • Gerry Downing.

When did the AWL and the Weekly Worker last engage in unity negotiations?

  • 1887.
  • Nobody can remember.

The Posadists are famous for their belief that flying saucers come from a Communist Planet. What is their position on Dolphins?

  • Flipper is an excellent comrade.
  • Flipper is a class traitor.

Which Trotskyist group were former French PM, Lionel Jospin and present General Secretary of the Parti Socialiste Jean-Christophe Cambadélis one-time members of?

  • The Lambertists.
  • The Lambertists are mortal enemies of Trotskyism.

What was the Varga affair?

(Anybody who can answer this question automatically passes)

Written by Andrew Coates

July 19, 2016 at 10:25 am

Daily Mirror descends to utter tripe: Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are like Lenin style bully boys who’d send women to the gulag

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Foreign readers of this Blog (and roughly two thirds of the people viewing this site are not from the UK) will have been shaken by the tripe that has been said in this country over the last weeks.

But this is beyond a joke. 

Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are like Lenin style bully boys who’d send women to the gulag.

Daily Mirror. Carole Malone. Today.

THIS is what the once great Labour Party has become – a hate-filled, violent, lunatic fringe where members who disagree with the hardliners are abused, threatened and intimidated into silence.

In the old days, these militants would be happy to see women like Eagle sent to the gulag and tortured. Today she is tortured on social media by bully boys who believe they’re acting in Corbyn’s name. And what does this supposed man of principle do when women in his party are being threatened with death for challenging him? B*gger all, that’s what! When there’s a TV camera in his face he meekly condemns it and says it’s awful.

..

The big joke here is that Corbyn is the one who told us he would make politics kinder. “Kinder politics, a more caring society. These are the values I was elected on,” he said 10 months ago.

And just look what his leadership has done to those values and to the party. Labour, under him, is finished and its politics have never been more vile, more ugly, more hate-filled and more divisive. No Corbyn rally is complete without violence or the threat of it. Anyone who disagrees with the great leader is shouted down as a “ f***ing Tory” or a traitor.

Our great Labour Party used to be one where socialism was achieved through ­parliamentarianism, through democracy.

Under Corbyn, we’re following the Lenin model – where it’s created through ­revolution, intimidation and violence. This kind of socialism doesn’t believe in democracy. And it forces women to live under police protection.

The tragedy here is no matter what Corbyn’s policies are, no matter what he says he wants for the poor and the disenfranchised, no matter how noble his intentions might be, no one is ever going to listen to him while his supporters are threatening to murder women.

As a life-long anti-Stalinist I cannot even begin to explain how offensive this is to me and my comrades.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 18, 2016 at 11:53 am

Davis: Post-Vote EU Migrants Could Be Sent Home as pro-Brexit ‘left’ demonstrates.

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David Davis: Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

Send them back, says David Davis in another triumph for the pro-Brexit ‘Left’. 

Brexit minister David Davis says EU migrants who arrive between now and the UK’s departure could be sent home to prevent a last-minute rush to Britain.

Mr Davis wants to secure “a generous settlement for EU migrants here now and a generous settlement for British citizens in the EU” – but this may not apply to newcomers.

On the possibility of a surge of migrants before the departure, Mr Davis told The Mail On Sunday: “We may have to deal with that. There are a variety of possibilities.

“We may have to say that the right to indefinite leave to remain protection only applies before a certain date. But you have to make those judgments on reality, not speculation.”

Mr Davis also claimed Article 50, the two-year mechanism for leaving the EU, should be invoked by early 2017 – meaning the UK would be out by 2019.

Sky News.

Meanwhile a demonstration was held in London by a small number of people, led by the pro-Brexit Counterfire movement.

Several thousand protesters demonstrated in London on Saturday against austerity, racism and the new Tory government. The opposition rally was the biggest major protest since the June 23 Brexit referendum.

Central London saw more than 10,000 anti-Tory campaigners (organisers’ estimate, real figure a couple of thousand) on the streets and Black Lives Matter activists.

Russia Today.

The Evening Standard reports,

Organiser Steve Sweeney, 42, said the march was a display of “unity” with refugees and a reminder to Theresa May three days into the job that she faced opposition to her policies.

Steve Sweeney is campaign manager of the Morning Star, a leading Brexit ‘left’ groupuscule, which actively campaigned against ‘cheap’ foreign labour.

Hypocrisy does not even begin to cover this demonstration.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 17, 2016 at 11:22 am

Absolute love and solidarity to the families and friends of the victims of Nice.

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Absolute Love and Solidarity to the families and friends of the victims of Nice.

At least 84 people have been killed after a lorry ploughed into a crowd attending Bastille Day celebrations in the French city of Nice on Thursday night, in what is being investigated as a terror attack.

France 24.

Here are the main developments so far:

  • A lorry ploughed into a crowd of people in the southern French city of Nice at around 11pm local time towards the end of a fireworks display to celebrate the Bastille Day holiday.
  • The lorry drove at a high speed for a distance of around 2km through the crowd, according to witnesses and officials.
  • The driver of the lorry was shot dead by police. He has been formally identified as a 31-year-old French-Tunisian citizen.
  • The death toll rose to at least 84 people, including children, with around 18 more critically injured, the interior ministry said Friday.
  • French President François Hollande said the attack was “clearly of a terrorist nature”. It is being investigated by France’s anti-terror unit.
  • Hollande said a state of emergency implemented after the November terror attacks in Paris and due to end on July 26 will be extended by another three months.

Attaque de Nice : 84 morts, trois jours de deuil national décrétés

Par LIBERATION 14 juillet 2016 à 23:31 (mis à jour le 15 juillet 2016 à 12:38).
Un camion a foncé sur des spectateurs du feu d’artifice sur la promenade des Anglais, faisant 84 morts et 18 blessés en urgence absolue.

• Jeudi, peu après 22h30, un camion a foncé dans la foule réunie pour le feu d’artifice du 14 Juillet sur la promenade des Anglais, à Nice.

• Un nouveau bilan du ministère de l’Intérieur vendredi matin fait état de 84 morts et 18 blessés en «urgence absolue».

• La préfecture des Alpes-Maritimes a évoqué un attentat et le parquet anti-terroriste s’est saisi de l’enquête.

• Le chauffeur du camion a été abattu par la police. Il a été formellement identifié.

• François Hollande a annoncé la prolongation de l’état d’urgence de trois mois et a déclaré un deuil national de trois jours samedi, dimanche et lundi.

Le Monde,

Un camion a foncé dans la foule qui était réunie sur la promenade des Anglais à Nice pour assister au feu d’artifice, jeudi 14 juillet. Au moins 84 personnes ont été tuées, selon le ministère de l’intérieur. Les témoins évoquent des scènes d’horreur et de panique.

« On a entendu des bruits. Comme il y avait les feux d’artifice, on ne s’est pas inquiétés. C’est après qu’on a compris ce qu’il se passait », raconte Auriane sur France Bleu Azur. Cette habitante du haut du boulevard Gambetta est restée cloîtrée chez elle, comme le recommandait la préfecture.

Initiative communiste-ouvrière

These words show great dignity.

15 juillet 2016

Un meurtre de masse a été commis ce 14 juillet, jour de fête populaire, à Nice. En fonçant avec un camion dans une foule de femmes, d’hommes et d’enfants qui revenaient du feu d’artifice, il s’agissait de tuer un maximum de monde dans un minimum de temps. Ce vendredi matin, on compte plus de 80 morts dont de nombreux enfants.

Il n’y a pas de mots pour exprimer l’horreur face à ce nouveau crime. Un tel crime ne peut qu’horrifier toute personne ayant un minimum de sentiments humains. Nous exprimons nos plus sincères condoléances à toutes celles et tous ceux qui ont perdu des proches, des amis ou des collègues dans cet attentat terroriste barbare.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CnXQuUpXgAAeP2T.jpg

Written by Andrew Coates

July 15, 2016 at 11:52 am

After the Summer of Love, the Summer of Labour as Counter-Power: Paul Mason.

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After the Summer of Love the Summer of Labour as Counter-Power.

Corbyn: the summer of hierarchical things Paul Mason.

Labour can become the counter-power.

Extracts,

My first experience of the labour movement was going to the Leigh Miners’ Gala, in the 1960s, aged about six or seven. I remember, amid the tight throng of people, one striking image: a boxing ring, in which a local slugger was taking on all comers.

The flesh of the fighters was red and bruised. One man had blood on his face, another a stupid smile: the challengers were mainly drunk. They slammed their gloves into each other’s ribs with such force I can hear it now.

And then my father’s hand slid up to my forehead and covered my eyes. “Don’t look,” he said.

That’s what the working class gained by forming a movement of its own. Something that could co-exist with the brutality of everyday life and at the same time shield us from it. Something that allowed you to live inside the system and at the same time nurture the ideal of something different.

Years later I discovered there was a word to describe this: “counter-power”. A set of ideas, traditions and actions that lets you both survive within capitalism and fight against it.

..

After 2008, the counter-power was reborn. No longer centred on the old working class, it was simply “us” — the crapped-upon masses. The barista, the courier, the lawyer, the shipping clerk. Those were the people I met occupying Gezi Park in Istanbul in 2013. Anarchists in black balaclavas yes — but also pissed-off guy with gym membership and a Besiktas season ticket.

The 2011–13 uprisings — Tahrir, Occupy, the Spanish indignados, Taksim, Brasil — were mass phenomena that, even when suppressed and defeated, left a residue: ideas, patterns of organisation, networks, as Manuel Castells put it, of “outrage and hope”.

..

Finally came the Brexit referendum: the ultimate act of miscalculation, in which Project Fear 2.0 misfired and the UK kickstarted the breakup of globalisation.

You can take the state, said Gramsci: but capital has line after line of trenches and fortifications beyond it.

..

Corbyn’s victory in 2015, Brexit in 2016 and the near victory of the Scottish yes campaign in 2014 all held out the possibility of a effortless exit from a dying and unpopular neo-liberal structure.

A kind of “free revolution”, handed to you by a hapless elite, where all you had to do was tick a box.

But revolutions are never effortless. The revolution that’s put Podemos on 20% in Spain, and Syriza into power in Greece, involved masses of people on the streets, resisting the elite’s attacks, and creating a new kind of power in communities and on the streets and in universities and schools.

This is the modern counter-power, and Corbyn’s election was only ever a reflection of it.

Detailed comment would be superfluous on such momentous thoughts.

We can only suggest that people read the full version.

Brief Notes for further reflection on Cde Mason’s theses.

  • The break-up of globalisation begun by Brexit. Really?
  • Near victory of pro-business nationalists in Scotland as a near triumph for opponents of neo-liberalism….sure….
  • Podemos, who recently failed to get anywhere near power (despite predictions that they would win) in recent election as example of ‘counter-power’.   (Spain’s Conservative PP wins rerun election, Podemos upset by surprisingly low results:  2016 election results PP 33.02%; PSOE 22.68%; UNIDOS PODEMOS 21.11%; Abstentions 30.16% )
  • The latest version of the Indignados, Nuit Debout, in France, already disintegrating in abstraction and futility.
  • Ah yes Syriza, Greece. Well.

I never liked Boxing me.

Or the film Fight Club.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 13, 2016 at 4:16 pm

British Left’s Brilliant Strategies, from May to Eagle.

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Cartoon 12.07.2016

Steve Bell’s comment.

The British left is famous for its brilliant strategists.

First we had ‘Lexiters’ relishing the thought that  a Leave vote would divide the Tories.

A crisis for the Tories most definitely is equivalent to an opportunity for the left. It is possible to claim otherwise only by detaching the left from the basic wisdom of the working class movement upon which the left has claimed to base itself. That’s fine for the Greens and those leftists whose conclusion from the defeat of the working class movement in the 1980s was precisely to pursue a déclassé progressivism.

Cameron’s tactical purpose in calling the EU referendum was to undermine UKIP and to unite the Tory party on its hard Thatcherite course of class confrontation at home. He has succeeded only in dividing the Tory party from top to bottom….

Counterfire. Kevin Ovenden. 

Now we have Teresa May uniting the Conservative party.

Second we have, from the right of Labour,  Angela Eagle claiming that she is running a campaign against Jeremy Corbyn because she can “unite the party”.

Labour leadership: Angela Eagle says she can unite the party.

Sure….

Written by Andrew Coates

July 12, 2016 at 11:10 am

Ipswich: Ben Gummer Tory MP and Remain Campaigner Defends Migrants.

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Ben Gummer

 

Racism against Eastern European migrants is just vile – we should be thankful for what they do, says Ipswich MP Ben Gummer

Evening star.

If you go to Handford Road in the early hours, when most British people are still asleep, you will see minibuses filling with Eastern European migrants, going off to work gutting chickens in a job that the Job Centres fail to get British people to do.

Hold that thought when you consider the vile eruptions of racism since Nigel Farage’s ‘Independence Day’ two weeks ago. Employees at a depot in Thetford chanting “you’re going home” to Eastern European colleagues; a Polish centre in Hammersmith sprayed with ‘Go Home’ in the middle of the night; a notice – charmingly written in Polish – encouraging Poles to ‘go home’, picked up by a little 11-year-old Polish boy; notes left on cars telling ‘Polish vermin’ to leave the country; a European man berated on a Manchester tram by some thug who told him to “**** off home”.

What has happened to our country? Whatever side of the debate you were on, no-one can deny that we are now a nation terribly divided, with intolerance unleashed.

Some have said to me that it’s a limited problem, an issue that has “always been there” – as if there is something inevitable about this treatment of foreigners, and that in the release the hatred will go away. They could not be more wrong. It is right that people should be ashamed to express racist sentiments, even if it is what they believe in their hearts.

That is why politicians should be so very careful in how they use words: by using language carelessly, by stoking fear of migrants, they can seem to permit something that is rightly impermissible.

Do not imagine that this is a sentiment reserved for bovine thugs: it exists behind many polite doors and neat gardens in our own town. Time and again I heard “I’m not a racist but…”, beginning a sentence that revealed a fear of foreigners and a wish to see them gone.

Most carefully, people express concerns about school class sizes and GP waiting lists. These concerns might be legitimate but they are rightly levelled at us politicians, not at the migrants on whom these problems in public services are so often blamed.

After all, the average EU migrant is more likely to be in work, paying taxes, than us Brits, helping to build – both in money and in labour – the classrooms all of our children need. And those GP queues? They are more the result of British people getting older – not young fit Lithuanian men, who rarely need a doctor.

I add this,

Shop owner describes arson attack at eastern European store in Magdalen Street, Norwich

 I know Ben Gummer.

His office is about ten minutes from my gaff.

We have had conversations about Noam Chomsky.

I am a political opponent of Ben,  he said, when out campaigning for Remain on his Tory stall (which obviously I had not part in) that this must be the first time in his life that he and me had been on the same side.

We fight the class struggle democratically.

Ben knows as well as I do that this racism has got beyond a joke.

Us lot in Ipswich are pretty close.

His words are very carefully weighed.

They merit utmost attention: Mit brennender Sorge.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 9, 2016 at 12:10 pm

As Labour Fight heats up new faction launches Youth Wing.

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Get Groovy! Get on Down! Get Young Socialists!

As Labour internal fighting heats up we can only endorse this appeal to our young sisters and brothers.

The future is in the yoof!

Written by Andrew Coates

July 7, 2016 at 4:52 pm

Posted in European Left, Ipswich, Left, Marxism

Tagged with

Socialist Workers Party leader “failure of the US in Iraq was a “bigger defeat” than the one it suffered in Vietnam.”

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Writer Tariq Ali introduced a meeting on The American Empire and its Discontents. He argued that the US was an “ultra imperialist” power that had united other advanced capitalist powers under its leadership.

Tariq Ali

Tariq Ali Genial Friend of the People.  (Pic: Socialist Worker)

He said, “The dominance of the US remains unchallenged.” In the discussion others argued that Ali underplayed the weaknesses of US imperialism.

Alex Callinicos introduced a meeting on Imperialism Today.

He said the failure of the US in Iraq was a “bigger defeat” than the one it suffered in Vietnam.”

“Courses explored aspects of Marxist theory including alienation, the dialectic, exploitation and accumulation. Other meetings debated the origins of women’s oppression, gene editing, art and revolution and Shakespeare.”

More on Socialist Worker site.

And people wonder why we hold them in contempt.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 5, 2016 at 11:44 am

Posted in Anti-Fascism, Culture, Islamism

Tagged with ,

Solidarity and Love to Families and Friends of Victims of Islamist Dhaka Attack.

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Bangladesh has a special place in the hearts of all progressive humanity.

In its fight for freedom the country suffered one of the worst Islamist genocides of the last century.

Our deepest sadness at this outrage.

Dhaka attack: 20 hostages killed Friday night, says ISPR.

Daily Star. (Bangladesh)

As per instruction by the honourable head of the government, Bangladesh Army  conducted Operation Thunderbolt, Brig Gen Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury, director of military operations, told journalists at a press briefing this afternoon.

