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After Progressive Patriotism Long-Bailey backs “Working-class Aspiration”.

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Now Selling Like Gold-Dust Amongst Long-Bailey Supporters.

In the latest Private Eye Craig Brown talks, exclusively, to Rebecca Long-Bailey.

But the parody of the “life long socialist”has already been better done by the ‘left candidate for the Labour Leadership herself.

To begin with there was the “progressive patriotism” movement at the end of December

Long Bailey differentiates herself from Corbyn by saying that as Labour leader she would champion “progressive patriotism”. She says: “From ex-miners in Blyth Valley to migrant cleaners in Brixton, from small businesses in Stoke-on-Trent to the self-employed in Salford, we have to unite our communities. Britain has a long history of patriotism rooted in working life, built upon unity and pride in the common interests and shared life of everyone.

“To win we must revive this progressive patriotism and solidarity in a form fit for modern Britain

“To win we must revive this progressive patriotism and solidarity in a form fit for modern Britain.”

We all had a hearty laugh about that one, before it disappeared without trace into the pages of the Morning Star.

Then there was the reference to Labour as “the party of the Lever brothers and Ralph Miliband” (a claim which reminds some of us of a member of the Weekly Worker group claiming that Miliband “said” the party “grew out of the bowels of the tradeunion movement‘” – Ernest Bevin, TGWU general secretary, 1935).

A couple of days ago Rebecca Long-Bailey announced that Labour should support “open selection” of candidates for election – after the populist Jacobin owned Tribune suggested she did so.

Well-wishers were quick to point out that, apart from opening up wounds in the Party, in the detail she appeared to be be also downgrading Labour Conference,

On our policy making. I have always believed that it is our members and trade unions who should shape our vision, but there has to be a more open and democratic way of developing our vision.

“Trying to clunkily mesh together the wording of various motions from constituency parties in a sweaty room at conference is not dynamic and it is not using the vast wealth of talent our members bring.”

The rows have already begun:

Now the Labour contender is going for the “aspirational” vote of hard working workers,

The shadow business secretary, who is widely assumed to be Corbyn’s chosen successor, cited a couple she met while canvassing in her home seat of Salford who told her they thought Labour just offered handouts.

“They were working class but they’d bought their own house, they’d worked hard, they felt they should be rewarded for working hard, they didn’t want to think that other people were getting handouts,” she told the Guardian as the leadership race kicks off in earnest.

“Whatever people’s incomes are, a lot of the time people don’t see themselves as destitute and struggling, and they don’t want someone to come along and say: ‘I’m going to remove the scales from your eyes, and save you from yourself’. It’s like, ‘I’ve got a job, I don’t need saving from myself, I just want to do a little bit better, thanks!’” she said.

She was keen to downplay criticism of Blair…..

At a packed rally for Long-Bailey in a Hackney bar on Tuesday evening, some of the loudest applause came when she backed open selections for MPs – with one enthusiastic audience member shouting, “banish the Blairites!”

Confronted with the comment, Long-Bailey insists: “We don’t want any of that … this goes right to the heart of what the party is supposed to be about, and this is what upsets me so much.

“The only way we ever win, is where we represent those elements of the centre-left. That’s why we were created: to bring together all those left groups,” she added.

The Guardian observed,

Long-Bailey’s anecdote about canvassing the aspirational couple in Salford was reminiscent of one told by Blair in his 1996 conference speech, when he said that while campaigning, he had met, “a man polishing his Ford Sierra, a self-employed electrician,” who had told him, “as far as he was concerned, being better off meant being Tory too”.

Blair said: “That man polishing his car was clear: his instincts were to get on in life, and he thought our instincts were to stop him. But that was never our history or our purpose.”

Candidate seen as successor to Corbyn says party needs to back working-class aspiration

It may be that the new turn draws on this by Simon Heffer  the New Statesman.

Today’s working-class Tories are defined by their determination to improve themselves and their way of life, and, I think, not to be contained by an idea of welfarism or a paternalism. One needs only to look at some of the working-class Tories elected to parliament in north-eastern seats such as Redcar, Bishop Auckland and Blyth to see this social phenomenon in action.

Rise of the new working-class Tories

Heaven forfend if this time she, or her advisers and spinners, have been reading this:

Most British people are living ever more enriched and enriching lives, even as under-35s are finding it harder and harder to start making their own way. They’re going to the football and the theatre, reading more and buying more books; they’re doing their gardening; going running and cycling; watching box sets at home; going to the pub; knitting, jam making, birdwatching and rambling. Just as British people’s very dense and associative lives insulated them psychologically from the Depression of the 1930s, hampering Labour’s progress then, the party’s basic emotive case just makes no sense to most people. They don’t think Britain’s broken. Labour should stop talking like it is.

Elect and appoint more plausible leaders. Stop promising everything to everyone. Admit that you got it wrong, and allow yourself a truly honest and affecting self-examination. Speak optimistically. Get yourselves straight. Stop it with the hate and the jibes. Stop walking around like you’re the big I am. Break out of your bubble and take credit, not brickbats, for your achievements. Stuff like that. If this sounds like Politics 101, it is – it amounts to just saying ‘sort yourselves out’. It’s a mark of how far Labour has fallen that most of this needs to be said at all.

So what should Labour do now?

The classic strategic book on the need to align Labour to hard-headed hard-working aspirational workers, by hand and by brain, was made in this book: The Blair Revolution: Peter Mandelson and Rob Liddle. Can New Labour Deliver? Faber, 1996.

 

Blair began to do this by accepting the Thatcher Political Settlement.

 

Tony Blair said in 2013,

 

 “I always thought my job was to build on some of the things she had done rather than reverse them.

“Many of the things she said, even though they pained people like me on the left… had a certain creditability(sic).”

BBC.

Will Long-Bailey accept the hard right Brexit settlement and concentrate on appealing to those who feel they should be rewarded for working hard?

The problem is that Long-Bailey’s incontinent flow of new catch-phrases, policies, and woolly ideas lack any credibility whatsoever.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 23, 2020 at 12:31 pm

The Madness of Crowds. Gender, Race and Identity. Douglas Murray. Culture Wars seen from the Right.

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The Madness of Crowds. Gender, Race and Identity. Douglas Murray. Bloomsbury Continuum. 2019.

Last week on Question Time  “Rachel Boyle, a woman of colour, audience member and academic, said: “Let’s be really clear about what this is, let’s call it by its name, it’s racism.” Fox responded that discussions of racism in Britain were “really starting to get boring now,” and accused Boyle of reverse racism for pointing out that he is a “white, privileged male”. Since then, the actor has been busy making an apparent campaign to become the new poster boy for the populist right.”(Independent)  For Douglas Murray the other, largely critical, reaction has shown the face of the ” new totalitarians. ” “ox, again perfectly reasonably, pointed out that he has had no more say than anyone else in choosing the colour of his skin and that in such circumstances the person who imagined she was being anti-racist was in fact being perfectly racist herself.” It was the “identitarians” who were at fault in this “terrifying parable” (The terrifying parable of Laurence Fox’s Question Time appearance)

There is a serious critical debate on identity politics or ‘identitarianism”. On the left responses began in the late 1980s in the pages of Race and Class with articles by Ambalavaner Sivanandan channelling the idea that leaders of pre-formed ‘communities’ should be represented and integrated into the state through Community Relations Councils. In No Logo (1999) Naomi Klein observed the emergence in North American student circles of what is now called ‘intersectional’ cultural battles, at the expense of fights about the increasing domination of globalised corporate power over everyday life. (1)

In the 1990s and the first decade of the new millennium Kenan Malik attacked responses to Islam and the rise of people identifying themselves in “narrower ethnic terms”. He wrote, liberal indulgence, “helped build a culture of grievance, in which ebbing offended is a badge of identity, cleared a space for radical Islamists to flourish and made secular and progressive arguments less sayable, particularly within Muslim communities.” In 2010 Rumy Hasan observed that “A profound consequence of silence in regard to oppressive practices within religious-ethnic minority communities has been the abandonment, or the downplaying of key universalist egalitarian principles.” Chief amongst those, he stated, was secularism. (2)

In France Nedjib Sidi Moussa has taken apart the “ethnodiffértialisme” the “racialisation of the social question” primarily through Muslim identity – and the pretension to engage in “race struggle” by anti-Semitic ‘anti-white’ groups like the Indigènes de la République. From an Algerian family he does not shrink from addressing the failure of the radical left to address Islamist violence and the hatred of Jews La Fabrique du Musulman (2017) suggests that the so-called radical supporters of identity politics have a lot in common with right-wing identitarians like Alain Soral. Yves Coleman of Ni Patrie Ni Frontières and Nadia Meziane provide essential critical commentary on these issues in French. (3)

Douglas Murray’s The Madness of Crowds avoids developing the views on the threat of migration. The idea that “the mass movement of peoples into Europe” is happening as Europe has “lost faith in its beliefs, traditions and legitimacy.” (The Strange Death of Europe. 2017). An authority on this, Yves Camus, and his theory of the Great Replacement, cited in that work, does not pop up in the present volume. It is not the suicide of a Continent that preoccupies The Madness, but ‘“a great crowd derangement”. This new Tulip Mania is ‘Identity politics’. “It atomises society into different interest groups according to sex (or gender), race, sexual preferences and more.” (Page 3) These “rights issues have moved from being a product of a system to being the foundations of a new one.” (Page 7). These “destabilising foundation of liberalism” lead to “ugliness” to “believe things that are unbelievable”. This “crowd madness” needs, like a minefield, to be “cleared”.

One could be forgiven for thinking that Murray was a contributor to Spiked, and an acolyte of Frank Furedi. Yet the former Revolutionary Communist Party guru is absent from his pages; his warnings about the post-68 left’s turn to a “bitter conflict between competing lifestyles – symbolic struggles”, the “culture wars”, are unmentioned. (4)

Post-Marxism.

Murray does however have a smattering of knowledge about the left and ‘post-modernism’. Citing Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1985) and an article on the same theme in Marxism Today, he outlines a shift from class polities to “new political subjects’, “women, students, young people, racial and regional minorities, as well as the various anti-institutional and ecological struggles” (Page 57). Skirting clear of these “post Marxists” fascination with the left potentials of populism, he observes that their “ideological children in identity politics and intersectionality seem to be content to inhabit an ideological space littered with contradiction, absurdity and hypocrisy.” (Page 58)

These new classes of “exploited” persons are explored, we learn, in the hard to read prose of Judith Butler, and produce “social justice theories”. The gobbledegook around social constructs and gender and race offers the gently e amusement of the “conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” and doubtless more opportunities for spoofs than Murray could cut and paste into his book.

The Madness of Crowds is determined to expose these absurdities. There is something deeply distasteful in the way that the Associate Editor of the Spectator rummages through the Web to find them. Gay demonstration, apparently, (Murray is openly gay himself) include fetishists with their leathers, sadomasochists flogging each other in the street….”(Page 39) Murray is fascinated with women singers’ wiggling bums, which is perhaps understandable, though the demand that they should be “sexy but not sexualised” will have passed most people by. Misandry – a new one on my spell checker – “Man are trash”, is a rubbish example of when put alongside this jumble of terms, “concepts like ‘male privilege’, ‘the patriarchy; ‘mansplaining or “toxic masculinity”. “ (Page 103) Is Murray suggesting that patriarchal structures do not exist, that women are often not oppressed by men, or that the unpleasant, violent, side of masculinity is something even a gentleman scrivener has never seen?

Unfamiliar with American campus politics one is still unable to take on trust Murray’s description of racial incidents and university slanging matches about people’s rival experiences. It would strike many people that in a country that elected Donald Trump, and which has a substantial, networked, far right, that racialism remains an issue beyond verbal jousts. Black Lives matter, most seem to agree, is a call that reflects a justified angry response to an unpleasant reality.

Tansexuality.

Murray reaches his lowest moment is the chapter on Transexuals. He insinuates that many trans people may be largely motivated by being “sexually around by the idea of presenting as, or actually becoming a woman” (J. Michael Bailey). This casts doubt on whether that “tans is a hardware issue”, that is against the claim that “trans are born this way. (Page 199) Digging deeper into the pit of controversy around transexuality The Madness of Crowds cites the hostility to those who assert that surgery cannot “make you a woman”. Greatly respected feminists who have taken this, or a more moderate critical view, and have been violently hounded for their opinions. “Transphobic”, Murray is not familiar enough with the subject to talk of the details of the rows about ‘TERFs’, feminists do have a legitimate point of view. So do transsexuals. But this book, with its prurient interest, casts little light on this “unbelievable unclear issue”.

Attempting a weighty conclusion The Madness of Crowds reminds us that in 73 countries it is illegal to be gay, and 8 in which being gay is punishable with death. Women are denied basic rights in countries in the Middle East and East Africa. Inter-racial violence happens across the world. “But there is a paradox here: that the countries which are the most advanced in all” in promoting laws and a culture of rights “are the ones now presented as among the worst”. (Page 232) He has no doubt that the agenda, “the last part of a Marxist subculture” is to “policies absolutely everything and turn people against the society they were brought up in. That the left believes that, “when intersectionality has done is job and he matrix of competing hierarchies has finally been nixed, then an era of universal brotherhood will ensue.” (Page 252)

Hidden from this present book are the countless Middle Eastern, Maghrebin, African, Asian Iranian gay and feminist activists. It is their “religion of social justice”, which many on the left support. Are we “using” their fight too? It is one very far from identical to what Mark Lilla calls North American “liberal identity politics”. It involves political action, and politics means joining people together, not separating them. The courage to join together for human, universal rights is our struggle. Feminist, gay and other movements are part – one part – of this, all over the world. This is a more substantial than limiting our “source of meaning” amongst our kith and kin, important as the “love of people and places” is. Or wallowing in snippets about the wilder side of American and British cultural politics. Or boosting an opposing right wing identity politics.

To top it Murray,”….has been described by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy as “one of the most important public intellectuals today”.[8]

  1. Communities of Resistance. Writings on Black Struggles for Socialism. by A. Sivanandan Verso 1990.
  2. P 210. From Fatwa to Jihad. The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy. Kenan Malik. Atlantic Books. 2009. Page 224. Rumy Hasan, Multiculturalism, Some Inconvenient Truths. Politico’s. 2010
  3. La Fabrique du Musulman. Nedjib Sidi Moussa Libertalia. 2017.
  4. First World War. Still no End in Sight. Frank Furedi. Bloomsbury 2014.
  5. The Once and Future Liberal. After Identity Politics. Mark Lilla. Hurst and Company. 2018.

As Keir Starmer makes it onto the Labour Leadership Ballot left factionalists attack.

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Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, possible text that says 'm 20% Tweet 05:49 @KJ_Pnoenix1o Replying to @andrewfeinstein Starmer was the main reason we we lost the GE So if we want to win the trust of the Heartlands and ex Lab Leavers, there's no way on God's earth we will win a GE with Starmer as Leader (nor Thornberry nor Phillips) And even MORE leavers will leave the Party! #Richard4Deputy Tweet your reply'

Guilty Man Starmer.

 

 

As Keir Starmer makes it onto the Labour leadership ballot his left factionalist opponents are upset.

Some Corby supporters refuse to accept that Corbyn “really” lost.

Many think that Labour’s defeat was largely due to the media.

A  popular theme amongst the movementist supporters of Corbyn is that Labour failed because it stopped being an “insurgency”. He had become (how is not explained) seen as “just another politician”.

Labour apparently could, by an act of will, stop playing at being politicians and launch itself on the barricades.

Now, as the Tweet heading today’s Tendance post above indicates, there are voices claiming that the election disaster was caused by …..Starmer.

The site of the revolutionary socialist groupuscule Counterfire, offering advice to the Labour Party, carries this article.

If Labour wants to win back the working class, it has to reject Keir Starmer.

Reuben Bard-Rosenberg.

Electing a man whose chief political actions, during the past five years, have been to try to defenestrate Labour’s radical leadership, and to try to turn Labour into a Europhile party. If Labour aims to fight as a radical vehicle for working class interests, then its members need to reject Keir Starmer.

Faced with these reactions. the small circulation – relaunched – Tribune,  writes on Starmer, why is winning support (including from left wingers like Simon Fletcher) and the problems his possible victory could pose.

The Starmer Illusion  Tom Blackburn

Blackburn makes some important initial points.

What is the core of Keir Starmer’s pitch for the Labour leadership? It is, essentially, that as leader he would uphold the bulk of present Labour policy, using something like the 2017 manifesto as his baseline. The implication is that Starmer would be able to take the current Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) with him, reconciling them to these left-wing policies by providing them with a more conventionally acceptable and presentable leader – a sharp-suited former Director of Public Prosecutions at that – than Corbyn.

Clearly, there are plenty of people in the Labour Party who might well be receptive to such a pitch. Contrary to common misperceptions, there are very few Labour members who relish internal factional warfare purely for its own sake, and Labour members could be forgiven for being tempted by someone who comes along apparently offering them most of the policies they want, and the chance to implement them, without even more years of upheaval and aggravation.

The Tribune writer warns,

However, this appeal is a fallacy. The unfortunate reality is that a substantial proportion of the PLP is likely to be either outright hostile to any left-wing platform, or lacks the will and determination to reliably defend it in opposition and carry it out in government, in the face of the relentless press attacks these policies would inevitably attract. The popularity of existing party policy, as the recent polling already noted has indicated, is not the issue. The bind Labour finds itself in is that anyone advocating such a programme can expect to be vilified in Britain’s overwhelmingly reactionary press.

The first sentences have the ring of truth.

There is a battle to be waged, by the left, to defend radical democratic socialist policies and party democracy.

But is the “press” the problem, or is it that the stream of policy promises that put off the electors?

Michael Walker in Novara media (repeating unsubstantiated claims by his local opponents) makes more dramatic claims about Starmer’s claim to unite the Party.

The simplest route for Starmer to “end factionalism” would be to freeze out the left. His opposition in the parliamentary party would be weak, and Labour’s leftwingers wouldn’t be offered slots on Britain’s TV screens as liberally as Chuka Umunna or Jess Phillips. It would certainly be the path of least resistance in Westminster, and given a new leader would shift the balance of power on the National Executive Committee (NEC), if the membership were to object, there would be little opportunity to protest.

There is evidence that this is a route Starmer would consider. Some leftwing members of his local party complain he’s organised to exclude Corbynites from positions of influence, and his appointment of Labour First’s national organiser to his team will do little to assuage any fears he’d seek a nationwide purge.

This would be a disaster, not just for the left, but for Labour. Unless Labour kowtows to the demands of our billionaire press, Starmer will, like Corbyn, Miliband and Brown before him, get a hammering. And just as 2019 shows a mobilised membership isn’t enough to win an election, 2010 and 2015, and even 1987 and 1992, show the traditional soft left strategy of presenting a professional image with a social democratic message, detached from social movements and oppositional demands, is also doomed to defeat.

Keir Starmer’s Call to End Factionalism Must Not Mean a Return to the Status Quo

This speculation – and we would like evidence that Labour, with its present structure, could be absed on “social movements”, or that this would be a plausible route to power in Britain today – however in the air.

The issue that remains is that If people reject Starmer what of his main contender?

Blackburn looks at Long-Bailey’s call for democratisation.

In her combative opening pitch, written for this publication, Long-Bailey rightly acknowledged popular discontent with “the British state’s distant and undemocratic institutions”, but the labour movement has some distant and undemocratic institutions of its own. She is also on record as having previously expressed scepticism about open selection of MPs, for fear of reselection battles “diverting their attention away” from their work at Westminster.

This is an opinion Long-Bailey would do well to reconsider in this leadership contest. In any case, diverting MPs’ attention away from Westminster – and all the stultifying chumminess and fetishism of ritual contained therein – is part of the point. Open selection is necessary both to allow for greater harmony between the party leadership, the membership and the PLP, and more importantly to ensure that these MPs are held effectively to account by their constituency party, one of the few ways working people can exercise some semblance of genuine accountability between elections.

So, if Long-Bailey’s call for democratisation does not extend to his plans for ‘open selection’ (a process which most doubt would bring any form of  harmony) what are her merits?

Blackburn is a champion of the Triumph of the Will,

Though some have derided her for it, Long-Bailey is right to insist that complex, long-term processes of deindustrialisation and consequent class recomposition have made a crucial contribution to weakening the party in many of its old, now former post-industrial heartlands. Only a drastically changed, campaigning Labour Party with bold and firm socialist leadership can hold out any serious hope of addressing these weaknesses, and in doing so pave the way for the far-reaching social, political and economic transformation which is so badly needed across Britain.

As if any but the most purblind fails to recognise the changes in British class structure, as if the Labour Party does not ‘campaign’ and as if more of this will turn the tables…

 

 

********

On Labour factionalism this is an important article.

Social movement or factional machine? Momentum’s future hangs in the balance Sabrina Huck

Extracts:

Momentum’s aim to consolidate Corbyn’s leadership and tighten the grip of the left on the institutions of the party was fairly successful. But on the flip side this meant that the ‘Labour left’ never really defined itself politically. Most of us who have been active in Momentum at some point, either locally or nationally, will be aware that it is a broad church within a broad church.

Membership ranges from revolutionary socialists, Morning Star devotees, middle of the road European-style social democrats, social liberals, old-school trade unionists and ex-anarchists turned radical reformists drawn to a left populist agenda. The one thing that united this coalition was its belief that Corbyn was the best bet to achieve a turn in British politics to put us on the road to socialism and a better world.

…….

Momentum’s failure to become a social movement, and not just a factional machine, is the reason why the swing of the former Corbyn vote to other candidates is now so unclear. Momentum never became the member-led organisation it promised to be. Internal democracy and opportunities to debate ideas were shut down and replaced with a centralised organisational structure. For example, the national coordinating group (NCG) made decisions on what policies to endorse at last September’s party conference without giving members the opportunity to submit ideas or vote online on priorities.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 21, 2020 at 12:30 pm

More Reasons to Back Keir Starmer as Mail attacks and Natty Dresser Galloway Scorns “Tailor’s Dummy”.

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Such worker-friendly sentiments differ greatly from his views while on the ¿editorial collective¿ of Trotskyite magazine Socialist Alternatives. A 1989 edition is seen above

Mail Picture: @ Tendance Archives.

Using an image from this Blog Harry Cole, who used to go out with Boris Johnson’s present companion, Carrie Symonds (Boris Blonde Was Former Girlfriend Of Senior Sun Editor) has a little rant.

HARRY COLE: ‘Young Trot’ Sir Keir Starmer spent the 1980s campaigning AGAINST the minimum wage

Millionaire lawyer and Labour leadership front-runner Sir Keir Starmer spent the 1980s campaigning AGAINST the minimum wage, I can reveal.

Last year, Sir Keir, 57, was much more on message, celebrating that ‘two decades ago Labour delivered the national minimum wage. Millions of people saw their pay rise. This is what a Labour Government can deliver.’

But such worker-friendly sentiments differ greatly from his views while on the ‘editorial collective’ of Trotskyite magazine Socialist Alternatives.

Gasp!

The then 24-year-old claimed it would lead to ‘continued confusion’ over the role of unions as it ‘places the onus’ to protect employment rights on the state rather than the organised proletariat.

He insisted the minimum wage ‘calls into question the central principle of free collective bargaining’.

Such less than friendly statements – back in an article in the 1980s…a “campaign”…..

Given that even Jeremy Corbyn points to the minimum wage as one of the few things he will praise Tony Blair for, has Sir Keir – who now claims to be a moderate – managed to outflank the veteran Lefty?

The 1980s, the years of the Blair hegemony…..

As one of the comments goes:

Bliar was also a Trot once, ditto John Reid

How true, how very true….

Another reason to both like and back Keir Starmer is supplied by Gorge Galloway:

The far-right Express ‘reports’.

George Galloway tears apart ‘tailor’s dummy’ Keir Starmer over ‘denial’ of Brexit failure

GEORGE GALLOWAY lashed out at Labour leadership frontrunner Sir Keir Starmer claiming the shadow Brexit secretary is a “tailor’s dummy”, arguing Labour is in “denial” over their Brexit policy.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 20, 2020 at 1:13 pm

This is Not Propaganda. Adventures in the War Against Reality. Peter Pomerantsev. Review: The Internet and the Liberties of the Moderns.

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Image result for This is Not Propaganda. Adventures in the War Against Reality.

 

This is Not Propaganda. Adventures in the War Against Reality. Peter Pomerantsev. Faber & Faber. 2019.

“L’information, le surcroît d’information sur nous-mêmes, est une sorte d’électrocution. Elle produit une sorte de court-circuit continuel où l’individu brûle ses circuits et perd ses defences. ” Information, the overabundance of information, is a kind of electrocution. It creates a kind of continuous short circuit, in which the individual burns up its circuits, and loses its defences. Jean Baudrillard. La Gauche Divine. 1985.).

“The brilliance of this new type of authoritarianism” wrote Peter Pomerantsev in Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. Adventures in Modern Russia (2005) is that instead of simply oppressing opposition, as has been the case with twentieth century strains, it climbs inside all ideologies and movements, exploiting them and rendering them absurd.” The son of Russian dissident exiles he was struck then, and in the present work, by the way that “facts” has ceased to matter.

In this new book on “influence campaigns”, “what might be causally be referred to as ‘propaganda” Pomerantsev explores “the wreckage”, the “dark corners of the Internet where trolls torture their victims”. “We are” he writes “becoming subjects of our own data, as if the data is rearranging our relations and identifies with its own logic”. On a wider canvas than Putin’s Russian Federation, whose “social media squadrons” still haunts the landscape, the writer’s adventures take him to where politics has become a “struggle to control the construction of identity.”

This is not Propaganda comes amongst other studies of how what Jean Baudrillard called the “simulacra” of information in today’s social media. Far from burning out identity it is claimed that the world of hyper-reality has come to play a key role in politics, and, above all, elections. Richard Seymour, it is said considers that this planet, the Twittering Machine, is managed by ‘fascist technology’ that cuts people off from society, a “stand in” for community. By showing the political effects of social media, Pomerantsev both indicates that Seymour would be out of his depth in a puddle, and that Baudrillard’s prediction that postmodern hyper-reality – the digital society – would absorb political passion into ‘post-politics.’ (1)

In the Philippines Pomerantsev finds that that political use of social media illustrates something very different to a mass escape from the material world. Visiting Manila he meets Maria, the creator of Rappler, the Philippines’ first Internet-based news site. For reporting the extra judicial killings ordered by the country’s president, Duterte, they began to receive death threats, at the rate of ninety an hour. A cascade of smears followed. An organised form of warfare, with the real menace of being killed, was conducted through cyberspace.

Efforts by the Kremlin to stir up civil war, an even more flagrant case, in the Ukraine draw Pomerantsev. It was “the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg.” This fight, in which Corbyn adviser Andrew Murray participated on the Russian side, portrayed the 2014 Ukrainian Orange Revolution and protests in the Maidean as a “neo-fascist US-orchestrated conspiracy”. This “information war” was an important part of “next generation warfare”.

Syria is another front-line. The activist Mary Ana who ran humanitarian medical aid to the country, along with human rights groups, like the White Helmets, and the Syrian Network for Human Rights, illustrates the way Assad regime used the Internet, “When she punched ‘White Helmets’ into YouTube” she found “wall-to-wall coverage claiming that they were actually terrorists, or that they were actors and everything they did was staged, or that they were a British secret service psy-op, or that they didn’t actually exist at all..” (Page 178) Assad’s murders are hidden behind these torrents of lies, propaganda treated with indulgence by political figures such as the former British MP Chris Williamson.

Populism and Identity.

After the disinformation spread by genociders This is not Propaganda turns to “Pop up Populism”. The transformation of the many and “the people”, he argues, can be seen in the Brexit vote. Against a “well-identified enemy”, the EU, not just the hard right who initiated the Leave project, but, one could add, parts of the British left adopted the “guiding fairy tale” of taking back control. Meeting Chantal Mouffe, and without academic deference for her and Ernesto Laclau’s theories of populism, he is struck by how flexible her claim that “identities are the result of political construction” can be. Playing in this game – a play in which ‘charismatic leaders’ can be an instrument of ‘left’ and right politics – Génération Identitaire, the language of “freedom of speech, democracy, openness to new ideas” can be used to bolster right wing fringe parties. It is the basis for national populism, a far from a marginal force.

At the forefront of this politics stands, Russian “political technologists”. Gleb Pavlovsky, the author recounts, has been able to “unite utterly disparate groups around a rotating enemy; oligarchs ar first, then metropolitan liberals, and more recently the whole outside world” (Page 223). Putin can, “stimulate global influence by purposefully leaving the fingerprints of his hackers and information operations all over the world”.

Will companies like Cambridge Analytica, who study “behavioural change” through social media, determine the political future? Are left and right being washed away by using people’s Facebook and Google preferences to harness them to new identities? Is China’s heavily controlled Internet and model of how identity can still be shaped and controlled by a one-party state in the age of technological innovation?

