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Podemos Splits between the Errejón Camp and Iglesias’ as ‘Left Populism’ Fractures.

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Podemos in Major Split.

Left wing populism’ in Europe is fracturing.

The strategy of unity the ‘people’ against the ‘elite’ the ‘caste’ is has not succeeded in unifying the left in the European countries where it has had the greatest impact.

In France we have this:

Now in Spain Podemos, which unlike La France insoumise has a real democratic internal life and national political leaders of some independent statue, has split.

(From Mike P)

Íñigo Errejón, best known to English language readers as the subject of an interview-book with Chantal Mouffe (In the Name of the People.  2016) stopped belonging to the Unidos Podemos parliamentary group on Monday afternoon. (El País. 22.1.19)

The division was announced a few days ago,

Íñigo Errejón, a top official at the group that he helped transform from an anti-austerity movement into a national force with parliamentary and institutional presence, on Thursday announced his decision to run for the Madrid regional premiership at the May election in alliance with Más Madrid, the party created by the mayor of the Spanish capital, Manuela Carmena.

El País, which few would suspect of sympathy for Podemos, also publishes a  column which announces that

La ventana de oportunidad que alumbró el nacimiento de Podemos se ha cerrado definitivamente

The window of Opportunity opened at the birth of Podemos has closed definitely.

Del 15-M al 26-M 

The above article, which refers to game theory and the Prisoner’s dilemma, point out that in these conditions the lack of co-operation may mean that neither will win.

Here are some extracts from an overview of this dispute:  (El País, 18.1.19)

Podemos founders go their separate ways ahead of Madrid elections

Pablo Iglesias confirms party split and says he is saddened by the surprise news that his colleague Iñigo Errejón will run with the Madrid mayor in May

On January 17, the fifth anniversary of the creation of Podemos, two of its leading founders publicly confirmed the fracture of the left-wing party.

Íñigo Errejón, a top official at the group that he helped transform from an anti-austerity movement into a national force with parliamentary and institutional presence, on Thursday announced his decision to run for the Madrid regional premiership at the May election in alliance with Más Madrid, the party created by the mayor of the Spanish capital, Manuela Carmena.

Podemos Secretary General Pablo Iglesias said he was “saddened” by the surprise news, and wished Errejón “good luck building his new party.” He also confirmed that Podemos will be running with a candidate of its own at the May election, in direct competition with his former colleague.

A Marcos notes that their disagreements go back some time.

The differences between Iglesias and Errejón go back to 2016, when the former decided to join forces with the United Left (IU) in the general election. A few months later, in February 2017, Podemos held a congress to renew the party leadership and Errejón headed a current defending different political goals from those championed by Iglesias, whose views ultimately won out.

Then, in May of last year, Errejón ran in party primaries to find a candidate to the Madrid regional premiership. He won the nomination, but new problems arose when his first choice as a running mate was overlooked and a different person named without his prior knowledge or approval.

With four months to go before Spain holds local and regional elections, Madrid is not the only place where Podemos is running into trouble. In the northwestern region of Galicia, its En Marea coalition is breaking up. In Cantabria, the party is currently headed by an interim management committee. And in Barcelona, primaries will determine whether Podemos runs in the municipal elections with Mayor Ada Colau once again.

In May of last year, Iglesias survived a confidence vote when he put his leadership to the test after being heavily criticized for purchasing a €600,000 country house in Galapagar, a town northwest of Madrid, with his partner Irene Montero.

English version by Susana Urra.

There is more on this here:

From best pals to rivals: Merciless duel rages over the future of Podemos

(2017)

And here:

In the meantime today Podemos has seen fit to cause trouble for the Socialist led government by refusing to vote for legislation on housing and rents.

Podemos complica la vida al Gobierno en el Congreso

This development casts doubt on the ideas put forward by the best known theorist of Left Populism, Chantal Mouffe,

..this is the political strategy that I call “left populism”. Its purpose is the construction of a collective will, a “people” whose adversary is the “oligarchy”, the force that sustains the neoliberal order.

It cannot be formulated through the left/right cleavage, as traditionally configured. Unlike the struggles characteristic of the era of Fordist capitalism, when there was a working class that defended its specific interests, resistances have developed beyond the industrial  sector. Their demands no longer correspond to defined social groups. Many touch on questions related to quality of life and intersect with issues such as sexism, racism and other forms of domination. With such diversity, the traditional left/right frontier can no longer articulate a collective will.

To bring these diverse struggles together requires establishing a bond between social movements and a new type of party to create a “people” fighting for equality and social justice.

We find such a political strategy in movements such as Podemos in Spain, La France Insoumise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, or Bernie Sanders in the US. This also informs the politics of Jeremy Corbyn, whose endeavour to transform the Labour party into a great popular movement, working “for the many, not the few”, has already succeeded in making it the greatest left party in Europe.

 

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

Many would say that the first basis of constructing a “collective will” is to have some unity on the left.

This is obviously not the result of the politics of either La France insoumise or, now, Podemos. Podemos, naturally, as the Spanish press points out, has its own concerns, and difficulties, in recent electoral contests, such as in Andalusia.

More broadly Éric Fassin has summed up the central problems of ‘left wing’ populism during this debate (extracts).

Left-wing populism A legacy of defeat: Interview with Éric Fassin

 Is it a good strategy? Does it work?

……

The problem with the populist strategy, for the left, is that it’s neither left nor a winning strategy. It was even less so during the latest presidential campaign in France: everyone played that same card at the same time, including Macron, with a rhetoric of ‘centre’ populism! Of course, my argument is not just about France. The same considerations apply to the United States. But another dimension becomes apparent there, thanks to the availability of racial data. Trump’s success is not so much among working-class voters in general, but more specifically among the white working class. In a left-wing populist strategy, the racial dimension of the Trump vote is underestimated, and the class dimension is overestimated – whereas it now seems clear that his critique of the establishment was always just an illusion.

….

Beyond differences, left-wing populisms share the same premise: replace the opposition between right and left by the one between ‘us’ and ‘them’, people from below and elites from above. Obviously, the caste is less numerous than the people: ‘we are the 99% and they are the 1%.’ Indeed. But then, how come it’s so difficult for left-wing populists to reach a majority in elections? This is why we need to differentiate sociology and politics – and not conflate them as populism tends to do. If the working class voted according to their common interest, clearly the left would be flourishing today. That is not the case.

….

Politics is not just about elections. But I think that populism itself is defined by an electoral project. Mélenchon is first and foremost a former and probably future candidate running for presidential elections. So, indeed, there is more to politics than elections; but my little book was written in a context of elections, as an attempt to reclaim the opposition between right and left at a time when the populist illusion seeks to define the terms of debate far beyond elections.

 

The discussion, which is much longer, has to be read as a whole.

I highly recommend Éric Fassin’s clear and short, Populisme: le grand ressentiment (2017) which Radical Philosophy says is being translated into English (the point above about unity of the left is taken from the conclusion).

Image result for Populisme: le grand ressentiment

For a broader international starting point the Wikipedia entry  Left-wing populism is good.

 

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‘Plutocrats’, ‘Elites’ “Oligarchy’, how Brexit backers from Left to Right poison political language.

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The Poisonous Language of ‘plutocracy’: Soros, Rothschild and ‘elites’. 

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.

George Orwell Politics and the English Language.

The EU plutocracy’s hopes of being able to get a Labour administration to back a second referendum are not wholly misplaced.

John Ress. Counterfire September 2018.The Salzburg shakedown

The people are being betrayed by Britain’s elite in collusion with the European plutocracy.

Austin Mitchell, one time Labour MP. Brexit Central July 2018.

A large segment of opposition MPs and a small band of Tory EU loyalists thus began openly agitating for “the people” to have a “final say” on the Prime Minister’s deal, with the option of staying in the EU after all if they voted against it.

This campaign has been organised under the cross-party “People’s Vote” banner and bankrolled in part by billionaire plutocrat George Soros ..

Breitbart. November. 2018.

Plutocrat – not just a billionaire, but a plutocratic one!

Elites, not to mention oligarchy……a quick google shows how  the language of Brexiter politics has become infected with words which most people, about ten years ago, thought was exhausted.

The whole Brexit row is apparently about “elites” against “the people”.

No prezzies for guessing which side the hard-Brexit lot claim to be on.

Never mind that in English the people rarely takes the definite article.

Never mind that elite, no more than it does in its French original, is no more something you could speak about in ordinary speech.

Never mind that in politics these terms originated not from the left from that curious mixture of former leftists  and outright fascists, Gaetano Mosca, Vilfredo Pareto, and Robert Michels.

To put it simply they thought elites inevitable , and in Pareto’s case, describable (sometimes known as the “the vital few and trivial many”).

The actions of the ‘elites’ described in the citations above are also very different from that of the New Leftist C.Wright Mill’s The Power elite (1956).

Not only did he try to outline (contentiously) a whole set of overlapping and often competing groups, but they had no conscious purpose. “Mills explains that the elite themselves may not be aware of their status as an elite, noting that “often they are uncertain about their roles” and “without conscious effort hey absorb the aspiration to be … The Ones Who Decide.” 

PLutocrats may well be the title of a book about the super-rich by Chrystia Freeland. (Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich. 2012).

But it hardly needs adding that “plutocrat” is a word clearly associated with the far-right infamously with the Nazis.

See the source image

It also goes back to the anti-Semitic side in the Dreyfus affair who talked of “notre ploutocratie républicaine.” (Le vocabulaire de l’antisémitisme en France pendant l’affaire Dreyfus)

Mill’s idea that the US ‘elite’ is a nevertheless a semi-hereditary caste is pretty dubious when we look at Trump today, who has little caste about him.

In short, it is today not a genuine sociological or political concept – pitting  Farage (anti-‘elite’) against the elites it all about sending a signal, not a real criticism of the way power if organised in society.

More to the point the way the language of ‘elites’ is used by national populists and Brexit Boslevikcs is all about conscious organised groups out to thwart the ‘will of the people’.

This is poisonous talk in itself: not about the clash of real interests or class, but putting evil on one side and virtue on the other.

Those who claim to be on the left do themselves no favours by indulging in this rhetoric.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 21, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Red-Brown Anti-Semite Alain Soral Sent to Prison for a Year.

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Red-Brown Gamon Alain Soral Expresses Backing for the Gilets Jaunes. 

French far-right author sent to prison for anti-Semitic incitement

Times of Israel.

Alain Soral, a well-known Holocaust denier with multiple convictions for incitement, gets unusual one-year term for charges including insulting a female magistrate.

Soral is one of the leading ‘Red-Brown’ thinkers in Europe.

He says that he stands for a “nationalist left”

They are very keen on national Sovereignty and loathe the European Union.

Soral also claims to be from a Marxist background, including association with the Parti communiste français (PCF) – they dispute this.

He has been a member of the Front National.

He fell out with them at the end of the first decade of the new millennium.

His site Égalité et Réconciliation (motto: ‘a left politics for the working class and right wing morality’) was the base of a new movement.

It  has expressed support, pêle-mêle,for Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chávez, Bashar al-Assad, and the Gilets Jaunes.

They are extremely (if that’s not too mild a word) ‘anti-Zionist’.

In 2009 he set up, with the racist ‘comedian’  Dieudonné  (best known for his claims that ‘Jews’ were behind the Save Trade) and the Iranian regime supporter  Yahia Gouasmi  a “« Liste antisioniste ” that stood for the European elections. Their best score was in the banlieue (Seine-Saint-Denis) of Paris where they got a tiny 2,83%

Wikipedia accurately summarises his, and his circle’s ideology:

  • criticism of communitarianism
  • criticism of feminism
  • criticism of the media and the society of spectacle in general and of neoliberal capitalism
  • criticism of capitalism and US imperialism
  • criticism of Zionism and Jewish lobbying
  • criticism of mainstream vulgarity
  • the Arab–Israeli conflict
  • the dismantling of Yugoslavia, and possibly of France
  • the dismantling of Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine

In his response to the Court Sentence Égalité et Réconciliation claims that Soral is a victim of elite State repression against the Gilets Jaunes.

Une condamnation qui tombe à pic, en pleine guerre des Gilets jaunes contre le Système et du Système contre les Gilets jaunes

A sentence that  happens just at the right moment in the war between the Yellow Vests and the System and the  System against the Yellow vests

They state that the most conscious elements of the Gilets Jaunes are following the same line of thought as

Soral’s friends ends their post by comparing him to Nelson Mandela who became President of South Africa.

Mandela, détenu pendant 18 ans à Robben Island (1964-1982), deviendra le premier président noir d’Afrique du Sud, 12 ans plus tard, en 1994.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2019 at 12:38 pm

No New Brexit Deal: People’s Vote to Stop Brexit.

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Our Comrades in Nottingham Yesterday.

Owen Jones writes, after last night’s no-confidence vote failed,

Labour must pursue a better Brexit deal, not a second referendum

It (Labour) must make a pitch to unite the country. The Tories have sought to represent only the leave side – and even then, not the bread-and-butter concerns of leave voters – and their key media supporters have demonised remainers. Labour must emphasise that the real conflict is not between supporters or opponents of Brexit, but the vast majority against the elite. It must refocus the debate on what unites both tribes, such as living standards, jobs, the NHS, taxing the rich and public ownership.

That means advocating a compromise. A majority does exist in parliament for a customs union. And although many within the Labour leadership regard it as unsatisfactory, so-called Norway plus, combining the single market and a customs union, has a good chance of winning support across the parliamentary divide. The EU has made it clear that a shift in Britain’s red lines will open up new opportunities. That  is important as it enables us to give a voice to those less heard, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

How Labour is going to renegotiate a Brexit deal in the next few months when it is not in government is beyond wishful thinking.