Joint security force led by army recovered 20 bodies during a search on the compound of the Spanish restaurant, Holey Artisan Bakery after the operation was launched, Brig Gen Nayeem said.

The BBC reports.

Twenty people, all of them foreigners, were killed during an attack by suspected Islamists on a cafe in Bangladesh, officials say.

Gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in Dhaka late on Friday before troops entered almost 12 hours later.

Six of the attackers were also killed and one was arrested, a government spokesman said. The attack was claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS).

The siege began as diners were gathering to break their fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“It was an extremely heinous act,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a televised statement. “What kind of Muslims are these people? They don’t have any religion.

“My government is determined to root out terrorism and militancy from Bangladesh.”

Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper said the gunmen tortured anyone who was unable to recite the Koran. They provided meals overnight for only the Bangladeshi captives, it said.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 2, 2016 at 11:07 am

As Voices of Hate Rise, and Nationalist Anti-EU ‘Left’ cries Crocodile tears, Pro-European Young People Have their Say.

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Young Comrades with pro-EU Left Unity Leaflets on London Demo.

“This is Imann and Iada who are sisters from Paris. They have lived and worked here for nine years. They work in catering. They had no vote in the referendum. We distributed two thousand Left Unity leaflets.”

https://i2.wp.com/leftunity.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/EURefLeaflet.jpg

Here.

As comrade John McDonnell points out in today’s Labour Briefing, 70% of Labour Votes backed Remain as did nearly 3 out of 4 young people.

Pink News reports.

Brexit hate chant: ‘First we’ll get the Poles out, then the gays’

London’s theatre district of Covent Garden rings to the sound of hate after UK Brexit vote.

As one of the most tolerant, accepting places in Britain – packed with theatres and attracting tourists from around the world.

But just three days after the country voted to leave the European Union, Colin Appleby, a gay resident of London’s Covent Garden, heard something he wasn’t expecting.

A group was making its way up Drury Lane on Sunday night, singing at the top of their voices:

‘Rule Britannia!

‘Britannia rules the waves!

‘First we’ll get the Poles out, then the gays!’

Socialist Worker has a unique way of looking at this situation,

Social change never comes without turmoil—we have to seize the time.

These hammer blows reinforce one another. The government is marked by inertia, paralysis and drift. This is a genuine crisis.

And it can be resolved in working class people’s interests, not the elites that suffered a hammering in the referendum.

Many on the left have plunged into gloom. We do not share that view. There are dangers and potential pitfalls, but also a chance to break the austerity consensus and hurl back the racists.

The Leave vote has weakened our enemies. It is time to step up the assault on the establishment.

This is the view of many of the comrades:

23 June: a victory for reaction and regression

The vote in the 23 June referendum that Britain should leave the European Union was a victory for the forces of reaction and historical regression. It has fed the fires of reactionary nationalism and chauvinism in other EU countries, people who want to go back to a Europe of competing, and possibly warring, nation-states, to what degree and with what consequences remains to be seen. In Britain, it has triggered a wave of attacks on migrants.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 30, 2016 at 11:49 am

Young People Gather in anti-Brexit rally.

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Pro-EU Rally At Trafalgar Square Attracts Thousands Despite Event Being Cancelled Due To ‘Unprecedented’ Response.

Reports the Huffington Post.

Thousands of pro-EU supporters have marched to Parliament where they are chanting anti-Brexit slogans after gathering in London’s Trafalgar Square where a scheduled rally was earlier cancelled.

Pictures emerged on social media soon after 6pm showing crowds of people holding pro-EU banners aloft at Trafalgar Square despite steady showers. Hours later they were seen chanting pro-EU slogans at Westminster.

More than 50,000 people had been expected to attend the London Stays rally which aimed to show the world that “London stands with Europe”.

Channel Four last night stated that the people on the rally were predominantly young.

Yet, indications are: no copies of the Socialist sold, and recruitment to the SWP, and Counterfire: zero.

Equally reports from the pro-Corbyn rally the previous evening state that these groups had failed to lead the masses.

To remedy this Coatesy has the following top-tips: getting down with the kidz  for revolutionary recruiters.

  • Young people are like fruit flies. They can’t remember all that stuff about what a group did as long ago as last week. Campaigning for Brexit? Phooey! Undermining the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn: that’s all, like, history. The important thing is now you are the best supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.
  • Lessons: young folk love lessons. Tell them about the Wigan Labour Club voters and their concerns about ‘immigration’ . That will go down a treat with the class conscious people who demonstrated yesterday. Sort out the wheat from the chaff.
  • Young ‘uns adore limpets. Many have a limpet vivarium in the their bathrooms.  Stick to them. They will surely appreciate this.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 29, 2016 at 10:12 am

Brexit: as Carnival of Reaction spreads Labour in Crisis.

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Carnival of Reaction: Newcastle over the weekend. 

This morning after delivering some  Sarriette (summer savory)   plants to my comrade Sarah I passed by Rope Walk.

A group of 3 tasty geezers were talking about the Referendum.

Overheard, “you couldn’t  criticise ‘them’ till now. ‘Slavery’, ‘Blacks” “now…”

The Independent has just posted this:

Brexit: Wave of hate crime and racial abuse reported after EU referendum

Purported responses to Brexit include signs saying ‘Leave the EU, no more Polish vermin’ being posted through letter boxes.

More than a hundred incidents of racial abuse and hate crime have been reported since the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Many of the alleged perpetrators cited the decision to leave the EU explicitly.

One video, purportedly filmed in Hackney on the morning after the referendum, shows a man arguing with someone in a car before yelling: “Go back to your country.”

 The ‘Lexit’ gang predicted that there would be some kind of “opportunity” for the left in the event of a Brexit vote.

Well this how young leftists reacted.

Mass protest takes place as crowds gather on London Bridge to demonstrate against Brexit

HUNDREDS of people have protested in the capital as they demonstrated against Britain voting to Leave the EU.

Protesters in London

This is what has happened in the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn unveils new top team after resignations. reports the BBC.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced a new cabinet following a wave of resignations in protest at his leadership and amid calls to resign.

Mr Corbyn lost 12 of his shadow cabinet on Sunday and five shadow ministers on Monday – with most criticising his performance in the EU referendum.

Mr Corbyn said he regretted the walkouts but pledged to stand in any new leadership election.

Labour MPs are due to discuss a no confidence motion against Mr Corbyn.

The shadow cabinet shake-up sees Emily Thornberry – who on Sunday gave her backing to Mr Corbyn – moved from shadow defence secretary to shadow foreign secretary, replacing Hilary Benn who was sacked at the weekend.

Meanwhile, Diane Abbott – an ally of the Labour leader – has been promoted from shadow international development secretary to shadow health secretary, a position vacated by Heidi Alexander’s resignation.

The new appointments include:

  • Shadow foreign secretary – Emily Thornberry
  • Shadow health secretary – Diane Abbott
  • Shadow education secretary – Pat Glass
  • Shadow transport secretary – Andy McDonald
  • Shadow defence secretary – Clive Lewis
  • Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury – Rebecca Long-Bailey
  • Shadow international development secretary – Kate Osamor
  • Shadow environment food and rural affairs secretary – Rachel Maskell
  • Shadow voter engagement and youth affairs – Cat Smith
  • Shadow Northern Ireland secretary – Dave Anderson

The latest frontbench resignations came on Monday, by shadow foreign minister Diana Johnson, shadow civil society minister Anna Turley, shadow defence minister Toby Perkins, Wayne David, the shadow Cabinet Office, Scotland and justice minister and shadow consumer affairs and science minister Yvonne Fovargue.

Stephen Kinnock, a parliamentary aide to shadow business secretary Angela Eagle, has also quit, citing Jeremy Corbyn’s “half-hearted and lacklustre role” in the EU campaign.

What an ‘opportunity’.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 27, 2016 at 10:54 am

Socialist Statements on Cameron Resignation and EU Referendum Results.

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After Cameron Us, Say pro-Brexit ‘left’. 

I am a European democratic socialist, an internationalist, a Labour Party member, a trade union activist.

The Tendance has nothing but love and solidarity with our European comrades and their – our – fight for a better EU and a socialist Europe.

David Cameron’s resignation (Prime Minister David Cameron is to step down by October after the UK voted to leave the European Union.) will only bring more reaction in its wake.

It will do nothing to help our battle for a better world and advance the interests of the workers and the oppressed.

Those who backed the Brexit campaign are the least able to offer an alternative.

Like many on the left the result of the referendum does not means abandoning our democratic Marxism for populist talk of a rejection of  “metropolitan elites” and poisonous anti-migrant language.

To underline this point it is profoundly worrying that a reactionary campaign, marked by racism and xenophobia had been joined by some of the left – the so-called Lexiters – who mobilised  people against “cheap foreign labour”.

This divisive campaign  will paralyse their response to the Tory crisis.

It leaves a bitter legacy.

Democratic socialists will not forget the role they played in the promotion of the agenda of the most reactionary elements in British capitalism.

I can only echo the views of these statements:

Another Europe is Possible.

‘It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness’
Statement in response to the Leave vote.

Another Europe is Possible worked tirelessly over the past few months to forge a movement that could progress an alternative vision for Europe. Britain’s decision to leave the European Union opens a world of uncertainty that campaigners in the UK must now try to steer in a positive direction, in spite of the divisions that have been stirred. We don’t pretend that this will be easy. The mainstream campaign to leave the EU has pandered to nationalism, has encouraged a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment and has fostered a notion that outside the EU we can return to an age when Britain was the world’s foremost ‘great power’.

We understand and share the distrust many people feel towards the institutions of the EU. The EU lacks proper democratic accountability, negotiates exploitative trade policies like TTIP, visits economic destruction on its own member states, and at times has treated refugees as if they were criminals.

Our argument for remaining in the EU was that, together with the hundreds of millions of fellow Europeans, we have the power to transform Europe and, in so doing, to control corporations, halt climate change and overcome the nationalisms that have haunted our continent for centuries. The campaign to leave the EU has demonised some of the poorest people in Europe. We share the sense of fear that many of those people must now feel.

That’s why many of us who have worked to build “Another Europe is Possible” will not stop working towards forging a better Europe, and a better country, with allies and friends across the continent. We commit ourselves to fighting the rising tide of nationalism and racism across Europe and building a campaign to defend the rights and dignity of immigrants in Britain. We will work for the most just transition out of the EU possible, campaigning against the erosion of human and workers’ rights and the type of extreme free trade deals which the leaders of the Leave campaign have threatened.

We will not give up in our attempts to build a very different sort of world based on equality, democracy and humanity. In this new Britain, we believe our movement is even more important. In coming weeks we will revisit our work and propose new priorities with those who have worked so tirelessly in the past few months, pounding the pavement across the UK to make our voices heard. We hope some of those who campaigned for a left-wing exit will also join us in this work.

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. In the months ahead we will try to ensure that we lay the foundations for a better country. We must prove to the world that Britain will not become a byword for intolerance, insularity and despair. Another Europe is possible. Another Britain is necessary.

See signatories here.

Momentum. 

Yesterday, the British people voted to leave the European Union. Momentum, which campaigned to remain in the EU to transform the EU, respects the decision taken by the electorate.

We recognise that people voted ‘Leave’ for many reasons. Much of this vote reflected anger in communities which have experienced many years of industrial decline with the subsequent loss of secure employment. Many such working class communities have been utterly neglected for years by those in power. Millions appear to have chosen ‘Leave’ to vote against the unfettered globalisation that has seen living standards stagnate or fall, as the cost of living rises. We share this scepticism of big business dominance, austerity and distant elites, be they British, European or Global, and share that demand for a country where working people have control.

Many ‘Leave’ voters usually vote for Labour or are working people Labour should represent. Now the Party and the whole labour movement needs to show the country that it alone can offer working people genuine control over their lives, workplaces and communities.

Labour must clearly demonstrate how it will improve lives through policies that will increase wages, tackle the housing crisis, and give people a greater say at work and in their communities.

If we do not, we will not only be failing to advance the policies that will benefit working people but also could enable the populist right, who blame immigrants, not the powerful for the problems in our country. Part of the Leave campaign empowered these racist, reactionary forces, who peddle hatred and offer false hope. We must redouble our efforts to stop migrant scapegoating, focus our attention on the needs and desires of the overwhelming majority, and offer a real programme of hope for our people.

Although we will leave the EU, our movement remains an internationalist one. We must continue to work with our friends, partners and allies across Europe in the shared struggle against austerity, to tackle climate change and to build a sustainable economy with full employment for all the peoples of Europe.

In solidarity,

Team Momentum
http://www.peoplesmomentum.com/

Brexit ‘Left’ Reaches Delusional Stage and Talks of ‘Commonwealth’.

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Lexit: Desperate last-minute Flailing.

As the left and the labour Movement, from the trade unions, the Party to the majority of radical groups,  stand increasingly united behind a Remain Vote the Brexit ‘left’ is desperate.

They are scrambling round for self-justification.

From whingeing about the ‘absence of a working class voice” in the referendum,  Socialist Worker has been reduced to asserting that, “A socialist Europe is not on the ballot paper and there is no method for reforming the EU.”

Oddly this a Referendum about membership of the EU, and it does not include an option to vote for the SWP either.

Nor does saying three times that the EU cannot be changed make the claim true.

John McDonnell says,

Labour is pushing for an ambitious programme of reforms that will make the EU work for the best interests of working people here and across Europe.

For example, all the EU member states have a share in the European Investment Bank (EIB). The UK’s share is 16 per cent, equivalent to its size inside the EU. But the Tories have failed to make the most of it, with the UK only receiving 11 per cent of funding. If we took our fair share of the extra funding that the EIB has offered, that would be £35bn of additional investment. That’s more than double the entire UK public investment spend for a year.

The SWP’s position would have us not even try to get this ideas on the practical agenda.

This argument in today’s The Socialist, plumbs the depths of delusion.

voters – particularly working class voters – are increasingly seeing the referendum as a chance to protest both against Cameron and everything they have suffered in recent years: low pay, zero-hour contracts, benefit cuts, the lack of affordable housing, and public services cut to the bone. One poll shows that 60% of ‘blue collar’ workers intend to vote for exit.

What is the basis of this ‘blue collar’ (not a Marxist category) support for Brexit?

There is no mention in this article of something too obvious, er, to mention.

Socialist Party ‘aligned’ Trade Unionists Against the EU leaders Enrico Tortolano and Ragesh Khakhria (both part of the PCS which officially has a neutral stand during the referendum) get to grips with the issue of what motives this support in the Morning Star.

They observe, in arguing for something now called a ‘People’s Brexit‘  that,

….millions of working-class voters are unrepresented by the mainstream political parties and large chunks of the trade union movement.

The stance and position of those who are supposed to represent labour is at odds with the experience of the working class in Britain as well as the rest of the EU.

Working-class people are experiencing unemployment or insecure jobs, low pay, no pension with little prospect of owning their own home, or living in secure council housing.

It’s nonsense to pretend that the movement of more people into these communities is having no impact on their lives.

Rich Tories have already cut schools and hospitals they use to the bone.

For the metropolitan liberal elite, far removed from such concerns, the prospect of a people’s Brexit simply violates their sense of entitlement and jeopardises the prospect of middle-class benefits that the working class will never see.

So ‘movement of more people’ – free movement of labour in the European Union – is a problem which has created support for Brexit. Only the ‘metropolitan liberal elite’ –  do not see this reality.

This is clearly at odds with Socialist Worker’s charges against “Fortress Europe”. They charge the EU with putting up barriers to refugees and migrants from outside the Continent. SW notes that the Official Remain campaign is led by those who want to “regain control” of Britain’s borders.

Does the Socialist Party and Trade Unionists Against the EU want to regain “control” over UK frontiers, stop the flow of “cheap labour” that is having an “impact” on “communities”?

If so, how?

And if the SWP opposes such moves, why are they backing a vote for those whose entire project in recent weeks has been centred on a hate campaign against migrant workers

Perhaps we should consider not just migrants and refugees on the frontiers of Europe but   “people” in “movement” who have come to Britian. Khakhria and  Tortolano, whose own forebears were no doubt in “movement” have no answer to this issue.

The pair note, no doubt wistfully, that,

Historically, the labour movement and Labour leaders such as Clement Attlee and Hugh Gaitskell felt a much greater affinity with the Commonwealth countries than they did to the capitalist Common Market.

Yes, New Zealand Lamb and butter, that’s the best reply to the ‘capitalist’ EU.

 

Tariq Ali joins with Smears against Jo Cox.

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Tariq Ali: Better off tilting at Windmills than engaging in Politics.

Recently former Marxist Tariq Ali made a return to British politics.

He starred at the 13th of June Camden “rally of shame” calling for Brexit, or as they tried to call it, Lexit (left Exit, geddit?).

London says #Lexit: The Left Case Against the EU – Tariq Ali.