Modern and Ancient Liberties.

The 19th century French liberal Benjamin Constant, (De la liberté des anciens comparée à celle des modernes. 1819) claimed that in the ancient Roman and Greek world people led public lives, that as citizens they were free, in at least the sense that they decided on war and peace, while as private individuals they were subordinate, watched, and oppressed. In modern times, he claimed, it was the private sphere that was free, the site of individual independence. One can doubt the liberties of ancient republics, and efforts to replicate them following the French Revolution. But he offered an important insight. To simplify, in today’s liberal societies have been seen to offer a “private” domain, separate from public politics. Constant equally  warned, two centuries before theorists of “post-politics”, that in a commercial society people could become so absorbed in their private lives that they would neglect public duty.

One of the main political effects of social media has been to abolish the distinction between public and private politics. Not by making the “personal political”, but by breaking down the space between our emotions, identity, and politics. This is not the full story, since neither is everybody absorbed in social media nor is it without a liberating potential in networking politics from the ground up. It is equally not proven that the “political technologists” like the far right  ‘Bot-herders’ in Nizhny have mastered the art of shaping everybody’s electoral choice. Boris Johnson’s Get Brexit Done cannot be put down to Internet influencers, nor is it clear that the Conservatives are now about to use identity populism to rule by.

Can these forces wash away the push for autonomy and human rights that has also marked the ‘modern’? The latest book by “rooted cosmopolitan” Peter Pomerantsev, which should have as many readers as possible, should firmly indicate that there are many out there with a different story to tell.

 

****

 

(1) Oliver Eagleton. MIND-FORGED MANACLES? Review. Richard SeymourThe Twittering Machine. New Left Review No 120.Nov/Dec 2019.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2020 at 1:26 pm

Comrade Anti-Fascists, Greens, Kurds, Leftists: Check if you are on the ‘Counter-Terrorism’ List.

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Exclusive: Extinction Rebellion and Peta also named in anti-extremism briefing alongside Combat 18 and National Action.

Among the groups listed with no known link to terrorist violence or known threat to national security are Stop the War, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, vegan activists, anti-fascist groups, anti-racist groups, an anti-police surveillance group and campaigners against airport expansion. Communist and socialist political parties are also on the list.

Let the Rozzers know: I have written for the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty Publication Solidarity and even been on CND protests and Stop the War Coalition marches against war on Iraq!

Mind you that Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice does look a dangerous crew.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 18, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Long-Bailey Says Labour Should Hold Public Meetings and Organise for a ‘Democratic Revolution’.

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“Democratic Revolution” against “Unaccountable Elites”.

Keir Starmer is emerging as the unity Labour candidate, bringing together different wings of the party around a radical programme.

As Paul Mason says,

Labour can win again if we make the moral case for socialism

Starmer has now made this welcome statement, , “As the leadership race stepped up a gear, Sir Keir called for an end to Labour “factionalism” and insisted he was best placed to unite the party.”

Independent.

The factionalists are in mobilising in full gear.

The campaign for Long-Bailey got off to a stumbling start with the endorsement of Momentum, in an ‘election’ in which you could only vote yes or no to back her, and Angela Rayner.

These were the sole names on the online ballot.

Now she is going for a “movementist” strategy melded with an appeal for a “democratic revolution to take power out of the hands of unaccountable elites.”

It looks as if Long-Bailey is offering a left populist strategy for Labour.

This  has been described (2018) by its ideologue Chantal Mouffe (For a Left  Populism. Chantal Mouffe.  Verso. 2018) in these terms,

In Britain, as in the rest of Europe, the way to answer the rightwing populist offensive is the construction of another “people” – through the articulation of a project that can link together various demands against the status quo. A project in which both leavers and remainers could feel that they have a voice and that their concerns are taken into account. One signifier for such a project could be a Green New Deal – which articulates multiple environmental and economic struggles around a demand for equality and social justice.

To be sure, such an “us” will never include everybody. It does, of course, require a “them” and the drawing of a political frontier. But we can have a frontier that makes democracy more radical – one that pits the people against the oligarchy, and the many against the few.

Centrist politics will not defeat Boris Johnson’s rightwing populism

Another struggle is possible

Some of these themes, free of Mouffe’s abstract jargon,  are all too visible in Long-Bailey’s latest declaration.

Labour must stir up democratic revolution to win power, says Long-Bailey

She said that after the EU referendum in 2016 Labour should have spent less time trying to “win procedural games in parliament” and more time holding public meetings outside Westminster.

In the accompanying  article  Giving power to the people is Labour’s path back to power the Labour contender says that after the referendum,

Instead of winning procedural games in parliament, we should have used the aftermath of the referendum result to go around the country, holding public meeting after public meeting to stir up a movement for real change – pledging to take on the political establishment and raise up the people’s demands beyond our institutional arrangements with the European Union.

That way, our manifesto could have become a set of popular remedies to deal with the three linked crises our country faces: of democracy, the economy and the environment. A joint agenda could have brought people together. Instead, we tried to compromise between the two extremes on Brexit, neither of which could deliver the change the British people need.

Leaving aside the preposterous assertion that anybody could bring friend and enemy together over Brexit, what now?

We need a popular movement to turn the British state against the privatisers, big polluters and tax dodgers that have taken hold of our political system.

..

 Much of Labour politics should take place far away from Westminster, as a movement helping people take charge in their workplaces, homes and communities. In this way, we will develop and win support for policies that start a democratic revolution to take power out of the hands of unaccountable elites.

There is no evidence that a political party can conjure a vast popular movement into existence.

Amongst recent examples of popular movements, the anti-austerity  Indignados in Spain are associated with the birth of Podemos. Pablo Iglesias, the leader of the radical left alliance, did not “stir up” a movement, he emerged with it. The idea of a party running the Plataforma Democracia Real Ya! would have been unwelcome. To say the least.

Since that time Spain has seen  return to – successful – electoral politics by Podemos  and the Spanish Socialists, the PSOE. The “populist” moment has passed, democratic politics have returned. The breakaway Más País led by Chantal Mouffe’s ally,   Íñigo Errejón whose politics centred on a version of a Green New Deal,  got 2.40% of the vote in the November Spanish elections.

Another popular movement (whose democratic credentials are mixed) , the French Gilets Jaunes were born of a dislocation between both the government, existing parties and people’s demands. Efforts to channel them into a single political direction, by, for example La France insoumise (LFI)  and the far-right Rassemblement National, have conspicuously failed.

The leader of LFI, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s  own democratic revolution, the “la révolution citoyenne” got 6,3% of the vote in last year’s European elections in France.

What of the present Long-Bailey strategy?

Hold a rally, hold a demo, that will get the people moving!

What leverage on political institutions – elected bodies – is there in movements? There is no evidence of a grass roots surge in the direction Long-Bailey wishes for. There is even less visibility for the kind of radical strike and factory occupations that most radical would dream of.

After walking the streets, banners held high, we need people to put policies in place.

Public meetings are not a substitute for political power.

This ‘democratic revolution’, led by Momentum browbeating the Labour membership into backing Long-Bailey, does not look a good place from which to begin one either.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 17, 2020 at 12:41 pm

Progressive Patriot Rebecca Long-Bailey Wins Momentum Plebiscite.

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Long-Bailey Wins This ‘Election’.

On the day that Rebecca Long-Bailey entered a fresh controversy after telling  “Catholic priests she would ensure their “views are heard” over abortion, progressive patriot candidate for Labour Leadership received a further boost. *

Labour leadership: Momentum back Rebecca Long-Bailey in boost for Corbyn ally

The move is a boost to the Corbyn favourite when she bids for votes from the party’s 500,000-strong membership – but it comes after a highly controversial ‘only one option’ ballot

 

 

Momentum had only one candidate on the ballot, Long-Bailey.

Question 1 of 2: Should Momentum follow the NCG recommendation to endorse Rebecca Long-Bailey as the next leader of the Labour Party?

Results: For: 4,995 (70.42%) Against: 2,098 (29.58%)

Question 2 of 2: Should Momentum follow the NCG recommendation to endorse Angela Rayner as the next deputy leader of the Labour Party?

Results: For: 3,684 (52.15%) Against: 3,380 (47.85%)

The New European reports,

The campaign group said 70.42% of respondents to a ballot voted to throw resources behind Long-Bailey in the contest – equivalent to 4,995 members.

But that works out at just 12.5% of a membership which was reported to have totalled 40,000 last year.

Members also backed Angela Rayner for deputy leader with 52.15% of the vote – suggesting that others could have backed Richard Burgon as the alternative choice.

Suggesting that others could have backed Richard Burgon as the alternative choice.

Shadow business secretary Long-Bailey said: “Momentum members alongside hundreds of thousands of other Labour members worked day and night across the country to elect a Labour government last December, knocking on millions of doors.

“I am proud and beyond grateful to be backed by an organisation that has revolutionised how we campaign. I will deliver on the trust Momentum members have placed in me, with a plan to win the next general election and transform our country for the future.”

Some claimed the process was rigged because it only allowed one vote for each contest, rather than a version of the alternative vote like the actual Labour leadership voting processere

There were protests at this plebiscite.

Many noted that Momentum had followed other examples of the new wave of ‘virtual’ political groups, like La France insoumise, where all democracy is ‘organised’ centrally.

But despite the feeble turnout and less than 100% vote for the only candidate on offer one result has been obtained,

“the candidates will now have access to the organisation’s database of Labour activists across the country, and benefit from its experience of campaigning in two general elections and the 2016 leadership contest. “

Independent.

They will now “‘mobilise thousands’ for Rebecca Long-Bailey” reports the Telegraph.

No doubt building on their general election success these brow-beaters will try to shore up Long-Bailey’s support.

******

(*) Huffington Post. Rebecca Long-Bailey ‘Personally’ Supported Stricter Abortion Rules

 

Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey has supported stricter limits on abortion.

Long-Bailey told Catholic priests during the election campaign she would make sure their “views are heard” when it came to any changes to the law.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 16, 2020 at 6:06 pm

The Brexit Left’s Responsibility in Labour’s Defeat.

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The Internationalist Left.

With a solid Tory majority the results of the General Election are still sinking in. It would take a mind as large as a web cloud to take account of all the writing on the reasons for Labour’s defeat. Much of the debate has been dominated by the claim that the Party was able to sustain support among  “cosmopolitan” and pro-European urban centres, while being unable to reach out to the rooted communities which backed Brexit.

Don Flyn offers a glimpse into these, the pro-Brexit working class voters (After the Deluge. Chartist) The dispute over Brexit “offered people who had lost the habit of digging in and fighting back the chance to at least take sides in an argument that was driven by splits in the ruling class. Rebellion, in pursuit of its own interests had ceased to be a part of the daily life of these communities, but at least they could now take on a foot soldier’s role in someone else’s revolt.”

This football fan politics gave hope to Farage’s Brexit Party, but did not end with it getting any seats. The Conservative Party, having flirted with populist appeals to “Get Brexit Done” against a hung-Parliament, has now settled down to the more modest strategy of offering a few sweets to their new friends in the North and getting the chimes of Big Ben ringing at the end of the month.

“Given the divisions within the electorate, as well as within the Parliamentary Party and wider party membership”, Duncan Bowie writes, it was difficult for the Party to develop which avoided further divisions.” (Retrospect and Prospects Chartist.January 2020). The ambiguities, and near impossibility to explain on the doorstep, Labour’s position, a call to renegotiate a  (‘better’) deal and then to put it a referendum, was the result. Another was that Labour’s policies, many of which, such as tax reform and social ownership, had been worked out in some depth under Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s direction, failed to strike a chord. They were overshadowed by what Unite chief Len McCluskey called an “incontinent stream” of new promises which appeared during the election campaign.

Many writers have explored these areas, from the sociological profile of new Tory voters (always remembering this: The myth of the working class Tory: Just three in ten voted blue) and the electorate as a whole, to the reception of Labour’s manifesto. In many ways this parallels the debates, and systematic critiques of the one opened up around the polemics of Christophe Guilluy, on La France périphérique. One of Guilluy’s central points, that the many of the “popular classes”, in France and across much of Europe, have become detached from long-established political loyalties on the left, is undeniable. But the set up pitting the  “peripheral”, versus the “metropolitan” – “elite” areas, the Somewhere, and the Nowhere, people (the words of the pro-Brexit David Goodhart, The Road to Somewhere. 2017), all heavily loaded terms, leads to national populist inflection only the “real” rooted people, not the city living cosmopolitans, matter. (1)

One area that few have tackled is the way the left; aligned to the Corbyn leadership, or independent of it, has acted.

From its beginnings Momentum described itself as the flag bearer of Corbyn. Faced with the genuine prospect of factionalism, and oddities such as the Socialist Party’s brief attempt to create its own ‘Trade Union Momentum’, it centralised control. Momentum came to resemble a mini-France insoumise, run by virtual digital ‘democracy’ behind a ‘charismatic leader’. It encouraged the atmosphere of a ‘cult’.

The failure this left-populism in France, and the limits of a more genuinely popular party, Podemos, in Spain, had little effect on them. They have launched a plebiscite behind the “Corbyn continuity” candidate, Rebecca Long-Bailey, in the Labour leadership election. They may not have adopted in full Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s picture of a “people’s epoch” (l’ère du peuple. 2017) but they support a candidate embodying a not distant vision of “progressive nationalism”.

Not many have looked into the contribution of the pro-Brexit left on Labour’s defeat. Not only did the ‘Lexit’ campaign legitimate Leave voting in the communities now at the centre of attention, but the Brexit left helped confuse Labour’s strategy. Counterfire, unknown to the general public, but which headed the Anti-Austerity People’ Assembly, and made a welcome and serious contribution to its organisation, advanced the view that a movement to “take back control” would be one result of the Referendum vote.

The Morning Star, the echo chamber of a wider group of national sovereigntists, pursued its dream of a socialist Britain, a beacon the world, independent of the European Union. In bad faith, having helped create the conditions that confused the nature of the hard-right Brexit, they have pleaded for consideration for working class voters whose anti-EU thrust they support. Counterfire argued, to diminishing effect, for ‘mobilisation”, that is street protests. This did not happen, and the  slogan of the pro-Leave factionalist, a ‘People’s Brexit’, ended up as a headline in Daily Telegraph.

Counterfire were also amongst the loudest voices calling for a General Election as soon as possible. None of their leaders takes any responsibility for their advice being listened to. It can be assumed that Corbyn’s call for Labour to be the Party of Resistance reflects what it left of the strategy of Counterfire.

An article in the populist US magazine, Jacobin, by the Deputy Editor of New Left Review, Daniel Finn, puts the blame for Labour’s defeat on “The Obsessive Remainers“. Voices from these quarters have been keen to criticise the internationalist left of Another Europe is Possible (AEIP). John Rees, of Counterfire, talked of the EIP “clique”, “whose only practical effect is to have forced Labour into a position which materially assisted in its election defeat.”

In fact, the alliance of the radical left, greens and Labour centre, has every reason to be proud of its record. AEIP led the way in unmasking the confusion offered by the pro-Brexit forces within the left, pointing to the hard right nature of Brexit. . Only by making clear what was in store for the country with Brexit would it have been possible to win over electors undecided about the future. It argued that internationalism couldn’t begin by cutting the UK loose from the EU. That rhetoric about Fortress Europe was cheap when the only alternative on offer was a state aligned around the policies of European Reform Group. The left needed to back transformations, in partnership with the rest of the European left, of the existing institutions.  It participated in the movement for a Second Referendum, demonstrating in our own ‘left bloc’.

AEIP’s resolutions were widely supported within Labour, bringing together different sections of the party. Thwarted by bureaucratic manoeuvres, it laid the basis for longer-term co-operation within the labour movement.”

Counterfire  says, “”These motions were drawing inspiration from a plethora of organisations such as Another Europe is Possible (a cross-party ‘stay in Europe but reform’ outfit), Love Socialism, Hate Brexit (around which soft left Labour MPs coalesced such as Clive Lewis, Anneliese Dodds and Chi Onwurah), Labour for a Socialist Europe (driven by Labour grassroots organisers) (The Corbyn Project was defeated by the historic strengths of conservatism and liberalism Mark Wayne). The fault was that the membership backed them, “The tragedy for Labour was the strength of liberalism inside the membership and not just inside the Parliamentary Labour Party.”

At present the Labour leadership contest dominates the politics of the left. It is important to judge the politics of the contenders in wider terms than Brexit. But those who stand for the generous internationalist and human rights agenda, that is not too far from the politics of AEIP, something the remnants of believers in the ‘actuality of the revolution” in Counterfire call “liberalism”. With more radical socialist input needed we will still be looking to those who support this kind of politics, and, for all that we can both admire and question some of his record,  it’s Keir Starmer who looks the best in the running.

Or perhaps Counterfire could elect a new Labour Party membership.

*******

(1) His latest book No Society, La fin de la classe moyenne occidentale. Flammarion. 2018. See also his Le Crépuscule de la France d’en haut. Champs. 2017.

Blue Labour Makes Pitch for Progressive Patriotism to Lead Labour Values.

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Blue Labour Opponents of EU Now Relishing Post-Brexit Opportunities.

Labour leadership contender Rebecca Long Bailey’s call for progressive patriotism continues to echo throughout the labour movement.

Is this the thinker whose ideas can help rebuild a mainstream Labour Party?

Robert Philpot. Jewish Chronicle 

The time may have come for the ‘Blue Labour’ ideas of Ed Miliband’s former guru to help reshape Labour’s return to being a party for the working classes, writes Robert Philpot.

.. Lord Glasman is no rent-a-quote. Beneath the headline-grabbing comments was a serious philosophy. “Blue Labour”, as he termed it, urged the party to reconnect with its traditional supporters by embracing the values of “flag, faith and family”.

There may be few second acts in politics but last month’s election may give Lord Glasman a new opportunity to help shape how Labour rebuilds the “red wall” which Boris Johnson so effectively demolished.

Although she hails more from the party’s soft left, likely leadership contender Lisa Nandy is probably the most sympathetic of the potential candidates to Lord Glasman’s ideas. She has spoken at Blue Labour events and her close ally, Jon Cruddas, has been one of its strongest proponents.

Like Lord Glasman, the Wigan MP called for Labour to honour the result of the EU referendum and her belief that “place, identity, history and culture matter” is straight out of the Blue Labour playbook. So, too, her suggestion last month that, “There is a strong feeling in towns like mine that Labour stopped listening long ago and that we no longer have much understanding or care for the things that matter deeply to them or their families.”

Tireless campaigner against rootless Cosmopolitans, Paul Embery tweets.

In the Daily Mail a couple of days ago Peter Hitchens gives Blue Labour a puff.

..there is a tiny glimmer of hope, which I think civilised people should encourage.

It is called ‘Blue Labour’. At the moment it is only a few brave and thoughtful people, and it was pushed to one side in the Corbyn era of childish, clapped-out 1970s Leftism.

But if it succeeds it could not only be a good Opposition, it might even be a good government. People forget what Labour used to be.

Before it was taken over by Bloomsbury social liberals and Islington Eurocommunists in the 1960s and 1970s, it was a highly conservative, patriotic, working-class party.

Where political parties combine patriotism, a strong but just welfare state, good education, firm policing and tough defence, they tend to win elections.

If they can seize back control of the People’s Party, I’d support them against the Pinko Tories.

You can read more about them on the Brexit Party supporting Spiked site.

‘Globalisation has made our lives empty’

Maurice Glasman talks to Brendan O’Neill about Brexit, Blue Labour and the demonisation of the working class.

There are many critiques of Blue Labour, including on this Blog.

A central argument is that it is an adaption to national populism.

Now, with the failure of left populism, this looks an enticing prospect for some, and not just overt right-wingers like Hitchens.

Before somebody proposes “articulating” their ideas into Labour’s mix, serious issues need to be looked at.

One of the most recent to offer an account of them is this excellent article in the Political Quarterly (which we have referred to before).

TOXIC FRIENDS? A CRITIQUE OF BLUE LABOUR

Since the Brexit vote, the followers of Blue Labour – an advocacy group associated with the Labour Party that promotes conservative ideas – have accepted much of the far right’s analysis. Advanced by the likes of Paul Embery and Adrian Pabst, they have adopted the far rights’ language and terminology at an alarming rate.

Importantly, followers of Blue Labour have also bought into a binary divide: the choice is either neoliberal hyper‐globalisation or a patriotic nationalism. The possibility of any different types of globalisation has been denied.

..

Critique of Blue Labour: Towards a renewed social democratic alliance

Labour’s successes in 1945, 1964 and 1997 came through linking together the labour movement, the public sector and middle class intellectuals. Alliances will not necessarily return in the ‘old’ form, but they need to be constructed. The first step is to articulate alternative models of globalisation.

Progressives need an economic policy promoting a new relationship with nature and a thorough green industrial strategy that addresses the economic and social concerns of those who globalisation has passed by.

Progressives should also seek to create a sense of interconnectedness. Blue Labourites find it hard to conceive that a person can approve of European integration and yet still retain a national and local identity. The modern world is interconnected and overlaps. For instance, the wings for an Airbus are made in North Wales and Bristol, but the aircraft as a whole is put together in Toulouse.

To sum up, as the Green movement expresses it, ‘think global, act local’. There is no gulf between the two.

 

 

Amongst Protests Against War with Iran the Anti-Imperialism of Fools comes back

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Jeremy Corbyn at the No War on Iran demonstration in Trafalgar Square

 

Yesterday in London there was a small, 2,000 strong according to Socialist Worker, demonstration saying no to war with Iran.

This is an honourable cause.

But one aspect leaves a very nasty taste.

Jeremy Corbyn made  some valid points,

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has told a rally in London that the shooting down of a passenger plane in Tehran was an “appalling act” for which there can be “no excuses”.

Addressing a “No war on Iran” protest in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, Corbyn said the disaster, which killed 176 people, was “part of a whole pattern of appalling acts across the region”.

He added: “There’s no excuse for shooting down an airliner, there’s no excuse for a targeted assassination by one state against another.”

Guardian.

Are these acts equivalent?

Some go further.

Socialist Worker,

The immediate threat of war appears to have fallen back after Iran hit back with its missile strike on US bases on Tuesday night.

But the downing of the Ukrainian airliner shows the unintended consequences the US’s wargames in the Middle East can have.

Not only can it lead to appalling loss of life—176 people were killed—but such an incident could spark retaliations that spiral uncontrollably into war.

In other words, it’s the US that is ultimately to blame for the murder of the air passengers.

Image may contain: 1 person, text

 

Followed by,

 

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, possible text that says 'Margaret Kimberley @freedomrideblog The U.S. assassination of Soleimani and al-Muhandis took 8 other lives. People were trampled to death in the massive crowds at the funeral. And now this accident. The U.S. has again caused terrible trauma to Iranians. Hassan Rouhani @HassanRou... 3h The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous EI86'

Then,

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'Margaret Kimberley Retweeted George Szamuely @GeorgeSzamuely He is right. US is responsible in large part. US unnecessarily picked a fight with Iran and then escalated the conflict with its reckless decision to assassinate Soleimani. Accidents will always happen in war. That's why starting a war is always the fundamental war crime. Javad Zarif @JZarif. 4h A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of'

Accidents will ‘always Happen’

Morning and RT writer John Wright,

Image

This is not the view of many Iranians.

Iranians hold angry protest over downed plane

Protesters in Tehran have chanted calls for the resignation of officials, after Iran admitted it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane on 8 January.

Relatives and friends of those who died held a vigil near the Amirkabir University of Technology on Saturday.

Videos uploaded to social media show a crowd gathered, with some chanting for their country’s leaders to resign and calling officials “liars”.

Iran had initially denied reports its missiles had brought down the plane, but said on Saturday that it had “unintentionally” shot it down.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 12, 2020 at 12:08 pm

Keir Starmer and ‘Pabloism’ in Prestigious Spart World Column in Private Eye.

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Low Down on Liquidationism.

By coincidence – spooky! – the only place on the planet where you can find the 1989 Socialist Alternatives Editorial referred to above is chez Coatesy:

Europe, Internationalism, Socialist Alternatives (Pabloism), and…Keir Starmer.

PE offers a fair and balanced, if short, account of the politics of Socialist Alternatives.

One could add that the melding of post ’68 concerns, feminism, ecology, gay rights with labour movement socialism (self-management), was more the work the work of the much loved comrade Maurice Nadjam, the effective leading figure of the ‘Pabloites’ in France,  and his circle, than of Pablo himself.

 Najman, who came from a Jewish leftist background and spoke Yiddish (although I have to admit I never heard him speak the language)  co-founded the Comités d’Action Lycéens (CAL) in 1967 and played an important role in the 1968 revolts in France.  Sometimes called a ‘dandy’ in the bohemian sense (Christophe Nick. Les Trotskistes. 2010), Najman was both a libertarian Trotskyist and open to the ‘underground’ or ‘alternative’ culture of the 1970s. He has been described as  having a “rare intelligence et sensibilité, particulièrement attachant (mais parfois difficile à suivre)..” ( a “rare intelligence and sensitivity, particularly endearing, but sometimes difficult to follow). MAURICE NAJMAN (1948-1999).

One can see his articles in Socialist Alternatives. Maurice visited Britain. The last time I met him was not long after I returned to England,  at the Sheffield Conference of the Socialist Movement. He talked about the Presidential campaign of dissident Communist Pierre Juquin of 1988 (which failed to get more than 2,10 %) and hopes for what became the  Nouvelle Gauche pour le Socialisme, l’Écologie et l’Autogestion. In the late 1990s visiting Paris, I learnt that he had, like Juquin, joined the French Green Party, Les Verts (as they were known at that time).

It is no surprise that anybody influenced by the generous humanist culture of the New left should remain loyal to principles such as radical human rights and that they are not far from what one might call ‘Another Europe is Possible’ politics.

Nor that the Stals of the Communist Party of Britain, in the shape of Nick Wright, find that objectionable.

Amongst reasons not to back him Wright says,

..the active enthusiasm for his candidacy from the surviving representatives of the obscure and entirely marginal Trotskyite group of EU enthusiasts with which he was associated in his early career.

Yes (who could this possibly refer to? ) Keir Starmer has a background of which one can be proud.

More:

Maurice is one of those who appeared in this film Mourir à 30 ans about his friend, and comrade from the Comités d’Action Lycéens, Michel Recanati.

 

 

 

Progressive Patriotic Socialists Flock to George Galloway’s New Workers’ Party of Britain.

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Labour Leadership Hopefuls Beware: Galloway Addresses Masses Backing Workers’ Party of Britain.

 

The Workers Party positively embraces Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Britain needs to be free of the EU regulations that would restrict our fiscal and monetary policy and prevent Britain from taking public ownership of key utilities and transport infrastructure.

More on Birmingham event.

In the morning George will set out his vision for the Workers Party and discuss the historical necessity of building an alternative workers political party to the discredited and treacherous Labour party and its Blairite leadership. As always, the audience will be encouraged to participate and George will chair contributions from the floor until lunchtime.

In the afternoon the Workers Party will turn its attention to a British institution we all hold dear, the NHS. Britain’s best known communist vascular surgeon Dr Ranjeet Brar (@Rango1917) will be joined by the NHS campaigner and inspiration behind the films “Sell-Off” and “The Great NHS Heist” Dr Bob Gil (@drbobgill). These two doctors will chart the path which led to the privatisation of the NHS and what must be done to turn things around. Contributions from the floor will be positively encouraged.

To close out the day George Galloway will give a closing speech and there will be time over lunch and at the end to meet new friends and talk politics!

 

The Spanking New Workers’ Party will be Leading Protests Against US Threats to Iran.

“The party was founded in December 2019, by the former Labour and Respect Party Member of Parliament George Galloway, following the 2019 United Kingdom general election.[1]

The Workers Party is affiliated with the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist) with its vice chair Joti Brar, also serving as deputy leader of the newly founded party.[2]

Wikipedia entry – to be expanded soon!

Written by Andrew Coates

January 10, 2020 at 5:09 pm

France: 36th Day of Strikes and Protests Continue Against Pension Reform.

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Many protesters view Macron as remote and regal. Here his tenure is styled as “the restoration of the monarchy”.

“Le «moment Thatcher» d’Emmanuel Macron.”

We won’t give up’: French protesters defiant on day 36 of pension strikes

Reports France 24.

On RTL this morning an opponent of the protests claimed that the numbers out on the streets had gone down.

Le Monde  says,

Strike against pension reform: 452,000 demonstrators in France, including 56,000 in Paris

On the 36th day of the strike, the mobilisation was less massive than on December the 17th, when the Ministry of the Interior had recorded 615,000 demonstrators, including 76,000 in Paris.