The French government, reports Le Monde today, is planning for a possible brutal Brexit without agreement (less and less improbable, “ de moins en moins improbable”)

La France déclenche son « plan lié à un Brexit sans accord »

Le premier ministre, Edouard Philippe, a annoncé le déclenchement de ce plan pour faire face à une possible sortie brutale du Royaume-Uni de l’Union européenne.

By contrast he has done the maths on the Labour vote in Parliament – but is that just individuals making up their minds or the result of the Labour leaderships havering?

As they say, to govern is to choose however hard the choices are  (Pierre MendesFrance, “Gouverner, c’est choisir, si difficiles que soient les choix.“). 

Does Owen Jones, somebody I have great respect for, seriously imagine that these plans for Brexit are going to be changed by uniting “both tribes” in the labour constituency behind Brexit?

In other words to implement Brexit if Labour wins power?

Jones, like many who take the same (minority) view reflects two things.

The first is the real concern that a majority in Labour constituencies that voted Leave will feel aggrieved if there is no Brexit.

There are, of course, not just the ‘authentic’ working class who voted Leave, and the inauthentic working class, including the vast majority of the trade unions, who voted Remain.

The second, is the belief that the EU is going to re-do the whole process of Leave to get a ‘better’ deal for the UK.

Perhaps Keir  Starmer, a brilliant lawyer who has been involved in following the negotiations, could reply on that one better than this Blog can, but it looks very unlikely.

This is his response, yesterday.

Parliament must start talking about a second referendum on quitting the European Union, Labour’s Brexit spokesman demanded today.

Sir Keir Starmer said space must be created for a discussion around alternatives, and that includes another public vote. But so far party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of dragging his feet over a second referendum amid fears that it could alienate some voters in Leave constituencies.

Evening Standard.

Those on the Lexit left – and not so left – are pursuing their pro-Brexit objectives  come hell or high water.

This is the fantasy world in which they live in (Morning Star Editorial today)

The EU and it’s cronies are undemocratic to the core

The way the EU is structured — in particular the treaty system which binds members countries into macro-economic policies over which citizens of the member states have no direct or decisive influence — is marked in the decades of our membership by a massive transfer of wealth from working people of all strata.

The basic framework for this systematic robbery is the control of public expenditure and fiscal policy. Marketisation, privatisation and the serial diminution of the social wage embodied in universal health provision, welfare spending, unemployment insurance, housing security, legal aid and comprehensive education are the consequences of the method.

It is no longer capitalism, or capitalists who exploit workers but the EU.

The Morning Star is one part of the Lexit side the sovereigntists. They believe that national sovereignty is the basis for Lexit, and for the programme of a Labour government.

The until recently forgotten Blue Labour is their latest ally.

As Shiraz Socialist has pointed out.

Does the Morning Star hope to revive Blue Labour?

What a pre-Christmas treat the Morning Star gave us! More than a whole page given over to an anti – EU tirade under the snappy headline ‘Brexit offers the possibility for socialists to lead a political transformation – The immediate task before us is to leave the EU and break the constraints on democracy that it represents’.

And if that wasn’t enough to stir the patriotic hearts of all loyal readers, the author closes with the clarion-call “No deal is the real deal and the left should unite in pursuit of that end. You might call it government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Along the way, this fearless tribune of the people declares “We need to leave the EU and concentrate on pursuing a national renewal based upon democracy and the dignity of labour, a defence of freedom and humanity from the iron cage of Napoleonic directives and Thatcherite economics that the EU has become. It is not a cliff edge.”

The author of this thunderous demand for democracy and the dignity of labour was billed simply as ‘Maurice Glasman’, but why did the M Star not give him his full title? He is, of course, The Lord Baron Glasman of Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill who has graced the red benches of the House of Lords since elevated there in 2011 on the recommendation of Ed Miliband, for whom he was a leading adviser.

Glassman, members of the Communist Party of Britain, fellow travellers of the hard-right former Trotskyists of  Spiked, work together in the Full Brexit group, “The Full Brexit, a group committed to seizing the historic opportunity Brexit offers for restoring popular sovereignty, repairing democracy, and renewing our economy”

The other main Lexiter group is the “thriving through chaos” organisation, Counterfire.

They consider that ‘take back control” will come with a popular movement for a People’s Brexit.

This movement burns by its absence, as the farce over who were the “real”  Yellow Jackets at their London demo last Saturday proved.

Do they still consider that a General Election is the only option?

These groups, with influence on the Labour leadership have three main strategic flaws.

  • The EU is not an iron cage of Napoleonic directives and Thatcherite economics (was the EU responsible for Thatcher?). It can be changed, as can be seen from the very fact that it has moved to the right through the influence of right-wing governments, including that of the UK.
  • National sovereignty is not an economic policy. Were it so one could no doubt ignore the steady stream of lorries coming from (nearby here) Felixstowe port and the long line of containers on the trains over the local railway viaduct.
  • In the absence of pooled EU sovereignty  sovereign nations can use their sovereignty against the UK,  as can be seen in Trump’s hot and cold actions,  or in the negotiations with the EU itself -see  le Monde above.

It is also worth noting that the Lexiters, many of whom claim a Leninist background, have dropped Marxist language about the ruling class for talk of ‘elites’, the same term used by national populists in Europe, from the  far-right to the sovereigntist left.

The left is now opening up in a very different direction:

Stop Brexit: Labour for a Socialist Europe

Labour for a Socialist Europe is a new campaign by Labour activsts to stop Brexit, pushing for the party to lead a renewed battle to stay in the EU while fighting for radical democratic and social changes. The campaign will also provide a space for Labour’s anti-Brexit left forces to organise and mobilise in our own right.

We were set up at the Another Europe is Possible conference – which officially passed a motion making the decision – in December 2018 and launched formally in January 2019.

Only a radical Labour government can tackle the disillusionment, poverty and inequality which laid the foundations for the right-wing surge driving Brexit. A Corbyn-led government can transform Britain, but to do so it must challenge the right-wing Brexit narrative and unite workers across borders for a socialist Europe, and world.

Read and sign our founding statement here.

La France insoumise in crisis as leading figures denounce “autocratic” Mélenchon.

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Crisis over Nationalism and Autocratic Leadership in La France insoumise.

Des cadres de La France insoumise dénoncent les dérives autocratiques de Mélenchon

Nouvel Obs.

A wave of protest has been stirring in La France insoumise (LFI). According to Le Monde  several leaders of the movement, including  candidates for European elections, and Charlotte Girard, co-responsible for LFI’s  programme – have denounced the autocratic excesses of the leader of LFI. These criticisms were published in an internal letter of January 9 came after ” banishment” of François Cocq, January 5, by this tweet from Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

CNews claims that a Spokesperson for LFI is nationalist François Cocq who has been banished from the movement.

Le Nouvel Obs continues,  that there are “serious complaints about the internal organisation of LFI.”

Le Monde has the original story.

Dans une lettre que « Le Monde » s’est procurée, des « insoumis » s’émeuvent du « bannissement » de François Cocq.

Europe I continued,

Les cadres de La France insoumise dénoncent la “brutalité” du “bannissement” de l’un des leurs par Mélenchon

Now it is clear that this Blog has little, indeed, no sympathy with the politics of Cocq, who represents the worst sovereigntist tendency in La France insoumise.

This is, for example, what he has said in his defence (Novel Obs)

ll emploie le mot nationaliste comme une injure. Je n’ai pas de problème à parler de la nation. Pour moi, c’est le corps politique constitué, ce qui définit le corps républicain. C‘est notre histoire, la grande histoire révolutionnaire. Mélenchon parle lui plutôt de patrie républicaine mais je sais qu’on met la même chose sous ces deux termes.

(Mélenchon) used the word nationalist an insult. I have no problem speaking of the Nation. For me, it is the political body which makes up the flesh and bones of the republic. It’s our history, our glorious revolutionary history. Mélenchon prefers to speak of a Republican fatherland, but I know that the two terms refer to the same thing.

The main difficulty seems to be that Cocq does not simply repeat the party line on this ideological issue.

There also appear to have been differences over the degree of warmth and enthusiasm for some of the Gilets Jaunes, notably the leading figure  Eric Drouet.

Cocq appears to have been more guarded in his support for this figure.

It is clear that, as the letter cited above states, banishing the individual, who is widely known in the Rally, apparently a “national orator ”, by tweet from the Party leader, is hardly democratic.

As those protesting have said, this is an off the cuff pronouncement from Mélenchon not a the result of LFI party members’ decision-making.

It reminds people of Trump’s behaviour.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 16, 2019 at 4:22 pm

Gilets Jaunes Menace Rape and Beat up Journalists.

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Gilets jaunes : de nombreux journalistes agressés dans plusieurs villes

Comrade Journalist Attacked by the Gilets Jaunes. 

As the Gilets Jaunes movement is in its death throes, they have turned on the media.

The Local reports.

Reporters Without Borders on Sunday called on those who speak for France’s “yellow vest” protesters to condemn numerous attacks and threats against journalists across the country during the latest round of anti-government demonstrations.

“A turning point has been reached,” Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of the Paris-based media rights watchdog, told the BFM television channel.

“We are facing a very serious situation which is threatening to get worse,” he said, after reporters were beaten, kicked and threatened with rape during Saturday’s rallies.

“We call on the spokespersons of the ‘Yellow Vests’ to solemnly condemn increasing violence against journalists during demonstrations,” he tweeted.

Threats of rape:

This is one of their acts, a journalist put in serious danger.

 

Here is the worst, which is described as an attempted lynching.

Those in the UK who wish to imitate this movement have made a serious error.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 14, 2019 at 1:38 pm

People’s Assembly Demo – up to 4 Thousand Strong – ends in Confusion over who are the ‘real’ Yellow Vests.

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Antonia Bright

Some marchers declined to wear the high-vis jackets in case the symbolism might be misinterpreted, however.

Antonia Bright, a campaigner with the anti-racism group Movement for Justice, said she wanted to “steer away from white populism”.

“I don’t need it to march for what I am standing for,” she said.

BBC

Socialist Worker reports,

The demonstration was much smaller than previous marches against the Tories—a sign that the focus on parliament has turned the focus away from the struggle needed to bring them down.

And there were very few trade union banners on the march.

Hundreds of anti-austerity yellow vest protesters have marched on London demanding a UK general election. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said austerity was “tearing apart the very social fabric” of the country. He said he expected Prime Minister Theresa May to lose on Tuesday when MPs vote on her Brexit deal.

Police officers tussled with pro-Brexit demonstrators to stop them getting into Trafalgar Square, where Mr McDonnell was speaking.

The I.

Police officers tussle with Pro-Brexit demonstrators near Trafalgar Square (Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

Jim Scott

 No photo description available.

 

Comment:

The demonstration was small because very few people on the British left and in the trade union movement are going to march for a General Election at a march organised by the groupuscule Counterfire, even if endorsed by labour figures and Moemntum.

Still fewer identity with the politically ambiguous gilets jaunes. *

Channel Four last night interviewed French gilets jaunes, in Calais, all of whom were hard right, either Le Pen voters or backed the sovereigntist racist Philippe de Villiers.

The events of the day amply proved the ambiguous nature of the Yellow Jackets.

The pro-Brexit organisers of the march, Counterfire, who run the People’s Assembly, are the last people to take a lead on this issue.

A General Election will not solve Brexit unless Labour takes a clear stand opposing it.

Or to put it another way, as Red Flag says,

4-5000 people on the People’s Assembly Demonstration in London which the organisers called under the slogan – ‘Britain is broken – for a general election now’. But this ducks the central question in British politics – how can Labour force let alone win an election when its policy on Brexit is indistinguishable from the Tories

* on this see this article Gilets jaunes (in English) Ni Patrie Ni Frontières,

In May 68 we shouted “CRS = SS !”
Today, the Yellow Vests shout : “The police with us!,” “CRS, be with us !”

Written by Andrew Coates

January 13, 2019 at 11:54 am

Comrade John McDonnell: if there is a Referendum I Will Back Remain.

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Image result for another europe is possible john mcdonnell

John McDonnell sticks to his principles. 

Last night on Channel Four comrade John McDonnell, as part of a longer interview (below)  said clearly that if there is a second referendum he would support Remain.

Labour’s position on Brexit has not, to put it mildly, clear.
The brilliant efforts of comrade Keir Starmer to point out the folly of a No-Deal brexit and the ridiculous notion of a ‘go it alone’ UK have been exemplary.

But during the week there have been attempts to put a spin on a ‘Corbyn style Lexit’.

Forces hostile to socialist internationalism, from the Morning Star to Counterfire, cling to the ‘dancing with unicorns’ strategy of a ‘People’s Brexit’.

There has been speculation on the Labour Leader’s own views.

It has been suggested that Corbyn is not particularly interested in Europe, apart from hostility to the ‘neoliberal’ European Union.

Supporters of Corbyn have  by contrast pointed to the claim that the Labour leader had a conversation with the leader of La France insoumise Jean-Luc  Mélenchon in Spanish. (Jean-Luc Mélenchon : «Avec Corbyn, c’est le début de notre histoire»)

Mélenchon (whose family background is Spanish speaking) is given to citing the poets of Spain and Latin America.

Corbyn has a feline pet which he has named El Gato (the cat).

This witty sobriquet does not suggest great fluency in the language of García Lorca.