Ali stood on the same platform as Caroline Tacchella, a representative of the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique, a French Trotskyist group, whose historical record even a genial codger like Tariq must remember with loathing.

The group from which this micro-party originates (the ‘Lambertists’) are famous for opposing the French students in 1968.

In a celebrated confrontation hundreds of this sect’s Service d’ordre  paraded in military style, demanding that the petty bourgeois intellectuals not build barricades in the Sorbonne but wait for the working class and its vanguard (not unrelated to the said Lambertists, known at the time as the Organisation Communiste Internationaliste, OCI) to lead the movement.

Ali, one might possibly know, is one-time student leader, and the author of self-congratulatory writings on 68, (1968 and After: Inside the Revolution, 1978, Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties ,1987 and others too numerous for even their author to have read) one would expect him to know that particularly history and shun any association with the Lambertists.

Update (from JM)

The British arm of this sect, publishes Workers’ Tribune, whose latest issue you can download here.

Many of those leftist youths, the anciens combattants, or vétérans as we, a decade or more younger, used to call them in Paris, not without a hint of affectionate mockery, have kept the course.

Others have fallen by the wayside.

None in a more spectacular fashion than Ali in his present convulsions.

From spitting on the grave of our comrades at Charlie Hebdo, to backing Brexit, and now...this:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 21, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Leading ‘Left’ Lexit anti-EU Campaigner, George Galloway, pays out Libel Damages to Aisha Ali-Khan.

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How the Galloway ‘left’ Campaign to Leave kicked off.

Our old friend George Galloway had been quiet during the last stages of the European Referendum.

After a sparkling start, which saw the dapper gent appear with Nigel Farage in a united front, we heard little of the Respect leader.

The one-time star of Parliament, and international statesman, had been reduced to retweeting others, such as Steve Hedley, the ally of French Trotskyist micro-party, Daniel Gluckstein’s Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique and their ‘internationalist’ rally in support of Brexit in Paris.

Now we know why:

The Independent reports,

George Galloway has agreed to pay undisclosed damages to a former aide over claims she conspired to run a “dirty tricks campaign” against him.

The former MP withdrew his allegations against Aisha Ali-Khan and agreed to pay damages along with legal costs.

Ms Ali-Khan brought libel proceedings in London’s High Court after the Respect Party leader published a statement on his website in October 2012.

One notes nevertheless that Galloway has now returned to play an active role in the ‘Lexit’ campaign.

His presence on the Lexit side will no doubt inspire many to follow their ideals.

Here’s the full apology George Galloway was forced to make in court today, and why

Pro-European Podemos Ahead of Spanish Socialists in Latest Polls.

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PODEMOS

Pro-European Radical Left Surges Ahead in Spain.

Support Surges for Spain’s Leftist Podemos Coalition: Poll 19th of June.

 Telesur reports,
The leftist coalition has the support of voters tired of the austerity measures employed and supported by the PSOEand the PP at all levels of government.

Spain’s leftist alliance Unidos Podemos (Together We Can) has made significant gains ahead of the June 26 general election and is now ahead of the Socialist Party (PSOE) with 25.6 percent and 20.2 percent of the vote respectively, latest polls show.

According to a Metroscopia poll, the conservative PP is ahead in first place with 28.5 percent of the vote, while Unidos Podemos has 25.6 percent and the PSOE is trailing with 20.2 percent.

Should acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s ruling PP party maintain its lead, the victory would come without a majority in Congress, a huge and historic blow to the nation’s two-party system that has dominated the country since the end of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in 1978.

The June 26 vote follows the king of Spain’s decision to dissolve parliament and trigger new elections after no single party won enough seats to form a government in the December vote. Since then a caretaker government led by Rajoy has administered the country.

More, in Spanish,

El previsible éxito de Unidos Podemos no es tanta sorpresa, ni la caída de PP y PSOE.

The predicted success of Unidos Podemos (the alliance of Podemos with the left bloc, Izquidra Undia) is not so surprising, nor the decline of the PP (right) and PSOE (Socialist Party).

Not only does the Spanish election concern everybody in Europe but the advance of Podemos is important to the internationalist left campaigning for a Remain vote in this week’s UK referendum.

Podemos: reclaiming Europe is a revolutionary slogan

The problem with the EU is a structural one, and this is why reclaiming Europe becomes a revolutionary slogan. It can be done from a variety of spaces and on multiple levels, winning over institutions within member countries and weaving multilevel alliances for the defence of European values on welfare and human rights.Podemos assumes a clearly pro-European stance: Europe is a space for political and economic construction, where even the OECD admits the stability pact needs to be amended, and steps towards federalisation need to be sped up with policies that put people before finance.

Podemos have been in Britain this weekend to campaign against Brexit

The Podemos delegate for International Relations has spent the weekend to support a series of events arranged by the stay campaign.

The delegate concerned is Pablo Bustinduy and on Saturday he participated in an act in Manchester, ‘against the exit of the United Kingdom from the European common zone and for a new more egalitarian and social Europe’, with Clive Lewis a labour MP, among others.

Since its inception, Podemos has opened federations of the party in the United Kingdom and his trip gave him the opportunity to see these federations first hand and to inform them on the progress of Unidos Podemos in the Spanish general election.

Under the slogan ‘Another Europe is possible’, this collective has emerged as a leftwing pro Europe group which is calling on the British public to vote to stay. ‘We have a different vision of Europe focussed on the interests of the majority. We have to unite with other similar movements in the EU. It is not easy, but things can change’ noted Owen Jones in an interview with the Spanish paper El Español.

El País today notes,

En la campaña sobre el papel de los británicos en la UE tienen más éxito quienes apelan a las emociones, el miedo o la bandera. La muerte de la diputada Cox es un ejemplo.

The campaign on the role of the British in the EU has been based on successful appeals to emotions, to fear and flag waving. The murder of Jo Cox MP is an example.

Podemos is a counter-example.

People are standing up to the forces of hate.

Voices on the left and in the labour movement who seek to divide workers and back Brexit are fading, as those calling, like Podemos, for the demands of Another Europe Is Possible, are gaining ground.”

Whether Podemos’ stratgey of  ” building a transnational network of rebel cities” is possible has, nevertheless, yet to be seen.

Podemos official site.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 20, 2016 at 10:43 am

Turkey “Shoulder to Shoulder Against Fascism” as the Spirit of Mustang Rises.

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The Spirit of Freedom Against Islamism.

Al Jazeera reports,

Turkish Radiohead fans attacked for ‘consuming alcohol’.

Turkish police have fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of people protesting after an attack on Radiohead fans for attending a listening party in an Istanbul record shop and “drinking beer” during Ramadan.

Unidentified attackers, apparently upset that people were listening to music and consuming alcohol during the Muslim holy month, forcibly entered the Velvet Indieground record shop, shouted at employees and beat fans of Radiohead with pipes on Friday, according to Turkish media reports.

Skirmishes between police and protesters broke out on Saturday near the shop as hundreds of people rallied against the previous night’s attack.

Several people were detained, the DPA news agency reported, while Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd.

The protesters shouted “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism!” and denounced President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a “thief” and a “killer”.

Last night I saw Mustang.

This film is the best I’ve seen this year.

The scene begins in North Turkey.

Emma Jones introduces the themes,

A family wants to find husbands for their five daughters – but this is no Pride and Prejudice. Instead, the storyline of Turkish-French movie Mustang, a first feature film by director Deniz Gamze Erguven, turns the desire to marry off the teenage sisters into a psychological thriller set in modern-day Turkey.

The film, nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe, won five Cesar Awards in France and 2015’s Lux Prize – a cultural trophy given annually by the European Parliament to films tackling issues of social debate.

After the five girls are caught playing on a beach with local boys, their home turns into a prison, with bars on the windows, they are withdrawn from school, dressed conservatively, and marriages are arranged so no more “shame” is brought on the family.
However, the youngest girl, Lale, is determined not to lose her freedom, and she and her sisters begin to fight back.

In a powerful tribute to the strength of the human spirit Lale,  who loves football, is forbidden from attending Trabzonspor matches, resists her and her sisters’  oppression,  her patriarchal uncle’s physical and sexual abuse, and the religious rules of the prison-house.

Mustang is intimate, finely photographed, and scripted, and extremely funny.

Leaving the cinema in Ipswich people spoke of how brilliant the film was.

Many on the left, academics and those in some parties, think in terms of the ‘Other’. Having read this word in the blurb of a yellowing existentialist paperback they gauge events in countries like Turkey in terms of an opposition between ‘the’ West and ‘the’ Islamist world.

Tariq Ali, a romancer of sorts, has just written an introduction to a Kipling tale for Le Monde.

This may remind us of the imperialist’s famous lines, no doubt still resonating amongst those who view the world in terms of the ‘Other’.

Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

 

That, cardboard deep poesy, was never true, as the history of  internationalism indicates.

Many of us have long shrugged off this approach.

We know people from the ‘East’ and the ‘West’.

We know that our lives are intermingled, that our ideas, our joys, our hopes, can meet and be celebrated together.

As Lale showed, and as our sisters in brothers in Istanbul show, our common fight against oppression, nationalism, religious bigotry, unites us.

As Turkey’s President Erdoğan wages war against our Kurdish comrades, as he prepares again to build a monument to Ottoman tyranny on Gezi Park, we know whose side we will be standing shoulder to shoulder with.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 19, 2016 at 10:38 am

Homage to Jo Cox.

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Jo Cox ‘s death has affected us all.

Her husbands words still echo,

“Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.”

Jo Cox was not just Jo Cox, she was one of the thousands of wonderful  activists.

Jo Cox was the bright, the hard-working, the  dedicated, the open-minded people who are the pillars of our movement.

Jo Cox was why the best memorial to her is to continue her fight “‘against the hate’ that killed her.”

This was beautifully put,

Canadian politician Nathan Cullen breaks down in tears as he pays tribute to friend and Labour MP

‘Jo used her voice for those who have none, dedicated her passion to those who needed it most’

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 17, 2016 at 11:41 am

Paris Anti-EU Rally: French ‘Lambertist’ Trotskyists Receive Backing from UK ‘Lexit’ Campaign.

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Daniel Gluckstein (1) National Secretary of the Trotskyist POID (Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique,  Independent Democratic Workers Party) Rally Organisers. 

The Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist – Rebuild Britain) publishes a report of this Paris Rally organised by the group headed by Daniel Gluckstein which we reproduce.

 Paris rally shows support for Brexit A report has been sent to CPBML News of the internationalist rally held in Paris on 28 May, at which speakers from France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Belgium expressed their support for Britain leaving the European Union.

 The meeting included contributions from RMT senior assistant general secretary Steve Hedley and former RMT president Alex Gordon. A full report written by the organisers is available here.

 Extracts from the lengthy report:

Alex Gordon, Former President of the RMT, on behalf of the Lexit Campaign.

Dear comrades,

My name is Alex Gordon. I am speaking as Convenor of #Lexit – the Left Campaign to LEAVE the European Union in Britain and I bring you their greetings.

Present in the hall:

Nigel Griffiths, former Labour Party MP.

Support to the rally was also expressed in interviews with Ben Chacko,  editor of the Morning Star, and Ronnie Draper General Secretary BFAWU.

Message of support received from TUAEU, Trade Unionists Against the European Union. (aligned to the Socialist Party UK).

Le meeting internationaliste du 28 mai en vidéo.

(Note the French version dispenses with the fiction of Lexit and calls simply for Brexit).

We note that a Lexit meeting in London a few days ago in Camden has besides Tariq Ali and others,  Caroline Tacchella, from the French group cited above.

********

(1)  Daniel Gluckstein (born 3 March 1953 in Paris) is a French Trotskyist politician for running for French presidential election of 2002 as candidate of the Workers’ Party (Parti des Travailleurs or PT).

In 1968, he joined the Revolutionary Communist Youth (JCR). Then in 1979, he founded the Communist League Internationalist (LCI). In 1991, he was nominated National Secretary of the Parti des Travailleurs. In 1994, as lead candidate of the Parti des Travailleurs for the European elections, he obtained 0.43% of the vote. He was candidate for the legislative elections in Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis) in 1997. In April 2002, he was candidate in the presidential election, and gained 0.47% of the vote, which made him the last of sixteen candidates in the first round.

In June 2008, he created the Parti Ouvrier Indépendant together with Gérard Schivardi.[1]

He is married, with three children, and is a former professor of history in a professional college. Like many Trotskyist leaders, he has a pseudonym, “Seldjouk”. He is the author of the books

  • (with Pierre Lambert) Discussion autour de lutte des classes et mondialisation. 1990. OCLC 84677125
  • Luttes des classes et mondialisation: le XXe siècle s’achève : putréfié, sénile, parasitaire, l’impérialisme reste une transition, mais vers quoi ? Paris: SELIO, 1999. ISBN 9782906981201 WorldCat
  • (with Pierre Lambert). Itinéraires. Monaco: Rocher, 2002.

As Gluckstein’s publications indicate he was close to Pierre Lambert.

Hence the name for this current, the Lambertists.

This Blog has been accused of being unfair to some left groups.

It is absolutely impossible to be unfair to the Lambertists, whose record of thuggery, political chicanery and nationalist ranting has marked them out for decades (see for more details: Christophe Nick, Les Trotskistes, Fayard, 2002).

But all is not well in this small world.

Les derniers trotskistes « lambertistes » se déchirent.

The last of the ‘Lambertist’  Trotskyyists tear each apart.

There is much more material in French but this excellent article gives an introduction.

A long split on the French left

The “Lambertists” have in recent years been organised in a group called the Independent Workers’ Party (POI). The POI purports to contain four distinct organised “tendencies”: the CCI (Trotskyist), and “anarchist”, “Communist”, and “Socialist” tendencies. In fact it is run by the CCI, the other three “tendencies” being concocted facades.

The POI has been intensely hostile to the European Union, and claims that exit from the European Union is the first step to socialism. It is very influential in one of France’s big trade union confederations, FO, and is said to number hundreds of FO full-time officials among its members.

This is an abridged translation of a survey by Vincent Présumey.

As far as can be seen, the crisis in the CCI/POI (the CCI being the successor to the OCI of the years 1960-80, and the main component of the POI) is coming to a head…

The crisis erupted at the start of the summer, at the time of the Greek referendum [5 July], and seems to be culminating now, as the holiday season ends, with what both sides expected: a split, and not a friendly one.

The apperance on 18 July of a new paper, La Tribune des Travailleurs (Workers’ Tribune), clearly signalled a split. We observed that the political orientation of that paper was clearer, more assertive, than that of Informations Ouvrières [the POI paper], where Daniel Gluckstein [main leader of the CCI/POI for decades] is still the nominal editor but seems no longer to have any grip over the content. It was more assertive in the direction of preparation for social, and thus political confrontation in France, thought of as imminent.

It was so because it took the gloves off in relation to the leadership of the union confederations [France has, in effect, several “TUC”s]. It attacks them, among other questions, on that of the European Trade Union Confederation, a structure which is more linked to official EU institutions than to the rank and file of the unions, and which is holding its congress in Paris at the end of September and the start of October. The CGT, CGT-FO, CFDT, CFTC, and UNSA [the five major “TUC”s] are affiliated to it.

..

Rest of article via link above.

Massive Turn-out for Protests Against New Labour Law.

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LOI TRAVAIL MOBILISATION

1,2 million demonstrators across France according to the CGT and  390 000 according to the Police.

Huffington Post announces,

Un million de personnes ont défilé mardi 14 juin à Paris contre la loi Travail, actuellement débattue du Sénat, ont indiqué trois syndicats organisateurs (CGT, FO, Solidaires).

Libération reports,

Violents heurts à Paris lors de la manif contre la loi travail.

Violent clashes during the demonstration against the Labour Law.

French PM Valls calls on unions to stop protesting in Paris after new violence.

Says France 24.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Wednesday urged the hardline CGT union to stop organising mass rallies in Paris against a contested labour reform after fresh clashes between masked youths and riot police at a demo.

On the sidelines of a CGT-led march on Tuesday, gangs of black-clad youths hurled makeshift firebombs at police and broke windows, including at Paris’ main children’s hospital.

“When you cannot organise a demo and take responsibility, leaving thugs in the middle of the march … then you don’t organise this sort of demonstration that can degenerate,” Valls said on France Inter radio.

Police fired dozens of rounds of teargas and used water cannons to disperse the groups of youths during the rally, which police said had a turnout of 75,000-80,000 in Paris alone, roughly three times more than at recent big demos.

The Paris police department reported 58 arrests, including many foreigners, with 24 police and 17 protesters injured.

“We cannot have a general ban (on demos), but we will take our responsibilities. We can no longer have this disgraceful show with things getting out of control,” Valls said before visiting the Necker children’s hospitable to inspect the damage.

As next year’s Presidential election draw near the left looks increasingly likely to be eliminated in the first round, reports the Nouvel Obs.

In a number of opinion polls and different scenarios – all including Marine Le Pen –  left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon would obtain from 14% to 15% of the votes against 14%  to 15% for a Parti Socialiste candidacy by François Hollande.