The interior ministry announced that 452,000 people  had marched in France , against 615,000 for the day of December 17. For their part, the unions claimed that there were 1.2 million demonstrators in 65 processions.

Traffic is still  disrupted on the SNCF and RATP networks this Thursday. The strikes also concern lawyers, refinery staff and teachers.

There were some violent incidents in Paris.

Negotiations have not advanced an inch.

The Train service (SNCF)  is threatening to sell off its subsidiary services.

There are claims that Macron’s efforts to defeat the strikes are based on Thatcher’s strategy to crush the miners.

Dans les cortèges, sur les piquets de grève et dans les assemblées générales, le mot se répète souvent : cette grève interprofessionnelle contre la réforme des retraites résonne pour Emmanuel Macron comme l’équivalent de la grande grève des mineurs de 1984-1985 pour Margaret Thatcher.

On the marches, on pickets and in general assemblies, the word is often repeated: this interprofessional strike against pension reform resonates for Emmanuel Macron as the equivalent of the great miners’ strike of 1984-1985 for Margaret Thatcher .

Our comrades have been out expressing solidarity.

From last night’s action at the French Embassy in solidarity with French workers, who are today staging a day of action against President Macron’s proposed neoliberal pension reforms.

Rail workers have been on strike for 36 days, making it the longest continuous train strike in French history, and the longest national strike since 1968. Teachers, nurses, lawyers, and energy workers and others have also been participating.

Macron’s pension reforms are a crucial test for a broader neoliberal assault on workers’ rights and public services, and the outcome of the struggle will set an example for workers and bosses across Europe.

Their struggle is our struggle.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and outdoor

Text from Ni patrie ni frontières.

BATTRE LA RÉFORME DES RETRAITES DE MACRON, C’EST RELANCER EN GRAND ET PARTOUT LA LUTTE POUR AUGMENTER LES SALAIRES.

7 janvier, par Yves

[An excellent leaflet which contrasts with the leftist speeches cut off from reality and the fantasies about the “giletjaunisation” of struggles as if the yellow vest had become the red flag of the 21st century …. YC, Neither homeland nor borders]

Written by Andrew Coates

January 10, 2020 at 12:06 pm

Morning Star Promotes ‘Socialist Patriotism’.

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The Patriots of the Communist Party of Britain.

One of the best known takes on patriotism and nationalism comes through the concept of ‘imagined communities’.

Benedict Anderson said, a nation is “an imagined political community”.

regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings.

Anderson’s definition, based on substantial arguments in  Imagined Communities, (1983), puts concepts like the ‘invention of tradition'( Eric Hobsbawm) in the context of this ‘comradeship’.

It has obvious echoes of the right wing French republican and philologist Ernest Renan’s (1882) claim that, the “spiritual’ (that is ‘imaginary) principle  of a nation is based on  these common thoughts and emotions, “The existence of a nation (you will pardon me this metaphor) is a daily referendum, just as the continuing existence of an individual is a perpetual affirmation of life.”

There is a whole library of books  trying to distinguish patriotism (good) from nationalism (bad).

George Orwell made these famous comments,

Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality..

Notes on Nationalism 1945

More recently Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe have talked of ‘articulating’ nationalist  sentiment into the construction of an opposition between the ‘People’ and the the Elite, the Caste…

In her most recent book, For a Left Populism t2018) she talks about constructing a “collective will”. Left populism, she asserts, draws into its orbit by a “chain of equivalences” a variety of progressive demands, open citizenship. This is the ‘construction of the People”, a collective political agency, “ opposing the ‘people’ against the ‘oligarchy’. For this to work Mouffe follows the late Ernesto Laclau. There has to be “some form of crystallisation of common affects, and affective bonds with a charismatic leader… “ In this way left populists can challenge the right-wing, national populist, claim to be the real patriots.

The only way to fight right wing populism is to give a progressive answer to the demands they are expressing in a xenophobic language. This means recognising the existence of a democratic nucleus in those demands and the possibility, through a different discourse, of articulating those demands in a radical democratic direction..

Populists are on the rise but this can be a moment for progressives too

Amongst Mouffe’s left populist movements, Jean-Luc Mélenchon led La France insoumise, made patriotism a central theme, beginning some time back.

 

Mélenchon, or M. 6,31% as he is known after his score in last year’s European elections, has not had much success with this idea, or any other part of his own, or Mouffe’s strategy

Talk of a “democratic nucleus” to patriotism in present day conditions can mean just about anything.

It can imply as Orwell stated, the quiet love of people and things dear.

Or, as we have seen during the Brexit disputes, a violent claim, coloured by xenophobia,  to assert sovereignty in the service of a hard right Brexit. In this case it is nationalism , or as we would now say, by national populism.

There is very little quietness about this.

That is after all what “imaginary communities” are like, you can dream up just about anything to put behind the label.

Matt Widdowson, a member of the hard-line pro-Brexit Communist Party of Britain, (Reform and Revolution by Matthew Widdowson) has, defending Rebecca Long Bailey’s defence of “progressive patriotism”  now joined this game.

In this story populism seems to have vanished and all we have left is “articulating” patriotism, towards the left.

There is no contradiction between patriotism and socialism

We need to articulate socialist patriotism a genuine love of our country and its people — in opposition to the militarism and imperialism, writes MATT WIDDOWSON

REBECCA LONG BAILEY’S call to “revive this progressive patriotism” (Guardian, December 29 2019) appeared to be greeted with horror by “Left Twitter.” While Long Bailey’s article did not expand further on what she meant by “progressive patriotism” or what policies would be guided by this slogan, it appeared to be the very word “patriotism” that was so shocking.

Social media was awash with a mixture of liberal disdain (mainly from those with EU flags in their Twitter handles – apparently, not all flag-waving is bad) and the typical ultra-leftist complaints about “socialism in one country.”

What exactly is this ‘love’, what does it mean?

Perhaps there is also fear among the opponents of “progressive patriotism” about ceding ground to reactionary nationalism (particularly the ethno-nationalism of the far right). This is perhaps understandable as there has been a noticeable and troubling shift towards the hard right around the world. But again, this misses the difference between the “official” nationalism promoted by the ruling class and the potential for a socialist patriotism based on popular sovereignty and international solidarity.

Indeed there is little evidence of any other amorous feeling around the topic. Official nationalism is bad pararently but look to the people and it can turn to pure gold.

Nationalist sentiment relies on stories and symbols and, a progressive vision needs to rely on the peoples’ counter-narrative to the official story of Britain. This is the radical history of Britain. It is the story of the Levellers, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Suffragettes, Red Clydeside, the Greenham Common camps and the miners’ strikes.

In other words, something the Morning Star’s old Euro Communist enemies called “the national popular”.

Nobody doubts that from this genuine history one can make up as many stories as one likes.

The Brexit Party backing Spiked site  already entered the race last year in this event to commemorate the Peterloo massacre.

 

But what are the politics behind, “a socialist patriotism based on popular sovereignty and international solidarity?

With a left-wing government in power, an alternative patriotism would need to build on this radical past in order to look to the future: what sort of society should we build? How should we strive towards a more peaceful and co-operative world?

Patriotism then becomes a commitment to a national project; a patriotism which is inclusive as it would not be dependent on ethnicity or the country of one’s birth, but on commitment to the collective goal. What else was the NHS but a collective national project involving people from around the world who were galvanised by a commitment to its founding principles?

If the left is to succeed then we need to start talking about concepts such as patriotism and nationalism without simply reaffirming inflexible dogma or resorting to hysteria. In a world where the nation state remains a reality and the only realistic path to socialism, the British left needs to articulate its own socialist patriotism in contrast to the chauvinism, conservatism and militarism which characterises the nationalism of the right.

Nobody has any idea of what this means, other than a trip to the dream time of imaginary communities built around a left wing government.

Nobody has a clear idea of what “popular sovereignty” means in a post-Brexit Britain dominated by the business interests behind Johnson. Not to mention a globalised basis to the economy.

But everybody can be sure that at the moment the patriotism evoked here is in the service of national sovereignty, sovereigntism, in a world where the British nation state is a vehicle for the capitalist  and the Conservative Party  converted to serve a Hard Right Brexit.

 

 

Comrade Paul Mason Backs Keir Starmer; on Starmer’s ‘Socialist Alternatives’ background.

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Starmer has a proud Left-wing background.Paul Mason writes today

Clive Lewis and Keir Starmer are the candidates who understand how Labour must change

You can criticise Starmer for many things: the compromises he made as director of public prosecutions and his resignation during the chicken coup. But you cannot say he is not left wing. From the miners and print workers’ strikes onwards, even if you leave aside co-editing a Trotskyist front magazine in his 20s, Starmer has been of the humanist and socially-liberal left. As someone who stood in the way of the same mounted police charge as he did, at Wapping in 1986, I can tell you it didn’t feel very centrist at the time.

In an era where personality matters, Starmer has a lot going for him. The raw 12 minutes he spent bossing Andrew Marr in the studio last Sunday felt like a revelation after the months we’ve spent wincing during Corbyn’s live appearances. He also connects with working-class people better than Corbyn did – though that is not a differentiator in this contest: all of the candidates do. By this I mean real, undecided or hostile voters, not the bussed-in faithful at Labour Roots rallies.

Finally, Starmer has worked and lived in the world of professional competence. Corbyn surrounded himself with amateurs: strategists who didn’t care about the polls, office managers who could not manage.

This aspect of Stamer’s background  has been followed up: Keir Starmer used to edit a radical socialist newspaper

Keir Starmer is often portrayed as a “moderate” candidate in the race to become Labour Party leader, but it seems that these suspicions are slightly misplaced.

Writing in the New Statesman today, left-wing journalist Paul Mason pointed out that Comrade Keir was in fact the co-editor of a radical left-wing publication, in his early 20s.

Indeed, it appears as though Starmer was the co-editor of “Socialist Alternatives” magazine – a publication so left-wing that Mason describes it as a “Trotskyist front”.

The far right media has already got that one.

Keir Starmer’s chilling explanation of Labour election defeat exposed

KEIR STARMER explained why Labour would lose in a general election in a throwback editorial for a socialist newspaper, it can be revealed.

Starmer was active in the new left Socialist Society some of whose leading figures, Hilary Wainwright and John Palmer have been active on the present pro-European internationalist left.

The journal Socialist Alternatives (SA) was set up by a small group active within this body, and was also part of the broad current known as the ‘new left’.

The key idea was ‘the alternative’, a term used in France by the Fédération pour une gauche alternative (FGA)  an alliance of leftist groups, including trade unionist supporters of self-management, and some councillors during the 1980s.

The objective was to find alternatives to traditional socialist and social democratic parties, and SA can be read as strongly influenced by Green politics and social movements.

It was strongly opposed to ‘actually existing Communism’.

It would be misleading to call it  ‘Trotskyist’ although SA was directly inspired by the French current known as ‘Pabloism’. This was originally Trotskyist but by the 1980s had dropped Trotsky as their main reference point. They were only one current within the broader bloc, or ‘cartel’ as it was known.

I was active in the group which inspired many of these themes, the FGA, and campaigned with them.

To indicate our politics, I was one of the groups’ delegate to the committee which organised a demonstration following the Chernobyl distaster.

Our own local committee in the 17th and 18th arrondissements of Paris had a councillor for the 17eme, elected as a member of the PSU in alliance with the Parti Socialiste.

It was hardly ‘trotskyist’  in the conventional sense.

There were  the Unified Socialist Party (PSU), like Jean-Pierre Lemaire, who are opposed to participation in the government and gathered around the Left Self-Management trend , as well as some observers of Trend 3 of the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR). Some Pabloites ( Maurice Najman , Gilbert Marquis , Michel Fiant ) and other extreme left activists ( Jacques Archimbaud , former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) (PCR), and Patrick Petitjean, a former member of the Communist Organization of Workers (OCT)) are also part of the rally, as well as some members of the French Communist Party (sociologist Philippe Zarifian ).

Dans la Fédération pour une gauche alternative se rassemblent des militants du Parti socialiste unifié (PSU), comme Jean-Pierre Lemaire, opposés à la participation au gouvernement et rassemblés autour de la tendance Gauche autogestionnaire, ainsi que quelques observateurs de la tendance 3 de la Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (LCR). Quelques pablistes (Maurice NajmanGilbert MarquisMichel Fiant) et d’autres militants d’extrême gauche (Jacques Archimbaud, ancien membre du Parti communiste révolutionnaire (marxiste-léniniste) (PCR), et Patrick Petitjean, ancien membre de l’Organisation communiste des travailleurs (OCT)) font aussi partie du rassemblement, ainsi que quelques membres du Parti communiste français (le sociologue Philippe Zarifian).

Alternatives writing in the journal included  Frieder Otto Wolf  who was  from 1984 to 1989 and in 1994  a leading member of the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in the European Parliament.

A a key figure helping create the group in the UK (apart from ‘Harry Curtis’) was Maurice Najman.

Maurice Najman ,born onn Paris and died onin Paris 1 ,was  a journalist having worked in particular in the newspaper Liberation and in the monthly Le Monde diplomatique. Active on the extreme left , a libertarian Trotskyist passionate about the underground , he was one of the figures of the protest movement of May 68 , having notably co-founded the action committees of high school students or CAL in 1967.

Maurice Najman (who spoke Yiddish ) came from a Polish Jewish family . Her father was a communist activist and her mother, Solange, daughter of a cousin of Rosa Luxemburg , Maria Luxemburg was a survivor of Auschwitz .

His flat, in Belleville, was situated in historic Jewish quarter of the Paris.

Maurice was greatly loved.

When he passed away the French press was full of respectful tributes.

Mort du journaliste Maurice Najman. Militant gauchiste; il avait travaillé à «Libération».

Comrade Paul Mason is right to say that our left was and is, “humanist and socially-liberal”.

There is nothing obscure about Keir Starmer’s new left background, nor anything to hide.

I was also part of the Socialist Society when I returned to the UK in the late 1980s and early 1990s when SA were part of the body.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 8, 2020 at 5:15 pm

Morning Star Pushing Brexit and ‘Leave-Fight-Transform’ Campaign linked to Red-Brown ‘Full Brexit’.

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Still Backing Brexit.

Morning Star Retweeted

Leave Fight Transform

The origins of this campaign lie in the Red-Brown Front  Full Brexit, which brings together supporters of the Brexit Party, the Communist Party of Britain, Labour Leave, sovereigntists, and an assortment of odd bods, from Lambertists to Larry O’Nutter (better known under his pen name of Larry O’Hara), and funny money chaps.

Co-founders of The Full Brexit are pleased to be part of a new grassroots campaign supporting Brexit and the subsequent transformation of British society. It is called “Leave – Fight – Transform: The LeFT Campaign”, and launched today with a letter and accompanying article in The Morning Star.

Its site has been dead for some weeks now, but has sprung into life anew.

“Join us for a day of discussion and planning, as we reflect on the General Election result and the Brexit process to date, the lessons it has for us in the labour movement, and begin planning the fightback to transform British society in the interests of the working class.”

These meetings are obviously aimed at weighing on the Labour leadership campaign.

Note the list of those involved in these events.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 7, 2020 at 12:43 pm

As Labour Leadership Contest Hots up Labour Representation Committee goes into Political Wilderness of Posting anti-Semites.

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Left wing breaks up after anti-Semitic Scandal 

It is comrade Steve Cook who first signaled  this:

 

No photo description available.

It was bad enough with the previous rubbish with Jackie  Walker and their support for Chris Williamson,

Now nobody is going to take anything they say seriously.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 6, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Qasem Soleimani, hated commander of the Islamic Republic’s Quds Force has been killed – Worker Communist Party of Iran.

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“Qasem Soleimani, the hated commander of the Islamic Republic’s Quds Force” – Worker-communist Party of Iran.

The Stop the War Coalition responded differently.

The assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani is an act of war by Donald Trump. The act was carried out in Baghdad, violating all agreements with the Iraqi government. Both Iran and Iraq will retaliate. Trump has been heading for war since tearing up the nuclear deal with Iran and if he succeeds will create a bigger war than we have seen in the Middle East. It will draw in major players across the region including Israel, Saudi Arabia and possibly Russia.

This is the bloody result of two decades of war started by the US after 9/11. Those of us who said war in Iraq would lead to endless conflict and misery were absolutely right to do so. And those who justified those wars are now looking on while the situation escalates.

We must do everything we can to oppose war with Iran – and attacks on Iraq if it demands the withdrawal of US troops.

Lindsey German.

German says not a word about this war criminal’s actions.

Statement of the Worker-communist Party of Iran:

Qasem Soleimani, the hated commander of the Islamic Republic’s Quds Force has been killed

In the early hours of today, Qasem Soleimani, along with a number of key commanders of the Quds Force, and of Hashd Al-Shaabi and Kata’ib Hezbollah, including Kata’ib’s chief commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, were killed in a drone strike near Baghdad Airport. The attack comes after clashes between the US and the Islamic Republic forces in Iraq over the past few days. The death of Qasem Soleimani, who was the absolute commander of the Quds Force and one of the most powerful commanders of the Islamic Republic’s Pasdaran paramilitary force (IRGC), is a deadly blow to the Islamic Republic – in Iran, in the region and particularly in Iraq.

Soleimani was one of the most vicious terrorists of the Islamic regime, playing a key role in the organisation of terror groups in Syria, Yemen and particularly in Iraq. He was the architect and organiser of Hashd Al-Shaabi and other Islamic gangs in Iraq and in effect led the suppression of the Iraqi people and their uprising. His killing will no doubt delight the people of Iraq and Iran who detest the Islamic Republic and are engaged in a daily fight with this regime and its mercenaries. People of Iran share in the happiness of the people of Iraq, who have come out dancing and celebrating on the streets of Baghdad.

Following the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the Islamic Republic will no doubt step up its attempts to incite military clashes between the Islamic forces and the American army in the region, and in particular in Iraq. However, the revolutionary people of Iraq and the power of Tahrir Square, which have already driven the fading Iraqi state into a total political crisis and deadlock, will not allow the warlike attempts of the Islamic Republic to succeed. The victim of such attempts will ultimately be the Islamic Republic itself.

The main response of the people of Iran to the rants of the leaders of the Islamic Republic, aimed at militarising and terrorising the social climate, and the way to confront the dangers of a conflict between Islamic terrorism and American militarism, is to step up the struggle for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic in Iran and its expulsion from Iraq, which is a key demand of the people of Iraq.

Victory to the revolution of the people of Iraq!

Down with the Islamic Republic!

Worker-communist Party of Iran

3 January 2020

#Iraq #Iran #Soleimani

Written by Andrew Coates

January 4, 2020 at 12:19 pm

Comrade Keir Starmer – ‘Socialist Alternatives’ – takes lead in Labour members’ poll.

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Comrade Keir in the late 1980s (group active in the Ralph Miliband  and Hilary Wainwright Socialist Society).

Poll of Labour members suggests Keir Starmer is first choice

Keir Starmer has emerged as an early frontrunner in the Labour leadership race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn after a poll of members suggested he was the first choice in all regions of the UK, age groups and social classes.

The shadow Brexit secretary is yet to formally launch his campaign but is expected to do so in the first few weeks of the new year. The new leader will be elected in March after Corbyn said he would step down following the party’s catastrophic general election defeat.

Polling by YouGov for the Party Members Project put Starmer as winning with a 61% vote share to 39% for the shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long Bailey, in the last round.

We agree with the members:

Not only does Bastani and the rest of the ‘alt’ crew loathe him, which is all to the well,  but comrade Keir was an activist on the left,  a ‘Pabloite’.

So much for this rubbish about his “centrist” background.

Europe, Internationalism, Socialist Alternatives (Pabloism), and…Keir Starmer.

More here:  The British Pabloites

 

His legal career was marked by this, “Starmer became a barrister in 1987. He advised Helen Steel and David Morris in the McLibel case, which went to court in 1997.”

With this honourable background, and many other feathers to his bow,we would say that Starmer looks a good candidate.

There are many other reasons to back him.

See here:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 2, 2020 at 1:11 pm

Morning Star Puffs Long Bailey as Counterfire Attacks “Another Europe is Possible clique”.

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John Rees: Another Europe is Possible clique, Starmer and John McDonnell,  Responsible for Labour Defeat.

In today’s Editorial the Morning Star, wholly owned by the Co-op and independent of the Communist Party of Britain, argues for ‘left unity’ against any part of the left which opposes their own pro-Brexit line.

Left unity and the Labour leadership contest

The  response to Rebecca Long Bailey’s clearest pitch yet to succeed Jeremy Corbyn at the helm of the Labour Party shows that the contest is going to be difficult to navigate — not just for the candidates, but more importantly for the socialist left.

The Editorial does not pull its punches.

It’s plausible to see the most vocally pro-Remain shadow cabinet members as having accepted positions under Corbyn because they saw it as the best way to shift Labour to a pro-Remain position.

It has praise for Long Bailey but cautiously refrains from mentioning a single reason why the left criticise her.

Long Bailey’s first intervention in the race lays down a number of markers, in support for radical economic change and the crucial importance of trade unionism, which show she does not intend to accommodate to the status quo.

Watch  out the saboteurs are about…

It also holds out hope that the role of anti-socialist MPs in sabotaging the Corbyn project has been noted, pledging to democratise the Labour Party.

The the wrecking centre has a name and it is…..

But advocating unity cannot become an excuse to avoid the hard questions. The left has frequently pulled its punches in the name of unity since 2015, whether over reselection or in the battles over Brexit where elite-funded campaigns such as the People’s Vote were able to exercise a huge and distorting influence on Labour, dragging it towards a liberal accommodation with market principles and resulting in the absurd contradiction where the party of the organised working class was demanding that the Conservatives do more to ensure the frictionless movement of capital and goods across borders free of the threat of economic policy being changed by elected governments.

The Editorial  concludes that the working class must be vigilant!

That the interests of working-class people and those of capitalists are diametrically opposed.

A movement which forgets that, which cites Bank of England and big business concerns to oppose popular sovereignty, cannot authentically speak or fight for workers. That truth will need articulating as Labour picks its next leader.

Unpicking this ‘articulation’ this means than anybody who is an a pro-European internationalist should watch out!

The leader of the groupuscule Counterfire is another one who fancies he is a player in Labour Politics.

He is somewhat clearer not limiting his ire at the People’s Vote, but extending it to the internationalist left as a whole.

Another struggle is possible

Jeremy Corbyn’s perceived weakness as a leader is partly related to the issue of Brexit, although actually his stubborn insistence on retreating as slowly as he felt he could from the 2017 position of respecting the Leave vote speaks to the opposite case.

The forces ranged against him on this issue, from Sir Keir Starmer to John McDonnell, are actually to blame for the debacle. They and the Another Europe is Possible clique ran a uniquely unsuccessful campaign whose only practical effect is to have forced Labour into a position which materially assisted in its election defeat.

..

The  sage concluded with swipes against two Labour leadership contenders.

Sir Keir Starmer is the real candidate of the right, since they know the ridiculous Jess Philips is not a realistic option. He, and Emily Thornberry, are the architects of the Remain policy that wrecked Labour’s chances in this election. Both are mainstream economically and Trident/NATO Atlanticists…which is entirely consistent with a bit of Democrat-inspired Trump baiting.

Clive Lewis is an even more enthusiastic NATO supporter, attempting to steer left by backing a reselection scheme which won’t get past a first PLP meeting.

Many people will be hoping that this sectarian rant by Galloway’s old best friend mark a welcome return to the margins of politics for Counterfire.

His own groupuscule’s responsibility for encouraging illusions in Brexit, in their imaginary “People’s Brexit”,  should be a warning about indulging illusions that led to the only actually existing Brexit, the right-wing Brexit.

The Morning Star  is a more power visibly still a player, but one suspects that influence is bleeding away from its nationalist camp.

Seriously, who is going to back “progressive nationalism”?

Written by Andrew Coates

December 31, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Rebecca Long-Bailey Labour Leadership Bid Endorses Tony Blair’s “progressive patriotism” programme.

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Close to Corbyn: as blessed by Pic.

The Labour leadership contest has so far been marked by the fragmentation of the left.

One group has launched this appeal:

Calling on Ian Lavery MP to stand for leader

“In essence we think that Ian Lavery is the person to take the Labour Party forward and build on the progress of the last 4 years. Please sign and name constituency if you agree. Please do not sign twice.”

Skwawkbox seems to like the type, noted for his spade like hands, ready to shovel donations up.

POLL SUGGESTS 3 OUT OF 4 LABOUR MEMBERS BACK LAVERY OVER STARMER

The “poll” is of course a poll of their mates…..no doubt supplied by the same authority which had such success with the Liberal Democrats’ polls….

Now we another pitch on the left…

We need to win back the country’s trust, champion progressive patriotism – and unite proud communities failed by the Tories.

In fact the pitch is not bad but this mixes two things together.

We have to unite our communities in all their diversity. Britain has a long history of patriotism rooted in working life, built on unity and pride in the common interests and shared life of everyone. This history is internationalist: as in 1862 when Lancashire’s mill workers supported Abraham Lincoln’s anti-slavery blockade of cotton from the American south. To win we must revive this progressive patriotism and solidarity in a form fit for modern Britain. While Boris Johnson criticises single mothers and likens Muslim women to bank robbers, we must stand for pride in our communities, dignity in our work and a common purpose that unites communities across the country.

But ‘Progressive patriotism”?

Perhaps this Blog has missed something but the Mill workers’ support was internationalist, and not patriotic.

It’s hard to see what patriotism, even as a ‘floating signifier’,  was involved.

The only people who consider this ‘patriotic’ are red-brown types like Spiked’s James Heartfield.

This is how the First International, created by trade unions and the left, responded to that civil war,

ADDRESS OF THE INTERNATIONAL WORKINGMEN’S ASSOCIATION TO ABRAHAM LINCOLN
To Abraham Lincoln,

President of the United States of America.

Sir,
We congratulate the American people upon your reelection by a large majority.

If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant war cry of your reelection is Death to Slavery.

From the commencement of the titanic American strife the workingmen of Europe felt instinctively that the star-spangled banner carried the destiny of their class.

One could add that the support for the abolition of slavery had deep internationalist roots in the British labour movement and left.

Right to the French Revolution.

Thomas Clarkson (who has a street named after him in Ipswich) was one such figure.

Clarkson wrote verbatim accounts of the debates in the French National Assembly in the local paper.

Société des amis des Noirs 

The Society was created in Paris in 1788, and operated until 1793, during years of the French Revolution. It was led by Jacques Pierre Brissot, with advice from British Thomas Clarkson, who led the abolitionist movement in the Kingdom of Great Britain. At the beginning of 1789, the Society had 141 members.

During the five-year period that it operated, it published anti-slavery literature and frequently addressed its concerns on a substantive political level in the National Assembly of France. In February 1794, the National Assembly passed the Universal Emancipation decree, which effectively freed all colonial slaves and gave them equal rights. This decision was later reversed under Napoleon, who tried unsuccessfully to reinstitute slavery in the colonies and to regain control of Saint-Domingue, where a slave rebellion was underway.

That is the origins of the solidarity shown in Lancashire and elsewhere.

So where does this patriotic stuff come from?

Is it some Chantal Mouffe, Gramscian idea about the ‘national popular’?

One is surely it’s well meaning and terribly kind to appeal to “ migrant cleaners in Brixton“, “ex-miners in Blyth Valley, “small businesses in Stoke-on-Trent to the self-employed in Salford..”

Is that all?

Unlikely.

Many suggest this is the real Maître à penser in Long-Bailey’s campaign.

Tony Blair said last night that he wanted to set out his view of Britain’s role in the world on the basis of a modernised definition of patriotism.

Mr Blair pointed to devolution – “tailored to make sure that people’s aspirations are reflected in their institutions” – as an example of how strength could be drawn from diversity. “Diversity is about the distinct parts of a whole learning each from the other,” he said. “We are not rejecting what makes us British. Britishness is not defined by clinging to the status quo. I define it rather by reference to our common purpose and sense of mutual belonging, born of shared values.”

Ah yes…..

Written by Andrew Coates

December 30, 2019 at 12:54 pm

Communists “proved Right” on backing Brexit say Communist Party of Britain (independent of the Co-Op owned Morning Star)

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Image result for Communist party of britain 100 years

 

Communist Party of Britain Begin’s 100th year celebration by admitting that they are right.

This was there immediate statement after the elections:

Communists blame Brexit shift for Labour’s defeat and urge movement’s renewal

This bumper issue of  January 2020 Unity! Election analysis  goes further,

(Extracts)

“The Communists take no satisfaction  from being proved right on December 12, when up to two million people who had voted Leave in 2016 and Labour in 2017 deserted the party in 2019. A very big Yougov survey indicates that many of them abstained, while some voted Tory or for the Brexit Party. ”

Who was to blame?

The Remainers…

“They helped organise and supported the millionaire-funded “People’s Vote” movement for a second referendum to overturn Brexit.”