Be that as it may, it is clear that any form of Brexit is a disaster for the labour movement, workers’ interests and the left.

John McDonnell shows that we should push for the strategy of Another Europe is Possible.

On Newsnight:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 12, 2019 at 10:57 am

In build up to ‘People’s Assembly ” Yellow Jacket Demo Counterfire attacks Elite “disdain” for Brexit Supporters.

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Elites Show “disdain” for Yellow jacket British Supporters Say Counterfire. 

Yet the liberal establishment, which has been such a strong proponent of globalisation and its consequences, seems incapable of recognising the reasons for opposition and anger, whether from the gilets jaunes in France or the Leave voters in large parts of Britain. Their disdain is palpable.

All this shows politics can’t be left to the elites. The mass of working people have to shape the future – not one based on war, competition and misery.

Bigger than Brexit – weekly briefing

EU monomania shouldn’t blind us to the starker realities of global economic crisis and ever increasing class tensions, argues Lindsey German  

Lindsey German.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 9, 2019 at 1:34 pm

As Charlie Hebdo is commemorated US Jacobin Attacks Charlie for being rude about Gammon.

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Nobody should not be rude about Gammon, says alt-left US magazine. 

The supposedly anti-establishment Charlie’s cosy relationship with such élite figures is combined with a wider contempt for working-class French people. For an example we need only look at cartoonist Cabu, who was killed in the 2015 attacks. Long considered one of the pillars of political cartoons in France, Cabu was author of the Mohammed cover in 2006 and known for his anti-clerical and anti-military views.

But he also had a long record of ridiculing the experiences, lifestyles, and behaviors of the working class and the poor. He created the cartoon character Le Beauf in 1974 to this end. The word “beauf” — short for beau-frère (brother in law) — was coined by Cabu and became a staple of French culture to the point that it entered the most renowned French dictionary (Le Robert) to mean the “average Frenchman with narrow ideas, conservative, vulgar and phallocratic.” For Cabu, Le Beauf is the “living symbol of the ordinary loser.”

IMEN NEFFATI

The reaction to the Paris terror attacks in 2015 identified Charlie Hebdo with freedom of speech. Yet the magazine’s anti-working-class smears are today used to silence the gilets jaunes.

The stuck up toff who wrote this is apparently, “a history PhD student at the University of Sheffield working on French satirical press and ideas of free speech.”

On s’en doutait

Meanwhile:

Un hommage officiel aux 17 victimes a lieu lundi, quatre ans après le début des attaques terroristes.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 8, 2019 at 11:48 am

Far Right Gilets Jaunes Attack Railway Union Picket.

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“There can be no unity with fascists even against a Tory government — they are not on our side, they are anti-working class.”

RAILWAY workers have called for people to turn out in defence of their pickets on January 12 after far-right activists attacked striking train guards in Manchester.

RMT assistant general secretary Steve Hedley said today it is “urgent” that members of the public stand by strikers after a group of thugs dressed up like French “yellow jacket” protesters marched on a picket line at Victoria station, central Manchester, yesterday.

The RMT strike, in defence of safety-critical train guard jobs, was scheduled on the same day that far-right organisers tried to launch a series of “yellow jacket” protests across the country, with a similar protest being held in London.

….

An RMT member of south-east Asian heritage was also singled out for abuse by the “yellow jackets,” who called him a “sex offender” and a “paedophile,” as well as shouting at him that “your lot get away with it” — an apparent reference to the recent grooming scandals in Rochdale and Rotherham.

Morning Star

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Written by Andrew Coates

January 7, 2019 at 11:44 am

As SWP cracks up Morning Star goes Total Tonto.

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Lessons of History Sadly ignored, says Morning Star top writer. 

The wisdom of Lenin’s What is to be Done?

Morning Star.

“With dissatisfaction and anger growing, with confrontation intensifying, and with more and more institutions and authority discredited, the need for effective responses grows, says ZOLTAN ZIGEDY.”

The cold war and the demonisation of communism further prodded the US and much of the academic and student western European left to distance itself from Leninism.

The ABC phenomenon — Anything But Communism — became deeply embedded in the “radicalism” of the late 20th century.

A “new” left — purposefully new in order to dissociate from Leninism and cold war ostracisation — sought new forms of radicalism, new approaches to struggle, new types of organisations.

Ironically, the new left found answers that had already failed in the past, in the kinds of politics toward which Lenin had earlier targeted his ideological weapons. And today’s US and European left reproduces many of the same tendencies.

It has been a common thread weaving through the US left that so-called participatory democracy is the foundation of radical politics and emancipatory or empowering for oppositional movements.

From the new left of the ’60s to the Occupy and Indignados movements, this approach has been foundational. The fetish for procedure has not only overshadowed establishing a common programme, but often blocked the achievement of one.

I had no idea that us European leftists actually cared that much, though we like the US left, about, er the US left,

History knows of no serious challenge to capitalism emerging automatically, without the intervention of a revolutionary organisation. Nonetheless, many in the US left deny the necessity or the desirability of a Leninist “organisation of revolutionaries.”

Under his pen name  the Morning Star leader writer,  concludes.

What Is To Be Done? demonstrates the need for a political organisation of ardent, committed revolutionaries, united with a programme to overthrow capitalism.

Since the retreat of communism, Leninism has unfortunately been discarded by many on the left. But the wisdom of Lenin’s pamphlet is needed now more than ever.

And i thought the Posadists were bit strange…

Written by Andrew Coates

January 5, 2019 at 2:06 pm

Socialist Workers Party Journal: Trump and Brexit, “two cheeks of the same arse”.

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“Trump and Brexit are, if a measure of crudity might be permitted, two cheeks of the same arse.”

This is quite remarkable, the SWP is cracking up over Brexit.

In a hole and still digging: the left and Brexit

Issue: 161

Wayne Ashe

This has got attention,

For many (most?) people on that march Trump and Brexit are, if a measure of crudity might be permitted, two cheeks of the same arse—both signs of racist reaction with no progressive roots whatsoever.

This a really serious well written article.

A few extracts.

 

” the gate will also be open, of course, for very sinister forces, already building up Britain’s own Dolchstoss, the stab-in-the-back legend which so helped the Nazis rise to power. Millions of Brexit voters are going to be very disappointed by the difference between what they thought they would get and what they in fact got, and will be looking for someone to blame.

….

.

 It is important to understand that the class enemy is entirely clear about this—Farage told the BBC (in January 2017): “If I speak to Trump’s team, Trump’s close advisers, or even to the president-elect himself, none of them think Trump would have won if Brexit had not happened”.38 The fascists marching to demand that Tommy Robinson be freed from jail carried banners supporting Trump and Brexit. The links between Brexit fundamentalists and the Trump administration are becoming closer week by week. Rees-Mogg—who supported Trump before he was elected president—noted that the latter “appealed to voters left behind by the metropolitan elite and he exudes confidence about his own nation and a determination not to be a manager of decline, which also inspires the Brexiteers”.39

Yet the traditional left, so right about Trump (and the rising fascist movement) is currently forced to tell angry people who might be attracted to their political outlook that they are against Trump but pro-Brexit. Opposition to Brexit is growing, yet just what is the left saying to the 700,000 people who marched for a People’s Vote on 20 October 2018?

Imagine a worse case situation in the spring, a chaotic Brexit has led to queues on the M20, factory layoffs, food shortages and high inflation after a currency collapse. We will be forced to tell workers that all this is very dreadful and should be fought, but, ahem…we actually supported Brexit. It won’t wash.

The good news in all this—and yes, there is some—is that the very weakness of the extra-parliamentary left means that a rethink can be carried out without too much impact and upset. While there is time. If the desire is there.

Wayne Asher is a former member of the International Socialists.

In the meantime the Arse replies,

But beyond this we are fearful that in breaking the bipartisan pledge that the Brexit vote be respected, Labou

 ill lose for generations more the trust that the Blair government betrayed and which the Corbyn team has so painstakingly rebuilt. A betrayal of the Brexit vote will supercharge Ukip or worse.

The EU is an irreformable instrument for impoverishing the continental periphery and the working people of each country to the benefit of a predatory class whose wealth increases with every one of capitalism’s succeeding crises.

Communists want a People’s Brexit. Unconstrained by EU treaties, single market rules and directives, a left-led Labour government could develop a worker-led industrial strategy; aid industry, invest in training, youth and jobs, social welfare, housing, education and health services; and take the transport, energy and postal service profiteers back into public ownership.
Nick Wright
Head of communications, Communist party of Britain

Written by Andrew Coates

January 4, 2019 at 1:36 pm

Les Misérables: absolute BBC triumph.

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BBC Triumph. 

Last night’s BBC adaptation of Les Misérables was an absolute triumph.

Judging from the the first episode.

It put the central theme of the weighty book centre-stage: the  story of Jean Valjean’s redemption.

I imagine, the geezer who wrote the screenplay is intensely aware of this Hugo’s Christian inspired  socialism.

To this French speaker I could not disagree more with this jugement,

The two main difficulties with this adaptation? So far it doesn’t feel very French.

The way in which they rendered  bagne as the Hulks felt precisely right.

As was the way they had people talking in French softly shading into English.

I read Les Misérables some time back.

It is long, very long.

The section on socialism alone is, well long.

It is also simply one of the best books ever written. 

The fact that people in this country have taken it so closely to their hearts sends a message to the Brexit Bolsheviks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 31, 2018 at 12:27 pm

£65 Tax on EU citizens in UK.

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Costs 65 NIcker to join and Android device check.

The chaps in the Morning Star, Counterfire, and Tariq Ali, will be chortling in their  cornflakes this morning.

 

Welcome to Tower Hamlets Council’s toolkit for EU citizens living and working in our borough.

We recognise that since the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, you have had to deal with a great deal of uncertainty and concern. We want to reassure you that you are all valued members of our community in Tower Hamlets and we are here to help you secure your right to continue living and working here after Brexit.

On this page, you will find details of the EU Settlement Scheme that has been set out by the Home Office. We will guide you through the scheme and provide you with further useful information about the process that we hope will address some of your concerns.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

If you are an EU citizen and want to stay in the UK beyond 31 December 2020, you and your family members will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

The EU Settlement Scheme allows you to continue to live, work and study here in the UK. It means you continue to be eligible for:

  • public services, such as healthcare and schools
  • public funds and pensions
  • British citizenship, if you want to apply and meet the requirements.

Proof of identity

When you apply, you’ll be able to either:

  • scan your identity document using an Android mobile phone or tablet – you can use someone else’s phone or tablet to do this
  • send your document by post

You’ll also need to upload a recent digital photo of your face.

The app used to verify your identity is the EU Exit: ID Document Check app. To use this app you will need to have a valid biometric passport or biometric EU national identity card. Non-EU citizens must have a biometric residence card to use the app.

This functionality is only available on Android devices – an easy way to check if your Android device can do this is whether your device has the technology to make contactless payments. If you can’t complete this step using the app, you can use a family member or friend’s device to verify your identity.There are no security risks in doing this and your data is not stored on the device. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can send in your identity document to the Home Office by post from 30 March 2019.

The fee to apply will be:

  • £65 if you’re 16 or over
  • £32.50 if you’re under 16

Written by Andrew Coates

December 30, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Posted in European Left

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Anti-Semitism. Brief Review of the Year.

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Fight-Back against the Anti-Semites! 

It started bad and got worse.

It was obvious that the election of a pro-Palestinian as leader of the Labour Party was not going to be universally welcomed.

There was a predictable reaction, continuing throughout the year, from those whom  David Rosenberg well described from the “The self-proclaimed and self-important leadership of the Jewish community who don’t want to talk to Jeremy at all — they just want to talk at him”. (Morning Star)

Most people in Labour however did not want the party turned into a playground for self-appointed supporters of the Palestinians either.

As in this from wealthy “Lynching” Jackie Walker.

Massa’ Andrew an’ sum a u you gud white folks seems to be just falli’n ova yo’selves to teach me a thing or two ‘bout ma histry, an white terror an’ all those complicated things.

To paraphrase a quotation from ‘Great White Hope’, “White folks so good to me, sometimes I just wanna cry about it!”

Not being fluent in American I found this hard to grasp, but the gist seemed to be that rich-as-Croesus Walker has the right to say whatever she likes about ‘Zionists’ and ‘Jewish’ involvement in the Slave Trade because the well-spoken Black  woman says so.

This year her mate, Stephen Marks, got elected onto Labour’s NEC, a low point in our history (‘Antisemitism denier’ Stephen Marks gets top Labour role in dealing with allegations of Jew-hate).

But, to cut a long story short, all is not lost.

Those thoroughly fed-up with all the grandstanding have laid into the anti-semites where it hurts.

Their playground:Twitter.

See above.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 28, 2018 at 11:15 am

Anti-Semites and Racists take the lead in Gilets Jaunes Protests.

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Gilets Jaunes preparing to the do the racist “quenelle” on the steps of Montmartre.

Background:

Anti-semitic and hard-right “entryism” has been obvious from the beginning. Dieudonné, a serially convicted anti-semite, appeared beside, Mathieu Seurot, one of the principle figures of the movement in the south west, as early as November 19th. A placard which appeared briefly last week on a gilet jaune held roundabout in the south was stuffed with anti-semitic and anti-masonic references including the letters “SS”.

..

One of the leaders of this group of yellow vests, Eric Drouet, a 33 years old truck driver from Melun east of Paris, was arrested in Paris yesterday. He is accused of carrying a concealed weapon, a cosh or truncheon. His supporters say that the weapon was planted by police.