 

In all cases the far-right would be beaten in the second round by a candidate of Les Républicains (right-wing). 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 15, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Anti-EU Campaign Descends to the Lowest Depths.

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https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ck1HGLZWsAAXwdt.jpg:large

 

Leave.eu poster condemned as ‘shameful and irresponsible’

UK News 9 minutes ago

Brexit campaigners have been condemned after releasing a poster, which has since been deleted, suggesting the UK should vote Leave to avoid an Orlando-style attack. The leave.eu campaign – which is not the official Leave campaign – was behind the message.

I would like to apologise a thousand times to the families and friends of the Orlando victims for this hateful behaviour from people in the UK.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 13, 2016 at 5:05 pm

George Galloway: Trump is better than Clinton.

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One of the most controversial figures in British politics says he prefers Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton.

George Galloway, the left-leaning politician who left parliament in 2015, wrote on Twitter Tuesday that he shared Susan Sarandon’s sentiments about the U.S. presidential election.

I merely post this for information on the Stop the War Coalition and Counterfire star.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 12, 2016 at 10:50 am

Posted in Anti-Fascism, Britain

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Morning Star’s New Best Friends: Frank Field and Kate Hoey.

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Kate Hoey  with Friends.

The Morning Star publishes this ‘report’ today  on the  views of hard-right xenophobic ‘Labour MPs’.

Notice that the “report” begins with the views of their new best friends.

LABOUR is in danger of losing one million votes to Ukip — enough to lose the next election — if it pushes too hard for a Remain vote in the June 23 referendum, senior backbenchers warned yesterday.

Pro-Brexit former ministers Frank Field and Kate Hoey made the statements as party grandees and frontbenchers lined up to make speeches in favour of Remain.

Mr Field said that Labour should instead be encouraging people to vote in the “best interests of our country” and warned that not doing so would drive supporters to vote for Nigel Farage in the next general election.

He said: “The danger now is that another one million Labour voters will believe a Ukip vote is the only way” of protecting Labour voters from “the horrific side-effects of globalisation.”

Ms Hoey said that there is a “middle-class intellectual attitude” among activists that overshadows the EU debate and was joined by German-born Labour MP Gisela Stuart who said her party had made a mistake in establishing itself as pro-EU.

Ms Stuart, who chairs Vote Leave, warned many of her constituents say immigration is a concern and “in whole swathes of the country that stance is the biggest Ukip recruiting agent I can think of.

“They feel there are legitimate concerns and Labour are not even responding to it.”

They do find time for somebody of considerably less importance,

Former leader Ed Miliband made a plea to party supporters to vote Remain — after the number of Labour MPs backing a Brexit rose to 10 — in saying that leaving the EU would not end problems relating to immigration and social justice.

In a keynote speech, he accused pro-Brexit Tory MPs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove of trying to “perpetrate a fraud” on the electorate by claiming to be standing up for the rights of workers and the NHS.

Unaccountably the Morning Star’s Newshounds did not put this story on their web site.

Mann of the people Senior Labour MP breaks cover and calls for working-class Brits to vote Brexit

John Mann said staying in the EU could destroy chances of jobs, homes or school places for Brits.

Well-established rumours that Hoey, Field and Mann are to be offered columns in the Morning Star to join that of George Galloway,  have not been confirmed.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 11, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Socialist Party Goes into Meltdown.

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Back to the Old Times for Socialist Party in England and Wales.

This has already been described as the bitterest piece of sectarianism by a left group since the days of News Line. 

Momentum Youth and Students: Witch hunts won’t take movement forward

Young Socialist Party members

 

After speaking and making clear that we were members of the Socialist Party, the Labour Party and Momentum, the room was whipped up by multiple speakers calling for our expulsion.

In attendance were two self-proclaimed Trotskyist groups – Socialist Appeal and the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL). Both groups have recently been targeted by the Labour Party and have received suspensions and expulsions. However neither of them spoke out against the same witch hunt against the Socialist Party in Momentum.

In fact, one member of the AWL proclaimed that he “was not and has never been a member of the Socialist Party” and that there was no place for the Socialist Party in Momentum.

These groups, by their silence, have sided with the right-wing compromisers in Momentum and are complicit in the witch hunt. They offered no strategy or programme for fighting the civil war in the Labour Party, as the Blairites will continue to fight to keep it a party which acts in the interests of the 1%.

The complete lack of democracy in Momentum was shown when Jon Lansman personally voided my Momentum membership via a text to Momentum’s office.

He said I was guilty of belonging to a party hostile to the Labour Party. The Socialist Party isn’t hostile to Jeremy Corbyn and those that have joined Labour to fight for his policies. We are, however, hostile to Blairite MPs calling for the bombing of Syria, and local councillors implementing Tory cuts.

Another Socialist Party member refused to give his name so Lansman took his photo! Are we to see ‘wanted posters’ of known Socialist Party members at local Momentum meetings?

The political outlook of the Momentum leadership was summed up by a contribution that said: “The main way to support Jeremy Corbyn is to vote Labour.” Momentum, by uncritically canvassing for Blairites, has given no warning to the role those such as London Mayor Sadiq Khan will play in attacks on Corbyn’s leadership.

Comment:

“You must admit that the sheer cheek of saying “”We need to kick out the Blairites at all levels of the Labour Party and campaign for mandatory re-selection.” while whingeing about people wanting to kick them out takes some beating.”

This is worth reading (rest on site).

Breaking with the Socialist Party/CWI

We have come to the conclusion that the very nature of the undemocratic structures of the Socialist Party and CWI make it impossible to change or reform it in any meaningful manner. There has been no contested election for leadership in living memory. Along the way, we have won support from current and ex-members of the CWI. However, many of those current members have subsequently left the CWI (although not Marxist World) because of the bureaucratic barriers and methods used against them. The lack of internal democracy makes the task of putting forward our ideas without distortion, bureaucratic manoeuvres and, in some cases, outright harassment, virtually impossible. Unlike the Socialist Party EC, we have no intention of repudiating the fundamentals of Marxism. We have no choice but to leave the Socialist Party/CWI.

We split from the Socialist Party/CWI partly with regret because of the history of “Trotskyism” and the seemingly endless history of splits and splits of splits. For example, in recent years the SWP has had two splits and Workers Power three. In many ways these are manifestations of the crisis within so-called Marxism following the 2007/8 economic crisis and the perspectives and methods of these organisations. Yet all these splits have either recreated the same bureaucratic centralist structures as their parent organisation, or threw out the baby with the bath water and abandoned the notion of an independent revolutionary party. Either way the effect on the rest of the Left has been demoralisation, disgust and distrust towards revolutionary Marxism.

Further comment:

As somebody who has very publicly argued against working in a common political project in the Labour Party with the Socialist Party, at a London meeting of Labour Briefing and amongst my comrades in Chartist, there are two simple reasons why I do not want to have anything to do with them in these kind of forums: (1) They keep trying to create a mini-‘Labour movement’ based around their sect. They stand candidates against Labour – still – and are now engaged in an Anti-Labour and anti-TUC (not to mention all the major unions) campaign on Europe. (2) They are opposed to us on fundamental issues, as shown very clearly by their anti-EU position. As for the comment, “two self-proclaimed Trotskyist groups” both of the organisations cited (AWL and SA) they have considerably more claim to Trotskyism than the bizarre nationalists of the SP.

I certainly do not want to be in close political work with a group that comes out with the kind of stuff:  Trade Unionists Against the EU’ defends “Indigenous workers” against “Cheap Foreign Labour”.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 9, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Mr Passmore, ‘ Police Chief’ ‘not xenophobic or anti-European” of Suffolk Rants against Europeans criminals

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Police Chief with Hard Line Views on ‘European’ Criminals Faces Resign Call.

Brexit campaign chiefs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove will roll into the region today to join Suffolk’s crime commissioner in making a call for Britain to leave the European Union.

Ipswich Star.

Mr Passmore, who said he did not want to fall out with anybody over his position and that his decision was a personal view, said his position was not xenophobic or anti-European.

Mr Passmore said high profile Suffolk cases, including the murder of Bury St Edmunds jeweller Peter Avis by a polish robber on the run and the rape of an 81-year-old by a Romanian who had been twice jailed in his home country, had been a “tipping point” and had convinced him to Vote Leave to regain control of Britain’s borders.

“We have examples here in Suffolk over the last few years where people with criminal records have been able to move in and out of the UK. Of course, if there is a search warrant out for them, then of course we all cooperate and we have to be realistic. But we have had examples in Suffolk over the last years since I have been elected where this has gone wrong.

As leading Ipswich Tory Brexit campaigner, Kevin Algar, says, more bluntly, “How many rapists are you going to let loose?”

I would not risk my chances of getting justice were I a European migrant worker with the Suffolk police chief. on charge of my case.

After the expression of these controversial views, and according to established rumours,  far more outrageous and bigoted opinions, there are calls for thing that calls itself;f a Police Commissioner, to resign from this sensitive  position.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 7, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Plaidoyer pour l’Europe.

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https://espressostalinist.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/no-pasaran-ugt.jpg?w=307&h=404

I am an internationalist.

My earliest  political horizons were made by the German Außerparlamentarische Opposition (APO).

My late teens were formed, apart from the IMG, and the Fourth International,  by the politics of a group I worked with closely during the Portuguese Revolution, the Movimiento de Izquierda Socialista. This was a democratic socialist group of the left whose politics were a landmark in our movement.

In France I benefited from the  comradeship of members of the Parti Socialiste Unifié who taught me about democratic socialism in the real sense. From hundreds of local councillors, they provided, er…well, a  French PM and lots of cabinet Ministers….

In more recent times I have supported the Iranian democratic left, the Kurdish people’s fight for dear life against Daesh, and the beloved Bangladesh secular  comrades in their struggles.

I am a member of one of the forces on the Left in the Remain camp, Chartist magazine,  and the network, Another Europe is Possible.

I am, like many people, a left-wing European socialist.

I find it deeply insulting that the Bexiters are now claiming the mantle of ‘internationalism’ and trying to use the refugee crisis to their own nationalist ends.

No pasaran!

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 7, 2016 at 10:20 am

Nazis In the Brexit Campaign.

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Eva Van Housen (pictured showing off the swastika tattooed on her chest), has been distributing leaflets by Vote Leave, the main pro-Brexit group, in Leeds

Nazi in Brexit Campaign: Who’d have thought it ?

The neo-Nazi with a swastika on her breast… and Vote Leave badge on her vest: From Holocaust deniers to EDL fascists posing at the Kray twins’ grave, the violent thugs and racists hijacking the Brexit campaign reports the Daily Mail.

The campaign for Britain to leave the EU has been infiltrated by dozens of far-Right extremists with racist views, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Our investigation has uncovered evidence that former members of the English Defence League, the National Front and the British National Party have attached themselves to the ‘Leave’ movements. Those who have hijacked the Brexit campaigns include:

  • An EDL leader who was jailed after attacks on police. He posed with a pro-Brexit Ukip banner alongside the gravestone of the notorious Kray twins;
  • A BNP official and his swastika-tattooed girlfriend, who have been distributing leaflets printed by Boris Johnson’s official anti-EU campaign.
  • A former deputy of ex-National Front leader Nick Griffin – the man has been photographed with a pro-Brexit Tory MP at an anti-EU eventA BNP activist, who attended a rally during which pro-Nazis sneered at Holocaust victims, canvassed for Vote Leave in Surrey.

As comrade Neil said during the Ipswich debate on the Referendum.

Are you seriously going to vote with a bunch of Nazi filth?

Oh and we, the Left for Remain, won, indicative sign, 21 to 9.

2 Abstentions.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 5, 2016 at 10:29 am

Chaucer, Internationalism, and Europe.

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The Canterbury Tales: Internationalism in Poetry.

Amid all the hatred and lies spread during the Referendum, not least by the ‘Lexit’ Left, there is one figure of British identity to whom we cleave.

Chaucer (1343 – 25 October 1400) has a good claim to be the father of British literature.

He was also  profoundly European, full of wry humour about regional and national differences,  and, in modern terms, an internationalist.

Chaucer had a deep sense of change,

Ye knowe eek, that in forme of speche is chaunge
Withinne a thousand yeer, and wordes tho
That hadden prys, now wonder nyce and straunge
Us thinketh hem; and yet they spake hem so,
And spedde as wel in love as men now do;
Eek for to winne love in sondry ages,
In sondry londes, sondry ben usages.

A humanist, in the deepest sense, he brought to light the burgeoning and changing English tongue, still marked by traces of inflections,   in all its richness, a fusion of English and the Romance languages.

And for ther is so gret diversite
In Englissh and in writyng of oure tonge,
So prey I God that non myswrite the,
Ne the mysmetre for defaute of tonge;
And red wherso thow be, or elles songe,
That thow be understonde, God I biseche!

The Canterbury Tales’  five-stress lines  rhyming couplets are loved deeply.

The characters of the Wife of Bath and in the Miller’s Tale – to name only two –  will be cherished wherever English is spoken. His affectionate anti-clerical lines (the Friar’s Tale) indicate more than a religious bent, they are social satire.

I learnt Chaucer doing my ‘A’ Levels at Westminster Further Education College – a state institution – at the time located in Peter Street, Soho.

Our teacher was a gay bloke talking to a class which included a large group of black youngsters and a very wide number of nationalities.

We were entranced by the poems, and by our text, The Wife of Bath.

After the results of our ‘A levels – a high pass rate, many of us getting As and Bs – he took us to his gaff in Lamb’s Conduit Street where he lived with his partner. We got pissed out of our minds and I ended up with a Scottish women in some low dive in the Strand.

Chaucer holds a special place in the feelings of us British people.

I do not think that any other European country has quite the single figure of the poet of the Tabard Inn, or studies late medieval writing so widely.

A few years ago, after an Ipswich Trades Council meeting, we were talking about him in the pub.

With one exception we had all studied Chaucer for ‘A’ Level English and held him in deep affection.

A man who brought to English the influence of the Italian stories of Boccaccio and French medieval poetry, (he was fluent in French and conversant in Italian) yet was equally extremely English, he was, and remains,  a model of internationalism.

The French poet Eustache Deschamps (1340–1406) called Chaucer his “revered teacher, father, and master”.

One line in the Canterbury Tales  which I will always remember – as a warning to those who are now siding with the Reaction in the European Referendum – is this,

But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve,
He taught; but first he folwed it himselve.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 4, 2016 at 10:49 am

John McDonnell Backs DiEM25 for a democratic Europe.

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The Tendance has been impressed by John McDonnell.

I have had some acquaintance with John, over the Kurdish fight for dear life against Daesh, and he struck me as a unifying figure, open to serious campaigns on the left. He was one of the few politicians to advance a number of causes, ignored by the mainstream, such as Boycott Workfare, close to our hearts. He has stuck by the side of the Iranian democratic opposition.

As Shadow Chancellor John has brought an impressive team on his side. Impressive enough for the New Statesman columnist Lim Young to write recently, “John McDonnell’s seminars are restoring Labour’s economic credibility.” ” The Shadow Chancellor’s embrace of new economics backed by clear plans will see Labour profit at the polls, argues Liam Young.

Young continues,

Far from rhetoric we were offered clear plans. McDonnell announced on Saturday that he wants councils to offer cheap, local-authority backed mortgages so that first-time buyers may actually have a chance of stepping on the housing ladder. We also heard of a real plan to introduce rent regulations in major cities to ease excessive charges and to offer support to those putting the rent on the overdraft. The plans go much further than the Tory right-to-buy scheme and rather than forcing local authorities to sell off their council housing stock, it will be protected and increased.

It is of course important that the new economics rhetoric is matched with actual policy. But let’s not forget how important the rhetoric actually is.

So how has John acted during the Referendum debate?

The latest Le Monde Diplomatique contains a monumentally misleading article on the European Union and the British left, and the Labour Party in particular. In Brexit , malaise chez les travaillistesRenaud Lambert sketches a history of Jeremy Corbyn’s hostility to the actually existing European Union and alludes to a past marked by – it is indeed true –  left-wing anti-EU politics.

The author fails to note that this has always been a mixed legacy. On the one side there was a critique of European neo-liberal deregulation, the structures of a marketised public sphere, and the domination of financial and business interests. On the other side the British left has inherited a , cult of the ‘British Constitution’ – Westminster Sovereignty – with all the  reactionary baggage clearly visible in Continental  ‘sovereigntism’ not least in France itself. The ‘Commonwealth’ – an ersatz ‘internationalism’ was widely touted in right wing Labour circles the 1960s and 1970s.

Today we can see the legacy of this bogus ‘internationalism’ amongst the Lexit left. Eager to denounce the EU’s record on the refugee crisis they are capable of simultaneously jibbing at freedom of  ‘cheap’ foreign labour to enter the UK jobs market.

