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After the Fall of Afrin and the Heroic Fight of Anna Campbell.

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Anna Campbell: Died Fighting with her Comrades against Turkish and Jihadist Attack. 

The mood amongst Kurds turned grim when Turkish-backed Islamist rebels took Afrin on Sunday and looted the town. Many Kurds were especially upset after fighters destroyed the statue of Kawa, the Kurdish blacksmith who is a symbol for the Kurdish New Year celebrations known as Newroz that will take place on March 21.

“I’m devastated, heartbroken, that’s the least I can say about this, I actually still can’t comprehend this,” said Berfin, a woman from Afrin who had fled to Aleppo. “We have an emotional bond with our land and the people there, the old men and women, our olive trees, Maidanky lake … it’s unbearable,” she said.

A day before the city was captured, the Syrian Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), took the decision to evacuate most people and move the local administration to the Shahba region, north of Aleppo. Rather then having Afrin surrounded, the town destroyed and hundreds of civilians killed, Kurdish fighters decided it was better to evacuate and withdraw.

Al Jazeera,  Erdogan vows to extend Turkey’s operation to Syria’s northeast

Turkey has vowed to expand its operation in Syria’s Afrin region to other Kurdish-held areas further east, prompting fears for a possible confrontation with US troops stationed in the area.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Turkey’s plans to extend the operation a day after Turkish-led forces entered the city of Afrin in northwestern Syria virtually unopposed.

“We will continue this process until we entirely eliminate this corridor, including in Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tal Abyad, Ras al-Ayn and Qamishli,” the Turkish leader said.

Turkey, together with the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels, launched a military operation into Afrin region in January to vanquish the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters, which it deems “terrorists” near its border.

Expanding Turkey’s military campaign into the much larger Kurdish-held territory further east would risk confronting troops of a NATO ally, the United States, that are deployed alongside a YPG-dominated force in northern Syria.

Turkish authorities have described the stretch of northern Syria under Kurdish control as a “terror corridor” on the long southern border.

The YPG has been Washington’s main ally against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in Syria, in a partnership that has infuriated Turkey.

US criticism

Pentagon spokesman US Army Colonel Rob Manning reiterated Washington’s criticism on Turkey’s operation in Afrin in a press briefing on Monday.

“We are very concerned about the effect that fighting there [in Afrin] has had” on efforts to defeat ISIL, he said.

Meanwhile, Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin told Al Jazeera that Ankara and Washington had reached a general agreement on Manbij and that the Turkish side is now waiting for its NATO ally to implement the deal.

Ankara considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria and its armed-wing YPG to be “terrorist groups” with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK has waged a decades-long armed fight against the Turkish state that has killed tens of thousands of people.

The YPG had come to control large swaths of northern Syria, including Afrin, in the course of the seven-year Syrian war.

It gained the territory after defeating the ISIL group while fighting in a US-backed rebel alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Erdogan also said in his speech on Monday that Turkey would carry out an offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq if Baghdad does not clear the region of them, referring to the PKK presence there.

Drawn to a Cause, British Woman Dies Fighting Alongside Kurds in Syria. New York Times,

Anna Campbell, a young woman from southern England, did all of that. Last week, as the Turkish military and its Syrian rebel allies hammered their way into Afrin, in northwestern Syria, Ms. Campbell died for her commitment — the eighth Briton and the first British woman to be killed fighting alongside Kurdish forces.

In Britain, Ms. Campbell, 26, was active in causes like animal rights and environmental protection, but until recently, she had no personal connection to the Kurds. Yet she was deeply moved, family and friends said, by the fight to defend an autonomous, mostly Kurdish region in northern Syria, known as Rojava, whose leaders advocate a secular, democratic and egalitarian politics, with equal rights for women.

“She was somebody who saw the injustices of the world and the plight of the weak and vulnerable and disempowered, and she also saw the idealism, the amazing utopian vision of Rojava, and she found those two elements irresistible,” her father, Dirk Campbell, said in an interview. “She wanted to prevent that from being stamped out, which Turkey and Syria are trying to do.”

The Free Syrian Army, a rebel group, and Turkey declared on Sunday that they had taken control of Afrin, a mostly Kurdish city near the Turkish border that had been held by the People’s Protection Units, the Kurdish-led militia known by the initials of its Kurdish name, Y.P.G. The Kurds appeared to have withdrawn, but the Y.P.G. claimed in a statement that the fight was not over, and that it had only shifted “from direct confrontation war to hit-and-run tactics.”

Continue reading the main story.

The Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign is devastated to hear of the martyrdom of Anna Campbell aka Helîn Qerecox. A prominent activist in Brighton and Bristol anti-fascist, anarchist and feminist circles, Anna went to Rojava in May to join the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) fighting the patriarchal, women-enslavers and rapists of ISIS. As a member of a workers’ co-operative and tenants’ right activist, Anna would have found common cause not just with the military fight against the ISIS fascists but also with the creation of a new society in Rojava built on common ownership and self-determination and the ethos of a co-operative society.

Anna’s sheer heroism was demonstrated by her insistence on taking part in the Afrin resistance despite the great danger of fighting against NATO’s second-biggest army and their array of jihadist proxies. Anna is not just the first woman from these shores to die fighting for the Rojava revolution, but the first British citizen to be killed by our NATO “allies” Turkey. It cannot be forgotten that NATO’s invasion of Afrin is illegal and has no basis in international law. Their attack on the convoy which killed Anna constitutes a war crime and we call on all progressive forces in this country to pressure the UK government to take firm action against Turkey. Enough is enough, we cannot stand by whilst our government colludes in Turkey’s war crimes, killing Kurds and British citizens alike, and reviving ISIS in northern Syria.

Anna’s act of bravery and martyrdom will never be forgotten by the Kurdish community, by her friends and comrades here and around the world, and by all those who fight for a better world. Through her acts she has become immortal and will live forever. Sehid namirin – the martyrs are immortal.” http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sqflk

This how the ‘Free Syrian Army’ and the ‘National Coalition Of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces presented their murderous assault.



Written by Andrew Coates

March 20, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Not Forgetting Stalin. Under Two Dictators. Prisoner of Stalin and Hitler. Margarete Buber-Neumann.

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Not Forgetting Stalin.

“There were twenty-eight men and Betty and I in our group. Betty and I, an old professor and a prisoner with a wounded leg, were taken on in a lorry. The men had to walk. We got out on the Russian side of the Brest Litovsk bridge and waited for them to come up, looking across the bridge into occupied Poland. The men and arrived and then a group of GPU men crossed the bridge. We saw them retiring after a while, and the group was larger. There were SS officers with them. The SS commandant and the GP chief saluted each other. The Russian was a good head taller than the German.

The GPU officials still stood there in a group watching us go. Behind them was Soviet Russia. Bitterly I recalled the Communist litany: Fatherland of the Toilers, Bulwark of Socialism, Haven of the Persecuted.”

Margarete Buber-Neumann. 1949

Buber-Neumann was one of around 350 Soviet prisoners handed over to the German authorities between November 1939 and May 1941. This, on Russian initiative, selected, often arbitrarily, Germans held in Gulag and sent them over to the Nazis. Some, on arrival, were interrogated and, if cooperative, were set free. She was not. From time in the Soviet Karaganda forced labour complex, Buber-Neumann was put in

Translated into English in 1949 Under Two Dictators. Prisoner of Stalin and Hitler remains a unique account of Stalinism from a victim of the Gulag, and of Ravensbrück.

The wife of a former leading figure in the German Communist Party, the KPD, Heinz Neumann, the author had sought refuge in Moscow from Hitler’s rule. This was never a safe haven. The focus of internal party attacks, as a “troublemaker” and target for their failure to resist the Nazi advance, he was marked. The Great Terror began. In 1937 the NKVD murdered Heinz for “fractional activity”, after a ritual confession. His death came amongst hundreds of other German, and other exiled, Communists.  The spouse’s arrest came in 1937. She was found guilty of “counter-revolutionary agitation and organisation against the Soviet State.”

In Karaganda they “slept on the bare ground with our head top the walls all in a line, and about five or is yards in front of us a soldier sat on a stool with his rifle over his knees to see that no one made an attempt to escape” (Page 91) In the Gulag she came across the orphans “produced by the forced collectivisation and the famine.” (Page 116). There was back-breaking work, in freezing conditions during the winter, for a daily pound and a half of bread.

Initially the transferred prisoner found the German camp, though grim, was run “with typical Prussian thoroughness” and a higher level of provisions. Nevertheless conditions were harsh. She became a “slave of the Assembly line” in the Industrial Complex, beset with suspicion by Communist prisoners who considered her a ‘Trotskyite’ and “more or less the scum of the earth”. Buber-Neumann was deeply affected when the health of her friend, Jesenka Milena (the recipient of Kafka’s Briefe an Milena) and she  died of kidney failure.

As the war reached its end Buber-Neumann met Auschwitz prisoners who told her of the mass exterminations. It was not long before the Ravensbrück authorities began to murder the old and unfit in two crematoria. She survived and wandered a devastated Germany. Her memoir ends in a moment of joy as the prisoner of two dictators was reunited with her mother and sister in Thierstein.

Kravchenko Trial.

Buber-Neumann was a key defence witness in the 1949 Victor Andreevich Kravchenk  libel case. The author of I Chose Freedom had described the Soviet Union in these terms, “The magnitude of the horror has never been grasped by the outside world. Perhaps it is too vast ever to be grasped. Russia was a battlefield strewn with corpses, blotched with gigantic enclosures where millions of wretched ‘war prisoners’ toiled, suffered and died.”  (2) This, and his other works, were attacked by the French Communist Lettres françaises. They criticised it as “fake news”. of”being a traitor, a draft dodger and an mebezzler. His ex-wife appeared as well, accusing him of being physically abusive and sexually impotent.  They described Kravchenko as vain, a drunkard, and a “traitor” to the USSR. “He had fabricated the book’s material with the help of US disinformation services, and was himself a creation of the American secret services.

Whatever Kravehenco’s promotion by the US and right-wing long-standing anti-Communists  his key facts, Buber-Neumann’s evidence underlined, were correct. A recent history of the period notes that her testimony played a significant role in establishing Kravcehneko’s credibility. Les Temps Modernes registered that after her book “one cannot dispute the existence of concentration camps in Russia.” (3)

The independent minded left-winger David Rousset began a parallel prosecution for libel. The same Lettres françaises had claimed that in his writings had “invented” the Russian Gulag, “forging the texts of the Soviet laws, and spreading misinformation.”

The growing evidence – Rousset was able to cite the Russian penal codes own punishments – told. The Communist journal lost both the cases and was condemned for defamation. The result was a public controversy that swept the left. It undermined the influence of the Parti Communiste français (PCF), above all amongst the reading public.

The Gulag and the Left.

The debate about the existence of Soviet camps was far reaching. Were these just crimes of Stalin? It raised again the Soviet-German Pact, the backdrop of the decision to send Margerte Buber-Neumann from one universe of camps to another. What means could be justified (as already discussed and decided largely in Communism’s favour by Merleau-Ponty in Humanisme et Terreur. 1947) in terms of the eventual “goal” of equality and freedom? Was the Gulag, far from disappearing with victory in the Second World War, an essential pillar of a system?

The French left – in common with other lefts – has since that time been shaped by the fall-out from different stands on these issues.

After an initial discussion about whether the Soviet system, which left at least some people alive, was better than the Shoah, a debate, which has yet to conclude, on the nature of the USSR began. The place of forced labour and mass murder at the heart of Stalin’s USSR – was perhaps the most decisive. Claude Lefort, who considered that Moscow’s ‘totalitarian” regime rested on forced labour and repression of dissidence, fell out with others in the leading intellectual left journal of the time, Les Temps Modernes. He, and Cornelius Castoriadis, in Socialisme ou Barbarie, argued that the French Communists, did not just defend the Soviet Union against all comers, but would try to inflict these practices at home. They were a junior part of the same bureaucratic exploiting class.

Other did not and do not consider tyranny and murder to have been the motor of the USSR, but as part of a historically contingent wrong course. Some, even Sartre for a time, thought that the world Communist movement was the only hope for the future whatever regimes and parties may have been at the present. Many of the independent French left while wary of the Communists, pointed to their strength amongst organised labour. They refused to reject their policies en bloc. Orthodox Trotskyists continued to consider that the fundamentals of the USSR, state ownership, were, for all the bureaucratic pile up, privileges and repression, sound.  One can find the same positions across the world’s left.

Coming to terms with the Fall of Official Communism remains a central difficulty for the left. Today, in Britain, all that remains of an already small Communist Party of Great Britain (with some influence in the trade unions and intellectual life) is a minuscule Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and ultra-Stalinist fragments. But there is a more diffuse legacy from those who supported Soviet Union, that continues within the labour movement. Some on the left have not come to terms with the basic facts about Stalinist crimes. Key figures around the Labour leader promote a Boy’s Own view of Stalin, as, if nothing else, a dashing and successful War Leader. Margarete Buber-Neumann reminds us that Stalin’s darkest side was there at that very moment.


(1) Page 143. Under Two Dictators. Prisoner of Stalin and Hitler. Margerte Buber-Neumann.1949 Pimlico. 2008.

(2) Page  303. I Chose Freedom. Victor A. Kravchenko. The Personal and Political Life of a Soviet Official. Transaction Publications. 2002.

(3) Pages 351 – 360. La Révolution rêvée. Michel Surya. 2004.

Afrin Falls to Jihadists and Turkish Army but Fight and Solidarity Continue!

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Turkish Backed Jihadists Demolish, “blacksmith Kawa, a legendary figure for the Kurdish movement.”

Just breaking….

Syria war: Turkey-backed forces oust Kurds from heart of Afrin


Turkish-backed forces have taken full control of the centre of the Syrian-Kurdish city of Afrin.

Fighters waved flags and tore down the statue of a legendary Kurdish figure after claiming the city centre on Sunday.

The two-month Turkish-led operation aimed to rid the border region of a Kurdish militia that Turkey considers a terrorist group.

Activists say 280 civilians have died, although this is denied by Ankara.

Pictures and video footage emerged of forces tearing down a Kurdish statue with a bulldozer.

The monument depicted the blacksmith Kawa, a legendary figure for the Kurdish movement.

A statement on a Whatsapp group for the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces called it the “first blatant violation of Kurdish people’s culture and history since the takeover of Afrin”.

A Turkish armed forces Twitter page posted a video of troops displaying the nation’s flag in Afrin’s centre.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Stop the War Coalition cites 9/11 Truther Nafeez Ahmed to Explain Crisis with Russia.

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Nafeez Ahmed: 9/11 “alleged hijackers had trained in US military installations in the 1990s, and even had connections to the CIA and DEA.”

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) asks, Has the West Provoked the Crisis With Russia?

Fired up by anti-Russian hype, many commentators seem to have forgotten the need to question basic facts about the Skripal incident, let alone to probe the official account of the crisis between Russia and the West. They might do well to read a recently published US army study ominously titled ‘Is the Next Global Conflict Imminent?’.

The Newshounds of the StWC have found the  answer: Yes.

The report shows that US military experts understand perfectly that it is Western foreign policy that is the main driver of tension and confrontation with Russia.

Knock me down with a feather!

This is the low-down,

Dethroning Putin?

Mostly however, the document concentrates on further actions that could be useful in destabilising and undermining Russian power. In places it goes as far as suggesting regime change. Russians, the document observes:

“…may soon feel the pressure of the domestic downturn. They will become increasingly vulnerable as the ruble weakens and the purchasing power at home erodes. Are the west and the US poised to take advantage of this or will we miss another opportunity?”

And later:

“The US and the West need to determine what they want Russia to look like, how they want it to behave and if they care if Vladimir Putin is president.”

Nineham concludes

This combination of military threat and great power manoeuvring has created the most dangerous geopolitical standoff in a generation. Not really the moment then for the kind of posturing and point-scoring we have seen from Theresa May, the Tories and elements of the Labour right in the last few days.

Thanks to Nafeez Ahmed for unearthing this document.

And what did this Newshound find out?

Army document: US strategy to ‘dethrone’ Putin for oil pipelines might provoke WW3Nafeez Ahmed

Senior DIA, Air Force and Army officials admit that NATO expansionism and US covert interference in Russian internal politics may trigger “next global conflict”…

Here are some more of Ahmed’s recent ‘investigative journalism’.

The UK government is manufacturing its nerve agent case for ‘action’ on Russia

Official claim that ‘Novichok’ points solely to Russia discredited

By Nafeez Ahmed.

He also cites this,

According to former British diplomat Craig Murray, for instance, it is more reasonable to cast the net of suspicion onto Israel for many of the same reasons cited by the British government.

He concludes,

The fact that the government chose, instead, to shut down all avenues of inquiry other than to claim falsely that the “only possibility” is for all roads to lead to Russia, demonstrates that we are almost certainly in the midst of a concerted state propaganda operation.

It may turn out that Russia did indeed carry out the Novichok attack. But at this time, the British state has no real basis to presume this. Which implies that the state has already decided that it wants to manufacture a path to heightened hostilities with Russia, regardless of the evidence. And that does not bode well.

Let us go a little further back into Ahmed’s past.

There is this:  How Islamist rebels engineered Israel’s oil grab in Syria (2015)

Israel’s ambitions to conquer the Golan Heights and western hopes to topple Assad raise questions around the discovery of oil in the Golan

Then there is this: (Wikipedia)

Ahmed’s later book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism, follows up from his first book, with a critical evaluation of the findings of the 9/11 Commission. In The War on Truth, he argues that the United States government was involved in the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington and Ahmed has asserted that the “alleged hijackers had trained in US military installations in the 1990s, and even had connections to the CIA and DEA.”

He also argued this,

the pre-9/11 intelligence failure was not simply because of a lack of reliable intelligence, or because intelligence bureaucracy was hopelessly incompetent (which it was and is), but ultimately because the Bush administration made political decisions that obstructed critical intelligence investigations and ongoing information-sharing that could have prevented 9/11. Those decisions were made to protect vested interests linked to US support of Islamist extremist networks like the Taliban and their state-sponsors, such as the Gulf kingdoms, rooted in Western oil dependency and intersecting financial investments. The inadequacy of the 9/11 Commission investigation, in this regard, is an open secret to many intelligence experts.

Apart from the dubious method of citing the above Ahmed as an authority, with all his hints about UK government skullduggery, it is hard to see how the document the StWC relies on, concerning  “great power  manoeuvring” proves anything whatsoever about the Salisbury poisonings.

Still less that this is part of a plan for “destabilising and undermining Russian power”  and “regime change”.

Such are the political straws the StWC is clutching to these days.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 17, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Red Famine, Anne Applebaum. Stalin’s War on Ukraine. A Review.

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Red Famine, Anne Applebaum. Stalin’s War on Ukraine. Allen Lane 2017.

“I saw one cart, it was stacked with the bodies of children. They looked thin and long – faces like dead birdies, sharp little beaks. Some were still making cheeping noises: their little heads were like ripe ears of grain, bending the thin stalks of their necks…”

Everything Flows. Vasily Grossman. (1)

The catastrophes of the 20th century leave deep traces. The famine in Ukraine, portrayed in Grossman’s uncompleted novel ((begun in 1955, and worked on until his death in 1964), rendered his witness to one of the greatest tragedies of history immortal. In the middle of the 1930s the anti-Stalinist leftist Boris Souvarine estimated that more than 5 million died across the USSR in the mass hunger that followed the collectivisation of agriculture of 1932 –3. (2)

Anne Applebaum totals 5 million who perished in the Holodomor (Hunger-extermination in Ukrainian) alone. This mass starvation was a “famine within the famine, a disaster specifically targeted at Ukraine and Ukrainians.”(Page 193) In this the author of Red Famine follows Robert Conquest who considered that the deaths were deliberately inflicted for ethnic reasons and constituted genocide (The Harvest of Sorrow. 1986). More recently Timothy Snyder has called it “premeditated mass murder” (Bloodlands. 2010).

In Iron Curtain (2012) Applebaum narrated the post 1945 strangulation of Eastern Europe’s politics and civil society in Stalin and his satellites’ embrace. But the ordered effort “to control every aspect of society” barely describes what Isaac Deutscher called the “pandemonium” of forced collectivisation at the beginning of the 1930s which precipitated these mass fatalities. (3)

Spurred by the prospect of national, notably urban, food shortages in the late 1920s, Stalin, Applebaum observes, ordered the programme to ensure “internal accumulation” for Soviet industry. The peasants were driven into Kolkhozes, collective farms, and the “liquidation of the Kulaks as a class” met resistance. By the end of March 1930 the secret police, the OGPU recorded 2,000 mass protests in Ukraine alone.

The response was coercion. Teams of ‘activists’ herded people up, lectured them, poked their noses into their meagre belongings, and confiscated at their whim. Armed Soviet agents surrounded rebellious villages with machine-gun and forced them to surrender. There were mass deportations.

The Marxist Deutscher compared the fate of the peasants to that of “mere factory hands”. In the USSR this meant life ruled by party appointed bosses, internal passports, and military discipline. They did not welcome their new lives. In the collective farms, badly supplied, and ramshackle, people worked as little as possible. Vast tracts of land were “left untilled”.

But rules began to grip. Recalcitrant districts were blacklisted. “With no grain, no livestock, no tools, no, money and no credit, with no ability to trade or even to leave their places of work, the inhabitants of blacklisted villages could not grow, prepare or purchase anything to eat at all.”(Page 200)

The Mass Famine.

The reduction of the independent peasantry to appendages of the state bureaucracy, and the deportation of the slightly better off kulaks, took place against the backdrop of famine.

From exhortations, backed by violence to join the Kolkhozes, the state focus shifted to procuring food. The quest for gain through forcible requisitions became a prime activist task. Bringing back memories of marauding armies in the Civil War, appeared “a man who brandished a gun, spouted slogans and demanded food”.

In a haunting description Applebaum outlines the peasants’ dilemmas. They were forced “give up their gain reserves and die of starvation, or they could keep some grain reserves hidden and risk arrest, execution or the confiscation of the rest of their food – after which they could also die of starvation.”(Page 195)

By the winter of 1932 –3 people in the countryside had exhausted their supplies and started to search for “everything edible”. Many were unable to find anything. There were harrowing incidents of cannibalism. The result was that, demographers estimate, 4,5 million people starved to death.

Stalin’s Policy Against Ukrainians.

Red Famine states that there was policy behind the disaster in Ukraine. Stalin was hostile to Ukrainian nationalism, from the 1917 Rada onwards, and Ukrainians, including their own Bolsheviks whom he believed favoured the national movement and culture. This had a basis in that millions of Ukrainian peasants had wanted “a socialist revolution, but not a Bolshevik revolution” and distrusted anything that came from Moscow. If those with such views in the villages could be sorted out by direct force, the intelligentsia presented another obstacle to be met with by the same methods. Beginning with Stalin’s consolidation of power all signs of national consciousness were repressed; above all, the educated Ukrainian speaking elite were targeted in successive purges.

Stalin, while adept at claiming a certain distance from those “dizzy with success” I applying his decrees never admitted any responsibility for the deaths in the early 30s Apologists such as visiting French Minister Édouard Herriot, concerned to make a treaty with the USSR, and the US reporter Walter Duranty aided his work. The Pulitzer Prize winner replied to evidence of famine from the young journalist, Gareth Jones, with the headline, “Russians Hungry, not Starving.” The facts reached only a limited audience. Not only was there no international movement of protest, but the Soviet Union neither appealed for helps from other countries, nor set up its own relief operations. To talk of the wretched conditions of the victims was a crime. 

Image result for russians hungry not starving

For Applebaum the evidence is clear. Stalin “helped created the conditions that led to the famine”. “Starvation was the result, rather, of the forcible removal of food from people’s homes; the roadblocks that prevented peasants forms eking work or food, the harsh rules of the blacklists imposed on farms and villages; the restrictions of barter and trade; and the vicious propaganda campaign designed to persuade Ukrainians to watch,unmoved, as their neighbours died of hunger.”(Page 354)

If Stalin did not seek to eliminate all Ukrainians, but the “the most active and engaged Ukrainians, in both the countryside and the cities” was this a crime of genocide? It is distressing to broach the issue. The reader, shaken by this book, can only express humility towards those determined to commemorate the Holodomor and a wish to stay clear, very clear from those who still attempt to rehabilitate Stalin’s rule in the USSR and slander the martyred Ukrainians.


(1) Page 145. Everything Flows. Vasily Grossman. Translated by Robert & Elizabeth Chandler with Anna Aslanyan. Harvill Secker. 2010. On Stalin’s role Grossman notes, “This fusion of party and State found its expression in the person of Stalin. In the mind and will of Stalin, the State expressed its own mind and will.” (Page 205) “It was Stalin – who was both a European Marxist and an Asian despot – who gave true expression to the nature of Soviet statehood. What was embodied in Lenin was a Russian national principle; what was embodied in Stalin was a statehood that was both Russian and Soviet.”(Page 205)

(2) Le paysan soviétique. Boris Souveraine. In Cauchemar en URSS Paris, Revue de Paris, 1937. 

(3) Pages 324-5. Stalin. Isaac Deutscher. Penguin. 1990 (1949).

Written by Andrew Coates

March 16, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Conspiracy Theories, ‘Alt Left’ ‘and 9/11 Truthers Onwards, Go Field Day on Salisbury Attacks.

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Craig Murray, “an outspoken critic of the emergent New World Order“.

Craig MurrayVerified account


Historian and human rights activist. Former British Ambassador.

The Canary finds this conspi a reliable source,

Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray has made an observation that unravels the Western version of the Russian spy story.

On 4 March, former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal was allegedly poisoned in Salisbury. The majority of Western politicians and media outlets are suggesting that Vladimir Putin’s government tried to assassinate Skripal. May has already acted on the claim, expelling 23 Russian diplomats. But Murray points out that we actually have no evidence as to who carried out the attack.


Challenging the consensus, Murray branded the Russia-blaming “speculation”. Following the attempted assassination, Theresa May claimed that it was “highly likely” Russia was to blame, mainly because the state “previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so”.

May cites UK military analysis, which says the poison used in the attack belongs to the ‘Novichok’ group of nerve agents. The Soviet Union originally developed the Novichok group. Given this was in the 1970s, Murray points out that other states or agencies could have access to the nerve agents today, not just Russia.

But as can be seen above Murray has gone in for a little speculation himself.

Here is his blue sky thinking in more detail,

If I was the police, I would look closely at Orbis Intelligence.

To return to Israel. Israel has the nerve agents. Israel has Mossad which is extremely skilled at foreign assassinations. Theresa May claimed Russian propensity to assassinate abroad as a specific reason to believe Russia did it. Well Mossad has an even greater propensity to assassinate abroad. And while I am struggling to see a Russian motive for damaging its own international reputation so grieviously, Israel has a clear motivation for damaging the Russian reputation so grieviously. Russian action in Syria has undermined the Israeli position in Syria and Lebanon in a fundamental way, and Israel has every motive for damaging Russia’s international position by an attack aiming to leave the blame on Russia.

Both the Orbis and Israeli theories are speculations. But they are no more a speculation, and no more a conspiracy theory, than the idea that Vladimir Putin secretly sent agents to Salisbury to attack Skripal with a secret nerve agent. I can see absolutely no reason to believe that is a more valid speculation than the others at this point.

He concludes,

I am alarmed by the security, spying and armaments industries’ frenetic efforts to stoke Russophobia and heat up the new cold war. I am especially alarmed at the stream of cold war warrior “experts” dominating the news cycles. I write as someone who believes that agents of the Russian state did assassinate Litvinenko, and that the Russian security services carried out at least some of the apartment bombings that provided the pretext for the brutal assault on Chechnya. I believe the Russian occupation of Crimea and parts of Georgia is illegal. On the other hand, in Syria Russia has saved the Middle East from domination by a new wave of US and Saudi sponsored extreme jihadists.

The naive view of the world as “goodies” and “baddies”, with our own ruling class as the good guys, is for the birds. I witnessed personally in Uzbekistan the willingness of the UK and US security services to accept and validate intelligence they knew to be false in order to pursue their policy objectives. We should be extremely sceptical of their current anti-Russian narrative. There are many possible suspects in this attack.

Russian to Judgement 

Murray’s  feeble knowledge of chemistry alone is taken apart here:

Then there is this:  The UK government is manufacturing its nerve agent case for ‘action’ on Russia

Official claim that ‘Novichok’ points solely to Russia discredited

By Nafeez Ahmed.

And this:

Ahead of Theresa May’s response to the Salisbury attack, Alt-left site Evolve Politics quotes 9/11 conspiracy theorist in defence of Russia Today.

The Red Roar story is indeed true.

Evolve Politics.

A former British MI5 agent has indicated that Russia had absolutely no motive to harm Double Agent Sergei Skripal, and also dismissed claims made by the British Prime Minister Theresa May that the nerve agent alleged to have been used in the attack, Novichok, must have originated from Russia.

Speaking with Russia Today, former-MI5 agent Annie Machon – who resigned from the organisation in order to expose the crimes of Britain’s secret services – questioned what Russia’s motive could possibly have been to attempt to assassinate Mr Skripal, stating that:


“From the very start of this story… they need to work out what the motive was […] Skripal was a guy who had been caught by the Russians. He’d been tried and convicted, sent to prison, and then released and pardoned by the Russians, and sent back to the UK.He had been debriefed – picked clean, intelligence-wise, both by the Russians… and by MI6 when he came to live in the UK. So what is the motive there?”

Annie Machon is a notorious 9/11 Truther,

The home of Machon and Shayler in Highgate, London was the base of the British and Irish 9/11 Truth Campaign, founded in January 2004, which believed the September 11 attacks were an “inside job” arranged by a “shadowy elite” of American agencies and others.[11] Mahon has continued to identify with the 9/11 Truth movement. In May 2013, she was removed from a forthcoming United Nations panel discussion in New York City on 6 June 2013 after a complaint from B’nai B’rith International.[12][13] In 2015, she told The Sunday Times some issues related to 9/11 remained unresolved: “Dirty tricks certainly happen and one should always keep an open mind”.[14] In her first book, Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers (2005), Machon suggested the death of Diana, Princess of Wales had been organised by the security services.[15][16]


And so it goes….



Written by Andrew Coates

March 15, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Stephen Hawking: a Powerful Voice for Decency.

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In the deeply affecting film of his life, The Theory of Everything (2014), Stephen Hawking’s wife Jane describes him as a  “old liberal socialist’.

Amongst many of the powerful tributes to Hawking’s today the Independent draws attention to the political aspect of this commitment.

The death of the Labour-supporting Stephen Hawking robs campaigners against “backdoor privatisation” of the NHS of their most powerful supporter.

The world-renowned and much-loved physicist was embroiled in a fierce legal battle with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over a shake-up of the health service he had condemned.

Professor Hawking was also a lifelong Labour supporter, although he called for Jeremy Corbyn to step down before last year’s general election – saying: “I regard Corbyn as a disaster.

His heart is in the right place and many of his policies are sound, but he has allowed himself to be portrayed as a left-wing extremist. I think he should step down for the sake of the party.”

However, at an election event in his home city of Cambridge, the scientist also said: “I’m voting Labour because another five years of Conservative government would be a disaster for the NHS, the police and other public services.”

The Labour leader tweeted his tribute today, saying: “Stephen Hawking inspired the world with his determination to explain the mysteries of the cosmos. But he also showed breathtaking courage to overcome life’s adversities and a burning passion to protect our National Health Service. He will be greatly missed.”

Hawking’s spoke publicly for his beliefs.

Stephen Hawking gave the keynote speech on the NHS at the Royal College of Medicine last year.


“I have had a lot of experience of the NHS and the care I received has enabled me to live my life as I want and to contribute to major advances in our understanding of the universe

“Sometimes I have had to challenge the medical opinion to get the care I need, but the important thing is that a principles of the NHS I mean that there is good care available and that it is provided at the point of need to everyone without regard for a personal circumstance or ability to pay.

“These are the principles of universal and comprehensive provision on which the NHS was founded.

“It is important that care is available without any of the added burdens for people that come with private health insurance.

“To be able to access that care from doctors and hospitals without having to go through an intermediary in the form of an insurance company or a deal with massive amounts of paperwork before and after is crucial to good health.”

The NHS saved me. As a scientist, I must help to save it

Like many people, I have personal experience of the NHS. In my case, medical care, personal life and scientific life are all intertwined. I have received a large amount of high-quality NHS treatment and would not be here today if it were not for the service.

The care I have received since being diagnosed with motor neurone disease as a student in 1962 has enabled me to live my life as I want, and to contribute to major advances in our understanding of the universe. In July I celebrated my 75th birthday with an international science conference in Cambridge. I still have a full-time job as director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology and, with two colleagues, am soon to publish another scientific paper on quantum black holes.

Last year my personal experience of the NHS and my scientific life came together when I co-signed a letter calling for healthcare policy to be based on peer-reviewed research and proper evidence. The specific issue addressed in the letter was the “weekend effect”. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, had claimed that thousands of patients died unnecessarily because of poor hospital care at the weekend, and used this to argue that we needed to implement a seven-day NHS. I had mixed feelings about the issue. Having spent a lot of time in hospital, I would like there to be more services available at weekends. Also, it seems possible that some patients spend more time in hospital than is necessary because certain diagnostic tests can only be done on weekdays.

However, as we showed in the letter, Hunt had cherry-picked research to justify his argument. For a scientist, cherry-picking evidence is unacceptable. When public figures abuse scientific argument, citing some studies but suppressing others to justify policies they want to implement for other reasons, it debases scientific culture. One consequence of this sort of behaviour is that it leads ordinary people to not trust science at a time when scientific research and progress are more important than ever.

This problem goes beyond the weekend effect. The NHS is in a crisis, and one that has been created by political decisions. These political decisions include underfunding and cuts, privatising services, the public sector pay cap, the new contract imposed on junior doctors, and removal of the student nurses’ bursary. Political decisions such as these cause reductions in care quality, longer waiting lists, anxiety for patients and staff, and dangerous staff shortages. Failures in the system of privatised social care for disabled and elderly people have placed an additional burden on the NHS.

So what is to be done? A physicist like me analyses a system in terms of levels of approximation. To a first approximation, one can see the situation facing healthcare in this country in terms of forces with different interests.

On the one hand, there is the force of the multinational corporations, driven by their profit motive. In the US, where they are dominant in the healthcare system, these corporations make enormous profits, healthcare is not universal, and it is hugely more expensive for the outcomes patients receive than in the UK. We see the balance of power in the UK is with private healthcare companies, and the direction of change is towards a US-style insurance system.

On the other hand, there is the force of the public, and of democracy. Opinion polls consistently show a majority in favour of a publicly provided NHS, and opposed to privatisation and a two-tier system. Therefore, the best way to support the NHS is to empower the public. There are two priorities. First, clear information that public provision is not only the fairest way to deliver healthcare, but also the most cost-effective. Second, a loud voice and the political power to make politicians act on our behalf.

If that all sounds political, that is because the NHS has always been political. It was set up in the face of political opposition. It is Britain’s finest public service and a cornerstone of our society, something that binds us together. People value the NHS, and are proud that we treat everyone equally when they are sick. The NHS brings out the best in us. We cannot lose it.

Image may contain: 8 people, people standing and hat

Hawking – with canes – protesting against the Vietnam War (MDS via Barry).