The yellow vests have wide public support. This is already receding and could begin to collapse after the disgraceful incidents on Saturday. Anti-semitism exists in France on both the right and left but holocaust denial and Jew-baiting rings loud alarm bells in the majority of the population.

I think readers of this blog, who know that I lived in Montmartre , and hold the place and the people very deeply in my heart, will realise just how obscene I find this:

Les manifestants ont chanté ce samedi matin à Montmartre ce signe de ralliement antisystème mais aussi antisémite, popularisé par Dieudonné. L’humoriste antisémite peut jubiler

(Thanks to the French comrades who signalled this)

It is not alone.

 

Un camion bulgare caillassé puis poursuivi pendant 12 kilomètres par des Gilets jaunes à Rouen

 

You can guarantee that supporters of the Gilets Jaunes, in the UK do not register this.

French Yellow Vests fight on, and new forces join the movement

by Charlie Kimber.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 27, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Galloway and Skwawkbox lead Corbyn Defenders on Brexit.

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‘Yellow vest’ protesters confront Anna Soubry outside parliament last week.

As Far-Right British Gilets Jaunes Harraras Pro-Europeans Left Should Take Lead in Fighting Brexit.

Labour Policy on Brexit after this year’s Conference.

Fake News Site Skwawkbox has a little theory,

OF COURSE TODAY’S FAKE NEWS RE LABOUR/BREXIT IS NOT COORDINATED

There has been a rush of articles today in mainstream outlets on a common theme – supposed remainer horror and condemnation over Labour’s plan to continue with Brexit if successful in winning power.

So much so, that many left-wingers consider it a(nother) coordinated, establishment attack on Labour and its leader.

And of course, the fact that they were all centred on fake news is irrelevant. Labour’s Brexit position hasn’t changed and was a key feature of the manifesto that saw the party win the biggest increase in vote share since 1945:

It’s pure coincidence that all these articles contain quotes from the same dreary people saying the same dreary thing.

And it’s irrelevant that these articles omit the obvious: that to win power, as the party has a duty to the huge numbers suffering under the Tories to do, Labour cannot pour contempt on the views of the many millions of people who voted – and still want – to leave the EU.

Not only that, but in 2016 Corbyn was re-elected as Labour leader – with an increased share – promising to respect the referendum result and less than three months ago, Labour’s conference endorsed his policy to fight for a general election and negotiate Labour’s Brexit.

No, all this is complete happenstance and anyone who doubts the integrity of the UK’s ‘fourth estate’ is part of the  problem. It’s the independent left media that is fake news, after all.

Labour conference passes motion saying party ‘must’ leave door open for new Brexit referendum

Speaking in favour of the motion, Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, received a standing ovation when he told the conference hall that remaining in the EU could be an option in any future public vote.

He said: “It is right that Parliament has the first say but, if we need to break the impasse, our options must include campaigning for a public vote and nobody is ruling out Remain as an option.

 

 

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By contrast, Corbyn notably said,

As to what stance Labour would take if a referendum were held, Corbyn said, “it would be a matter for the party to decide what the policy would be; but my proposal at this moment is that we go forward, trying to get a customs union with the EU, in which we would be able to be proper trading partners.”

And he struck a distinctly Eurosceptic note by again highlighting Labour’s concerns about the state aid rules that form part of the architecture of the single market.

“I think the state aid rules do need to be looked at again, because quite clearly, if you want to regenerate an economy, as we would want to do in government, then I don’t want to be told by somebody else that we can’t use state aid in order to be able to develop industry in this country,” he said

Neither is he willing to countenance the idea that Labour should support May’s deal, to avoid Britain crashing out with no deal in place at all – a move the prime minister has repeatedly said is in the “national interest”.

“The national interest is for parliament to have a vote on this deal now,” Corbyn said, pointing out that it was May who had pulled the vote, which MPs had agreed to hold on 11 December.

“They reneged on that. And then she suddenly turns round and starts accusing us of playing politics with it. She’s the one that reneged on the deal. Not me.”

In his party conference speech, Corbyn surprised some activists by saying Labour could back the prime minister’s deal if she secured a permanent customs union and offered stronger assurances on workers’ rights and environmental standards.

He said that offer remains open. “It’s there: at no stage since I made that in October has the government been in touch with us at all.”

To those activists who support his leadership but ardently hope he will stop Brexit, Corbyn said: “We have to recognise a number of things. One is, as a party, about 60% of Labour voters voted remain; about 40% voted leave. We have to recognise why people voted in those directions.”

“Labour is unique as a party, because it’s got to bring all sides together – hence my view on a customs union, on access to the market.”

To put is simply, the ‘I’ says, he now stands with the sovereigntists, right and left,  “Mr Corbyn also said he would advocate Brexit if there was a second referendum on the issue.

Corbyn has found a vocal supporter in George Galloway:

Galloway has taken to attacking left-wing pro-Europe MP Clive Lewis.

The Other Europe is Possible supporting Socialist Resistance publishes this article:

Labour must take the lead on Brexit

Alan Davis.

At the moment Labour is not only holding a second referendum at arms-length but it is talking about, in the event of winning an election, negotiating a better Brexit deal than May has managed!

This in my view would be disastrous. Being against Brexit means being against the reopening of negotiations on Brexit. Brexit cannot be turned into “left exit” or Lexit because there is no Lexit possible in the present situation. Brexit has its origins and dynamic as a right-wing project and it will remain a right-wing project.

The negotiation by Labour of a slightly less bad deal than May that would inevitably be inferior to the current membership conditions of the EU itself would be seen as a betrayal by very large sections of Labour’s base, not least young people.

Labour must have a clear anti-Brexit stance. It should put a referendum on Brexit in its manifesto making it clear that the vote would include an option to stay in the EU. This is the only way to clearly take the leadership of the anti-Brexit movement. The reality today is that only a second popular vote can credibly stop Brexit and not a general election – which continues to be the Labour leadership’s priority – unlikely as it is to happen between now and the Brexit date.

Brexit is on the ropes and can be beaten. A second referendum is now an achievable demand, but only if the Labour fully backs it and makes it happen.

The left should take this situation extremely seriously. A crash-out Brexit would take the country sharply to the right and create a ruthless race to the bottom in which the poorest would be hit the hardest. If Labour is seen as bringing this about even by default (for example by failing to back a second vote early enough), it could pay a heavy price amongst its base. On the other hand, if Labour championed a second vote with an in-out option it would take the leadership of a still growing mass movement and could win a big majority.

We have to have a way forward at this stage that does not have its origins in racism and xenophobia if we are to get out of the situation that Cameron and Osborne plunged us when they chose the first referendum to settle scores in the Tory Party.

When the vote comes in Parliament, therefore, Labour must not only vote down May’s deal and oppose a no-deal crash out by default. It must also back the suspension of Article 50 in order to create the space for a second referendum with the option of staying in the EU. This is not because we have any illusions in the EU or think that it can be reformed from within. It is because the present course set by Brexit, or any credible variants, is set to provide a big victory for the right, the impoverishment of large numbers of people and threaten the future of an anti-austerity government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Boffy comments,

It’s quite clear what the party’s policy is, and it is not what Corbyn is shovelling.  At party conference, the vast majority of delegates were pushing for a clearer policy that would have committed the party to opposing Brexit outright, whether by a General Election, or support for another referendum.  Only after a lot of arm twisting was the composite motion agreed, in the interests of party unity.  But, the clear intention of that composite to was to back a strategy that worked towards a General Election, or another referendum, in which Labour would argue for Brexit to be scrapped.  That is why Starmer, made clear in his conference speech on the composite that if that process resulted in Labour backing another referendum, that referendum would have to include the option of Remain.

Current estimates are that 90% of party members support Remain.  The only rational position on which Labour could call for a General Election or another referendum, would be on the basis of calling for Remain, and scrapping Brexit.  Corbyn is setting himself against 90% of party members, and around 75% of Labour voters, by pushing ahead with his reactionary dream of Brexit as part of a Stalinoid programme of Social Democracy in One Country, egged on by his Stalinist advisors, from the Morning Star, and Socialist Action.  Such a programme would destroy Labour for a generation.

Even compared with a Blair-right Labour Party such a development would be reactionary.  Its only necessary to look at the calamity that befell the working-class in Eastern Europe, China, Vietnam, and Cuba as a consequence of Stalinism to recognise that.  In Russia, millions starved to death as a result of Stalin’s crazy economic policies, and the police state erected to push them through; in China millions more died as Mao’s economic nationalist policy of The Great Leap Forward, amounted to driving the country back decades, if not centuries, in terms of its economic potential.  And, everywhere that Stalinists have been allowed to pursue such a course, not only has it led to such economic chaos, but it has led to the erection of the most grotesque, bureaucratic and totalitarian regimes.

The party rank and file must call Corbyn and the leadership to account for their betrayal of party members and basic socialist principle.  Party branches should flood the NEC with motions and demands for a recall conference to decisively commit the Party to opposing Brexit, for the revoking of Article 50, and for the calling of a General Election on that basis, in which Labour will set out the reactionary nature of Brexit, and its opposition to it.  It should set out our commitment to working with socialists and workers organisations across the EU, to fight for a Workers Europe, as I set out some time ago, we should build a Socialist Campaign for Europe.

Its clear that we cannot trust Corbyn, who has put his own personal commitment to the reactionary economic nationalist programme of Stalinism above the needs and wishes of party members and of British workers, with his continued backing of Brexit.  Its time for him, and his Stalinist advisors to go.  We need a new leader committed to the principles of socialist internationalism, to oppose Brexit, and build a progressive socialist movement across Europe.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 23, 2018 at 2:50 pm

Corbyn Goes Pro-Brexit with “Re-Negotiation” plan.

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Corbyn on Rocky Brexit Road.

Corbyn: Brexit would go ahead even if Labour won snap election

Reuters has just clarified thess points,

“You’d have to go back and negotiate, and see what the timetable would be,” the 69-year-old told the Guardian newspaper, when asked what he would do if he won an early election designed to break the deadlock in parliament.

Asked what stance Labour would take if a referendum were held, Corbyn said: “it would be a matter for the party to decide what the policy would be; but my proposal at this moment is that we go forward, trying to get a customs union with the EU, in which we would be able to be proper trading partners.”

…..

Labour wants a permanent customs union with the EU and a close relationship with its lucrative single market. The policy has been dubbed “constructive ambiguity” by some, who question whether Labour could negotiate a better deal.

There are forces hostile to socialist internationalism within the Labour Party, many of whom believe that Brexit was a “a genuine democratic revolt,” “for self-government, identity, community, sovereignty, patriotism.” “It was the elite versus the people.”

Some of these people are close the Leader of the Opposition.

They appear to be making Labour strategy, on their interpretation of party policy, off the hoof.

Britain can, alone, be a socialist “Beacon” a shining “radical break with neoliberalism ” in a benighted world.

Perhaps from its heights Corbyn can tear up lengthy re-negotiations, begin again, and get a customs union, and who knows what other benefits?

He may find time to cast off the economy’s moorings from the capitalist world, WTO rules, and the IMF.

In fact the EU and its negotiators have made it clear that another negotiation is not on the cards at the moment.

We shall see if another one, for a Beacon Brexit, is possible.

It goes without saying that many do not agree with this strategy.

How far is Corbyn willing to share the opinions of the sovereigntist hard-liners is a matter for him.

For the Party it is of great concern.

Faced with this turn this call in the excellent Clarion, by Manuel Cortes, looks all the more important.

 

Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association General Secretary Manuel Cortes, a prominent supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and opponent of Brexit, spoke to The Clarion.

You’ve called for a special Labour conference to decide the party’s Brexit policy. Why?

I think it’s very clear that if we’re going to push for a referendum, the party needs to make a decision about about what it’s going to argue in that vote. At the same time, Brexit is evolving on a day to day basis – we need an opportunity to take stock about what we’ll argue in a referendum but also how we’ll campaign to get one. Andrew Gwynne has alluded to the members deciding our position in a referendum – and the only way to do that is to call a special conference.

Is it realistic? Well, it’s been done before. In 1975, Labour called a special conference at short notice when the referendum on remaining in the European Community was announced.

And what position would you advocate at the conference?

My position remains that we should remain in the EU and work together with socialists and labour movements across the continent to create a Europe for the many. Jeremy Corbyn campaigned for this in 2016, he was right then and it’s the right position now. Clearly the kind of Europe we want to create is one that favours working people – that puts people first. We need an end to austerity and to a system which does extremely well for the one percent at the expense of the other ninety nine. If we’re going to slay the neoliberal dragon and take on global capitalism we have a much better chance in a union of 28 nations than by ourselves.

The situation in the Labour Party seems complicated and hard to predict. How do you think it will play out?

We’ve got a political and constitutional crisis in our country. We’ve had paralysis for the last 30 months at Westminster, ever since the referendum result. I think Labour has not done that badly in the sense that it’s attempted to heal a very divided country. However, it’s become increasingly clear that the party membership and the great majority of our voters no longer want us to leave the EU. In a democratic party we have to recognise and respect that. The best way to solve this contradiction is a popular vote and for Labour to make a strong case for Jeremy’s vision.

What would you say to those who say a second referendum will disillusion blue-collar working-class voters even more and drive them away from Labour?

I′m not arguing we should remain in Europe with the status quo. Far from it. We need a Labour government committed to the kind of policies we had in the 2017 manifesto. It’s been far too easy for British politicians to blame the problems that afflict so many of our citizens on Europe, when by and large they are the fault of Westminster – the privatisation and deregulation of our economy, the fact that we have the most stringent anti-union laws in Western Europe, the lack of labour rights compared to many European countries, all these problems stem from Westminster not Brussels.