What was their goal?

“The intention is to “Europeanise” the party so that it more closely resembles traditional social democratic parties across the European Union whose pro-EU, pro-capitalist politics…”

“… people saw this as another, more grievous, example of neglect and even betrayal by their own party, its leadership and a London metropolitan “elite.”

Yet there is hope.

The rise of People’s China as an economic power and an alternative model for growth and prosperity adds to these pressures. This is the context in which to understand the continuing expansion and interventionism of Nato, the militarisation of the EU and the contradictions developing within.

We note the following:

Britain’s Communist Party marks its centenary in 2020. One hundred years of struggle also prove that the oldest, most experienced and, when necessary, ruthless ruling class in the world can be challenged and on vital occasions knocked off course by mass action.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 29, 2019 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Communism, Stalinism

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Tribune ‘Culture’ Editor’ attacks Internationalist Left (“Workers’ Power” and “Trots”) in the Guardian.

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Guardian Publishes Sectarian Rant.

This article, to say the least odd, drew an immediate response from comrade Paul Mason,

If you must compare Corbyn to a past Labour leader, it isn’t Michael Foot

In fact the drift of this rant is not that peculiar.

Hatherly is the author of “Landscapes of Communism: A History Through Buildings.” 

As he says at the outset, he comes from a family of the left. His grandparents were communists, and his parents were members of Militant Tendency. One childhood holiday was spent at the Militant Labour summer camp on Mersea Island, Essex. The book is in these ways personal. Part of its mission is to find “what socialism is”, to recover from its disappointments, abuses and atrocities what was good about his family’s convictions. He is therefore keen to puncture ideas of western superiority and exonerate where he can the alleged failures of communism.

So Hatherly is pretty patronising and bizarre himself, to begin with.

Then…

Let’s begin with his ‘cultural ‘editorship in Tribune….

The magazine is owned by the US  populist Jacobin magazine, and run by a group of toffs.

Their European Editor is a fan of M. 6,3%  JeanLuc Mélenchon, Dave Broder.

He has developed his own loathing of ‘trots’ over the years, though a different faction to the one pretentious architectural critic Hatherly dislikes.

Home Countries Broder,  immediately after the British election, launched into an attack on the internationalists after the UK, by denouncing the “liberal denunciation of Brexit.”

Fellow upper-cruster, and deputy  Editor of New Left Review, Daniel Finn, blamed Labour’s defeat on the internationalist left:

The Obsessive Remainers Have Scored a Massive Own Goal.

His painted a picture taking of a Remain plot to scupper Labour’s Chances.

Continuity Remain could call upon its own army of foot soldiers, a “political assets” as the conspis call them,

Daniel Cohen continued, his Gentleman’s Relish spluttering over the text,

Remainists are the people who keep bringing the conversation back to Brexit. They point out that the referendum was only ever meant to be advisory, and insist that another one is just around the corner. They go on protests. They have strong opinions about Guy Verhofstadt and Sabine Weyand. They worry about chlorinated chicken. They have acquired detailed knowledge of electoral law and can list the Leave campaign’s violations. They light up at any mention of the 2012 Olympics. They wonder what Orwell would have made of all this. They hang the EU flag in their windows.

Trainspotting notes.

Workers’ Power,  were a split from the SWP/IS long back.

The League for the Fifth International was perhaps their crowning moment,

They have minimal influence on the internationalist pro-EU left, whose breath extends from the Greens, Left Labour MPs, Open Labour, Chartist, Red Pepper to more radical left groups, such as Socialist Resistance, and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty – none of which are friends of WP/Red Flag

We do however agree with comrade Paul mason on the fight against National Populism, National neoLiberalism.

This Blog also agrees with Paul Mason on the importance of universal human rights.

Things have changed, we need a bloc of the internationalist left, around human rights (the greatest movement for human rights in modern history is the trade union movement) in  defence of internationalism against the national populists, Johnson, Blue Labour and their objective allies, the  ‘left’ populists’.

And we are united against the kind of rubbish that the minions of Jacobin and its UK branch are trying to spread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 28, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Leftist Trainspotting Quiz of the Year (2019).

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Many things have happened since 1980…

Leftist Trainspotting Quiz of the Year.

 

1) George Galloway made  headlines after the General Election when he created the Workers’ Party of Britain, with close involvement of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

The CPGB (M-L), its Eternal Honorary Chairman of the Party and his daughter, Joti, are the scions of which dynasty.

  • The Rabbits of the Br’er.
  • House Targaryen.
  • Brar.

2) The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) split this year over the issue of ‘Mandelism’.

What is Mandelism?

  • A  sweet almond based cake.
  • The ideas associated with much liked and respected Ernest Mandel, the Belgium Marxist economist.
  •  A deadly political virus which brought women’s and gay liberation – political correctness gone mad -into Trotskyism

3) Gilles Fraser, darling of the Occupy Movement outside St Paul’s and fellow traveller of the SWP, has now announced that he is a Tory.

He is the Vicar of which parish?

  • Bray.
  • Dibley.
  • Brexit.

4) Who were the  Socialist Labour Group and why did they resurface during, and after, the Brexit vote?

  • They are doughty champions of national independence and the rights of Rochdale.
  • They are Lamberists,  the deadliest enemies of socialist internationalism.
  • They are part of the Red-Brown front.

5)  The  International Socialist Organization dissolved this year.

What was the name of its respected  paper?

6) James Heartfield was a leading cadre of the Revolutionary Communist Party and has close links to Spiked.

Before bottling out he was going to stand for the Brexit Party in the General Election.

What is his  original name?

  • James Field of Hearts.
  • James Heartfelt.
  • James Hughes.

7) In which European election did the CPB, in the pages of the Morning Star, (wholly owned by the Co-Op), advocate not voting Labour?

  • 1918.
  • 1945.
  • 2019.

8) Anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner Paul Embery is a member or associated with the following?

  • Blue Labour
  • ‘Trade Unionists’ against the European Union.
  • Spiked.
  • The Full Brexit.
  • Kate Hoey.

9) Who is the UK’s most celebrated political vegan?

  • Lord Voldemort.
  • Sauron.
  • Chris Williamson.

10) Pabloism has been in the news again.

Why?

Written by Andrew Coates

December 27, 2019 at 11:22 am

After Nigel Farage Brendan O’Neill Set to be Knighted.

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Boris Johnson’s Favourite Marxist Brexiteer in the Offing for Knighthood?  

Rumours are flying that NIgel Farage is going to be knighted.

 

 

Nigel Farage Set To Be Knighted In The New Years Honours List According To Sources

This Blog can exclusively reveal, before Skwawkbox, that Heavyweight columnist Brendan O’Neill is also in the running after this amazing critique of multiculturalist elites.

Insiders say that the distinguished  pundit is in line for the The Order of the Companions of Honour.

 

Companion of Honour.jpg

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 23, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Back Johnson’s Brexit Bill Says Skwawkbox, as Legal Judgement Against Them Engulfs ‘Labour’ Site.

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Tries to Become Player in Labour Leadership Contest as Legal Judgement Engulfs Pro-Brexit Site.

 

“Labour must back the bill today – and those who cannot bring themselves to do so must at worst abstain. And any leadership hopeful who tries to curry favour on both sides by making a damaging gesture against the bill should see those hopes ended instantly.”

LABOUR MUST NOT OPPOSE WITHDRAWAL BILL TODAY 

 

Skawawkbox, the site which Bob Pitt described in these terms:

Skwawkbox functions as a sort of left-wing mirror image of the right-wing tabloid press, or of alt-right sites like Breitbart News. It employs the same unscrupulous, sensationalist journalistic methods, but for opposite political ends. Skwawkbox appears incapable of grasping that socialist aims cannot be achieved by such anti-socialist means.
Bob Pitt  2017.

More fairytales from Skwawkbox 2019.

I’ve made this point before, but at my advanced age I feel I’m entitled to be boring and repetitive, so I’ll make it again. The problem is that Steve Walker does this sort of thing all the time, hyping up non-stories with minimal concern for fairness or accuracy. He thinks he’s acting in the interests of the left, but he’s wrong. The objectives of progressive politics can’t be served by slipshod and downright dishonest journalism like this. Nor are they assisted by leftists covering up for Skwawkbox and trying to justify its indefensible methods.

Now there is this:

Despite this legal ruling, and its discreditable pro-Brexit politics, Skwaky is, bizarrely,  trying to play a role in the Labour leadership contest.

PRESSURE BUILDS FOR LAVERY/BUTLER TICKET AS PLEDGES MOUNT

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 22, 2019 at 2:20 pm

As Johnson Smashes Workers’ Rights and Environmental Standards Remnants of Brexit Labour and Lexit Left stand with Tories.

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Image result for Brexit workers rights

Workers’ Rights Under Attack at Brexit Labour MPs Back Tories’ Plans.

Tariq Ali: Don’t’ Mourn Organise!

Left-winger and one of the editors of New Left Review commented  immediately afterwards  on the election result.

The Labour Party’s refusal to support the implementation of the Brexit referendum results and, for the most part, to ignore its pro-Brexit supporters in the north of the country led to its defeat. Some of us had already pointed out the dangers, but a divided party and leadership (on this point John McDonnell should be blamed for insisting on the commitment to a second referendum). They were  sanctioned by their own constituents. This is the main reason for the defeat. It was a strategic blunder of enormous magnitude.

The failure to fight “anti-Semitism” [as attributed by the media to Corbyn and the Labor Party sectors that support it] was also a mistake, albeit on a smaller scale. The coordinated media assault on Jeremy Corbyn also had an impact. BBC coverage of Labor Party debates may now revert to “centrist” options. Emily Thornberry is the most likely candidate for “unity.”

However, there is a radical social democratic left inside and outside the Labor party. Elections are not everything. An autonomous mobilisation of the new generation must not be excluded and it must be both encouraged and supported. Johnson’s economic policies will accelerate the crisis . Mass mobilisations and strikes will be the only response as the French are currently demonstrating. Scotland will now want its independence and the Irish will want some form of unity so the Conservatives can not do as they please..

From Grande-Bretagne : les raisons d’une défaite (a selection of opinionated articles  by odd ball ‘left’  sovereigntists translated from English in the French left magazine Contretemps, including one from the US Jacobin not one written by anybody who has a genuine history of involvement in the UK Labour Party).

The day of reckoning has now come.

Jeremy Corbyn hit by shadow Cabinet rebellion as Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill clears first Commons hurdle

 

In total 32 either abstained or were paired off, meaning they did not have to actively vote, including Andrew Gwynne, John Healey, Ian Lavery, Jon Trickett and Peter Dowd from the shadow Cabinet.

Speaking after the vote, Mr Healey made clear that he had intentionally abstained – setting up a potential clash with the leadership.

In a statement he said: “In a Brexit referendum and a Brexit election the public have now been clear, and so should Labour: our fight must be about the type of Brexit and the huge difference between Labour and Conservative visions of our economy.

“Any question about whether Brexit goes ahead has been closed. I heard this same sentiment talking with many people on the doorstep and in the street during the Election.”

And he added: “For this reason, I took a different stance to the official Labour Party position and did not oppose the introduction of the Government’s Brexit bill today.”

The Clarion says,

Written by Andrew Coates

December 21, 2019 at 1:25 pm

The Forward March of the Corbyn Project Halted.

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Rallies did not Bring Election Victory.

The Forward March of the Corbyn Project Halted

“…it is assumed that the party’s turn to the left and its promise of staying true to its commitment, will itself guarantee the next Labour victory. This illusion is more dangerous than that of the 1970s, because it entirely by-passes the main problem, which is that the best and most-left party is not enough if the masses won’t support it in sufficient numbers.”

Eric Hobsbawm. Observations on the Debate. Page 171. The Forward March of Labour Halted? Verso. 1981.

“..lorsqu’on essaie d’expliquer pourquoi à tel moment les classes populaires votent à droite, on ne présuppose pas – sans jamais s’interroger sur ce présupposé – qu’il serait naturel qu’elles votent à gauche, et que ça n’est jamais complètement le cas.

When one tries to explain at such a moment why the working classes vote for the right, one does not presuppose, without questioning this supposition – whether it is natural for them to vote for the left, which has never been wholly the case

Page 153. Retour à Reims, Édouard Louis. Champs Essais. 2018.

In the 2017 Presidential and legislative elections in France the left, the political forces that inspired the term “left” and one of the strongest in the world, was reduced to the margins, with no candidate in the final round of the Presidential contest won by Macron against Marine Pen, and less than 54 seats (out of 577). Thursday’s Labour vote was 33%, a drop of 8% compared with the last General Election. The left of centre party, uniting social democrats, trade unionists, and socialists of different stripes, with a membership total (512, 000) that puts in the shade southern European socialist and even the traditionally mass northern social democratic parties.

At 43,6% of the vote, and a majority of up to 80, the largest since 1987, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, is undisputed master of the House of Parliament. Early indications, self evident, show that the Conservatives won on the basis of ‘Getting Brexit done” and, negatively, on a successful campaign to portray Labour’s leader as “unfit to hold high office”. Labur got 203 seats and 32,2%

They were helped by former Labour MPs in a Reg Prentice movement” reneging on the party, advising a Tory vote. Would-be social democrats, using the techniques of their student battles against the ‘trots’, have mounted a journalistic and trollbot operation to tarnish Labour’s democratic credentials.

Unable to create a new force on the centre left some have taken the line that the most sectarian elements of the French Communist Party are alleged to have taken in the second round of the 1981 Presidential contest: better the right in power than their political enemies (François Mitterrand) on the left. Using allegations of institutional anti-semitism (based on genuine concerns), they reached out to assertions that Jeremy Corbyn is in thrall to religious fascism and threatened a new Venezuela for Britain. From the former MPs, columnists, to figures in a marginal but well-funded anti-extremism body will doubtless reap more than personal satisfaction from the result. (1)

The Labour Party will, Jeremy Corbyn has announced, have a “period of reflection”. It is to be hoped that this will not take the shape of the response to prolonged defeat in the 1980s. A key moment came with Labour strategists at the at the start of the 1990s treating voters, as Leo Panitch and Colin Leys stated, “as consumers of party programme with pre-given attitudes and interests”. While Peter Mandelson and had some justification to try to appeal to tax-hating and self-interested aspirational electors, it is hard to see how any hard-headed worker or employee could see Brexit as an economic boom. The danger therefore is that any discussion about the loss of the Red Wall and Wakefield – which does not generally include the longer standing destruction of left wing support in Scotland to the benefit of the (at best) centrist nationalists of the Scottish National Party – will give free vein to the same self-pitying nationalism that has fed Brexit. (2)

The present defeat has roots in the long-term decline of the labour movement and the fragmentation of working class occupations and experience. There are strong parallels between the loss of part of Labour’s northern industrial heartland and the decline of the left in culturally and economically similar Northern France. Retour à Reims is one of the best-known attempts to grapple with how the formerly loyal Communist voting workers have drifted to the far right. Today the Rassemblement National (RN – formerly Front National) of Marine Le Pen receives, despite its own small membership (under 30,000) the highest percentage of workers’ votes.

Édouard Louis suggested that one way to tackle this development is to look at how people perceive voting for the right. He cited Stuart Hall’s writing on the appeal of Thatcher’s “regressive modernisation”. This had a foundation in the belief that they were on the crest of the wave of a new capitalist revolution, today called “globalisation”.  At one point writers like Mark Fisher saw ‘capitalist’ realism in people’s willingness to buy into the idea that this was happening.(3)

What Johnson offers, by contrast, is another side of Thatcherism, an appeal to “what it is like to be ‘English’ which has been entirely constituted out of Britain’s long, disastrous imperialist march across the earth.” Perhaps is is the banking crisis, perhaps it is the impasse of the British economy. but people are no longer looking forward to an unblemished  bright future. In place of a brand new world we have in Johnson national populism. It could equally be called, “Archeofuturism”, archaic deference to the Old Constitution and the Tories, and a future turned towards the buccaneering spirit of hedge funds and business chancers. Crabbed and reliant on stronger states, above all the USA, the economics of this ideology, national neoliberalism, are not part of a new wave of capitalist expansion. They will, with improbable success and uncertain allies, to use political power to protect British interests.

Those within the Labour Party, and forces outside it but with influence on the leadership, in Counterfire and the Morning Star, have failed to face up to this central aspect of Brexit. Imagining a ‘hyper-reality’ in which leaving the EU is part of the forward march of the left towards an independent socialist state, they have contributed to the poisonous climate in which Get Brexit Done cane be seen as a credible programme. “A visibly shocked [Labour party] John McDonnell told the BBC that “Brexit has dominated” the election.” In this atmosphere a failure to confront sovereigntism and the ideas that keep Marine Le Pen on the political centre-stage, hatred of foreigners, ‘metropolitan elites’ and liberalism, have flourished. The Lexit left bear some responsibility in opening the doors to this language amongst the constituencies they claim to speak for.

Labour failed to confront the Brexit story during the election, preferring to let anything go. It did not challenge the golden legend about a successful exit from the EU. Instead it dangled the possibility of a Better Brexit before the voters. It is not surprising that many of those who cast their ballot papers, comforted in the view that this could be a good thing, came to support the only actually existing Brexit on offer.

It is deeply saddening that we lost.

After Johnson’s victory it is tempting to retreat to left folk politics and call to protest.

Suddenly calls to “respect the vote” by the Brexit Left, have vanished…

The time has come for those on the internationalist left in the Labour Party to defeat the policies that helped the rise of national populism, from the Leave side inside mainstream Labour to the red-brown populists of the Full Brexit.

What will happen to ‘Corbynism’ ” both a leftist ideology that has emerged from the wreckage of the financial crisis and the unlikely assemblage of political forces that has coalesced around it”, the left populism that it was claimed would be a new way to create a transformative Labour Party? Rallies and Momentum did not bring electoral success. Whatever Corbyn’s charisma was, something many of us have been impervious to, unlike respect for his activism, is fading.

Corbyn has just said,

General election 2019: ‘There is no such thing as Corbynism’ – Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has responded to his party’s heavy election defeat – defending his manifesto and claiming that the issue of Brexit dominated the vote.

Asked if Corbynism was dead, he said: “There is no such thing as Corbynism. There is socialism, there is social justice.”

Mr Corbyn added that he would not be standing down as leader just yet, because “the responsible thing to do is not to walk away”.

******

  1. Quand le PCF préparait le vote anti-Mitterrand.

  2.  Page 221. The End of Parliamentary Socialism. Leo Panitch and Colin Leys. Verso. 1997.

  3. Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? Mark Fisher Zero Books. 2009.  Page 173. The Long Road to Renewal. Stuart Hall.Verso. 1988.

Update.

Jim has commented,

“We lost because we were too pro-Remain” is already becoming the narrative of both the Stalino-Corbynites and the John Mann/Stephen Kinnock-school nationalist-Blairites.

Most of the below will be self-evident to comrades on this site but, just to rehearse the arguments:

• Labour was only “pro-Remain” in a by-implication way, depending on who you listened to. Its actual policy was pro-Brexit: “we’ll negotiate a great Labour Brexit, it’ll be brilliant, then you’ll have the chance to vote to endorse our brilliant deal! But, if you’re one of those stick-in-the-mud Remainers, we suppose you could vote for that instead….”

• How does “Labour would’ve won if it was more pro-Leave” explain Scotland? Labour also lost votes to more explicitly pro-Remain parties.

• If the pro-Brexit elements in Labour are so confident Labour would’ve won with a pro-Brexit policy, why didn’t *a single one of them* propose this within the party, at any point? I’m not aware of a single CLP passing a pro-Brexit policy, and neither of the two pro-Brexit affiliated unions (Aslef and BFAWU) ever proposed such a policy. Nor did McCluskey. They had no confidence whatsoever in their own ideas.

• The idea that there was an otherwise apolitical pro-Brexit electoral constituency waiting to be corralled by either left or right is nonsense; it radically underestimates the extent to which nationalists ideas have taken root. People so deeply committed to Brexit as a political idea, presented in explicitly hard-nationalist terms, were not going to vote for a “Labour Brexit”. They want the fully-leaded version.

Fintan O’Toole on Boris Johnson, from “Sadopopulism” to the “Theatrical Show of Society”.

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British Election, “Theatrical Show of Society”. 

“Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behaviour.”
― Guy Debord, Society Of The Spectacle

This Blog has cited Stuart Hall’s writing on authoritarian populism and Margaret Thatcher as a way to think through how the Tory Party under Johnson has developed.

An important difference, we argued, is that Boris Johnson relies more on ideology, and the politics of the spectacle, show business, than the Tories did in the late ‘seventies and ‘eighties.

Images in British politics are not all that Johnson can rely on: he appeals to many of the feelings stirred up during the Brexit Referendum and following crises.

English nationalism, a simulacrum of class politics turned against Metropolitan ‘elites,’ the rotting remnants of traditionalist politics turned against internationalism, the willingness of the pro-Leave left to indulge the Brexit fantasy, have helped form a base for the Tories in public opinion.

The Irish writer, Fintan o’Toole has been a perceptive observer of how these aspects of Brexit have been played in British politics.

In Heroic Failure (2018) he talked of support for Brexit as “sadopopulism” and the ” rise of the idea of England as a political community [ie, a popular desire for England-only legislation voted on by English-only politicians]”. The Brexit side, far from expressing a wish to “bring back control” indulged in “hysterical self-pity” . O’Toole observed, “It’s a set of feelings rather than a political programme and Brexit offers itself as the way to address it. It says here’s the way to express yourself with an English identity. But it doesn’t answer it.”

Now he has turned his attention directly to Boris Johnson, giving us at least some hope that the Tory Leader’s feet of clay have become visible to the wider public.

The ‘Boris being Boris’ shtick is a cover for racism and lies. But it’s wearing thin

There is now a fundamental problem with the public persona Johnson has constructed so successfully. The persona is not just “Boris” but also, in a more complex formulation, “Boris being Boris”. “Boris” is the character in a long-running comic saga, written, performed and partly produced by Johnson himself. He is an idiot savant, a hapless bumbler who nonetheless tells it as it is. “Boris being Boris”, on the other hand, is the excuse for racism, for homophobia, for constant lies. It has been, for Johnson, a perfect coupling: whenever Boris is a bad boy, whenever he is peddling falsehoods and nastiness, it is just that “Boris being Boris” sometimes involves going too far.

But these twin personae begin to come apart when the clown becomes the ringmaster. It is one thing to be attracted to the Boris persona, quite another to place your trust in “Boris being Boris”. The election campaign has revealed an underlying tension between what Johnson is and what he does. The first part is an asset; the second an anxiety.

Today O’Toole has this to say, (thanks JIm for the text),

“Boris Johnson presents a 21st century postmodern version of this “theatrical show of society”.

That, as Baudrillard might say, the simulacra have replaced reality, Johnson’s charming, phone nicking, picaninny bum-boy bashing image is worth more than what he is saying.

Fintan O’Toole: Boris the loveable buffoon beats Johnson the charlatan

Thanks to the marvellous Jennifer Arcuri, with whom he had a long dalliance, we now know that Boris Johnson’s seduction techniques include the acting out of some lines from Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night. “He was hilarious,” she told ITV, “because he would read it. ‘Will you hoist sail sir? Here lies your way’.” The weird thing is that this passage so neatly summarises Johnson’s other attempted seduction – his wooing of traditional Labour voters.

What’s going in Shakespeare’s scene is that an imposter is trying to deliver a message full of ridiculous bombastic flourishes. Cesario, the would-be messenger, is a complete fake – he is actually a woman dressed up as a man. Olivia, to whom the seductive letter is to be delivered, reckons that the bravado and grandiloquence suggest that something fishy is going on and that the sentiments are “more like to be feigned”. Speaking for those in the English midlands and north who have had Johnson’s dubious charms visited upon them, she tells Cesario: “I heard you were saucy at my gates and allowed your approach rather to wonder at you than to hear you.” He must, she thinks, “have some hideous matter to deliver” if he wraps it up in such palaver.

They choose to wonder at Johnson rather than to hear him, to enjoy the show rather than consider what he is actually offering.

The writer gives a  peek behind the spectacle….

This is the British election in a nutshell. Johnson – and the rather sinister forces behind him – do have some hideous matter to deliver. What they really have to offer is not just one of the most right-wing governments in modern British history. It is the self-harm of a hard Brexit in which, with Northern Ireland ditched, Britain goes for a minimal trade arrangement with the EU and throws itself at the mercy of Donald Trump. This message comes wrapped in Johnson’s debating society orotundity, tied up with the staggeringly mendacious slogan, “Get Brexit Done”.

He continues,

And what makes it all so surreal is that voters seem to know very well that it is all “more like to be feigned”. They know Johnson is a liar. But many of those in the crucial battlegrounds seem not to mind. For they choose to wonder at Johnson rather than to hear him, to enjoy the show rather than consider what he is actually offering.

We are less sure on that point…the poltroon looks ready to funk the act at any moment.

In The English Constitution, a work of 1867 that is still regarded as holy writ, Walter Bagehot explained (approvingly) that the “English constitution in its palpable form is this – the mass of the people yield obedience to a select few”. What they obey, though, is not raw power – it is a spectacle: “They defer to what we may call the theatrical show of society. A certain state passes before them; a certain pomp of great men; a certain spectacle of beautiful women; a wonderful scene of wealth and enjoyment is displayed, and they are coerced by it.”
They know Boris Johnson is a liar. But many of those in the crucial battlegrounds seem not to mind.

Johnson presents a 21st century postmodern version of this “theatrical show of society”. It has, in his Etonian accent and mannerisms and his patent salad dressing of classicisms, a vestige of the old “pomp of great men”. But the show is now openly farcical – a cartoon version of the live action display of 19th century imperial power. And the punters are not coerced by it. Crucially, they collude in it. They don’t believe it but they choose to believe in it.

Perhaps O’Toole should think of Italy’s Berlusconi and how he got away with Bunga Bunga…

Or, the more obvious, imperial splendour of Donald J Trump.

If you look at the focus groups of those critical Labour leave voters at whom the Tory strategy is aimed, conducted for Channel 4 News and for The Guardian, you see something quite new: people saying things about Johnson that are simultaneously horribly insulting and entirely supportive. They don’t trust him: “If he can lie to the Queen [over the prorogation of parliament] he can lie to anybody”; “He’s not admitting how many kids he’s got scattered everywhere”. They know he’s performing: “He’s a good front man.” But they like the show: “I don’t necessarily agree with everything

Vote Labour! he says, but he cheers me up.” “He’s like a puppy: you can’t kick a puppy.” “He reminds me of a bog brush: I like him!” The best expression of the contradictions is a man in Birmingham: “Boris Johnson is such a character. It’s a buffoon to some extent, but it’s a loveable buffoon. And he’s straight-talking. You get an honest answer out of him.”

“The liar who gives you an honest answer; the likeable toilet brush; the loveable buffoon”  – this king of a sceptred isle.

If does not seem that the time is right for another Trump or Berlusconi, and there is all to play tomorrow, the “theatrical show of society” is still in full swing.

Perhaps the post-modern hard right advise Johnson that ““The secret of theory is that truth does not exist.” ― Jean Baudrillard, Fragments.

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There remains, even so, the more substantial ideological stew which the Johnson Musical Hall crowd is nourished on.

If Johnson wins one is reminded of the words of another critic of the society of the spectacle, the 18th century French writer Diderot (1713 – 84).

On objecte que la soumission à une autorité législative dispense de raisonner. Mais, où est la religion, sur la surface de la terre, sans une pareille autorité?”

It’s objected that submitting to a legislative authority does away with individual judgements. But, where would religion be, anywhere on the Earth, without such authority?

Diderot. Pensées Philosophiques. XXXll.

Only religious devotes could support  the “pomp of great men” in this election.

Vote Labour – the Party!

Update:

Sun Exposes Corbyn Extremist Links to Anarchist Federation and Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist Leninist).

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Image result for Interactive Network Chart Explore the Truth Hijacked Labour

Top Tory Paper, the Sun, Links to Impecable Sources to Expose Labour Extremism.

Why did the Sun publish a far-right conspiracy theory?

On Saturday, the Sun published an exclusive story by its political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, which announced that a group of former British intelligence officers had uncovered a “hard-left extremist network” at the heart of the Labour party. “HIJACKED LABOUR” declared the piece, which went on to claim that Jeremy Corbyn sits at the centre of a “spider’s web of extensive contacts” that stretch “from Marxist intellectuals to militant groups and illegal terror organisations”

The piece directed readers towards a website featuring a network map that it said had been compiled by ex-military veterans “in their spare time” to reveal “what they insist is now a party firmly in the grip of a hardline cabal”. Each of the 490 organisations or individuals listed was presented as a node on a network, with an attached fact file and further reading links.