Written by Andrew Coates

March 14, 2018 at 1:02 pm

George Galloway Predicts Armageddon as Russia Today (RT) Ban Looms.

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“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”

Channel could lose licence if Russia found to be responsible for Sergei Skripal poisoning

RT, the Kremlin-controlled news channel, faces being forced off air in the UK if the poisoning of Sergei Skripal is found to be an “unlawful use of force” by Russia against Britain.

The broadcasting regulator Ofcom, which has the power to close a TV channel if it decides it is not a “fit and proper” holder of a licence in the UK, said it had written to RT warning that a Russian act against the UK would trigger a fast-track investigation to potentially revoke its licence.

“We have today written to ANO TV Novosti, holder of RT’s UK broadcast licences, which is financed from the budget of the Russian Federation,” Ofcom said. “This letter explained that, should the UK investigating authorities determine that there was an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the UK, we would consider this relevant to our ongoing duty to be satisfied that RT is fit and proper.”

“Ofcom has an ongoing duty to be satisfied that all broadcast licensees are fit and proper to hold a licence,” said the spokesman.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 13, 2018 at 6:21 pm

As Corbyn attacks EU “cheap agency labour”, Europe creates new Agency to End ‘Social Dumping’ and Protect Workers.

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EU Sets up new Authority to Stop Social Dumping.

This section of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Scottish Labour Party at Dundee  continues to create controversy,

We cannot be held back inside or outside the EU from taking the steps we need to develop and invest in cutting edge industries and local business stop the tide of privatisation and outsourcing, or from preventing employers being able to import cheap agency labour to undercut existing pay and conditions in the name of free market orthodoxy.

Here is a recent report.

Jeremy Corbyn has been attacked by senior Scottish Labour figures after making “incredibly disappointing” comments on immigration.

The European.

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray rounded on the Labour leader over remarks on leaving the EU in his speech to the party’s conference in Dundee.

Setting out his position on the Brexit deal, Corbyn said a future Labour government “cannot be held back inside or outside the EU … from preventing employers being able to import cheap agency labour, to undercut existing pay and conditions in the name of free market orthodoxy”.

Speaking at a fringe event hosted by the Scottish Labour for the single market campaign, Murray said: “I’m disappointed that the Labour party is not making this argument – immigration is good for the United Kingdom and Scotland and we have to be brave enough to stand up and make that point.

“And I was incredibly disappointed to see yesterday that the only person smiling after that passage in Jeremy’s speech would have been Nigel Farage.”

Murray said he believed the Labour front bench was the biggest impediment to getting single market membership into the Brexit bill but added: “The country is with us, Labour party membership is with us.

Corbyn’s views on “cheap agency labour” indeed echo the views of  ‘Sovereigntist’ anti-EU forces.

The pro-Brexit Morning Star recently contained this statement from the Communist Party of Britain. (CPB).

Most of British big business wants to keep Britain as closely aligned as possible with the single market because its rules for the free movement of capital, goods and labour, together with the right of companies to operate in any country they choose, enables them to maximise profit at the expense of working people,” Mr Griffiths added.

He highlighted a string of rulings by the European Court of Justice to restrict the rights of elected governments and trade unions to take action to protect imported, outsourced or redundant workers.

The hard-line anti-EU Socialist Party has argued for no ‘soft Brexit’ and dropping all legislation that allows the free movement of labour .   On  the 28th of February it declared,

EU rules have included the posted workers’ directive which enables bosses to use migrant labour to undercut existing wage levels.

If any of these groups, and Corbyn’s speech-writers, had bothered to follow the latest developments in the EU, they would have noticed that a wholesale reform of the “posted workers” directive is underway.

Here is the existing situation,

A “posted worker” is an employee who is sent by his employer to carry out a service in another EU Member State on a temporary basis.

For example, a service provider may win a contract in another country and send his employees there to carry out the contract.

Posted workers are different from EU mobile workers in that they remain in the host Member State temporarily and do not integrate in its labour market.

On the contrary, EU mobile citizens who go to another Member State to seek workand are employed there, are entitled to equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax conditions.

Rights and rules for posted workers

The EU law defines a set of mandatory rules regarding the terms and conditions of employment to be applied to posted workers

  • to guarantee that these rights and working conditions are protected throughout the EU
  • to avoid “social dumping” where foreign service providers can undercut local service providers because their labour standards are lower.

These rules establish that, even though workers posted to another Member State are still employed by the sending company and therefore subject to the law of that Member State, they are entitled by law to a set of core rights in force in the host Member State.

This set of rights consists of:

  •    minimum rates of pay;
  •    maximum work periods and minimum rest periods;
  •    minimum paid annual leave;
  •    the conditions of hiring out workers through temporary work agencies;
  •    health, safety and hygiene at work;
  •   equal treatment between men and women.

However, there is nothing to stop the employer applying working conditions which are more favourable to workers than those of the sending Member State.

The EU law thus provides a clear framework to guarantee fair competition and respect for the posted workers’ rights so that both businesses and workers can take full advantage of the internal market opportunities.

The social security of posted workers is regulated through Regulation no 883/2004on the coordination of social security systems. A detailed guide explaining the applicable rules is available.

In the light of problems with enforcing these rules there has been extensive discussion of reform.

Réforme du travail détaché (Posted workers) : les institutions européennes trouvent un terrain d’entente. 1.3.18.

European Commission – Statement

Joint statement on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive

Brussels, 28 February 2018

Joint statement by European Parliament Co-Rapporteurs Elisabeth Morin-Chartier and Agnes Jongerius, Bulgarian Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Policy Zornitsa Roussinova and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive:

After intensive negotiations this evening we, the negotiators on behalf of the European Parliament, the Council and Commission, are satisfied to have covered all issues during the 7th trilogue meeting. We reached a common understanding on the contours of a possible agreement on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive. We believe that the proposed package agreement on the table is balanced. The possible agreement establishes the principle of equal pay for equal work on the same place, whilst providing more legal certainty for both workers and employers.

We will now present the results of our negotiations within our respective institutions and will do our utmost to secure the mandates necessary for the final conclusion.

The outcome was announced this morning.

Bruxelles présente la création d’une nouvelle Autorité européenne du travail.

150 people are to be employed to enforce the law, prevent social dumping (the undercutting of wages and conditions), and  stop the abuse of migrant labour – though as this link indicates, some states are bound to be recalcitrant.

L’Europe a pris des mesures sur les travailleurs détachés, la lutte contre le dumping social, la mobilité au sein de l’Union etc. Mais encore faut-il que ces règles soient bien appliquées par les États. Or ce n’est pas le cas. Dans la réalité, certains pays, notamment de l’Est, ferment les yeux sur les abus car ça les arrange bien et si les administrations locales ne font rien, personne ne peut le vérifier. Ce sera donc le rôle de cette nouvelle Agence, d’aller demander des informations et d’enquêter pour voir si, réellement, les règles sociales sont bien appliquées de la même manière dans tous les pays de l’Union.

Update, just out: (Libération),  Bruxelles propose de créer une autorité européenne du Travail en 2019

European Commission – Press release

Commission adopts proposals for a European Labour Authority and for access to social protection

Strasbourg, 13 March 2018

Today, the European Commission is taking more concrete new initiatives to further deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights.

More specifically, the Commission presents its proposal for a European Labour Authority, as announced by President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union address, as well as an initiative to ensure access to social protection for all workers and self-employed. These initiatives are accompanied by a Communication on the monitoring of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which will be closely linked to the European Semester of policy coordination.

Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, said“Europe is now steadily growing and employment is on the rise, but we have to ensure that growth is more inclusive to the benefit of all. This package sets out a number of steps to make that happen: by making sure the rules for people to live and work across the European Union are well known and enforced, by following up on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, pushing the broader momentum for social rights, and by focusing on access to social protection. A stronger social Europe is a more sustainable Europe.”

Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, added: Our work to ensure fair labour mobility culminates in today’s proposal for a European Labour Authority. This is essential for a well-functioning European labour market. It will help citizens and businesses on the move find the right information and strengthen cooperation between the Member States to enforce fair and effective rules. And with our proposal on access to social protection, we are working with Member States to make sure that nobody is left behind. Our aim is to ensure that people have access to adequate benefits no matter how the new world of work evolves.”

Over the last decade, the number of mobile citizens, people living and/or working in another Member State, has almost doubled to reach 17 million in 2017. The European Labour Authority will help individuals, businesses and national administrations to get the most out of the opportunities offered by free movement and to ensure fair labour mobility. The objective of the Authority is three-fold.

First, the Authority will provide information to citizens and business on opportunities for jobs, apprenticeships, mobility schemes, recruitments and training, as well as guidance on rights and obligations to live, work and/or operate in another Member State of the EU.

Second, the Authority will support cooperation between national authorities in cross-border situations, by helping them ensure that the EU rules that protect and regulate mobility are easily and effectively followed. Today, an extensive body of EU legislation regulates the free movement of workers and a number of such rules are being amended and modernised, such asfor the coordination of social security systems across the EU and issues like posting of workers in the context of service provision. The priority is not just to make these rules fairer and fit-for-purpose but also to make sure that they can be correctly applied and enforced in a fair, simple and effective way in all economic sectors. For instance, the Authority will help improve information exchange, support capacity building among national authorities and assist them in running concerted and joint inspections. This will strengthen mutual trust between actors, improve day-to-day cooperation routines and prevent possible fraud and abuse of rules.

Third, the European Labour Authority will be able to provide mediation and facilitate solutions in case of cross-border disputes, such as in the event of company restructuring involving several Member States.

The European Labour Authority will be established as a new decentralised EU agency and, following the completion of the EU legislative process, should be up and running in 2019. To facilitate the establishment of the Authority and make sure it is rapidly up and running once created, the Commission is also setting up an advisory group composed of key stakeholders to look into the practical aspects of the future functioning of the Authority.

The Commission is also presenting today a proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed. As the world of work evolves due to new lifestyles, business practices and digitisation, social protection systems constantly need to match new realities. Today, almost 40% of people employed are either in an atypical employment situation – meaning that they are not working under a full-time, open-ended contract – or self-employed. Such persons are not always well covered in terms of social security, lacking unemployment insurance or access to pension rights. In line with the European Pillar of Social Rights, this proposal aims to set a direction for Member States to support access to social protection for all workers and self-employed, in particular for those who, due to their employment status, are not sufficiently covered by social security schemes.

The Recommendation foresees:

  • to close formal coverage gaps by ensuring that workers and the self-employed in comparable conditions can adhere to corresponding social security systems;
  • to offer them adequate effective coverage, so that they can build up and claim adequate entitlements;
  • to facilitate the transfer of social security entitlements from one job to the next;
  • to provide workers and the self-employed with transparent information about their social security entitlements and obligations.

Finally, as a complement to the initiatives already taken and still to come at EU level, the Commission outlines its views for the monitoring of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. This will be done by reflecting the priorities of the European Pillar of Social Rights in the annual cycle of the European Semester of policy coordination, which includes an analysis of measures taken and progress made at national level; the provision of technical assistance, benchmarking exercises and exchange of good practices; and the screening of employment and social performances, also with the help of the new Social Scoreboard, which tracks trends and performances across EU Member States in the three areas of principles under the Pillar of Social Rights. The Commission is also publishing today a staff working document recalling the legal framework for each of the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, with due regard to the respective competences of the EU and of the Member States, including the role of the social partners and recent EU-level actions in each area.

Next steps

European Labour Authority: In accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, this proposal for a Regulation will now be examined by the European Parliament and the Council. The ambition of the Commission is for the Authority to be up and running in 2019.

Access to social protection: This will now be examined by the Council, which can adopt recommendations on the basis of a Commission proposal in the areas of EU competence.

The Commission will present today’s package of initiatives to national Employment and Social Affairs Ministers at the Council meeting in Brussels on 15 March. At the European Council of 22 and 23 March 2018, Heads of State and Government will also come back to addressing the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.


The Commission’s intention to set up a European Labour Authority was announced by President Juncker in his State of the Union Address on 13 September 2017. The European Labour Authority will complement and facilitate the implementation of ongoing initiatives to ensure fair mobility, including the reform of the Posting of Workers Directive, the Lex Specialis in the international road transport sector and the modernisation of EU rules for the coordination of social security systems.

Increased labour market flexibility and a growing diversity of forms of work have created new jobs and allowed more people to become professionally active, as recalled during the consultation on the European Pillar of Social Rights and in the Reflection Paper on the Social Dimension of Europe. But they also led to some gaps in social protection coverage that need to be closed. The Commission’s proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection is a response to these changing labour market realities, in particular the new forms of work that have developed in recent years. The initiative was announced in April 2017 together with the European Pillar of Social Rights. It is part of the 2017 and 2018 Commission Work Programmes and follows a two-stage consultation of EU social partners.

These initiatives are part of the roll-out of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which was jointly proclaimed at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg in November 2017. Delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights is a shared political commitment and responsibility and monitoring its implementation is essential for ensuring tangible progress on the ground. This is why in today’s Communication, the Commission takes stock of initiatives that it has taken to roll out the Pillar, including an initiative on work-life balance and proposal for transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 13, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Amidst “misogynist attacks on Jennie Formby” Jon Lansman withdraws from race for Labour General Secretary.

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Contest for job of general secretary widens rift between Unite and Momentum.  . Observer.

“Senior backers of Jennie Formby, the Unite union’s former political director and the frontrunner to become Labour’s new general secretary, are trying to reassure party staff that there are no planned overhauls should she secure the job.

It comes as senior party and union figures try to find a last-minute “compromise candidate” to take on Formby, with several sources warning she has had run-ins with some of the other major Labour-affiliated unions that have left them seriously concerned about her appointment.”

“The split between Lansman and Formby supporters has also spilled into an online battle, with tensions among a group of leftwing blogs and news sites that emerged to support Corbyn’s leadership. The Skwawkbox, which is seen as having strong links with the leader’s office, has been pushing for Formby’s appointment and has questioned Lansman’s decision to run, while Novara Media, another Corbyn-supporting outlet, has backed both the opening of the contest and a member-elected general secretary. The internal tension has also seen the arrival of the Red Roar, a more centrist blog that details the fights raging within the ranks.

Some moderate Labour MPs now believe the forces that brought Corbyn to power are dividing. The split has even been criticised by the Labour Party Marxists group, which said it was “at best, ludicrous and, at worst, irresponsible”.

Now since these, if obviously mischief making, are clearly not misogynistic attacks what could Lansman be referring t?

Look no further in the Observer:

Don’t look to Len McCluskey and his sorry ilk to defend workers’ interests. 

Apart from the ill-thought and condescending content, the tone of the last sentence sounds like a crib from Hancock’s Half Hour…. the Brave Hungarian Girl Magna Carta….

Cohen’s article also contains some words for this pair,

The Scottish aristocrat Andrew Murray (he’s descended from the earls of Perth and the kings of Navarre on his father’s side and the dukes of Norfolk on his mother’s) not only offers apologies for Lenin but Stalin too. He’s moved from Unite and the Communist Party of Britain to join Seumas Milne, another apologist for Uncle Joe, in Jeremy Corbyn’s office.

I did not notice Murray, the son of the  Slains Pursuivant  educated at a Benedictine independent boarding school in Sussex complaining about his coverage in the New Statesman recently  which cut out this aspect of his biography, and referred only to him leaving school at 16 with 4 ‘O’ Levels. Nor this – accurate – description ” Mr Corbyn’s most senior aide, Seumas Milne, was a Soviet Union sympathiser. Andrew Murray, the chief of staff of Unite and a consultant to the Labour leader, was a member of the Stalinist Communist Party of Britain until 2016 and expressed solidarity with North Korea in 2003. They hail from an authoritarian leftist tradition.”

This Blog is more concerned with Cohen’s attacks on UNITE. Apparently they and UNISON are “stale bureaucracies” with little interest in their membership’s day-to-day needs.

Against these  “old far-left-dominated unions.” Cohen advocates USDAW (whose new General Secretary Amy Murphy is a supporter of the ‘far-left’ Socialist Party), the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (BECTU), a section from the far-from-unbureaucratic Prospect union, and a small Independent Workers Union, whose origins lie in the (respected) far-left anarcho-syndicalist tradition of the  Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), or the “Wobblies” which they left to form their own union, the  IWGB.

It is questionable if the “consensus” method of reaching decisions admired in the article, and made a rule in the Occupy movement,  and prevalent amongst those influenced by certain strains of “alter-globalisation” activism and anarchists, is an answer to authoritarianism. Critics point to the imposition of a consensus by the loudest voices and the unsuitability of this model for union activity which, however we wish to put it, involves controversy and strong differences of opinion – normally resolved by voting contests between opposed stands.

Cohen completely neglects the role of UNITE in organising the unorganised, and, above all, its ‘Community branches’ which campaign for the rights of those receiving benefits, for the disabled, and in coordination with those acting  against the injustice inflicted on women through changes in the state pension scheme (WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality) The union is at the forefront of protests for such ‘far-left’ issues as defending the NHS.


UNITE also works for the day-to-day interests of workers across a range of sectors, areas perhaps not striking enough to attract the journalist’s attention.

The Lansman announcement was greeted with joy by Skwakbox, “We applaud Mr Lansman’s decision. ”

That alone, given Skwakbox’s involvement in fake news (from Greenfell ‘D’ notices, to the claim that all the disabled would receive a ‘sanction’ if they did not get a job within 2 years) is cause for concern.

But there is more, the ‘anti-Zionists’ of Labour Against the Witchhunt states,

LAW welcomes Jon Lansman’s decision to withdraw

We believe that Unite’s Jennie Formby would be the best choice for general secretary. As a supporter of the rights of the Palestinians people we think her election would send a powerful political signal. We hope that her tenure would mark the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt.

Steering Committee


Labour General Secretary election to play for as many NEC members hold out for third candidate. Red Roar.

Analysis by The Red Roar shows that while Unite’s Jennie Formby has over three times as much support as her rival Jon Lansman in the race to become Labour’s general secretary, an equal number of NEC members remain undecided.

No one can claim to know how NEC members will vote, of course. This is not an exercise in mind-reading but an honest attempt to give as clear a picture as possible as to how the two main candidates for the job are likely to fare.

Backing Formby: 17
Backing Lansman: 5
Undecided: 17
Total: 39

More to follow……

As Front National changes its Name, Trump Former Adviser Steve Bannon tells French Far-right, “History is on our side”.

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La poignée de mains entre l'ex-conseiller de Donald Trump, Steve Bannon et la présidente du FN Marine Le Pen lors du 16e congrès du parti, le 10 mars 2018 à Lille

US Trump Far-Right Meets French Far-Right.

Steve Bannon populist roadshow hits Europe

After a number of other shows Bannon hit France, where his speech at the Front National Conference was a major event. (Politico)

Steve Bannon, the former Trump strategist and “alt-right” publisher, capped a European tour this week by urging a gathering of France’s struggling National Front party to stand by their populist guns.

“Let them call you racists,” Bannon told a party congress in Lille on Saturday, according to a video of the speech. “Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor.”

Steve Bannon tells far-right Front National party in France ‘history is on our side’


President Donald Trump’s former adviser tells them they are ‘part of a worldwide movement bigger than France, bigger than Italy’

Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump‘s one-time trusted adviser, addressed the far-right Front National party in France and said “history is on our side”.

The former editor of right-leaning Breitbart News had helped the President shape his “America First” agenda and met with National Front leader Marine Le Pen, known for her controversial anti-immigration views.

“You’re part of a worldwide movement bigger than France, bigger than Italy,” he told a cheering crowd in Lille, France for the party’s convention. Ms Le Pen said inviting Mr Bannon to speak was important because he was “the architect of Donald Trump’s victory”. She also cited his views on giving regular people “power, which in his mind and mine, too, has been practically illegally captured by the elite”.

Much of the French media focused on Bannon’s praise, not for Marine Le Pen, but for her niece,  Marion Maréchal-Le Pen who had spoken at the end of February in the USA at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) (Front National: dans la famille Le Pen, Steve Bannon préfère la nièce)

Le Monde cites the far-right Party’s spokesman Sébastien Chenu praising Trump, the “incarnation of the rejection of the Establishment, the European Union and the “political-media system”.

le porte-parole du FN, Sébastien Chenu a de son côté estimé samedi matin sur France Inter que l’ex-conseiller de Donald Trump « incarne pour nous le rejet de l’establishment, de l’Union européenne [UE], du système politico-médiatique ».

As a measure of the gauge Bannon’s organ, Breitbart, has on French politics their strapline on the meeting was the following.

Stephen K. Bannon To Speak At Major Front National Conference Rumoured To Rebrand Party

Rumoured, as in their publicly announced official intention for months and months and months.

Wear ‘racist’ like a badge of honour, Bannon tells French far-right summit

France 24.

The fanfare over Bannon is a distraction from the glaring paradox of this otherwise largely technical party convention, one poised to reinstate Marine Le Pen as leader even as faith in her leadership has indisputably waned.

She has looked to stir up excitement for the party name change she will suggest on stage Sunday, a rebranding set to put the 49-year-old’s indelible stamp on a party she took over in 2011 from her rabble-rousing father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded it in 1972.

Hellbent on “de-demonising” the National Front in the public eye, Marine Le Pen made a show of snubbing the shaved-head and bomber-jacket types fond of her father and touting an economic programme that vilified the Euro currency and advocated a state that protects the vulnerable (or at least the ones who hold French passports). Reaping the rewards of nascent respectability in one election after another, she built a stable of elected officials at nearly every level of government. Advocates claim that changing the ostensibly sulphurous name is a necessary next step, the last obstacle to political alliances that would finally carry the FN to power.

But members seem sceptical. According to the party’s own unverifiable numbers, only 52 percent of members who bothered to return a questionnaire approve of calling the party anything else.

 As Le Monde reported a few days ago Marine Le Pen’s popularity is in steep decline, “Une image en chute libre”.

Volontaire pour 80 % des sondés en février 2017, elle ne l’est plus que pour 66 %. Sa capacité à prendre des décisions s’est effondrée de 69 % à 49 %. Les Français ne sont plus que 40 % (en baisse de 9 points depuis un an) à estimer qu’elle comprend leurs problèmes. Déjà érodée depuis 2016, sa capacité à rassembler au-delà de son camp ne lui est plus reconnue que par 30 % des sondés (en baisse de 12 points). Elle n’était déjà jugée sympathique et chaleureuse, il y a un an, que par 35 % des personnes interrogées ; elles ne sont plus que 25 %. Enfin, 16 % seulement des sondés (contre 24 % il y a un an) considèrent qu’elle ferait une bonne présidente de la République.

From being considered “Decisive” by 80% of those polled in February 2017, she has dropped to 66%. The assessment of her ability to take decisions has fallen from 69% to  49%. There is a drop of 9 points, to 40% who consider she grasps their problems. Eroding from 2016 downwards, the cap to appeal beyond her own side has gone down 12 points to 30%/ She was  judged warm and kind a year ago by 30% of the respondents,  this stands now at 25%. Finally, only 16% (as opposed to 24% a year back) think she would make a good |President of the Republic.

Some might consider this a good score for an acerbic apprentice dictator, but it is unlikely to please her party activists.

More reporting (Libération):  Steve Bannon, un air de populisme américain au congrès du Front national.

This notes the surprise at the invitation, and the not entirely happy reaction of some party activists, who rushed to declare (in view one imagines of Trump’s popularity in France) that there was no formal “alliance” between the FN and Breitbart.

Meanwhile the UK far-right is also building links with Bannon.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 11, 2018 at 12:36 pm

The Left and Solidarity with East Ghouta.

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Arbin Hospital after an airstrike carried out by Assad regime forces in Arbin district of Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria on 21st of February Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Left and East Ghouta  

This piece merits reading in full but these extracts can give a taste of this deeply thought out and heartfelt article.

Why has East Ghouta become a living hell recently, even more so than in the past? Perhaps this is the result of Assad finally turning to a remaining rebel enclave after final victory in places like Homs and East Aleppo was achieved. Once East Ghouta has been “liberated”, the regime will be free to finally deliver the death blow to Idlib, the last sanctuary for “terrorists” in the country.

For much of the left, especially the Gray Zone 3, East Ghouta is condemned territory—a haven for al-Qaeda that deserves to be annihilated. Not much research is available on East Ghouta but a few things should be kept in mind. It is part of a belt of mostly agricultural towns and cities that abut Damascus to the east and south. It is like most of the places that rose up against Assad in 2011 and that were largely invisible to the Western press that found Damascus irresistible. After all, it was a place where you could enjoy scotch in a hotel bar, eat at 3-star restaurants, and stroll around in the evenings absorbing local color. Yes, there were people being tortured in Syrian prisons through the CIA extraordinary rendition program but they probably deserved it.

The revolutionary struggle in Syria certainly had goals that seem quite modest in comparison with the July 26th Movement in Cuba or any other leftist cause I have been involved with over the past half-century. But in order to overthrow capitalism, you need the freedom to organize the workers movement. That is why Marx and Lenin always stressed the need to oppose absolutism whether it took the guise of the Junkers monarchy or Czarism. That the left has lost track of such an elementary need is a terrible deficit. To build a worldwide revolutionary movement that can abolish class rule once and for all, we have to support the right of people to speak freely and to form political parties without fear of being tortured or killed. It is impossible to say how events will unfold in the Middle East and North Africa over the next 25 years or so but if we can’t defend basic liberties such as the kind the Arab Spring demanded, we are useless.

Louis’ views will be endorsed by those of us on the left who support universal human rights.

In a piece in French on the anti-capitalist left an even more heart-rending contribution is made by


Via the website of the International Socialist Organisation (US),

We, the Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists oppose the various military attacks on Afrin, Idlib and Eastern Ghouta  and support all the innocent civilians in Syria. . . There has been a consensus between all the international and regional powers on the necessity to liquidate the revolutionary popular movements initiated in Syria in March of 2011 . .


Solidarity with Idlib and al-Ghouta against the attacks by Assad’s regime forces and its Russian ally

At the same time, we condemn the Assad regime’s attacks on Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, areas which are supposedly considered “de-escalation zones” according to the Astana « peace » negotiations, led by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

In the face of this counter-revolutionary consensus,  what is desperately needed is  solidarity between all (Arabs, Kurds and all other ethnic minorities) revolutionaries who are against the Assad regime and all the regional and international imperialist powers and support the struggles for social justice, women’s rights and the rights of oppressed minorities.  

 The Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists supports the right of self-determination of the Kurdish people in Syria and in other countries. This does not mean that we take an uncritical stand  on the policies of Kurdish parties leading these struggles, whether the PYD or  the Kurdish Democratic Party or others, notably regarding violations of Human rights against civilians.

Oppose all forms of sectarianism and racism

Our destinies are linked

Join the Alliance’s Campaign in Solidarity with Middle Eastern Political Prisoners.

Syria and the Problem of Left Solidarity by Donya Alinejad & Saskia Baas.

Salvage. 1st of March 2018.

Crude notions of anti-imperialism have for too long yielded dubious analyses of Syria and the Middle East. The contribution of the Left has often been dominated by an unsophisticated ‘campism’ wherein the enemy of our enemy should not be criticized. This has recently taken startling and contradictory forms: a recent petition calls for the leaders of Russia, Iran, and the U.S. to “ensure that the sovereignty of Syrian borders is not breached by Turkey.” The petition was signed by, among others, Noam Chomsky, Michael Hardt and David Graeber. Staggeringly, the petition appeals to the key perpetrators of war crimes in Syria for help in the protection of Afrin.

There are a multitude of ways we might explain such a turn, among them a Euro/American-centrism wherein the Left’s positions simply mirror and are dictated by those of their liberal opponents, the Western left’s long-running ideological links to the PKK, Left sectarianism, refusal to update expired Cold War categories, incidental ignorance and laziness, and the relative sophistication of the YPG/J’s communication networks and media branding with Western audiences. We end up engaging with Syria as no more than a distant war in which our task as the Left is merely to discuss and select the correct armed faction to support. But this filters out the less spectacular but equally courageous initiatives for self-organization still going on in various parts of the country and among its refugee diaspora; compelling cases such as the recent women’s campaign against forced disappearances. In ignoring these, we surrender our key principles of upholding the value of human lives in the face of militarism, state interests, and divisive borders.

Our internationalism must cultivate a willingness to grasp the complexity of Syrian polity, society, and culture as it unfolds in everyday life under the current circumstances of extraordinary duress. Rather than a lapse into apolitical humanitarianism, defending the lives of those brutalized by violence is based on an international solidarity that registers survival in this context as struggle. Similarly, our welcoming and hospitality to those who fled Syria in recent years must not smother them into politically pacified victimhood. We must seek out and listen to what a variety of Leftist Syrian political activists and intellectuals have to say about Syria. Their migration experiences and diasporic self-organization are part of the story of the Syrian revolution, an inexhaustibly rich resource for understanding and learning from the realities of this important contemporary struggle. It is a struggle that lives on in many of them and contains intimate knowledge of the notions of racial and ethnic discrimination, prison state, political disenfranchisement, and neoliberal policies we also fight against. The vast contextual differences make articulating the common ground all the more profound.

In short, let us stop approaching Syria in the way a colonial power approaches its subject’s civil war, calculating which intervention(s) of force to back and then vehemently spreading the chosen party’s war propaganda. Let us focus, instead, on building a socialism that modestly but consistently puts into practice the radical internationalist idea that we inhabit the same world as all those who struggle for a dignified human existence.

This is how the so-called People’s Daily, the Morning Star, is ‘reporting’ the tragedy.

UN aid convoy enters Islamist-held enclave near Damascus

Syrian forces are besieging Eastern Ghouta, a largely agricultural area to the south and east of Damascus.

It is one of the last holdouts of mainly foreign-backed jihadist rebels, who have been firing shells and mortars at Damascus proper from their positions there.

The Syrian government has been pursuing tactics similar to those that broke the grip of Islamist fighters on Homs and Aleppo, shelling rebel-held areas and then using ground forces to retake districts.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 10, 2018 at 1:06 pm

Conspis, from Galloway to Annie Machon make hay out of poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

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Hat-Tip to Heg.

First it was 9/11 Truther and Princess Di ‘Assassination’ pundit, ex-Spook Annie Mahon.

As flagged up by ‘arry’s Place:  The BBC and Annie Machon


Then it’s Gawd ‘elp us Galloway.


‘es gone and tweetwed another doyen of the Conspi Crew.

You can catch up with the old puffer here: apparently the ‘Marx’ memorial library is open to conspis and allies of the far right Arron Banks.





Written by Andrew Coates

March 9, 2018 at 12:07 pm

Behind the Shawcroft Row: The Labour Party as Social Movement and Political Trade Unionism.

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The Labour Party as Social Movement and Political Trade Unionism.

In one of his lesser-known works, L’Éternité par les astres (1872) the 19th century socialist insurrectionist Louis-Auguste Blanqui announced that there were millions of stars and worlds like our own. In each of them lived our personal doppelgänger. Those who have reflected on this discovery would deduce that our alter egos would each have minor differences, slightly different points of our view, that would end in distinct narratives about our existence.

Recent events in the Labour Party have brought similar differences about what has happened during a number of events, from goings-on at the National Policy Forum, to the National Executive Committee (NEC). The same meeting the same people, but very different takes on what took place.

The most recent, and, politically, the most important, is the latest NEC meeting. Christine Shawcroft’s dissatisfaction with a decision to submit allegations of anti-semitism to further disciplinary procedure has tumbled over into disagreement about the role of trade union representatives on Labour’s ruling body. She is reported to have expressed the view, amongst other things, that union delegates are unreliable allies of the left. Shawcroft suggested on social media that the Labour-union link should be re-examined. Those hostile to her intervention, and no doubt Momentum, in which the long-standing NEC member is a leading figure, have claimed that she called for a break with the organised working class. Since then everybody has united on keeping the union link (Labour unites behind trade union affiliation).

The row in the wake of these comments takes place against the backdrop of a contest for Labour’s General Secretary. This, a post, unlike, in other European parties (such as the French Parti Socialiste’s similar sounding position) has organisational and not directly political responsibility. The Secretary is appointed by the Party’s upper structure and is therefore, in principle, not an issue that involves the wider membership. But the different candidates, above all Jon Lansman, on the NEC but best known as a founder of Momentum, and Jennie Formby  from the union UNITE, have increasingly been seen in a political light. It is known that Lansman was not happy with a union ‘shoe in’ into the position. What is clear now is that UNITE’s leadership is unhappy with any questioning of their political weight in the party. These, and other issues about the candidacies, have been echoed amongst those Labour activists interested in the future direction of the party.

Momentum: Labour as social movement.

It should be clear that while there are no real differences about the primary need to campaign to get a Labour government elected, and to work out policies to achieve this, the dispute could be seen in the light of some important differences. For some Momentum is not just a pressure group to build support for Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn. It is, grandly, a project designed for Labour to gain a “collective transformative” capacity. It may be seen, as Hilary Wainwright put it “having a creative capacity and transformative power” “distinct from (not opposed to) electoral politics”. As such as, “a party as a means of experimenting and prefiguring in the represent” “the relations we envisage in the future”. Less inclined to an extra-terrestrial discovery to rival Blanqui’s, Momentum is seen “grassroots politics” with activists, many of them youthful, pouring energy and enthusiasm into Labour’s campaigns. In this capacity – that is a means to help bolder the party’s capacity to root change in the wider society, – the group is highly welcome. (1)

Momentum’s own difficulties include an ‘on-line’ democracy that critics allege does not function, conferences and decision-making process which resemble the centralised aspect of the equally ‘social media’ and Web hub based La France insoumise (LFI) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. In its defence it could be said that Momentum is not LFI, out to ‘federate the people’ by means of a virtual political party, but has become an auxiliary of one with the goal of helping Labour get elected. It has avoided becoming embroiled in the worst aspects of left in fighting and sectarian recruitment politics. Momentum, unless one reads Shawcroft’s NEC intervention in the most hostile possible way, has shown no inclination to indulge the – ultra-minority – strain of Judophobia that has become an issue in left politics.

These positive achievements do not prevent another set of concerns at the place of such a body in drawing up lists in local Labour Parties with the sole aim of getting approved candidates elected to internal positions and councillor selections. In some case, Haringey stands out, this is part of a justified and broader effort to change very wong council policies. But in others this polarising practice, right up to clashes over the most minor positions, many complain, overrides debate of policy issues.

Political Trade Unionism.

What has also come to light is that the trade unions have a distinct idea about their role in the Labour Party. The TUC and affiliated unions have always seen the party as a means to get legislation passed in their favour, most recently by some who give priority to restoring collective bargaining in negotiations. Apart from these classical demands some, above all UNITE, have their own ideas about “political unions”.

Andrew Murray, a key figure in Len McClusky’s circle, and a consultant to Jeremy Corbyn, argued in 2014, for rebuilding the left around the People’s Assembly. This national campaign against austerity, Murray noted, drew the unions, ant-cuts activists and left-wingers from Labour and a variety of small left parties, with the objective of creating “rooted movements for change” “re-establishing the basis for mass socialist politics”. Behind this, based on the working class movement, was a strategy to “reclaim Labour” for the left – a prospect Murray saw – in 2014 – that could be thwarted by the “Blairite undead”. (2)

Murray may have his own eccentric ideas about ‘anti-imperialism’, and the positive side of the Soviet past. But, Labour has been largely (not entirely) been wrenched from the Blair/Brown legacy. In this the importance of initiatives such as the People’s Assembly stands out. It was one of the factors that prepared the ground for Corbyn’s election. The alternative strategy, which his article thoroughly took to pieces, of various left electoral challenges, from Left Unity, to the (continuing) Trades Union and Socialist Alliance (TUSC) faded into oblivion.