I’m extremely proud that working people in 32 countries have the right to move freely. We want that right to be extended, but to give up the right we have is nonsense. I’m a union leader. I’m not in the business of giving the rights our workers currently enjoy. It’s not migrants who create low wages and insecurity, it’s unscrupulous bosses.

The Labour Party must work with our allies across Europe, in terms of democracy but also an economic program that makes the lives of working people far better. For instance we need to extend collective bargaining and ensure there’s a union in every workplace so that workers can fight for their rights. We need repeal of all the anti-union laws, and their replacement with a charter of positive rights for workers. We need to regulate our economy, ban zero hours contracts and introduce a real living wage of at least £10 an hour. We need to ensure resources are made available to enforce all those things.

Then it won’t matter if you come from Wigan or Brussels, everyone will be treated the same in the workplace.

That argument about free movement, aren’t there a lot of people in the Labour Party, including on the left, reluctant to take that on?

The majority of our members want to say and the majority of our voters want to stay. They know that you can’t stay in the EU without freedom of movement. You don’t have to win that argument with most of our members and voters. There is a minority of people we have to challenge and win over but let’s not inflate their voices.

It often seems there is widespread reluctance to criticise Corbyn. What do you think?

I think one thing Corbyn will respect, because he has been known as a rebel for most of his political life, is this – if you think something is right you should articulate your point and do so forcefully. I’m standing up for what I believe. The people of our country will be far worse off if we leave the EU. The xenophobia that’s been unleashed is a terrible poison and we can’t give victory to the people who unleashed it – Farage, Johnson, Rees-Mogg.

If there is a second referendum, it seems likely the dominant Remain campaign will be a bourgeois lash up similar to the first one but with a slightly more activisty buzz. In that situation, what should the anti-Brexit left do?

Actually I think we’re in a very different place from 2016, because Corbyn has now consolidated his leadership of the Labour Party. The party machine and our half a million members should be mobilised and we should have our own agenda – a firm commitment to remain and to fight to change Europe. We should not get involved in so called cross party alliances. In the last referendum I campaigned with Another Europe is Possible, and I am all for Labour members organising for this perspective, but my view now that Jeremy has consolidated his leadership is that the Labour Party itself should run a high profile campaign.

But what if it doesn’t adopt that position?

My confidence is rooted in the fact that the overwhelming majority of Labour members want this. No party can survive long term without giving its members the ability to influence its policies. More importantly still, perhaps, Jeremy and John have a strong record of seeking to involve ordinary members in decision-making. That’s why I’m calling for a special conference. I think if things are moving towards a public vote a conference will happen and I can only see it taking one position – remain and reform.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 22, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Leftist Trainspotting Quiz of the Year.

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2018 Leftist Trainspotter Quiz.

1. What is the name of the split from Socialist Party in the  Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) union?

  • Socialist Action.
  • Socialist Voice.
  • Socialist Future.

2. How often did the far-right millionaire Aaron Bank’s  funding of the Communist Party of Britain  and Socialist Party Backed Trade Unionists Against the EU get into the Morning Star and   the Socialist?

  • Never.
  • Absolutely never.
  • Why are you asking this question you Soros funded Neo-liberal Blairite?

3. Who replaced Comrade Harpel Brar as Chairman of the CPGB-ML this year?

4. What was the dispute and split in the International Bolshevik Tendency around?

  • Open answers, including the “real reasons”.

5. Where did Red London originate?

  • The  Donetsk People’s Republic.
  • Lambeth.
  • Eel Pie Island.

6. Which left-wing figures have attacked Momentum’s pickets of David Icke?

  • Jackie Walker
  • Tina Werkmann (Weekly Worker).
  • Alice Walker.

7. What was the “polemic against the Revolutionary Communist Group” about?

8. Why is there a  call to Unfollow the Movement for Justice?

9. Who  resigned this year from Tony Greenstein’s Labour Against the Witch-hunt?

  • Chris Willamson. M.P.
  • Michael Mansfield.QC.
  • Marc Wadsworth.

10. Who in 2018 Blamed Israel for the rise in anti-Semitism?

  •  Dieudonné.
  • David Irving.
  • Tariq Ali.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 21, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Skwawkbox Goes Patriotic Labour: Brexit was “genuine democratic revolt” for “self-government, identity, community, sovereignty, patriotism.

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Skwawkbox: We’ll Beat that EU Elite with a Patriotic Call to Arms!

Patriotic Labour supporter Steve Walker publishes Blue Labour:

‘Guest Post’ by Andy Searson: GUEST ARTICLE: A WORKING-CLASS REVOLT.

Writing from the hard chalk face Teacher Searson blubbs,

Brexit was a genuine democratic revolt. Millions of ordinary citizens came out to use democracy and suffrage to have a say on issues that affect their daily lives. They voted for self-government, identity, community, sovereignty, patriotism. It was the elite versus the people, The average citizen versus an establishment that wasn’t listening any more! A detached set of establishment elites. The expenses scandal exacerbated the feeling of political alienation – and if the elitist, powerful few renege now, trust in Parliament will be destroyed for generations.

Do we need, the eminent pedagogue continues, the projects of “charlatan posh boys”, from the Labour Remainers to Johnson, Gove and Mogg, to tell us what to do?

Nay lad!

We need a Brexit that works for those left-behind communities and working-class areas. We cannot sign up to more neoliberal structures, rules and treaties that make it impossible for Keynesian economics in terms of state intervention, re-nationalisation and sovereignty over our own nation’s economic needs.

A Beacon, in short, a light to the world,

We need to look towards ourselves as leaders and answer a patriotic call to arms to fight poverty and need, homelessness and hunger, rip-off energy companies and corporations. We need to fight for fairness and decent living standards for all not just the few.

All it needs is will-power and plenty of elbow-grease.

Just like our kith and kin in America we need the courage to stand firm:

As for Project Fear, let us also remember Roosevelt’s words as he faced with the threats and merchants of gloom from the establishment and stood up for the people over the establishment status quo:

This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.’

We have nothing to fear but fear.

It is hard not to feel that this nationalist rant, promoting “our nation” against the “elites” would find a friendly audience here:

But…..

Written by Andrew Coates

December 20, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Yellow Vests UK Moblise for Hard Brexit.

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Far Right Fringe of French Gilets Jaunes Have British Imitators.

 British yellow vests announce second London protest

The British Yellow Vests have announced a ‘Day of Action’ in London on Saturday with a meeting point at Parliament Square, Westminster at 1pm.

The Facebook event page says “Bring your vest and join us!” The event isn’t party political and all are welcome. On Friday sixty protesters hit global headlines after bringing a mass rebellion to the capital.

Activist James Goddard, who is part of the movement and targeted Westminster Bridge, just yards away from the British Parliament told Politicalite: “This is just the start.”

“We wanna see people out on the streets challenging the political class.” “We’re gonna bring cities to a standstill, We all need to start doing this”

“There’s no funding, there’s no leader or political affiliation, this is real people taking action, without the help of people who are high up.”

Tracy Blackwell was also part of the protest, she told Politicalite: “It’s about time the British people stood up to the tyranny of what’s going on in our Establishment.”

She added: “We don’t want another Josh, Harry and George to happen to someone else, and it will it’s not a case of if, its a case of when.”

“We the people have had enough of being used as cannon fodder by the Elite in this country,” said Tracy.

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The far-right opposes “globalism”, which makes it hard to distinguish from ‘anti-globalisation’. Counterfire and their fronts, and many other Brexit Bolsheviks  mobilise against “undemocratic elites”, a pillar of the far-right language replacing class.  It looks increasingly unlikely that the pro-Brexit Counterfire stunt  (below) is going to escape being confused with the national populist right.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 19, 2018 at 5:16 pm

Taking a Stand on Venezuela and Nicaragua.

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Left Should Stand with our Sisters and Brothers.

Recently Pablo Iglesias the leader of Podemos said after denying any financial links with Venezuela of his former admiration for  the President Hugo Chávez that,

I don’t agree with some of the things I said in the past. The current political and economic situation of Venezuela right now is dire. To rectify in politics is a good thing. (Creo que rectificar en política está bien)

13th of December. Podemos chief grilled in Senate over Venezuela financing links

Reuters today reports, The Venezuelan regime is gearing up to the end game: Maduro says Venezuela’s civil militia grows to 1.6 million members.

“We will arm the Bolivarian militia to the teeth,” Maduro said, without detailing how many of the militia members were actually armed. “An invading imperialist force may enter a part of our fatherland, but the imperialists should know that they will not leave here alive.”

Maduro is cosying up to the Turkish far-right President:

The Turkey-Venezuela mutual admiration society

Latin American country is increasingly isolated, but Ankara’s not joining in. 

The FT reports on the background:

The economy is shrinking but the country has so far refused to produce economic data on gross domestic product or inflation despite repeated requests and potentially a major default on Venezuela’s sovereign debt. The country’s inability to pay bondholders could lead to it losing over the next few months of one its main assets — the international trading company Citgo.

What should be one of the richest countries in Latin America, given its extensive oil and mineral resources from gold to bauxite and diamonds, is now one of the poorest.

Basic supplies and food are scarce and, as well as an exodus of talent, there is a growing refugee crisis as people try to escape to neighbouring countries such as Colombia and Brazil.

According to a recent paper from Brookings, there are already more than 3m Venezuelans living outside the country, including a million in Colombia. The exodus includes the desperately poor but also skilled workers and technicians on whom the economy depends. Within that group are many of those who built the state oil company PDVSA but are fleeing the corruption and mismanagement that now dominates the company.

What is left of the economy only keeps going as a result of loans from Russia, in return for which Moscow is being allowed to establish a military base in the country and cash-for-oil deals with the Chinese.

Human Rights Watch states,

Under the leadership of President Hugo Chávez and President Nicolás Maduro, the accumulation of power in the executive branch and erosion of human rights guarantees have enabled the government to intimidate, censor, and punish its critics. Severe shortages of medicines, medical supplies, and food have intensified since 2014, and weak government responses have undermined Venezuelans’ rights to health and food. Security forces have arbitrarily detained and tortured protesters, and raids in low-income communities have led to widespread allegations of abuse. Other persistent concerns include poor prison conditions and impunity for human rights abuses.

Another regime is also in crisis, and using repression to crush dissent, Nicaragua.

Harassment and persecution of the voices denouncing repression in Nicaragua

There is a pressing need for the international community to recognize the right to defend rights and to provide a safe space for defenders to do their work.

On Wednesday December 12 the National Assembly of Nicaragua voted to cancel the legal registration of Centro Nicaraguense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH). After the announcement Vilma Nuñez, 80 years old, the president of CENIDH and one of the most recognized human rights defenders in the region declared “We have done our work with conviction and we will continue doing it until Nicaragua is really free”.

Just a week earlier I met Doña Vilma, as she is known, in Washington DC when she came with a delegation of human rights organizations from Nicaragua to participate in a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and present their testimony about the continuous repression in the country.

Her strength and commitment to the protection of civic freedoms in her country are remarkable. However, her voice had a sadness tint when talking on how the situation continues to deteriorate in Nicaragua.

During the hearing the activists from Nicaragua provided updated information to the Commission on how the human rights crisis in Nicaragua has evolved and the serious consequences for people in the country.

The organizations denounced how the State of Nicaragua continues to discourage and punish social protest and political dissent, despite the incessant calls to terminate the violence.

The threats to civic space in Nicaragua are not new. Civil society in the country has been facing growing restrictions as political power has increasingly concentrated in recent years and civic space has become completely repressed.

However, the situation has worsened since April 2018 when proposed regressive changes to the social security system sparked widespread, mass protests across the country. The government violently repressed the demonstrations. Since that more than 300 people have been killed and more than 600 remain in detention.

Abuses and violations to civic space in Nicaragua vary from violent repression of social protest, violence against journalists and censorship of the media, and arrest and criminalization of activists to the introduction of restrictions to civic space through the legislative framework.

Despite these developments, as clear as a pikestaff, many on the British left continue to support these regimes.

Protests at a recent conference in solidarity with Latin America were not welcome

Watch this and weep.

It is time for solidarity with those oppressed by the regimes of Venezuela and Nicaragua.

It is also time for some senior Labour figures  to follow Pablo Iglesias and say, “To rectify in politics is a good thing.”

The magazine Labour Briefing has just carried this article on its web site:

The civil unrest and police violence that swept across Nicaragua earlier this year leaving over 300 people dead have been followed by a wave of state repression against human rights organisations and media outlets. Most shocking among these are the police raids on CENIDH, the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights, whose director is Vilma Núñez.

……

According to Amnesty International, most of the victims in the recent unrest were killed “at the hands of state agents.” Yet what happened is talked about in Nicaragua Solidarity circles abroad as if it were an internationally orchestrated coup against Ortega, thus justifying the brutality of the regime‘s response. The irony is that, as the Trump Administration ratchets up the rhetoric against Nicaragua, it is the self-serving actions of Ortega himself that leave the Nicaraguan Revolution less able to defend itself.

Some on the left understand this. Noam Chomsky has called for early elections. Pablo Iglesias of Podemos in Spain, and former Uruguayan President José Mujica have also been sharply critical of Ortega. None of these individuals are in the business of promoting US government interests. Rather, they understand that defending the gains of the Nicaraguan Revolution requires the orderly exit of the corrupt dynasty that has betrayed it. Others on the left should now speak up for the basic rights of Nicaraguans as a matter or urgency.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 18, 2018 at 1:59 pm

Far Right Marches in Brussels Against UN Marrakech Migration Pact.