But when readers began to inspect the map more closely, we found that several entries on the chart included extreme right wing material among their sources. One fact file recommended a “critique” of anti-fascism posted on the antisemitic conspiracy website the Millennium Report – which also features articles on such topics as “the Jewish hand in the world wars” and “exposing Jewish Zionism”. Another fact file pointed readers towards the website Aryan Unity – once the mouthpiece of the British People’s party, a defunct neo-Nazi group. These were presented without caveats, as apparently trustworthy sources.

Before the end of the day, the story had been removed from the paper’s website (note, I found the story on the Net still there) – without acknowledgement or explanation from Newton Dunn or his bosses. (The Sun declined to comment, and Newton Dunn has not responded to my questions.)..

Cde  Daniel Trilling shows the kind of sources the Sun relies on.

The Sun story goes,

JEREMY Corbyn is at the centre of an extraordinary network of hard-left extremists pieced together by former British intelligence officers.

The Labour leader’s spider’s web of extensive contacts stretch from Marxist intellectuals to militant groups and illegal terror organisations.

The project, dubbed ‘Hijacked Labour’, was drawn up by the ex-military veterans in their spare time to expose what they insist is now a party firmly in the grip of a hardline cabal.

The Hijacked Labour group declares: “Those planning to vote for the Labour Party ought to know what Labour now represents.

“It is no longer the patriotic party of Attlee or Wilson. Today’s Labour has been hijacked by Marxists. Vote wisely, Compatriots. Your Country Needs You to.”

Ex-SAS officer turned author Mark Bles, who leads the group, told The Sun: “This is an extreme network who are now very close to running the country, and we want everyone to know this”.

The network includes 490 different entries in total, each with their own interactive nodes detailing their histories and links on the group’s website, hijackedlabour.com.

Spotters will have noticed that the “shadowy network” is more than tenebrous.

Hijacked Labour’s Spider Webs are big and tangled.

They include ‘Postmodern neo marxism’, Michael Foucault Jean François Lyotard, Derrida, Richard Rorty, Fredric Jameson, the Anarchist Federation (Britain and Ireland), Socialist Organiser, London Labour Briefing, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist),   Royston Bull’s Economic and Philosophic Science Review, “election racket a giant fraud – only revolutionary overthrow of capitalism can stop austerity and plunge to war“) the Socialist Equality Party (standing candidates against Labour in the present election), the Communist Party of Great Britain, Provisional Central Committee, a “Marxist Leninist” group that publishes the Weekly Worker, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (which has stood candidates against Labour in the recent past), Socialist Worker, and…Class War.

It is said that Ian Bone is furious at being linked to Jeremy Corbyn…

More  fun to be had at the touch of a keyboard.

We have yet to find the Brexit Party supporting (European elections) Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist).

The Leftist Trainspotting Central Committee says: they  don’t make anti-semitic anti-Labour spooks like they used to.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 10, 2019 at 1:43 pm

Boris Johnson, National and Authoritarian Populist, promises “end to migrants ‘treating Britain as their own’.

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“EU migrants have been able to “treat the UK as if it’s part of their own country” for too long” .

Signs are growing  that the Tories have adopted a full national populist agenda.

Tory Manifesto Has ‘Sinister’ Plan To Put Government ‘Beyond Legal Scrutiny’

Jolyon Maugham and Joanna Cherry say Boris Johnson’s bid to “update” human rights law and judicial review process are causing “deep alarm”.

Huffington Post.

It’s hard not to see this as the ‘authoritarian  side of populism, the use of law as a tool to bludgeon opposition.

On the British left we have had to confront the combination of authoritarianism and populism before.

In the late seventies and early eighties Stuart Hall looked at the last great shift in the Tory Party. He described Thatcherism as Authoritarian Populism (The Great Moving Right Show. Marxism Today, 1979). One element that led to this form of rule was ‘moral panics’ that fuelled and were exploited by the Tory hard right. There was a need to secure ” popular consent for ‘Authoritarian statism’ (a term Hall developed from Nicos Poulantzas) a form of rule needed to push through the the break up of the post-war consensus.

Replacing the mixed economy with privatisation and what became the rule of capitalist realism in everything from welfare to education,  hardly attracted more than those organic intellectuals of the capitalist class convinced by the dry doctrines of monetarism Hayek and Friedman, The Tories had to moblise people’s fears and resentments. Neoliberalism needed electoral endorsement. (Stuart Hall.  Authoritarian Populism a Reply. NLR 151. Series 1. 1985)

“The form of this populist enlistment—we suggested—in the 1960s and 1970s often took the shape of a sequence of ‘moral panics’, around such apparently non-political issues as race, law-and-order, permissiveness and social anarchy. These served to win for the authoritarian closure the gloss of populist consent.”

Defending his claims Hall stated the importance of  “the ways in which popular consent can be so constructed, by a historical bloc seeking hegemony, as to harness to its support some popular discontents, neutralize the opposing forces, disaggregate the opposition and really incorporate some strategic elements of popular opinion into its own hegemonic project.”

This way of putting the way the Conservatives turned to public opinion centred on a number of key issues.

One became particularly  important,

Race constitutes another variant, since in recent months questions of race, racism and relations between the races, as well as immigration, have been dominated by the dialectic between the radical respectable and the radical-rough forces of the Right. It was said about the 1960s and early 70s that, after all, Mr. Powell lost. This is true only if the shape of a whole conjuncture is to be measured by the career of a single individual. In another sense, there is an argument that “Powellism” won: not only because his official eclipse was followed by legislating into effect much of what he proposed, but because of the magical connections and short-circuits which Powellism was able to establish between the themes of race and immigration control and the images of the nation, the British people and the destruction of  “our culture , our way of life”.

A ferocious opponent of the Common Market, as the European Union was known at the time, we could say that Enoch Powell has won inside the Brexit Conservative Party.

Today’s national populists have an economic programme of national neoliberalism, using state power to push forward the interests of the sections of capital they can win to their politics. Johnson claims, hollowly, to want to “unleash Britain’s potential”.

Yet they are are much more reliant on the “populist” part of their strategy than Thatcher was. One can see this through the criticisms of Hall’s approach offered,for example, by Kevin Bonnet, Simon Bromley, Bob Jessop and Tom Ling who underlined the deeper economic reasons for Thatcherism’s ability to appeal to the public. (THATCHERISM AND THE POLITICS OF HEGEMONY: A REPLY TO STUART HALL )

Firstly, the present election is not dominated, by a Conservative party with,  as Hall’s critics in the 1980s stated, ” an explicit economic strategy” that gives voice to the views of all sections of capital. Economically irrational for most sectors of capital, except the most parasitic and dependent on finance, they cannot reply on the greater influence of “sound business sense” for Johnson’s plans. Who is convinced that an alignment with Donald Trump is the ‘national’ interest, economic or otherwise? The probability of getting Brexit “done” without damage to the economy is minimal, although Johnson may well succeed in reducing workers’ rights and consumer standards in the interests of international and domestic  corporations. And there are notable supporters of a lightly regulated economy under Brexit: Conservatives and Brexit Party received donations worth £8m from aviation industry.

Today’s Conservatives  need ‘moral panics’ and national mythology more than the rhetoric of setting the economy free of regulation.

Secondly, Thatcherism has a complex political strategy. It is attempting to restructure the state system and its relations with civil society and the economy in the sphere of the politics of state power.”  Johnson attacks the independent media and hints at the need for limiting the power of the  judicial system, hinting at the possibility of a state of exception with one aim:  to thrust through his Brexit.

With this in mind it is not coincidence that Johnson now uses Powellite language about ‘Betrayal’  and adopts Powell’s anti-migrant policies to promote his Brexit Plans. This is ‘national populism’, putting the nation’s citizens against ‘migrants’, a call to the voters to keep down the foreigners.
.

“EU migrants have been able to “treat the UK as if it’s part of their own country” for too long, Boris Johnson said yesterday as he reprised the core message of Vote Leave’s 2016 EU referendum campaign.

The prime minister guaranteed that migration would fall under his plan for an Australian-style points-based system after Britain left the European Union. The focus on migration, in stronger language, in the last days of the election campaign is intended to appeal to undecided Eurosceptic voters in Labour marginals.

He told Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News: “I’ve said that what we want to do is bear down on migration particularly of unskilled workers who have no job to come to and I think that’s what’s happened over the last couple of decades or more. You’ve seen quite a large number of people coming in from the whole of the EU — 580 million population — able to treat the UK as though it’s basically part of their own country and the problem with that is there has been no control at all and I don’t think that is democratically accountable.”

Hall’s critics often accused him of relying too much on ideas, “Ideologism” .

One of the ironies of left wing politics is that today some of those influenced by Hall’s approach have argued that the way to beat national populism is to develop their own progressive ‘national popular’ politics, or a ‘left populism’. It is hard to see how anybody can ‘disarticulate’ Johnson’s message and turn it into a winning message against the pro-Brexit ‘elites’. ‘Democratic’ immigration controls under workers’ supervision? Hardly….People’s Brexit? Er, what was that again?

All progressives, and not just the democratic socialist left,  need to unite against Johnson’s national populism.

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Brexit Party Charts Uncertain Future as National Populist Banner Taken by Tories.

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Brexit Party polls

Brexit Party Polls at 2% to 3%.

The Brexit Party were out in Ipswich yesterday, with a stall by the old Post Office building on the Corn Hill.

They were overshadowed by the much larger group of People’s Vote campaigners.

The Brexit Party is in the doldrums.

Polls put them at 3% to 2% of the vote.

The hard-right national populists in control of the Conservative Party have taken the wind out of their sails.

Farage’s Falange are now flailing around with stunts as former Revolutionary Communist (RCP) Claire Fox reminds us,

 

One hopes that they still do maximum damage to the Tory vote in the constituencies where they are running against Labour.

 

A once  leading cadre of the RCP tweets bitterly.

General election 2019: Farage promises Reform Party after Brexit

The Brexit Party will change its name to the Reform Party after the UK leaves the European Union, leader Nigel Farage has said.

It will campaign for changes to the voting system and the abolition of the House of Lords, he told Sky News.

Mr Farage, who has already registered the new party name, said it would “change politics for good”.

The announcement comes after a week in which the Brexit Party lost four Members of the European Parliament.

One of the MEPs, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, warned that “the Brexit Party are permitting votes to go away from the Conservatives, providing us with a Remain coalition that will do anything not to honour the Brexit referendum”.

And Conservative chair James Cleverly has previously said the party could “frustrate” Brexit.

Perhaps the Brexit Party’s work in drawing people to national populism is done.

Another former frothing Revolutionary Communist states,

Sorry, Hugh Grant, but the era of smug tossers is over.

Brexit is a revolt against this smug set; against that 1990s reduction of ordinary people to bit-part players in the cultural elite’s political fantasies; against Blairisim and Clintonism and Brussels and fucking Love Actually. No wonder Curtis, Thompson and Grant hate it — it rips up everything they stand for. Look, Hugh, I’m sure you’re a nice guy, and not a smug tosser at all, but the gig is up. The days when infinitesimally small numbers of cultural bigwigs could set the agenda are over. We all want a voice now. The millions matter. The tea ladies matter. Our votes matter. There’s a new force in town: it’s not love — it’s Brexit actually.

Brexit, Actually. Brendan O’Neill.

The brown side of the RCP red-brown front with the Brexit Party have become prominent.

There are still worries that pro-Leave ‘left-wing’ campaigners and ‘People’s Brexit’ groups may hurt Labour’s chances as they confuse the dividing line with the Brexit Party.

The far-right has become normalised as comrade Paul Mason reminds us,

But it looks as if the Brexit Party is no longer a real player in the election.

 

Solidarity with Iraq and Iranian Protests.

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Tahrir Square Baghdad: In Iraq Iranian Backed Militias Now Killing Protesters.

Iran is an active player, that is the leader,  in the fight against the recent Iraqi people’s protests.

Last week:

Two days ago (Guardian)

At least 15 people stabbed after Hashd al-Shaabi supporters march to Tahrir Square.

More than a dozen people have been stabbed in a Baghdad square that has become a focal point for anti-government and anti-Iran protests after supporters of an Iranian-backed militia flooded the area.

Thousands of men waving sticks, Iraqi flags and the insignia of the Hashd al-Shaabi armed group descended on Tahrir Square on Thursday morning in apparently coordinated marches from across the capital.

Anti-government protesters who have been occupying the square for several weeks, some of whom are critical of Iranian influence in the country, said at least 15 people were stabbed before the militia-linked marchers withdrew by the late afternoon.

Today: (BBC)

Iraq has seen one of the worst flare-ups in weeks of anti-government protests, with gunmen killing at least 20 people in Baghdad early on Saturday.

The unknown attackers raided key protest sites in the capital sending demonstrators fleeing into the streets.

The unrest in Iraq began in October, fuelled by anger over corruption, unemployment, poor public services and the influence of Iran.

More than 400 people have been killed since the protests started.

Witnesses described chaotic scenes from the latest attacks, which happened overnight on Friday.

Armed men on pick-up trucks are said to have driven through areas that have formed the centre of the protests in Baghdad, forcing demonstrators to flee from bullets.

It is not clear who is responsible – state television called the assailants “unidentified men”.

Earlier this week several people were stabbed in Baghdad after supporters of an Iranian-backed militia swarmed into a square occupied by protesters.

In another development, a drone dropped a bomb on the house of the influential Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, a source within his party said. He was out of the country at the time.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, has resigned over the protests but those who have taken to the streets want a fundamental overhaul of the country’s political system.

Iraq uses a quota-based system that allocates positions to political parties based on sectarian and ethnic identity.

But many Iraqis say it only encourages patronage and corruption and there is particular concern over Iran, the dominant Shia Muslim state which has close links to Iraqi Shia politicians who have been running the country since the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

Iran itself has seen protests against the Islamist theocracy grow.

The Islamists have used extreme violence.

 

It is well known that the Khomeinist regime consolidated its power under the banner of ‘anti-imperialism’.

Many of the Iranian left, and the left internationally, bought this line.

Today we see the same anti-progressive positions being peddled by some  anti imperialists like the Stop the War Coalition and their allies in other Western countries.

Their priority remains fighting against imperialism.

This have been many  counter-voices from the Iranian left.

In the context of the present-day protests against the Islamist reactionaries, – one that could be extended to their actions by proxy against the Iraqi people, and across the near east through their alliance with Assad in Syria and sectarian forces in Lebanon)   now offers an important analysis of the unfolding fight against the Hassan Rouhani clique that has implications for these other crises.

First of all Khanlarzadeh offers some serious ideas about what kind of solidarity we should offer those fighting for their rights in Iran.

She writes in response to  the US petition, “Letter Against US Imperialism”, “As anti-imperialist activists, scholars, artists and lawyers located in the United States, we stand in solidarity with the peoples of Latin America, Africa and Asia in their calls to end imperialism, sectarianism and neoliberalism, and we view the recent protests in Iran within this broader international context of resistance.”

The people of Iran are resisting the economic, political and militaristic violence imposed on them both by international and domestic elites. The majority of the Iranian people do not seek regime change because they have already lived through two monumental events that destabilized their lives – the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Iran-Iraq War that lasted from 1980 until 1988. The elder generations can still recount the horrors that followed the toppling of Prime Minister Mossadegh during the U.S. and British-backed coup of 1953.

Iranians seek economic and political stability, and above all, they seek to maintain their national and individual dignity. We stand by them and their calls for domestic reform, and as people in the United States, we demand the end of the sanctions regime and U.S. and Israeli interference in the lives of the Iranian people.

In a detailed response to this declaration (milder than some of the rhetoric coming up from some ‘anti-imperialists’ who fight shy of direct backing for any form of  protest seen to further US interests, “Imperialist powers intensify pressure on Iranian regime in wake of protests“) states

“The petition pretends to know what Iranian people want: “The majority of the Iranian people do not seek regime change because they have already lived through two monumental events that destabilized their lives […]  Iranians seek economic and political stability, […]. We stand by them and their calls for domestic reform [….]” The petition claims Iranians want stability, but who are these Iranians who want stability? It’s certainly not the protesters who shouted for the fall of the dictator (Ayatollah Khamenei) in the streets and actually destabilized the country by forcing the government to use maximum force to silence them and to the surprise of the petitioners, kill more than 200 of them. The violent politics of stability has, in fact, been employed by the government to silence any cry for transformation towards improvement.

As Khanlarzadeh says, these forces position reminds one, of “the famous Ayatollah Khomeini quote, “All the anger you have accumulated in your throat must be screamed at the US.”

At a time when even the Communist Party of Britain has called for solidarity with the Iranian protests, some clarity on the issues is welcome.

Morning Star November.

Communist Party of Britain general secretary Robert Griffiths wrote to the Iranian ambassador yesterday to express grave concern.

Mr Griffiths said: “While our party has campaigned against the imposition of sanctions by the United States, we deplore and condemn the suspension of civil rights, the indiscriminate killing of demonstrators and mass arrests which have taken place over the past week.”

Codir is calling on individuals and organisations to show their solidarity with the Iranian people “in this their darkest hour.”

Anti-Imperialism As An Intellectual Trap

Written by Andrew Coates

December 7, 2019 at 5:40 pm

France: Success for Protests and Strikes on 5th of December against Pension Reform as Fight Continues.

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Pas moins de 270 000 personnes ont parcouru les grands boulevards parisiens, de la gare de l’Est à la place de la Nation. « Aujourd’hui dans la rue, demain on continue », ont scandé les manifestants. Julien Jaulin ; Nicolas Cleuet/AFP ; Lahcène Abib

WE ARE READY TO START DEMONSTRATING AGAIN TOMORROW”

l’Humanitê

Massif, historique, inouï, au moins inédit depuis près d’une décennie… À vrai dire, on ne sait plus quelle épithète coller à la mobilisation de ce jeudi contre la réforme des retraites, à l’appel de la CGT, FO, de la FSU, Solidaires, de l’Unef et l’UNL, rejoints par la CFE-CGC.

Massive, historic, unprecedented, unheard of for at least a decade…To tell the truth, who knows what word to use for the mobilisation against pension reform this Thursday, called for by the CGT, FO, (Union federations), the FSU (Teachers), UNEF (Students) and the UNL (secondary school students), joined by the CFE-CGC (‘cadres’, technicians, administrators and managers).

A strike that crippled public transport and closed schools across France entered a second day on Friday, with trade unions saying they planned to keep going until President Emmanuel Macron backs down from a planned reform of pensions.

The left-wing CGT union federation, celebrates the success of the protests and strikes.

Grève du 5 décembre : réussite générale !

The strike pits Macron, a 41-year-old former investment banker who came to power in 2017 on a promise to open up France‘s highly regulated economy, against powerful trade unions who say he is set on dismantling worker protections.

The outcome depends on who blinks first – the unions who risk losing public support if the disruption goes on for too long, or the government which fears voters could side with the unions and blame officials for the standoff.

Macron‘s government, along with many ordinary French citizens, have made plans to cope with the strike action through the weekend, but may take a different view on Monday, if the disruption extends into a second week.

Rail workers voted to extend their strike to Friday, while trade unions at the Paris bus and metro operator RATP said their walkout would continue until Monday. Other trade unionists were due to decide early on Friday how long they would keep up the strike.

Full reports in Le Monde: Grève du 5 décembre : cortèges massifs contre la « casse du système social », grèves reconduites… retour sur la journée de manifestations

Libération: Des dizaines de milliers de personnes défilent dans la capitale contre le projet de réforme des retraites du gouvernement. Mais la colère, plus large encore, s’adresse aussi à «Macron et son monde».

There were violent clashes:

 

 

The sovereigntists tried to join in.

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Paris: Frexit supporters of the  l’Union populaire républicaine (UPR) prevented from joining march by left-wing trade unionists of SUD.

Mélénchon sounding a dud note, welcomes Marine Le Pen’s backing….

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Whether this was cynical effort to win over RN voters, or clumsiness, it has not been widely welcomed.

Mélenchon et «l’humanisme» de Le Pen : cynisme ou maladresse ?

The radical left sees this as the beginning of a wider struggle;

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 6, 2019 at 12:12 pm

“Lenin inspired” Corbyn under Fire. A Defence of Labour’s Radical Democratic Socialism.

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Image result for labour party rally december 2019

Democratic socialist alternative.

“History” Max Beerbohm should have said, “does not repeat itself. Columnists repeat one another’s stories.” One topic each pundit has grappled with, and recycled each other, is the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn.  In the last few days Labour’s critical policy towards NATO has been added to the chain of stories about the Leader’s ‘Leninism’, extremist socialism, and anti-semitism, to prove his unfitness to hold High Office.The New Statesman has published this hand-wringing non-endorsement: The New Statesman‘s Miserable Editorial

As public opinion hardens, and the Labour vote with it, a spirit of malice amongst these elevated circles has developed. Better Johnson than Corbyn, a threat to national security, a crank full of the wrong kind of enthusiasm, an associate (as one less publicly famous commentator puts it) of “anti-Semitic mongrels”, and dimwit. Some ask for ‘real’ Labour, true to workingmen’s clubs of the period shown in the film Funny Cow (2017), and chip butties. Give us Family, Community and Flag. The rickety campaign of the Liberal Democrats is foundering. Perhaps there is a chance for the wider centre with a revamp of the 1980s ‘little Caesars’ of the Social Democratic Party, capable of offering a “compromise political solution” to the Brexit crisis, reached by negotiation from above. Some pine for the return of the Third Way. Give us a leader with the moral stature of Tony Blair, and the human warmth of Gordon Brown. Alas, Chuka Umunna has not risen to the occasion. (2)

The fly in the ointment is that Labour is a membership, one member-one-vote, party. Corbyn has been elected, twice, by the overwhelming majority of card-carriers and backed by the trade unions. Few of them seem attracted to the above alternatives.  The enthusiastic campaign that led to this victory is described in detail, in The Candidate by Alex Nuns, (2018). A talented team has drawn up a radical democratic socialist manifesto. The results of contributions and debates in the Labour policy documents that led to the Manifesto, from social policy to social ownership, the result of agreement on the basics, are available for all to see.

Labour and Lenin.

Has Lenin “inspired” Corbyn’s world view,? Has Labour been overrun “dead-eyed communist fanatics“?  by Those looking for a Short Course chapter on the Liquidation of the Bukharian-Trotskyist Gang of Spies, Wreckers and Traitors in Corbyn adviser, Andrew Murray’s The Fall and Rise of the British Left (2019), will not find an entry by the former leading member of the Communist Party of Britain. They will however discover in Murray’s book the hope that there is a consensus on the “new economic and social policies” and an admission that this agreement does not exist on foreign policy. There are equally many divergent opinions on what the pro-Leave campaigner calls ‘Brexit Derangement syndrome”. (3)

Labour has an attractive programme. It is an outward looking party. It has to grapple with a changed national and international landscape. The world is no longer called to tune by Market Worlders. “Capitalist realism”, as Mark Fisher suggested, meant “subordinating oneself to a reality that is infinitely plastic, capable of reconfiguring itself at any moment.” (4) But the “mental paralysis” that followed the Credit and Banking Crisis of 2008 did not lead to social democracy or dystopian authoritarianism. A deeper grounded national populism has emerged, with some echoes of the 1980s authoritarian free-market liberalism of Margaret Thatcher. Politically anti-liberal populists like Donald Trump pursue national neoliberal economic, using economic power to put their country first. Xenophobia, the motor behind the Brexit vote, poisons politics.

 

Some politically active people in Britain are attracted to a democratic socialist alternative. They have gone beyond hostility to “capitalist realism” to campaign for a governing left party that can reshape the country. They do not trust the hard-right Brexit project, or the good will of the American President to rescue a Britain adrift in the world. A wider constituency not only wishes to stick with Labour but to see the social reforms the Party offers on social security, on housing and the world of work, come about.

Nobody begrudges journalists the pleasure of running down their political enemies. Only those who have spent their time working hard as activists, or in local and national elected bodies, to further their party’s cause, will be annoyed at the yelps of glee that follow every shred of evidence that Labour has a conspiratorial fringe with sometimes unpleasant anti-Semitic overtones. Only a life-long factionalist would recognise the spite of student anti-left hackery at work……

*******

 

  1. “History does not repeat itself. The Historians repeat one another.” Page 155. The Prince of Minor Writers. The Selected essays of Max Beerbohm. 2015.
  2. The ‘Little Casers of Social Democracy’. In The Hard Road to Renewal. Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left, Stuart Hal Verso. 1988.
  3. Page 203. The Fall of Rise of the British Left. Andrew Murray Verso, 2019.
  4. Page 54. Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher. 2009. Zero Books.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 5, 2019 at 12:55 pm

French parliament decides anti-Zionism is antisemitism.

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New Law Faced Critics Alleging it  “Stigmatises and Silences ” Critics of Israel, and even those in Favour of 2 State Solution.

The Jerusalem Post headlines today,

French parliament decides anti-Zionism is antisemitism

Anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism, France’s National Assembly determined on Tuesday, voting on a resolution calling on the government to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.

The motion proposed by lawmaker Sylvain Maillard of LREM, President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party passed 154-72 in the parliament’s lower house.

New French bill equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism ‘is going very far afield’

France 24 reports on why the move met strong opposition.

A group of 127 Jewish intellectuals has signed a petition against a new French bill which would equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. FRANCE 24 spoke with one of the signatories who calls the bill “problematic”, saying it “delegitimises the legitimate act of criticising the state of Israel”.

In an interview with FRANCE 24,  James Cohen, a professor at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3 and one of the 127 signatories of the petition, said that “by equating antizionism with anti-Semitism, you’re broadening the definition of antisemitism too much […] you’re going very far afield.”

“Some of the people out there who oppose the policies of the state of Israel, who may even oppose the existence of the state of Israel, might also be anti-Semitic […] but that should not delegitimise the legitimate act of criticising the policies of the state of Israel. And when it comes to the existence of the state of Israel, there are questions that need to be asked whether a one-state solution or a two-state solution could be viable. Why should this discussion not be open?”

On Tuesday evening, French lawmakers adopted the bill, with 154 votes against 72.

The above declaration by Jewish intellectuals was printed in Le Monde yesterday.

Antisémitisme : « Nous demandons le retrait de la résolution Maillard »

More in the Nouvel Obs:

127 intellectuels juifs contre la définition de l’antisémitisme élargie à l’antisionisme

The resolution is “highly problematic,” says the group in its platform. First because it “equates […] anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism” . But “for many Jews considering themselves anti-Zionists, this conflation between the two is deeply offensive,” says the collective.

“Some Jews oppose Zionism for religious reasons, others for political or cultural reasons. Many Holocaust victims were anti-Zionists, “ says the collective.

“For Palestinians, Zionism represents dispossession, displacement, occupation and structural inequalities. […] They oppose Zionism not out of hatred of the Jews, but because they live Zionism as an oppressive political movement. “

The second reason is that IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism itself would be “highly problematic” , “unclear and imprecise” .

It is, moreover, “already used to stigmatise and silence critics of the State of Israel, including human rights organizations,” said the group.

“We can not consider this as independent of the Israeli government’s main political agenda of rooting out its occupation and annexation of Palestine and silencing all criticism,” say the signatories, who are worried about “political support”. , to France “ .

According to the group, “anti-Semitism must be fought on a universal basis, along with other forms of racism and xenophobia, in the battle against hatred” .

Today Radio France Internationale  (RFI) report, using the more precise language of “linking” antiSemitism and anti-Zionism,

French parliament adopts controversial law linking anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism

The text was passed by a very narrow margin, in a virtually empty parliament. Opponent of the legislation have notably complained that the law associates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Opening the debate, ruling party MP Sylvain Maillard warned the National Assembly that “Jews are once again being killed in France, because they are Jews”.

During the parliamentary discussion, the deputies were informed that more than one hundred Jewish graves had been desecrated with black swastikas on Tuesday in the north-western French town of Westhoffen.

Finally, 154 MPs voted in favour of the legislation, with 72 against. Many parliamentarians chose to leave before the vote on the controversial law. There were 550 deputies present for the earlier vote on the social security budget.

Fewer than one third of ruling party members supported the new law, with 26 voting against, and 22 abstaining.

Critics of the law point to the association made by the new legislation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

French President Emmanuel Macron has already stated his belief that anti-Zionism represents “one of the current forms of anti-Semitism”.

The French law accepts the controversial definition of anti-Semitism proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA): “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

That definition makes no reference to anti-Zionism, but, the examples which accompany the definition explain that “any unfair treatment of the state of Israel, demanding behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” is regarded as unacceptable.

Supporters of the French law claim that many anti-Semites hide behind the banner of anti-Zionism. The Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, explained that the law had only one objective and that was to remove all ambiguity about anti-Semitic statements, acts or gestures. Castaner further pointed out that the neither the word anti-Semitism nor the term anti-Zionism appear anywhere in the final text of the law.