The problem now is whether the trade union movement, dedicated to achieving goals through electoral power, can sustain a relation with those who see ‘Labour as a social movement’. This is not a just a matter of ‘control’, which unions do not have over Momentum. A central policy issue equally divides the left. Some still see the future in terms of a “People’s Brexit’. Some decades later, on another planet, Tony Benn’s call for “genuine national sovereignty” – is proposed by the Morning Star, and, in a souped up form, by the ‘revolutionary’ remnants of the People’s Assembly reduced to the mouthpiece of the groupuscule Counterfire (The why and what of a People’s Brexit). But it is unlikely that inside the party, in Momentum or anywhere else, apart from the far from dynamic minority of ‘patriotic Labour’ is attracted to this prospect. Many remain strongly opposed to Leave. A few respond to the demand for a new referendum. The compromise over the Customs Union is a stop-gap a more detailed set of policies on Europe remains to be settled.

The differences between Labour-as-a-social-movement and Political Trade Unionism are far from irresolvable. Those, like this writer, who rejoined Labour, are intensely conscious that for Labour to be elected compromises and a great deal of respect is due for those activists, councillors and MPs who have kept membership over the years. Their concerns focus on issues such as the funding for local government, housing, welfare reform and …Europe. It would be better if disputes took place over policy, in a collaborative fashion, and not over jostling for internal positions in the party.


(1) Radicalising the party-movement relationship: from Ralph Miliband to Jeremy Corbyn and beyond. Hilary Wainwright. Socialist Register. 2017. Merlin Press. Beyond the Boundary, Momentum’s role in the #GE2017 Campaign, Puru Miah. Chartist. 277. July/August 2017.

(2) Left Unity or Class Unity? Working class politics in Britain. Andrew Murray. Socialist Register 2014. Merlin Press.

(3) On this aspect of Tony Benn’s politics see: Chapter 6 A Party with Socialists in it. A History of the Labour Left. Simon Hannah. Pluto Press. 2018

Christine Shawcroft in row over saying, “major trade unions are actively opposed” to Labour rank-and-file members.

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Shawcroft told HuffPost that she was not speaking on behalf of Momentum and had acted in ‘the heat of the moment’.

This story tends to confirm the well-informed opinion that Lansman’s Labour General Secretary challenge is aimed, not at trade unions as such, but  a ‘union shoe-in’ for their candidate for the post.

But before one expresses sympathy for Shawcroft.. (Huff Post)

Shawcroft is understood to have expressed her frustration with union ‘stitch-ups’ in the past, and in recent months told one Momentum meeting it was time to deal with the union issue once and for all.

Her outburst on Facebook came after fellow NEC member Darren Williams expressed his frustration that the disputes committee had voted on Tuesday – with union support – to refer several cases of alleged anti-semitism for a full disciplinary hearing.


HuffPost understands that Momentum-backed NEC reps objected and wanted those accused to be issued with formal warnings rather than a route to explusion. But the rest of the committee heavily supported disciplinary inquiries.

On Wednesday, Shawcroft told HuffPost that she had been advised to take down her Facebook remarks because Lansman did not want Momentum associated with them.

She insisted that she was not speaking on behalf of Momentum or of Lansman.

It was just a bit of a heat of the moment thing, a personal one. Nothing to do with Momentum whatsoever. I’m just a committee member for Momentum, it’s not like everything I do or say has to be seen through that prism,” Shawcroft said.

“I don’t speak for them or tell them what to do. I’m just a member, same as anyone else.”

Shawcroft still faced a backlash for her remarks, with Unite’s Len McCluskey, GMB union boss Tim Roache  and Unison’s Dave Prentis all attacking her stance.


More emerging now (Total Politics).

When Momentum founder Jon Lansman announced that he was challenging Unite boss Jennie Formby for the job of Labour general secretary, the battle lines could not have been clearer.

“The first major Unions/Momentum skirmish is already causing some disquiet within Labour’s ranks,” we noted in a piece on Lansman’s candidacy.

A week later that is starting to look like an understatement…

Writing on her Facebook page, veteran activist and senior Momentum official Christine Shawcroft said Lansman should be general secretary because “only someone from his tradition will support the rights of rank and file members in the CLPs”.

Going further, she claimed that the major trade unions “stick it to the rank and file members time after time after time” and even called for Labour to break its historic links with the trade union movement.

Naturally the comments from Shawcross – who is an ally of Jeremy Corbyn and has been on Labour’s ruling national executive committee for over a decade – sparked a furious backlash from union bosses after they were revealed today by PoliticsHome.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Christine Shawcroft is a member of the Labour party. The clue is in the name. We are the party of labour, founded by the trade union movement. Her proposals for disaffiliation aid the most backwards forces in our society and she should withdraw them.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis stated: “Christine Shawcroft’s comments are wrong on every count. Trade Unions are an integral and historic part of the Labour Party. This is no time for this kind of divisive nonsense – we need to focus on getting Labour elected.”

Also weighing in today was Corbyn’s former chief of staff Simon Fletcher, once described as “the linchpin of the Corbyn operation”.

He argued: “The Labour left advances most clearly when it builds an alliance of the CLP left and the unions. The demand to break the union link is longstanding goal of the right in British society. This intervention tips disorientation over into rottenness.”


Huffington Post more on the story.


EXCL Labour row erupts as Jeremy Corbyn supporter calls for party to break from trade unions

Veteran activist and senior Momentum official Christine Shawcroft claimed “major trade unions are actively opposed” to the party’s rank-and-file members.

Ms Shawcroft, who is head of Labour’s powerful disciplinary committee, is supporting Momentum boss Jon Lansman’s bid to succeed Iain McNicol in the powerful role.

He defied pleas from Jeremy Corbyn and his closest aides not to run in order to leave the way clear for Unite official Jennie Formby to take the post.

Ms Shawcroft, who has been on Labour’s ruling national executive committee for over a decade, launched her attack on Facebook in the wake of a fractious meeting yesterday of the disputes sub-committee she chairs.

Responding to one Labour member, she said: “Unfortunately, reviewing the disciplinary process is going to come too late for some of our comrades. This is why I am supporting Jon Lansman, or a woman in that tradition, for general secretary.

“Nothing would induce me to support a candidate from a major trade union, they stick it to the rank and file members time after time after time. It’s also time to support disaffiliation of the unions from the Labour party. The party belongs to us, the members.”

In a post on her own Facebook page, she added: “I was supporting Jon Lansman for general secretary before today’s NEC sub committee meetings, but after today I’m even more determined.

“Only someone from his tradition will support the rights of rank and file members in the CLPs (constituency Labour parties). The major trade unions are actively opposed to us, a very cursory examination of trigger ballots in mayoral “selections” will tell you that. Look at their track records before you rush to support someone.”

Her comments are highly significant because she is a key supporter of Mr Corbyn and a major figure on the left-wing of the party.

Momentum has also enjoyed support from trade unions such as the TSSA, Unite and CWU.

Labour’s new general secretary will be chosen by the party’s NEC on 20 March.

Jennie Formby has already been forced to condemn “anti-Semitic” attacks on Mr Lansman.

A Momentum spokesperson said: “We’re very proud of the strong links Momentum has to the trade union movement.

“From running digital campaigns in support of striking McDonalds workers to making viral videos highlighting Tory cuts to public services with the CWU and the TSSA – we believe Labour is strongest when trade unions and member organisations work together closely.

“The unions were central to the formation of the Labour Party, and every day they represent millions of people fighting for better rights at work. We firmly support Labour’s trade union link, and hope to see more unions affiliate in the future.”

Yet more:

Update from The Clarion Edd Mustill.

This week comments made on Facebook by a prominent figure in both the Labour left and Momentum, Christine Shawcroft, have provoked fierce criticism and some alarm. Shawcroft appeared to call for the ending, or at least weakening, of the link between trade unions and the Labour Party.

However serious these comments are or whether they were made in the heat of the moment (it should be noted that Momentum quickly distanced itself from Shawcroft’s comments), it is immensely disappointing to see a prominent leftwing apparently advocating something that has been a fantasy of the party’s Blairite wing for a quarter of a century, albeit no doubt for very different reasons.

recently argued that any debate around how trade unions formally relate to the membership of a mass socialist party should be welcomed by Labour members. That said, any calls, from any wing of the party, to end or dramatically weaken the link should be robustly resisted.


This looks a mess, and entangles many themes.

But, firstly, there is a problem with the ambitions of people, and unions, coming before both Momentum or UNITE’s goals, either a social movement or ‘political union’. This does not just refer to the most visible person in this case, as those in a position to know are aware of other individual’s projects at play.

Secondly, these are really pretty secondary affairs compared to Labour’s overriding need to win this year’s local elections and the next General Election.

Finally, Labour activists are not going to be pleased with this clash being acted out in public, either by union leaders or by Momentum. Since it is not principally important for the left who is a “reliable ally” of whom, but Labour policy and direction, the dispute is highly unwelcome.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 7, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Labour Controversy over Gender Recognition.

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Activists divide on issues such as trans women on all-female shortlists.

A veteran feminist and opponent of government plans to streamline how people can legally change their gender aims to set up a “new women’s liberation movement” to lobby a future Labour government.

Ruth Serwotka, convener of the Socialist Feminist Network, said she and others on the left had been “frozen out” of voicing their concerns to the party leadership about what they believe would be the impact of the government’s proposed Gender Recognition Act. The act would make it easier for people to self-declare their gender without having to be assessed by clinicians.

Nearly 500 people from Labour, the Greens, the Women’s Equality party and trade unions attended the latest meeting of the group, which took place in London at a location that was kept secret because of what the group alleges is intimidation by trans activists.

I think that in time there will be an impact on Labour’s support among women and trust in the party from women,” said Serwotka.

Further meetings are planned around the country, she said, and will lead to the establishment of “a new women’s liberation movement” later this year.

“It will talk about wider issues than just transgender issues and really go back to the founding principles of the women’s liberation movement, look at whether they are fit for purpose, and consider what any new founding principles might look like. We want to do that because we certainly want to be able to influence a Labour government.”

The campaign by Serwotka and other feminists comes against the backdrop of divisions in Labour over whether transgender women can be included on all-women shortlists for parliamentary seats. The party is embarking on a consultation after confirming they are welcome to stand without a gender recognition certificate.

Factions in the bitter split had both been encouraging supporters to join the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, which met in central London.

Rest of article via link above.


Leading members of hard left group the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy are set for a showdown at its AGM this Saturday in a bitter dispute over the status of trans people.

CLPD executive member Jennifer James sparked the row by launching a campaign to ban trans women from all-women shortlists, leading to her suspension from the Labour Party. Now James, who has spoken alongside Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott at a fringe event, is pushing for her own proposals on Labour’s approach to trans people to be officially adopted by the CLPD at its AGM this Saturday 3rd March.

The acrimonious row has seen James threaten opponents saying “say it to my face one time and you’ll find out”, while a supporter of hers burned a copy of Owen Jones’ book following statements of support for trans women in Labour.

I am still absolutely fuming after reading this below – the attacks against comrade Pilgrim Tucker.

Pilgrim is one of the best, most respected, activists and writers in the UK today. 

In the past few weeks I have been called trash, disgusting, despicable, f**ing scum, compared to a Nazi, a white supremacist, and a supporter of apartheid South Africa. I have had the insults ‘TERF’ (trans exclusionary radical feminist), transphobe and bigot aimed at me too many times to count.

I am one of the women Labour Party members who recently put my name to a crowdfunder to raise money for a legal examination of whether Labour is abiding by the Equality Act 2010. Currently the Gender Recognition Act states that a transgender person wishing to legally change their sex must meet certain criteria – to ‘live as’ the opposite sex for two years and a have a doctor’s diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Once they’ve been through this process they are given a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), can change their birth certificate to say female instead of male, and access sex-segregated spaces currently reserved for women such as female dorms in backpacker hostels, hospital wards, women’s prisons or domestic violence shelters (basically spaces where women are likely to be vulnerable or in a state of undress).


But what’s happened to me, and every other woman I know in the Labour Party who has publicly stated they want to examine the impacts of these proposed changes, is an onslaught of abuse of the type I mention above. My name has been put on a ‘hit-list’ and an active campaign launched by a number of Labour members to have us expelled for ‘transphobia’. Two women on the list have been suspended from Labour, one for saying ‘women don’t have dicks’. So far nobody in a senior position within the party has spoken up for the many, many women (and good numbers of men) who have serious concerns about these issues.

Meanwhile women have had their employers contacted by anonymous activists accusing them of transphobia for simply questioning the trans rights agenda – every single meeting that women have tried to organise to discuss the issues has been targeted by activists attempting to shut it down.

Huffington Post.


The below is intended to give carefully thought out presentations of different sides in this controversy.

One thing that stands out is that the Socialist Feminist Network makes a contribution which is as far as possible from the ‘hate speech’ its critics allege.

Socialist Feminist Network.

“I urge transgender people to join us in that fight and to speak out against the sexism and misogyny in the self identity movement.”

Finding a progressive way forward for women and trans people

On 17th January 2018 Kristina Harrison addressed the second Woman’s Place meeting in Manchester, following is a transcript of her speech, which is also available on YouTube.

It’s a cliche but I really am honoured to be invited to speak at this meeting and to speak alongside socialists, feminists of the calibre of Ruth Serwotka and Bea Campbell.

As a transwoman I have identified not ‘as’ a girl or a woman but with girls and women for most of my life…. I’m also a socialist who understands with absolute clarity, that there can be no progressive agenda that uses abuse and harassment to silence women, there can be no socialism of any kind, that tells women, we’re re-defining you, be quiet and submit and there can absolutely, never be any human liberation without women’s liberation. As someone who understands that, I value women’s rights as highly as I value my own trans rights.

That is why I’ve not only marched through these very streets here in Manchester against section 28, not only stood tall as a proud and unapologetic transwoman, demanding rights, but I have also demonstrated and picketed in defence of women’s abortion rights and their right to control their own bodies. It’s also why I am implacably opposed to both the proposals for self-recognition of gender identity and the current ideology of I’m sad to say, the majority of transgender activists.

There’s simply too much to try and cover all the problematic aspects of the self-identity proposals and current trans ideology in this speech and hopefully much more can come out in the discussion so I’m just going to touch on a few issues but before I do I want to put these things into a wider context that I think is crucial to a fuller understanding of what’s going on in what I think are very complex issues of gender as well as I think, critical distinctions between everyday social sensitivities and status or even to a large extent legal protections on the one hand and on the other more fundamental political, biological and philosophical distinctions which must also be reflected in law.

So, context. As one of those troublesome Marxists I’d argue that oppression is rooted not in individual prejudice but in systematic discrimination arising from the needs of various male dominated class societies, most recently, capitalism. One of those systemic aspects of discrimination are gender roles, their deliberate propagation and policing across generations. Such ideas are propagated through newspapers, film, TV and advertising industries and very much policed by right wing politicians, by corporate media, religious groups, by families influenced by the ongoing justification of these norms and still today here in Britain they are occasionally policed with violence by usually male bigots.

The idea that the extraordinary richness and diversity of human personality and interests can be adequately accommodated by two roles based upon a child’s genitals at birth is an absurd one. If it wasn’t such a deeply damaging and fundamentally inhumane notion it would be simply laughable, so why are we still subjected to these deeply restrictive rules that limit and suffocate the scope of girls aspirations, that tell girls they are weak, frivolous, vain and valued principally for their looks and boys that they must not cry, that tenderness, sensitivity and heaven forbid, playing with girls or with girls things is for cissy’s… and who wants to be one of those?

The reason we are still subjected to these arcane and artificial roles is they serve an important purpose for our ruling elite. These ideas have evolved over centuries fundamentally to keep women in their place in a subordinate role that now seeks to control their ability to bear and raise children in ways that maintain, nurture and replenish a healthy and productive workforce at very low cost or no cost to big business or the state and to control and exploit women’s sexualised bodies to sell commodities, to titillate men and to further divide and divert working people from recognising our common interests and common humanity. The system benefits hugely from all that. That’s partly why many establishment politicians, the likes of the Daily Mail, the Sun and other right-wing forces constantly push these norms.

Another is the gender role for males which has also evolved in ways which attempt to control and shape men, in particular working-class men, preparing them for their exploitation at work or for war. Though occupying a more socially valued and higher status category the gender role for men is still fundamentally restrictive and exploitative, setting unrealisable standards of toughness and emotional constipation for instance.

When trans identitists talk about ‘cis’ people as individuals who are somehow congruent with their gender, not in conflict with it all, I have to stifle a little laugh. I think it’s fundamentally misleading. Even a man who sees no conflict with his gender role but ends up committing suicide as all too many young men do, because his ‘role’ and the rules he thinks he has to live by as a man render him incapable of addressing and dealing with his emotional needs or feelings is in fact in a very real and all too human sense, in conflict with his unhealthy, unnatural and mentally corrosive gender role even if he doesn’t know it.

Only a minority of adults fully conform to the gender stereotypes for their sex. Most people find that their real lives and real personalities are more complex than stereotypes and whilst most conform in broadly socially acceptable senses they do not do so fully.

Many people, especially women become aware of the oppressive nature of their gender norms and actively rebel against them. Feminists and socialists such as myself are for the complete removal of these artificially created rules and roles. However, whilst women in particular are oppressed by them, as well as in many other ways, some children discover that major or central aspects or our natural personalities and childhood interests are so completely incompatible with the gender role and norms inflicted on us that we find our core sense of self completely rejected and delegitimised as children.

The very same traits and interests that bring us shame and rejection seem to bring love and pride toward children of the opposite sex….and boy do we notice! In my opinion this is one of the major reasons children can begin to feel trapped by their bodies because it is our bodies that determine whether our personality is treated with love and approval or shame and illegitimacy.

Full version:

From a standpoint critical of this view:

The setting up of a socialist feminist network/website should have been worth investigating.

But a look at its contents indicates that the network/website has been set up purely to voice concerns over forthcoming possible amendments to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), specifically that transgender people will be able to register a change of gender by self-declaration.

The site includes a Q&A on the GRA and promotion of a new campaign Women’s Place UK. That campaign’s statement says that while it supports transgender rights it believes self-declaration may undermine the integrity of women-only spaces; in the forthcoming consultation on the GRA women’s groups (unspecified) should be consulted.

I disagree with this stance against self-declaration. If self-definition (and thereby self-declaration in a registering process) is a false or insufficient basis on which people should be allowed to live their lives, in this case be a woman, what do you put in its place? It can only be a more or less elaborate system of institutionalised vetting procedures where a transwoman is not a good enough woman, a semi-woman, and second class citizen, who can never gain entry to parts of society that other women have automatic access to.

But these arguments have been dealt with in previous issues of Solidarity (448 and 452) and are not what I want to take up here. As a socialist feminist I was annoyed by the description of socialist feminism which the site puts forward. For brevity, I’ll focus on this statement from the Q&A:

“Feminists do not conflate sex and gender. Sex is a scientific term for one’s biology, and this cannot be changed. As materialists we believe the root of women’s oppression lies in her biology, a view underpinning socialist theory for generations. Gender theory does not provide an alternative credible analysis and it is regressive. Queer theorists see the intimate connection between biological sex and oppression and react by trying to dismantle the notion of biological sex whilst socialists and feminists react by seeking to dismantle oppression.”

More background:

Marxism, feminism and transgender politics. Sue Caldwell ISJ December 2017.

 No, Corbyn is not throwing women under the “trans bus”! Helen Rutherford Gregory. Clarion. September 2017.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 5, 2018 at 2:01 pm

Jihadist Umar Haque taught Genocide at Islamic School.

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Image result for Umar Haque

There is immense sadness, and anger, after the conviction of Umar Haque and his associates, Abuthather Mamun, Muhammad Abid, and Nadeem Patel (‘I’ News)

The Independent chose the right words in saying, “Isis fanatic tried to recruit children for ‘death squad‘ to launch terror attacks in London.”

The ‘self-radicalised’ supporter of ISIS has been found guilty of preparing “children for martyrdom by making them roleplay terrorist attacks in London.”

He was able to do this at the Lantern of Knowledge Islamic school and the Ripple Road Mosque.

That Hacque’s activities went unnoticed by those in charge of these institutions, “staggers belief” as a former Policeman said on RT yesterday.

Deash, the Islamic State, and its adherents have committed genocide – against Yazidis (Genocide of Yazidis by ISIL), Christians, and Shiite Muslims (ISIS Is Committing Genocide. Huff Post).

Haque wanted to recruit for their genocidal racist Einsatsgruppen.

Were the preparations for murder carried out by those now convicted the work of the far-right, the entire liberal and left wing media would be boiling.

As it is most people are no doubt still numb.

Clearly Hacque’s systematic activities, helped by other, indicate that his ‘radicalisation’, was not a momentary or nihilistic coup de tête”.

He was able to ‘teach’ in Muslim institutions.

This is perhaps the first issue to look at, as the National Secular Society indicates today.

What of institutions like this school and the Mosque which have permitted these ideas to be broadcast?

There remain many more questions, not just about faith education, but about the fight against the genociders of Daesh and other jihadists.

On the ground, they have been fought back, with a key role played in Syria by the brave sisters and brothers of the Kurdish fighting units of the YPG.

But few are confident that support for their ideology has disappeared.

Lax home schooling laws exploited by extremists

 A half of 70 known extremists in London removed their children from state schools to educate them at home, according to Metropolitan Police study.

Details of the study into 70 extremists and their children emerged following Friday’s conviction of an unqualified teacher, Umar Haque, for plotting up to 30 terrorist attacks in London, reports the Sunday Times.

As previously reported by the NSS, Umar Haque brainwashed young boys attending the Ripple Road mosque in Barking, and made them carry out role-playing sessions where some took the part of police officers and others were jihadists. In one exercise they used imaginary knives to sever a head. Haque also taught at a private Islamic school in Leyton called Lantern of Knowledge.

The Met Police study appears to back up a previous warning from Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, that “segregated, isolated communities, unregulated education and home schooling are a breeding ground for future terrorists”.

Pressure is growing on the government to tighten lax home education laws after campaigners, including the NSS, have warned that they are being exploited by religious communities to educate their children in unregistered schools. Illegal schools have been found in Birmingham, Luton and a number of London boroughs. Some have links to extremist organisations, and many have almost no secular or English education. There is also evidence of children being exposed to hate-filled homophobic and misogynistic teaching material in them.

The NSS is supporting a new private member’s bill to safeguard children’s rights by better regulating home schooling. The Home Education (Duty of Local Authorities) Bill, moved by NSS honorary associate Lord Soley, would institute a duty for local authorities to monitor the educational, physical and emotional development of children receiving home education in England and Wales, and for a parent to register home-educated children with the local authority. It is due to be debated next month.

The NSS is also calling on the government to better regulate out of school educational settings, such as madrassas and yeshivas, that provide “intensive tuition, instruction or training” where children attend over six hours per week.

A government proposal for a system of registration and inspection of supplementary schools was recently shelved following opposition from the Church of England, which feared the registration of its Sunday schools, despite the fact they would be largely unaffected by the proposals.

At least 350 unregistered schools have been set up across Britain, according to Ofsted, which is calling for strengthened powers to tackle them. Warning notices have been issued to 50 suspected unregistered schools, 38 have closed or ceased to operate illegally and 12 are under criminal investigation. So far no proprietors of illegal schools have been prosecuted.

Robert Halfon MP, chair of the Commons education committee, has said there should be no ‘grey areas’ and is worried about the lack of regulation concerning unregistered schools.

Stephen Evans, National Secular Society chief executive, said: “After years of campaigning, we are finally seeing wide recognition that it is completely unacceptable for British children to be left to languish in unregistered settings where they are indoctrinated by fundamentalists and left exposed to harm.

“There is a balance to be struck between the rights of parents to home educate and the rights of the child to a proper education. But that balance must be struck in order to protect child rights.

“The denial of secular education and the teaching of intolerance and violence in unregistered schools has the clear potential to damage to the minds of young people and cause harm to wider society. The government can no longer look the other way.”

Background: the Guardian reported on Saturday,

Isis follower tried to create jihadist child army in east London

Umar Haque, 25, taught an Islamic studies class despite having no teaching qualifications and being employed as an administrator. He was allowed to supervise classes of 11- to 14-year-olds on his own, during which he re-enacted attacks on police officers and showed students videos of beheadings.

Police fear Haque attempted to radicalise at least 110 children, some of whom he was in contact with at the Ripple Road mosque in Barking, east London. Thirty-five of the children are receiving long-term support.

Haque also worked at the £3,000-a-year Lantern of Knowledge Islamic school, where he was again allowed access to children alone under the pretence of teaching Islamic studies when he was in fact employed as an administrator.


Haque was convicted by a jury at the Old Bailey on Friday of a number of offences, including plotting terrorist attacks. He had previously admitted four charges of collecting information useful for terrorism and one count of disseminating a terrorist document in relation to his attempts to radicalise children at the mosque. He was acquitted of conspiring to possess firearms.

Two other men, Abuthaher Mamun, 19, and Muhammad Abid, 27, were convicted for their roles in helping him. A fourth defendant, Nadeem Patel, 26, who had previously pleaded guilty to possessing a handgun, was acquitted of plotting with Haque.


The schools watchdog, Ofsted, faces questions over how it was able to rate the Lantern of Knowledge school as outstanding after an inspection held at a time when Haque was allegedly preaching hate to the children.

The Charity Commission confirmed on Friday that it has opened a statutory inquiry into the Lantern of Knowledge Educational Trust. The commission is also investigating the Ripple Road mosque.


His plan was to build an army of children,” said Commander Dean Haydon, the head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard. “He had shown them graphic terrorist videos of barbarity, beheading videos and serious injuries mostly in terrorist attacks overseas.

“He had instructed children not to say anything in relation to not telling their teachers or their parents. We had a wall of silence.

“He tried to prepare the children for martyrdom by making them roleplay terrorist attacks in London. Part of that re-enactment including attacking police officers.”


He was also involved in running evening classes in a madrasa based in a large marquee attached to the mosque in Ripple Road in late 2016 and early 2017.

He told the boys, aged about 12 to 14, that he had established contact with Isis and showed them a series of videos projected on to the wall inside the marquee, ensuring the doors were closed.

The images included blood, wounds and people falling from buildings. One film showed the exhumation of a boy. Haque told the children the child’s body had deteriorated because he had been beaten after death when he was unable to answer questions put to him by angels.

He also had the children in the madrasa doing push-ups, races and grappling with each other in order to train them.

There were sessions of role-playing during which the children would be divided into police and attackers, and there were demonstrations of how to sever a head. After the Westminster Bridge attack by Khalid Masood last March, Haque used the atrocity as inspiration for the roleplays.

He said he intended to teach the children to drive as they got older so he could carry out attacks across London. He forced them take an oath not to tell their parents, friends or teachers, and it is claimed he aimed to recruit 300 jihadists.

The 35 children in long-term support were “paralysed in fear” by Haque, Haydon said. “He threatened them if they were to talk. It doesn’t appear that any of those children raised the alarm.”

Six children gave evidence in court. The trial was shown video of a police interview with a child, who said: “He is teaching us terrorism, like how to fight.”

The boy said: “He has been training us, kind of. Apparently fighting is good. If you fight for the sake of Allah, on judgment day when you get judged for your good deeds and bad deeds, fighting is good.”

Ofsted inspectors visited the Lantern of Knowledge school in November 2015, two months after Haque started working there. In their report, they said: “The strong sense of community, harmony and respect within the school reflects the school ethos and aims of leaders and governors to develop well-rounded citizens.

“The spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils is outstanding. They have an excellent understanding of the world around them and make a positive contribution to their community.”

Written by Andrew Coates

March 4, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Mélenchon: War of Manoeuvre Against the ‘Media Party’.

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Image result for melenchon le media

Mélenchon out on a ‘War of Manoeuvre’.

Age-old whinges of politicians against the Media has taken a new turn in France.

Joining together in common complaints,  Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the left-wing ‘populist’ La France insoumise (LFI), far right, Marine  Le Pen  and  hard right leader of the ‘Républicains, (LR) ‘ Laurent Wauquiez, that is all the principal French political parties outside the ruling ‘centrist’ Macron La France en marche,  bloc, , have declared a veritable ‘war’ on the media (Mélenchon, Le Pen et Wauquiez déclarent la guerre aux médias. Le Monde 1.3.108)

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has his own gripes, about reports regarding his party-rally’s dodgy  financial accounting during the Presidential campaign.

For those willing to wade through his verbose Blog Mélenchon wrote on the 26th of February a defence of Wauquiez against the Media pack, or, more grandly, the “media party” (parti médiatique) and its put up jobs against his good self and LFI (Le coup monté du «service public» contre la «France Insoumise»)

Describing the public radio services he suggested comparisons with CIA disinformation, “une sorte de CIA médiatique”, a campaign organising “coups” (coups » déstabilisateurs) The media in effect is behind charges against his good self  and the said dodgy accounts.

Faced with the hatred (la haine) of the media, the leader of LFI remarked that he does not believe in the personal dignity of those behind these plots, engaged in preventing people to think freely ( Je ne crois pas à la dignité personnelle des gens qui montent de telles opérations). The only task left for the dignified leader was to….

Well there is this:

Maverick Mélenchon: French far-left launches its own web TV

Unfortunately the project has come a cropper.

Eviction de la rédactrice en chef, départ de Noël Mamère et couverture du conflit syrien: Le Média dans la tourmente. (20 Minutes)

The head of this operation, Aude Rossigneux, was booted out  in conditions which remain unclear, but essentially linked to her inability to do Mélenchon’s bidding.

The real scandal which has erupted is over the web television coverage of Syria, with Mélenchon’s favoured place-people refusing the broadcast “sensationalist” images of the siege of Goutha. ” Le correspondant libanais du Média, Claude El Khal, refuse de diffuser les images des bombardements de la Ghouta orientale, en Syrie, et parle de meurtres commis par la rébellion.” That is, a refusal to show images of the bombing of Ghouta  yet giving plenty of space to murders committed by the armed opposition.

There is a summary of further developments yesterday, including a whole group of people resigning from the venture, here:  Le Média perd des soutiens Aurélie Filippetti, Patrick Pelloux ou encore François Morel « regrettent » d’avoir soutenu à son lancement la webtélé proche de La France insoumise.  SOURCE AFP

Not to be outdone the uncontested leader of La France insoumise has now theorised his stand in Gramscian terms.

Mélenchon théorise la « guerre permanente » contre « le parti médiatique  (le Monde).

According to Abel Mestre   Mélenchon is engaged in a Gramscian version of a “war of manoeuvre”, a frontal assault, against the “media party”. Mestre cites this LFI strategy in terms taken from Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau. That is,  a confrontation between the ‘People’  and the ruling ‘Caste’ (a word which sounds as out-of-place in ordinary, dare I say, ‘popular’  French, la caste, as it does in English).

Perhaps my Gramsci is a bit rusty but I thought that “War of Manoeuvre” is a struggle of force, comparable to a military insurrection in the fight for political power. We may modify it to mean any open struggle between classes, not simply revolutionary/counter-revolutionary struggles but it remains a harsh, militant, line of action.

Some might say that framing  Mélenchon’s tiff with the French media in terms of an open battle between two camps, a ‘war’ , is, to say the least,  pretentious.

It certainly does not look as if this strategy is paying off in terms of the “war of position”, the ambitions of a party to gain a degree of hegemony in society through its influence and ideas.

Update: Dossier,La France insoumise : objectifs politiques, les media et Le Média

Written by Andrew Coates

March 3, 2018 at 1:08 pm

Critical Support for Jon Lansman as Labour General Secretary.

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Lansman’s Announcement.

Progress columnist Adrian McMenamin writes,

Only one candidate for Labour’s top job seems to have the full backing of the leader. It should be them that gets the job, argues Adrian McMenamin

I want Jennie Formby to be the next general secretary of the Labour party.

I want her to be selected because she is the least suited of the two known candidates, but the one most firmly backed by Jeremy Corbyn. You see – and I have never hidden this before and I am not starting now – I do not want Corbyn to be leader of the Labour party. I also know that, in holding that view I am in the minority, at least amongst Labour party members. I need things to happen that will persuade more members to agree with me, and appointing Formby, who has never demonstrated to me any of the characteristics needed to run our party’s machinery, should, I believe, help in that task.

I know that is not likely to be a welcome sentiment to many of the good people who work for the Labour party. As someone who spent three periods in party headquarters between 1987 and 2005, I know they are some of the very best and most dedicated of people, yet I also know we live in the middle of a political emergency and the necessity of saving the Labour party from itself overrides so many other things. Sorry, comrades, but I am not sorry.

If Formby gets the job she will be Corbyn’s appointment pure and simple. Others are backing her of course – and tarring them with her likely failure is important too – but the buck stops at the top.

I  want her to get the job too because to get her there her supporters have engaged in the most appalling behaviour that makes a mockery of every claim they have ever made about wanting a democratic party where the wishes of members come first and where parachute landings were ended. Their manipulation of the process needs to succeed so they can have no excuses.

The pixels on the press statement announcing Iain McNicol’s resignation had barely switched state before we were being told that Formby was to be the next general secretary. It took less than a working day for the National Executive Committee officers group to announce a timetable for the new appointment that was shorter than any in living memory. Since then we have heard reports that Corbyn’s office have been leaning on everyone they can to endorse Formby and – of course – there has been rubbishing of the only other, now declared, candidate.

Whatever else this will be, it will not be an equal opportunities appointment, but one of the worst stitch-ups ever.

Another reason I want her to get the job is because I want the reality of the way in which Len McCluskey and his followers seek to centralise power to dole out favours to one another to be fully exposed. If Corbyn will be the father of this appointment, McCluskey will be its midwife.

Under McCluskey’s leadership a wicked political culture in Unite has festered. Failing to be honest about the union’s falling membership while going so far as to threaten to sue Gerard Coyne’s campaign for libel and then sacking him are just a few of the examples of the way in which Unite is turning into the Potemkin Village of industrial militancy. That culture, corrosively eating away at our biggest union, needs to be destroyed, and sunlight is essential for that to happen.

Finally, I want Formby to succeed because I want the Momentum train to be derailed. The political world Momentum are busy creating is, if anything, even worse than that found amongst McCluskey’s camp followers. While none of the national or local leaders of Momentum may be sexists or antisemites, it seems many are unwilling to take a firm stand against either if it gets them what they want. They deserve to be beaten and their supporters need to learn that if you run with the tigers you get eaten.


Adrian McMenamin is a Progress columnist and is the former chief press and broadcasting officer for the Labour party. He tweets at @adrianmcmenamin.

Labour List publishes this, Unite hits back at antisemitism “smear” against Jennie Formby

Unite has hit back at a claim that Labour general secretary candidate Jennie Formby “acted with antisemitic intent”, calling the allegation a “malicious smear”.

Labour Against Antisemitism (LAAS) released a statement this afternoon alleging that Formby was ousted from Unite as political director due to “antisemitic comments” over Baroness Royall’s suitability to conduct an NEC inquiry.