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Protesters in Brussels march against the UN migration pact

Not only British Brexiteers are anti-Immigration: Our People First! (Vlaams Belang).

The BBC reports:

Thousands of demonstrators in Brussels have marched against a UN migration pact, signed in Marrakech last week.

Flemish right-wing parties called the march, which took place near major EU institutions, amid fears the pact could lead to an increase in immigration.

Police deployed tear gas and water cannon as clashes broke out. About 5,500 protesters took part.

A counter-protest organised by left-wing groups and charities in the city centre drew about 1,000 people.

The largest member of Belgium’s ruling coalition, the right-wing N-VA party, left the government last Sunday in protest against the prime minister’s decision to sign the agreement.

Edition numérique des abonnés

Rats de gauches», «notre peuple d’abord»: des extrémistes flamands dérapent dans le quartier européen

Le Soir.

The far-right, principally the Vlaams Belang headed nebuleuse, KVHV, NSV, Schild & Vrienden, Voorpost and  Vlaams Belang Jongeren,  are trying to out bid the N-VA of Bart  De Wever in opposition to the UN agreement.

Against the 5,550 far-right marchers around 1,500 demonstrators responded to the call of left-wing organisations, including the trade union FGTB-CGSP for a “marche pour Marrakech””

Marches “pour” et “contre” Marrakech à Bruxelles: une centaine de personnes interpellées, six personnes privées de liberté

La Libre Belgique also reports that a section of the Gilets Jaunes in Belgium joined the anti-racist protest, after strong attempts by the Vlaams Belang and the N-VA to win them to anti-migrant stand.

Des “gilets jaunes” se joignent à la marche contre le racisme à Bruxelles

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 17, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Leave Means Leave Campaign Gears Up Hate Campaign with Bile Against Jo Cox as Farage Prepares for Second Referendum. .

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British Giles Jaunes for Brexit.

 

Nigel Farage tells Leave Means Leave rally to prepare for second referendum on Brexit.

Evening Standard.

Nigel Farage has said he believes the UK may face a second Brexit referendum in the coming months and has urged Leave campaigners to “get ready for every situation”.

The MEP and former Ukip leader said he did not think “the great Brexit betrayal is anywhere near finished” and was “more fearful than any point in this process”.

Speaking (in American), at the Leave Means Leave rally in London on Friday night, Mr Farage said: “My message folks tonight is, as much as I don’t want a second referendum, it would be wrong of us on a Leave Means Leave platform not to get ready, not to be prepared for a worst case scenario.”..

Mr Farage was joined at the event by other prominent Brexit campaigners including Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, Tim Martin, the owner of JD Wetherspoon, the Democratic Unionist Party’s Sammy Wilson, and Labour MPs Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer.

Provider of the “essential theory” behind the UK’s 2010 austerity programme. Lead economist of the official Leave campaign. Main proponent of CANZUK Tweeted a couple of days ago.

More: Is this the most disgraceful comment ever associated with Brexit?

Given the hard right bloc now in view, with its ‘Gilets Jaunes’ and other far-right outriders, the internationalist left campaign for Another Europe comes to the fore.

Another Europe has a plan – to fight for and win a referendum on Brexit, and to transform Europe. We also have a strategy for every outcome in the coming period, win or lose, referendum or not. Our campaign against Brexit is indelibly linked with a campaign against the status quo: for a society run in the interests of people and the planet, and for free movement for all.

People’s Assembly (Counterfire) to Hold Gilets Jaunes Demo to Show “Will of the People”.

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Gilets Jaunes: Coming to London People’s Assembly March.

Counterfire has a new hobby horse.

During the General Election it was Stop the Tory Coup.

Counterfire joins calls to confront ‘Tory coup’ on the streets (May the 6th 2015)

Now, the action on the streets will be the Yellow Vests, Britain’s own Gilets Jaunes.

Inspired, we imagine,  by an interview on their site with Danièle Obono, a deputy of La France Insoumise, on their site, France: stay on the streets until Macron falls,

“The government could fall very soon.”

As the actuality of the revolution reaches these shores we are invited to take part in this march.

Forget your  criticisms about a People’s Brexit, we can all agree that Counterfire is right:

We say no matter which way you voted in the European referendum, if you care about ending austerity, if you care about homelessness, if you want to see rail and other privatised utilities taken back into public ownership, then a general election is the only way that this can be done. In short it is driving the Tories from power which is the key question for working people in Britain today.

Today the People’s Assembly have called a National Demonstration to show the will of the people.It’s time to get the Tories out.

Spearheading the Will of the People will be the “extra parliamentary” Gilets Jaunes – the Yellow Vests Against Austerity – will be out in force..

See Facebook event here – Please share far and wide

We need an all out extra parliamentary, anti austerity demonstration to push the tories over the edge and force a change of government….

Assemble 12 noon: BBC Portland Place, London. Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus

Don’t forget your #YellowVest

#YellowVestsAgainstAusterity

It is not clear if the demo will demand cheaper petrol and lower taxes, or whether these people will be invited;

 

From mondialisme.org

Written by Andrew Coates

December 14, 2018 at 1:08 pm

As Tories Flounder Pro-Brexit Left Clutches at Straws.

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Image result for brexit poster communist party

Brexit Left Has Record of Sound Predictions.

The Sovereigntist Morning Star, no doubt refreshed from a trip to the Donbass*, yells,

Who can “deliver Brexit”?

Can it be delivered at all?

The Morning Star’s allies in Counterfire are worried,

Lindsey German writes,

The Tories shan’t topple on their own, we need to build and maintain the pressure against them, 

there are increasing demands for a second referendum.

such a referendum wouldn’t change anything, even if it could get through Parliament, which is still a big if. And while we don’t need to necessarily speculate over whether it would lead to riots among Leave voters, it certainly would cause widespread anger and even further distrust, if possible, for politicians.  The pressure from within Labour for this second referendum is, however, intense, and is also very dangerous. It can lead to a greater bitterness in Leave areas which, even if it doesn’t lose Labour many seats, can lead to an alienation from Labour which will damage Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

She notes,

Any resolution to the Brexit crisis which ends up benefiting working people will of necessity entail a level of popular protest on the streets, an increase in industrial action and a very hard fight to secure a Labour victory. All of this will require a turn to class politics and organisation.

Pray, what is this “resolution”?

If ruthless Tories can’t get a ‘good deal’ what chance a People’s Brexit?

Socialist Worker clings to the wreckage,

Resistance to the Tory vision of Brexit can’t mean supporting a new referendum. It must mean putting forward an alternative vision of Brexit and of society where ordinary people’s interests are put before those of the bosses.

Membership of the EU is incompatible with such a vision. We must fight for an anti-racist, anti-austerity Brexit.

While the Heralds of the Red Dawn remain true from the US pro-Brexit progressive magazine Jacobin comes a cry for help –  please please Theresa May call a General Election!

The People’s Vote Illusion

Dawn Foster.

The campaigners for a so-called “People’s Vote” illustrate the problem most clearly: a cabal of almost entirely middle-class centrists detached from the groundswell of public opinion, preoccupied with obscure legal loopholes that supposedly might scupper attempts to push Brexit through Parliament or any process that sees the UK leave the EU at all. They function entirely as an echo chamber, with a record of excruciatingly embarrassing attempts at protest.

Such a gamble makes no sense and Labour would be wrong to back it. What makes far more sense is to call for a general election, as Labour has repeatedly done. Theresa May has lost the support of the Democratic Unionist Party; the ten Northern Irish MPs with whom she forged a “confidence and supply” deal last May do not have the numbers to make a true majority. Without those MPs, May cannot pass anything in Parliament without the help of Labour rebels. And considering that close to a hundred Conservative MPs have said they’ll rebel against her Brexit deal, it is increasingly clear that she has no democratic mandate whatsoever. Returning to Brussels to renegotiate, she would likely be told that the negotiators had no confidence in her passing anything they might offer.

The pro-Brexit Boss of Jacobin is said to be almost as scornful of the European Union as his British Op-Ed editor,  ‘Race Play BDSM  games’  Richard Seymour.

Seymour, for a jellyfish, still packs a sting.

The extent to which a large number of people on the Left identify with the European Union is bewildering and rather frightening and sinister.

The Brexit Debacle Richard Seymour.

Update:

The People’s Assembly have called a demo to support the Counterfire line of General Election Now! People’s Assembly Demo in January Britain is Broken,

“Today the People’s Assembly have called a National Demonstration to show the will of the people.”

“Don’t forget your #YellowVest #YellowVestsAgainstAusterity.

Cheap petrol now!

*  See: Light in the Donbass Window. Among the “anti-imperialist” foreign volunteers in East Ukraine. 

“The Donbass is the spiritual homeland, the Olduvai Gorge of all tankiedom. “

As Tory Crisis Turns to Jeeves and Wooster Farce Labour Should Fight Brexit in Campaign for Election.

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Tories Debate Theresa May’s Future and Brexit.

Fintan O’Toole considers that the paranoid fantasy behind Brexit has now turned into a Marx Brothers Farce (Brexit looks like it was written by Marx Brothers).

Turning to the classics of the labour movement others would suggest that P.G.Wodehouse offers a better guide.

Aunt Agatha May is still trying the marry the Conservatives to a Mr Withdrawal.

Tory MPs meet today at the Drones Club to decide on the fate of this leader.

Fink-Nottle Mogg (MP, Market Snodsbury) whines that the British newt industry is threatened.

Roderick Spode Johnson wants to build a Giant Collapsible Channel Bridge to stem links with Europe.

Madeleine Basset says,  ‘Today I danced on the lawn before breakfast, and then I went round the garden saying good morning to the flowers.'”

There is not the slightest likelihood of a Jeeves shimmering into view, full of fish suppers, to sort out their difficulties.

As Labour is poised to offer an alternative to the Conservatives the most important thing is to have proper left-wing policy on Brexit.

We have had enough of the Heralds of the Red Dawn of Lexit

We have had enough of those who talk of a “real” working class, the left behind, all, apparently Leavers, to lend support for their ‘raise the drawbridge on Europe.

We have had enough of the belief that a go-it-alone Socialist Britain would be a Beacon for the World.

We are fed up with the pretence that Labour will negotiate a “better deal”, slightly less ruinous than the present one.

No automatic alt text available.

Labour needs to take account of the “other Britain” of urban, multinational poor working class and lower middle class districts, and the majority of the labour movement,, across the country, which opposed Brexit. Not to mention the growing anti-Brexit constituency as a whole.

Another Europe is Possible has called for opposition to Brexit and a People’s Vote to be part of Labour’s campaign and manifesto.

This letter published in the Guardian summed up the stand:

“To quote the official policy passed at Labour conference 2018, we want “a radical government: taxing the rich to fund public services, expanding common ownership, abolishing the anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment”.

As the party of working people, Labour must defend all the rights threatened by Brexit – workers’ rights, environmental protections, free movement. With the Tory deal published, the realities of Brexit are clearer than ever. Fighting effectively for a radical Labour government means committing to giving the people a final say, and campaigning for remain in that referendum.

In Europe, just as in domestic policy, Labour must offer a radical alternative to the status quo. Our movement must champion a revolt across the continent against austerity, neoliberalism and anti-migrant policies and for a democratic, socialist Europe.

Labour’s policy is shifting, but is not yet committed to stopping Brexit. We will continue the campaign to win Labour to a vision for a radical government leading the fight to transform Europe from within the EU. To this end, and to provide anti-Brexit Labour supporters with a platform, organising framework and programme of activity, we intend to create an independent campaigning coordination within the campaign for a Corbyn-led Labour government.

Today Paul Mason joins the debate, giving some indications of what our aims should be.

Labour should prepare to fight neoliberalism within the EU – Lexit is not an option

Paul Mason, “The cancellation of Brexit and the election of Jeremy Corbyn would transform the mood in Europe.”

At a Europe-wide level, if the UK remains, Labour should announce that, in government, it would form an alliance of left governments inside the EU pushing for the complete reform of the Lisbon Treaty. The aim would be a new treaty, removing competition rules which promote privatisation and outsourcing, and modifying the state aid rules to allow both a national and a Europe-wide industrial strategy to support high-tech jobs, innovation and growth.

As a non-Euro member, there is little a left government could do directly to counter the way Germany games the Eurozone to promote jobs and growth at home, while maintaining austerity and poverty in the periphery. But it could promote, at Commission level, the policy of fiscal stimulus designed specifically to counteract the misdesign of the single currency.

Here, the recent manifesto published by Thomas Piketty is worth a look. It proposes tax rises of €400bn, mainly on corporations and the assets of the rich, and spending the revenue on innovation, democratisation and the integration of migrants.

This manifesto took up a whole page in le Monde yesterday..((.Nous lançons aujourd’hui un appel pour transformer les institutions et les politiques européennes »)

I did not notice any British signatories…..

Yet.

The upside is that it would create, at a pan-European level, both money and democratic control for fiscal stimulus and a redistributive programme. The downside is that it is explicitly designed to avoid a “transfer union” – whereby rich countries pay for public services in poor ones. But unless it becomes a transfer union, the Eurozone is simply a union for transferring wealth and growth from the periphery to the north European centre.

At the very least, a left-led Labour government could constructively join the discussion around Piketty’s manifesto. Events are moving so fast, and uncertainty so high, that people have barely registered what a remarkable change for Europe the withdrawal of Article 50 would be.