Several dozen prominent Jewish intellectuals have actively campaigned against the law, saying it runs the risk of “criminalising ideas” without doing anything to fight racism.

The text was voted on by  a very low number of deputies.  At the heart of the criticism of opponents: the fact that it associates anti-Zionism with a form of anti-Semitism.

..

54 deputies voted for – out of the 577 who sit in the National Assembly  – 72 against. Many parliamentarians did not take part in the vote, even though they were nearly 550 present two hours earlier for the final adoption of the Social Security (Health and Family allowances) bill, a sign of the discomfort aroused by this text.

Macron’s own parliamentary group La République en Marche, (LRM)  was divided,

The LRM group, revealed by the analysis of the poll… of its 303 members, 84 voted in favor of the text, ie less than a third of the Macronist collective. 26 voted against when 22 abstained.

The Socialists (PS), Communists (PCF) and La France insoumise (LFI) voted against the new law.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 4, 2019 at 1:53 pm

France: Mass Strikes in Protest Against Pension Reform,Thursday. Left Unites Behind Movement.

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Image result for greve 5 decembre

Mass Strikes in France this Thursday.

France is set to see the first real test of a movement against President Macron’s attempt to change the French pension system. This will replace existing arrangements with a points-based “reforms” that will cut payments and raise the age of retirement.

The protests and work stoppages this week come at a strategic time of the year, designed to exercise maximum pressure.

Another reason is that the 5th of December in 1995 saw the launch of the successful movement  against the “plan Juppé”  proposed by the Prime Minister of right wing President Jacques Chirac reforms (that is, cuts and restrictions on)  of health, social security and public sector pensions.

The present however affects everybody and is identified directly with the President, Emmanuel Macron, himself.

Trade unions, SNCF, RATP, Air France … Many organisations are involved in the mobilisation of Thursday, December 5 against Macron’s  pension reform.

Five unions in the Paris region transport network had called for an indefinite strike from 5 December – Unsa-RATP, CFE-CGC RATP, SUD-RATP, Solidaires-RATP and FO-RATP – before being joined by the CGT RATP.

The CGT, FO and Solidaires call for the demonstration and an indefinite strike from December 5 in the urban and road transport of passengers, goods and funds, or even blocking unlimited on busy roads. Ambulance workers, or taxis are also expected to join the movement.

In education, unions do not consider the government’s commitment to teachers to be sufficient. Most of their unions (Snes-FSU, Snuipp-FSU, SE-Unsa, Snalc, Solidaires …) have called out approximately 900,000 teachers of the first and second degree to strike.

Several police unions including Alliance and Unsa threaten to join the social movement of December 5 with actions in police stations if the Ministry of the Interior “does not meet their (their) expectations,” according to a press release.

An appeal of 15 hospital unions, doctors and employees in the health sector calls for members to join the movement.

In the energy sector, disturbances are also expected. Three of the four representative unions – CGT, FO and the CFE-CGC-Unsa alliance – are calling for a strike. The 140,000 electricians and gas companies will protest against the possible disappearance of their own pension scheme.

Dustcarts and street rubbish collection will be affected.

Courts are likely to close as lawyers join the movement.

Others are expected to follow.

School student unions (syndicats lycéens Fidl, UNL, MNL) will be backing the day of action.

A  small section of the Gilets Jaunes has given its support.

Adapted from La Croix. and France 24.

The national bodies of the ‘reformist’ union, the CFDT, have not called for strike action and their leader even backs them  (Le secrétaire général de la CFDT est dans une position difficile : il est le seul syndicaliste qui soutient encore la réforme des retraites lancée par Emmanuel Macron ) but some affiliated bodies, such as the Train drivers will join in.

In Forbes Alex Ledsom explains the reason for this wave of protest,

Why are they on strike?

The strike is against the French government’s proposed pension reforms. President Macron wishes to streamline the current pension system comprising 42 separate regimes into a single operating system. The new system would introduce a “points system” of retirement, which threatens the current early retirement age of many public service workers.

More importantly for the protesters, the reforms would impact how much money they receive. Currently, public sector workers’ pensions are calculated on the salary they earned for the last six months of working life–which is usually the highest for most people–and they are also assessed on the 25 best years of their working life. The new system will take every year into account, meaning that people who worked on lower salaries for years or had periods of unemployment, will see that translate into a lower pension.

A hopeful sign (reported across the French media) is that the Left has responded to this social movement with united support.

This is a rather rare phenomenon on the left of the French political spectrum: unity behind a common cause. This is what seems to be happening at the initiative of the Communist Party, which called on all the left parties to gather at a big joint meeting on December 11, against the pension reform.

A few days before the major mobilisation of December 5 against pension reform , Emmanuel Macron managed to unify the left, against his project. The Communist Party, calling for support for demonstrations on December the 5th, has also invited all leftist parties, from the Socialist Party to Green Party, EELV and La France insoumise to a large national meeting on December the 11th.”

Europe 1.

This declaration, Pensions: Against Individualism We Choose Solidarity, is also signed by figures from all sides of the left including the most radical.

Retraites: contre l’individualisme, nous choisissons la solidarité

Answering the charge that protests are a corporatist movement to defend existing unequal pensions and retirement ages (Not to mention the complicated network of different bodies that administer them)  they state,

The counter-reform of pensions is part of a plan to destroy the system of solidarity through  the elimination of public services, the punitive reform of unemployment insurance, privatisation (ADP), and attacks on all employee statuses.

Against this upheaval of society, our alternative is based on universal rights: retirement at 60 with at the rate of 75% indexed on the best wages, earned guaranteed for all. But also a collective right to an early departure for those who have engaged in arduous work, so that they may retire still in good health. This requires an increase in socialised contributions including those levied on profits. And a fall in unemployment by reducing working time would also bring resources into the system.

Full text via above link.

Europe Ecologie-les Verts (EELV) : Sandra Regol, porte-parole ; Alain Coulombel, secrétaire national adjoint

Ensemble ! : Clémentine Autain, députée de La France insoumise (FI), Myriam Martin, porte-parole, conseillère régionale LFI Occitanie; Jean-François Pellissier, porte-parole

Gauche démocratique et sociale (GDS) : Gérard Filoche, porte-parole ; Anne de Haro, GDS Ile-de-France

Génération·s : Guillaume Balas et Claire Monod, coordinateurs nationaux

Mouvement pour la démocratie en Europe (Diem 25) : Emma Justum, coordination nationale

Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) : Olivier Besancenot, Christine Poupin, Philippe Poutou, porte-parole

Nouvelle Donne (ND) : Aline Mouquet, co-présidente, Gilles Pontlevoy : co-président

Parti communiste français (PCF) : Cathy Apourceau-Poly, membre de la direction du PCF, sénatrice du Pas-de-Calais ; Pierre Dharreville, membre de la direction du PCF, député des Bouches-du-Rhône

Parti communiste des ouvriers de France (PCOF) : Véronique Lamy et Christian Pierrel, coporte-parole

Parti de Gauche (PG) : Eric Coquerel, député FI, co-coordinateur du PG; Danielle Simonnet, conseillère de Paris, co-coordinatrice du PG

Pour une écologie populaire et sociale (PEPS) : Sergio Coronado, Jean Lafont, Elise Lowy, Bénédicte Monville

République et socialisme (RS) : Marinette Bache, conseillère de Paris ; Lucien Jallamion, secrétaire national ; Mariane Journiac, secrétaire nationale

François Ruffin, député La France insoumise de la Somme.

This united political response comes in conditions as Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement Nationale (ex Front National) has supported the protest and strike (Retraites : Marine Le Pen soutient la grève du 5 décembre).

Union leaders have made it clear she not welcome on any of their marches.

Just 10 percent of trains will be running in France on Thursday due to strikes

Written by Andrew Coates

December 3, 2019 at 6:16 pm

Boris Border Clampdown Seals National Populist Tory Drift as Pro-Brexit Left Founders.

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In Praise of Borders, and…..European citizens will be required to gain US-style pre-approval to enter Britain?

One of the divisions opened up by Brexit on the British left has been between the internationalists and those who imagined that leaving the European Union would pave the way for a ‘People’s Brexit’.

Sometimes this has been a straightward affair, those supporting ‘Lexit’, a ‘left Brexit’ want to create a version of the 1970s Alternative Economic Strategy that relies on an autonomous economy under social ownership and unshared national sovereignty.

Other times groups add freedom from the Nato imperialist war machine. They pontificate, ” Rather the wars, interventions and occupations of the past nearly two decades have helped to fuel terror and make it a more frequent occurrence in countries like Britain.” (Lindsey German. Counterfire today).

Recently German has also been concerned with the views of Leave voters,

…any report of canvassing in some of these areas tells a story of bitter disillusionment among Leave voters, all too often combined with the belief that some traditional Labour voters will switch to the Tories.

She continued, saying that it’s part of “the fallout from the 2016 referendum. These areas tended to vote Leave at least partly in protest at decline, and against the perception of being ignored and taken for granted by politicians.”

The Counterfire/Stop the War leader lays the blame on Remain supporters,

..the poll underlines the damage Labour Remainers have done with their relentless drive towards ignoring the vote of three years ago in favour of an new referendum in which they would want to back Remain. Jeremy Corbyn has been vilified for sitting on the fence, being neutral and so on, but his stance has been a response to precisely the feeling in the Leave areas. What has happened in this election is simply that Labour has found it much much harder to win back Leave voters than Remain voters.

Even some people who voted Remain are furious that Labour is ignoring the referendum result – and certainly that has been my impression in talking to people from different parts of the country.

Who knew: 52% of the population matter? – election briefing 29 November

Like others German does not look into the issues fuelling this fury, or what exactly this 52% is made up of, HIgh Tories to High Stalinists included.

Perhaps migration, perhaps ultra-strict border controls may be things that “matter” to them?

Polls indicate that’;taking back control’ means frontier controls above all.

Some of us have certainly not ignored this, we have argued against the Brexit concentrated hatred, and Brexit itself, lock stock and barrel.

It’s hard to deny this, and I too have been “talking to people”.

No doubt we are guilty of standing up for internationalism

Yet I have not heard anybody call for a People’s Brexit either…

The impression is widespread that the supporters for Brexit on the left have legitimsied the right-wing drift of some voters. That is that there is on result of German and friends’ activities. It is Lexit Cover for National Populism.

One thing that’s been striking over the last few years is the growth, across Europe, of those promoting nationalism, in a sovereigntist guise, on the left.

The ‘globalists’, the Blairite cosmopolitan elite, the Clinton Global Initiative,  ably described in Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas (2018), the philanthropists claiming to make the world a better place, the principal enemy today?

It’s not hard to believe that the Ford Foundation, TED talks and  MarketWorld  are a serious obstacle.

But Giridharadas also notes towards the end of his book the xenophobia racism of the Trump electorate, and one can extend this to one of the reasons for the Brexit vote – one that the Lexiters ignore, or try divert attention away from by whataboutery on EU migration policy – never mentioning the German decision to admit around 890,000 asylum seekers in 2015.

New Left Review, however, if not as directly as its promotion of the likes of anti ‘Jewish elite’ writer Norman Finkelstein, has soft spot for those prepared to defend borders. The left-wing critic of ‘neoliberal globalisation‘ and now national populist advocate of “a strengthening of national borders and immigration controlsWolfgang Streeck, is a leading contributor. He is a member of the Red-Brown Full Brexit front that brings together Brexit Party supporters and the ‘left’.

Régis Debray may not have got the book pictured into its pages, but his musings  have appeared, if only in extract from Civilisation. Comment nous sommes devenus américaines. 

It is full of self-pitying nationalism that marks out this current of thought.

Perhaps I am over-attached to this bizarre country where you can recite a poem in a meeting, where not everyone considers capitalism as the final stage of human history, where we do not fear dreaming of having an independent foreign policy, and where the writer has a role they do not have elsewhere. This particularity is fading away. I do not take any joy in this, but no one will stop me in my own corner from continuing to write in French.

Macron, or the coronation of America: A conversation with Régis Debray

It has been up to a New Left Review founding figure, Tom Nairn, to wallow fully in the Debray vision of the world.

Frontiers: a re-evaluation Tom Nairn.

Frontiers have become awfully unfashionable. The ideology of “globalisation” responds with its sternest frown: historical relics, left-overs from the age of competing nationalisms, they have  had their day and should be ignored, if not put down. Régis Debray is characteristically scathing about all this in his recent polemic Éloge des Frontières (Gallimard, Paris 2010). In the concluding chapter of this ‘Praise for Frontiers’ he points out that globaloney has as its fatal culmination what one might call ‘All-the-Sameism’ – to which a proper answer can only be “the right to frontiers”, or (more strongly) the duty of maintaining them, and where necessary creating new ones. Not ‘walls’ but (as Scots like to say) borders, gateways to and from differing cultures and outlooks.

Things have changed.

The left is no longer confronted, as the principal enemy, by globalists, by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

We live in the age, where we are confronted  as argued, by Justine Lacroix, with national populism,  and national neoliberalism (“Mais nous sommes ­confrontés à Trump, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, Orban ou, en Pologne, à Droit et justice, sans même parler de la Russie et de la Chine).

Nairn’s borders are being reinforced…..

And now, with Boris Johnson and Brexit Project, Domnic Cummins and all.

European citizens will be required to gain US-style pre-approval to enter Britain after Brexit in a fresh border clampdown to be unveiled by the Conservatives today.

In a move to shift the election debate to immigration the Tories will outline plans to make all visitors to Britain receive additional security clearance before they travel.

There is expected to be a charge for the checks, similar to the American Esta system. This requires visitors to gain clearance to enter the country three days before their arrival or be turned back at the airport.

The European Union is expected to introduce a similar scheme in 2021, meaning that after Brexit all travellers between Britain and Europe will face additional scrutiny and costs.

The Times.

Politics Home.

Under a raft of promises the party claims will improve border security if it wins the election, the Tories said a new visa waiver scheme called Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) would be brought in for EU citizens wanting to travel to the UK.

Under current EU free movement rules, travellers from the bloc only need an ID card to gain entry.

But the new regime will see them asked to bring passports and fill in an online form before travelling, a move the Conservatives said would allow officials to “to screen arrivals and block threats from entering the UK”.

The Tories are also pledging to gather more data on goods being brought into the UK in a bid to clamp down on smuggling – a move the party claims could save £5bn a year in lost taxes.

They are also promising to bring in new immigration regulations with “far broader powers” for the Home Secretary to stop EU foreign nationals with serious convictions from entering the UK.

Unveiling the plans, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “When people voted to leave in 2016 they were voting to take back control of our borders.

“After Brexit we will introduce an Australian-style points based immigration system and take steps to strengthen our border and improve the security of the UK.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 2, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Verso Publishes ‘Antisemitism and the Labour Party, Jamie Stern-Weiner’. Norman Finkelstein: “British-Jewish elites are terrorising Corbyn”.

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Image result for anti-semitism and labour verso

Verso have just put this out.

Antisemitism and the Labour Party

We are approaching the 2019 general election in bizarre circumstances. From the climate crisis to homelessness, Brexit to the NHS, the stakes could scarcely be higher. Yet a story about the Labour Party that has no basis in fact and whose partisan motivations are transparent is playing a significant role in our national conversation and might even influence the result.

The ‘Labour antisemitism’ controversy is, in its profile and its protractedness, unprecedented in modern British politics. Its prominence may increase still further as polling day draws near, while other progressive campaigns abroad—notably supporters of Bernie Sanders in the United States—are beginning to be targeted with the same allegations.

The Introduction sets the tone.

Like a creature from a horror film, the ‘Labour antisemitism’ controversy just won’t die.

The ‘antisemitism’ campaign is, in its profile and its protractedness, unprecedented in modern British political history. To find an analogy requires reaching back to those outbursts of collective madness which periodically stain the annals of human history and astonish all succeeding generations. If its consequences do not compare with those of the Salem Witch Trials or the McCarthyite purges, still, in, bottomless irrationality, and self-perpetuating moral hysteria, the propaganda offensive against Labour lies squarely in the trajectory of these infamous episodes.

Some might remark that Stern-Weiner, apparently a DPhil candidate in Area Studies at the University of Oxford,  sounds pretty over the top as well.

He predicts that any Labour election difficulty will mean that the

” ‘antisemitism’ charge will briefly take on renewed salience as factional opponents seek to engineer his ouster (translation from American, his removal) . If and when he is ejected, the whole issue will vanish overnight, consigned forever to Orwell’s memory hole. What happens if Corbyn wins is less certain. But his opponents will continue to have resort to the ‘antisemitism’ weapon, while there are already indications that the relentless smears have curtailed his radicalism.

Stern-Weiner draws wider conclusions,

In any case, the ‘Labour antisemitism’ campaign set a template that is sure to be deployed against other popular movements of the left – as supporters of Bernie Sanders are beginning to discover. It is therefore critical that the strange events that have warped British politics since 2015 are soberly examined and the truth about them established – not just for posterity, but to help kindred  governments avoid repetition of Labour’s mistakes. This volume brings together a selection of analytical writings on the ‘Labour antisemitism’ affair” as a contribution to this effort.

Jamie Stern-Weiner .

21 November 2019

Norman Finkelstein is keen to underline his contribution.

 

Not long ago Finkelstein caused a lot of controversy for his view on Jews in Britain,

Jews have too much power in Britain. The three richest Brits in 2016 were Jewish.[12] Jews comprise only .5 percent of the population but fully 20 percent of the 100 richest Brits.[13] Relative both to the general population and to other ethno-religious groups, British Jews are in the aggregate disproportionately wealthy, educated, and professionally successful …These data track closely with the picture elsewhere. Jews comprise only 2 percent of the US population but fully 30 percent of the 100 richest Americans, while Jews enjoy the highest household income among religious groups.

Jews comprise less than .2 percent of the world’s population but, of the world’s 200 richest people, fully 20 percent are Jewish. Jews are incomparably organized as they have created a plethora of interlocking, overlapping, and mutually reinforcing communal and defense organizations that operate in both the domestic and international arenas. In many countries, not least the US and the UK, Jews occupy strategic positions in the entertainment industry, the arts, publishing, journals of opinion, the academy, the legal profession, and government. “Jews are represented in Britain in numbers that are many times their proportion of the population,” British-Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer notes, “in both Houses of Parliament, on the Sunday Times Rich List, in media, academia, professions, and just about every walk of public life.” The wonder would be if these raw data didn’t translate into outsized Jewish political power.

The chimera of British anti-Semitism (and how not to fight it if it were real)

In the present E-Book Finkelstein argues the following,

The Labour Party’s code of conduct hitherto faithfully honoured its libertarian legacy as it allowed every idea, however bizarre or noxious, to be mooted. Prodded by the anti-Corbyn Jewish Labour Movement, the party’s leadership poured into the code a mass of verbal sludge  128 anti-semitism and the labour party that polluted the venerable principle of free speech. Now British-Jewish elites are terrorising Corbyn to accept a purported definition of antisemitism that, one, is and couldn’t but be gibberish, two, exemplifies ethnic special pleading, three, is not just pointless but also stifles vital debate, and, four, has nearly nothing to do with antisemitism and nearly everything to do with shielding Israel from deserved condemnation. The long and short of it is, to detoxify its code of conduct, Labour should junk the revised text, reject as a whole and in all its parts the IHRA text, and return to its radical roots.

If the Labour Party adopts them, it will become a willing dupe of Israeli hasbara; it will disgrace the party’s noble traditions; and it will betray Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to set the party on a new-old path of upholding Truth and Justice, wherever it may lead and whatever the price.

Why the Labour Party Should Not Adopt the IHRA Definition or Any Other Definition of Antisemitism.

Without going into the fraught debate on the code of conduct Finkelstein simply wishes Labour to adopt the US First Amendment and refuse to allow any abridgement of free speech.

Here is contributor Daniel Finn, in an article taken from the populist US journal Jacobin, arguing against what is now Labour policy on the Middle East,

A ‘two-state solution’ as envisaged by Israel and its Western allies would really be a ‘one state, several Bantustans solution’, with some pitiful fragments of the West Bank handed over to a supine Palestinian leadership to administer on Israel’s behalf. The longer Israel is shielded from any kind of effective pressure by euphemistic phrase-mongering, the more likely this outcome will be.

In the following contribution Finn writes on Chris Williamson,

This is where the Chris Williamson row comes in. The case against the MP mainly rests on the people he has defended rather than the things he has said. On that count, the charge-sheet is very uneven: it is one thing to criticize Williamson for circulating a petition in support of Gilad Atzmon, a true example of a Jewish antisemite (Williamson said he was unaware of Atzmon’s antisemitic comments, deleted his post, and apologised) it is quite another to attack him for supporting Marc Wadsworth, a black Labour activist who was the victim of an unpleasant stitch-up.

Overall, I find the arguments for his expulsion unconvincing and tendentious, even if you accept – as many of Williamson’s defenders do12 – that his interventions on the ‘Labour antisemitism’ controversy have often been clumsy, insensitive, and ill-judged. And to state a point that should be obvious: while some on the Labour left dislike Williamson and think he’s a liability who does more harm than good, disciplinary action has to be based on clear-cut principles, not political expediency. Unless he’s done something that clearly merits the harshest penalty, it should be up to Labour members in Williamson’s constituency party to decide whether he continues to be their representative.

But what really matters is how this case fits into the overall picture. If Chris Williamson had never been a Labour MP, the basic structure of the controversy would be exactly the same as it is today. And if Williamson is expelled from the party, retires from political life, and never says a word in public again, the controversy will still grind on remorselessly, for all of the reasons stated above. Williamson himself would just become one more link in the chain of guilt-by-association (‘X defended Y, who defended Z’) that has become wearingly familiar.

Williamson gets another defence here:

The Fake News Nazi Corbyn, Williamson, and the Antisemitism Scandal. 

David Edwards. Media Lens, 13 March 2019.

Both completely ignore the substance of the many weighty accusations against the – present – independent candidate in the General Election.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH CHRIS WILLIAMSON?

Amongst other issues this struck many people,

3. The time Williamson promoted a Syrian war crimes denier

For me, one of the most unforgivable things Williamson has done, last summer, was promote Vanessa Beeley, a war crimes denier and fake news merchant. Here is an extract from Oz Katerji in the New Statesman on this incident:

 

A thoughtful contribution by David Rosenberg tries to restore some sanity to this volume,

There is Another Way to Resolve Labour’s Toxic Wrangles Around Complaints David Rosenberg Rebel Notes, 24 July 2019

On Shami Chakrabarti’s  report comrade Rosenberg  notes

She sought to replace the paranoid and toxic atmosphere that was felt at times in the party, with an atmosphere ‘for learning, positive consensus and progressive change’ where members ‘discussed and debated difficult issues and differences, in an atmosphere of civility and a discourse of mutual respect’. For her that also meant ‘a moratorium on the retrospective trawling of members’ social media accounts and past comments’.

He argues (on the basis of how people who’d been on the far-right in the 1930s could be changed) in favour of this approach.

Chakrabarti added, ‘I do not recommend lifetime bans from the Labour Party. Present or future members of the NEC should not be robbed of their discretion to consider how someone may have changed their attitude’.

There are also Testimonies: Labour Jews Speak Out.

Many are important reading.

But does this volume bring ” together the most rigorous and penetrating analytical writings on the ‘Labour antisemitism’ affair?

For a start the (already over-used)  list, “Sixty Times Jeremy Corbyn Stood with Jewish People @ToryFibs November 2019″

Just stop at the start.

1. April 1977: Jeremy Corbyn helps organise the defence of Jewish populated Wood Green from a neo-Nazi march.

Jewish Voice for Labour (which is prominent in the present book) published the original, which says,

Corbyn organised the Apr. 1977 defence of Jewish populated Wood Green from a Neo-Nazi march.

I was there, in the thick of the violent counter-demo in the road outside Wood Green Tube station.

We had come down in coaches from Warwick University Students’ Union.

Yet it was known territory: I grew up just on the border (literally, my parents’ street at the time is the dividing line between Wood Green and New Southgate) and had lived there not that long before,  in Bounds Green.

Jeremy Corbyn, a young councillor, and a  minor trade union official,  was a liaison officer for Haringey councillors who worked with the organisers of the demonstration, labour movement, left, and campaigning bodies.

On 23 April 1977, a twelve hundred-strong National Front march through Wood Green was opposed by some 3,000 anti-racists, including delegations from Haringey Labour Party, trade unionists, the Indian Workers’ Association, local West Indians, members of Rock Against Racism and the Socialist Workers Party. While Communists and churchmen addressed a rally at one end of Duckett’s Com-mon, a contingent composed of more radical elements in the crowd broke away and subjected the NF column to a barrage of smoke bombs, eggs and rotten fruit. Eighty-one people were arrested, including seventy-four anti-fascists. Such are the bare bones of our history, but they explain little about what the National Front was, where it came from, and why so many people felt that it should be opposed.

The Battle of Wood Green 23rd April 1977 Keith Fleet (an invaluable post)

Fleet says, “One of the Labour Councillors at the time, and an organiser of the counter-demonstration, was Jeremy Corbyn, then a trade union official, now a Labour MP.”

Corbyn did a good job, but, as Fleet says, he was not alone, far from it, and I doubt if he’s every claimed otherwise.

The National Front were marching against immigration above all, from the sub-continent and the Commonwealth and were felt to target the black community, important in the area and next door Tottenham.

Wood Green has never been “Jewish populated” – although not far away Muswell Hill has a  Jewish community (see the transfer of the small Hornsey and Wood Green Synagogue to Muswell Hill here), and there is a Synagogue in Brownlow Road on the border with Southgate,  in Bounds Green, about a mile from the march…

The rest of list does not get better.

  • EDM3933 7 Nov. 1990: Corbyn signs motion condemning the rise of antisemitism
  • EDM634, 11 Apr. 2000: Jeremy Corbyn signs motion condemning David Irving for being a Holocaust Denier
  • EDM1124, 6 Nov. 2000: Jeremy Corbyn praised the ‘British Schindler’, Bill Barazetti, for his WW2 kindertransport
  • EDM742, 28 Jan. 2002: Jeremy Corbyn signs motion praising football clubs for commemorating Holocaust Day
  • EDM1233 30 Apr. 2002: Corbyn was a primary sponsor on a motion condemning antisemitism

And so it goes….mostly Early Day Motions  to Parliament….

This Blog agrees with some of Stern-Weiner’s Blog recent statement (if one replaces the word fascism with national populism and the extreme right),

This election is not like any other. The far-right is winning around the world. It might very well be that we are just one economic crisis, one climate shock away from the return of fascism across Europe.

This is the real threat to Jewish people.

It is the saddest of ironies that whereas Jews were a principal target of fascism in the 1930s, Britain’s Jewish leadership has now aligned itself against the chief bulwark of anti-fascism.

In the past and today, our best defence, our only defence, against the far-right, is a strong left, which promises a positive and inclusive plan for a fairer society.

If we want to defeat the far-right and to defeat the causes of the far-right, our only hope is Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

A BRIEF RESPONSE TO CHIEF RABBI MIRVIS

The present E-Book, with its message against ‘Jewish elites’, and denial that there are serious problems with a conspiratorial minority in the Labour party which includes an anti-Semitic fringe, is not likely to help that call.

Nor is its constant use of the words “elites” and this claim -itself;f with no research offered, or clarity about what “power elites” and theories about elites arem how the floating signifier of “elites” has developed within  present day national and other varieties of populism.

Is the Labour Party Against Empirical Sociology? Notes on Power, Elites, and Anti-Racism Tom Mills and David Miller

The Labour mini-site warns against ‘theories [that] ascribe to Israel influence on world events far beyond any objective analysis’. This sounds reasonable enough, but who then should be the judge of what is ‘objectively’ acceptable? More research on this topic would likely help the movement to navigate such questions for itself, but this has only been made less likely and more difficult in the febrile political atmosphere that has taken hold around this issue.

This forway from the political shallows  doesn’t even mention the hard right Brexit project that’s unleashed a Carnival of Reaction in which ‘elites’ are the main target.

But then the side of pro-Reform and Remain internationalist left gets no mention, only sneers at the ‘Blairite’ claims to be “liberal cosmopolitan progressiveness” (Jeremy Gilbert).

Nothing there about anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner and hardline ‘left’  Brexiter Paul Embery:

Image result for rootless cosmopolitan paul embery

Written by Andrew Coates

December 1, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Amongst Unity in Admiration for Public Who Confronted London Attacker, Stop the War Coalition Strikes Discordant note.

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One of the Heroes of London Bridge.

There is a quiet  dignity about the response to the London Bridge attacks.

 

This is Labour’s well-measured response:

 

 

There are still political issues to raise (Independent).

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has said terrorism and security cannot be separated from cuts made to resources after two people were killed in an attack on London Bridge on Friday.

The attacker, who was named as 28-year-old Usman Khan, was convicted of terrorism offences in 2012 and had been released from prison on licence last year.