In 2016, Baroness Royall investigated members of the Oxford University Labour Club and found that they engaged in antisemitic activity.

LAAS claims that Formby said Baroness Royall’s membership of Labour Friends of Israel made her unsuitable for the role and that the Unite regional secretary tried to stop the Labour peer heading the investigation.

LAAS alleges that Formby “acted with antisemitic intent” by “reportedly seeking to prevent an investigation by Baroness Royall”.

Unite has hit back at the statement calling it a “malicious smear”. The union says Formby was not “never under any pressure” to step down as Unite political director.

“At that NEC discussion, Jennie Formby voted for Ms Jan Royall’s appointment, and argued for her inquiry to be properly resourced by the Party,” says Unite.

This is the background (It’s Jon versus Jen to be Labour’s next general secretary. Jewish Chronicle today)

 “Two years ago she caused outrage at a Labour NEC meeting by questioning Baroness Royall’s suitability to lead an investigation into claims of antisemitism among Labour-supporting students. Her claim was on the grounds, apparently, that the peer had previously visited Israel. 

When it was pointed out that her remarks were inappropriate, Ms Formby said she had wanted to ensure Baroness Royall had adequate support for the investigation because a search for her previous experience had only indicated involvement in a LFI delegation.

She was also said to be behind attempts to get Labour to boycott G4S, the security firm, over its contracts in Israel and the West Bank. She has denied the allegation.”

These posts put well, well, aside, one of the strongest arguments for Lansman is that fake-news site Skwawkbox is backing Formby in its habitual style.

I note in passing that one of the complaints about Lansman is that he does not run Momentum democratically.

As a paid up supporter of the Labour Representation Committee I observe that they did not ask members’ views before plumping for Formby and calling for Lansman to pull out of the race.


Here is the group taking decisions off their own back:

But the decisive reason to back Jon Lansman comes from here:

Why Labour Against the Witchhunt cannot support Jon Lansman’s Labour Party general secretary bid

We do not believe Jon Lansman would do that, for a number of reasons, not least the ones cited below:

–       When Jackie Walker was suspended from the Labour Party on trumped-up charges of anti-semitism, Jon Lansman did not defend her. Quite the opposite: he quickly removed her as vice-chair of Momentum and hand-picked her replacement.

–       After Ken Livingstone’s suspension, he wrote on Twitter: “A period of silence from Ken Livingstone is overdue, especially on anti-Semitism racism & Zionism. It’s time he left politics altogether.” That does not bode well for any new NEC enquiry on Livingstone that is now being mooted.

–       Momentum’s constitution now bars from membership all those expelled by the Labour Party’s compliance unit for their alleged “support for other organisations” under rule 2.1.4.B. This rule that has been used exclusively against left-wingers. Lansman has since come out in support of keeping the rule in Labour’s constitution (in a letter to Tony Greenstein in response to LAW’s submission to the Corbyn Review).

–       In the same letter, he has opposed our demands for the abolition of the compliance unit. We are firmly of the belief that all disciplinary matters should be dealt with by elected representatives, which means their action can be held up to scrutiny.

Labour’s next general secretary should ensure the NEC immediately implements the recommendations on the party’s disciplinary procedure made by the Shami Chakrabarti report of 2016.

We believe that Unite’s Jennie Formby would be the best choice for general secretary. As a vocal supporter of, for instance, the rights of Palestinian people and genuine bottom up Labour Party democracy, we think her election would send a powerful political signal that Labour is ready for government. We hope that her tenure would mark the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt, which has caused such disunity in the party. Labour unity is the top priority and is essential in order that the party wins the next general election.

Steering Committee,
Labour Against the Witchhunt

Those taking this view include the Mad Bob Pitt who has argued in a public forum,

The problem for Lansman is that if Jennie Formby gets to be general secretary she’s not going to be implementing the hysterical witch-hunt over antisemitism with the same unbridled enthusiasm that McNicol did. Lansman essentially supports the witch-hunt, because he thinks the Israel lobby can be bought off by throwing people like Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth to the wolves. So he wants to block Jennie. The rabid Zionists of Labour Against Antisemitism have already launched a campaign against her, smearing her as an antisemite, which has been angrily condemned by Unite. Lansman wouldn’t go that far, but basically he’s with the Zionists against Jennie.

Not that Labour members actually get a vote in this…..

Written by Andrew Coates

March 2, 2018 at 11:49 am

Atheists face prison in Egypt as Non-Belief may be made illegal.

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Charged in 2012 with “defamation of Islam and Christianity, insulting the divine and satirizing religious rituals and sanctities and the prophets under articles 98, 160 and 161 of the Egyptian Penal Code”

There are many countries where Atheism is a crime.

Atheists, and those accused of defection from the official religion, may be subject to discrimination and persecution in many Islamic countries. According to the International Humanist and Ethical Union, compared to other nations, “unbelievers… in Islamic countries face the most severe – sometimes brutal – treatment” Wikipedia.

Last year the Independent reported,

In thirteen countries, you can be sentenced to death for not having a faith

1.    Afghanistan

2.    Iran

3.    Malaysia

4.    Maldives

5.    Mauritania

6.    Nigeria

7.    Pakistan

8.    Qatar

9.    Saudi Arabia

10.    Somalia

11.    Sudan

12.    United Arab Emirates

13.    Yemen.

These regimes have laws that put people to death for ” blasphemy or apostasy”.

In Egypt, a state where the Sharia is one of the ‘sources’ of legislation, there has long been intolerance and the criminalisation of non-belief.

In January 2015 this happened:

A student has been sentenced to three years in prison for announcing on Facebook that he was an atheist and thereby “insulting Islam”. Karim Ashraf Mohamed al-Banna, aged 21, was arrested in November 2014 with a group of other people at a cafe in Cairo.

Police then closed down the so-called “atheists cafe” in what is being viewed as a coordinated government crackdown on atheists. A local administrator told a news website that the coffee shop was “known as a place for satan worship, rituals and dances”.

Egyptian police shutdown ‘atheist cafe’ accused of harbouring ‘Satan worship’


The café, on Falaky Street in the downtown neighbourhood of Abdeen, was “destroyed” after local residents reported customers as spreading “wrong thoughts regarding religions”, Arabic-language daily Sada al-Baladreported.

“We have destroyed the café of the devil worshippers in Falaki Street for being illegal and for having a number of atheists spreading their thoughts,” local police chief Gamal Mohi told the daily.

However, when speaking to independent outlet Mada Masr, Mohi denied the café had been demolished and said it was actually shutdown in November “following noise complaints from local residents”.

“There was no demolition involved, only confiscation of the coffee shop’s property,” he said. “This was all done in accordance with the law and legal procedures.”

The café owner was the only person arrested in the raid, according to Mohi, who said he was being held “as his coffee shop was unauthorised, unlicensed, and also because drugs were found inside”.

“There was no sign reading ‘atheists’ café’ outside, as nobody would put up such a public announcement. However, it was popularly known as a place for Satan worship, rituals and dances. There were also Satanic drawings at the entrance,” the police chief said.

No publicly available evidence has been produced to verify the police chief’s allegations of Satan worship at the café and he did not explain why atheists – who reject the existence of both God and Satan – would be engaging in such practices.

Egyptian rights activists denounced the café closure as being “the wrong and criminal action”, providing the business was operating legally.

“No one has the right to arrest someone for his thoughts,” Ali Atef, from the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, told The Cairo Post. “And to be fair and honest, usually these incidents happen for arresting atheists, and later they explain that the café papers were illegal, which is usually wrong.”

In August 2017 there was this,

Egyptian TV presenter El-Beheiry was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of blasphemy—a charge filed against him by Al-Azhar, Egypt’s highest Sunni authority. El-Beheiry’s show had tackled controversial issues on Islam such as punishments for apostasy, early marriage, and different interpretations of the Hadith—the sayings and teachings of Mohamed.

According to article 98 of the Egyptian Penal Code, those found guilty of insulting the monotheistic religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism) could face a fine or up to five years in prison. But the blasphemy law works mostly in favour of Muslims because they are the ones who bring this charge against people the most.

As can be seen, ‘insulting’ religion is punishable by law, but atheism is not as such, yet, a crime.

But now the Egyptian authorities are considering extending this persecution to make atheism itself a crime.

Lawmakers in Egypt are seriously considering passing a law that would make atheism illegal.

Blasphemy is already illegal in Egypt, and people are frequently arrested for insulting or defaming religion under the country’s strict laws. The newly proposed rule would make it illegal for people not to believe in God, even if they don’t talk about it.

“The phenomenon [of atheism] is being promoted in society as freedom of belief, when this is totally wrong,” Amro Hamroush, head of Egypt’s Parliament’s committee on religion, said when he introduced the bill in late December.

“[Atheism] must be criminalized and categorized as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions,” he wrote in the local daily paper Al-Shorouq.

As France Info points out in a new broadcast, you are obliged to declare your beliefs to the authorities., which will then appear on your identity card.

Already Christians and non-Muslims are second-class citizens.

Now, if the legislation is passed, you will not be a citizen at all, and a resident of a prison cell.

Égypte : les athées seront-ils bientôt mis en prison ?


Egypt’s war on atheism

There have been waves of panic about atheism in the predominantly conservative Islamic country for some years, largely driven from the top-down by government officials, religious leaders, and some media. The ‘crackdown’ on atheism has included a campaign to ‘inoculate’ or ‘educate’ young people away from atheism. Some highly questionable regional polling data in 2014 determined that there were precisely 866 atheists in the country. The figure was used as a justification for the ‘war on atheists’, though ironically the figure (which would represent just 0.001% of the population) is undoubtedly a huge underestimate and was dismissed by atheists locally as “highly unrealistic”.

The former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, in September 2014, put the level of atheism at 12.5 percent of young people (which is more realistic but the origin of the figure is unclear). Figures from the Family Court state that 6,500 women filed for a divorce in 2015 due to their husbands’ atheism. (Under the Personal Status Law, Muslim women can apply for divorce if their husbands denounce religion.)

The Sisi government has been pushing a line that has been described as “militantly mainstream“, targeting some conservatives and extremist interpretations of Islam as well as atheists and liberals.

Police have raided internet cafes that were alleged to be meeting places for atheists, and while atheism has become a hot topic in the country’s media, those invited to advocate atheism in televised debates have faced death threats and harassment.

Last month, a 29-year-old computer science graduate Ibrahim Khalil was detained on the accusation of ‘contempt of religion’. He was accused of running a Facebook page called ‘Atheism’ on which he allegedly published “distortions of the Quran” and advocated atheism.

Another student, 21-year-old Karim Ashraf Mohamed al-Banna, was sentenced to three years in November 2014 for announcing on Facebook that he was an atheist.

The media, religious leaders and politicians sometimes link atheism to homosexuality, which is similarly reviled, and promote the idea that atheism and homosexuality are mutually reinforcing “psychological imbalances”.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 1, 2018 at 5:25 pm

New Arms Race? Putin announces new strategic, nuclear-capable weapons

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Putin, “new high-speed cruise missile” “unlimited range” “can penetrate any missile defence”

The Guardian reports.

Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia had developed and was testing a new line of strategic, nuclear-capable weapons that would be able to outmanoeuvre US antiballistic missile defences, suggesting a new arms race between Moscow and the west.

Speaking in a nationally televised address to Russia’s political elite, the president showed both video and animation of Russian ICBMs, cruise missiles, and other weapons that he said Russia had developed as a result of the US pulling out of the 1972 antiballistic missile treaty signed with the Soviet Union.

“You didn’t listen to our country then,” Putin said during the speech, where he said that some of the weapons were already being tested. “Listen to us now.”

The remarks came during a state of the union speech heavy on economic promises for the Russian people and sabre-rattling against the US in a presentation widely viewed as Putin’s first stump speech for Russian elections, set for 18 March. He is expected to win a fourth term as president.

More details soon …

The Russian state funded French language Sputnik adds that ‘supersonic’ weapons are planned,

La Russie possède des armes hypersoniques, a déclaré jeudi le Président Poutine dans son message annuel au Parlement.

«La Russie possède des armes de ce type [hypersoniques]», a déclaré Vladimir Poutine jeudi en prononçant son discours annuel devant l’Assemblée fédérale (parlement) russe.

Sky News has just confirmed this,

Russia developing nuclear arsenal ‘immune to interception’, Vladimir Putin claims

The Russian President claims a new high-speed cruise missile has an unlimited range and can penetrate any missile defence.


There will doubtless be  renewed concern about nuclear weapons.

It would be unfortunate if left-wing opinion were now  to focus on this issue.

It would be extremely unhelpful if, for example, the Stop the War Coalition were to mount a campaign on a potential new nuclear arms race.

The horrors of Syria, in which Russian intervention and the actions of Assad’s regime, Turkey’s armed incursion against the Kurds and their allies, not to mention the killings by the genociders of Daesh, have have taken place without nuclear arms playing any part.

One may not agree with everything Patrick Cockburn says but his latest article puts these issues where they rightly are, centre stage.

Syria: Attack on Afrin will bring devastation and suffering like that seen in Eastern Ghouta, Kurds warn

The Wars in Syria: In the first of a new series, a senior Kurdish official tells Patrick Cockburn that conflict in Syria will last at least another four years, with no end in sight for civilian suffering


Written by Andrew Coates

March 1, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Stop pretending that you can’t do anything to save Syrians.

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“Hours into second attempt at implementing Russian truce, government shelling intensifies in towns near front lines.” Al Jazeera.

Lois Proyect has just published this from Pulse.

It should have the widest circulation.

“This open letter was first published at the New York Review of Books.”

The World Must Act Now on Syria

Stop pretending that you can’t do anything to save Syrians

The UN says it has run out of words on Syria, but we, the undersigned, still have some for the governments, parliamentarians, electorates and opinion leaders of the powers on whom the international legal order has hitherto depended.

The world is a bystander to the carnage that has ravaged the lives of Syrians. All has happened in full view of a global audience that sees everything but refuses to act.

Through Russian obstruction and western irresolution, the UN Security Council has failed to protect Syrians. To the extent that it has been able to pass resolutions, they have proved ineffectual. All they have done is provide a fig leaf to an institution that appears moribund. Perhaps conscious of the stain this might leave on its legacy, the UN has even stopped counting Syria’s dead. After seven years, these nations appear united only in their apathy.

It will be redundant to list the nature and magnitude of all the crimes that the Assad regime has committed against Syrians, aided by local and foreign militias, by Iranian strategic and financial aid, by Russian airpower and mercenaries—and by international indifference. The world that watched and averted its eyes is its passive enabler.

Syrians were shot and killed in broad daylight for protesting injustice. They were imprisoned, tortured and executed. They were bombed and shelled. They were besieged, raped and humiliated. They were gassed. They were displaced and dispossessed.

Those with the power to act have been generous with expressions of sympathy but have offered nothing beyond the wish that this war on civilians—which they grotesquely call a “civil war”—would end. They call on “all parties” to show restraint, even though one side alone has a virtual monopoly on violence; they encourage all parties to negotiate, even though the opposition is entirely without leverage. They say there is “no military solution” though the regime has given no indication that it believes in a solution of any other kind.  Meanwhile, pleas from aid agencies and endangered Syrians fall on deaf ears.

Refugees—the only Syrians to have received some assistance—have seen their plight depoliticized, isolated from the terror that forced them to flee.

Today, as Idlib and Afrin burn, the inevitable is unfolding in Ghouta, the huge open air concentration camp about to enter its fifth year under siege. What happens next is predictable because the same formula has been applied repeatedly over the past seven years. After holding a civilian population hostage, blocking food, medicine and aid of any kind, the regime bombs the area relentlessly, in particular its medical facilities, until it capitulates. Those that survive are then forced from their homes that are then expropriated for demographic engineering with the aim of creating politically homogenous geographies.

While there are no longer any illusions about the role of the Security Council, every member state has nevertheless adopted and pledged to uphold the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine under the UN’s Office on Genocide Prevention. The destruction of Syria was preventable, and can now only be ended by the elected and appointed members of democratic bodies if they fulfill their obligations under R2P to protect Syria’s endangered population from war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and what UN war crimes investigators have themselves labeled the “crime of extermination”.

For the agony of the people of Syria to come to an end, it must be forcibly stopped. The perpetrators of these colossal crimes against humanity must be halted once and for all. There are myriad geopolitical reasons why this is an imperative, but none as immediate and important as the sanctity of life and the exercise of free will. Inaction would reduce these principles to the status of platitudes devoid of all meaning. To their misfortune, Syrians dared to believe in these principles; they dared to believe that while their struggle for dignity was theirs alone, they wouldn’t be abandoned to such a fate in the 21st century.

Today, appealing once more to the ethics and the codes of moral conduct on which democracy and international law are built, we ask you to act now to stop the Syrian genocide: demand an immediate ceasefire, an immediate lifting of all sieges, immediate access for relief aid agencies, release of political detainees, and immediate protection for all Syrian lives.

Affiliations for identification purposes only

  • Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, writer, Berlin
  • Robin Yassin-Kassab, writer, Scotland
  • Rime Allaf, Writer
  • Leila Al Shami, Syrian writer and human rights activist, UK
  • Mohammad Al Attar, Syrian Playwright, Berlin
  • Michel Kilo, Syrian writer and Politician, Paris
  • Moncef Marzouki, Former President of Tunisia
  • Burhan Ghalioun, Academician and Thinker, Paris
  • Karam Nachar, Syrian Writer and Academic, Istanbul
  • Mohammad Ali Atassi, Journalist and Filmmaker, Beirut
  • Ossama Mohammed, Filmmaker, Paris
  • Yasmin Fedda, Filmmaker, UK
  • Fadel Abdul Ghany, Chairperson of the Syrian Network for Human Rights
  • Ebrahim Alyousef, President of Human Rights Association in Syria, Germany
  • Nisrin Al Zahre, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris
  • Nadia Aissaoui, Sociologist, Paris
  • Leila Nachawati Rego, Writer, Spain
  • Hala Mohammad, Syrian Poet, Paris
  • Afra Jalabi, Syrian Writer, Canada
  • Mohja Kahf, Syrian writer
  • Yasser Munif, Emerson College
  • Mohammed Hanif, Writer and Journalist, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Samih Choukaer, Syrian Musician, Paris
  • Professor, Martti Koskenniemi, University of Helsink
  • Professor, Martti Koskenniemi, University of Helsinki
  • Professor Gilbert Achcar, SOAS

Further list on site.

For reasons to back the call see Shiraz Socialist,  The bombing has not stopped: Ghouta after the ‘ceasefire’.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 28, 2018 at 12:51 pm

The Delusions of a ‘People’s Brexit’ and Corbyn’s Custom Union speech.

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Image result for people's brexit

How long ago it all seems.

Counterfire originated in a split from the Socialist Workers Party in 2010. They led the Coalition of Resistance (CoR) – the grand title ‘resistance’  US term ‘coalition’ referring to liberal pressure groups, obscuring an alliance of national trade unions, local trade union and anti-cuts activists against austerity. CoR became the more successful People’s Assembly, which, held successful national anti-austerity demonstrations, thousands of local meetings, and continued the campaign against austerity with more political presence and energy.

Leading figures of Counterfire, Lindsey German, John Rees and  their small circle, run the Stop the War Coaltion (StWC) in a long-term partnership with other figures, notably Andrew Murray of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), who now plays a major role in the Labour Party.

Coutnerfire activists are extremely competent and widely appreciated organisers of national campaigns and demonstrations.

Nevertheless there are many problems with their politics.

One that is of pressing concern is that their leadership feels, while the People’s assembly is sidelined in Labour’s project of becoming a “social movement” in a position to act as “player” in the Labour Party.

As keen supporters of the Respect adventure Rees, German, and others published on their web-site, have a distinct take on international issues, which continue the ‘anti-imperialist’ politics of the original Stop the War Coalition, in conditions, above all Syria, where this has led them into irrelevance at best, and at worst, a refusal to take an internationalist human rights approach to the slaughter.

In UK politics Counterfire takes a variety of positions, but they are guided by a pro-Brexit strategy which they call a ‘People’s Brexit’.

To this end they have used their control of the slimmed down People’s Assembly to adopt a list of what might be generously called ‘impossibilist’ demands for Brexit.

That is a list of what the PA said in 2017 on Brexit, without any indication of the political means in Parliament or how these principles could be achieved.,

 “We say no to  ‘No to A Bankers Brexit’. We need to overhaul  the tax system to clampdown on tax avoidance, to increase corporation tax, the personal tax and  inheritance tax of the wealthy.

4. The Peoples’ Assembly calls for a new charter for workers rights and for the abolition of the  anti-union laws. We need an end to Zero Hours contracts, and we call for mandatory collective bargaining for large workplaces.

5. We demand a  Charter for migrant rights: No scapegoating of refugees, full retention of rights for European workers

6. No TTIP and all neo-liberal trade deals (NAFTA and CETA etc.)

Unlike some of their allies this is not based on a specific policy of restoring national Parliamentary sovereignty detached from the rest of the world.

The whole wish-list is part of strategy to “take control” – they leave the ‘how’ for the ‘movement’ to decide.

Counterfire’s reaction to Corbyn’s speech on Monday can be taken in the light of these remarks.

Martin HallWhat does Corbyn’s Brexit speech really mean?

Overall, the speech reiterated Labour’s overall aims and objectives in terms of the kind of government it wants to be, and very good points were made regarding the rights of EU nationals, the refugee crisis, internationalism, workers’ rights and the paramount importance of keeping the NHS safe and out of any future deals the EU might cut with other countries.

As a strategy Hall comments of Corbyn’s intentions,

He will hope it will be seen as the continuation of the manifesto position of a jobs-first or People’s Brexit, and that it provides a big enough tent for most Labour voters to get under.

Labour’s 2017 Manifesto makes no mention of a People’s Brexit.

This is a term unknown to the general public. It is used by pro-Brexit ‘Lexit’ forces, and employed by Counterfire through the People’s Assembly to disguise their alignment with the right-wing pro-business nationalists who led the Brexit drive. The other group which used the expression is Trade Unionists Against the EU, TUAEU (What We Need Is A People’s Brexit)  TUEAU has yet to respond to the revelation that they received a generous donation from far-right Millionaire and arch-Brexiteer, Arron Banks.

What Labour said was.

We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations.

We will end Theresa May’s reckless approach to Brexit, and seek to unite the country around a Brexit deal that works for every community in Britain.

We will scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union – which are essential for maintaining industries, jobs and businesses in Britain. Labour will always put jobs and the economy first.

Labour will always put jobs and the economy first.”  (Negotiating Brexit. Manifesto). In this context, supporting the idea of the UK being part of a European Customs Union, that is an free trade zone based on the same import duties, entirely consistent. It is, in short, no innovation.

Hall however continues,

What Jeremy Corbyn has set out today is, in some ways, a brave attempt to stymie the most rabidly pro-remain aspects of his party, while keeping Leave voters in the tent. This was most strongly seen in this statement towards the end of his speech:

‘The European Union is not the root of all our problems and leaving it will not solve all our problems. Likewise, the EU is not the source of all enlightenment and leaving it does not inevitably spell doom for our country.’

The “rabid” Remain supporters are no doubt there to contrast to the non-rabid Leave supporters….

The ventriloquists of Counterfire then speak for the Leave vote.

All the evidence from June 2016 points to the prime drivers of the Leave vote as a desire to take back control, including a variety of differing positions on the question of immigration and borders, allied to an attendant anger at what neo-liberal, free trade economics had done to the UK’s industrial heartlands.

That is, a key drive behind the Leave vote was…to “control”…immigration and frontiers.

No other example is given.

Counterfire avoids the fact that few people, outside of their restricted circles, talked about “neo-libralism” by pointing to the effects of economic restructuring. That is a way of claiming anybody who dislikes the way the economy has gone for their ‘anti-capitalist’ side.

What Jeremy Corbyn has set out today is, in some ways, a brave attempt to stymie the most rabidly pro-remain aspects of his party, while keeping Leave voters in the tent. This was most strongly seen in this statement towards the end of his speech:

The European Union is not the root of all our problems and leaving it will not solve all our problems. Likewise, the EU is not the source of all enlightenment and leaving it does not inevitably spell doom for our country.

In other words he said everything and nothing about whether the future of the peoples of the UK is better or worse inside or outside the EU.

It remains to be seen how achievable any of this is, though. It is also possibly a speech designed in the hope of winning an election rather than securing a future relationship with the EU. If and when this is rejected by the EU, what will be next? Staying in the Single Market from the point of view that the EU is reformable? Reform from a position of sitting on the edge of the tent? It is quite likely that the EU will state that it will not countenance any deal that gives full access to the Single Market that allows Britain not to be bound by all of the four freedoms. So what happens then? That will be the real test and it may be one that the Labour Party is required to address sooner rather than later.

True: at some point there will be a show-down between the Sovereigntist left that stands with the Right and left-wing internationalists  opposed to Brexit, full stop. 

For the moment the below, from Kevin Maguire in the Mirror,  is a fair assessment,

Jeremy Corbyn blasted May for being on the road to nowhere – now his own journey is finally getting somewhere

The penny is dropping that Parliament could honour the referendum decision and still be in a customs union or the single market


As Corbyn backs EU Customs Union, from the ‘Lexit’ fringes, Galloway attacks ‘Stab in the Back”.

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Corbyn Moves to back EU Customs Union.

Corbyn: Labour would stay in EU customs union for a say in trade deals

Guardian – for more rolling news follow link.

BBC: Jeremy Corbyn backs permanent customs union after Brexit

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has backed the UK being in a permanent customs union with the EU in a speech setting out his approach to Brexit.

He said this would avoid the need for a “hard border” in Northern Ireland and ensure free-flowing trade for business.

The policy shift could lead to Labour siding with Tory rebels to defeat Theresa May on her Brexit strategy.

The Tories said it was “a cynical attempt” to frustrate Brexit “and play politics with our country’s future”.

The Mail says,

Corbyn’s Brexit betrayal: Labour leader to snub millions of voters by refusing to limit migration and kill off dream of striking trade deals

Jeremy Corbyn was accused of a Brexit ‘betrayal’ last night as he prepared to set out plans that would keep Britain shackled to Brussels.

The Labour leader is expected to say he will sacrifice the ability to strike new trade deals in order to keep Britain locked in an EU customs union – and allow free movement to continue.

In his most significant Brexit speech since the referendum today, he will also call for a ‘close relationship’ with the single market, citing Norway and Switzerland as examples of the kind of deal he is seeking.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said Mr Corbyn ‘seems certain to break the commitments he made to Labour voters at the last election’.

Pro-Brexit Labour MPs warned their leader he risked betraying millions of party supporters who voted to take Britain out of the EU. Former minister Frank Field said keeping the country shackled to Brussels would be ‘to rat on the people’s decision to leave’.

Writing on the far-right Westmonster site, George Galloway says,

Labour’s volunteered to kill off Brexit, they’ll be labelled ‘betrayers’  by George Galloway

Sir Keir Starmer is an excellent backstabber. Nobody knows that better than Jeremy Corbyn who has just been led by the nose by him like a beast to the slaughter in what Frank Field the Labour MP has described as a “deadly electoral trap”.

Starmer was a key conspirator in the coup against Corbyn in 2016, resigning from the Shadow Cabinet in the most insulting and wounding way. Yet Corbyn, it is clear, has been led by the QC MP into an actual U-Turn – and one which ineluctably will lead to a second and thereafter, why not, a third.

Labour has now volunteered to be the executioner of Brexit, Theresa May, to her considerable relief no doubt, will be the champion of the 17.4 million betrayed. The stage is set.

The label “betrayer” will be pinned to the back of every Labour MP (virtually none will be “deselected”) in the 70% of Labour-held constituencies which voted Leave in the referendum and the many others which Labour came close to winning in 2017 and now will not.

The “stab in the back” narrative which will now be spun by the Tories and their press backers will be overwhelmingly powerful. The gratitude of the Macchiato-classes will be scant and short-lived and electorally useless in vast tracts of the country.


This represents a defeat for Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell – whose policies for Britain cannot be implemented with Britain in the Single Market – whether they have gone along with it or not. It represents a victory for Tony Blair and his ramp within the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Labour apparatus, whose leader Ian McNicholl is shortly to re-emerge wearing the ermine robes at last.

U-turn if you want to Mr Corbyn. I and millions like me are not for turning.

Others agree – in a slightly more muted form – with the Galloway position broadcast on Westmonster.

“Staying in the single market would make it much harder—not easier—for a Labour government to stick to Corbyn’s left wing manifesto promises.”

The Socialist Party has attacked the” right-wing Labour shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer” and claimed that,  “A bold stand by Jeremy Corbyn against the anti-working class treaties and policies of the EU could electrify the debate across Europe.”

What do they think now that Comrade Starmer appears to have won the debate?

Corbyn loyalists in the Morning Star meanwhile celebrate this victory.

More responses: Was Corbyn’s speech a bold Brexit vision, or playing politics? The panel verdict

Owen Jones: A clear contrast with the Tories.

David Shariatmadari: The best remainers could have hoped for.

Faiza Shaheen: Some much-needed pragmatism.

Katy Balls: This spells trouble for Theresa May.

Only fanatical Priest Gilles Fraser, previously only known for his religious musings and loathing of the anti-clerical Charlie Hebdo, strikes a sour note,

The gap between old-style socialists and young liberals is now great than ever within the Labour party. At stake in the debate over Brexit is the degree of comfort with which Labour embraces market forces as a necessary evil of the modern world. Some of us had hoped that Corbyn would be the one to put a stake through the heart of New Labour. But in the end he appears to have bottled it.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 26, 2018 at 1:42 pm

Tony Greenstein’s New Best Friends: George Galloway (Telly Putin), the New Worker and the Morning Star.

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Ken Livingstone to appear next?

Greenstein also features in the lead  Editorial of this week’s New Worker (23rd of February), pushing ahead of pressing issues such as the achievements of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at PyeongChang 2018, “Dear leader” “Kim Jong Il’s Birthday (“long been known as the Day of the Shining Star) and praise for President Assad’s “popular front government in Damas”.

Apparently Greenstein got expelled from Labour because of allegations about “so-called anti-Semites”.

Against this they note that he is “Jewish”.

“Putting someone who is Jewish in the same category as Adolf Hitler us a trick perhaps only the most brazen Blairites and Zionists can do.” comments the august publication of the New Communist Party of Britain.

Due to technical difficulties caused by imperialist sanctions the latest issue is not online yet.

Greenstein’s persecution by Zionist Blairites has also earned him an Editorial eulogy and this moving tribute from this aspiring poet in the Communist Party of Britain’s Morning Star.

We Are Delighted To Announce
for Tony Greenstein  

The first execution of a man convicted
of using inappropriate language..

The screeching was confined to
a few pseudonymous moderates
post-coitally whispering the hope
that this legally implemented death
not be the last of its kind.

We must be sure and include
our least favourite black woman, the Irish,
and, at a minimum, one more Hebrew
in the commonsense cleansing we envisage.

Kevin Higgins.

It is believed that the Irish person referred to is none other than Cde Gerry Downing.

As yet neither the Communist Party of Britain (MarxistLeninist),  Communist Party of Great Britain (MarxistLeninist)  nor the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (MarxistLeninist) have given public endorsement to Tony Greenstein.

We await their support.


Pro-Assad Conspiracy Theories add to Syrian Suffering.

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Image result for Ghouta conspiracy theories

As more and more news about the plight of Ghouta reaches the world people are deeply concerned.

Al Jazeera reports,

More than 440 civilians have died in just six days in Eastern Ghouta alone.

The area is now being hit by incendiary bombs that are appearing in the night skies, weapons that are intended to start large fires when they hit the ground.

There are many reasons to stand by the people, as the Guardian today reports: ‘We can change this reality’: the women sharing news of war in Ghouta.

One troubling feature of the war is the attempts of pro-Assad groups to smear those under attack.

Just to cite one example, French comrades are disgusted by pro-Assad supporters who have been calling the inhabitants of  Ghouta ‘cafards’, cockroaches.

As they point out one of the nerve centres for pro-Assad propaganda in the Francophone world is the UPR, Union Populaire Républicaine.

They describe themselves as the “mouvement de libération nationale” for French people. The ideology of the party is a Eurosceptic and seeks the withdrawal of  France from the European Union and NATO.  They seek nationalisation of entities such as TF1La PosteGaz de France, motorways (privately managed at present), water management and troubled banks.

Its leader, François Asselineau, a hard-right sovereigntist, is also known for his conspiracy theories.

Like Réseau Voltaire or Alain Soral‘s Égalité et Réconciliation  (both equally strongly ‘anti-Zionist’)  Asselineau is pro-Assad.

This is just one example of the international reach of Pro-Assad propagandists.

At the end of last year the following indicated the direction the regime’s supporters were going in.

How Syria’s White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine

The Syrian volunteer rescue workers known as the White Helmets have become the target of an extraordinary disinformation campaign that positions them as an al-Qaida-linked terrorist organisation.

The Guardian has uncovered how this counter-narrative is propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government (which provides military support to the Syrian regime).

The White Helmets, officially known as the Syria Civil Defence, is a humanitarian organisation made up of 3,400 volunteers – former teachers, engineers, tailors and firefighters – who rush to pull people from the rubble when bombs rain down on Syrian civilians. They’ve been credited with saving thousands of civilians during the country’s continuing civil war.

They have also exposed, through first-hand video footage, war crimes including a chemical attack in April. Their work was the subject of an Oscar-winning Netflix documentary and the recipient of two Nobel peace prize nominations.

Despite this positive international recognition, there’s a counter-narrative pushed by a vocal network of individuals who write for alternative news sites countering the “MSM agenda”. Their views align with the positions of Syria and Russia and attract an enormous online audience, amplified by high-profile alt-right personalities, appearances on Russian state TV and an army of Twitter bots.

The way the Russian propaganda machine has targeted the White Helmets is a neat case study in the prevailing information wars. It exposes just how rumours, conspiracy theories and half-truths bubble to the top of YouTube, Google and Twitter search algorithms.

Here, this week,  is a deeply saddening account of the effect these lies can have.

Syrians explain how pro-Assad conspiracy theories are hurting them

The background of this unrelenting human suffering are the increasingly high-pitched squeals emanating from the keyboards and social media accounts of Western supporters and defenders of Assad.

An amalgam of far-left and far-right bloggers, cranks, conspiracy theorists and loons have converged since the beginning of the conflict to disseminate pro-Russia generated propaganda that serves only to conceal both Russia and Assad’s war crimes, and smear victims of their genocide.

No doubt you’ve heard each one of these entirely and widely debunked pro-Assad conspiracy theories by now: that the peaceful protests against Assad were the product of a foreign driven “regime change” operation; that the White Helmets, a volunteer rescue group that has been credited with saving more than 100,000 lives in rebel held territory, is somehow either a “regime change” propaganda tool or a public relations front for al Qaeda or both; that Assad didn’t use chemical weapons but the rebels used them on their own families to gain international sympathy; that Assad is fighting “terrorists,”; that the entirety or majority of Assad’s opponents are foreign-born jihadists; that the rebels poisoned Damascus’ water supply; and so on and so on.

The purpose of this article is not to debunk all of these smears, false narratives, and crackpot conspiracies. They’ve been comprehensively debunked and discredited here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and also here.