Lambert cites at length the views of the small Socialist Party, the even more marginal Socialist Workers Party (their joint anti-EU slate, No2EU won 31,757 votes in the 2014 European election 0,2% of the vote), and the (respected within his own sphere)  Euro-sceptic Director of War on Want, John Hilary (a campaigner on international issues, such as the Western Sahara ) on  the Referendum.

On the basis of these authorities he announces that, under pressure from Labour’s right-wing, Corbyn has left behind his “old comrades”.

That the article also indulges in sneers at the expense of Yanis Varoufakis, and suggests that many on the British left has only decided to back Remain out of fear at the anti-migrant rhetoric of the outers is an opinion. Its truth is impossible to establish without the kind of mind-reading ability to which columnists often lay claim.

Whether Owen Jones is right to state that there are still many people – a minority if a not completely negligible one – on the left who will vote to Leave remains to be seen.

The biggest hole in his piece on Brexit, Lambert neglects to examine the views of one ‘old comrade’ of Corbyn, a certain John McDonnell.

The Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell has now added his unequivocal support for the principles advanced by DiEM25 to a rapidly expanding list of illustrious backers, including Noam Chomsky, Ken Loach, James K. Galbraith and Brian Eno. DiEM25.

John McDonnell has campaigned stridently alongside DiEM25 co-founder, Yanis Varoufakis, finding enthusiastic responses from Britons of all walks of life, now recognising the existence of a viable humanist alternative.

Yanis Varoufakis affirmed:

DiEM25 is proud to welcome John McDonnell to its ranks. At a time when Europe is disintegrating under the weight of austerity and its democratic vacuum, our movement is bringing democrats together from across the continent. Together we confront failed policies and an establishment contemptuous of democracy. Together we seek to reclaim our Europe on behalf of its citizens. We refuse to surrender to Brussels but we also refuse to surrender to the soothing fantasy of recoiling within our nation states. As Britain’s Shadow Treasurer, John is working feverishly to create a progressive Labour Party economic agenda for Britain. DiEM25 works towards integrating such agendas into a pan-European agenda. John McDonnell, welcome to DiEM25. We have so much to work towards.”

John McDonnell’s address at the DiEM25/AEIP ‘Vote In’ launch last Saturday energised the assembly by holding forward the fact that:

For the first time in over a generation, there are movements and political forces…mobilising across Europe to respond to (the challenge of democratically transforming European institutions) – but responding to it increasingly together.

We have the opportunity now (to recover) a debate about the democratic future of a Europe…that’s vitally needed,…proud of being British,…but also proud of the European future we’re creating in solidarity.”

Yanis Varoufakis reiterated the significance of the event in observing that:

“…to ensure that change is progressive, we have to embed Britain’s democracy in a broader surge of democracy (running) throughout the breadth…of the European Union. This is why I’m here about to sign the London Declaration for a social Europe; a democratic Europe; a dynamic Europe; a peaceful Europe; an open Europe; a sustainable Europe.”

This culminated in John’s signing of the ‘London Declaration’ alongside Yanis Varoufakis, Caroline Lucas, Owen Jones and British comrades, a compact of Europeans committing to the recovery of a democratic Europe in which Britain can prosper. The longer-term significance of the ‘London Declaration’ lies in an unprecedented convergence of support from across the radical and progressive Left, united and oriented toward one simple, succinct, modest proposition – democracy.

John McDonnell’s stoutness and consistency in appealing to the human dimension over sophistry in public life embodies the values and principles which DiEM25 hold forward as fundamental to a European future emancipated from Neoliberal chaos.

Update: Do we want to drift towards a Tory Brexit, or make the case to end austerity across Europe? JOHN MCDONNELL. New Statesman.

I want to see a reformed EU in which we make many of its institutions more transparent and democratic. For the first time in a generation, there is a growing coalition of socialists across the EU who can help us achieve this together. By choosing Labour’s “Another Europe” agenda, our country can stand with others across Europe to make a positive case to end austerity, offer a more humane response to the migrant crisis and protect and expand workplace rights.

Armenian Genocide Recognised by Germany: Turkey’s Indecent Response Knows no Bounds’

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A banner reading ‘Nuremberg says: The Bundestag is not a tribunal’ is held aloft during a protest in Berlin against the German parliament’s resolution condemning the Armenian genocide.

Turkish Banner Makes Reference to  Nuremberg to Dismiss Genocide Charge.

Deutsche Welle covers this historic vote,

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the leader of the Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, failed to attend the vote on account of other appointments. Critics have said, however, that they deliberately attempted to dodge a difficult vote. Chancellor Merkel did, however, announce after the passing of the resolution that the Bundestag decision to designate the Ottoman killings of Christian Armenians as genocide did not detract from Germany’s “amicable and strategic” relationship with Turkey.

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian praised the decision as “Germany’s valuable contribution not only to the international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, but also to the universal fight for the prevention of genocides, crimes against humanity.”

Reactions

Steinmeier told DW that the vote was an “independent decision by the German Bundestag”

“Turkey reacted as expected,” he added. “I hope that in the coming days we will be able to ensure there is not an overreaction.”

Recently elected Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim blamed “the racist Armenian lobby” for the passing of the resolution and announced that he has called Turkey’s Berlin ambassador Hüsein Avni Karslioglu to report in Ankara in response to the vote in the Bundestag. Yildirim claimed that Turkey had nothing in its past that it needed to be ashamed of.

“Ours is a country that prides itself with its past,” Yildirim said and added on Twitter that the resolution was “truly testing Germany’s friendship with Turkey.”

The co-leader of Germany’s Green party, Cem Özdemir, who has a Turkish background, told reporters that Germany was even involved in the massacres 101 years ago, highlighting that the German Empire at the time provided the Ottoman Empire with the weapons needed to carry out such war crimes. Özdemir added that the German Empire had also sent military consultants, who supported and fought with the Ottomans.

Green Party co-chair Cem Özdemir held an impassionate speech in the Bundestag calling for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians

“They knew exactly what was going on,” Özdemir said. “In this respect we’re guilty of complicity, and have to admit this.”

Armenian representatives  welcome the decision.

The report outlines the Turkish reaction,

Meanwhile Burhan Kuzu, a top member of the ruling AK Party, called ethnic Turkish members of the German parliament like Özdemir who voted for the bill “traitors” and added that they “should not set foot” back in Turkey.

The BBC adds this information:

In the latest response:Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim blamed a “racist Armenian lobby” for the resolution

The Guardian continues,

Turkey has recalled its ambassador from Berlin after German MPs approved a motion describing the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a century ago as genocide – a decision that the Turkish president said would “seriously affect” relations between the two countries.

The five-page paper, co-written by parliamentarians from the Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and Green party, calls for a “commemoration of the genocide of Armenian and other Christian minorities in the years 1915 and 1916”. It passed with support from all the parties in parliament. In a show of hands, there was one abstention and one vote against.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, had voted in favour of the resolution during a test vote at a party meeting on Tuesday, but was absent from the actual vote on Thursday, as were the deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, and the minister for foreign affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Gregor Gysi of the Left party described Merkel’s absence as “not very brave”.

Complementing its reports on the decision,  Le Monde reminds us that Christians today face ethnic and religious cleansing and the threat of genocide from Islamists:

Le drame des chrétiens d’Orient

Written by Andrew Coates

June 2, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Another Europe is Possible: A Breath of Fresh Air in the Referendum Campaign.

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Joy and Hope: Campaign for Another Europe, Vote Remain!

“We’ve got the opportunity now for the first time in a generation to link up with socialists and social democrats right the way across Europe on a reform agenda. We could transform this European Union into something that will benefit us.” – John McDonnell.

THE LONDON DECLARATION: VOTE IN TO CHANGE EUROPE

28th May, 2016

We come together from different backgrounds, political parties and movements. We are joining forces to call on people across the UK to rise up, campaign, and vote ‘IN’ to change Europe.

The people of Britain will make a historic decision in the referendum on 23rd June, 2016. In the next four weeks, progressives must mobilise to win their hearts. We cannot leave the future of our country in the hands of regressive politicians and vested interests who do not speak for us.

This is the first step in a bold campaign to reclaim our democracy – not just here in the UK, but all over Europe.

The European Union has built a lasting peace, helped protect our shared environment, created possibilities for protecting the rights of citizens and workers, and established common ground for Europeans to live, study and work together.

It suffers from serious flaws – a vacuum of democracy and economic policies which are unleashing a vortex of deflation and depression in several countries, yielding nationalism and xenophobia everywhere.

We are faced with a stark choice today. Either we walk away from the European Union and reap the whirlwind – or we join together across parties and borders to build an open, democratic Europe that works in the interests of all its citizens.

We know another Europe is possible. It is down to us to work for it.

If we leave the EU, who stands to benefit most? The political and financial elites of this country. Be under no illusion that a vote to leave will somehow strengthen British democracy, bring shared prosperity, or strengthen the influence of the majority of Britons over decisions that affect our common future.

‘Brexit’ would strengthen nationalism and xenophobia in Britain and across Europe, sowing conflict, strengthening toxic politics and accelerating an economic crisis that will drag all of us down. Being outside the EU will not insulate us from this fate.

We, the undersigned, have joined forces to campaign together for a democratic and progressive IN vote. We are against walking away from Europe, and we are against surrendering to the status quo in Brussels.

Our campaign against Brexit is also a campaign to join forces with democrats across Europe to confront the status quo and to democratise the EU. The unity of working people and progressives striving for a sustainable future is the only source of hope for better things to come. And this unity cannot, and should not, end at the British Channel.

By joining forces to promote the Remain vote on June 23rd, we are beginning a passionate campaign for a Britain that prospers in:

  • A Democratic Europe in which authority stems from Europe’s sovereign peoples, decision-making is transparent and communities are empowered;
  • A Social Europe that recognises rights and freedom from exploitation as a prerequisite for true liberty;
  • A Dynamic Europe that unleashes the creative and productive powers of its citizens;
  • A Peaceful Europe, which serves as a force for good in our neighbourhood and around the globe;
  • An Open Europe that is alive to ideas, people and inspiration from all over the world, instead of building fences and borders to divide us;
  • A Sustainable Europe, leading the way in the green transition to the flourishing economies of the future, and living within the planet’s means.

We are united in this call; now we are calling upon all of you to join us. This is your campaign. Let us work together to vote IN on the 23rd June, and to change Britain and Europe for the better!

Wales Online reports,

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will campaign at a rally in Cardiff on Friday for “another Europe” as they fight for both EU membership and reform.

Mr McDonnell will tour a string of cities as he campaigns for a Yes vote in the June 23 referendum – but he is adamant there must be significant change at the heart of the EU.

He insisted the referendum was not about who should lead the Conservative party.

Mr McDonnell said: “The EU referendum is about our future relationship with Europe, not who is the next leader of the Tory party, which is why I think there is a positive case to be made and it’s vital young people hear this case over the personal ambitions of different Tory MPs.

“The Labour leadership will not go anywhere near the Tories’ ‘project fear’ campaign on both sides of the debate, but instead we will continue to set out the positive case to ‘remain and reform’ the EU to create ‘another Europe’ and reject Tory Brexit.”

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Bristol last night.

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Written by Andrew Coates

June 1, 2016 at 11:01 am

Europe: a Bloc démocratique against the Bloc oligarchique and the Bloc of Sovereigntists? Review: Ce cauchemar qui n’en finit pas. Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval.

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Ce cauchemar qui n’en finit pas. Comment le néolibéralisme défait la démocratie. (This nightmare without end. How neo-liberalism  is dismantling democracy) Pierre Dardot et Christian Laval, La Découverte, 2016.

Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval are important writers on the French radical left. Laval  is a specialist on Jeremy Bentham, utilitarianism, the economic, political and ideological grounds of neoliberalism, and, more recently, has written on Marx. Dardot and Laval run the “groupe d’études et de recherches « Question Marx » ” and most of his publications have been joint ventures with Laval.

Both researchers and authors  have  a significant place within the ‘altermondialiste’ movement – the ‘other’ globalisation campaigns. Their joint La Nouvelle Raison du monde. Essai sur la société néolibérale, (2009) investigated classical political economy (Adam Smith, Ricardo), utilitarianism and  the ‘courant ordolibéral’, or ‘social market’ opposed by Hayek and Von Mises.  It is the totality of these doctrines, as social and economic practices, which is now known as “neo-liberalism” that they centre upon. The book is translated into English as The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society. Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval. It considers  this economic liberalism a ” permanent governmental critique of sovereign power – through the market.

The alternative they offer   centres on the idea of a society founded on  the “common”, a notion  elaborated by many parts of the alter-globalisation currents, chiefly concerned with its opposite, privatisation. The book  Commun –Essai sur la révolution du XXIème siècle ( 2014) is an important synthesis of these ideas and their own take on ‘anti-utilitarian’ economics.  (Le “commun” : un principe au cœur des mouvements sociaux 2014).

Their approach is significantly influenced by the ideas of the later Michel Foucault on “rationalité gouvernemental”, and ‘bio-power’, how the liberal limitation of the ‘state’  is also a form of intervention, to impose a “social discipline” dictated by this form of the market.

Critics have signaled scepticism about the picture of ‘neoliberalism’ and its institutional ground, particularly as it has developed in concrete forms, such as within the European Union in combination with the framework of the post-war ‘social market’ economy, or ‘ Rhineland model.’ The use of Foucault to conceptualise a new “way of life” that reigns in neoliberal polities has also met serious reserves. It is hard to see exactly how Foucault’s concept of governmentality and biopower meshes exactly with the economy, right down to accountancy and finance. Still less clear is the evidence that it has created a ‘new kind of person’. Similarly  Foucault’s residual ‘resistance’ to ‘micro-powers’ for all its descriptive force, is compatible with a realisable left project of taking power…..

Others have asked how exactly the principle of the ‘common’ can be translated into a political project. As this critic noted, citing Boltanski and Chiapello in  Le nouvel esprit du capitalisme. (1999, English translation, 2007), past creative ideas, critical of capitalism,  can be absorbed within the market society. (1).

That said this vision applied to direction of European construction is an influential one and chimes with a widespread perception that it is the ever-rightwards and pro-free-market. Neo-liberalism is, they have since asserted, apparently, less plural and more monolithic. Despite their earlier belief that rule is now dispersed and horizontal, it has become oligarchical and tending towards the centralised or at least coherent.

The issue of how to render the counter aspiration for the ‘common’ against this trend into anything resembling political and social reality is at the heart of their latest work, Ce cauchemar qui n’en finit pas.

The lucid study merits reading in its entirety.  It returns to the global character of neo-liberalism marked by a  hallucinating degree of inequality. The steady dismantling of democracy is, they argue, its trademark.

Two central areas in the present, well-written and exceptionally clear book, are  relevant for the debate on the left about British European Referendum.

The first is that Dardot and Laval begin with an account of the further spread of neo-liberalism, from the (Foucauldian) ‘disciplining’ of the masses, right down to the ‘imaginary’ entrepreneurial liberation of Uber,  share the pessimistic account of the European Union, portrayed with crusty bitterness by one-time pro-European and one-time New Leftists like Perry Anderson. In this picture the EU is dominated, shaped and founded within the terms set by an oligarchy – a veritable political and class ” bloc oligarchique” –  which cannot be reformed. It is a form of polity in which the ‘ gouvernementale’ – governing or capable of governing – European social democracy has become “social liberalism”, with concerns for fashionable rights and equality of opportunity, , or straightforward market liberalism.

Dardot and Lavel spend some trying to justify this conceptualisation and vocabulary. Most obviously – which they do not consider – the  term Bloc, compact mass, partisans of the same strategy –  is singularly unconvincing. It covers, in their opinion, political rulers, finance, ‘top management’, the media and ideological apparatus (Not their phrase but essentially identical to Althusser’s usage), media and education, universities included, all the ‘few’ who rule. Applied to the United Kingdom, where the bourgeoisie and ‘oligarchy’ contains important fractions, and the right-wing (Conservatives and UKIP), political expressions, of neoliberal agencies virulently opposed to the EU’s present policies and long-term governmental strategies, this image of unity is plainly nonsense. The images of corruption inside the bloc also looks more like wallpaper paste rather than cement.

Is Democracy Ending?

Ce cauchemar qui n’en finit pas alleges that we   are at the threshold of a “sortie de la démocratie” – any form of popular control is being eliminated from the governance of the economy, and, behind that, the institutional framework  of the EU. The treatment of Greece and the Syriza government is proof of this development. In their vein the two claim, that is, assert, that Yanis Varoufakis and DiEM‘s project of democratising the existing structures is a no-runner. A more telling point, is that Syriza had no effective political allies that could counter the ‘triumvirate’s demand.

The second is that an alternative has to be built, across countries and across movements, a “ bloc démocratique”. Dardot and Laval have serious reserves about Podemos, noting that the causes of the radical Spanish left’s progress are very specific to the country – something one can see with the limited impact of its homologue in France, Nuit Debout. But the prospect of an alternative trans-continental ‘bloc’, rather than national forces, leads back to the arena in which DiEM has been created.