He was fatally shot by police after several people were stabbed at about 2pm on Friday.

There is also the responsibility of Islamist movements, “The London Bridge attacker was a student and personal friend of Anjem Choudary, the Islamist hate preacher.”

Inevitably a few voices, from the fringes, have tried to impose another agenda.

One such effort, unfortunately, comes from the Stop the War Coalition.

First there was this hastily written tweet

Then.

 

The view that Islamic terrorism is ’caused’ by “international tension” – it extends from Bangladesh to the Philippines, from the Maghreb to the (non-Western occupied) Syria, is vacuous.

The picture above has a banner reading Britain Out of NATO and a line about the New World Order.

Is German, the Convener of  the Stop the War Coalition,  suggesting that NATO and the ‘new world order’ are connected to the horrors on London Bridge?

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 30, 2019 at 1:32 pm

Authoritarian Populism: Tories Threaten Assessment of “Channel 4’s public service broadcasting licence” after Climate Debate.

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Image result for tub of lard have i got news for you"

Right Honourable Tub of Lard MP Set Dangerous Provocative, Partisan  Precedent for Channel Four’s Latest Escapade. 

Boris Johnson Is Threatening To Review Channel 4’s Broadcasting Licence After They Replaced Him With An Ice Sculpture At Thursday’s Debate

A Conservative source told BuzzFeed News that if they win the coming election they will reassess the channel’s public service broadcasting licence.

The inflammatory move came after Channel 4 said it would empty-chair the prime minister and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage at its climate change leaders’ debate, after the two leaders declined to take part.

The Huff Post repeats this story,

A Conservative source later told BuzzFeed News that if the party wins the coming election it will reassess Channel 4’s public service broadcasting licence.

“If we are re-elected, we will have to review Channel 4’s Public Services Broadcasting obligations,” the source said.

“Any review would of course look at whether its remit should be better focused so it is serving the public in the best way possible.”

The threat should not be taken lightly.

Attacks on press freedom in democracies

In some of the most influential democracies in the world, large segments of the population are no longer receiving unbiased news and information. This is not because journalists are being thrown in jail, as might occur in authoritarian settings. Instead, the media have fallen prey to more nuanced efforts to throttle their independence. Common methods include government-backed ownership changes, regulatory and financial pressure, and public denunciations of honest journalists. Governments have also offered proactive support to friendly outlets through measures such as lucrative state contracts, favorable regulatory decisions, and preferential access to state information. The goal is to make the press serve those in power rather than the public.

The problem has arisen in tandem with right-wing populism, which has undermined basic freedoms in many democratic countries. Populist leaders present themselves as the defenders of an aggrieved majority against liberal elites and ethnic minorities whose loyalties they question, and argue that the interests of the nation—as they define it—should override democratic principles like press freedom, transparency, and open debate.

In perhaps the most concerning development of recent years, press freedom has come under unusual pressure in the United States, the world’s leading democratic power. Although key news organizations remain strong and continue to produce vigorous reporting on those in office, President Donald Trump’s continual vilification of the press has seriously exacerbated an ongoing erosion of public confidence in the mainstream media. Among other steps, the president has repeatedly threatened to strengthen libel laws, revoke the licenses of certain broadcasters, and damage media owners’ other business interests. The US constitution provides robust protections against such actions, but President Trump’s public stance on press freedom has had a tangible impact on the global landscape. Journalists around the world now have less reason to believe that Washington will come to their aid if their basic rights are violated.

Freedom and the Media:A Downward Spiral

By Sarah Repucci, Senior Director for Research and Analysis

Freedom House.

 

 

How does this fit in with the wider Tory strategy.

There are efforts to normalise the Conservatives’ approach:

A better way of looking at them is in terms of British political history and the rise of Thatcher’s authoritarian populism.

Stuart Hall argued in The Great Moving Right Show (1978) that ‘Thatcherism’ was able to use the “language of ‘the people’, unified behind a reforming drive to turn the turn the tide of ‘creeping collectivism, banish Keynesian illusions from the state apparatus and renovate the power bloc…” It “brings into existence a new ‘historic bloc’ between certain sections of the dominant and dominated classes.” It was a “rich mix”, combining long-standing ‘organic’ Tory themes, “nation, family, duty, authority, standards, and traditionalism “with” a revived neoliberalism – self-interest, competitive individualism anti-statism.”

Today we have the xenophobia of people like key adviser Dominic Cummings warning about millions of foreign voters thwarting Brexit if Labour wins power. There is the (still unstable) attempt to create a bloc between footloose capital and others sectors who will benefit from alignment with Trump in a nationalist use of political power for economic benefit, and those fightended by a ‘globalised’ world. This, as described by Paul Mason, is a new form of neoliberalism, national neoliberalism (Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being. 2019)

The Tory and Brexit Party vision of democracy is not as form of society built on by popular rights, but rule by plebiscites and the personification of the Nation State by one Party. The abstraction of Sovereignty is  a puppet in the lap of Ventriloquists, Johnson and Farage.

The ‘popular basis’ of the present Moving Right Show is a “rich mix” of loathing for Metropolitan ‘elites’, rootless cosmopolitans,  decaying Labourist and old Tory nostalgia for family, flag and patriotism, and, old fashioned racism. Nostalgic for La terre et les Morts, both the Conservatives and the Brexit Party are prepared to control freedom of movement, to open and close migration as it suits their economic free-market project.

As for their racism, it is pitiful that The Times (cited above)publishes Collins’ article which reduces this deep xenophobia and hatred of outsiders in these terms,

The racism that exists in the Tory ranks is, according to most witnesses, generational and casual. That does not mean it does not matter — being on the receiving end of racism is never casual. It does, though, mean that the Muslim question will not greatly occupy the thoughts of the average Tory member. Very few of them will have a developed theory about how the madrassas are cultivating a religious cavalry to man the global caliphate. It’s just not a big deal to them. It is a small deal on which some of them hold stereotypically bigoted views.

The pro-Brexit camp are the dominated by nationalists, the majority cultural  nationalists, some blood and soil. The Tory wing, and more explicitly the Brexit Party wing, are motivated by a fear of immigration  and globalist ‘elites’. Their views on Muslims and Jewish people may well be prejudiced, but that is not the central nationalist issue.

In this atmosphere, as a symbol of cosmopolitan leftism Channel Four is clearly in their sights….

 

 

Dominic Cummings. “BATSIGNAL!! DON’T LET CORBYN-STURGEON CHEAT A SECOND REFERENDUM WITH MILLIONS OF FOREIGN VOTES”.

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Cummings: BATSIGNAL!! DON’T LET CORBYN-STURGEON CHEAT A SECOND REFERENDUM WITH MILLIONS OF FOREIGN VOTES!”

The Hard Right Brexit Project is often seen to be embodied in the figure of Dominic Cummings.

A kenspeckle nutter and obsessive, it’s hard to pin his ideology down.

A dash of Ayn Rand perhaps? Ultra- right  Posadism?

“Throughout his career, he has been surrounded by idiots. The “grotesque incompetents” who blocked his agenda at the Department for Education. The “dysfunctional egomaniacs” who undermined his work for Vote Leave. The “conspiracy network” that has been out to get him since he won the EU referendum. The “narcissist-delusional” members of the European Research Group who messed up his beautiful vision of Brexit. ” “He is inspired by the teams behind the Apollo space programme and the creation of the internet, who were encouraged to challenge each other, helping to fight groupthink and ensure a diversity of opinions. “

Jonathan Heawood.

Racism?

He created the key slogan, “Take back control”, and his campaign strategy was to focus on the subject of immigration. He successfully used social media to target those working-class communities that had become disillusioned with politics. In the 1980s they knew who to blame for their plight but after they got a Labour government in 1997 they felt they continued to be ignored and stopped voting in elections, both local and national.

Cummings later explained why he used the subject of immigration in the campaign. “15 years of immigration and, recently, a few years of the migration crisis from the East and Africa, dramatically portrayed on TV and social media, had a big effect. In 2000, focus groups were already unhappy with immigration but did not regard it as a problem caused by the EU. By 2015, the EU was blamed substantially for the immigration/asylum crisis and this was entangled with years of news stories about ‘European courts’ limiting action against terrorists and criminals.” Cummings realised that he had to use high profile politicians like Johnson, Gove and the Labour MP, Gisela Stuart to link the subject of immigration with that of the NHS. He admitted that they would not have achieved victory if “Boris, Gove, and Gisela had not supported us and picked up the baseball bat marked ‘Turkey/NHS/£350 million’.” (18)

Game Theory?

Johnson had agreed to follow Cummings strategy for leaving the EU. This has been explained in some detail in his blog. His tactics included what is known as the hawk-dove or snowdrift game. Johnson prefers to call it the “chicken” game. It is a model of conflict for two players in game theory. The principle of the game is that while it is to both players’ benefit if one player yields, the other player’s optimal choice depends on what their opponent is doing. The origins in a game in which two drivers drive towards each other on a collision course: one must swerve, or both may die in the crash, but if one driver swerves and the other does not, the one who swerved will be called a “chicken”, meaning a coward. (43) This is one of the reasons why Johnson called Jeremy Corbyn a chicken, which was repeated in the Tory press, when he refused the offer of a general election.

The man himself says,

I’m not Tory, libertarian, ‘populist’ or anything else. I follow projects I think are worthwhile.

Spartacus Blog The Political Philosophy of Dominic Cummings John Simkin (6th October, 2019)

Now it looks possible he may be on the way out.Brexit LIVE: ‘Powerful forces’ plot to stop Brexiteers taking control – PM adviser resigns

BORIS JOHNSON’s senior advisor Dominic Cummings has claimed there is a “powerful network” plotting to stop Brexit.

Or not.

It’s not that clear.

Has Dominic Cummings resigned? Why purdah doesn’t stop Boris Johnson’s ex-adviser writing his polls blog

Some have claimed that Cummings’ Brexit “bat signal” breaches election rules

What does Cummings’ blog post say?

The new post – titled “BATSIGNAL!! DON’T LET CORBYN-STURGEON CHEAT A SECOND REFERENDUM WITH MILLIONS OF FOREIGN VOTES – is addressed to Leave voters, and warns of a Corbyn-Sturgeon alliance in the wake of a non-Boris majority.

“Tell your family and friends face-to-face,” it begins, “if Boris doesn’t get a majority, then Corbyn and Sturgeon will control the government.

“Their official policy is to give the vote to millions of foreign citizens to cheat their second referendum, we’ll all get screwed on taxes, Parliament will drag the whole country into crisis, and immigration will return to being a central issue in politics instead of being marginalised by Brexit.”

Still this is the story:

This is what Cummings says now,

LET’S HONOUR THE REFERENDUM RESULT AND GET BREXIT DONE SO THE COUNTRY CAN MOVE ON

Summary: Tell your family and friends face-to-face: if Boris doesn’t get a majority, then Corbyn and Sturgeon will control the government, their official policy is to give the vote to millions of foreign citizens to cheat their second referendum, we’ll all get screwed on taxes, Parliament will drag the whole country into crisis, and immigration will return to being a central issue in politics instead of being marginalised by Brexit…

Days after the 2016 referendum, I emailed all of you to say thanks for your heroic efforts.

I also said — keep an eye on my blog, if Brexit is in danger then I will send up a ‘bat signal’ here.

Here we go…

All of you who helped Vote Leave win should ask yourself: what should I do, and not do, to ensure we leave in the best way possible?

This is my answer to this question…

Boris fought for Leave in 2016. I worked with him closely in the referendum. I know how committed he was. I also know how angry he was that the government did not immediately put more money into the NHS, as should have happened and as we in Vote Leave campaigned for.

On 21 July 2019, three days before becoming Prime Minister, he asked me to gather as many of the old Vote Leave team as possible and bring them to Downing Street to help deliver Brexit. He said he was determined to do everything he could to ensure the referendum result was respected.

I have never been a member of any party but I accepted his offer, we re-assembled many of the VL team and we went to No10. We wanted to ensure that the referendum is respected and that Westminster is fundamentally changed.

I’ve been with him for the 100 days between 24 July and 31 October, often for many hours a day. I saw him in meeting after meeting. He threw everything he had at it. The forces against us were very powerful. Most of the powerful people in Westminster supported Remain.

Before the referendum, MPs promised to respect the result. They explicitly ruled out a second referendum — David Cameron, John Major, Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, Nick Clegg, Corbyn, McDonnell, Starmer, Swinson, Gordon Brown, Heseltine, and even the official Remain campaign — they all said: ‘No second referendum, one vote, it will hold for a generation and Leave means leaving the Single Market and Customs Union and everyone should realise that because there’s no going back after the 23 June 2016.’

Many MPs behaved honestly. They tried to respect the result. They deserve respect.

But many MPs who promised to respect the result have done all they could to overturn it. The official Remain campaign’s central argument during the referendum was that ‘it’s all about leaving the Single Market and Customs Union’. They’ve spent the next four years saying ‘the referendum wasn’t about the Single Market and Customs Union’. Some like Dominic Grieve told voters at the last election that he would respect the referendum then did the opposite. MPs like him should be forced from public life in disgrace for their shameless dishonesty.

A powerful network did all they could to stop Brexit and make a pro-Brexit government impossible. Billionaires hired lawyers — some of them the same charlatans who spread fake news about Vote Leave and Russia for three years — to write legislation and start legal cases to force delay, hoping that delay would bring the chance for another referendum.

They succeeded. Unprecedented in modern British history and outside all normal civil service rules, a bunch of MPs, some of them working with foreign governments, wrote primary legislation — ‘the Surrender Act’ also known as the Benn Act — without any of the scrutiny of who influenced and who funded it that is normal for legislation. It was fitting that the law to scupper the biggest democratic exercise in British history was passed in this way. Corbyn, Sturgeon and co had a majority that forced the government to ask for another delay and accept any conditions Brussels demanded. Such is their loyalty to the EU they were happy to make Britain a laughing stock.

So, it’s clear that many of these powerful insiders who promised to respect the referendum will do absolutely anything to keep their grip on power and money. They will do anything to stop YOU, normal voters, from taking back control OF THEM.

How far will they go?

If Boris doesn’t get a majority, then Corbyn will take control of No10 on Friday 13th in alliance with Sturgeon plus the Liberal Democrats. And if this Corbyn-Sturgeon alliance takes control, their official policy is to give millions of EU citizens the vote in the second referendum. They don’t plan to lose again and they’ve literally written into their manifesto that they will cheat the second referendum — apart from giving millions of foreign citizens the vote, they will rig the question so the ‘choice’ is effectively ‘Remain or Remain’, they will cheat the rules, they will do anything, supported by the likes of Goldman Sachs writing the cheques like they did in 2016, to ensure Remain win.

As you know, VL said that the rights of EU citizens living here should be respected — and the previous government made a big mistake by doing the opposite of what VL said should happen on this — but giving millions of foreign citizens a vote on membership of the EU is a bad joke.

If MPs get away with cheating the biggest democratic vote in our history, why should they ever respect democratic votes? It’s already hard enough to make them stick to promises without letting them get away with this.

I know why many are tempted to vote for Corbyn. Under Cameron and May, there were some big decisions about priorities that were wrong. Most importantly, from summer 2016 Hammond repeatedly blocked cash for the NHS and other services. In 2016 people voted for change — the Conservative Party didn’t hear that properly before the referendum and they didn’t hear it properly after the referendum.

The ranting continues at length.

If you can be arsed look through the link above.

Before there’s more editing..

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It is conspi madness incarnate.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 28, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Brexit Returns to UK Election: Corbyn shows dossier “proving NHS up for sale”.

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NHS and Public Services Up for “total market access” for US profiteers. 

After yesterday’s demands that Jeremy Corbyn apologise for anti-Semitism, and the interview with Andrew Neil, which has had mixed reviews (an writer on Labour List says, “Jeremy Corbyn’s decision not to apologise last night for the way that Labour has handled antisemitism means his party will lose the air war again today” adding in American, “the gap between the air war and the ground game has just gotten a whole lot bigger”)  British political debate has returned to Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn has released an uncensored version of government documents which he claims shows the NHS is “on the table” in any post-Brexit trade deal with the US. “This is not only a plot against our NHS, it’s a plot against our country,” said the Labour leader.

Independent.

The European reports,

Jeremy Corbyn has unredacted documents showing NHS is ‘up for sale’ after Brexit

The Labour leader said the uncensored papers gave the lie to Boris Johnson’s claims that the NHS would not be part of any trade talks.

The 451 pages of documents related to a UK-US Trade and Investment Working Group covers six rounds of talks in Washington and London between July 2017 and “just a few months ago”.

riginally only a redacted version of the documents were revealed as part of a Freedom of Information request, but now Labour has the full information, which they claim leaves “Boris Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters”.

He said the documents confirm that “the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale”, and that “this election is a fight for the survival of the NHS”.

The article continues,

On other matters in the talks Jeremy Corbyn pointed to the fact the documents show how the Americans offered to give the British lines to use to defend chlorinated chicken, and he highlighted the fact the Americans refused to allow a mention of climate change in the deal.

Addressing journalists, Corbyn told a press conference: “Labour will never ever treat our NHS as a bargaining chip in trade talks with anybody. We will never let Donald Trump get his hands on our NHS. Because our NHS is not for sale”.

Explosive leaked trade papers show NHS, chlorinated chicken already on table in US trade talks

Wednesday, 27 November, 2019

The details are leaked versions of the secret papers detailing trade talks between US and British negotiators which were previously only released in highly redacted form (1) and were condemned by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as part of the first general election debate. Analysis by Global Justice Now says the papers also show:

  • The US pushing lower food standards on Britain post Brexit, including allowing imports of chlorine-washed chickens, less nutritional labelling on foods, and less protection for regional food like stilton cheese. The US offered to help the UK government ‘sell’ chlorine chicken to a sceptical British public and stated that parliamentary scrutiny of food standards is ‘unhelpful’.
  • The US banning any mention of climate change in a US-UK trade deal.
  • US officials threatening UK civil servants that they would undermine US trade talks if they supported certain EU positions in international forums
  • The US suggesting a ‘corporate court system’ in a US-UK deal, which would allow big business to sue the British government, in secret and without appeal, for anything they regard as ‘unfair’. Recent similar cases have included suing governments for trying to phase out use of coal.
  • US officials pushing a far reaching proposals on the digital economy, giving Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon sweeping freedoms to move and use our online data, which would make taxation and regulation of these companies more difficult and prohibit Labour proposals for a public broadband service.
  • Threats to public services like the NHS, via sweeping services liberalisation. The British government would need to exclude everything not subject to liberalisation in order to protect public services, while bringing formerly public services like the mail, or rail companies back into public ownership would be much harder.
  • US officials making a further threat to NHS in terms of medicine pricing policy, with special concern about Brits paying more for cancer medicines which the US feels Britain doesn’t pay enough for. Trade negotiators have received special lobbying from pharmaceutical corporations as part of the trade talks.
  • US officials demanding US experts and multinational corporations are able to participate in standard-setting in Britain post Brexit.
  • A promise by both sides to keep talks secret from the public.

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, 

On the Red-Brown Front, today Spiked have been promoting this chap.

 

Spiked today,

Why I’m still standing for the Brexit Party

David Axe

Defeating Labour must be the priority of all democrats.

…. at the end of the day, the decision to stand down against IDS was the right one. Since the 2017 election, Chingford and Woodford Green has been a marginal seat. If I had stood, I could have split Leave supporters and helped secure a victory for Labour and for Remain.

Well that’s clear, isn’t it?

Written by Andrew Coates

November 27, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Corbyn “Not Fit For High Office”, Chief Rabbi’s Article Faces Protest.

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The way in which the leadership of the Labour Party has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud.”

From the article.

Chief Rabbi Mirvis

The party leadership have never understood that their failure is not just one of procedure, which can be remedied with additional staff or new processes. It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of culture. It is a failure of leadership. A new poison – sanctioned from the very top – has taken root in the Labour Party.

Many members of the Jewish community can hardly believe that this is the same party that they proudly called their political home for more than a century. It can no longer claim to be the party of diversity, equality and anti-racism. This is the Labour Party in name only.

How far is too far? How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be in order to be considered unfit for high office?

Would associations with those who have openly incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would support for a racist mural, depicting powerful hook-nosed Jews supposedly getting rich at the expense of the weak and downtrodden be enough? Would describing as “friends” those who endorse and even perpetrate the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not. What we do know from history is that what starts with the Jews, never ends with the Jews.

It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the following question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country?

When December 12th arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience.

The front page article has been followed by this: (Guardian)

The archbishop of Canterbury has in effect backed the chief rabbi’s comments on the Labour leadership’s record on antisemitism with a tweet highlighting the “deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews”.

Justin Welby does not explicitly refer to the Labour party, but his intervention a few hours after the chief rabbi’s excoriating public criticism of Jeremy Corbyn is significant.

The key words of the article are these, “How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be in order to be considered unfit for high office?”

In other words, Mirvis asserts that Corbyn is “complicit” in anti-Semitism, and is only open to discussion about “how far” this has gone to make him unfit for “high office”.

This is, one can see, highly offensive premise on which to begin a debate.

This is of course par for the course for some people who have accused Corbyn of anti-Semitism, if not fascism (the latter claim is not picked out from the sky but from the words of leading proponents of this line of thought).

Mirvis highlights three instances.

  • Would associations with those who have openly incited hatred against Jews be enough?
  • Would support for a racist mural, depicting powerful hook-nosed Jews supposedly getting rich at the expense of the weak and downtrodden be enough?
  • Would describing as “friends” those who endorse and even perpetrate the murder of Jews be enough?

The first claim, “association” is given no details. The second, the Mural, was only “supported” by Corbyn in the sense that he – briefly – defended this Mural’s right to be there, and the use of the word “friends” refers, one assumes, to those for whom Corbyn  used this expression to all taking part in public meetings defending the Palestinian cause. I have heard him doi the same at countless meetings of all stripes. The word is, in many eyes, not always  unhelpful, but no more so than “comrade” or “colleague” in political parties.

References in Mirvis’ article to “faceless social media trolls”, “hounded parliamentarians, members and even staff out of the party for challenging anti-Jewish racism” are equally sweeping.

Where cases have been identified they have been dealt with, – it would not be hard to show this and this Blog cannot be alone in having followed some of them closely. Some have not been resolved quickly, and this is to be regretted.

From the opposing side Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) has protested vigorously at Labour’s keenness to deal with Antisemitism.

This indicates that Labour has acted.

A series of allegations, involving Chris Williamson,  has meant that he is not allowed to stand under Labour colours  in the General Election.

There is much to criticise politically on Jeremy Corbyn’s take on international issues, including the Middle East, and more broadly, on the way he, and others, have taken the anti-colonial movements of the days of Empire, and the ‘anti-imperialism’ of the post-war period, into the present day.

The Israel Palestine conflict is, in many people’s eyes, best approached through the angle of a two state solution and not a classic liberation of one country from ‘colonial’ occupation, as the more extreme pro-Palestinian supporters allege.

In a multi-polar world, where anti-democratic countries like China and the Russian Federation operate, and Trump’s US runs amok, in which threats from genocidal groups like ISIS remain high on the agenda, and countries like Burma and Turkey practice ethnic cleansing, the old division of the globe into two camps, imperialism and its opponents, no longer works.

Yet Labour’s Manifesto has a balanced approach based on human rights.

Labour’s policy on the Middle East in the Election Manifesto is the following:

Labour is committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine.

There can be no military solution to this conflict, which must be settled on the basis of justice and international law. All sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve.

That means both an end to the blockade, occupation and settlements, and an end to rocket and terror attacks. Labour will continue to press for an immediate return to meaningful negotiations leading to a diplomatic resolution. A Labour government will immediately recognise the state of Palestine.

Labour will take all lawful action necessary to counter and confront all forms of terrorism, and we will advocate a long-term multinational political strategy, led by regional actors, to tackle the spread of extremism.

To the Chief Rabbi’s  all-embracing charge-sheet Labour has responded.

“Jeremy Corbyn is a lifelong campaigner against antisemitism and has made absolutely clear it has no place in our party and society and that no one who engages in it does so in his name.

“A Labour government will guarantee the security of the Jewish community, defend and support the Jewish way of life, and combat rising antisemitism in our country and across Europe. Our race and faith manifesto, launched today, sets out our policies to achieve this.”

The party also said that anti-semitism complaints “account for about 0.1% of the Labour Party membership”, and that “polls show anti-semitism is more prevalent among Conservative than Labour supporters”.

Labour meanwhile challenged the figure of 130 outstanding cases as “inaccurate”, and said it was “categorically untrue to suggest there are thousands of outstanding cases”.

They added: “We are taking robust action to root out anti-Semitism in the party, with swift suspensions, processes for rapid expulsions and an education programme for members.”

Politics Home.

One other immediate reaction will be to bring to the attention of the Chief Rabbi, who only represents a section of the Jewish Community, to be precise,  British Orthodox Jewish synagogues,  whose authority is recognised by around half British Jews, the positions of Labour’s rival, the Conservatives, on diversity, equality and anti-racism.

The Chief Rabbi states, “Convention dictates that the Chief Rabbi stays well away from party politics – and rightly so. However, challenging racism in all its forms is not a matter of politics, it goes well beyond that. Wherever there is evidence of it, including in any of our political parties, it must be swiftly rooted out. Hateful prejudice is always wrong, whoever the perpetrator, whoever the victim.”

What has he said about this?

 

These are very serious matters.

Bob from Brockley gives more details on how some Tories have extended their racism to anti-Semitism.

A vote for the Conservatives is not a vote against antisemitism

Don’t let the Tories use Jews as a political football

Bob has his own take,

Anyone who reads this blog regularly or follows me on Twitter will know that I see Labour antisemitism as a real and massive problem: there is a shocking level of antisemitism among grassroots Labour activists (including candidates for office), a chronically insufficient response to this from a leadership that at best suffers from a deep inability to recognise contemporary antisemitism, and a massive amount of denial and defensiveness that itself shades into paranoid conspiracism. Many British Jews and their good faith allies may decide not to campaign for Labour or even not to vote Labour; this position can be legitimately reached out of sincerely grounded existential fear, or out of anti-racist principle.

However, in a context where objectively the most likely alternative to Corbyn (probably the only alternative) is the re-election of the current government, to declare for “anyone but Corbyn” – or to go one step further and actually endorse the current government, as Ian Austin and John Woodcock have done – exceeds that legitimate position.

In this post, I will be arguing that – even if we ignore the most pernicious aspects of Johnson’s Conservative party (its disastrous hard Brexit strategy and its awful record on basically every single economic and social issue from the NHS to industry) – a vote that leads to a Johnson government is a vote for racism, both racism against Jews and racism against other minorities.

Update on how the intervention is already being used:

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Brexit and the Election: Blue ‘Labour’ Cements its Alliance with the “anti-globalists” of Spiked.

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Image result for Maurice glasman brendan o'neill show

“I was told by middle-class graduates that things like family, stability and patriotism were Tory values. But when you look at Labour history, you see that these things are fundamental to it.” Maurice Glasman. 24th of November: 

Comments on the YourTube site:

calling labour globalist hipsters nomadic cosmopolitans is forbidden btw. But they can call working people “reactionaries” with impunity. Then they wonder where the hostility comes from. BUT remember they don’t engage in broad brush stereotypes.

This is the most sense I’ve heard made since I grew up in the 60’s in a working class community on the North side of St. Louis. Count me in; I’m TRUE BLUE LABOR NOW!!!
Why do you think that the European Parliament in Strassbourg is Exactly built like a Modern Version of the Unfinished Tower of Babel by Artist Breughel ? Why do you think time After time it is Exposed the Rich and Famous Abuse Children in Rituals like the Jimmy Saville Case, Epstein etc. ? Once Christian USA and Western Europe were such Bastions of Freedom, but Now are Turning to Chaos. This is a Spiritual Battle Above All and They are After your Soul with their MK-Ultra programming, having their Slaves Constantly Flashing Satanic Symbols. I was Not Raised Christian, I just Found out Later in Life that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Read the Gospel of John and Choose Wisely My Friend, Choose Wisely.

Blue Labour has an increasingly close relationship with the Brexit Party supporting Spiked (ex-Revolutionary Communist Party).

 

What is this group’ Blue Labour’? 

 

Blue Labour is an advocacy group associated with the  British Labour Party that promotes conservative ideas on social and international issues, including immigration, crime, and the European Union, rejecting neoliberal economics in favour of guild socialism and corporatism. Wikipedia.

Less directly its own site claims that,

Blue Labour is the Labour Party pressure group that aims to put relationships and responsibility at the heart of British politics.

We combine respect for work, family and community with a commitment to the common good: sustainable politics that helps people lead meaningful lives. You can find out more about what this means in practice by downloading our e-brochure available here.