“The sad thing is that so many Syrian activists and journalists spend a lot of time refuting these s**t conspiracies because they can have such a damaging impact on real people and their lives,” tweeted Leila al Shami, a Syrian human rights activist and author, in response to a claim that the White Helmets belong to Al Qaeda.

These pro-Assad conspiracies have gotten so out of hand that Vanessa Beeley — who has become one of the most prominent dispensers of total and utter nonsense — called on Russia to carry out airstrikes against the White Helmets, and for me to be imprisoned for “enabling the destruction of Syria and its people”.

Others like Eva Bartlett have falsely accused the White Helmets of either being a figment of Hollywood’s imagination, or staging their videos.

Patrick Hilsman, a freelance journalist who has visited rebel held territory three times, laughed when I mentioned these claims about the White Helmets.

“I first encountered them by simply asking my driver what the building to our right was, and he said ‘It’s civil defense.’ We then walked in unannounced and encountered people without weapons, hard at the unglamorous work of digging a well,” he told me.

“I wasn’t helped by any think tank, no one told me what to say, no one warned the rescuers to start acting for the freelancers with their crappy cameras.”

Unfortunately, however, pro-Assad/Russia loons and propagandists have been so effective in muddying the waters, casting aspersions on Assad’s victims, and deflecting criticism away from this century’s most brutal dictator that they undermine any coordinated and sustained international effort to protect the Syrian people from a genocide.

So I asked a number of Syrians what damage these debunked conspiracy theories have imparted on the Syrian people and the pro-democracy revolution.

“This propaganda facilitates the gas attacks, hospital bombings, sectarian cleansing, and so on, “Robin Yassin-Kassab, co-author of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War, told me.

“It also contributes to the general demonization of Muslims and Arabs in our culture. Beyond hurting Syrians, Arabs and Muslims, it is also damaging our civic and political life in the West, but the main purpose of this propaganda, because it has been carefully planted and guided, is to distract attention from the crimes committed by Assad and the Iranian and Russian occupations against civilians in Syria, and to prevent solidarity with those victims.”

When I interviewed Alaa al Ahmad, a Syrian journalist, he told me finds it deeply distressing to read pro-Assad Westerners describe him and the 300,000 other Syrians he is trapped alongside with in besieged Eastern Ghouta as a “terrorist,” asking, “Am I terrorist because I demand a civil state and I fight the factions that seek to establish an Islamic caliphate or the like?”

Qusay Noor, another Syrian journalist who is documenting the Assad’s regimes crimes against humanity in Ghouta also believes these conspiracy theories are meant only to smear Assad’s opposition as “terrorists,” and thus have only empowered Assad’s authoritarian rule, setting back the ideals of the revolution.

Ultimately, these conspiracy theories will evaporate any international pressure on the Assad regime, and at a time when Syrians need that pressure the most.

“It is essential the international community remains united with those in Syria who want a democratic solution, free from Assad and free from terrorism. That is why we need the international community to apply pressure on Russia to cease its bombing and its support for Assad, so that we can work towards a peaceful political settlement,” writes Mardini.

And when all has been said and done, a peaceful political settlement was the only thing demanded of Assad in the first place, seven long and bloody years ago.

For an important summary of more ‘fake news’ about Syria see:  Truth wars, continued Bob From Brockley.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 24, 2018 at 11:53 am

Labour, the Customs Union and a Marxist Case against Brexit.

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Image result for Communist Party Lexit

Lexit Mythomania.

It has been said that Trotskyism is noted for ‘mythomania’. (1)

Whether on not that is true for Trotskyists the word fits the myth-spinning Lexit’ – pro-Brexit – left to a T.

Recently the leader of Counterfire asserted,

Labour should stick with its People’s Brexit strategy argues John Rees”.

I can’t recall Labour ever campaigning for or deciding in favour of a ‘People’s Brexit’, although few would doubt that Labour is in favour of a “A new economic settlement that works for the many.”

And Rees’ wish list of “better than the EU not worse than the EU.” is an interesting suggestion coming from a faction that supported leaving the EU under a Tory government that was bound to make things worse.

As Catherine West MP has written in the Independent (30.1.18),

It has often been argued by advocates of “Lexit” that a hard Brexit will allow a future Labour government to end austerity. That by leaving the single market and customs union and shaking off the shackles of Brussels we will have more freedom to invest in the economy.

This is nonsense. The reality is that austerity in the UK has been a political choice, made by this Tory Government, and has nothing to do with the EU or single market rules. EU rules impose no restriction whatsoever on the level of public spending. Its strictures are about deficits, that is, how much, in normal times, governments finance their spending by borrowing instead by taxation. Crucial is that the rules allow governments the flexibility to deliberately spend in a Keynesian manner during a recession and to invest.

Let’s be clear: a hard Brexit, whereby we leave the single market and customs union, will cause an economic loss that will reduce tax receipts and therefore risk an extension or intensification of austerity.

All credible economic analyses of the long-term cost of Brexit have found broadly the same hierarchy of effects: the further Britain travels from the single market, the greater the economic loss. Indeed, the Government’s leaked analysis, published by Buzzfeed, of the impact of Brexit says that the UK would be worse off under all scenarios. Furthermore, most estimates of the cost of Brexit may well be conservative and do not include uncertainty, business confidence and flight of EU workers, which will have a negative effect on the UK’s productivity.

She concludes,

for as long as the Conservatives remain in power, leaving the single market risks the extension of austerity for years to come, on top of the last decade of public spending cuts.

This is the report the article is based on: Busting the Lexit Myths.

The choice is clear. We can sit back and wait for the consequences of a hard Brexit to become so severe that it topples this terrible Tory government. Or we can stand up for those who will be worst affected and fight for membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union. Future generations will not forgive us for inaction or for perceived complicity in a Brexit that damages our country and our economy. Those of us on the left who believe in building a more equal, more prosperous and sustainable country must not be duped into supporting a Tory agenda that would do the opposite.

This brochure comes highly recommended from the guardians of Parliamentary Sovereignty in the Communist Party of Britain, as the product of  “Forces set on subverting the Brexit vote (who) have targetted the labour movement.”

Perhaps Counterfire, who campaigned for Brexit, alongside Trade Unionists Against the European Union (recently embroiled in controversy over their funding from hard-right millionaire Arron Banks), could bear this in mind and take a look at the real political debate over the EU.

If it’s not too much trouble

The BBC reports today,

Labour and customs union: Evolution not revolution. 

The Labour position has been to argue that “a” customs union was “a viable option” and that the government should “keep all options open”.

What we are likely to see on Monday is wording that makes plain that “a” not “the” customs union would have distinct benefits and is the most logical way to solve the thorny issue of the Irish border.

It won’t just be a viable option but a viable end point. And the policy is likely to evolve in another way too.

Currently Labour recognises that when we are out of the EU, we are out of the single market.

So it is arguing that it wants to retain the same benefits as single market membership – such as tariff-free trade.

I’m told the same formulation could be applied to “a” customs union, that in the long term a future Labour government could sign up to one, if the UK got the exact same benefits as it gets from “the” customs union – frictionless trade and a say over the external tariff on imported goods.

As Labour has talked about the benefits of some form of customs union before, this would be an incremental not dramatic move forward.

However party insiders say that Jeremy Corbyn can’t guarantee that a future Labour government would definitely be in such a customs union because it would have to be negotiated with the EU.

But one insider said that people listening on Monday will have no doubt where Labour is headed: That a customs union is the preferred option.

Speaking on LBC radio, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry gave credence to this by saying: “We have to negotiate a new agreement. That, we think, is likely to be a customs union that will look pretty much like the current customs union.”

On the strategy to take the New Statesman carried this article a few days ago,

A Marxist case against Brexit: Trade union leader Manuel Cortes on what Labour should do.

The TSSA General Secretary  states,

Cortes has called for the UK to remain in the EU. “Any Brexit deal that introduces friction and borders will finish off the job that Thatcher started because our manufacturing industry will just dwindle away,” he warns. A “soft Brexit” (remaining in the single market and the customs union), meanwhile, would condemn the UK to “vassal statehood” by making it “a rule-taker, rather than a rule-maker”.

Will Labour listen to this pro-EU view, one which many on the left (outside fringe groups like Counterfire or the Sovereigntist Morning Star) share?

But Labour’s 2017 manifesto pledged to end free movement and Corbyn has refused to endorse a new referendum on Brexit (Cortes was said to be “furious” when the issue was not debated at last year’s party conference). “The Tories are having a conversation with themselves, I think we need to have a conversation with the country,” says Cortes. “Labour is ideally placed to start that conversation.”

Does he believe that Corbyn, a lifelong Eurosceptic, could yet change his mind? “My view is that Jeremy listens to people and he will continue to look at what the facts are,” Cortes says. “And as those facts change, and he continues to listen to people, I’m sure he could change his mind. I see no reason why he would be fixated on any position.”

The AWL certainly agrees,

The resignation of the Blairite Lord Adonis from his position as adviser to the Tory government has shown the issue of Brexit, and whether or not to try and stop it, is not over in the Labour Party.

A new survey has suggested that allegedly 78% of Labour members want Brexit to be stopped or at least want a second referendum.

Up until last year’s election the right-wing of Labour (notably Progress) had only half-heartedly taken up the issue of stopping Brexit. They avoided directly opposing Brexit because they feared the electoral power of nationalistic sentiment.
They couched their opposition to Brexit primarily as the need to retain membership of the EU single market, aware that there was considerable cross-party concern about the impact of withdrawal on business.

For the left in the Party, issues of migrant rights and the growth of political nationalism were the major concern. Last autumn the Labour Campaign For Free Movement collected hundreds of signatures on a statement calling for the Party to be unambiguous in its defence of migration.

For Workers’ Liberty, opposing Brexit required taking the issue of defending migrants into “Leave” sections of the working class. These were often poorer sections of the class: unorganised and politically demoralised by decades of austerity.

Our positive case should include developing real links with the rest of the radical workers’ movement in Europe and transforming the EU.

Moving toward government, a radical Labour Party can energise the European labour movement. We can stop Brexit, challenge austerity on a cross-European basis and stop the nationalist narrative trapping British workers.

We need a working-class campaign to stop Brexit.


(1) A term which is something of a leitmotif in Christophe NickLes Trotskistes, Fayard, 2002,

On the Demise of Tribune.

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Latest Private Eye.

After a talk in Ipswich a couple of week ago, on Orwell and Suffolk (the book,  Anderson, Paul, ed. Orwell in Tribune: ‘As I Please’ and Other Writings, 1943-7) is well worth reading, we were chatting about Tribune.

Very few people appear to refer to the paper, or read it. In recent years it has dropped off the political map.

From what was said at the time in the Woolpack it appears that the Private Eye information about the ownership of the venerable Labour left paper is probably true and the weekly looks like disappearing in any recognisable form.

That it is on the slide to ceasing publication is not surprising.

Though the last entry on the Tribune  site dates the 20th of February.

The Wikipedia entry needs reviewing.

In March 2009, 100% ownership of the magazine passed to Kevin McGrath, through a new company Tribune Publications 2009 Limited, with the intention of keeping Tribune a left-of-centre publication though broadening the readership.[5][8][9]

In late October 2011, the future of Tribune looked bleak once again when McGrath warned of possible closure because subscriptions and income had not risen as had been hoped.[10] Unless a buyer could be found or a cooperative established, the last edition would have been published on 4 November.[11] McGrath committed to paying off the magazine’s debts. Another rescue plan saved the magazine at the end of October.

Tribune played an important role on the Labour left for many years, and not just in the 40s and 50s, remembered through the association with Orwell. Under Michael Foot’s editorship, (1955 – 60) Richard Clements (1960 – 82 – when I first read the weekly) and Chris Mullin (1982 – 84) is was a must-read  in the Labour Party and amongst socialists.

It was, as is often said about the background thinking of British and Irish socialists, marked by an appreciation not just of politics but of literature.

Paul Anderson (Editor, 1991 – 3) and his left-wing colleague, David Osler, brought the paper in contact with broader circles, including New Left figures from the Socialist Society, and the Socialist Movement/Chesterfield conference, as well as those supportive of Neil Kinnock. From 1993 Mark Seddon, and Barckley Sumner opened the paper up to critics of Tony Blair and modernisation.

As in here:








In the new millennium Tribune followed, critically, the fortunes of the Socialist Alliance, and George Galloway’s Respect.

By around 2010 many people had drifted away from reading the paper when, after a series of financial crisis, and ‘rescues’, it was poorly distributed and the Web site failed to compete with new media outlets for the left.

It still carried quality reviews, particularly of films, but the aura of the “must-read” had gone.

Open to the broadest forms of democratic socialist opinion Tribune has no parallel  in the print media today.

The site still carries this message,

“Tribune is the organ of no political party and has no association nor understanding with any party” is the opening line of the statement of aims and beliefs in our first edition of January 1, 1937.

Tribune was founded as a voice for unity against fascism in Spain and Nazi Germany.

For more than 75 years our journalism has been based on internationalism, the search for economic and intellectual liberation and the love of equality and democracy.

Our wartime literary editor George Orwell laid out the Tribune standard for writing about politics in 1946:

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin, where it belongs.”

The New Statesman continues to publish quality articles from a variety of standpoints on the left and the left-of-centre. But the the left audience is fragmented. Publications such as the Clarion, the on-line New Socialist, and continuing left journals, such as Chartist and Labour Briefing, offer opportunities to writer-activists and take up the issues that concern our constituency.

There is Red Pepper, whose politics of an ‘anti-Tory progressive alliance’ and support for ‘new’ nationalist movements across Europe, occupy a niche market. There is the Morning Star, competing with the Weekly Worker  in its enthusiasm for Tony Greenstein. There are the remaining party organs, such as the Socialist and Socialist Worker. Solidarity produced by the AWL has an audience beyond its own ‘heterodox Trotskyism’.

There are also the ‘alternative news’ blogs, some with pretensions to be genuine vehicles for information.

No doubt the end of Tribune has a lot to do with the decline of print.

It is still to be regretted.



Written by Andrew Coates

February 22, 2018 at 12:17 pm

As Mad Max Dystopia looms ‘left’ Counterfire lines up with Kate Hoey to denounce efforts to thwart Brexit.

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Image result for kate hoey cartoon

Kate Hoey: Fighting  EU free market policies

The Counterfire groupuscule has issued a dire warning about the dangers of the European Union.

Chris Nineham is  “a founder member and National Officer of the Stop the War Coalition” and a specialist in the works of noted theorist of the “actuality of the revolution” and the reification of commodities,  Georg Lukács  (Capitalism and Class Consciousness: The Ideas of Georg Lukács).

Nineham has now extended his brief to write on the European Union.

The EU has derailed left governments at least three times – don’t let Corbyn be next.

I shall not discuss his views on the Greek crisis, but focus on two episodes I know a lot better.

Amongst other things Nineham rewrites history to claim that,

“The EU – then the European Economic Community (EEC) – played a less dramatic but still decisive part in the calamitous story of the Socialist Party government in France in 1981 – 1986. “

This is some real history,

The 1982-3 ‘moment’, a conjuncture that brought together political and economic strategic change with a cultural shift towards the market, remains marked in PS history. The Mauroy government, abandoned a strategy, reinforced with the entry of Communist Ministers in the cabinet, of nationalisations, proactive industrial policy, and increased consumption, came as the first Mitterrand governments failed to reduce unemployment or stimulate growth. Put simply, with the world in recession, going it alone was not working. Warnings of economic disaster starring the President and Prime Minister in the face during the summer of 1982 and the judgement that the franc risked going through the floor, strained the country’s membership of the European Monetary System (EMS) to breaking point. Retrenching at this point was more than a “pause” in reform. The government suddenly dropped all the idea of top-down ‘statist’ economic intervention. The initial wave of nationalisations (which remained in place for the time being, including important parts of the banking system) were not the ‘instrument’ of economic growth and social change. Industry had to be “restructured”, that is modernised at the cost of closures and layoffs; budgets had to restrained. The PS, soon free of a vestigial alliance with the Communists (PCF), came to grips with what they considered the impossibility of ‘Keynesianism in one country’. The “mutation” of modern capitalism was embraced.


That the austerity programme in 1983, and the zealous pursuit of ‘modernisation’ under the subsequent PM Laurent Fabius, has marked the governing French left ever since is not in doubt. But the alternative answer, argued by the Minister of Industry, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, for France to “go it alone” outside the EMS, may well have led, as his opponents claimed, to a collapse in the franc, and to France going cap in hand, for help to another international “neoliberal’ institution, the IMF, with an equally severe plan for budget cuts. A left-winger might well ask about the reaction of the labour movement. From Mitterrand’s victory in 1981 to the policy change, there was little popular activity, and the brief displays of CGT militancy that followed the exit of the Communists from government never rose beyond fragmented protest

The Centre Can Hold’: Perry Anderson, French Politics in the Era of Macron, A Critique. Part One.

Chris Nineham argues further that Britain’s entry into the EU under PM Harold Wilson in the 1970s  was also a plan by the capitalists to sabotage left wing economic policies,

The pro Europe campaign won the referendum by more than two to one and business rejoiced. Wilson seized the chance to sack Benn and Heffer, shifting the balance of power in the cabinet from left to right. As economists Mitchell and Fazi put it recently in their book Reclaiming the State, the referendum ‘all but killed the impetus for radical reform’.

Following this defeat for the left, sabotage and subversion started in earnest. Investors and currency speculators used growing levels of inflation as an excuse to pull out of the British economy. There was a massive run on the pound. Instead of responding by deepening government control over the economy and introducing currency controls the government ended up imposing wage restraint and going to the IMF for loans that were tied to cuts in public spending on hospitals schools and on government Investment in industry.

He solemnly concludes on the basis of this ‘evidence’,  – that a vote to Join the EU was the precondition for such “subversion” that,

This history should give pause for thought to those who see remaining in the single market or the customs union as in any sense left policies. Pro-business and anti-left groups in social democracy have always lined up with the EU because it promotes free market policies. Today is no exception. The list of 64 Labour MPs who rebelled and voted in December to try and keep Britain in the customs union is a list of those who are amongst the most hostile to Jeremy Corbyn’s progressive economic agenda. Once again the issue of the EU is the frontline of an attack on the left, this time against Corbyn and Corbynism.

Kate Hoey, one of the most celebrated former members of the International Marxist Group (IMG) in Parliament and famous for her sense of humour.

And political judgement.



Written by Andrew Coates

February 20, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Tony Greenstein Expelled from the Labour Party – Good Riddance.

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The Tendance is not in favour of any witch-hunts.

The Tendance does not see, however, why on earth Tony Greenstein wants to be a member of the Labour Party, why he should be allowed to join or keep his card.

The clue is in the response from Greenstein, and the reference to “noxious behaviour”  in the  Daily Mirror article.

Those who know the background are aware that Greenstein has harassed a large number of people, for a variety of alleged reasons, not always over the issue of Israel and Palestine. They include long-standing office holders and lay figures in the labour movement.

Anybody wishing to see something of Greenstein in action can see on the blog you are now reading.

This concerns only his style of argument, not the kind of close up obsessional intimidation he is so so often accused of.

“Reply to Bogdanor 8.9.14.
I had previously said that I wouldn’t respond to further replies from Bogdanor and his side-kick Ezra. However, now that I have some time, it would be churlish to avoid pointing out how our kosher fascist, in the absence of any coherent argument, insists on continuing to behave like a jaded holocaust denier.”


I have posted a full response to the lies, deceptions and misattributions of Ezra and in particular Bogdanor, a vicious anti-Communist whose political position places him on the fascist map. Any further response from these 2 clowns will be ignored.

There is a lot, a lot, more.

The recent ruling (9th of January)  by District Judge Susan Brown in Brighton merits a mention in this context, (Brighton and Hove News).

Apart from anything else, “The hearing – organised by Labour’s National Constitutional Committee – was given a copy of extracts from a recent county court judgment when Mr Greenstein unsuccessfully sought information held about him by the party using the Data Protection Act.

The judge described Mr Greenstein as “demonstrably intelligent” and “a highly controversial figure”.” (Brighton and Hove News.)

That is not the half of it….

On Greenstein, at the time engaged in one of his numerous court cases, this time about the Labour Party’s expulsion process, she said,

“It is important to say something about the applicant. He is demonstrably intelligent and has engaged in this process in an articulate and detailed way. He is also a highly controversial figure.


“This court deals with a wide variety of litigant. The applicant quickly brands a query as to why a claim form was not issued as being an allegation of fraud which viewed reasonably it was not.

“He alleges that only a ‘fool or a knave’ would interpret one of his comments in the way the respondent submits which is an emotive comment.

“Whilst he claims to be viewed out of context he has within document repeatedly used language which is offensive in any context – ‘racist Zios’, ‘fascist scum’ to give just two small examples.

“I do not underestimate the complexity of the applicant’s views but his views and the strength with which he expresses them is something the respondent is reasonable in taking into account in providing third party information.”

This is how Greenstein reacted:

Racists Celebrate as the Labour Right and the Zionists Gets Their First Victim.

This is the Mirror:

Labour party activist ‘with history of noxious behaviour‘ expelled for using offensive anti-Semitic term “zio”

Tony Greenstein, who describes himself as an anti-Zionist, had his membership revoked on Sunday.

Labour activist Tony Greenstein has been expelled from the party over allegations of antisemitism.

The Brighton-based member was suspended in 2016 and a disciplinary hearing into his conduct was delayed until January for health reasons.

HuffPost UK understands the charges against him related to abusive online behaviour, including the use of the word “Zio”.

A Labour spokesperson confirmed on Sunday that the party’s National Constitutional Committee had found him guilty on three counts of breaching its rulebook.

They added: “The NCC of the Labour Party has today found that all three charges of a breach of the Labour Party’s rule 2.1.8 by Tony Greenstein have been found proved.

“The NCC consequently determined that the sanction for the breach of Labour Party rules will be expelled from membership.

“The Labour Party will make no further comment on this matter.”

Party rules state that no Labour member should engage in conduct which “might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation”.

Greenstein is vice-chair of the Labour Against the Witchhunt group, which challenges the suspension of hard-left party members.

A spokesperson for the Jewish Labour Movement said: “We welcome the decision by the Labour Party to expel Tony Greenstein.

“His continued membership is at complete odds with our collective values of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

“Deliberately harassing, intimidatory and hateful language of the kind Tony Greenstein has continually used has no place inside the Labour movement.

“Despite the unacceptably long time it has taken to reach this conclusion, we are heartened that the party has sent out a clear message on this today.

“We will continue to press the party to deal firmly and swiftly with antisemitism including the high number of cases that are still waiting to be resolved.”



From Labour Against the Witch-hunt there are protests.

That is their right.

They are marred by this  ridiculous sentence,

It is shameful that anti-Semitism has been cynically weaponised by the right-wing to purge Labour of Corbyn supporters, while much more prevalent anti-black racism and, until Jeremy Corbyn spoke out against it, Islamophobia, have been ignored by the party.


Haiti, Oxfam – In Defence of Mary Beard; Contre Priyamvada Gopal. 

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Image result for Mary Beard

“Familiar posture of wounded white innocence” says Priyamvada Gopal.

I confess, I really like Mary Beard.

She wrote one of the best ever books on Roman history, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome  (2015).

Since the Renaissance at least, many of our most fundamental assumptions about power, citizenship, responsibility, political violence, empire, luxury and beauty have been formed, and tested, in dialogue with the Romans and their writing.

From that you can guess she is not a reborn 18th century writer who uncritically admires the ‘glory that was Rome’, lauds the Republic, and ignores issues about the role of slavery, class conflicts, the position of women, and above all the violence that went with Empire in its history, up to the Caesars.

On the last issue the BBC last week showed Beard’s latest programme, Julius Caesar Revealed  which put his genocidal conquests at the heart of his rise to power, and underlined the narrow nature of the ‘republican’ claims to defend liberty against the ‘populist’ rise of Caesarism (a term used by a variety of political thinkers, including Gramsci, to refer to the role of a “great personality” in conditions where catastrophe looms).

Mary Beard has recently published this book, Women and Power.

As Rachel Cook outlines its theme,

Beard’s primary subject is female silence; she hopes to take a “long view on the culturally awkward relationship between the voice of women and the public sphere of speech-making, debate and comment”, the better to get beyond “the simple diagnosis of misogyny that we tend a bit lazily to fall back on”. Calling out misogyny isn’t, she understands, the same thing as explaining it, and it’s only by doing the latter that we’re likely ever to find an effective means of combating it. The question is: where should we look for answers? Beard acknowledges that misogyny has multiple sources; its roots are deep and wide. But in this book, she looks mostly (she is a classicist, after all) at Greek and Roman antiquity, a realm that even now, she believes, casts a shadow over our traditions of public speaking, whether we are considering the timbre of a person’s voice, or their authority to pronounce on any given subject.

She continues,

Personally, I might have found this argument a bit strained a month ago; 3,000 years lie between us and Homer’s Odyssey, which is where she begins, with Telemachus effectively telling his mother Penelope to “shut up”. But reading it in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it seems utterly, dreadfully convincing. Mute women; brutal men; shame as a mechanism for control; androgyny and avoidance as a strategy for survival. On every page, bells ring too loudly for comfort.

Mary Beard now has her own confrontation with efforts to shout her down.

After this,

The Cambridge Classics professor Mary Beard has been left “sitting here crying” after a provocative tweet concerning the Oxfam sexual exploitation scandal exposed her to a torrent of abuse on Twitter.

The Academic tweeted on Friday that “Of course one can’t condone the (alleged) behaviour of Oxfam staff in Haiti and elsewhere. But I do wonder how hard it must be to sustain “civilised” values in a disaster zone. And overall I still respect those who go in to help out, where most of us wd not tread”.

The tweet has sparked controversy over the last two days. One of hundreds to engage in the Twitter backlash was fellow Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal whose series of tweets against Beard included “this kind of thing is the *progressive* end of the institutional culture I have to survive day in day out” and “Cambridge desperately needs a Breaking the Silence on racism. About time and beyond”.

In a following tweet Gopal directly satirised Beard: “Obviously it’s not a great idea to randomly get your dick out, rape people etc. But it’s not easy to be politically correct while in shitholes. And overall I still respect people who head out to shitholes ‘cos I sure as hell wouldn’t dream of it’.”

Cambridge Student.

A Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal,   “an upper-caste woman from a liberal-ish Hindu family in India” as she puts it, has taken the time to Lecture Beard.

Gopal is keenly aware of her caste, but who’s had “a lot painful listening and learning from Dalit and other non-upper-caste intellectuals and campaigners”.

Associating Beard with the “genteel liberal racism that is the very lifeblood of Cambridge social intercourse” she talks, as they do over a cup of Earl Grey, of Theodor Adorno, and wishes to tell Beard about the Heart of Darkness, Black Agency,  Michel-Rolph Trouillot and the history of Haiti.

Not to mention “civilised values”.

Or to put it another way Gopal offers and over-intellectualises by a kilometre and ten by a “post-colonial”analysis of an emotional tweet.

Response to Mary Beard

I’m afraid that your good intentions notwithstanding, it is precisely this genteel patrician racist manner and this context of entrenched denial in which your tweet on Haiti, ‘civilised’ values (scare quotes noted but not enough, I’m afraid) and disaster zones was received. It was, as you now know, received with enormous shock. (Not by me though — I’m used to this kind of casual magisterial apologetic coming out of the mouths of my Cambridge colleagues; it’s the stuff of everyday college lunch table conversations and hence I’ve taken the simple step of not dining in colleges as far as is feasible ).

Your subsequent blog post, to not put too fine a point on it, did little to help your cause and is regarded by many as a ‘no-pology’, a stubborn refusal to see what was wrong with your original post and taking refuge instead in the familiar posture of wounded white innocence. This too is familiar to me at Cambridge: on the rare occasions I’ve bothered to raise questions of, let us say, ‘racially dodgy’ remarks that bring Cambridge or particular colleges into disrepute, I’ve been instantly shut down by what you would recognise, I am sure, as ‘snowflake’ behaviour: outrage, wounded innocence, protestations of good intentions, and finally the declaration that it’s not the racist pronouncements that are the problem but the person (me, in this instance) who calls them out. It is accompanied by another gesture which also manifests in your blogpost: a pronouncement that self-evidently the person who made the remark cannot possibly have made a racist observation because they do not consider themselves to be racist. Imagine if every misogynist you encountered made the same gesture — and they usually do: ‘I love women, OF COURSE I am not sexist, everyone knows I am not sexist.’ What would you say to him?

Your blogpost is not an adequate intellectual response to your, well, frankly outrageous tweet; it’s a series of postures of innocence and a continued refusal to analyse a problem in all its thorny difficulty. To those who felt violated and aggressed by the original tweet, your blogpost was a further slap in the face: a stubborn refusal to see what was so profoundly and deeply wrong with your claims in addition to bizarre, indeed cringe-making comparisons between the French resistance and aid workers. What is striking in both tweet and putatively exculpatory blogpost is your inability to see beyond Western agency: Western aid workers as resistance fighters, white aid workers as Mr Kurtz figures caving in the strain of ‘The horror, the horror.’

It is very generous for Gopal to speak for the Haitians, the French Resistance, and for all those who “feel violated” by a Tweet .

No less open-hearted and welcoming is her invitation to Beard to “come and meet my third years who next week will be discussing precisely Haiti and the Haitian revolution as they read Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s work on the elision of black agency in European historiography and European habits of thought. “

Yes, we Europeans have definite “habits of thought”…..

The row proceeds.

Some would say that another shouter-down made a pretty racist tweet.

The following is about the only sensible Tweet I have found.


More Background.

Launching an impassioned defence of her actions in the wake of the backlash, Beard tweeted “I am amazed that after decades of Lord of the Flies being a gcse English set book we haven’t got the point about the breakdown of morality in danger zones!! Just saying and this is NOT to condone the actions of a few aid workers”.

Beard then took to her Times Literary Supplement blog to further her defense, but admitted in a tweet that she was left “sitting here crying”. Her blog told of the torrent of abuse she had experienced: “the predictable name calling ‘pervert’, ‘sick cow’, ‘disgusting creature’ or gross misreadings… ‘how hard is it not to gangrape women in a disaster zone?’. ‘you’ve lost your house, your family are dead, fancy a shag? Do you take PayPal?’ (I didn’t really want to include that, but I felt that you needed to see the tasteless too.)”

She added: “I find it hard to imagine that anyone out there could possibly think that I am wanting to turn a blind eye to the abuse of women and children” and that ” while we deplore what has happened and expect better, it is worth thinking of the context in which it took place. 99% of us have no idea of the stresses of working in these environments (and yes, living in them is worse, as there is no escape route). Most aid workers deal with that, I suspect, by drink and cigarettes. But that kind of societal, infrastructural breakdown provides a space for much worse.

“That is not to condone the awful things that happened but to contextualise them. And that is what we need to do, if we want to stop this happening again.”

Cambridge Student.

Update (from Roger). Gopal’s previous ordure:

9/11 and the Mumbai attacks

In the title of her December 4, 2008 Guardian editorial on the Mumbai attacks, Priyamvada Gopal asserts that “Comparing Mumbai to 9/11 diminishes both tragedies.” But even this title is deceitful, since, as her readers soon discover, the piece is not concerned with the particularities of the two events. Nor does the danger of “diminishing” 9/11 give Gopal pause. On the contrary, diminishing and displacing 9/11 from our active preoccupations is her intent. Allowing the November attack on Mumbai to be deemed “India’s 9/11” would be, she argues, “to privilege the experience of the United States” and to be complicit with India’s “relentless Americanization.” 9/11 is either another brand name in McWorld or something even more sinister, an event so “fetishized” as to “sanction endless vengeance,” even as it obscures “the experience of millions [elsewhere] who have suffered as much” as those who died or were injured in the attack on the U.S. on that day. 9/11 “legitimized a false war,” “created legal abominations,” and “strengthened neoconservatism.”

While Gopal’s piece makes perfunctory mention of the suffering of the victims of 9/11, it says nothing of the actual contours of that event, much less the intentions behind it. The U.S. reaction concerns her more than the attack itself does. Rather than offering any analysis of the event about which she was writing, Gopal strains to change the subject. Presumably the killing spree that took place in Mumbai from November 26th to November 29th 2008 (and has now come to be referred to “11/26”), requires no analysis. But when we actually specify what 9/11 was, can the comparison with it really be so easily avoided?

The crucial point to be made about 9/11 — and the one that Gopal studiously avoids — makes the comparison with the Mumbai attacks inevitable: both were attacks inspired by Islamism on intensely cosmopolitan urban populations with the intention of inflicting the maximum number of casualties. Moreover, like New York, Mumbai is an old colonial port city with a rich if submerged history of radical democratic struggle. Like New York, Mumbai is the commercial and cultural, though not the political, capital of a pluralistic democracy. In short, like New York, Mumbai is one of world’s great nerve-centers of contemporary capitalism. Also, the attacks on Mumbai were not on the Hindu chauvinist politics of Bal Thackeray, just as the 9/11 attack was not on the neo-liberalism of Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg. In both cases, the targets were the profane pleasures of modern society. In both cases, the attacks were made, so to speak, in plain view, so that the fascistic menace was unmistakable (albeit in the absurdly comic form of expressionless young men who might, but for the assault rifles in their hands, be easily mistaken for ravers en route to Goa). Finally, as with 9/11, the regional strategic consequences bound to flow from the Mumbai attacks are profound.

In a certain respect, the semiotics of the attacks in Mumbai were even more ghastly than those of 9/11, since it witnessed the deliberate hunting of Jews qua Jews, especially at the Chabad House, where Jews were subjected to savage beatings before their execution, unlike even the Americans and Britons who were also singled out. For those who planned the attacks killing Jews was a priority and it was executed in the midst of a police siege by killers who had, in all likelihood, never so much as seen a Jewish person before. Though the murderous anti-Semitism on display in Mumbai ought by now to be an all-too-familiar aspect of Islamist ideology, Guardian correspondent Richard Silverstein, like Gopal on the editorial page, declines to acknowledge the obvious. Instead he insists that the attack on Chabad House was “not necessarily anti-Semitic,” claiming that the attackers were seeking “redress for crimes against Palestine” [“Why did the Attackers Choose to Attack Chabad House” Guardian 12/4/2008, cf. Alex Stein “Inspiration from India” Guardian 12/4/2008]. From this we may safely conclude that, for Silverstein, anytime a Muslim kills a Jew he need only utter the magic word “Palestine” to have his guilt absolved: Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza means that it is open season on Jews all over the world. In the same vein, William Dalrymple, informs the wised-up readers of the Guardian that “the horrific events have to be seen in the context of. . . the abject failure of the Bush administration” and the “ill-treatment of the people of Kashmir” [“Mumbai Atrocities Highlight Need for a Solution in Kashmir” Guardian 11/30/08]. In Arundhati Roy’s column, too, we rely upon the terrorists to tell the truth and to remind “us” of the “things we don’t want to talk about any more” [“The Monster in the Mirror,” 12/13/08]. It is one thing for a journalist to report the content of authoritarian manifestoes or the statements terrorists make in the course of an attack; it is quite another matter to rationalize such statements in the manner of Silverstein, Dalrymple, and Roy.