A left-wing Labour government, with a mandate to cancel Brexit and reform the EU, would radically transform Europe. Because, whatever happens to Piketty’s plan, it would come to power on a programme of fiscal expansion and redistribution, intending to overcome any Brussels-mandated obstacles to nationalisation and industrial policy. It would change the atmosphere. It would empower the parties of the left at national level, and could immediately engage Labour-controlled cities with the innovative left administrations of Barcelona, Berlin and Amsterdam.

There are many obstacles to cross: May has to go, her deal has to be defeated, the Tory party has to fall apart and – either in an election or in a second referendum – the xenophobic backlash has to be defeated.

But the British left has to stop dreaming about Lexit. One of the things we have genuinely learned from the process of trying to leave the EU is the extensive nature of its status as a regulatory superpower. Even a Britain ruled by the Socialist Workers Party and the Morning Star would find itself forced to comply with Commission directives. Paradoxically, a left exit from Europe is only possible if Europe itself goes left.

For two-and-a-half years Labour has dutifully and painfully tried to make Brexit work. But parliament has been sidelined, time has run out, and the space for a Labour-designed version of Brexit has disappeared. If anybody has betrayed Brexit it is Theresa May. Once her deal is thrown out, the moral authority of the 2016 referendum evaporates. It’s then either no deal or no Brexit.

And if it’s no Brexit, watch the blood drain from the faces of European neoliberalism: I’ve been with Jeremy Corbyn as he’s hit both Brussels and the Hague with messages of uncompromising clarity: neoliberalism is over, austerity is a catastrophe. But to the stunned audience of centrist social democrats, Corbyn’s words always seemed like a message from afar. If we play this right, we can take it into the heart of Europe.

Exactly.

Macron, Faced with Gilets Jaunes, “état d’urgence social”; Mélenchon calls for “Citizens’ Insurrection.”

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Point 24. Immigration: stem migratory fluxes.

Macron raises minimum wage to appease Yellow Vest protesters

He said people on the minimum wage would see their salaries increase by €100 a month from 2019 without extra costs to employers. Pensioners earning less than €2,000 would see the recent increase in social security taxes scrapped. Other measures promised include the abolition of taxes on overtime pay in 2019 and asking profit-making companies to give workers tax-free year-end bonuses

However, he also said he would stick to his reform agenda and refused to reinstate a wealth tax.

“We will respond to the economic and social urgency with strong measures, by cutting taxes more rapidly, by keeping our spending under control, but not with U-turns,” Macron said.

Let us go into the details:

PAULINE BOCK New Statesman.

He promised an additional €100 for workers on minimum wage “without it costing a cent to employers” – because it’s not a new raise, just the re-evaluation of a specific allowance that was already planned. (Le Parisien has calculated that the levelled system will negatively impact around 30,000 of the most precarious households). He said that a tax on pensioners “earning less than €2,000” would be cancelled – without making clear that “€2,000” included all earnings, not solely their pension, and would therefore impact less people than his rhetoric implied. He announced an annual tax-free bonus for workers – “whose employers can afford it”, so at a boss’s discretion. Mere hours before Macron’s speech, the Senate also adopted a freeze of welfare payments for 2019. Macron is a bit like a sneaky character in a Disney film: if you don’t negotiate precise terms in the contract, chances are you’re losing out in the agreement as a whole.

Bock’s excellent article misses nevertheless, one thing from this, the overtime tax break.

Le Monde: 

Les heures supplémentaires seront « versées sans impôts ni charges dès 2019 » alors qu’elles devaient initialement être « désocialisées »(pas de cotisations) en septembre 2019. Cette mesure avait déjà été mise en place sous le quinquennat de Nicolas Sarkozy, avant d’être abrogée par François Hollande.

Les heures supplémentaires correspondent au temps travaillé au-delà de la durée légale des 35 heures, et sont rémunérées davantage. Cette majoration de salaire est généralement de 25 %, mais peut être réduite à 10 % par un accord d’entreprise.

Overtime will be “paid without taxes or charges from 2019” when they were initially to be “unsocialised” (no contributions) in September 2019. This measure had already been implemented under the five-year term of Nicolas Sarkozy,  and was  repealed by François Hollande.

Overtime is the time worked beyond the statutory 35-hour period, and is paid more. This salary increase is usually 25%, but can be reduced to 10% by a company agreement.

So, in effect, Macron has not just tried to appeal to the lowest paid, but to the ‘hard-working’ middle earners who can do overtime.

Bock comments that, “These “crumbs” are unlikely to convince the gilets jaunes to cancel their “Act V”, planned for 15 December.”

I would not underestimate the effect of the latter measure on their constituency, as those interviewed on RTL this morning illustrated.

Nevertheless the refusal to reinstate the wealth tax, the  l’impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF) irks many (Piketty : « S’il veut sauver son quinquennat, Macron doit immédiatement rétablir l’ISF » )

There is also the lycéen movement which the left can support unreservedly, not only because of the scenes of police brutality and efforts to humiliate school pupils, but because their protests against education “reform” are right.

Mouvement des lycéens et Gilets jaunes : “On espère faire converger nos luttes”

Update:

Whether they will find an echo in the Gilets Jaunes remains to be seen.

In the meantime the self-appointed leader of the Citizens’ Revolution announced that the Gilets Jaunes protests must continue.

Français encore un effort si vous voulez être révolutionnaires!

The obvious thing to say about Macron’s actions is that he is trying to “reculer pour mieux sauter”.

This can mean either, make a tactical retreat in order to leap back when the time is ripe, or to put off the inevitable.

Unfortunately having had that thought I noticed that  somebody has already made that comment (Pour Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron “recule pour mieux sauter” ). The leader of the far-right notes that the President is putting off the need to face up to globalisation, free trade, AND …..”‘immigration de masse et ses conséquences sociales et culturelles.”

As in:

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Some enthusiasts for the Gilets Jaunes have got so carried away that they ignore the issues this raises.

Verso, apparently a left-wing publisher, has this translated interview (“Paris is not an actor, but a battlefield”) Eric Hazan interviewed about the Gilets Jaunes protests.

Hazan is already notorious for saying, of Jews (he does not bother with the word ‘Zionist’) on the ultra-left  insurrectionist’ site, Lundi Matin, recalling a Paris and a time when ” les juifs n’étaient pas du côté du manche. ” figuratively meaning “près du pouvoir “, that is, to translate. “when the Jews were not on the side of those wielding power.” (EN DESCENDANT LA RUE RAMPONEAU)

This is his latest, on why many intellectuals are reluctant to give unreserved support for the Gilets Jaunes.

A whole range of intellectuals see violence is evil. For those who do not stick to this position and may sometimes consider it legitimate, the fact that the far right is present in this violence puts them off quite a bit. But it doesn’t bother me.

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Amongst many reactions is this one:

Convalescence difficile pour Éric Hazan

Interrogé par Mediapart à propos des «Gilets jaunes», Éric Hazan a fait – notamment – la déclaration confuse et confusionniste ci-après.

On voudra bien considérer le fait que l’éditeur du Comité invisible a connu de graves soucis de santé l’été dernier, qu’il est encore très fatigué, et par suite ne tenir aucun compte de ce qu’il dit.

The following (thanks Paul) from a World to Win News Service  puts some thoughts together not far from those of this Blog, and shared by others, notably French leftists, both from the far left, and more mainstream.

However mad the political origins of the WWNS these points are far from off-beam.

France: “The house is on fire”

…the Yellow Vest movement cannot be evaluated as an isolated phenomenon. Le Pen’s fascist party has been a major force on France’s political scene for over a generation; not only did she make it to the run-offs for President 18 months ago, but her party is leading in the polls for the upcoming European Parliament elections. Le Pen has played a major role in shifting the whole political process to the right. As the mainstream of traditional French politics collapses, as it has in growing numbers of other Western countries, there is an increasing basis for major sections of the ruling class to support her bid for power. Macron is hoping that cancelling the fuel price hike will divide the Yellow Vests and cut off the most determined among them from those among the middle classes whose greatest concern is order, and undoubtedly to use an iron fist on hard-core elements who persist. But stepping up repression against a popular protest risks losing the support among those who look to him as a rampart against the fascists, even as this paves the way for the even more clearly authoritarian Le Pen.

The most important thing is not whether Le Pen is “behind” this movement organizationally. Consider the example of Italy’s Five Star movement. For years it declared itself apolitical and opposed to all parties in the name of “horizontal democracy” by means of social media and Internet referendums, but it ended up in a fascist coalition government alongside openly terroristic thugs who dominate despite the fact that Five Star won far more votes. Again and again mass movements that focus on fighting to turn back the clock and bring back the promises of the past social welfare state have been eaten alive by forces with very clearly defined reactionary political projects – in this case installing a fascist regime as part of defending and advancing France’s position among the bloodthirsty rival thieves of the imperialist world.

How to go beyond the inevitably temporary intersection of different interest groups and unite the people against their enemy, the capitalist-imperialist ruling class and its state? Not like Mélenchon, trying to unite different parts of the masses on the basis of nationalism and futile dreams of reviving the social-democratic welfare state. And not like the anarchists trying to prove that the character of the Yellow Vest movement can be changed and the movement led by proving to be the best street fighters against the police. The people can’t be united spontaneously. Revolutionaries can’t tail after anyone..

For those, by contrast. who wish to dream of the Gilets Jaunes as “une nouvelle construction démocratique” “une respiration démocratique ”  with their ” parlements locaux” and “l’expérience d’une communauté” the following E-pamphlet is recommended:

GILETS JAUNES. Des clés pour comprendre.

Cloud Cuckoo Land Publications is said to be preparing a translation.

 

Gilets jaunes L'actualité

Another Europe is Possible Conference as “New leftwing coalition urges Labour to reject Brexit.”

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A Vital and Vibrant Conference. 

Over 150 voting members, from all over the country,  of Another Europe is Possible attended the campaign’s first conference of Saturday.

The day kicked off with Emiliano Melino from the IWGB which organises  workers in the ‘gig economy’. His small union, many of whose members do not have British passports, has come out strongly for a People’s Vote on Brexit.

After some initial discussion there were workshops.

In the Lexit atelier Marina Prentoulis spoke of how a small section of the Greek left had become so anti-EU that their nationalism bordered that of the far-right. Contributors noted the development across Europe of a “sovereigntist” current which put issues of national identity and sovereignty in place of socialist internationalism.

The UK Lexit left, both  those claiming to oppose ‘borders’, except when voting for Brexit, and those against the free movement of labour, were at an impasse. Speaking on behalf of the British working class they ignored the challenge to develop a Europe-wide strategy of transforming the EU through alliances with the rest of the European left.

After debate, which included discussion of approaches to the British state, the legacy of Official Communism, and the views of the Bermondsey Republican Socialist movement on Britain and Catalonia, there was agreement on launching a broad radical campaign against Brexit.

This is a good summary (Socialist Resistance)  of the strategy adopted by Another Europe is Possible.

The conference,

…opted for an approach which could engage the widest possible coalition of radical forces opposed to Brexit.

Most AEIP members are Labour supporters and activists, but the campaign includes the Green Party, Left Unity and a few other organisations. The strategy document and the tenor of the contributions leaves no room for doubt that this a campaign which actively seeks to be radical and distinct from the politics of the pro-referendum campaign fronted by Alistair Campbell and Anna Soubry.

Another Europe Is Possible ready to challenge Brexit

Amelia Womack,  Deputy leader of the Green Party, gave a good speech on the benefits of the EU.

Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who has won national attention for revealing that he is HIV positive, gave a resounding and call for action. Describing, with a moving illustration from his case-load, the racism of both the Brexit campaign and its results. The MP expressed concern at Web articles trying to re-brand 20th century ideas of go-it-alone British socialism. Russell-Moyle urged us all to work together for the internationalist ideas of Another Europe.

People stood up to applaud the speakers.

The organisers, who concluded the meeting, should be thanked for their hard work.

And samosas.

A few centre left and far-left Websites continue to pump out pro-Brexit views, such as the Euston Exiteers now given a voice  on  Harry’s Place.

There, this Monday, Alan Johnson argues for a ‘national popular’ Gramscian strategy, inspired by Norberto Bobbio,  to haul up the drawbridge to protect us from Europe.

By contrast, with some optimism and lots of good will, the internationalist side of Another Europe,  saw the basis of the creation of a broad left alliance against Brexit.

This can be seen in this news which echoes many of the themes of Saturday’s conference:

New leftwing coalition urges Labour to reject Brexit

Guardian. Jessica Elgot

A leftwing, remain-supporting coalition of Momentum activists, local party chairs and Labour councillors is to create a pop-up pressure group to persuade the Labour leadership to ditch a commitment to Brexit in any snap election manifesto.

The push came as another Labour frontbencher, Rosena Allin-Khan, broke with the party line and backed a second referendum on the final deal in an onstage announcement at a People’s Vote rally on Sunday.

In effect, the group hopes to force a more explicit commitment to a second referendum in the next Labour manifesto and for the party to campaign to remain.

We call on Labour to back remain

With Theresa May’s deal likely to be defeated on Tuesday, and a number of key parliamentary blocs losing confidence in the Tory government, we are facing a period of political crisis and upheaval, and a general election looks increasingly possible.

As Labour members and supporters, we want our party to fight in the months ahead, including in any general election campaign, to stop the anti-working-class disaster that is Brexit.

To quote the official policy passed at Labour conference 2018, we want “a radical government: taxing the rich to fund public services, expanding common ownership, abolishing the anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment”.