There has been a surge of interest in Blue Labour this year and a lot of people have been asking what they can do to help. We have spent this year expanding the movement by establishing regional networks. All the new regional groups have pages on Facebook so if you search there you should find a group near you.

Our volunteers are very active on social media which is a great way to be part of the Blue Labour conversation. You’ll find us on Twitter and also on Facebook.

Maurice Glasman considers the European Union to be the greatest capitalist threat that’s ever existed,

Why No Deal Is the Real Deal: Brexit and the Politics of the Interregnum

January 2019 The US magazine The Nation.

The European Union is the greatest capitalist project ever devised by the human mind. It guarantees, in treaty form, the free movement of capital, labor, goods, and services throughout its territory as a constitutional right. These are known as the “Four Freedoms.” Imagine NAFTA underpinned by a political union so that it would be illegal to resist capitalism. A union in which economic policy is decided not democratically—but by judges interpreting whether the policy is “treaty compliant.” Yet that is the institution supported by the vast majority of progressives throughout the continent—and the main cause of the palsy that has overtaken social democrats across Europe. They think political and economic liberalism as the legal form of globalization is the best you can hope for. That is the European Union.

Citing Gramsci ““when the old is dying and the new cannot be born…in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms pertain.”  Glasman continues to paint a gloomy picture,

The fundamental process of capitalism is to turn human beings and nature into commodities that are bought and sold in fluctuating markets. And yet human beings do not wish to be treated as commodities. The best way of resisting is through democracy—by educating, organizing, and agitating within the communities in which you live and work. That is what the Labour Party used to do, and from time to time it won elections and did big things. The ability to act decisively, with the power of a democratic mandate, to resist the domination of capital and redistribute wealth and power within a democratic society is the credo of socialism. That is both illegal and impossible within the European Union—and that is why the best hope for the left is to lead the opposition to it. It’s Labour’s only way out of the interregnum.

The idea that democratically elected governments can share sovereignty in bodies like the European Union, that the EU has its own democratic input through the European Parliament, and that international democratic organisations are needed to shape global capital flows and politics, is excluded by Glasman.

That the Brexit project for a  British nation state, converted into a buccaneering player on the world market will make people into goods to be traded internationally is not even considered.

 Zeev Sternhell in one of his books on the history of ideas (Les Anti-Lumières : une tradition du xviiie siècle à la Guerre froide, 2010) identifies the Irish-British opponent of the French Revolution,  Edmund Burke, as a father of the strain of traditionalist anti-rationalist nationalism. Glasman and his national comrades owe a lot to the anti-Enlightenment belief in the chain of ancestors bequeathing obligations on the living. The ‘organicist socialist’  vision that draws on this picture has had many variants. It is corporatist, seeing society as a living body and ‘socialist’ in the sense that the social takes precedence over individual rights. In this view  ‘atomised’ globalising rights shatter idealised communities , in which class is a mark of belonging not of conflict or fights against oppression and exploitation.

Blue Labour ‘s debt to the person Sternhell alleges to be a founder of this counter-revolutionary tradition could not be clearer.

Blue Labour’s Glasman was certainly not going to concede any ground to Burke’s latest biographer in the depth of his affection for Old Tory Edmund. “The labour movement was a Burkean movement of labouring people”, Glasman declared, highlighting the Burial Societies and the challenge to the dark satanic mills in the name of established ways of life.

..

The main theme of the afternoon was whether Burke should have said more about the Enclosures. “The problem with the Conservatives is that they are not nearly conservative enough”, said Glasman, arguing that what Burke lacked was a critique of the creative destruction of the market. Norman noted that Burke had died in 1798, so had not seen the great urbanisation of the 1820s cities, but felt that he did have an account of the limits of markets, strongly preferring the rootedness of land to finance, for example.

Burke, Norman and Glasman – ‘post-liberalism’ in Britain today

The slogans of nation state sovereignty bringing order to a globalised world, limited markets, and ‘family, work and ‘community’ are the banners of national populism.

That those who claim to stand for patriotic Labour have now found common home with the Brexit Party backing Spiked is, at first sight, surprising.

The RCP left Marxism behind, it is said,  for risk taking and experimentation and they sneer at all regulation and limits. The idea that they would now find friends amongst the Poylani infomred idea of “society protecting itself” thinkers is odd.

Yet Furedi has recently began referring to the need to defend the European Enlightenment ‘tradition’ (a paradox for thinkers who rejected the authority of traditions) , and the Judeo-Christian one to boot. Articles against Equality Education and critiqiues of Transexual rights suggests  aconcenrn for the ‘family’.

One is waiting for Blue Labour’s hostile views on immigration to be taken up more openly by Brendan O’Neill.

The internationalist left begins from very different premises.

We are free to make our own world, unburdened by tradition.

As one of our forebears said,

There never did, there never will, and there never can, exist a Parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the “end of time,” or of commanding for ever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it; and therefore all such clauses, acts or declarations by which the makers of them attempt to do what they have neither the right nor the power to do, nor the power to execute, are in themselves null and void. Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the age and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow..

Every generation is, and must be, competent to all the purposes which its occasions require. It is the living, and not the dead, that are to be accommodated

The Rights of Man. Tom Paine.

Democratic internationalist socialism has come a long way since the days of Burke and Paine. But it seems as if Brexit has revived some of these fundamental differences.

As shown by Blue Labour’s latest fory: ‘Globalisation has made our lives empty’

Spiked.

Maurice Glasman talks to Brendan O’Neill about Brexit, Blue Labour and the demonisation of the working class.

Maurice Glasman, Labour peer and founder of Blue Labour, joins spiked’s editor for the latest episode of The Brendan O’Neill Show. They discuss the decades-long assault on the working class, the potential of Brexit, and what Thatcherism and Corbynism have in common.

 

 

Retweeted.

This  marks a new stage in a long saga.

At one point Glassman was criticised for calling for a dialogue with the far-right EDL (“In April 2011, Glasman called on the Labour Party to establish a dialogue with sympathisers of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) in order “to build a party that brokers a common good, that involves those people who support the EDL within our party. Not dominant in the party, not setting the tone of the party, but just a reconnection with those people that we can represent a better life for them, because that’s what they want”).

All seemed rather settling down however and by 2011 this was the judgement on the tendency and the man himself, (Tangled Up in Blue. Rowena Davis.)

Davis reviews the prospects for Blue Labour’s continued influence on the mainstream Labour Party. She concludes that Blue Labour probably does have a future, at least as a source of ideas if not as a brand. After the movement was pronounced dead by various journalists in summer 2011, Glasman withdrew from the public eye, but remained committed to promoting Blue Labour, and continued to expand his network of interested contacts. There has been growing interest among Labour academics and strategists centred on London and Oxford. Davis says support for Blue Labour remains weak among the parliamentary party, naming only a handful of MPs who openly support Blue Labour, such as Hazel BlearsTessa Jowell, and Caroline Flint. The author also states that despite its aim to champion working class traditional values, Blue Labour has next to no grassroots support from regular people outside of Citizens UK. However, both Miliband brothers remain interested in Blue Labour and there are signs that the party leader is increasingly accepting and implementing its ideas. Ed Miliband told the author in a September 2011 interview that Blue Labour is an idea that is “ahead of its time”.

Thins have changed from this rather limited prospect:

Jon Bloomfield has described the emergence of Blue Labour over this decade (Progressive Politics in a Changing World: Challenging the Fallacies of Blue Labour Jon Bloomfield : 11 October 2019)

Within Labour’s ranks a newly ennobled Maurice Glasman gave these ideas prominence after Ed Miliband’s leadership win in 2010. The Blue Labour movement he pioneered asserted that traditional working class communities had been ignored by New Labour’s trendy cosmopolitanism, which had paid too much attention to feminism, multi‐culturalism and sexual politics, and had ridden roughshod over the assumed conservative cultural sensitivities of the traditional working class. One of the leading protagonists, Jonathan Rutherford, used his role as editor of the Soundings magazine to promote these ideas and declare that ‘the future of English socialism is conservative.

As the election campaign unfolds this is worth recalling,

Brexit has crystallised these arguments. Blue Labour has converged with those unchanged voices from the 1970s left, who still believe in ‘socialism in one country’. Embery, Goodhart, Glasman and Goodwin are all signatories to ‘The Full Brexit’ manifesto which claims that, ‘Brexit offers an unprecedented opportunity to reshape Britain for the better … to develop a genuinely internationalist and democratic politics of national sovereignty’.23

This nationalism plays into the hands of the hard right. They gleefully sense an opportunity to split the progressive and labour movement. Blue Labour proudly calls itself conservative, so it is not surprising when Conservative media outlets offer them space to promote their ideas. The libertarian, ex‐Trotskyists of the Spiked website, supported by $300,000 from the US Koch brothers, give space to ‘Lexiters’, while the conservative UnHerd website hosts Embery, Goodwin and Giles Fraser as regular columnists.24 In the post‐financial crisis maelstrom, Blue Labour initially asked how progressives should express their values. What is amazing about their current trajectory is how willing they are to discard the core values of any progressive movement—liberty, equality and solidarity—and the speed with which they have moved to become fellow‐travellers of the nationalist right.

 

150,000 on Nous Toutes Marches in France in Protest at Violence against Women.

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Inspiring Protest against “les violences faites aux femmes.”

Image from Le défilé contre les violences faites aux femmes en images. Le Monde.

Thousands rallied in Paris on Saturday to seek an end to gender violence and femicide in a country where at least 116 women have been killed by current or former partners this year, sparking national outrage.

France 24.

The march began near the French capital‘s main opera house, with several protesters holding up placards bearing the image of a relative or friend killed in gender violence.

“Break the silence, not women,” read one sign. “Down with the patriarchy,” read another.

About 30 marches have been organised throughout France. They involve nearly 70 organisations, political parties, unions and associations.

“We think this will be a historic march,” Caroline De Haas, one of the organisers, said, adding that “the level of awareness is moving at breakneck speed.”

We can no longer count the number of cases where femicides could have been avoided,” the organisers said on Facebook Saturday.

“With this march, we will make the public authorities take appropriate measures.”

The government is expected to announce about 40 measures on Monday to tackle the scourge.

A total of 116 women have been murdered in France so far this year by their husband, partner or ex-partner, according to an AFP investigation.

The group “Femicides by companions or ex” meanwhile puts the toll at 137.

“In 32 femicides, it’s Christmas,” read one sign at the march.

It shows the scale of the problem as 121 were killed in France last year, according to official figures.

One woman is killed in France every three days by their partner or ex-partner, while marital violence affects 220,000 Frenchwomen every year.

“Our system is not working to protect these women,” Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet recently said.

The killings in France are part of a global scourge that shows no signs of abating, with 87,000 women and girls killed in 2017 according to the UN — over half of them killed either by their spouse, partner or own family.

(AFP)

The demonstration was organised by the collective “Nous Toutes”.

 

Libération: Marche #NousToutes : «Etre ici, c’est comme un cri de rage»

Statement from left Group Ensemble: Manifestation féministe : je marche avec Nous Toutes.

Statement from the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NPA) Pour en finir avec les violences faites aux femmes : mobilisation générale !

Communist Party: Le PCF appelle à manifester samedi 23 novembre contre les violences faites aux femmes

Here

Written by Andrew Coates

November 24, 2019 at 2:13 pm

Leaders Special Question Time, from Corbyn’s “Neutrality” on Brexit to Johnson’s “Bum Boys”.

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Image result for the mummy's shroud

Corbyn’s “reckless , socialist ideas are genuinely terrifying.”

I was out last night, watching the excellent Official Secrets should you ask, so missed the Question Time Leaders ‘Special:

On Friday night, four party leaders – Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, Conservative Boris Johnson, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon and the Lib Dems’ Jo Swinson – faced members of the public in a Question Time leaders’ special from Sheffield.

Still, I  caught the above film, which was a mood indicator of one of the audience’s questions.

EVERYONE should be scared!’ Corbyn torn down by savage Question Time audience member

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appeared on BBC Question Time’s Leader special. An audience member said: “To be honest, Mr Corbyn, I don’t think it is business that will be scared, I think it’s everyone. Your wreckless (sic) , socialist ideas are genuinely terrifying to me, my family and my friends and I think freedom will completely erode if we let you have the keys to Number 10.”

Some, that is, the mysterious Guru of the hardest of the hardest left who goes under the nom de guerre of The Heg, reckon the geezer who made this point if from some ancient progressive band, Gentle Giant.

On Brexit the BBC summarises,

During an ITV debate on Tuesday, the audience laughed when Mr Corbyn avoided saying whether he would back Leave or Remain in a future Brexit referendum. But in Sheffield, we got more clarity when he confirmed he would adopt a “neutral stance” in a fresh vote on the UK’s membership of the EU.

This had been hinted at in the past, but it appears to be the first time Mr Corbyn himself has confirmed it.

One audience member argued that Harold Wilson – Labour prime minister in the 1960s and ’70s – had also held a neutral stance in the 1975 referendum on Europe. This was later corrected by the host Fiona Bruce, who said Mr Wilson supported staying in the Common Market – as it was then – but took a back seat during the campaign.

If elected, Labour is promising to renegotiate a new Brexit deal within three months, based on close alignment with the EU. That deal would be put to the public in a legally-binding referendum alongside the option to remain in the EU.

This Blog remains sceptical about such an approach.

The analogy with Harold Wilson looks like one of this Victorian Biblical commentaries still determined to find a key to the coming of Jesus in the words of the Prophets.

This is the background,

At a Labour Party conference on 26 April 1975, the Labour membership rejected continuing EC membership by almost a 2:1 margin, but prior to the conference the party had decided that it would only support a particular option if the conference voted by more than that margin. Otherwise, the ‘party machine’ would remain neutral.

Jack Peat. Recap: To Harold Wilson’s neutral stance in the 1975 referendum

Wilson is an unlikely figure to draw on to find a present day “master stroke” by Corbyn.

The Labour leader in the 1970s faced inside the party a bloc of viscerally anti-European right-wingers, old-style radicals out to defend Parliament against Brussels, and a British left which its majority believed that the on-the-cards “transition to socialism” would be thwarted by the capitalist Common Market.

They were pretty unclear about how socialists would replace the home grown capitalists and how Britain would continue to go-it-alone in the world market, apart from the Morning Star, the organ of the Co-Op, which looked to alignment with the ‘Socialist camp’ and Patriotic Labour which looked to the Commonwealth.

Wilson may have been officially ‘neutral’ but everybody knew that, on ‘technocratic’ balance,  he wanted to join.

Keith Fleet summarises this left version of the anti-EU argument (known as the Alternative Economic Strategy, AES) discussed here: The Brexit Left and the Legacy of the 1970s Alternative Economic Strategy.)

Labour & European Referendums. From Wilson in 1975 to Corbyn in 2019

In essence this was a version of autarky where Britain sought to control capital within its borders, meaning import controls and planned investment. This was also tied in with arguments around British sovereignty and the ability of Parliament to make its own decisions on economic and political matters without reference to Europe.

Given that capital was and is an international system its not clear this would have worked. Wilson however had the Cabinet majority. As noted he was no fan of Europe. Benn quotes him as saying ‘I am only persuaded 51% to 49%’ He was in favour of dealing with as best as could be managed. Benn’s Diary for 27th February 1975 notes Wilson in a Cabinet meeting saying ‘we have got to be practical’.

The vote on 5th June 1975 was 17m in favour of remaining in Europe and 8.5m in favour of leaving. This represented a 67.5% ‘in’ vote on a 65% poll.

Fleet  associates, without any supporting evidence, the following economic bad news

It’s doubtful this amounted to a plan but the impact in the 1974-79 Labour Government was cuts in public spending and job losses. Whether Benn’s ideas would have produced a better and different result is of course unknown.

Most people would look to the structural problems of the domestic UK economy, so-called wage-drift, attempts to “reform” industrial relations, the impact of the Oil crisis. The breakup of the world ‘paradigm’ of Keynesian economics, the adoption of fiscal Monetarism by Labour the subsequent, Callaghan, governments were  the reason for the austerity and job losses.

It is said that Wilson’s public stand was an exercise in cynicism.

Would something similar really be a good move by Corbyn?

Today most of the left and the majority of the Labour Party want to remain in the EU, as part of the European left that wants to transform and reform the Union. This stand extends from the radical left Another Europe is Possible, to the centre and right of the Party.

The pro-Brexit left, which calls for a Lexit (left Exit) has nothing resembling the Alternative Economic Strategy, backed by unions and key parts of the Parliamentary Labour and party membership.

Marginal Groups like Counterfire and Flett’s SWP thought that voting for Brexit would create a dynamic of ‘taking back control’ in a destabilised political and economic landscape. The small Communist Party holds to some version of a controlled economy free-wheeling in the world through negotiations under WTO terms for new terms of trade. Those who draw on these idea,s and they exist close to Corbyn, can only consider them mainstream left when they stay inside their small political bubble.

Unlike conditions in the 1970s when most of the Tories wanted to join, today the Conservative Party is led by those who want the UK to be a free-wheeling capitalist buccaneer under Trump’s aegis. The Brexit Party want total luxury national sovereignty under the same US leadership.

Labour has to oppose these strategies out of self-interest, both at the prospect of the economic damage they bring, but also because of the effects they will have on ordinary people, eroding rights, working conditions, and public standards, from food to the environment.

A further issue is that the xenophobic if not racist element of the campaign waged by Enoch Powell against confirming EU membership is the glue that keeps the Brexiteers, together.

Another pro-Brexit current, Blue Labour’ comes close to these themes by  idealising the “somewhere” people who are against the EU and attacking rootless Metropolitan cosmopolitans.

Being neutral is equally unlikely to convince those from these quarters, like the Brexity audience member given post-programme publicity, who said that the pro-EU people who want a referendum in new conditions and with clear choices treated her as “stupid”.

Next shout, are you calling me thick?

Standing above the fray might, just, work for now, but it cannot resolve these deep seated divisions.

Other issues, as the Independent reports,  Johnson was put under pressure over Russia report, his blatant racism,  and anti-gay prejudice,

Defending notorious comments about “tank-topped bum boys” and Muslim women looking like “letterboxes”, the prime minister said: “I defend my right to speak out.”

Mr Johnson has been dogged by the articles he wrote as a journalist, including the recent revelation that he wrote that seeing “a bunch of black kids” scared him.

He denied the phrases were offensive – claiming they could only be “made to seem offensive” if taken out of context.

“If you go through all my articles with a fine-toothed comb and pick out individual phrases, there’s no doubt that you can take out things that can be made to seem offensive,” he told the BBC Question Time audience.

You could go through and try to clean up Johnson’s cack with a rake and a shovel and still find plenty more.

Corbyn also got some stick on other issues,

Mr Corbyn faced tough questioning during the two-hour broadcast over his own record on handling antisemitism in his party.

One audience member said he was “terrified” to see footage of Corbyn shake the hand of an activist who had heckled Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth out of a meeting, and told him “I don’t buy this whole ‘nice old grandpa’. I see that video and that tells me all I need to know.”

Mr Corbyn accepted that Ms Smeeth and others had suffered “unbelievable” levels of abuse, but added: “Bad behaviour, misogyny, racism in any form is absolutely not acceptable in any form whatsoever in my party or in society.”

Terror seems to be the word of the evening.

Phil offers his usual high-standard left commentary;

The Best Question Time Ever?

This is his judgement on Corbyn

As for Corbyn, I thought he initially came across as a bit flat but soon warmed up under a barrage of hostile questions about socialism, about nationalisation, and about Labour’s rumbling anti-semitism crisis. But he rallied after supportive audience members intervened, and had the space to discuss Labour’s Brexit position at length. Coming out as neutral in any forthcoming referendum will, hopefully, use ambiguity to nullify ambiguity about what Labour plans to do. From then on there was a mix of tough and friendly questions that played to his strength, allowing him to finish on a Labour’s green industrial strategy. No nonsense about pressing the nuclear button on this occasion.

 

 

 

Brexit Party Call for Clamp Down on “Permanent Immigration” as Red-Brown Spiked Calls for “Responsible and well-managed immigration system”.

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Democratic Demand to ‘Take Back Control” says Former Revolutionary Communists. 

The Brexit Party has announced its election policies, (General election 2019: Brexit ‘should bring fundamental change’ – Farage)

Its main focus is on leaving the EU, but it is also promising action on immigration and the environment.

Among policies already announced, the Brexit Party is offering a cap on permanent immigration of 50,000 a year, the abolition of the House of Lords and a large-scale tree planting programme across the UK.

Mr Farage has also indicated his party will campaign for postal voting to be limited to elderly, infirm and overseas voters, citing “many examples of intimidation and fraud”.

He has pledged a £10,000 allowance for every UK company before they have to pay corporation tax, and said the party would continue to campaign for a “clean break from all EU institutions” after Brexit – with Brexit Party MPs “vital in holding Johnson to his word” in Parliament.

“We see Brexit as the beginning of a real fundamental change, not the end,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Ex-Revolutionary Communist Party cadre Claire Fox claimed during her election campaign for the European Parliament that,

“To be honest, Nigel and I are unlikely to agree on a range of issues – workers, women’s rights, immigration, public services,” Fox told the launch event in Westminster.

Farage’s useful idiots in the RCP’s new organ, Spiked have been busy preparing to ditch their own commitments.

Anti-multiculturalism columnist and researcher on Radicalisation and Terrorism for the neoliberal Henry Jackson Society, Rakib Ehsan writes in Spiked today.

Brexit presents us with a golden opportunity to establish a responsible and well-managed immigration system. We need a regime that prioritises individual English-language skills, which are crucial to social and labour-market integration. And we need to take into account broader factors, like the political culture, legal system and prevailing social norms in the places would-be migrants hail from.

A sensible immigration system is critical for a socially cohesive society.

Leaving the EU means restoring Britain’s national sovereignty. Doing so would give us democratic control over policy issues of crucial importance, like immigration.

 

Remainers don’t have the moral high ground on immigration

The sincerity of Ehsan’s attack on EU freedom of movement for allowing migration from predominantly ‘white’ countries can be shown this year’s attack on Angela Merkel.

Her decision in 2015 to allow in approximately one million refugees from unstable Muslim-majority countries, such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, placed considerable strain on Germany’s social fabric. This decision was all the more mind-boggling in light of the fact that Germany had already struggled to integrate migrants of Turkish Muslim origin – and even their German-born children.

Multiculturalism has failed

This odd ball reactionary has a soft spot for Modi though.

Spiked Guru and another former Revolutionary Communist, Brendan O’Neill, describes the EU as  “globalist”  and a pillar of “neoliberalism”.

Neoliberalism’s useful idiots Corbynistas pose as radical and yet they’re campaigning day and night to keep us in the capitalist machine that is the EU.

Spiked has become a trumpet for Farage, and for the national populist use of economic power on the global stage.

Junior Partner UK as a sovereign force behind Trump.

The neoconservatives of the Henry Jackson society, themselves often accused of ‘globalism’ now have a roaring anti-EU advocate of ‘community cohesion’ (code for, don’t upset people’s prejudices., only let in English speakers and those from the “right” places), at their best known public spokesperson.

Farage, in the meantime, is advocating an immigration system that will deny permanent and full rights to all but a few.

Use ’em and chuck ’em out, as it’s known.

We await O’Neill’s welcome for the “large-scale tree planting programme across the UK”.

 

Labour Manifesto Social Policy: a Big Step Forward to Replace Universal Credit and Reform Social Security.

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“Electrifying Manifesto”.

Chartist Magazine held its AGM last year at Toynbee Hall.

It is fitting therefore that that comrade  (great-great niece of philanthropist and economic historian Arnold Toynbee, after whom Toynbee Hall in the East End of London is named) should be the person to cite on Labour’s manifesto.

Labour’s electrifying manifesto should jolt this election into life

Here it is, a great cornucopia to lift this miserable election to a higher plane. Labour’s manifesto offers a vision of a country that can begin to put to rights the dilapidation and dysfunction that has been the deliberate policy of the past decade. Repair, restoration and reinvestment is the first task, but even that dismal work requires gigantic ambition. Labour goes right to the heart of longstanding fault lines in how the country is run, and for whom.

The nation’s problems are clear to all, as poll after poll shows people know exactly what needs to be done. They know that housing is the key economic malfunction that has upended the life chances of those under 40. They know climate breakdown will engulf their children and grandchildren without immediate radical action, and it has shot high up in public concerns. This manifesto makes practical sense of green necessity, turning housing need and decarbonisation into an industrial strategy with a million good jobs.

Toynbee is respected, despite political differences with many on the left, for her serious writing on social policy.

As she says of the Manifesto, “Read it with an open mind. Page after page shows that something better can be done.

The Guardian summarises the aspect which would interest not just the Guardian writer, but the millions trapped in the present social security system (known as ‘welfare’ and regarded as a burden by the pro-Trump, pro-Brexit populist right).

Social policy

  • Labour would introduce A Right to Food to end “food bank Britain”. It would aim to halve food bank usage within a year and remove the need for them altogether within three years.
  • The party would scrap universal credit – the controversial welfare system brought in by the Tories, which has caused benefit delays and hardship.
  • The benefit cap and the two-child limit would be scrapped.
  • “Dehumanising” work capability and personal independence payment assessments for those with a disability would end.
  • Labour also promises an end to raising the retirement age beyond 66, and maintaining the triple lock on pensions.

The Labour Manifesto sketches these objectives for Social Security.

While Labour wants a society in which people care for one another, the Tories are trying to pitch us against each other.

Under the Tories, the social security system has lost sight of its purpose. Poverty has become endemic, the glue that binds our society together has come unstuck and, in the words of the United Nations, the UK’s social safety net ‘has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos’. The cruelty and heartlessess of the Tories has made the  department for Work and Pensions (DWP) a symbol of fear. When people feel the DWP is more about harassment than a helping hand, something has gone seriously wrong.

Labour will completely change this culture, replacing the DWP on day one with a Department for Social Security, which will be there to help and support people, not punish and police them.

Universal Credit

The Tories’ flagship social security programme, Universal Credit (UC), has been a catastrophe. It has pushed thousands of people into poverty, caused families to lose their homes and forced parents to visit food banks in order to feed their children.

If anybody wants an illustration of this, Google (today)  and you will find these kind of stories:

Royal Navy amputee stranded with £16 Universal Credit told ‘get a job’ by DWP

Only three weeks after Kevin Barnes, 62, had his leg amputated, the Department for Work and Pensions has said he must prove that he wants to return to work to receive £16 a month

Labour will scrap UC.

We will immediately stop moving people onto it and design an alternative system that treats people with dignity and respect.

Our ambition in designing this system will be to end poverty by guaranteeing a minimum standard of living.

We will start developing this system immediately. But we have learned the lessons from Tory failure: major policy change can’t be delivered overnight, especially when people’s lives depend on it.

So we will also implement an emergency package of reforms to mitigate some of the worst features of UC while we develop our replacement system.

  • We will end the five-week wait by introducing an interim payment based on half an estimated monthly entitlement.
  • We will immediately suspend the Tories’ vicious sanction regime and ensure that employment support is positive not punitive.
  • We will stop 300,000 children from being in poverty by scrapping the benefit cap and the two child limit, so ending the immoral and outrageous ‘rape clause’.
  • We will pay childcare costs up front so that parents aren’t forced to turn down work or get into debt to pay for childcare.
  • Labour will protect women in abusive relationships by splitting payments and paying the child element to the primary carer.
  • We will make it easier for people to manage their living costs by introducing fortnightly payments and paying the housing element directly to landlords.
  •  The Conservative’s ‘digital only’ approach is excluding vulnerable people. Labour will end the digital barrier and offer telephone, face-to-face and outreach support.
  • We will recruit 5,000 additional advisers to deliver this.
  • Tory cuts are pushing people into rent arrears and leaving them at risk of homelessness. We will stop housing costs running away from benefits by scrapping the bedroom tax and increasing the Local Housing Allowance.

There is no doubt a lot of detail to be worked out here. and some things that should be added.

Housing costs are part of wider policy as are other areas, such as the issue of digital exclusion.

Proper training, and not the ‘schemes’ often run by private  chancers, should be the norm. Offering it would give a new angle to life-long learning but needs a new model of provision.

It should equally be made clear that there should be no wriggle room for any ‘workfare’ exploitation  left.

There is fine-tuning on how people in part time low paid work have to prove they are looking for more work. Or, to put it another way, learning from Tax Credit system not from the punitive hoop-jumping present one.

One would also wish for an end to “local” council tax rates for people on council tax benefits, now known as “Council Tax Reduction”. This system, introduced by arch-Tory Eric Pickles, means than some claimants pay a large percentage of their council tax charges, others, a smaller one. The result has been a record  increase in numbers of people in arrears (Council tax debts in England soar 40% in six years. 2019)

We also need, during this reform, to raise Benefit levels.

But the Manifesto is a really big step forward.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2019 at 5:49 pm