It is clear that no such movement can be built on the basis of the ‘Lexit’ campaign. This is to retreat to an imaginary British national sovereignty which leaves the labour movement and left at the mercy of those intent on constructing a Hayekian ‘order’. Those going that route, like nostalgic for Little Britain strategies of the 1970s UK left, are marginalised in the face of the relentless campaigns against migration and xenophobic attacks against ‘Europe’.

The book concludes with a bold, some might say, irrelevant, ‘non-negotiable’ demand for the rotation of all public offices. Nevertheless, the optimist strand in Ce cauchemar qui n’en finit pas points in another direction: to outward movements and alliances within a trans-national democratic bloc, in the first instance in Europe itself. This would involve left parties, unions, campaigns, and a galaxy of progressive social movement groups. Whether we can create these links – Another Europe is Possible is a hopeful sign –  is up to us. We back this approach to voting Remain, critical support  – in debate and activity with comrades like  Dardot and Laval.

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Another Europe is Possible Rallies the Left in London last weekend.

(1) Le Commun, ce qu’il n’est pas, et ce qu’il peut être. A propos de l’ouvrage « Commun : essai sur la révolution au XXIè siècle » de Pierre Dardot et Christian Laval.  Mathieu Cocq also signals potential problems in the authors’ history and concept of “neclosure” of the common and attemnpts tpo create a new ‘common’.

Review of Ce cauchemar qui n’en finit pas: Henri Wilmo (Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste).

 

As Left Rallies to Back Another Europe, Verso promotes neoliberal attack on EU.

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photo of John Rowlery Gillingham

Thatcherite Gillingham is Top Author on Verso ‘internationalist’ reading list on EU.

Verso books, the publishing wing of New Left Review, has”put together an essential reading list of books that critically engage with the debate from a perspective of internationalism.”

Brexit and the European Union: Essential Reading.

At the top of the pile of books is this:

The EU: An Obituary — John Gillingham
In this pithy, rigorously argued book, leading historian John Gillingham examines a once great notion that soured long ago. From its postwar origins through the Single Market  and to the troubles of the present, Gillingham explains how Europe’s would-be government became a force for anti-democratic centralization and inept policy-making. The EU: An Obituary is an urgent call to the political Left, Right, and Center (sic) to set things right before it is too late.

The Guardian review of the book by Christopher Kissane is headed

The Thatcherite historian argues that the EU is defunct, a relic of the postwar decades. But would an unfettered Europe be a better place?

Kissane comments,

Euroscepticism creates some strange bedfellows. Many rightwing nationalists view the EU as a Trojan horse of unstoppable multiculturalism. Some on the left see its focus on the single market as institutionalised “neoliberalism” and austerity. And some “neoliberals” such as Gillingham see it as a relic of the postwar decades that binds free markets in red tape. Gillingham is not a typical author for the radical-left publishing house Verso – presumably at least one commissioning editor there has Eurosceptic leanings. From all sorts of angles, the EU seems to be the sick man of Europe.

This is Gillingham’s prognostic,

Only a fool would venture to predict how the official institutions of Europe will become unglued, unravel, fall apart, or simply evaporate into thin air. The list of possible scenarios is innumerable. A reasonable guess would be, however, that Brexit will trigger the process of decomposition and reconfiguration. If past events can serve as a guide to the British referendum planned for 23 June, the tide will shift in favour of the anti-EU cause.

Only a fool…..

Recent polls have swung decisively in favour of the Leave campaign. Behind this shift in sentiment is a reality of awesome significance: Cameron’s promise of a better deal for Britain has little meaning in respect to an EU in disarray, which is untrustworthy, falling behind economically, and unable or unwilling to deliver on its commitments. At the rock-bottom level, moreover, a sovereign national political system, like Britain’s, based on the supremacy of parliament, is incompatible with the existence of a supranational entity, whose leadership remains – in spite of everything – unwavering in its determination to create a European state.

“Gillingham is University of Missouri Board of Curators Professor at University of Missouri and was Professor of History there until 2007. He has authored books on European integration, heavy industry in the Third Reich and the economy of Belgium under Nazi occupation. Gillingham is listed in Marquess’s Who’s Who in America and has received numerous awards and recognitions.”

Now at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard .

Meanwhile back on the left, away from Verso and the (formerly)  ‘New Left’ Review.

John McDonnell issues rallying cry for a democratic Europe

John McDonnell has thrown his weight behind a left-wing remain campaign, saying a democratic Europe is “urgently and vitally” needed.

In a mix of left-wing political perspectives, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor joined former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Labour MP Clive Lewis and journalist Owen Jones, among others, to make their case for remaining in, but overhauling the current European Union.

They were speaking at a rally called Vote In – Another Europe is Possible, at London’s Institute of Education on Saturday.

Mr McDonnell told the gathering that there is a movement across Europe to respond to the challenge of democratically transforming the EU, and also attacked the Tories for dragging the referendum debate “into the gutter”.

He said: “We have the opportunity to regroup the referendum debate away from Tory Brexit and into a debate on a democratic Europe.

“A Europe that is not just possible but is urgently and vitally needed – where we can say yes, we are proud of being British, but we are also proud of the European future we have created.”

He also lambasted the Tories and said the EU referendum debate on the right is “disfiguring political discourse” and causing people to become “tired of the ranting hysteria”.

“(Boris) Johnson’s comparisons of the EU to the Third Reich and (David) Cameron’s claims of impending World War Three, they just beggar belief,” he said.

“We cannot let the right drag this debate into the intellectual gutter.”

He said it is the job of those on the left, and the progressives, to now “step in and save the debate”.

The Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington also said the problems faced by the UK are transnational problems with transnational solutions.

“How can we turn a blind eye to the City of London effectively acting like a funnel to offshortax havens for the taxes of transnational corporations and super rich?” he said.

“Public funding is not just needed in this country but right the way across Europe,” he added.

“We know that if we clamp down here, the tax evaders will avoid us and will move elsewhere.

“That’s why European agreements are necessary and which form the basis for global agreements to track down and confront tax evasion and avoidance.

The Guardian adds,

The Another Europe is Possible tour started at the UCL Institute of Education in central London on Saturday. Momentum, the Labour-supporting network, also joined Corbyn in launching a platform called Your Referendum to boost grassroots campaigning for remain.

A vote by Momentum’s national committee, a poll of Momentum’s supporters and a YouGov poll of Corbyn-supporting Labour members have all overwhelmingly backed remain.

Momentum said Your Referendum was inspired by the US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaigning methods of providing tools for volunteer-led organising.

In a statement, the group said: “Your Referendum is Momentum’s effort to take the toxic Brexit debate out of Westminster and the TV studios and into our communities, with the hope of reaching leftwing and younger voters, who polls say are less likely to turn out although they tend to support remain.”

The national organiser for Momentum, James Schneider, said: “Through the Your Referendum platform and the activities of local Momentum groups, we hope to encourage more activism, engage more people actively in the EU debate, and mobilise the harder to reach young or leftwing voters, who are turned off by Stronger In’s defence of the status quo.”

Other rallies as part of the tour will involve trade unionists and the Labour MP Clive Lewis at cities including Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield and Manchester.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 29, 2016 at 11:18 am

‘Trade Unionists Against the EU’ defends “Indigenous workers” against “Cheap Foreign Labour”.

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Local Workers Excluded from Being Able to Provide for Families by EU ‘shunting’ people around Europe. 

The Daily Express (May 25th) reports.

…hitting back today campaign group Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU) nailed the “delusion being promoted by some that we should remain in the EU to transform it”.

Director Enrico Tortolano said: “One of the bizarre features of the pro-EU campaign is its spreading of the lie that the EU can be reformed and transformed into paradise on earth. The reality is that the EU is reform proof.

“As these states lurch to the right and the EU gives itself up further to the demands of the corporations, the delusion of reformability looks even more ridiculous and flies in the face of the brutal realities being challenged by trade unionists forced to take the streets in Belgium, France and Greece this week.”

Patriotic trade unionists have launched a campaign to get Britain out of the EU and are urging ordinary workers to look at the “constitutional reality” of the 28-nation bloc rather than believing Mr Cameron’s spin doctors.

This is what campaign leader Enrico Tortolono  says about the free movement of labour (Trade Unionists Against the EU):

Moreover EU rules demanding the complete free movement of labour have had a profound impact on all trade unions operating within the EU.

Following the accession of eastern European states to the EU, migrant labour has been rapidly moving west while capital and manufacturing jobs are moving east.

While western European countries experiencing a large influx of migrant labour, eastern European states are suffering population falls and an inevitable brain drain, leading to a loss of skilled labour and young people as well as an uncertain future of underdevelopment.

In more developed member states, wages have been under pressure in many sectors in a process known as ‘social dumping’, as cheap foreign labour replaces the indigenous workforce and trade union bargaining power is severely weakened.

A campaign to Leave the EU based on the defence of the “indigenous workforce” against “cheap foreign labour” is no doubt welcomed by the Daily Express.

This is another Express story (today):

Boris: Voting to stay in the EU means ‘kissing goodbye’ to controlling immigration

BRITAIN can “kiss goodbye” to any chance of controlling its borders if it stays in the EU, Brexit campaigners said yesterday.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 27, 2016 at 10:38 am

French Conflict over ‘Loi Travail’ Intensifies as Nuclear Workers join Protests.

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In Reply:  CGT Trade Unionists Face Violence Smears.

France prepares for day of strikes as nuclear workers join labour protests.

France 24.

France faced an eighth day of industrial action on Thursday after workers at nuclear power stations voted to join protests against labour reforms. Blockades of fuel depots by angry unions have forced France to dip into its fuel reserves.

CGT energy and mining federation spokeswoman Marie-Claire Cailletaud said the strike action at nuclear plants will reduce power output, but that the reactors will not stop running.

“One cannot just turn off a nuclear plant, it is not like a thermal or hydro plant,” Cailletaud said.

The union said late Wednesday that 16 of France’s 19 nuclear stations had voted to join the strike, although CGT official Jean-Luc Daganaud said the effect on power supply would depend on how many workers decided to join the action.

Workers led by the powerful CGT union have blocked oil refineries across France over the past week in protest against planned changes to France’s cherished protective labour laws, leading to fuel shortages in parts of the country and long queues of cars at near-empty petrol stations.

The Ufip oil industry federation has confirmed that around a third of the country’s 12,000 petrol stations were running dry. France has also mobilised its emergency fuel stocks for the first time since 2010 but officials said there was no risk of a shortage.

The French media is full of reports that the  Confédération générale du travail (CGT) is “using everything it’s got” in the dispute (Loi travail : « La CGT joue son va-tout »). Le Monde suggests that the leader of the left-wing federation, Phillipe Martinez, has taken on the role of the ‘Leader of the Opposition’ to the  El Khomri  law. (Le patron de la CGT se hisse au rang de chef de l’opposition à la loi travail.)

There are  daily claims, from those hostile to the union federation,  that the CGT are using the protests as a means of resolving their own – serious internal difficulties. These range from loss of membership (the result of long-term industrial decline) to the fall-out from the controversy over  expenses paid to to their former leader, Thierry Lepaon

It is the case that the CGT faces a challenge from the ‘reformist’ union federation, the Confédération française démocratique du travail (CFDT). This morning on France Inter Véronique Descacq,  secrétaire générale adjointe to the CFDT,  claimed to have negotiated a deal which they can live with. She asserted that the reform embodies new workers’ rights (listen here).

Against this claim – essentially that the CGT is acting purely out of its own interests – L’Humanité has pointed to the unity between the trade unionists (with the CFDT excepted), from the corporatist and (partly) Trotskyist federation, Force Ouvrière , to the radical left SUD in protests and strikes against the Loi Travail (Une grande partie du personnel qui attendait l’unité syndicale va se mettre en grève).

What is at stake is not only moves to make working practices more ‘flexible’ to the bosses’ advantage. It is the shape of French collective bargaining (covering up to 98% of employees). The ‘reforms’ weaken them  allowing local accords and which give employers the ability to go over the heads of unions by enterprise by enterprise referendums. The CFDT is equally acting in its own interests, with, it claims, strength in the  these  direct company negotiations it can by-pass the CGT which prefers to reach agreements by “branche”, that is by sector.

It would not, by contrast, be unfair to point out the CGT is using the industrial strength  that it has – in the sectors cited in the France 24 report. (Loi Travail : pourquoi la CGT durcit le mouvement).

Why should it not do so?

As the conflict intensifies there is a concerted attempt to link the CGT not only with claims of intimidation against non-strikers, but also with acts of violence against its opponents which Descacq echoed. Those in the Parti Socialiste who have backed the ‘reform’  – despite opposition within their own ranks – have, it is claimed,  been singled out.

31 of the Governing Parti Socialiste’s offices across the country have, since December, been the target of acts of vandalism. These have mostly been minor but on Monday their Grenoble HQ was sprayed with 12 bullet shots (le Monde).

It would be extremely rash to offer any kind of judgement about the probable outcome of this conflict.

Update: The leader of the CFDT has just declared that it would be “unacceptable” to drop the ‘reform’ as that would mean losing the “new rights” which it offers.

Berger (CFDT): retirer la loi travail serait “inacceptable”

Today’s L’Humanité.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 26, 2016 at 10:48 am

Critical Notes on ‘New Left Oppositions’. Susan Watkins (New Left Review).

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Critical Notes on ‘New Left Oppositions’. Susan Watkins. Editorial. New Left Review. Second Series No 98. March/April 2016.

“Respectful of NATO, anti-austerity, pro-public investment and (more guardedly) ownership, sceptical of ‘free trade’: as a first approximation, we might them new, small, weak social democracies.”

The Editorial of New Left Review (NLR – accessible here), devoted to “left oppositions”, and “new lefts” offers a sketch of the common background of some very diverse political phenomena. With a mixture of gloom and wishful thinking Watkins outlines the legacy of the late 90’s “late-90s alter-globo movements” “wrong-footed by the harsher international climate of the war on terror”. But, she then turns to how  European anger at the handling of the economic crisis, the collapse of the centre-left, Third Way, parties, and a “blowback” against Western intervention, street protests, such as Spain’s Indignados have, she observes, been followed by the arrival of new forces on the electoral stage.

It is with little surprise that we learn that the NLR list of the contemporary ‘left oppositions’ includes  Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership win in the Labour Party, the Spanish Podemos, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Parti de Gauche (PdG).  The US is also  affected, as Bernie Sanders’s strong challenge inside the Democratic Party indicates. More surprising is the inclusion of Beppe Grillo’s Movimento Cinque Stelle, which Watkins admits, not everybody considers on the ‘left’. Events and elections, she continues,  have not only brought these forces to prominence, in the ballot box, Parliaments and amongst citizens, they have given rise to new “national political projects”.

A common trait, the Editorial  observes, of these political green shoots, is the rise of ‘charismatic’ leaders, from Pablo Iglesias, Corbyn, Mélenchon, to Grillo. Exactly what the ‘authority’ given by this ‘gift of grace’ is, and how these personalities carry it out, is not explored. Grillo is notoriously the entrepreneur of his own ‘post-modern’ far from immaterial party-business. Iglesias heads up, to his numerous critics, a vertical pyramid party-structure He indulges himself in ‘populist’ efforts to lead the people ‘beyond’ left and right.

Mélenchon: électron libre.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon won 11.10% in the 2012 first round of the French Presidential election. He  leads a ‘party’, the Parti de gauche (PdG) founded in 2009 with other former members of the Parti Socialiste. It remains stuck in the mould of a Parti Socialiste ‘club’, a tendency (at its height well below 10,000 members) centred on a ‘chief’. Its inability to develop  has been caused less by the absence of popular protests, the electoral system or “laïciste horror of the headscarf” thwarting its appeal to the ‘banlieue’, than his abrasive personality, which has created a crop of internal divisions to boot.  Mélenchon, his many ill-wishers allege, has a vision of himself as a Man of Destiny, with populist and nationalist ambitions far beyond a “sovereign, alter-globalist, multi-polar defence force”.

Inside the Front de gauche (FdG), which allies the PdG with a number of left groups in an electoral bloc,  it is not only the Communists  of the Parti Communiste Français (PCF,138,000 members) but leftists from Ensemble (2,500),  who have found it impossible to work with this électron libre (1). Sensing little support the leader of the PdG  spurned the idea of presenting himself before the Front’s supporters and the wider left in ‘primaries’ to select a Presidential candidate. Mélenchon has effectively ditched the PdG for a supporters’ network. He is running for President in 2017 with an on-line based team, with some success in the opinion polls. Nevertheless this venture into political cyberspace has had considerably less of an echo in the Nuit Debout ‘mouvance’ (too heterogeneous to call a movement), which is showing signs of both intellectual renewal in a multiplicity of directions and splintering. The CGT led workers’ spearhead of the wider national campaign against the “El Khomri” labour laws and the wider weekly strikes and marches have largely passed Mélenchon by.