Highlighting the political significance of the attack on Chabad House cannot be allowed to obscure the fact that there was also something quite discriminating about the seemingly more indiscriminate killing of commuters at the Victoria Terminus. It is not enough to say simply that, compared to the foreigners and the rich people at the Taj and Oberoi Hotels, the victims there were poorer, working people, though this is true. It is also worth pointing out that at the train station, the attackers fired directly into crowds. The Muslims among the dead there were not unintended victims. They were punished for living and working in peace in secular democratic India, i.e. of having failed to join the jihad. Of course, the Hindus regarded as pagans were positively marked for slaughter. As for the attacks on Mumbai’s elite hotels, likewise, the clear intent was to comingle on their marble floors the blood of dying unbelievers of all sorts — Zionist, Crusader, and Infidel. There again was the same unbridled murderousness that has been a significant feature of previous attacks, such as the 2006 commuter train in Mumbai and the serial bombings earlier in 2008 in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, and Delhi, to name just a few. These rather elementary aspects of the politics behind the Mumbai attacks rarely merit mention in the analysis to be found in the Guardian. But while the “Left” cannot remain at this elementary level of analysis, neither can it afford to ignore the obvious.

While Gopal is right to claim that in many respects 9/11 is not unique as a point of comparison (there have been many other Islamist terrorist attacks besides 9/11), her aim seems not to locate the attacks in an alternative history of recent Islamist terrorism, as, for instance, in relation to the bombing in Pakistan in September of the Islamabad Marriott that killed 53 and injured more than 250. Rather, the Mumbai attacks are treated as have no determinate character whatsoever, Gopal preferring to speak only of a “massacre of defenceless innocents.” Presumably the same is true of the bomb detonated December 5th, 2008 in a market outside a Shi’a mosque in Peshawar in which 22 people were killed and more than 90 were wounded. While 9/11 posed for everyone worldwide the question of modern Islamism, Gopal’s editorial reveals once again how the Left continues to rely on its old reflex responses — supposed “anti-imperialism” — to defer any confrontation with the full scope of the barbarism in our time. In this way, the piece tends to obscure or deny what is salient for advancing (or even imagining) a politics genuinely capable of both countering fascism and reconstituting an emancipatory politics in South Asia.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 18, 2018 at 1:41 pm

Sir Michael Caine is a Bleeding Tax Dodging Brexiteering Ponce.

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Those who follow films will know about this, a coming Live event which will be in cinemas across the country in a weeks.

Image result for My Generation (12A)

Tax Dodging Ponce.

British film icon Michael Caine narrates and stars in ‘My Generation’, the vivid and inspiring story of his per-sonal journey through 1960s London. Based on personal accounts and stunning archive footage this fea-ture-length documentary film sees Caine travel back in time to talk to The Beatles, Twiggy, David Bailey, Mary Quant, The Rolling Stones, David Hockney and other star names.

The film has been painl/”stakingly assembled over the last six years by Caine working with Producer Simon Fuller, Writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and Director David Batty to tell the story of the birth of pop culture in London, through the eyes of the young Michael Caine:

“For the first time in history the young working class stood up for ourselves and said, we’re here, this is our society and we’re not going away!”

Wally of the Week – Sir Michael Caine.

Actor Michael Caine claims to be “a socialist” in spite of having been involved in a tax avoidance scheme and previously leaving Britain to avoid the top rate of tax in the 1970s/

Sir Michael Caine, CBE is a man who flip-flops like no other and whose political views are best described as “chaotic”. Though a man known for fleeing Britain for America to avoid high taxes in the 1970s and a man named as an investor in a tax avoidance scheme named Liberty in 2014, the pro-Brexit actor has this week called himself a “socialist” and went as far to say: “I wouldn’t live in a country that didn’t pay income tax”.

 In an interview with the Catholic newspaper The UniverseSir Michael remarked:

 “I’m a socialist, basically. I want as much money as possible for poor people, to help whoever’s in trouble. I wouldn’t live in a country that didn’t pay income tax”.

“What you have to do is keep emotion out of it. You can’t say: ‘We hate these rich people, we’re going to tax them to smithereens’. You’ve got to have them stay in your country and pay the tax”.

A public supporter of Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron and even Tony Blair, Sir Michael was forced to pay a significant sum to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs after being exposed as part of the Liberty scheme and also made a fool of himself in another regard. The actor also told The Universe:

 “In order to do something good, I don’t just do work which is no good. I don’t do commercials’.

In 2013, he was paid a six-figure sum to film a commercial for Sky television. How conveniently the man forgets.

This is his latest gobshite.



Written by Andrew Coates

February 17, 2018 at 12:43 pm

The Weekly Worker and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty: A Forgotten Love Affair.

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Spooky but True: the Untold Tale of Weekly Worker AWL Unity.

Followers of the minutiae of the left,  and there are them, will know that no bitterer enemies exist than the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee CPGB-PCC). and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

Both publish papers, which it has to be said, many on the left read, the former’s Weekly Worker for its articles on theory, socialist history its reports on Italy, Iran,  and some other European countries, curious letters, and serious book reviews. The AWL’s Solidarity has valuable – accurate – reports on trade union and welfare issues, the Labour Party, and covers the history of the left, and international topics. It  also carries good coverage of books.

The two groups are now locked in a never-ending battle.

“Social-imperialism” and  comparisons with ‘Stasi busybodies” are some of the milder terms used by the Weekly Worker to describe their foes in the AWL. The AWL dismisses the, admittedly groupusculaire  WW, and its key ally, the Monster Raving Geenstein Party.

Yet things were not always so….

It was in the year 2000.

Spring was coming. The world was full of daffodils and gamboling hares. And love.

Report of a partisan observer John Bridge and other Weekly Worker writers discuss the AWL 09.03.2000

Five observers from the Communist Party of Great Britain attended the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s 7th conference over the weekend of March 4-5. In general we met with a friendly reception. There was certainly a keen interest in our ideas, as witnessed by a sale of over 40 copies of the Weekly Worker. An impressive figure and much to the credit of the AWL – especially given that there were no more than around 80 of their comrades in attendance.


The AWL is a small organisation of serious revolutionaries – it has 110 full and a handful of candidate members – with a relatively long history in Britain’s Trotskyite milieu. Once they existed as a faction in Tony Cliff’s International Socialism organisation. That is, until they were bureaucratically expelled. Since then, led by Sean Matgamna, they have been through a labyrinthine series of name changes, primeval unities and fragile partnerships. However, what distinguishes the AWL from that which often falsely passes itself off as Trotskyism is its culture of comparative openness and a willingness to think.


We in the CPGB share and defend exactly that approach.

Love blossomed,

Rapprochement begins

Two representatives of the CPGB’s Provisional Central Committee and two representatives of the AWL’s National Committee met on Friday March 3.

Discussion began with Mark Fischer outlining the history of the PCC’s struggle for a reforged CPGB and why we put Partyism at the centre of our work. It was explained to the comrades from the AWL that we have no CPGB golden age. Our project is about the future, not the past.

We also discussed the importance of trade union bulletins and trade union work. CPGB comrades assured the AWL representatives that we had no objections to trade union work nor trade union bulletins. There was, however, the matter of priorities.

Blair’s constitutional revolution was raised, along with the national question in Wales and Scotland. One AWL comrade did not see why we were so concerned with such issues. This led on to what the CPGB’s PCC understands by economism.

The entry work the CPGB carried out in the SLP was praised and criticised by the AWL comrades. We replied that it was easy to criticise from the outside.

The commitment of the CPGB to a minimum-maximum programme was touched upon. CPGB comrades questioned the AWL about their project of a new Labour Representation Committee. We were told that this was for propaganda purposes and at the moment was of no particular importance.

The principles of democratic centralism were emphasised by the CPGB comrades, as was the need for a polemical communist press in the conditions of today. We stressed the necessity of engaging with advanced workers – ie, those susceptible to theory.

Both sides agreed to hold a further meeting in mid-March and to have a joint day school in early April on the Party question. The three headings of debate will be: economism; organising the class; party and programme.

Halcyon days!

CPGB-AWL rapprochement. 27.7.2000.

Representatives of the CPGB and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty have been meeting to explore areas of difference and agreement between us. Over the coming weeks, we will feature edited minutes, starting here with those of the March 3 meeting. Comments and criticisms are welcome.

Agreed in conclusion: to put economism; organising the revolutionaries to revolutionise the labour movement; and Party and programme – minimum-maximum and transitional – on the agenda for a day school (date to be fixed). Next four-hander discussion: Friday March 17, to cover minimum-maximum and transitional programmes, and the nature of the ‘official communist’.

CPGB-AWL cooperation. 15.11.2001.

The Communist Party of Great Britain and the Alliance for Workers? Liberty are continuing to explore areas of theoretical difference and agreement, and are looking at the possibility of joint work. Representatives of the executive committee of the AWL and the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB met recently to discuss a number of issues of current practical concern and issues of ongoing debate between the two organisations.


The dalliance did not last, as this document (January 2003) indicates.

Followed by,

By Paul Hampton
The CPGB, those pretentious squirrels of left-wing tittle-tattle, outdid themselves by chickening out of a debate with the AWL over Iraq.

They have sought in vain to manufacture mischief with some AWL comrades who disagree with the group’s position on Iraq. After a series of private e-mails demanding that the AWL minority agitate to “clear out the leadership of the scabs”, the CPGB invited David Broder to debate with them at their overinflated “communist university”, under the title: troops out – but when? David referred the matter to the AWL office, which generously put up Sean Matgamna to speak for our politics.

The Weekly Worker responded in the shape of a piece by a certain Ian Donovan.

Workers’ Liberty: Descent into cultism

Ian Donovan assesses the current trajectory of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

Being “transnational Jewish bourgeoisie” Donovan one can imagine the angle he took on the Palestine Israel issue which divided the two groups.

Yet the vicarious-Zionist AWL has issued not one word of criticism or analysis of this ultra-reactionary phenomenon, which is one of the key, concrete manifestations of Zionism today.

He defended George Galloway,

the matter in hand is to defend Galloway against the bourgeois witch-hunt.


Whether over Galloway, the question of the Iraq war, Israel-Palestine, the Socialist Alliance (where it has squandered an enormous opportunity to be joint initiators of a genuinely broad paper of a pro-party minority), the AWL is retreating headlong back into the most bizarre and unsavoury forms of sectarianism.

Our interest in this tale is waning, so I will end there, yet it remains etched on many a broken heart.

Leftist Trainspotting Fun from Labour Party Marxists, from “bewildered” LRC, “silent Corbyn”, to AWL Stasi “busybodies”.

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Image result for stan keable

Labour Party Marxist in the Thick of the Class Struggle.

The Irish Socialist Workers Party has dissolved itself into a “network”. “The change in name to Socialist Workers Network reflects a decision to focus on building People Before Profit, and within that to win and educate as many members as possible in revolutionary socialist politics.” (SW Ireland)

Now while the SWN is honest about what it is doing, and has good reasons to do so given that People Before Profit has some, limited, political presence, we cannot say the same for Labour Party Marxists.

This is from its mission statement,

  1. The central aim of Labour Party Marxists is to transform the Labour Party into an instrument for working class advance and international socialism. Towards that end we will join with others and seek the closest unity of the left inside and outside the party.

No doubt about that  which it trumpets – if that’s the right word for declarations that practically nobody ever reads.

But  there’s nothing about LPM’s inks with the Weekly Worker and the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee CPGB-PCC).

The Weekly Worker is a paper which produces some interesting material, some indeed very useful articles, but whose owners, said CPGB-PCC, have taste for political stunts not to mention an alliance with cascadeur  in chief, Tony ‘Monster Raving’ Greenstein Party. 

Not much closest possible unity with the rest of the left from that quarter!

They have just issued a spate of articles on the site of Labour Party Marxists  which may perhaps indicate this….

Cde Stan Keable (today, 15th of February)  sums up last week’s Labour Representation Committee Meeting, 

Labour Representation Committee: Reduced to a think tank?

Around 120 Labour Representation Committee members gathered in London’s Conway Hall on February 10 for yet another angst-ridden ‘special’ general meeting (SGM), in which a bewildered leadership shared with its rank and file its own failure – like most of the left – to draw into membership or engage with the ‘radicalised’ mass intake of Corbyn supporters into the Labour Party.

Perhaps they ought to have debated this  other 15th of February recent article?

Clause 4: Why revive a stinking corpse?

Jack Conrad (Chamberlain) questions the worth of the ‘Labour4Clause4’ campaign being promoted by Socialist Appeal. Instead of fostering illusions in Fabian socialism, surely the task of Marxists is to win the Labour Party to Marxist socialism.

But the prize must go to this chef d’oeuvre by Carla Roberts, also on the 15th of February (a busy day for LPM indeed!)

Witch-hunts: When chickens come home…

Roberts begins by citing the case of  “Jeremy Newmark, until recently chair of the Jewish Labour Movement” now embroiled in a corruption case after his swindles came to light. A particular gripe is that the Jewish Chronicle reported the affair in depth, “The enthusiasm with which the pro-Zionist Jewish Chronicle has attacked Newmark is quite breathtaking”.

That over we get attacks on the real enemies.

Jeremy Corbyn, “Corbyn has silently stood by, allowing pretty much any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel to be branded as evidence of anti-Semitism.”

 Jon Lansman ” who literally owns Momentum”. Selecting candidates for the Momentum list for Labour’s NEC, “Jon Lansman did what he does best: went nuclear.”


Hope Not Hate, while not playing an active part in the witch-hunt, is a rightwing version of the Socialist Workers Party’s ‘Stand Up To Racism’.

At the conclusion there is the inevitable: The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, (AWL),

the AWL lacks the numbers and finance for that type of campaign. It represents more the type of busybody who would report their neighbour to the East German Stasi for watching West German TV.

Oddly some people in the Labour Party, including the left, are not fond of Labour Party Marxists or their antics.

But their drive to make the Labour Party into a Marxist Party, guided by their own interpretation of Lenin, proceeds apace.

Alternative Models of Ownership: Cleaning the Augustan Stables of Public Services.

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Image result for New ownership mcdonnell

“Democratically owned and managed public services” at heart of Labour Policy.

It is hard for those who backed Tony Blair and Gordon Brown during their terms of office to come to grips with the legacy of a “what works” policy that favoured private business involvement in public services and did not challenge the Conservative dismantling and sell offs of the nationalised industries.

During the Blair years, before and as Prime Minister, and under Gordon Brown’s term of office, there were however critics on the left who pointed criticised the outsourcing and privatisation policies they continued.

David Osler wrote in Labour Party PLC (2002),

Tony Blair transformed the relationship between Labour and the private sector to the point where Labour now claims to be the natural party of business. This new friendship has been cemented through a series of huge donations to Labour, from top business people and leading companies. Corporate supporters—including multinationals with questionable track records on union recognition, human rights, and the environment—have reaped the rewards of lucrative privatisation contracts.

Owen Jones observed in this context ten years later that (Independent 2012) ,

“Blair failed to establish a new political consensus. He accepted the fundamentals of the Thatcher settlement: low taxes on the wealthy, weak trade unions, the dominance of the market over all. His great departure from Thatcherism was a desperately needed boost to spending on public services.”

“Labour’s current opposition to what the Coalition is doing is hobbled by the fact that Blair laid the foundation for so much of it.”

Take the privatisation of the NHS. Under Blair, private sector involvement began to flourish and a commercial directorate was set up in the Department of Health. Gove is now expanding Blair’s Academy schools programme, and free schools are a logical extension of them. The Coalition trebled the tuition fees that Blair introduced. Across public services, Blair expanded the role of the private sector – though not as fast as he would have liked, thanks to internal party opposition. But Cameron is taking this “reform” (the Blairite and Tory code word for “privatisation”) ever further. “Public sector reform” has come up in the many conversations Blair has apparently had with Cameron, and I’m sure the ex-PM has had much advice to offer.

It seems as if a new approach, grounded on thought-out alternatives, is now being developed to the “private firms work best” policy.

Text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech today at the Alternative Models of Ownership Conference.

Labour List.

It is a pleasure to close today’s conference, which has shown once again that it is our Party that is coming up with big ideas.

And we’re not talking about ideas and policies dreamed up by corporate lobbyists and think tanks or the wonks of Westminster, but plans and policies rooted in the experience and understanding of our members and our movement; drawing on the ingenuity of each individual working together as part of a collective endeavour with a common goal.

Each of you here today is helping to develop the ideas and the policies that will define not just the next Labour Government but a whole new political era of real change.  An era that will be as John said earlier radically fairer, more equal and more democratic.

The questions of ownership and control that we’ve been discussing today go right to the heart of what is needed to create that different kind of society.

Because it cannot be right, economically effective, or socially just that profits extracted from vital public services are used to line the pockets of shareholders when they could and should be reinvested in those services or used to reduce consumer bills.

We know that those services will be better run when they are directly accountable to the public in the hands of the workforce responsible for their front line delivery and of the people who use and rely on them.  It is those people not share price speculators who are the real experts.

That’s why, at last year’s general election, under the stewardship of Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, Transport Secretary Andy McDonald and Environment Secretary Sue Hayman, Labour pledged to bring energy, rail, water, and mail into public ownership and to put democratic management at the heart of how those industries are run.

This is not a return to the 20th century model of nationalisation but a catapult into 21st century public ownership.

The failure of privatisation and outsourcing of public services could not be clearer.

From Carillion’s collapse and the private sector’s chronic inability to run the East Coast Mainline to the exorbitant costs of PFI and the hopeless inability of G4S even to handle basic security at the London Olympics the same story is repeated again and again; costly, inefficient, secretive.

Unaccountable corporate featherbedding, lubricated by revolving door appointments between Whitehall, Westminster and private boardrooms as service standards and the pay and conditions of public service workers are driven down. This obsessive drive to outsource and privatise has been tried and tested to destruction.

Carillion’s meltdown is a watershed moment. We need to take a new direction with a genuinely mixed economy fit for the 21stcentury that meets the demands of cutting edge technological change. Public services that reflect today’s society and the industries of the future.

We need to put Britain at the forefront of the wave of international change in favour of public, democratic ownership and control of our services and utilities.

John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, has said that the plan of the Labour party to bring services including energy, rail, and water under public ownership would be free of cost.


Finance Co.uk

At a conference that was held in London on “alternative models of ownership,” he told the audience that Carillion’s collapse attested that privatisation had failed.

McDonnell stated that taking essential infrastructure assets out of private ownership is “an economic necessity,” and could be achieved while not bring additional costs to the taxpayers.

On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, McDonnell stated: “It would be cost-free. You borrow to buy an asset, and when that asset is producing profits like the water industry does, that will cover your borrowing cost.”

In his speech, McDonnell also said: “The next Labour government will put democratically owned and managed public services irreversibly in the hands of workers, and of those who rely on their work.

“We will do this not only because it’s right, not only because it’s the most efficient way of running them, but also because the most important protection of our public services for the long term is for everyone to have and feel ownership of them.”

The Conservatives have since denounced the said plan, saying that it will cost billions of pounds and result to worse services. Meanwhile, the CBI, a business group, said that the cries for nationalisation “continue to miss the point.”

Neil Carberry of the CBI stated: “At a time when the UK must be seen more than ever as a great place to invest and create jobs, these proposals would simply wind the clock back on our economy.

“If Labour turns its back on good collaboration between the government and the private sector, public services, infrastructure and taxpayers will ultimately pay the price.”

John McDonnell also revealed the creation of a working group that is tasked to study how cooperatives and organisations that are owned and run by their members could be developed.

It continues,

Later in the said conference, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said that nationalising energy companies was essential in order to avoid a “climate catastrophe.”

Corbyn stated: “People have been queueing up for years to connect renewable energy to the national grid. With the national grid in public hands, we can put tackling climate change at the heart of our energy system.

“To go green, we must take control of our energy.”

However, the Centre for Policy Studies said that the suggestion of Corbyn that nationalisation was essential to encourage small-scale renewable energy “suggests that Labour will have to borrow billions more to pay for the necessary infrastructure, or else pass the cost on to consumers via their fuel bills.”

The director of the Centre for Policy Studies, Robert Colville, stated: “The shadow chancellor claims that nationalisation would be cost-free because the state would be acquiring an asset – repeatedly using the analogy of taking out a mortgage on a house. Yet who would buy a house without knowing its price?

“McDonnell dismissed our £86bn estimate of the cost of nationalising the water industry as ‘laughable’ – even when the Social Market Foundation came out with a near-identical estimate. Yet neither he nor any Labour figure has disputed the detail of a single one of our estimates.”

The Left is  now debating these important and, very welcome, policy changes.

Chartist Magazine.


Written by Andrew Coates

February 14, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Hard-right Millionaire Arron Banks Donated to Trade Unionists Against the EU.

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Arron Banks: Donated to ‘left-wing’ Trade Unionists Against the EU.

George Galloway’s article this week on the far-right Westmonster site ranting about ‘Zurich Gnome’ Soros has stimulated interest in other activities of the would-be British Breitbart’s joint owner (with far right outrider,  Michael Heaver) , Arron Banks.

This is not limited to relations with ‘left wing’ figures who have also written for his propaganda vehicle, such as Paul Embery (FBU).

At the end of last year it was revealed that Banks had generously donated to Trade Unionists against the European Union.

The Morning Star gives a lot of publicity to this group and its advice on pursuing Brexit….the latest occasion being on February the 6th.

A certain Enrico Tortolano  Campaign Director for Trade Unionists against the EU (TUAEU), expressed the view in 2016 that,

As a trade unionist, this is why Britain must vote to Leave.

A vote to leave would be very radical because it would express our confidence that a new alternative world is really possible. A resounding No to continued membership of the EU should be coming from the working-class socialist movement.

That’s why no doubt the campaign attracted Aaron Bank…..

Thanks John Rogan.

The Independent reported in November:

Key Brexit funder Arron Banks is being investigated over allegations that the former Ukip donor breached finance rules during the EU referendum campaign.

The Electoral Commission announced it had opened an inquiry into whether Nigel Farage’s close ally “committed offences, in relation to donations and/or loans made to campaigners”.

It said it would probe whether Better for the Country Limited – his campaign firm – “was the true source of donations made to referendum campaigners in its name, or if it was acting as an agent”.

Better for the Country donated around £2.4m, including to the Grassroots Out campaign group, which was supported by some Tory MPs, including Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Donations were also made, between March and June 2016, to Trade Unionists Against the EU,Veterans for Britain, WAGTV Limited and Ukip, led at the time by Mr Farage.

Mr Banks – who no longer donates to Ukip – also lent £6m to the Leave.EU campaign, fronted by Mr Farage, to avoid inheritance tax he later claimed. That loan is due to be repaid at the end of this year, and is believed to be still outstanding.

There is a plenty of background here:  How did Arron Banks afford Brexit?  ALASTAIR SLOAN and IAIN CAMPBELL 19 October 2017

The self-styled ‘bad boy’ who bankrolled the Leave campaign appears to have exaggerated his wealth. So how did he pay for his Brexit spree?


Over the past four months, openDemocracy has conducted an in-depth review of Bank’s business dealings since he first started out in business in the early 2000s. As well as his own public statements about the sources of his wealth, we have spoken to his former employers, and obtained and reviewed court documents. There are of course a number of perfectly innocent ways that Banks could have obtained the extra funds, but given Banks’ significance to British politics, what we have found so far is extremely troubling.


The following outlines the Banks ‘operation’ from which he helped fund the ‘left wing’ Trade Unionists Against the EU.

One of his most lavish donations was some £2 million to Grassroots Out via Better for the Country Ltd, which was categorised to the Electoral Commission as “non-cash” – a designation usually reserved for the provision of office space or in-kind services to political parties. In reality, even this “non-cash” donation cost Banks significant amounts of hard cash. In a letter to openDemocracy, Banks’ lawyers say Better for the Country bought “merchandise, leaflets, billboards, pens, badges and other paraphernalia,” before donating all of this to Grassroots Out.

In early 2016, he used Better for the Country to make cash donations to Trade Unionists Against the European Union, and another pro-Brexit group called Veterans for Britain. Banks also provided £100,000 to Martin Durkin, a climate change sceptic and producer of “Brexit: The Movie,” a controversial online documentary produced to support the campaign. The sum was equivalent to a third of the documentary’s reported budget.

This is, without irony, from the Trade Unionists Against the EU‘s, view of itself:

The working peoples of Europe are clearly not happy with the direction the EU is taking. The failure of the mainstream parties to represent this feeling has led to a political vacuum.

We want to see a Europe of democratic states that value public services and does not offer them to profiteers; a Europe that guarantees the rights of workers and does not put the interests of big business above that of ordinary people. We believe this is not possible within the EU.

We say…

  • Yes to workers’ rights
  • No to TTIP
  • Exit the EU on the basis of socialist policies

(More via above link).

We note that a strange nationalist organisation called TRADES UNION CONGRESS FOR ENGLAND also publishes this statement.


Labour Party Democracy Review: Some Background.

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Labour’s internal democracy review aims to put members “in charge” and hand them a bigger say in campaigning, organising, internal structures and elections, according to the key official tasked with leading the process.

The review, launched this autumn as part of Jeremy Corbyn’s efforts to turn Labour into a “mass movement”, has already prompted “thousands” of activists to send in ideas, said Katy Clark.

Clark, a former MP who is now political secretary to Corbyn, is running the inquiry with “assistance” from Andy Kerr, chair of the NEC, and Claudia Webbe, who sits on the committee, and will report to the leader and Ian Lavery, the party chair and Wansbeck MP.

Labour List

Labour Party Democracy Review

Our Democracy Review’s Terms of Reference

Labour’s NEC agreed to a review of Party Democracy as set out by the Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

The terms of reference for the review will include the following areas:

  • The method of electing the Party Leader, including the role of registered supporters and the issue of nominating thresholds.
  • The composition of the NEC and the procedures for elections to it in its various elements.
  • Developing democratic policy-making procedures, including strengthening the role of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) and of Party Conference, the role of contemporary motions and the development of local and regional plans.
  • Looking at how the Party can better deal with CLP motions.
  • The role, accountability and transparency of regional structures.
  • The functioning of associated bodies like BAME Labour, Young Labour, Disability Labour and LGBT Labour etc.
  • Strengthening the involvement and participation of our hundreds of thousands of new members in constituency parties and other aspects of the Party’s work.
  • Recruitment of members to further develop a mass party.
  • The Governance of CLPs including the composition of CLP Executives and the training of CLP officers and members.
  • How freeze dates are applied in Selections and Conferences.
  • Strengthening the links between the Party and its trade union affiliates locally and nationally, and engaging more of their members in the Party’s life.
  • Developing the relationship between Labour’s local authority representatives and local parties.
  • Greater participation of women in CLPs and at other levels of the Party, gender representation throughout the Party, and the role of Labour women’s conference.
  • Improving diversity at all levels within the Party including looking at how to increase the involvement of BAME members, LGBT members, members with a disability and other groups.
  • Harnessing the potential of social media across all aspects of Labour’s democracy and political work.

Submit your thoughts now

Building a Mass Movement
How We Make Policy
Diversity and Participation
Your Local Labour Party

Momentum says,

“The Labour Party Democracy Review represents an unprecedented opportunity for party members and trade union affiliates to fundamentally remake the party so that it is equipped to provide deep and meaningful representation to millions of people, and to implement a socialist programme to transform the country.”

They add,

For a brief explanation of the forums Momentum will establish to allow our members to have the maximum contribution possible to the review, please see Momentum and the Democracy Review: A Brief Explainer.

For information on upcoming Momentum and Labour Party Democracy Review meetings where you can participate, please see our events page. If you have organised an event and you would like us to promote it, please let us know by writing to transforminglabour@peoplesmomentum.com.

For an idea of the types of proposals which grassroots Labour Party and Momentum activists have been making for some years now, please see Democracy Review: Ideas from Grassroots Activists.

Not sure how to hold a meeting to debate proposals? Have a look at out top tips for group facilitators.

Want to hear what Momentum’s randomly selected advisory body came up with? See  recommendations made the Members’ Council.

For suggestions for proposals on the Women’s Conference, please see recommendations by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD).

For suggestions on reconstituting Young Labour into a fully autonomous body, see this suggestions from CLPD.

For results of Momentum’s consultation survey of BAME members and supporters, see this summary.

Finally, please also check out s summary version of Momentum’s proposals to transform BAME Labour,  and a complete version of the finalised proposals hereIf you want to discuss BAME Labour in your CLP and make a submission to the Democracy Review through it, please see the Seema Chandwani Guide to Debating BAME Labour in your CLP

On the Labour Briefing site Pete Firmin writes,

JUST BEFORE LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE, the NEC decided that there would be a fundamental review of party democracy, conducted by Katy Clark (ex- Scottish MP, now political secretary to Jeremy Corbyn) and two left NEC members, Claudia Webbe and Andy Kerr.

The commitment to this review was used to persuade several CLPs to withdraw their proposed rule changes rather than having them voted on (and probably lost) at conference. In doing so, however, several delegates made clear they would be watching the review closely and would be back with their proposals if they did not feel their concerns had been adequately addressed. Now the remit and timetable for the democracy review have been announced. It is to be run in three phases, with staggered deadlines:

  • On the organisational aspects of Young Labour, BAME Labour and Women’s conference, the deadline is 12th January 2018.
  • For submissions on “all other aspects of diversity and participation, your local party and building a mass movement”, the deadline is 23rd March.
  • For submissions on “electing our leadership, how we make policy and the way we work”, it is 28th June.

It is clear that the intention is to have conclusions going to 2018 conference for voting. While this makes some windows for participation short, such a review is well overdue and the sooner some fundamental changes are made the better. And a holistic review is far better than changing rules piecemeal.

Of course, none of this guarantees an outcome favourable to the left. For that to happen, activists have to encourage as many members as possible to submit proposals, win CLP and union support, lobby review and NEC members and carefully scrutinise proposals which come from the review.

While the review is far-ranging, and covers many important areas, there are also gaps in the remit which need questioning. Among these is the issue of a full democratic selection process for parliamentary (and council) candidates, ending the current procedure of trigger ballots. (Katy Clark has said this is outside her remit.) Disciplinary procedures, the Compliance Unit and issues of natural justice do not appear to be covered, either.

There is no reason why we should accept these limitations. Submissions should be made on anything and everything which concerns members about the functioning of the Party. And if this is outside the remit, let the review team explain why they will have ignored hundreds of submissions on an issue – and we can use that impetus to push for additional changes through rule changes if necessary.

On many issues it will be a matter of knowing the right questions to ask rather than simply being led by the review’s guidelines. So, for instance, in the section “how we make policy,” it asks “What are your views on the National Policy Forum and how it works?” Many (especially newer) members will not know how the NPF works, or that it was introduced as part of Blair’s counter-reforms precisely to take power away from conference. The Labour Representation Committee has long had a policy of scrapping the NPF and restoring full power to conference. The earliest deadline is for some areas that need the most fundamental changes.

Many members have raised doubts about democracy in both BAME Labour and Young Labour. The recent re-election of Keith Vaz to the BAME Labour place on the NEC was certainly questioned. At conference a young delegate raised the issue of the privileged position Labour Students hold within Young Labour and the fact that Young Labour does not have a constitution and standing orders decided on at their AGM.

Women’s conference is a large bone of contention, pitched in recent years as a mere add-on to national conference with no right to submit resolutions to conference, no policy-making powers of its own, and no structures. An urgent need is to ensure the empowerment of women members throughout the Party.

There are other grossly undemocratic areas of the Party, especially around local government, with no ability for the Party to elect the local leader, write the local manifesto or decide local policy in relation to local authorities.

We encourage readers to make submissions to all areas of the review. There will, without doubt, be suggestions for submissions from campaigns and the likes of Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and Momentum, and these should be used where appropriate. Briefing also asks readers to send articles or letters covering areas of the review which can be printed over the next months. The review is probably a one-time opportunity to seriously transform the functioning of the Party. We have to use it to the utmost.

Solidarity writes,

The Labour Party is doing yet another democracy review.

This time, however, the review comes under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, and its coordinator is Katy Clark, formerly a left-wing Labour MP and someone we on Solidarity have known as a solid socialist back to her student days in Aberdeen and Edinburgh in the late 1980s and early 90s.

The deadline for Phase 1 submissions is 12 January, and they are to cover BAME (black and minority-ethnic) Labour, Young Labour, and Labour Women’s Conference.

Phase 2 (submissions by 23 March) covers more diffuse topics, such as strengthening the involvement and participation of members, but also specifically the governance of CLPs [constituency Labour Parties] and the place of Labour’s twenty affiliated socialist societies.

Phase 3 (by 29 June) will deal with the election of the party leader, the composition of the National Executive (NEC), the policy process, local government, and Labour’s links with trade unions.

A first report is scheduled for Labour Party conference in September 2018. This should also include all remitted rule changes from the 2017 Labour Party conference. Delegates were assured they would all be considered during the review.

Ensuring that the democracy review is in itself run on democratic principles is important. We would encourage all CLPs, and union affiliates to put forward proposals, invite relevant NEC members and Katy Clark to address meetings and promote participation particularly from young members on the future of Young Labour.

Previous reviews have almost totally ignored the submissions put forward. There is good reason to believe that this time will be different, but we should not be complacent.

Fundamentally any move to greater democracy in the party must mean structures that put basic democratic controls into the hands of members and local party units, with a responsive and accountable national structure that includes oversight of the parliamentary Labour Party and the way the leader and her or his team operate.

One of the great differences since Harold Wilson has been the increasing size and weight of the staff around the leader.
It was previously very easy for other insiders to speak to the leader. Now almost anyone can find it difficult to get past the praetorian guard of staff.

There is a remedy: the sovereign decision-making body of the Labour Party. A conference with meaningful power that set the policy agenda and passes motions that are then included in the manifesto.

At the 2017 conference, Labour passed a number of good polices including the repeal of all existing anti-trade union laws since the conference there has been complete silence on the issue. Most members will not know about the policy, let alone plans for it be enacted by a Labour government. How and where can members get involved to turn the conference resolution into a living campaign, that can draw in support from the wider labour movement and local parties?

There is no method at the moment for the policy to be realised. The frankly hollow and seemingly inept National Policy Forum never appears to consider conference policy when it submits its report to conference.

Conference is only one of several aspects being discussed. Already the scope of the review excludes selection procedures, which are one of the primary principles of a democratic and member-led party. We can see no good reason to be restricted by the official terms when submissions are made to the review.

At this stage we do not know with what level of scrutiny different submissions will receive. We have formulated a series of proposals covering the three stages of the review ,and would be keen to work with others to promote these principles and discuss any other proposals.

Submissions opened on 1 November and can be made either online or by email.

More via above link.


The Katy Clark ‘democracy review’ wears its faction on its sleeve, believes Conor Pope

It is true that a mass movement behind the Labour party is desirable and provides a convenient well for a range of fresh ideas; new technology allows the opportunity for that mass movement to be participatory and grassroots-led in a way never before capable; and the party certainly needs to be more diverse to thrive and make the most of this opportunity.

In this regard, there is little to disagree with in Katy Clark’s argument. She is rightly vague about the outcomes; if she were not, it would not be much of a review. But it is fair to have concerns about what the end results are likely to be.

The review is very close to Jeremy Corbyn’s office. Clark, on secondment from her role as the Labour leader’s political secretary, is assisted by Claudia Webbe, elected to the National Executive Committee on the Momentum slate, and Andy Kerr from the Communication Workers’ Union, which officially affiliated to Momentum earlier this year.

In the past, such reviews into party reform have retained at least modicum of independence. This one wears its faction on its sleeve. To look to the leadership’s past form as a potential guide to the future, therefore, may not be unreasonable.

In late 2015, Corbyn sent out an email to Labour members, canvassing views on the upcoming vote on military action against Isis in Syria, in what was briefed at the time as an unprecedented sign of engagement with the grassroots. Yet Corbyn had already made his view known – reiterating it in the email itself – and it is hard to see the move as anything other than an attempt to wield the supportive feedback as leverage in shadow cabinet battles. It was not ‘involving members’, it was utilising them as a tool in an internal dispute.

Party reform was such an integral part of Corbyn’s first leadership campaign in 2015 that when I interviewed him that summer I questioned him over his support for making annual conference the main body for deciding policy. I put it to him that surely that would give greater power to people who just like going to lots of political meetings, rather than truly opening politics up? ‘At the moment it’s made by people who don’t go to political meetings and are just experts,’ he replied.

In that same 2015 interview, Corbyn suggested to me that the 1988 leadership contest between Neil Kinnock and Tony Benn – in which the Islington North member of parliament backed Benn – was a potential model for how future leadership elections might work. Yet when he himself was challenged for the leadership a year later, the precedent set by Kinnock that the incumbent should seek fresh nominations was no longer enough.

The NEC backed Corbyn on that, as it did on the plan to expand by three places to give new members a say, for which Momentum founder and owner Jon Lansman has been chosen for the hard-left slate.

It seems, then, that Corbyn and his supporters are not above using the language of democratisation for their own political ends.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 13, 2018 at 1:34 pm

George Galloway Writes about ‘Gnome of Zurich’ Soros in Far-Right Westmonster.

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George Soros: ‘Gnome of Zurich’ Says Galloway.



He thinks any pro-EU group that received Soros’ money must give it back.

Galloway is clear is he is, oh no, not at all, anti-Semitic, not one little bit. not an ounce, or a smidgen, or a wisp.

George Soros is not despised by all right-thinking people because of his origins or his faith (except by the legion of far-right anti-Semites in the east and central zones of the European Union).

Not he just hates Gnomes, not all gnomes, just ones from Zurich.

Or even because he has bled billions out of other peoples’ economic woes as a “Gnome of Zurich”. There are plenty of such people, indeed they love the EU so much precisely because it has allowed him and them to flourish mightily.

Galloway stands up for Russians, dead and now….live ones,

Soros’s unwillingness to sit counting his money in favour of using it to interfere in other countries political affairs is what is unacceptable. But you know what, my ire about the £700,000 he has put into the wreck Brexit campaign is as nothing compared to my contempt for his enablers in Britain.

The hypocrites who have raised hell over “Russian interference” in Brexit but trigger the foul charge of anti-Semitism when American-Hungarian interference in Brexit is brazenly declared.

The liars who stand up in parliament and have a “Kremlin-diplomat” removed from the public gallery only to find the poor man was American not Russian and not a diplomat but a tourist.

He hates subversion,

What is different about the Soros money is not just the quantum – the largest foreign donation by far and if I’m any judge a fraction of what he will spend in the next weeks and months – but that this is not an attempt to sway the vote before it is cast. This is a transparent foreign attack on a decision we have ALREADY TAKEN. That’s subversion in any democracy.

He hates ex-Communist “satraps”.

How much more has there been, will there be? And what price do we put on our national dignity? Are we to be bought and sold by Soros gold like some ramshackle ex-Communist satrapy?

And, above all, people who are rude to Galloway,

And lastly: for the first time since the referendum I have personally been under 24 hour a day incessant Twitter attack by accounts (robots or no, how could one tell?). Starting this week I have had to mute hundreds of EU-fanatic propaganda accounts all attacking with the same message. That we are not fit to be an independent country. Its time we showed them that we are, and we will be again.

Poor old todger fighting ’em off ..alone…

Not so !

Galloway, has a friend, if not in Jesus at least Westmonster and businessmen, one Aaron Banks.


Westmonster: News website supporting Brexit, Farage and Trump set up by political donor Aaron Banks.

Westmonster describes itself as: “Pro-Brexit, pro-Farage, pro-Trump. Anti-establishment, anti-open borders, anti-corporatism.” January 2017.

It said: “In an age of transformative political change that has been spearheaded by groups like Leave.EU, the media landscape is quickly changing too. And so here we are.

“Westmonster is part of the growing movement in the UK and right across the world that wants to see radical political change.”

Banks gave £7m to the campaign for Britain to leave the EU.

He told the BBC: “The internet and social media has changed the world and the mainstream media is lagging a long way behind in the way it communicates. We want to shake things up a bit.”

The site is co-owned by Michael Heaver, former press secretary for Nigel Farage.

He said the site will be “speaking to people in a way they understand in language they understand”.



Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2018 at 4:55 pm

As Women Arrested In Iran for not wearing the Veil, Foreign Office promoted ‘World Hijab Day’ .

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Iranian Students Protest Against “liberation, respect and security” enforced by Religious Police.

Foreign Office employees invited to wear headscarves to work to mark World Hijab day

In an internal memo, the Foreign Office said that the headscarf is worn by some women who see it as representing “liberation, respect and security”

According to reports, an email sent to staff said: “Would you like to try on a hijab or learn why Muslim women wear the headscarf? Come along to our walk-in event.

“Free scarves for all those that choose to wear it for the day or part of the day.

“Muslim women, along with followers of many other religions, choose to wear the hijab. Many find liberation, respect and security through wearing it. #StrongInHijab. Join us for #WorldHijabDay.”

Evening Standard.

How Iran uses a compulsory hijab law to control its citizens – and why they are protesting

In 1985, it became mandatory for women to wear the hijab with a law that forced all women in Iran, regardless of their religious beliefs, to dress in accordance with Islamic teachings. The hijab became a tool for implementing the government’s strict religious ideology.

A symbol of oppression

The new law marked an ideological way of governing that continues today. The compulsory hijab law has been used to exclude women from various areas of public life, either by explicitly banning women from certain public spaces such as some sports stadiums, or by adding restrictions on their education and workplace etiquette. More generally, it is also used to exclude anyone who disagrees with the ideology of the regime, who are branded as having “bad-hijab”. Not adhering to hijab continues to be seen as a hallmark of opposition to the government.

The law is also used to justify the regime’s increasing involvement in citizens’ private lives. From an early age, girls are forced to wear headscarves in school and public places. Teenagers and young people in Iran are routinely stopped by the “morality police” responsible primarily for policing people’s appearances and adherence to wearing the hijab.

For women it is the way they wear their headscarves and the length of their overcoats. Men are prohibited from wearing shorts, having certain haircuts that could be seen as Western, and wearing tops with “Western” patterns or writings. In recent years, it has become common practice for the police to raid private parties, arresting both girls and boys on the basis of not adhering to the hijab law. Punishments range from fines to two months in jail.

NSS criticises Foreign Office for “fetishising” the hijab

The National Secular Society has criticised the Foreign Office for “fetishising Islamic head coverings” after it encouraged staff to mark ‘world hijab day’.

The Foreign Office sent an internal memo offering employees the chance to wear free hijabs on 1 February. Since 2013 some have called this ‘world hijab day’. Others have responded, particularly on social media, by declaring ‘no hijab day’.

The memo claimed “many” women see the headscarf as representing “liberation, respect and security”.

“Would you like to try on a hijab or learn why Muslim women wear the headscarf? Come along to our walk-in event. Free scarves for all those that choose to wear it for the day or part of the day.

“Muslim women, along with followers of many other religions, choose to wear the hijab. Many find liberation, respect and security through wearing it. #StrongInHijab. Join us for #WorldHijabDay.”

A Foreign Office spokesman told the Evening Standard the event was for staff at its London office who wanted to learn about ‘other cultures’.

‘World hijab day’ was created by a woman in New York in 2013. Its organisers say they created it “in recognition of millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty”. They also say it is designed to “fight discrimination against Muslim women through awareness and education”.

They claim the support of politicians including Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland.

Stephen Evans, NSS chief executive, said: “This appears to have been a well-intentioned event, but it is dubious whether civil service staff need their bosses to educate them on religious issues.

“If government departments wish to teach their staff about religion, they should do it warts and all. That means understanding that women are forced to wear the hijab across large parts of the world. And it means understanding the social pressure that encourages many others to wear it as a sign of ‘modesty’, submission to male-dominated religious authorities and a visible sign of commitment to one particular faith and community.

“Women who choose to wear the hijab should be able to do so in peace and without facing discrimination. But a critically-informed assessment of Islamic head coverings would not fetishise them. At a time when women in Iran are fighting for the right to remove their hijabs, the Foreign Office should be the first to realise this.”

More solidarity with the Iranian religious police:

On Feb. 1, Rabea Ali brought World Hijab Day to perhaps an unlikely place – Manhattan College, the Roman Catholic school she attends in the Bronx. Nazma Khan, who grew up in the borough, started the annual event in 2013 to promote religious tolerance and encourage non-Muslims and non-Hijabis to wear the hijab for a day.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2018 at 12:40 pm

Spiked-on-Line and Stephen Potter: The Praxis of Lifemanship.

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Spiked-on-Line’s Manual.

“Soros does not believe in the legitimacy of borders nor in the authority of national electorates. Consequently he feels entitled to influence and if possible direct the political destiny of societies all over the world. “

The Telegraph  Living Marxism (LM).

They claim that the headline of the Telegraph piece is an anti-Semitic trope: it says Soros is ‘backing secret plot to thwart Brexit.’ That’s anti-Semitic? That would be a more convincing argument if the Telegraph and others hadn’t also regularly written about other plots – of which there are many! – to overthrow the democratic vote for Brexit, including those that do not involve donations from billionaires who happen to be Jewish.

Brendan O’Neill. Spiked on Line.

Nick Timothy liked the story so much he re-tweeted it.



The role of Spiked-on-Line in the hate campaign against Soros has received attention on the left for the simple reason that this group, with origins on the far-left, is now popping up all over the right wing (not to say far-right)  British press.

They are above all celebrated as “contrarians”.

Brendan O’Neill in particular.

Having left behind Marxism, Socialism and indeed any form of the left, the crew have found a new ‘look me up to’ in the works of Stephen Potter.

Potter (whose books, it goes without saying are on all serious leftists’ shelves) is best known for this,

It was the first of his series of books purporting to teach ploys for manipulating one’s associates, making them feel inferior and thus gaining the status of being one-up on them. From this book, the term “Gamesmanship” entered the English language. Potter said that he was introduced to the technique by C. E. M. Joad during a game of tennis in which Joad and Potter were struggling against two fit young students. Joad politely requested the students to state clearly whether a ball had landed in or out (when in truth it was so obviously out that they had not thought it necessary to say so). This nonplussed the students, who wondered if their sportsmanship was in question; they became so edgy that they lost the match.

But that is not the end of the method.

Sport is only one case of always being “one up” on your opponents.

The Master defined the objective, “How to be one up – how to make the other man feel that something has gone wrong, however slightly.” Or, if you “are not one up, you are one down”.

Rosie Bell once outlined a key aspect of  the Potter praxis:

In his series Lifemanship (1950)  Stephen Potter invented a reviewer called Hope-Tipping who, in order to make a splash, would take a writer to task for not doing something he was famous for,  e.g. accuse D H Lawrence of showing  a neglect of “the consciousness of sexual relationship, the male and female element in life”.   So Hope-Tipping would be severely disappointed with Irving Welsh’s lack of interest in Edinburgh’s low life and he would castigate Dick Francis for not drawing on his knowledge of horses and horse-racing

The advice for what Potter called “Newstatesmaning”, that is reviewing, is at the centre of Spiked on Line’s approach. Sitting down with a dog-eared copy of the book and its sequel, One-Upmanship: Being Some Account of the Activities and Teachings of the Lifemanship Correspondence College of One-Upness and Games Lifemastery (1952) the team can write any number of articles.

The New Statesman writer Jonn Elledge recently found a few, or rescued them from the waste bin,

The campaign against the so-called “Black Death” has exposed the liberals’ true agenda.

The misogyny of the Suffragettes.

The witch-hunting of Jack the Ripper

There is are tired and trusted techniques. A master stroke is “Yes, but not in the South”, which “with slight adjustments, will do for any argument about any place, if not about any person and render any of your opponents’ assertions suspect.

There has been much justified celebration this week of that historic enfranchisement of around 8.4million mainly middle-class women. Far less attention has been paid to the other victory for democracy in the 1918 Act – the granting of the vote to virtually all males aged over 21, which enfranchised some 5.6million working-class men for the first time.

That side of the Act does not fit the fashionable script, which depicts the democratic victory of February 1918 as a triumph for modern feminism.

Mick Hume Spiked on Line 7th of February 2018

Or to imply that you are somehow in the highest realm of intellectual debate, but that you are also in touch with the common taste – lowbrowmanship.

2018 heralds the 80th anniversary of the longest running comic book in history – the Beano. For generations, working-class kids have grown up with the characters in the Beano. And supreme among them is the eternally naughty 10-year-old, Dennis the Menace, who first appeared on 12 March 1951.

Denis Hayes. Spiked on Line.  4th of January 2018.

Unfortunately if we thought that the professional contrarians were a joke they have their admirers, from Sky News, to here:




Campaign to Support Afrin, as Turkey is alleged to recruit ISIS Genociders to attack the Kurdish YPG.

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Turkey using ISIS fighters for Afrin invasion – newspaper

Turkey is deploying Islamic State (ISIS) fighters to Afrin to help it fight the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) there, a former ISIS fighter told The Independent’s Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn.

“Turkey at the beginning of its operation tried to delude people by saying that it is fighting ISIS, but actually they are training ISIS members and sending them to Afrin,” he quoted the man, named Faraj, as saying.

Turkey was using members of the extreme jihadist group because of their fighting experience, and because there are few likely consequences for Turkish domestic opinion if they suffer casualties, Cockburn said.

ISIS, meanwhile, is trying to regain a foothold in Syria, and dealing damage to the U.S.-backed YPG would be an important strategic move, he said.

“The fighting between Turks and Kurds and the growing confrontation between the U.S. and Turkey are all in the interests of ISIS,” Cockburn said.

“It does not have the strength to recover from its crushing defeats last year, but the opponents it faced then are now fighting other battles.”

Turkey’s state news agency has also said that the YPG has freed jailed ISIS fighters in return for the militants joining the fight against Turkey.

There is growing international concern, as this campaign illustrates.

 A group of intellectuals, professors, academics and human rights activists launched world campaign against the Turkish occupation of Afrin and signed a petition against the Turkish occupation.

The petition called on the United Nations, America, Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from violating the Syrian territories and allowing the people of Afrin to live in peace, and demanded an end to attacks by the Turkish state against Afrin.

Afrin is surrounded by al-Qaeda, jihadist groups and the Turkish state

According to the petition, the majority of Afrin residents are Kurds, the most secure areas in Syria. The population of the Afrin region has doubled over the past five years; the population is about 400,000. The petition noted that Afrin is now besieged by the jihadist groups affiliated with Turkey, as well as al-Qaeda and the Turkish state.

People’s Protection Units alone protect peoples

The petition also addressed the Turkish threats against People’s Protection Units in Afrin. These units, participated with US against IS, have opened the way for the establishment of democratic civil society councils in the areas under their control. It stressed that People’s Protection Units defend the Kurds and other peoples living in northern Syria.

The lives of thousands of civilians are threatened

The intellectuals also emphasized Erdogan tries to eliminate the safe and stable Afrin canton, pointing out any possible attack that would threaten the lives of thousands of civilians and displaced people. Stressing at the same time that any Turkish attack will be with the permission of Russia, Iran and Syria, and America’s inaction.

Supporting Kurds, who sacrificed thousands of their martyrs in the war against IS, is a moral responsibility

The petition signed by intellectuals and academics said that the Kurdish people sacrificed thousands of their martyrs to save the world from IS mercenaries. “The moral responsibility is imposed on the international community and on America to stand by the Kurdish people.”

The petition called on the United Nations, the United States, Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from violating Syrian land and to allow the people of Afrin to live in peace. It also called for an end to attacks by the Turkish state against Afrin.

Among those who signed the petition were Noam Chomsky, Michael Walzer, Charlotte Bunch, Todd Gitlin, David Graeber, Nadje Al Ali, David Harvey, Michael Hardt, Marina Sitrin, David Phillips, Ann Snitow, Bill Fletcher, Joey Lawrence, Meredith Tax and Debbie Bookchin.

Full text of the petition:

We, the undersigned academics and human rights activists, insist that the leaders of Russia, Iran, and the U.S. ensure that the sovereignty of Syrian borders is not breached by Turkey and that the people of Afrin in Syria, be allowed to live in peace.

Afrin, whose population is predominantly Kurdish, is one of the most stable and secure regions in Syria. With very little international aid, Afrin has taken in so many Syrian refugees in the last five years that its population has doubled to 400,000. Afrin is now surrounded by enemies: Turkish-supported jihadi groups, al Qaeda, and Turkey.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to attack the U.S. military’s Kurdish partners – the Kurdish YPG or People’s Protection Units – with which the US has been allied against ISIS. Turkey accuses the YPG of being “terrorists” despite the YPG’s long track record of setting up local democratic governing councils in each of the towns it has liberated from ISIS and its repeated statements that it has no interest in Turkey and wishes to function only as a defense force for Syrian Kurds and other ethnicities living in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), also known as “Rojava”, which includes Afrin.

Turkey has massed an enormous military force on the Afrin border and President Erdogan has promised to attack the Kurdish-controlled canton with full force, annihilating a peaceful enclave, and putting thousands of civilians and refugees at risk, all in pursuit of its vendetta against the Kurds.

An attack of this kind against the peaceful citizens of Afrin is a blatant act of aggression against a peaceful and democratically-governed region and population. Turkey cannot carry out such an attack without the approval of Russia, Iran and Syria – and inaction by the U.S. to stop it. The Kurdish people have endured the loss of thousands of young men and women who joined the YPG, and YPJ women’s force, to rid the world of ISIS. The U.S and the international community have a moral obligation to stand behind the Kurdish people now. We call on U.S. officials and the international community to guarantee Afrin’s stability and security and prevent further Turkish aggression from within Syria and across the Syrian border.

There is also this:

*Urgent call for Demo:

Since 20 January Turkish army and its mercenaries are brutally continuing attacking Efrîn Canton bombing civilians homes and shelling hospitals and schools to destroying the peaceful co-existing people of northern Syria. To protest these attacks by Turkish State, we call everyone to join us and protest outside the Prime Minister Office in London, where leaflets and information will be distributed everyday for a week long desk with a tent/ Afrin resistance comp.
Start Date : 10/02/2018 Saturday
Time: 12:00am-6pm
Address: 10 Downing Street
Closest station: Westminister Station
Kurdish People Assembly
Roj Women Assembly
Democratic Union Party (PYD)-UK

2 of ISIS’ Infamous British Fighters Are Captured by Syrian Kurds

New York Times.

Syrian Kurdish fighters have detained two British men infamous for their role in the Islamic State’s imprisonment, torture and killing of Western hostages, according to American officials.

The men were part of a group of four Islamic State militants known as the Beatles because of their British accents. Officials identified the two men captured as Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh. They were the last two members of the group to remain at large.

The ringleader, Mohammed Emwazi, was killed in an airstrike in 2015 in Syria after an intensive manhunt. Known as Jihadi John, he beheaded American and British hostages. A fourth man, Aine Davis, is imprisoned in Turkey on terrorism charges.

All four had lived in West London. Mr. Kotey, born in London, is of Ghanaian and Greek Cypriot background, while Mr. Elsheikh’s family fled Sudan in the 1990s. Both men have been designated foreign terrorists by the United States.

The British extremists were known for their brutality. They repeatedly beat the hostages they kept imprisoned in Raqqa, Syria, formerly the Islamic State’s self-declared capital, and subjected them to waterboarding and mock executions. Mr. Emwazi was believed to have killed the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as Abdul-Rahman Kassig, an aid worker. The American government says the group beheaded more than 27 hostages.




Written by Andrew Coates

February 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm

Nigel Farage and Spiked-on-Line Join in Campaign against “Secret Plot” George Soros.

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Related image

Soros and ‘Secret Plots’.

The Telegraph led this story today with a memorable headline,

George Soros, the man who ‘broke the Bank of England’, backing secret plot to thwart Brexit.

The article has already got this reaction from the Jewish Chronicle,

Theresa May’s former aide accused of using antisemitic slur in Brexit article on George Soros.

The use of the phrase “secret plot” to describe the activities funded by Mr Soros has sparked claims of antisemitism, with critics accusing the authors of using a traditional trope of shadowy Jewish political influence.

It also dubbed the 87-year-old “the man who broke the Bank of England”, a reference to the role Mr Soros’ Quantum Fund played in the Black Wednesday run on the pound in 1992.

In recent years Mr Soros has been targeted by negative advertising campaigns by nationalist parties in Eastern Europe, many of which have been described as antisemitic.


Steve Bush in the New Statesman sums up further problems with this article by Nick Timothy, PM Teresa May’s former Joint Chief of Staff,

Why is Nick Timothy’s Telegraph column on anti-Brexit billionaire George Soros so disturbing?

Within its coverage, the paper has seen fit to uncritically repeat a series of anti-Semitic conspiracies about Soros.

Today’s Telegraph column from Nick Timothy carries an account of a meeting between George Soros, the billionaire and funder of various liberal causes, and Conservative donors, and the theme continues on the paper’s frontpage, where “Man who ‘broke the Bank of England’ backing secret plot to thwart Brexit” is the splash.


The reason that many find the Telegraph‘s treatment so disturbing is that Soros, who is Jewish, has been at the centre of a series of anti-Semitic conspiracies by the increasingly authoritarian governments in Poland, Hungary and Turkey – and the paper has seen fit to uncritically repeat those accusations in its write-up of the story. That Timothy was the author of that “citizens of nowhere” speech only adds to feeling among many that the original speech was a coded way of talking about “rootless cosmopolitans”; aka the Jewish people.

The controversy is making waves,


Leading Mr Secret Plot to claim,

Mr Timothy rebutted allegations of antisemitism, saying they are “as absurd as they are offensive”.

He tweeted: “Throughout my career I’ve campaigned against antisemitism, helped secure more funding for security at synagogues and Jewish schools, fought to lift the cap on faith schools, and supported Israel.”

There’s no hesitation from Farage from defending the original tall tale:

He’s got form, Farage has,

Arrest George Soros! Nigel Farage ORDERS the EU Parliament

Not much reticence from Spiked on Line either.

Amd their Guru.


No Platform for Fascists and the International Marxist Group in the 1970s.

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Image result for National front protests 1970s

Smithfield Porters March Against Immigration, 1968

“The fascists specialise in organising street demonstrations, pickets, strikes and petitions in favour of their reactionary policies.”

“The aim of ‘No Platform’ is therefore to deprive the fascists of the weapons they are relying on to develop. The streets, the pickets lines, and the factories must be denied to fascists. That is what ‘No Platform’ means.”

The policy is not “to break up private meetings of the (National) Front”

“The essential aim must be to prevent the major propaganda functions of the Front, marches, meetings and demonstrations”.

Fascism- How to smash it International Marxist Group. October 1974.

From  Anti-fascism, anti-racism and ‘no platformThe Red Mole.


In the early 1970s, the term ‘no platform’ was first used to describe the anti-fascist strategy of denying fascist organisations the public space to organise and disseminate their propaganda. The denial of public space had been an integral part of the militant anti-fascist movement since the 1930s, employed by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), various Jewish groups and other assorted anti-fascists.


The Red Mole was the newspaper of the International Marxist Group (IMG), a Trotskyist organisation that built quickly amongst the student and anti-Vietnam War movements in the late 1960s. In the issue for September 18, 1972, the front page headline declared ‘NO PLATFORM FOR RACISTS’. It described the NF and the Monday Club (a pro-empire and anti-immigration grouping within the Conservative Party) as ‘mortal enemies of the working class’ and stated that these two groups ‘must be stopped in their tracks’. The newspaper argued that these groups needed to be confronted and were ‘not going to be convinced by rational argument’, calling for ‘a concerted counter-attack’ at meetings of both groups.

The IMG proposed that groups like the NF could not be afforded ‘free speech’ because ‘their racist campaigns are a means to destroy the organisations of the working class which defend such bourgeois democratic rights’. The same issue claimed:

the only way to deal with fascist type organisations like the National Front is to break up their activities before they grow to a size where they can begin to smash the activities of the working class.

While acknowledging that ‘[w]e are nowhere near a threatened Fascist coup yet’, but said ‘the methods necessary on preventing such a threat must be explained and demonstrated in practice now… We must begin to adopt the right tactics right from the start.’

Evan Smith is now writing a comprehensive study of No Platform in the UK, titled, “No Platform: A History of Universities, Anti-Fascism and the Limits of Free Speech’.

I have just this to add to the study – something that shows the distance from present debates about free speech and No Platform.

After  the Red Lion Square events of 15 June 1974, in which a student sympathiser Kevin Gately was killed in clashes over the National Front (NF) Meeting in Conway Hall,  in  the IMG stepped up its anti-fascist activity. (1)

Action against the NF was, they explained, not a matter of suppressing ideas that we did not agree with. Nor was fascism an imminent danger.

The threat was of a different kind.

Fascist groups, like the British NF, the Italian MSI, or France’s Ordre Nouveau, were part of a wider push towards a ‘strong state’: they were outriders attempting to build ‘mass movements’ that would demand more and more repressive measures against the working class movements that (in the 1970s) were on the rise, flexing real industrial muscle through strikes (as in mass stoppages and demonstrations against the Industrial relations Act).

Racist workers had struck, the IMG noted in Fascism – How to Fight it – against immigrants, in Mansfield Hosiery Standard Telephone and Cables,  and Imperial Typewriters. There had been strikes against admitting the Ugandan Asians, expelled by the racist African regime. The NF organised public protests against them on a scale hard to gauge today. The first far-right anti-European (EEC) campaigns had begun. There was virulent hostility to Irish nationalism.

For the IMG and others on the left the National Front”s acts could be considered to have some kinship with the ‘strategy of tension’ of the Italian far right, a ratcheting up of social conflict in order to establish itself as an effective pressure group on the state to take repressive measures that would bolster their own strength. It had something in common with the ‘strong state’  developed by the Marxist theorist Nicos Poulantzas, “from a “parliamentary State” to a strong State (Etat fort) in which the executive predominates.” in which the extreme right could play a guiding role.

An IMG education session on fascism that I attended circa 1975 involved showing a film about the French Ligue Communiste’s efforts to present the fascist group Ordre Nouveau from holding a meeting at the salle de la Mutualité on the 21st of June 1973 on the theme of  « Halte à l’immigration sauvage ». Violent clashes took place, which led to both groups being officially dissolved (the LC became the  Ligue communiste révolutionnaire, LCR and ON became the Parti des forces nouvelles).

The importance of these events for the LCR is outlined here:  Dissolution de la Ligue communiste (1973)

For the IMG  their action gave us a way of putting the importance of street battles with the far right.

Whether the IMG was right, wholly, or partially misguided, – all at the same time, perhaps, given the arrival of Thatcher – one can see a gulf between the strategy of ‘No Platform’ of the time and the controversy today.



Note: I was at the Red Lion Square protest.



Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2018 at 6:43 pm

As Protests continue, half of Iranians say No to Compulsory Veils.

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The “Girls of Revolution Street”.

Iranian authorities have arrested 29 people as part of a crack down on protests against the compulsory hijab.

The movement, which has been named “the Girls of Revolution Street”, started after a woman took off her headscarf in central Tehran. (BBC).

Woman Arrested For Removing Hijab in Tehran Refuses to Repent Despite Facing 10 Years in Prison.

Centre for Human Rights in Iran. February the 6th.

Narges Hosseini, who was arrested for protesting against Iran’s compulsory hijab, refused to appear in court to face charges punishable by up to 10 years, including “encouraging immorality or prostitution.”

“Ms. Hosseini did not even appear in court to express remorse for her action. She said she objects to the forced hijab and considers it her legal right to express her protest,” Hosseini’s lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on February 5, 2018.

Hosseini, 32, has been in detention since January 29, 2018. She was unable to pay the $135,000 USD bail set by the judge presiding over her case.

She was arrested on January 29, 2018, for posting a photo on social media of herself standing on a bench holding her white headscarf like a flag on Tehran’s Revolution’s Street.

All women in Iran are required to cover their hair and bodies in public.

Vida Movahed was the first woman to be arrested after she did the same thing in late December 2017 in Tehran. The act of removing your headscarf in public and waving it like a flag has become a symbol for the “Girls of Revolution Streetmovement, which advocates choice over compulsion for women’s clothing.

“Ms. Hosseini is being held in difficult circumstances in Gharchak Prison [south of Tehran] but she is not prepared to say she is sorry,” Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer, told CHRI. “She believes she’s innocent.”

Hosseini is facing the charges of, “openly committing a harām [sinful] act” and “violating public prudency” under Article 638 and “encouraging immorality or prostitution” under Article 639.

Compulsory Veils? Half of Iranians Say ‘No’ to Pillar of Revolution.

New York Times.

The office of Iran’s president on Sunday charged into the middle of one of the most contentious debates over the character of the Islamic Republic, suddenly releasing a three-year-old report showing that nearly half of Iranians wanted an end to the requirement that women cover their heads in public.

The report’s release comes as dozens of women in recent weeks have protested in public against being forced to wear the veil, a symbol of Iran’s revolution as much as it is deemed a religious requirement.

The decision to release the report — which found that 49.8 percent of Iranians, both women and men, consider the Islamic veil a private matter and think the government should have no say in it — appears to pit President Hassan Rouhani directly against Iran’s hard-line judiciary, which on Friday said that 29 people had been detained in connection with the protests. They have called the demonstrations “childish,” insist that the large majority of Iranians support Islamic veiling and have called for harsher measures against those protesting the veil.

At least as striking as the report’s findings was the timing of its release. The study is from 2014, and publishing it now suggests that the president saw this as a moment to challenge the hard-liners, who hold ultimate power, about such a symbolically potent issue.

Observers said the release of the report, by one of Mr. Rouhani’s closest advisers, was probably a politically calculated decision by the president, an Islamic cleric, to bolster support for social reforms and to signal to the authorities to temper their response to the veil protests.


Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2018 at 1:22 pm

Tariq Ramadan’s UK defenders cite, “rock solid faith that Ramadan is innocent of the accusations of rape.”

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Image result for tariq ramadan channel four news

Rape Charges a “stitch up” says 5Pillars interviewee. 

This has just appeared:

CAGE:  The trial by media of Professor Tariq Ramadan erodes the presumption of innocence

In all cases of serious sexual assault it is fundamental that the rights of all parties are protected. All efforts must be made to safeguard the interests of victims particularly when the perpetrator is a well know personality. However, the requirement for due process also enshrines the right to a fair hearing. These are basic universal principles that underline the work of CAGE.

 it is undermining to the interests of justice to use the case of Professor Ramadan as a tool to fan the flames of Islamophobia and play into the dog whistle politics of the far right.


Moazzam Begg, Outreach Director for CAGE, said:

“CAGE is deeply concerned about the role of those engaged in instigating and perpetuating anti-Muslim sentiments based on the political and religious views of Professor Ramadan in France and beyond.”

“It is important for the legal process to arrive at a fair and just conclusion for all concerned. However, recent and past history shows us that governments are capable of hijacking the very serious issue of sexual offence in order to further smear campaigns against individuals who they perceive to have influence on the public discourse, especially on matters pertaining to civil rights, political dissent, community empowerment, whistleblowing and resisting government overreach.”

Perhaps CAGE is arguing that Vanity Fair should not have published this harrowing account Tariq Ramadan : le récit de celle qui a fait basculer l’affaire (2.2.18)

Or that they simply should not be allowed to print these claims – something one can see desolating the rights of the accusers in another well-known case, of Harvey Weinstein.

Perhaps people should be prevented from drawing comparisons between Ramadan’s public role as an advocate for Islam and his positions, such as  director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE), and these accusations.

Or compare the charges with his writings, such as this, in one of his favourite vehicles, the Guardian,

Islamic literature is full of injunctions about the centrality of an education based on ethics and proper ends. Individual responsibility, when it comes to communicating, learning and teaching is central to the Islamic message. Muslims are expected to be “witnesses to their message before people”, which means speaking in a decent way, preventing cheating and corruption, and respecting the environment. Integrity in politics and the rejection of usurious speculation in economics are principles that are pushing Muslim citizens and scholars to explore new avenues that bring public life and interpersonal ethics together.

Islam’s role in an ethical society 

Few will have missed that there is no concern by CAGE in the above statement for the (alleged) victims,. who have to be placed under police protection after threats from Ramadan supporters.

This by contrast shows how he bullied and his friends continue to bully his accusers.

From the same camp  there is not even the hint of a qualm  about the  presumption of innocence from 5 Pillars in this piece.

Journalist Hafsa Kara-Mustapha explains why she doesn’t believe the accusations of rape levelled against the prominent Muslim academic Tariq Ramadan.

It feels odd to write about Tariq Ramadan and his accusations of rape, mainly because I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of the Muslim academic.

I never adhered to his views on the need to structure a “European Islamic identity,” and I find his political stance naïve at best and above all his faith in “Western led human rights” in the light of the disasters in Iraq, Libya and of course Palestine.

That said, I write with the rock solid faith that Ramadan is innocent of the accusations of rape he now faces. I certainly don’t believe the man to be perfect or infallible, no mere human is, but I am all too familiar with France, French society and French racism so I recognise a stitch-up when I see one.


Attempts to silence the Swiss-born theologian had been made ever since he emerged as a fierce critic of both Israel and Neo-conservative Zionist politics in the Middle East.

Consistently referred to as at the “Muslim thinker” he once engaged a panel of prominent Jewish intellectuals on French TV who were staunch advocates of Bush’s war in Iraq. When he reciprocated to their “Muslim” remark by pointing to their Jewishness, France gasped in stupor and accusations of “antisemitism” duly ensued.

Of course the word “antisemitism” has now been emptied of all its meaning and is merely a political tool used by pro-Israel supporters to silence critics of the colonial entity. Nevertheless, that powerful word used in Britain as well to destroy political careers, is the one that puts all Palestine supporters on the slippery slope of destruction.

Tariq Ramadan did not help his case when he publically denounced the deeply offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo. Asked to back down from his criticism after the editorial team of the controversial magazine was gunned down, Ramadan confronted his critics maintaining that there was no humour or honour in making crass drawings whose sole purpose was to offend and humiliate a community.

In this climate it’s difficult to imagine a prominent Muslim benefiting from a fair trial or even a fair investigation. We have come to recognise that the US legal system simply won’t deliever a fair verdict for a black person accused of crime, in France the same can be expected for a Muslim.

The far-right Islamist site also publishes this,

Tariq Ramadan charged with rape as supporters continue to back him

Meanwhile, more than 24,000 people have signed a letter to express their full support for Tariq Ramadan, who has a huge following among Muslims in the francophone and anglophone world especially.