Labour’s leader is, by contrast, a Parliamentary chief with a tiny group of MP supporters, and a mass party with a democratic membership structure and large trade union input. If he won the leadership ballot by a landslide, in a campaign of public meetings which created a “dynamic of their own”, Momentum, Watkins solemnly informs us, is a “somewhat diluted version of the 1980s Labour left”, an “organised adversary” of the ‘Blairite faction, Progress. Few perhaps will recall a mass membership 1980s Labour Left, or of any comparable “parallel structure” to dilute from. Fewer still will remember the Labour Party since George Lansbury (Labour leader from 1932 – 35) headed by anybody who had anything  resembling Corbyn’s background in the 1980s/1990s London Labour Left.

Corbyn, like Sanders, is, we learn, “squarely within the social-democratic tradition” – which fortunately covers everything from Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky, Jean Jaurès, to Harold Wilson. In short, the Editorial dispenses with the customary term, democratic socialism, by which a majority of Corbyn supporters, and Mélenchon’s, would identify in opposition to the compromised ideas that contributed to the policies of the Blair and Brown governments. Are there signs that instead after the ‘retreat from social democracy’ there may be a renewal in a very different directions taking place. Watkins calls the combination of anti-austerity programmes, and scepticism about free trade – not mentioning the defence of social and workers’ rights, the fights for a publicly owned public administration and services – and a failure to confront head-on NATO (on what, Syria?) “weak”.

We might then ask: what exactly is the ‘non-social democratic left’? If Grillo, instead of new forms of democratic socialism, is part of the answer, then what kind politics is that?

Vaffanculo!

Readers will no doubt remain on tenterhooks waiting for the latest radical left model to emerge. In the interim the constraints, self-created or inherited, within which these lefts operate are ignored. Are the furiously hostile forces deployed against them, visible every moment in the British media to be ignored? Watkins casts cautious compromise to the winds. She smiles at Grillo’s no-nonsense Vaffanculo(s), scowls at the French Communists’ local electoral deals to retain control of their remaining municipal bastions (what is the threat of the Marine Le Pen or Nicolas Sarkozy to her?), soundly admonishes Corbyn for his “embrace of the discredited Blair-Brown Labour right” and offers Iglesias advice on a tactical abstention, allowing a possible future PSOE-Ciudadanos government coalition “a chance to demonstrate that it cannot work”.

As we have indicated Watkins offers the skimpiest, and often misleading, outline of the party structures and personalities which support the new left “projects” she attempts to grapple with. Oppositions equally fails to investigate the underlying problem thrown up by the more radical movements that appear to remain her benchmark. That is, their inability to develop more than general declarations within the ‘anti’ globalisation protest, that would make them more than a protest against the subsequent Western interventions and security clamp-downs. If Podemos may be able to show that the PSOE cannot work, what indicates that their alternative can? While we are waiting, the proliferation of an identity politics and culture of the ‘populist’ or sovereigntist right, which this Sunday came within a hair’s breath of winning the Austrian presidency, indicates the need for ideas and strategies capable of understanding and confronting nationalism and xenophobia now. (2)

Shocks and Turncoats. 

It is on this issue that Oppositions is most wanting. The thought that calls a position on the EU referendum vote a “tactical” decision allows only a Leave or abstention as “left” options. The hope that a Leave vote would be a “salutary shock “ to the “trans-Atlantic oligopoly” and a Conservative Party in “disarray” is gratuitous irresponsibility. The nationalist and xenophobic Carnival of Reaction of the debates on the EU is paraded every-day. A Brexit  win would bring not just Tory division but the politics of the most reactionary people in the country to power.

The Editorial is deeply insulting to the majority of the left, the democratic socialist left, who support staying in the EU not just out of self-protection against our most forthright and dangerous class and political enemies, but as an arena where common cause can be made with our comrades across the continent. That is, a place of hope and co-operation not of austerity and repression. To top it all, Oppositions attacks all of us through its words against the much-liked Owen Jones. The author of Chavs “turned his coat” for changing his mind, very publicly and very honestly explaining why,  and backing Remain with the campaign Another Europe is Possible. The Editorial’s language in this instance is, not to mince words, despicable.

(1) Mélenchon candidat à la présidentielle : il tourne le dos à l’histoire de la gauchePhilippe Marlière. February 2016

(2) These two weaknesses were signalled by the critic of their French expressions, Phlippe Raynaud in L’extrême gauche plurielle. Tempus. 2006. Whatever one’s views on his generally hostile analysis, these points are if anything more relevant today than a decade ago.

Austria: Far-Right Loses by Hair-Breadth and Cries Foul.

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Austrian Media Angry at German Press portraying Hofer giving the ‘German Greeting’.

The Austrian daily Krone found this  ‘humour’ in poor taste. It could find no worse comparison to make than with the kind of coverage presented in the Mail on Sunday. which had presented Hofer as the country’s ‘next Fuhrer.”

These are some reports worth thinking about.

“Der Vormarsch der FPÖ, die 2018 die Machtübernahme in Wien anvisiert, zeigt, dass gerade eine Gewissheit zerbricht – dass Rechtspopulisten im Westen nicht die Mehrheit erobern können.

Zum ersten Mal wählte die Hälfte der Bürger einer westeuropäischen Republik eine Politik, die antimuslimisch, antieuropäisch und chauvinistisch ist. Und es war keine Protestwahl, bei der die Frustrierten den Mächtigen bloß mal den Stinkefinger zeigen wollten. Die Hälfte der Österreicher will eine andere Republik.

The progress of  the FPÖ shows, in view of the 2018 electoral contest in Vienna,  that a certainty has been smashed – that Right-wing populism in the West can never reach a majority.

For the first time half of the citizens of a Western European state, voted for an anti-Muslim, anti-European and chauvinist Party Manifesto.  It was not a protest vote, from frustrated people sticking two fingers up against the power elite. Half of Austrians want another Republic.

Taz.

These days, it is becoming clear just how large, and likely lasting, the estrangement has become between voters and those parties, like the ÖVP and SPÖ, that were once defined by the term Volkspartei. Their old mistakes have continued through the decades and new ones have joined them. Both the center right and the center left have underestimated the electorate’s anger that has built up as a result of their almost God-given claim to leadership in Austria.

Der Spiegel.

Right-Wing Hipsters’ Increasingly Powerful In Austria

The Central European country’s right-wing extremism is winning over youths with its charm.

Huffington Post.

Martin Sellner looks like an H&M model. But beneath the smile the 27-year-old philosophy student wears the sinister new face of Europe’s extreme right.

Sellner is the co-founder of the Austria’s Identitären Bewegung (Identitarian Movement), a collection of young, anti-immigrant Austrians who describe themselves as “right-wing hipsters.” The IB, as Sellner calls the organization for short, is rising in popularity in Austria. It considers itself among the most successful right-wing youth movements in Europe, and that is causing concern.

Analysis of the Vote:

.. the SORA institute, a pollster, had said that mail-in ballots were likely to favour van der Bellen because they are traditionally used by more educated voters. The institute’s election-day polling showed 81 percent of voters with a university degree had backed van der Bellen and 86 percent of workers voted for Hofer.

Huffington Post.

Le Monde on the same theme,

… l’élection a surtout dévoilé une polarisation inquiétante de ce pays de 8,6 millions d’habitants. M. Van der Bellen l’a emporté dans presque toutes les grandes villes, chez les femmes et chez les plus diplômés ; M. Hofer dans les campagnes, chez les hommes, surtout les moins diplômés. Il obtient 86 % des voix des ouvriers. Ses électeurs affirment avoir voté pour lui parce qu’il comprend les soucis de la population, et parce qu’il semblait sympathique.

The election showed, above all, a worrying polarisation in this country of 8,6 million. Van der Bellen won in nearly all the cities, amongst women and amongst those with the highest qualifications. Hofer, won in the countryside, amongst men, and particularly amongst the least qualified. He got 86% of the workers’ vote. Those who cast a ballot for him say that they backed him because he understands their concerns, and because he appears friendly and approachable.

On Sunday, before the final polls gave Van der Bellen a narrow victory, this was the reaction from Europe’s far-right,

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party leader Frauke Petry welcomed the “terrific outcome,” and in a tweet suggested Austria’s vote could be “a foretaste of positive change in Europe.”

Marine Le Pen of France’s Front National called it a “magnificent result. Bravo to the Austrian people.” She told broadcaster France 2 it showed people were starting to realize the European Union was failing to foster economic growth and curb immigration.

“There is clearly a growing awareness among people in Europe that the EU is an anti-democratic structure that subjugates people,” Le Pen said.

Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders said the FPÖ’s performance was “fantastic.” Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s far-right Northern League movement expressed his “great joy,” saying the FPÖ was “calling for controlled migration, more jobs and a different Europe – like us they want rules, order, jobs and tranquility.”

Deutsche Welle.

Now we have this;

146,9 Prozent Wahlbeteiligung in Waidhofen/Ybbs (Bild: APA/HELMUT FOHRINGER, wahl16.bmi.gv.at)

146,9 Prozent Wahlbeteiligung in Waidhofen/Ybbs

Guardian.

Austria’s far right cries foul after presidential election defeat.

Even before it emerged that the Freedom party (FPÖ) candidate, Norbert Hofer,had lost out on the presidency due to a strong performance in the postal vote by his rival, Alexander Van der Bellen, the party’s secretary, Herbert Kickl, had said that absentee votes had in the past shown up “inconsistencies”.

“Accomplices of the current political system could potentially use the opportunity to adjust the result in favour of the system’s representative, Alexander Van der Bellen,” Kickl said.

On his Facebook page, the party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, seized on irregularities in Linz and Waidhofen, where the final result announced a voter turnout of 146.9%. The interior ministry said the figure was the result of a data entry error.

Hofer, whose election would have confronted the European Union with a far-right president for the first time, said on Sunday night that there was “something a little bit strange in the way the postal vote is counted”.

The Freedom party, whose 49.7% in the final result represents a huge shift in Austria’s political landscape, will now set its sight on the next general election, which must be held before September 2018.

A poll by ATV institute published over the weekend shows the FPÖ leading on 34%, ahead of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPÖ) on 26%, the centre-right People’s party on 18% and the Greens on 13%.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 24, 2016 at 11:25 am

Ken Loach Wins Palm D’Or with I, Daniel Blake.

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Palme D’or Triumph for the Daniel Blakes of the Whole World. 

Some good news, at last.

Ken Loach has won the Palme d’or at Cannes for I, Daniel Blake.

“Daniel Blake is a 59-year-old joiner in the North-East of England who falls ill and requires state assistance for disability from the Employment and Support Allowance. While he endeavours to overcome the red tape involved in getting this assistance, he meets single mother Katie who, in order to escape a homeless persons’ hostel, must take up residence in a flat 300 miles (480 km) away.”

France 24 reports,

The 79-year-old Briton attacked the “dangerous project of austerity” as he accepted the festival’s top prize from actor Mel Gibson and Mad Max creator George Miller, who headed this year’s jury. “The world we live in is at a dangerous point right now. We are in the grip of a dangerous project of austerity driven by ideas that we call neo-liberalism that have brought us to near catastrophe,” Loach said, adding: “We must give a message of hope, we must say another world is possible.”

And, he continued, “Necessary”.

Le Monde’s review noted that ‘welfare reform’ forms the heart of the film. That in the UK there is a veritable ‘crusade’ against the disabled, to root out those feigning illness (“la chasse aux tire-au-flanc a pris les allures d’une croisade) in a “néo-victorienne” Britain.

Moi, Daniel Blake n’est pas une satire d’un système absurde. Ken Loach n’est pas un humoriste, c’est un homme en colère, et le parcours de l’ouvrier privé de travail et de ressources est filmé avec une rage d’autant plus impatiente qu’elle est impuissante.

I, Daniel Blake, is not a satire about an absurd system. Ken Loach is not a humourist, he’s full of anger, and the progress a worker without a job, and without assets, is filmed with an indignation that is as exasperated  as it is impotent.

This Blog is not an uncritical admirer of Ken Loach. He is against austerity and for social rights, the cause of the left.  But his more specific politics, which include a lengthy membership of Respect and support for the cultural Boycott of Israel, as well as no known activity against Islamist genociders, or support for the Kurdish people in their fight for dear life against ISIS,  are not always the same as ours.

Nor are all of Loach’s films, for all of their skill and intensity, always as deep as they set out to be.

Of the most recent The Angels’ Share (2012) is amusing but slight tale of Scottish scamps. It is not free, for all its would-be irony, of whatever the Caledonian equivalent of Oirishness is,. The Spirit of ’45 (2013) may seem a strangely uncritical account of the post-war Labour government. Jimmy’s Hall  is a fine story set in the Irish Free state. But it is straining things for this emssage to pass, ” The behaviour of the state’s police is shown and explained to be occurring at a time when Stalin was in full control of the Soviet Union and it is obvious that the state and church are fearful of forces that threaten to destroy them. It is this tension between the ideals of Christianity and the fear of the church and its natural tendency to be reactionary that is the central issue that the film explores.”

It can still be argued that the trio have strong narrative coherence, and, in the case of Jimmy’s Hall, insights into the history of republicans, and the left, in the Irish Free State, and the characters swept up in the struggle for independence, the civil war,  and their fate in in the aftermath, as well as cinematique beauty.

Loach will, nevertheless, be remembered for Poor Cow, Kes, Land and Freedom, and smaller, less technically polished, but robust films such as Raining Stones, Riff Raff and the Navigators, which demonstrate that ‘social realism’ is not always worthy but unwatchable didacticism, and Bread and Roses, which shows politically engaged drama at its best.

That said by tackling head-on the effects of the ‘reform’ of the British Welfare state I, Daniel Blake, hits at a sensitive nerve, and, frankly, righteous indignation is an emotion that’s widely shared about this. Its tale of people pushed from pillar to post,  has been compared to Loach’s exposee of homelessness in the 1966 television play Cathy Come Home ,

The Minister in charge of the system of oppression bearing down on Daniel Blake, Iain Duncan Smith, is now a leading Brexit campaigner.

Appropriately Loach stands on the other side of the European Referendum debate,  the solution is ultimately voting to stay. “we need to “make alliances with other European left movements”.

The film is a worthy successor to last year’s winner, the riveting, Dheepan,directed by Jacques Audiard.

Sivadhasan is a Tamil Tiger soldier during the last days of the Sri Lankan Civil War. After the armed conflict resolves, his side loses and he is forced to move to a refugee camp. There he decides to move to France to take a fresh chance at life. However, in order to secure political asylum, he requires a convincing cover story. He is given the passport of a dead man, Dheepan, and pairs with people he barely knows posing as his family. Along with his supposed wife, Yalini and his supposed 9-year-old daughter, Illayaal, they get on a ship bound for Paris. Upon arrival, he lands a job as a resident caretaker and starts building a new life in a housing project in Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, a northeastern suburb of Paris, which turns out to be another conflict zone for him.

I saw Dheepan only a few weeks ago.

One hopes that Loach’s picture will not take so long to get to our screens.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 23, 2016 at 11:10 am

SWP’s Marxism 2016. We Publish Some of the ‘List of Shame’.

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The List of Shame.

Tariq Ali

Tariq Ali

Speaks on The American Empire and its Discontents Fri, 4.15pm

Moazzam Begg

Moazzam Begg

CAGE Outreach Director joins our opening rally.

The full list is too long to reproduce but these are particularly worthy of note in view of the post that follows:

Judith Orr

Judith Orr

Author of “Marxism and Womens Liberation” on fighting sexism today.

Nahella Ashraf

Nahella Ashraf

Panel to discuss fighting sexism and Islamophobia.

Natalie Bennett

Natalie Bennett

Leader of the Green Party debates  “Where next after the EU referendum?” with Joseph Choonara.

Maz Saleem

Maz Saleem

Panel to discuss fighting sexism and Islamophobia

Full list: Marxism 2016.

This is obviously something the above chose to ignore:

Why I don’t buy Socialist Worker

Written by Andrew Coates

May 22, 2016 at 10:31 am

Momentum members vote to back Remain Campaign.

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Momentum members back Remain, Now on to Another Europe is Possible.

From S,

EU referendum poll of Momentum members:

3093 responses

Campaign to remain: 66.5%

Campaign to leave: 14.8%

Campaign for neither: 19.6%

This result confirms reports coming in from across the country.

Wherever there have been left debates on the Referendum and the audience’s opinion has been taken, there have been majorities between 3/5 and 4/5 votes in favour of Remain.

As comrade Mark Steel says today (Independent),

This is why we should be grateful to people like Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith, because every time they say something about Europe, they make it clearer which way to vote in the referendum.

The Momentum decision shows how out of touch the would-be ‘tactical advisers’, ready with the ‘low down’ on international capitalism’  to the left of New Left Review (NLR) have become.

As in one Susan Watkins and Corbyn’s ‘best mate’ Tariq Ali.

Watkins has just written this piffle for the increasingly out of touch NLR, Left Oppostions. 