The letter says: “Over and above the presumption of innocence to which Tariq Ramadan, like everyone else, is entitled, we support him because such a stance is dictated by our religious and/or ethical principles. It is unthinkable that we withdraw our esteem and our confidence following accusations that are highly questionable at best…

“We express our support for Professor Ramadan because we, like most people, have seen that the accusations leveled against him are now being treated by a section of the French political and media establishment as guilty verdicts.

“The same accusations are part of an ongoing campaign that has attempted to demonise him ever since the beginning of his involvement as an intellectual and an activist in the early 1990s.

“Professor Ramadan and his ideas have never left people indifferent. But instead of confronting him in open debate, his ideological and political opponents have unfailingly used the most underhanded methods to discredit him as a Muslim intellectual and to discredit his thought.”

Written by Andrew Coates

February 6, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Heartfelt Plea from International Journal of Žižek Studies.

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Stop, Stranger and Ponder the Real!

Against the “campaign to erase Žižek”, his ” growing exclusion from the public media”, and the “almost unheard of personal brutality” of the attacks on him, in the interests of proletarian democracy and the completion of the sentence’s signification with its last term we publish this heartfelt appeal.” More on the International Journal of  Žižek studies here:

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "journal zizek studies"

Discerning readers may note that Jacques-Alain Miller and his mates’ “ferocious campaign ”  denouncing Žižek’  as a “fraud”  have previous,

First panic attack

In 1981, Zizek spent a year in Paris, where he met some of the thinkers whose work he had been so avidly consuming. He would return often. In 1982, however, Lacan died and his mantle passed to his son-in-law, Jacques-Alain Miller – a man who would play an important role in Zizek’s career. A former student of Althusser’s, Miller had impressed Lacan with the coherence he brought to the master’s sprawling theoretical system. While many Lacanians accuse Miller of simplifying Lacan (perish the thought!), others believe that Lacan’s posthumous reputation would not have grown without Miller’s ordering influence. A shrewd political operator, Miller was eager to expand the Lacanian empire farther than its progenitor had ever imagined. Miller taught two classes in Paris: one that was open to anyone, and an exclusive, thirty-student seminar at the École de la Cause Freudienne in which he examined the works of Lacan page by page. After a brief interview, Zizek and Dolar were invited to attend this latter class. “Miller took enormous interest in us because we came from Yugoslavia,” Dolar remembers. “We had been publishing Lacan in Problemi and Analecta for years, and he was grateful for that. He thinks very strategically and didn’t have anyone else established in Eastern Europe. To him, we were the last stronghold of Western culture on the eastern front.”

But it all ended in tears,

As the head of the main Lacanian publishing house, Miller was in a position to turn Zizek’s doctoral dissertation into a book. So, when not presenting his fabricated dreams and fantasies, Zizek would transform his sessions into de facto academic seminars to impress Miller with his keen intellect. Although Zizek successfully defended his dissertation in front of Miller, he learned after the defense that Miller did not intend to publish his thesis in book form. The following night he had his first panic attack, which had all the symptoms of a heart attack. Eventually, he placed the manuscript with the publishing house of a rival Lacanian faction.

Jacques-Alain Miller on Slavoj Žižek:

“So you remember that Freud asked himself the famous question, “What do women want?” As a man, he asked himself this question; and perhaps as a woman too. We do not have the answer, in spite of thirty years of Lacan’s teaching. We tried. So it’s not a discriminating question. I have another question, which has been troubling me for years, which is —What do Americans want?—I have the answer! A partial answer. They want Slavoj Zizek! They want the Lacan of Slavoj Zizek. They like it better than the Lacan of the Freudian Field, for the time being perhaps. The question is, do they want very definite concepts? Or do they want some room to wrangle? Some negotiating space? And that is the case with the concepts of psychoanalysis.”

from Ordinary Psychosis lacanian ink 46


“Nowadays, you can do anything that you want—anal, oral, fisting—but you need to be wearing gloves, condoms, protection.”
― Slavoj Žižek.


“In a traditional German toilet, the hole into which shit disappears after we flush is right at the front, so that shit is first laid out for us to sniff and inspect for traces of illness. In the typical French toilet, on the contrary, the hole is at the back, i.e. shit is supposed to disappear as quickly as possible. Finally, the American (Anglo-Saxon) toilet presents a synthesis, a mediation between these opposites: the toilet basin is full of water, so that the shit floats in it, visible, but not to be inspected. […] It is clear that none of these versions can be accounted for in purely utilitarian terms: each involves a certain ideological perception of how the subject should relate to excrement. Hegel was among the first to see in the geographical triad of Germany, France and England an expression of three different existential attitudes: reflective thoroughness (German), revolutionary hastiness (French), utilitarian pragmatism (English). In political terms, this triad can be read as German conservatism, French revolutionary radicalism and English liberalism. […] The point about toilets is that they enable us not only to discern this triad in the most intimate domain, but also to identify its underlying mechanism in the three different attitudes towards excremental excess: an ambiguous contemplative fascination; a wish to get rid of it as fast as possible; a pragmatic decision to treat it as ordinary and dispose of it in an appropriate way. It is easy for an academic at a round table to claim that we live in a post-ideological universe, but the moment he visits the lavatory after the heated discussion, he is again knee-deep in ideology.”
― Slavoj ŽižekThe Plague of Fantasies

In its most recent edition, this fine journal has published these indispensable works:

Toilet Humour and Ecology on the First Page of Finnegans Wake: Žižek’s Call of Nature, Answered by Joyce

Daniel Bristow


This article draws out ecological aspects convergent on the first page of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (1939) and explores them through Žižek’s theoretical perspectives on humanity today and its relation to the waste and chaos that underpins the state of nature that it is reliant on; that is in relation to the Lacanian category of the Real. It does so in an attempt to bring together Joyce and Žižek (who has tended to reject the writer in his work) so as to demonstrate the theoretical possibilities that can arise out of their synthesis. The essay’s methodology is tripartite, working through a theoretical part – utilising, as well as Žižek’s ecology, Lacanian psychoanalysis and the ecosophical thought of Félix Guattari – a textual part, drawing on Joyce scholarship pertinent to the first section of the Wake, and towards a practical part, which aims to condense the work of the essay and outline a route to a possible praxis, which takes into account the real of nature.


What WALL-E Can Teach Us About Global Capitalism in the Age of the Anal Father

Felicia Cosey


This article employs the animated feature film WALL-E to examine a contemporary incarnation of paternal authority, the anal father of enjoyment.  Slavoj Zizek coined the expression “anal father of enjoyment” to identify a metaphorical father who operates counter to Sigmund Freud’s oedipal (or primitive father).  Unlike the oedipal father, the anal father does not command the subject to sacrifice enjoyment as a price for entry into the social order.  Rather, the anal father directs the subject to enjoy excessively.  This article reasons that the anal father figuration is a result of global capitalism.  While a post-apocalyptic event, such as climate change, may destroy the planet, it does not end capitalism.  Yet, WALL-E suggests that with the demise of the anal father, capitalism can be replaced with an alternative economic system.

Alas, they have not published these indispensable oeuvres:

Slavoj Žižek: Trump Presidency could result in a “big awakening” and begin “new political processes.”

The leadership of ‘events’

Andrew Coates unravels Slavoj Žižek’s ‘communist hypothesis’

Slavoj Žižek: A Radical Critique. Andrew Coates.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 5, 2018 at 5:05 pm

Haringey’s 1980s “hard-Left junta”: a reply to Janet Daley and a personal Note.

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Media Treatment of 1980s Left.

There have been endless stories about Haringey’s Labour Party, Claire Kober’s resignation, and the  Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) housing project.

November: Evening Standard.

Momentum set to take control of Haringey council in ‘purge’ of Labour moderates

January,  as the Sun puts it,

RED MENACE  Sinister hard-left activists at Momentum are hijacking the Labour Party and forcing out moderates.

Labour moderates are convinced opposition to the plan to transform a sprawling Seventies estate in Haringey with 5,000 new homes is a front for something sinister

This has just hit the headlines,

Claire Kober accuses Labour members of sexism and bullying

Haringey Council’s leader, Claire Kober, has accused sections of the Labour Party of “sexism” and “bullying” amid her decision to quit her role.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show she said Labour Party members would shout at her and sing songs about stalking.

Following events closely (I grew up in the area and was even, by the oddity of fate, as a result of a mix up of the name ‘Alexandra’, invited to one of the Labour councillor selection meetings..), and knowing some of the so-called ‘Hard left’ (so called because the term is worthless to describe events, I can only recommend a few articles that counter the right-wing scare stories:

In Haringey the people have taken over, not the hard left 

In Haringey, the HDV was never just about social housing – it was going to swallow up council offices and park buildings. This was a scheme that in effect would have handed a borough on a plate to Big Finance, in the form of a giant developer. And now it has been beaten, by a band of retired vicars, chain-smoking obsessives and Fiesta drivers.

Forget the red-baiting – Haringey shows the power of local people coming together.

If voting against plans to hand over vast chunks of your community to predatory developers now bears the name “coup”, then we need more coups.

As Haringey Labour’s leader resigned this week amidst a long-running row about a proposed property development, she attacked critics for “undemocratic behaviour.” But it was Haringey Labour members who elected new candidates opposed to her plans. Momentum didn’t make the movement against the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV); local people did.

I shall leave the reply to Kober to those living in Haringey.

But this concerns my friends and touches on my own past.

The far Left’s hounding of a council leader brings home bad memories. Telegraph.  Janet Daley.

So here we are again. Followers of this column may recall the reverie into which I was plunged by Mr Corbyn’s succession to the Labour leadership. This was the same Jeremy Corbyn who, in an earlier incarnation, was the force behind this very council’s hard-Left junta, during an era in which my family fled our home and neighbourhood to seek refuge in another London borough which did not actively loathe half of its inhabitants.

Back then, when Corbyn was a Haringey councillor (as well as being, in his day job, a convener of a public sector union), he and his Trotskyist comrades had succeeded in pushing the moderate Labour group out of local control.

With their late-night votes and their indefatigable appetite for endless meetings, they had little difficulty seizing the levers of the Hornsey Labour party – of which my husband and I had once been members.

Now I knew some of the people who were part of this 1980s  “Junta”.

To illustrate this here is the story of one, greatly loved, comrade, who appeared far more in the press than the (at the time) relatively unknown Jeremy Corbyn.

Mandy Mudd “I am not intimidated, I will not shut up”

A Tribute by Glyn Rowlands 2011.

For a short period Haringey Labour Briefing was the dominant force Left in Haringey both inside and outside the Labour Party. In a movement in Haringey that contained many able comrades, Mandy was probably the key figure. She provided great tactical political skill, combined with immense powers of organisation. She gave a huge level of commitment to the struggles, and showed great personal courage in the face of a most vicious witch-hunt. Like all good leaders she could also inspire others to join the struggle and to follow the example of her commitment.

Rowlands continues,

Mandy helped set up the “Positive Images” campaign. This was after controversy was whipped up over the inclusion of a statement in the 1986 Haringey Labour Party manifesto, which committed Haringey Council to devote resources to “to promote Positive images of gay men and lesbians”. This was another example of how political action within the Labour Party was linked to campaigning and action outside the party. Demonstrations were organised in Haringey in support of the policy and against the homophobic campaign stoked up by local Tories and the press.

Meanwhile the painstaking work through caucuses and political action, led to the left having a majority in the borough’s Labour Party. Mandy was Chair of Tottenham Labour Party between 1986 and 1988. Democracy reached a high point with Labour Councillors being held to account. In some meetings constituency delegates had equal votes with councillors in taking key decisions. Some Labour Councillors were de-selected before the 1986 Council Elections after abandoning the fight against rate capping.

When Bernie Grant stepped down as Leader of Haringey Council, following his selection as the Labour Candidate in Tottenham; Steve King and Martha Osamor took over as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council, and for a short while the left was in the ascendancy. But the Labour right wing within the Haringey Labour Group, soon organised to replace them. This they achieved in 1987, and immediately the new leader began making significant cuts from the autumn of 1987 onwards. In response, Mandy and Mike Marqusee initiated through Haringey Labour Briefing, an attempt to build mass resistance to the cuts by setting up “Haringey Fights Back”. Public meetings and mass lobbies were organised, whilst inside the Labour Party attempts to get councillors to oppose the cuts continued.

There were some memorable occasions in this tenacious attempt to stop the decimation of local services being implemented under the then leadership of Toby now Lord Harris. No one who was there will forget the all night Council meeting, when a committed group of left labour councillors, supported by a mass lobby and Briefing led meetings through the night, refused to vote through cuts. This was despite coming under immense pressure and the threat of personal surcharge from the acting Borough Solicitor. This was a credit to the political and organisational skills of Mandy and others in Haringey Labour Briefing.

The hate campaign began,


It was at this point that the attempt to smear and discredit Mandy began in the national media. She was turned into a national hate figure, with the clear intention of undermining her leadership of the campaign against the cuts. The attack was vicious and very personal. She found herself on the front page of the Sun and door stepped, having to climb over a garden wall and out through a neighbour’s door in order to be able to get off to work.

Various attempts were made to get her employer to take action against her. One example of this was an article in the Daily Mail on 11th February 1988, in which Richard Littlejohn wrote: Appointing Mandy Mudd as a school governor is as appropriate as putting Kurt Waldheim in charge of a holiday camp. Do you want her ruining your daughter’s education? I don’t.”

Mandy herself commented about the attempt to discredit her: “The Labour party and the Sun are not attacking me because I am weak and vulnerable, but because I am strong and effective, not because I am different…but because I am part of a movement…our combined strength threatens those who hold power in society and so they move against us”

It had its effect,

Mandy played a heavy price for her courageous leadership throughout this period. The Labour Party witchhunt and public demonisation, put Mandy under immense pressure. It was a deliberate and highly politicised attempt to derail a political movement by attacking and trying to discredit one of its leaders. What was most disgusting was that those involved were not satisfied with removing her as a political threat, they also sought to destroy her career and hence her life. It remains our belief that certain people in the Labour Party deliberately leaked stories to the press to discredit Mandy.

For the rest of her life Mandy had to contend with the impact of this on her career as a school teacher. It is a real indication of her abilities as a teacher and as a manager, that the witchhunters were not able to prevent her becoming a successful secondary school headteacher.

In one way the late 1980s seems a very different era. But in their essence the struggles of the 80s remain the same today. To finish are two quotes from Mandy’s speeches from the 1980s, referring to the struggle of women and her own stand against the witchhunt. They provide just as valuable a rallying call now as they did then.

“Women are in struggle in a multitude of ways every hour, every day – whether giving leadership or support to political and industrial movements, as in south Africa or [the] Women Against Pit Closures [campaign], or as activists in trades unions or the Labour party – we are in struggle to take control over own lives ….it’s women who are being hit hardest by the cuts – it’s their services, playgroups, daycentres that are being closed. It’s their community groups who are looking for funding, and it’s them who are losing their jobs in their thousands and suffering from severely worsened working conditions. But it’s also women who are leading the fight back.”

“I haven’t come here today to tell you how terrible things are for me. I am not smashed, intimidated or discredited – in fact I feel stronger and even more determined to fight. I have come to urge people to stand and fight with me, not just for me, but for all socialists who are being witch-hunted…I am not intimidated, I will not shut up and I will continue to fight for socialist policies…[to]…achieve equality and dignity for all people in this country and internationally.”

We shall remember you Mandy and the other comrades who fought for Democratic socialism in Haringey!

Back the fight against HDV!

Written by Andrew Coates

February 4, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Islamic Scholar Tariq Ramadan under Formal Investigation after Rape, Beating, Forced Sodomy, Urinating on Victim, Accusations.

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Don alleged to have forcibly sodimised victim, dragged her to the bathroom and urinated on her.

A French judge has placed prominent Islamic studies scholar Tariq Ramadan under criminal investigation on two charges of rape.

The 55-year-old was questioned by police in Paris earlier this week and has now been remanded into custody.

He denies wrongdoing and is suing one of his accusers, a former radical Islamist, for slander.

Mr Ramadan teaches at Oxford University, but took leave of absence after the claims surfaced in October.

An examining magistrate will now compile a case, and determine whether Mr Ramadan will stand trial for rape and assault.


The BBC with its customary deference to an Oxford Don, does not mention the distressing substance of the charges.

RT France however does,

Le 2 février, l’islamologue Tariq Ramadan a été déféré au parquet de Paris en vue d’une mise en examen pour viol après confrontation, le 1er, avec une victime présumée qui a évoqué des faits de viol, violence et humiliation insoutenables.

Passage à tabac, sodomie, viol avec un objet, traction par les cheveux… «Christelle» (nom d’emprunt), victime présumée de Tariq Ramadan en 2009, a accepté de faire face à celui qu’elle considère être son bourreau, durant trois heures et demie d’interrogatoire le 1er février.

On the second of February Ramadan faced  charges at the Paris Public Prosecutors, being put into formal investigation, after having confronted his presumed victim, who talked of the horrific details of her violation, violence and humiliation.

Alleging beatings, sodomy, rape with an object, hair pulled, Christelle (the victim’s assumed name) agreed a face to face confrontation, which lasted three hours with the person she considers her executioner during his first interrogation on the first of February.

RT bases its report on a long article that has just appeared in the French edition of Vanity Fair.

The magazine gives a harrowing account by  ‘Christelle’.

Tariq Ramadan : le récit de celle qui a fait basculer l’affaire

It contains this memorable passage,

l l’aurait sodomisée de force, l’aurait traînée par les cheveux jusqu’à la salle de bain et lui aurait uriné dessus.

He (she alleges) forcibly sodomised me  and dragged me by the hair to the bathroom where he pissed on me.

She also asserted that Ramadan had a little scar on his groin that could not have been noticed without being in close contact with him.

The Telegraph, which does summarise these claims, notes,

During three months of investigations since the allegations emerged, police have interviewed dozens of people close to both Ramadan and the two women, and examined email and social media exchanges between them.

In November, Oxford University said Ramadan was taking a leave of absence from his post as professor of contemporary Islamic studies, “by mutual agreement”.

He has also denied allegations of sexual misconduct against teenage girls in the 1980s and 1990s published in the Swiss media, denouncing them as “a campaign of lies launched by my adversaries”.

Lawyers for Ramadan have accused Ms Ayari of slander and suggested the women colluded to try to disgrace him.

As part of his defence, he has presented investigators with Facebook conversations in which a woman identified as Ayari allegedly made explicit advances towards him in 2014, two years after the alleged rape.

The accusations have sparked furious online exchanges between supporters of Ramadan, who commands a following of more than two million fans on Facebook, and his opponents.

“Despite his leave of absence from Oxford, Ramadan continues to head the Islamic Institute for Ethical Training in France.”

And that the other of accusers remains  menaced by Ramadan’s supporters.

“Ms Ayari was placed under police protection in November after receiving death threats.”

There are reports that Ramadan, as a Swiss Citizen, will be denied bail for fear he will abscond.

He is clearly not a man to be trusted, as this effort  last year to make political and religious capital out of the plight of the Rohingya,  passing off African massacres – and Indian killings – as those in Burma, indicates.

Image result for Tariq Ramadan le monde

Le Monde states that the Muslim professor is no longer welcome in the Qatari kingdom, the sponsors of his Oxford ‘professorship’.

Tariq Ramadan mis en examen pour viol et viol sur personne vulnérable

Le théologien suisse a été incarcéré vendredi soir en attendant un débat différé sur son placement en détention


Written by Andrew Coates

February 3, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Oxford Professor Tariq Ramadan Detained by Police to Face Rape Charges: Accuser Identifies Intimate Scar.

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Islamic Scholar’s Intimate Scar Identified by Rape Accuser.

French police on Wednesday detained prominent Swiss Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, a legal source said, months after two women filed rape charges against him.

France 24.

The Oxford professor was summoned for questioning to a Paris police station and taken into custody “as part of a preliminary inquiry in Paris into rape and assault allegations”, the source said.

Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Islamist movement, has furiously denied rape allegations from two women that emerged late last year, as the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfurled in the US.

Henda Ayari, a feminist activist, says Ramadan raped her in a Paris hotel room in 2012, while an unnamed disabled woman also accused the academic of raping her in a hotel room in Lyon in 2009.

In November, Oxford University announced that 55-year-old Ramadan was taking a leave of absence from his post as professor of contemporary Islamic studies, “by mutual agreement”.

Popular among conservative Muslims and a regular panellist on TV debates in France, Ramadan faces regular accusations from secular critics that he promotes a political form of Islam.

Ayari, a self-described “secular Muslim” who used to practise an ultra-conservative strain of Islam that she has since renounced, detailed her rape allegations in a book published last year, without naming Ramadan.

But in October she said she had decided to name him publicly, encouraged by the thousands of women speaking out against sexual assault and harassment under the “Me Too” online campaign and its French equivalent, “Balance Ton Porc” (Squeal on your pig).

Ayari, who lodged a rape complaint against Ramadan on October 20, charged that for him, “either you wear a veil or you get raped”.

“He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die,” she told Le Parisien newspaper.

Ramadan has denied the two women’s accusations, as well as further allegations in Swiss media of sexual misconduct against teenage girls in the 1980s and 1990s, as “a campaign of lies launched by my adversaries”.

The key facts that emerged during his interrogation with “Christelle” who has accused him of rape are that Ramadan has admitted trying to “seduce” his accuser and that she recognised an intimate scar (cicatrice) which the Islamologue possesses. He refused to sign the record of this confrontation.

Lors de ce face-à-face, l’islamologue a reconnu une relation de séduction mais nié avoir eu un rapport sexuel avec cette femme. Celle-ci a cependant identifié une cicatrice chez le prédicateur, qui a confirmé ce détail. Le Genevois n’a pas expliqué pourquoi sa victime présumée avait connaissance de cette particularité. Au terme de cette confrontation, Tariq Ramadan a refusé de signer le procès-verbal, selon des sources proches du dossier. «Chacun est resté sur ses positions», a précisé l’une des sources.

20 Minutes.

This is a reaction from one of Ramadan’s best known critics:

It has been striking how the British media has, until now, not given the case the prominence it merits.

It seemed to some as if the Islamic Scholar Don was being protected, both because of his relations with the British establishment and Islamophile liberals and left, and his support amongst Islamists.

As the Guardian notes today, after a campaign put pressure to remove the man from his teaching post led to “leave of absence”.

Ramadan said in a statement in November, after he took a leave of absence from the University of Oxford: “Contrary to reports in the French-language press, I have taken leave of absence upon mutual agreement with Oxford University, which will permit me to devote my energies to my defence while respecting students’ need for a calm academic environment.”

 Ramadan indeed mounted a strong defence campaign.

Last October the British Islamist site 5illars published this,

Ramadan, who is a professor at Oxford University and a prominent Muslim theologian with a large following in the anglophone and francophone world, wrote last night: “For the last several days, I have been the target of a campaign of slander clearly orchestrated by my longtime adversaries.

“As announced, on Monday, October 23, my legal counsel filed a suit for slander with the Paris Public Prosecutor’s office. A second suit will soon follow, within a few days, in response to the campaign of lies launched by my adversaries.

“I extend my gratitude to those who have expressed their support and affection, either publicly or in private. Thanks, as well, to my family and my closest friends for standing with me in love and solidarity against these baseless accusations. Unfortunately, it appears as though this will be a long and arduous battle for us.

“Slander is always reprehensible. Unfounded allegations can never take the place of concrete truth. These accusations are simply false, and betray all the ideals I have long strived for and believed in.

What a shame it is to see our adversaries clothe their fraud and deception in the garb of virtue. Their underhanded methods tell us all we need to know about them.

“Justice must now speak. My legal counsel is handling these accusations with utmost diligence and seriousness. We anticipate a long and bitter struggle. I am calm and determined.”

On the 30th of January Ramadan seemed unconcerned about his impending confrontation with his accusers.


Tariq Ramadan to be charged over rape accusations in Paris

Tariq Ramadan, an Islamic scholar and Oxford university professor, will face criminal charges in Paris today after being detained over rape allegations.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 2, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Labour Against the Witch-Hunt in new Row over Tony Greenstein’s “Sexist Tweet”

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As is the way with such feuds, at least Greenstein vendettas, this has a long history.

Here is Monster Raving on the Councillor cited above (2nd of June 2017)

Racist Labour Councillor, Caroline ‘Poison’ Penn, Complains of ‘Harassment’ on @Cllorcaroline @thepennydrops

“Since Poison Penn had taken to announcing that she was a racist to the whole world, I thought I would respond.  I wondered if she thought if would be worth announcing that she had joined the National Front or British National Party too.”

“I responded to PP with a series of tweets pointing out that I am a long standing anti-fascist activist whereas she has been a racist for most of her short and miserable career.”

On the 5th of August 2017  Greenstein posted on his Blog,

Caroline ‘Poison’ Penn @Cllorcaroline @thepennydrops Complains Again

 “I responded to PP with a series of tweets pointing out that I am a long standing anti-fascist activist whereas she has been a racist for most of her short and miserable career.”

On January the 25th 2018 this happened,

Court denies suspended Brighton Labour member’s bid to unveil identities of his accusers after reading his ‘offensive’ tweets.


A controversial Labour party member who was suspended after multiple complaints of anti-Semitic and abusive comments has failed in his bid to be given details of who made the complaints after some of his “offensive” tweets were read out in court.

Jewish anti-Israel campaigner Tony Greenstein rejoined the Labour party in October 2015, shortly after Mr Corbyn became leader – but just months later, in March 2016, he was suspended after the party received a “significant number” of complaints. Mr Greenstein strongly denies any anti-Semitism.

Investigations into his case were completed late last year, but the party’s national constitutional committee has yet to hear his case after he successfully applied for an injunction postponing it until this month because he had been in hospital. It is now scheduled for 18 February.

However, his latest court battle with the party has been unsuccessful after Brighton County Court ruled against his application for unredacted versions of the complaints against him to be released under the Data Protection Act.


“It is the court’s view from seeing him within the court process that he is intense and combative, being highly emotional about the subjects of Israel and Palestine.

“He is someone whom the party rightly or wrongly has suspended, about whom they have received a significant number of complaints and in respect of whom there are ongoing investigations.

“This background informs the decisions as to reasonableness of disclosure which might with the information already known to or ascertainable by the applicant might identify the third parties.

“He is within these proceedings prone to a very strong reaction to persons and submissions made.

“This court deals with a wide variety of litigant. The applicant quickly brands a query as to why a claim form was not issued as being an allegation of fraud which viewed reasonably it was not.

“He alleges that only a ‘fool or a knave’ would interpret one of his comments in the way the respondent submits which is an emotive comment.

“Whilst he claims to be viewed out of context he has within document repeatedly used language which is offensive in any context – ‘racist Zios’, ‘fascist scum’ to give just two small examples.

Here by contrast was Greenstein’s moment in the sunlight:

The Labour Against the Witch-Hunt (LAW)  meeting this week,

Pro-Palestinian blogger and LAW vice-chair Tony Greenstein (suspended on charges of anti-Semitism) explained that this “it does not take a genius to work out that this campaign has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, but everything to do with destabilising Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.”

Written by Andrew Coates

February 1, 2018 at 1:24 pm

Labour Against the Witch-Hunt Faces New Crisis After Call to Purge….Labour Party HQ.

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Monster Raving Greenstein, the Labour Party Marxist and Friends.

First there was this,

Then there was this:


The Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) campaign group has been protesting today outside Labour’s ‘Southside’ HQ, where Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has been meeting. The protesters been calling for a clear-out of Labour HQ staff whom they blame for what they believe are a series of politically-motivated suspensions and expulsions of Labour members.

The protesters have been condemned by some members and observers, who say believe that the group is intimidating Labour staff.

The protest has featured a red banner carrying the logo of Momentum Brighton and Hove – where several of senior LAW figures are based – alongside LAW’s own livery:

This has been the subject of hot dispute today among Momentum B&H members, many of whom were unhappy about their group’s banner appearing at the protest and believe it hands a propaganda opportunity to the mainstream media and other opponents of Momentum.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted Momentum’s national HQ to ask whether the group had Momentum’s permission to use a banner bearing its logo. The answer was brief and emphatic:

No they do not.

LAW has stated that it did not ‘use’ the banner, which they say was brought to the protest by Momentum B&H members. Other Momentum B&H members have said that the group did not agree to the banner’s use at the protest, but this is disputed by some locals.

Labour Against the Witch-hunt are known to be furious about this accurate report.

A frothing Greenstein wrote on the site,

the whole of this article is a lie and it should be taken down. The banner is from Brighton & Hove Momentum. 3 members of whom came to the lobby. It was discussed beforehand on the Brighton Momentum Cttee page.

It has not been ‘the subject of hot dispute today among Momentum B&H members’ today.

Furthermore we do not need the permission of Momentum’s unelected dictator Jon Lansman in order to display it.

We also did not call 4 a clearout of LP staff. I did however call for Witchfinder General Sam Mattews to follow his leader Iain McNicoll.

Shame on you. You have carried nothing about the false antisemitism witch hunt, you failed to contact LAW and went instead to Lansman.

LAW ignored this in their own coverage of the historic event.

This is their “report”.

LAW lobby: NEC members sneak in through the back door

mysteriously, despite the people on the lobby being outside the office block an hour before the NEC meeting started, no more members of Labour’s 39-strong ruling body, where the Corbyn-backing Left recently took control, were seen – suggesting they may have slipped into the building from a back entrance to avoid being questioned. The campaigners chanted: “Stop the witch hunts”, “End the suspensions”, and “Implement Chakrabarti now”.

No mention of the chanting, “McNicol’s gone, now it’s time for the rest of them”.

Informed commentators suggest that Greenstein, who from the evidence of recent photos scarfs a wheel-barrow of Waitrose Hot Cross Buns a day, is not just aiming to clear out anybody he disagrees with from the Labour HQ.

The ballooning Brighton campaigner and mates may have taken a tip from Monster Raving’s  new best friend, George Galloway and aims to make Labour a “Zionist Free” Party.

This may indicate their direction,

Friends of Israel groups blocked from joining anti-racist demonstration (Shiraz)

The two Friends of Israel (FoI) groups defend not just Israel’s right to exist but also the policies pursued by its governments. They vaguely advocate peace between Israel and Palestinians, but that is no more than a sub-text to their overall politics.

It seems that all their members are Jewish (or at least the vast majority are). Like most Jews, they are Zionists and they support Israel.

For absolute anti-Zionists, it was therefore a matter of principle that they should have no place on an anti-racist demonstration, not even one which included condemnation of antisemitism amongst its slogans: they were Zionists, and pro-Israel.

In the weeks leading up to the demonstration there was a concerted campaign to push the demonstration organisers into banning the FoI groups from marching on the demonstration.

UTR was lobbied by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (signatories to its open letter included Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker and Moshe Machover), Brighton and Hove PSC, Sheffield PSC, York PSC, and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.

Greenstein’s exchange with Skwawky is to savour:

Guido Fawkes and Skwawkbox Sing From the Same Hymn Sheet.

Sample (if you can stomach it):

We do not need the approval of the dictator of Momentum, Lansman to bring the banner.

In short the report is a lie

Tony Greenstein

After many a page we get this, 

00:15 (0 minutes ago)

to me, Sally

It did. You just didn’t like how it did.

Like I said, you have your reasons why you thought today was a good day. They’re narrow, in keeping with your focus. Fair enough, just do try to be reasonable if others see things differently and have a wider picture.

Aaand there you go with the Lansman crap again. Have you been paying attention to anything going on outside your bubble? If you had, you wouldn’t spout such crap.

The ‘Garston 3’ were three similarly blinkered people – they knowingly broke a clear party rule, did massive damage that undid gains others on the left had worked years for and then expected the people whose work they had just undone to self-immolate in their defence, when there was no defence. They were selfish and then served their own heads on a platter to the right – everyone else is still dealing with the consequences. Perhaps you’ll see why I’m not in a rush to help others I don’t trust not to do the same.

As to ‘steering clear’, again I invite you to bloody read. If you can’t be bothered doing that, then as a next-best option refrain from flinging shit about things you’re ignorant about.

And you’re equally ignorant about journalism if you think the only sources that can be used are those who can be named publicly.

We’re done. I have neither time nor appetite to beat my head against a brick wall any longer.




 Questions remain about Brighton Momentum and its involvement in this charade.


Then there is this, Grr Grr Greenstein.

Tony Greenstein

This relates to the secret Momentum Brighton Committee Facebook group where one member on the Right resorted to blocking me in order that he could stop me responding to his post on taking BH Momentum banner to a picket of LP HQ today. The little shit is an administrator with the NHS Trust. I kinda guess that is where he learns these kind of tricks.


A post appeared on this list under Renato’s name. I cannot see it because he blocked me. Because I have another account I can access it and see it but this is utterly dishonest. Renato didn’t want me to take part in the discussion, even though I am a member of the Steering Committee.

To deliberately block someone to prevent them taking part in the discussion which is about their own actions is about as dishonest as it gets.

To respond to the accusations made on that discussion.

It was flagged up here that the banner was going to be taken to the lobby today Originally it was Becky who was going and we discussed her taking the banner, as she had it not me and I would take the poles. Because Becky decided at the last minute to go to India I collected the banner on Saturday but it was flagged up on this list.

I make no apologies for taking it. Brighton & Hove Momentum has clear policy AGAINST the witch hunt though I suspect Renato isn’t opposed to it, hence his objection. LAW has advertised its lobby for sometime and there were 2 other members from B&H Momentum – both from the Unite branch.

The allegations on Swawkbox are untrue but I now know who supplied the information, with instructions that they weren’t going to be quoted by name. Renato.

If people want to argue in favour of the witch hunt which has led to 3 expulsions in BH Momentum and the same no of suspensions fine. Today the National kangaroo Court met in oxford to consider the case of someone whose parents were survivors of Nazi concentration camps and who was a Captain in the Israeli army. He too is ‘antisemitic’ People who agree with this are in my view total scum. These allegations of ‘antisemitism’ are nothing short of political terrorism. They are common, they are frequent and they are being used as a means of destabilising Labour. That is and was their origin.

I was proud that BH banner was present today. It wasn’t to embarrass but to remind the NEC that there is a legacy of McNicol to be overcome and that is the hundreds if not thousands of people who have been auto-excluded, expelled and suspended.

Perhaps Renato would like to move a change of policy at the AGM and we can argue about it?

I am particularly angry at the dishonesty that allows someone to post something whilst blocking the person that it is aimed at. that is underhand, to put it mildly. No member of the Committee should block another person unless they have been the recipient of abuse. I have never posted or messaged Renato so clearly something was churning up inside him to motivate him to do this.

Yes I am expelled. But if people cast their minds back they will recall I was suspended for remarks I was alleged to have made. Those remarks did not form any part of my hearing. Hence I was suspended without good cause. That is the issue not whether I took a banner. I realise that as Labour nears office then Momentum will politically differentiate. That is happening here. Some people – Renato and his supporters in the post I can’t even see, believe one should hide one’s politics and not protest too loudly. the result of this will be that the only pressure on Corbyn will be from the Right.

Indeed we will probably see, and it is a matter of guesswork whether it is b4 or after the next election, some form of split in the PLP. Momentum or rather Lansman has decided against compulsory reselection. These are the issues not the fake issues of a fake Skwawkbox and the actions of the ‘blocking’ Renato, that matter. Yes I expect support being expelled for no good reason. I don’t expect certain people to give it.

However argue your politics openly. Don’t resort to blocking manouvres!

Written by Andrew Coates

March 21, 2018 at 12:09 pm