British exit from the eu is a tactical, not a strategic question; the left takes different stances on it, and some might want a campaign for contemptuous abstention or vote-spoiling. But at one level the politics of the Brexit referendum are clear: a vote to remain, whatever its motivation, will function in this context as a vote for a British establishment that has long channelled Washington’s demands into the Brussels negotiating chambers, scotching hopes for a ‘social Europe’ since the Single European Act of 1986.

A Leave vote would be a salutary shock to this trans-Atlantic oligopoly……

This senescent ‘leftist’  disorder is predicated on the belief that ‘after Brexit’ there  will be a golden age for those able to take advantage of this shock. No doubt they will include those whose working conditions are worsened, my union branch members who will lose their cross EU Worker Council, which enables them to bargain from a position of strength in their transeuropean company, those whose status as EU migrants is removed, and all who will have to face life under a Boris, Gove, Whittingdale and Iain Duncan Smith regime.

That is, life in a right-wing rat hole.

Meanwhile the left is now preparing its campaign:

The below  will be discussed at the Momentum National Committee in Manchester tomorrow.

EU REFERENDUM – FOR A LEFT “IN” VOTE

Britain leaving the EU would be a victory for the nationalist right and their campaign against migrants, almost certainly reshaping the British political and social landscape for the worse.

The EU promotes neoliberal policies in the interests of capitalism – but so does the UK. The British ruling class and government will press ahead with attacks in or out – and outside the EU, the barriers to their assault will be lower, while barriers between us and our brothers and sisters in other countries will be higher.

We support an “in” vote.

***

We oppose David Cameron’s reforms, which attack the rights of workers and migrants. We endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a “Europe that puts people, not multinationals, at its heart”, through “public ownership […] democratisation, stronger workers’ rights, sustainable growth and jobs”, won through “alliances across Europe to end austerity”.

We call for:
• Cross­-European working­-class and social movement struggles against austerity and for levelling up wages, conditions, services and rights, funded by taxing the rich and public ownership of finance;
• Radical democratisation, including empowering the European Parliament;
•­ An end to “Fortress Europe” – freedom of movement and equal rights for all.

***

Using the slogans “Another Europe is possible”, “For a workers’ Europe” and “For a socialist Europe”, Momentum nationally will campaign for an “in” on this basis, making defence of migrants, anti­austerity and international solidarity central. This will include an urgent press release, a leaflet and a rally in London at least.

We will work with Labour, with “in” unions, and with the Another Europe is Possible network.

We call on the whole of Momentum to campaign on this basis.

Meanwhile on the fringes of the Labour Movement, Socialist Worker says,

The Left rallies in London against the EU.

by Alistair Farrow

Speakers from the international left put the case for a left exit from the European Union at a rally in London yesterday, Wednesday.

Some 150 people came to hear arguments rejecting the austerity of the Troika and the racism of the European Union (EU) and the bosses’ Brexit and Remain campaigns. The meeting was organised by the Lexit campaign.

Unkind people have suggested that following Socialist Worker’s normal reporting practice they  would have added that a Poll taken at the meeting indicated that 3,150 backed ‘Lexit’ and 1 abstained.

Oil Refineries and Petrol Depots Blocked as French Union Protests Accelerate.

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blocaraff

Le Monde,  The day after a new day of demonstrations against the ”  El Khomri” labour ‘reforms’ the CGT “oil” section, has called for oil refineries to be blocked. (Via Solidarité Ouvrière)

French unions, students, and radical activists in groups such as Nuit Debout continue to campaign against the ‘Loi Khomri”.

The laws will undermine the ability of unions to reach collective agreements (although unions are weak and divided with only 8% members,  over 98% of French companies operate within the framework of collective bargaining, compared with under 29%, 63.7% public sector, only 16.0% in the private sector,   in the UK, (Here). The ‘reforms’ will encourage local negotiations, means to go over the head of unions, and other devices to weaken the collective system.

They will reduce hard won workers’ rights, getting  rid of the ‘red tape’ that helps the system of Inspecteurs du Travil, enforce decent working conditions.

Contrary to the falsehood being broadcast by the UK ‘Lexit’ campaign the pressure for these changes comes from the French Employers’ organisation, the MEDEF, not Brussels or the European Commission.

As can be seen in this banner which links the government, from Hollande, Valls, and Macron, to the Bosses’ federation.

https://npa2009.org/sites/default/files/29861.jpg

The action by the CGT is considerably more significant than the clashes between demonstrators and police which have been widely reported internationally.

French President Francois Hollande vowed Tuesday to stick with his controversial attempts to reform the labour market, even as a new round of violent protests broke out.

France 24.

Police fired tear gas in central Paris as an initially peaceful protest organised by unions and students was disrupted by a more radical fringe.

The labour reforms have sparked two months of protests on France’s streets, drawing 68,000 nationwide on Tuesday, authorities said, while organisers put the turnout at 220,000.

Withdraw, withdraw this law of the wealthy, it’s the law of the bosses,” was the message blasted from loudspeakers at the Paris march.

But Hollande said the battle against unemployment was not yet won and he placed the need to reform over his personal popularity, which remains at near-record lows a year ahead of a possible bid for re-election.

“I will not give way, because too many (previous) governments have backed down,” Hollande said in an hour-long interview with Europe 1 radio.

“I prefer that people have an image of a president who made reforms rather than a president who did nothing,” he said.

Police were quick to act as violence by masked youths broke out during the march in central Paris, kicking off another week of nationwide strikes and demonstrations against the package of reforms. Some 87 people were arrested.

Demonstrations were also reported in cities across the country from Marseille in the south to central Lyon and Lille in the north.

Lorry drivers blocked roads and ports in northern and western France, and there were clashes between protesters and police in the western cities of Nantes and Rennes, where thousands more took to the streets.

“We have been ignored, so we will work even harder to make our voices heard,” said Philippe Martinez, head of the CGT union, at the Paris rally.

The government argues the changes contained in the draft law will make France’s notoriously rigid labour market more flexible, but opponents say it will erode job security and do little to bring down the unemployment rate, stuck at 10 percent and nearly 25 percent for young people.

The labour reform, which would make it easier for employers to hire and fire workers, is likely the last major piece of legislation for Hollande, the least popular leader in modern French history who faces a re-election next May.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 20, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Lions Led By Jackals. Stalinism in the International Brigades. Dale Street. Review.

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Lions Led By Jackals. Stalinism in the International Brigades. Dale Street. Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. 2016.

During Franco’s dictatorship “the defeated in Spain has no public right to historical memory..” observed Paul Preston in The Spanish Holocaust (2012). The movement to recover these memories, beginning in the new millennium, continues to expose this past. The defeated side in the Spanish civil war, and those who fell during and after the Caudillo’s victory in the 1939, are honoured across the world as fighters against fascism. As Preston states, Franco’s war against the “Jewish-Bolshevik-Masonic’ Republic brought the murder of hundreds of thousands in its wake.

Those who escaped prison, death or slave labour faced systematic persecution well into the 1950s. Many exiles passed by Bayonne to France, some joining the French army to fight the German invasion. Amongst the refugees were those who ended up in the invaders’ hands, portrayed in Spanish exile Jorge Semprum’s Le Grand Voyage (1963). Spanish republicans perished in the extermination camps. Around 60% of these died in Mauthausen.

Dale Street is concerned with one of the saddest aspects of the Spanish tragedy: the role of Stalin’s Comintern in the International Brigades. Lions led by Jackals underlines the political and organisational hold of this body that took the decision to form the Brigades in September 1935. André Marty, the leader of the ‘Back Sea Mutiny’, and Communist on his release from prison in 1923, Secretary of the Comintern in the 1030s, he became their effective ‘commander in chief’.

Marty emphasised on the ‘popular front; politics of the Spanish government – the democratic authority the International Brigade had been formed to offer military support against the Franco-army rebellion. Street states that many volunteers “found the idea of Popular Frontism incomprehensible. From their point of view, they were in Spain not just to ‘fight fascism’ but also to fight for socialism and working-class revolution.” The Stalinists, he writes, confused such people with this talk of a “bourgeois democratic revolution”. As he points out, had they – and no doubt those Spaniards who elected the Popular Front and fought for it – if they’d read Trotsky they would have known that this was “Menshevism” and “utter disregard for the ABC of Leninism.”

Socialists will be familiar with George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia (1938) and Ken Loach’s film Land and Freedom. (1995). Orwell inspires his readers with his account of Spain’s “foretaste of socialism” where one “had breathed the air of equality.” Loach puts these moments on screen.

Orwell was to experience first hand the other side of Comintern influence: its war on ‘Franco’s Fifth Column” – the ‘Trotskyist traitors’. The POUM, (Partido Obrero de Unifición Marxista), a fusion between two small anti-Stalin groups, backed the Popular Front and their leader, Andreu Nin (who had indeed originally been close to Trotsky), entered the Catalan government. They believed that socialist objectives tallied with the front against fascism, war and revolution went together. Trotsky himself accused Nin of having rallied to the defence of property. He advocated that the small group should be opposed to all other Popular Front parties, and teach radical forces, notably within the powerful anarchists and syndicalists of the FAI and CNT, to form soviets.

Might-Have-Beens.

Trotsky’s strategy barely belongs even to the realm of historical might-have-beens. Nin was drawn into practical politics, in a Spain where it is hard to see how a sharp ‘Bolshevik’ vanguard party could be made out of disparate republican, socialist, and anarchist movements, left alone supplanting a Communist Party funded by the only international power offering the Republic serious military aid. Along with that help went a propaganda campaign against the POUM, its banning, and the dissolution of its militia. After the 1937 Barcelona May Days of anarchist and POEM resistance it was tracked down and ‘liquidated’ On Russian orders, and with NKVD direct participation, their leaders were arrested. Nin was taken from his house and shot. Fabricated documents pointed to POUM co-operation with Franco’s Falange.

Lions led by Jackals, describes the way into which those in charge of the International Brigades were infected by this Moscow-driven hunt for ‘Trotskyists’, ‘wreckers’ and ‘saboteurs’. Their training material included the instruction that “As in all other counties, so too here in Spain, the Trotskyists are the conscious enemies of the freedom of the people”. To Marty Trotskyists formed just one part of “multiple networks”, “the Gestapo, OVRA (Italian secret police), the Polish police, the Caballero group, anarchist, socialist and above all the Deuxieme Bureau (French secret service.” Articles intended for Brigaders asserted “the POUM was working in favour of Fascism”. The Independent Labour Party, linked to the POUM through the International Revolutionary Marxist Centre (the non-Trotskyist anti-Stalinist left international grouping, founded in 1932, known as the London Bureau), and whose own volunteers took part in their militia, was singled out. Any dissent, which could include the most minor disagreements, was noted with suspicion.

Street breaks new ground by indicating the details of these politics, and, more strikingly, in the endless, petty and spiteful reports on all Brigaders by the Political Commissars. Real issues of national frictions, personal problems and tensions, are overshadowed by the documents known as “Characterisations”. Often exaggerated concerns about possible infiltration by enemy agents and discipline aside, “thumbnail assessments” range from people’s sexuality, drinking habits, and temperament. Categories, such as Cadre, Very Good, Fair, Bad and Very Bad, were used.

With this licence to the small-minded it is not surprising that along with allegation about somebody’s alleged Trotskyist” or “criticisms of the Soviet Union”, that the sexual activity of some women volunteers is noted.

Stalinism, Street conclude, had “absolute political and organisational control”. On the most prominent Comintern representative, André Marty, Lions Led by Jackals, states that his “paranoid incompetence and general buffoonery guaranteed his failure, even in his own terms, as commander-in-chief of the Intentional Brigades.”

The paranoiac and murderous cadres who exported the purges and efforts to duplicate the Moscow trials to Spain, should nevertheless not be allowed to diminish the courage and sacrifice of the Brigaders, including Communists.

As for Marty he was portrayed under that name in Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), as a suspicious thug with a “mania for shooting people”. These killings earned him the sobriquet of the Butcher of Albacete. 1943 found him the representative of the French Communists in the de Gaulle led Resistance based in Algiers. There was an ascension  to become the ‘Number 3’ in the Parti Communiste Français (PCF). Following the Marty-Tillon ‘Affair’ in which included accusations that Marty was a Police agent, he was expelled from the Party in 1952.

Lions led by Jackals is available from here: Stalinism in the International Brigades

Written by Andrew Coates

May 19, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Socialist Worker: After Brexit, Our Turn!

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Brexit Will Need Revolutionaries to re-read the Classics.

Tory splits provide the opportunity of a lifetime.

Says Socialist Worker in what must be the most inane headline since….

Well most of us are sick to the buck teeth with strained analogies with that them there ‘itler’s time….

Meanwhile the paper is beside itself with joy:

“Tories in meltdown” ran a headline in the Sunday Times newspaper last week. The story said, “As party unity crumbles, Boris Johnson may be back to seize Cameron’s job”.

The Tories are tearing themselves apart over the European Union (EU) referendum, with bitter rows every day.

The blood-spilling will continue right up until the vote on 23 June—and beyond.

This is the moment to step up the exit campaign from the left. It should oppose racism, the EU bosses’ club, the pro-corporation trade deals and stand for internationalism and workers’ unity.

The Remain camp has mobilised the forces that spectacularly plunged the world into recession in 2008 to say leaving the EU would spell economic disaster.

Last week Tory chancellor George Osborne said the Treasury had begun contingency planning to shore up Britain’s financial system should the Leave vote.

Socialist Worker.

What excatly will this opportunity provide?

The SWP’s paper says,

We need independent politics against the bosses on both sides.

Socialist Worker supports the Leave campaign from the left.

We don’t share platforms with the Tories or Ukip and we argue against those who say that migrants are a problem.

Er, that it: Sell Socialist Worker and join the SWP….

Meanwhile in the drab colourless world we, unlike the SWP, live in:

Priti Patel reveals Leave campaign agenda to reduce workers’ rights, says TUC.

 

Commenting on a speech today at the Institute of Directors by pro-Brexit MP Priti Patel, in which she argued that leaving the EU would be an opportunity to cut EU social and employment protections, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Leave the EU and lose your rights at work – that’s the message that even Leave campaigners like Priti Patel are now giving.

“But which rights would go – your right to paid holidays, your right to parental leave, maybe protections for pregnant workers?

“The EU guarantees all these rights and more, and it’s why Brexit is such a big risk for working people.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

– In her speech today, Priti Patel said: “If we could just halve the burdens of the EU social and employment legislation we could deliver a £4.3 billion boost to our economy and 60,000 new jobs.” The TUC does not accept her claim on jobs and the economic boost of reducing these EU-derived rules, but notes her overtly hostile agenda towards workers’ rights.

– The TUC commissioned an independent legal opinion from Michael Ford QC on the consequences of Brexit for UK employment law and workers’ rights. A full copy can be found atwww.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Brexit%20Legal%20Opinion.pdf

– Michael Ford QC’s legal opinion suggests that, based on past history and extant policy documents, the workers’ rights most vulnerable to repeal are:

  • Collective consultation, including the right for workers’ representatives to be consulted if major changes are planned that will change people’s jobs or result in redundancies (as have been used in recent major announcements in the steel industry).
  • Working time rules, including limits on working hours and rules on the amount of holiday pay a workers is entitled to.
  • EU-derived health and safety regulations.
  • Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE), i.e. the EU-derived protections to the terms and conditions of workers at an organisation or service that is transferred or outsourced to a new employer.
  • Protections for agency workers and other ‘atypical’ workers, such as part-time workers.
  • Current levels of compensation for discrimination of all kinds, including equal pay awards and age discrimination.

See paragraphs 3 and 107 of the opinion for an overview, and paragraphs 27 to 80 for full details.

As Michael Chessum says on the New Statesman site,

Lazy left-wing Brexit supporters are endangering the left’s future

The social and political forces driving Brexit are deeply reactionary, and only the most naïve, wishful thinking could imagine either that there is some undercurrent of “left-wing” ideas in the motives of most Leave voters, or that it is the left that would gain the most political space from Brexit.

But most of the political tendencies represented in the Lexit campaign – the SWP, and leftwing fragments either from or influenced by the old Communist Party – never expected or supported the rise of a left leadership in Labour. Deep down, they are in a state of strategic crisis as a result of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory. As a result, they are left repeating decades-old slogans – “the EU is a bosses’ club” – devoid of context or tactical thought; and they are running with the losing strategy of creating chaos on the Right’s terms in the desperate hope of gaining ground.

In the coming weeks, the British left will have a serious historical responsibility foisted upon it. It is vital that the left’s voice (which is overwhelmingly pro-Remain) does not become subsumed within David Cameron’s pitch – that we campaign on an unapologetically progressive platform, for freedom of movement, for social justice, and against the status quo in Europe. And those tempted by Leave should seriously question whether Lexit is a viable option at this referendum, or just a convenient cover for the very worst aspects of the British right.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 18, 2016 at 1:06 pm