As the party of working people, Labour must defend all the rights threatened by Brexit – workers’ rights, environmental protections, free movement. With the Tory deal published, the realities of Brexit are clearer than ever. Fighting effectively for a radical Labour government means committing to giving the people a final say, and campaigning for remain in that referendum.

In Europe, just as in domestic policy, Labour must offer a radical alternative to the status quo. Our movement must champion a revolt across the continent against austerity, neoliberalism and anti-migrant policies and for a democratic, socialist Europe.

Labour’s policy is shifting, but is not yet committed to stopping Brexit. We will continue the campaign to win Labour to a vision for a radical government leading the fight to transform Europe from within the EU. To this end, and to provide anti-Brexit Labour supporters with a platform, organising framework and programme of activity, we intend to create an independent campaigning coordination within the campaign for a Corbyn-led Labour government.

Catherine West MP
Julie Ward MEP 
Luke Cooper Convenor, Another Europe is Possible
Billy Hayes Former general secretary, CWU 
Emma Burnell Co-chair, Open Labour
Zoe Williams Journalist
Paul Mackney Former general secretary, UCU
Michael Chessum National organiser, Another Europe is Possible 
Alena Ivanova Momentum activist
Marina Prentoulis Senior lecturer at UEA and Another Europe is Possible
Prof Mary Kaldor LSE
Ana Oppenheim Campaigns officer, Hornsey & Wood Green Young Labour
Lynn Morris Open Labour national committee, Canterbury CLP
Rachael Ward Open Labour national committee, Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP
Rachel Muers Committee member West Yorkshire Open Labour, Leeds North West CLP
Juliet Harris LGBT officer for Open Labour
Jamie D’Arcy Chair, East Midlands Labour
Steve Lapsley Regional Officer, Open Labour
Prof Pauline Stafford Leeds North West CLP
Ralph Berry Bradford councillor
Dr Jo Ingold Leeds North East CLP
Pablo John Leeds North West CLP
Abigail Marshall Katung Leeds North East CLP
Daniel Round Dudley Momentum and Stourbridge CLP
Niccolo Milanese Director of European Alternatives
Rebecca Lawrence Chair, Lewisham Deptford CLP
Marcus Thorne Organiser, Lewisham for Migrants campaign 
Marcel Golten Vice-chair, Harrow East CLP 
Ana Oppenheim Campaigns officer, Hornsey & Wood Green Young Labour
Obi Saiq Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP youth officer, Picturehouse BECTU rep and activist
Omar Raii London Young Labour committee
Janine Booth TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee, Hackney South CLP Trade Union Liaison
Andrew Coates Ipswich CLP, Unite chair
Christie Neary Croydon NEU activist, NUS Trans Committee
Pat Murphy National Education Union national executive
Justine Canady BFAWU activist
Rhian Keyse Exeter CLP, UCU activist
Barbara Veale Lewisham Deptford CLP
Dave Levy Lewisham Deptford CLP
Lionel Openshaw Lewisham Central branch chair
Cllr Fred Grindrod Birmingham Bournville ward

Tommy Robinson Backs Gilets Jaunes as Far-Right Marches in London Against ‘Brexit Betrayal”

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Yellowjackets Movement UK Division  said to be Joining Far Right March.

Roads in central London are to be closed off for Sunday’s “Brexit betrayal” demonstration and counter-protests, and officers may ask bars and pubs to shut in the surrounding area.

Robinson, the English Defence League (EDL) founder who has been welcomed into the Ukip fold as an adviser to leader Gerard Batten, has praised rioters in Paris on social media.

Sharing footage of violence and vandalism to his more than one million Facebook followers, he characterised the movement as “anger at the corrupt political class”.

“Revolution is coming, prime minister May should take note,” Robinson wrote, while promoting the protest.

In a subsequent video, he appealed to supporters to be on “impeccable behaviour”, adding: “It’s not a day out for a drink.”

Some are planning to wear yellow vests themselves, and a group calling themselves the “Yellowjackets Movement UK Division (sic)” has formed.

Independent.

Update:

 

Second Picture at the bottom shows people wearing Gilets Jaunes on Brexit Betray March:

 

The French far-right already had the idea:

Image result for rassemblement national soutien gilets jaunes

Written by Andrew Coates

December 9, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Gilets Jaunes and the Crisis in France, a Left Analysis.

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Image result for gilets jaunes

The Politics of the Barricades Reborn?

“Toutes les grandes crises que connaît le pays prendront la forme d’une tension entre ceux d’en bas et ceux d’en haut et d’un process des élites gouvernantes.”

All the big crises that the country has experienced have taken the form of tensions between those at the top and those at the bottom, in the shape of an attack on the governing elites.

Jacques Julliard  La faute aux élites. 1997.

On ne donne rien si libéralement que ses conseils”.

Nothing is given so freely as advice.

La Rochefoucauld. Maxims. 

In France, between October and October 2018 the pump price of petrol rose by 15% and diesel (used by many motorists) 25%. Taxes make up 60% of cost of fuel. While presented as part of a “Green transition” plan most of the money goes to general public finances. In May an on-line petition calling for a reduction in these increases had attracted 220,00 signatures by October. On the 10th of October there was a call to block the country’s road system. Social Networks carried videos backing action. By the 17th of November there were 300,000 people across France protesting against the price rises.

Every account agrees that the Gilets Jaunes were initially self-organised through Face Book, Twitter, and self-made Videos. The demands of the movement, which have spiralled in all directions, began to focus on high taxes and the erosion of the purchasing power of ordinary power. To which have been added the decline in the public infrastructure of La France périphérique, precarious working conditions, and, above all, the call for the President Emmanuel Macron to resign. Demands for a special national conference, whether as an Assembly on Fiscal issues, or a ‘Grenelle’, that is a wide-ranging agreement on the pattern of the 1968 union-government negotiations, to resolve these difficulties, have emerged.

Neither the Web, nor efforts to designate spokespeople for the Gilets Jaunes, have enabled the movement to cohere around an agreed structure. There are groups out at roundabouts, tollbooths, and demonstrators. There is a far-right presence, and the “people from somewhere” often show support for the Rassemblement National of Marine Le Pen. There was a strong presence of ‘nationalists’ during Saturday’s violent demonstration on the Champs Élysées. 

The left has shown sympathy for the demands of the movement. Lundi Matin, linked to the comité invisible which believes in a coming insurrection, gave support. Their affinity mouvance is said to be have engaged in some of the street fighting. The widely respected group, Verité pour Adama (after the name of a young person killed by gendarmes in 2016), with wider backing, has attempted to waken the banlieue to the revolt. To join the main march they mobilised a few hundred people in central Paris. Across the country there are reports of left-wing activists joining Gilets Jaunes actions, either on their own initiative, as part of the strategy of La France insoumise to “federate the people” around their own movement, or from other, much smaller, left wing organisations.

Protest Spread.

Following the government’s climb-down Lycéens and students have protested against Macron’s education ‘reforms’, often amid violence. As with Saturday’s protests the forces of order have reacted with a heavy hand. Farmers are also out on the streets. Many groups, though not, as yet, people in the workplaces, have seen in Prime Minister Édouard Phillipe’s announcement of an end to the fuel price hike an opportunity to press their case. The CGT has announced a national days of action and demonstration with a list of demands, on the 14th of December.

The French left has suddenly discovered a long history of popular uprisings that began with protests against taxation. The burden of the 17th century paiement de la dîme’ has nevertheless little in common with today’s tax regimes.

As Alexis Spire points out in the latest le Monde Diplomatique, outsourcing means that large numbers of workers are nominally self-employed (as in the UK), and have to pay for themselves. Reliant on their own transport they would find it hard to see why their means of getting to work should be a source of state revenue. A ‘far-away’ government, which seems to offer little in the way of public services across large swathes of the country, imposes charges on people who see little in return. To add to this tax offices are less and less accessible. One asks how people in France would react to the virtual disappearance of physical contact with HMRC. (2)

Before tax revolts become the left’s favourite new social movement it is nevertheless important to see some difficulties here. To begin with in 1953 Poujadisme started with small businesses revolting against tax inspectors verifying their accounts. Jean-Marie Pen began his political career as a Parliamentary deputy for this movement which won 52 seats on 11,6% of the vote in 1956. Echoes of the less than progressive aspect of this early ‘populism’ can be seen in Gilets Jaunes demands for less frequent strict MOT tests, raising rural speed limits, the – to their admirers marginal – racist incidents which have come to wider attention, and the enthusiastic backing from le Pen’s daughter Marine le Pen.

As the quote from Julliard reminds us, complaints about French governing elites are far from new. Today we have those who talk of “post-democracy” the detachment of polities from the masses reinforced by Macron’s neoliberalism. In the era of Donald Trump’s broadsides against globalism it is hard to imagine that opponents of the liberal ‘progressive’ (Macron’s self-description) centre are invariably to be welcomed.

The real problem is that Emmanuel Macron came to power after a political earthquake in 2017 marginalised all the traditional political parties. His own movement-party, la République en Marche (LREM), ”  centrist, liberal and social-liberal” was only founded in April 2016. It is made up of politicians from the centre right, the  right wing of the Parti Socialiste, a dash of ‘personalities’ and a lot of newcomers. It has definite campaigning experience in the grass-roots, but little experience of long-term local political implantation.

On the left opposition la France insoumise )FI) is a body linked together, like the Gilets Jaunes, by the web (I received an electronic appeal to ‘vote’ on their European programme a few days ago). It, like LREM, is a movement around a Leader, not a democratic party. Both the President’s effort to negotiate with the thousands of visible Gilets Jaunes factions, and FI’s efforts to speak on behalf of le Peuple, start from a position of outsiders trying to direct the political theatre.

Unity Against Macron’s Arrogance is not a Strategy.

Some of the best, and realistic, accounts of the present crisis have come from those with little stake in the state system or on the bigger parties of the left. They have indicated that, perhaps in a more acute form than in the UK trade unions, where activity is at low ebb, syndicates have been weakened in recent years, as the failure to push back Macron’s labour reforms and his liberalising plans for the rail system illustrates. The violent acts on Gilets Jaunes marches were no doubt made worse by the absence of traditional union or left stewarding. There is little coherence on a left which may well end up presenting over 7 different lists for next year’s European elections.

The way in which the present movement has tossed aside what local campaigns have been built going to help those trying to push them in a left direction. With the demands of the Gilets Jaunes moving like a buoy tossed by the sea in all directions, it is hard to see that either following them (suivisme) or trying to channel them, is going to work.

More fundamentally, how can any the left’s fight against austerity meet demands meet the call for fewer taxes? 

In these conditions who can be surprised to hear calls for the tax burden to be relieved by cuts in state spending, that is real neo-liberalism, from former Prime Minister and right-wing politician Édouard Balladur  – this morning, on Europe 1.

*****

(1) Page 52. Jacques Julliard La faute aux élites. Folio. 1997.

(2) Aux sources de la colère contre l’impôt. Alexis Spire.  December 2018. Le Monde Diplomatique. 

(3) Histoire de l’extrême droite en France. Michel Winock Seuil 2015

Written by Andrew Coates

December 7, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Trump Hails Macron Climb-down on Fuel Tax, Alt-right claim French shout, “We Want Trump”.

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Paris: We Want Trump – Claims US alt-Right.

US President Donald Trump has criticised his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in the wake of the recent large-scale anti-government protests over high taxes.

Trump posted several messages about the demonstrations on his Twitter account, claiming the protests were a direct result of the Paris climate agreement of which France is a signatory, but the United States is not.

“I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago. The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters in the world,” Trump wrote in the tweets.

The US president also retweeted conservative pundit Charlie Kirk, who falsely claimed France is a socialist country, the riots in the country did not receive any media attention and that protesters shouted: “we want Trump”.

 

 

Trump’s assertions are obviously the work of  fantaisistes adrift in the world of politics.

For the moment we note that however Trump’s views cast a shadow on those who claim that Macron’s climb-down is a victory for those opposed to Macron’s “neo-liberalism”. It certainly seems that the US President is also against “neo-liberal globalism.”

This did not go unnoticed in France:

Gilets jaunes : Trump y va de son petit tweet moqueur envers Macron et contre l’accord de Paris

For an explanation of why Trump’s claims are a load of old cobblers see:

Tacle de Trump à Macron: «Les “gilets jaunes” ne sont pas contre la transition écologique, mais contre son coût social»

Written by Andrew Coates

December 6, 2018 at 1:21 pm

UNITE’s Len McCluskey tells MPs ‘people’s vote’ could be seen as betrayal: UNITE members launch counter-petition on Free Movement.

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Image result for unite mccluskey Brexit

McCluskey: “Concerns about immigration and the exploitation of immigrant labour.”

The Guardian Reports:

The Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, has privately told Labour MPs the party should have severe reservations about backing a fresh Brexit referendum, saying voters could see it as a betrayal.

The deep scepticism from one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest and most powerful supporters is likely to unnerve MPs and campaigners hoping the party is warming to the idea of a fresh Brexit vote.

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, hit back at McCluskey’s warning, laying bare the tensions in the party.

“To suggest it represents a ‘betrayal’ grossly distorts Labour’s position and is deeply unhelpful to those seeking a solution to an an issue that is reaching crisis proportions,” he told the Guardian.

McClusky is also reported saying this:

Len spoke about tackling people’s concerns about immigration and the exploitation of immigrant labour. He said there would be a sense of betrayal among the members if we went for a second referendum.

“He said the party has to take concerns about immigration into account, and that if politicians had done so sooner we might have avoided the current situation. I wouldn’t say that majority of MPs agreed with him at all. But he gave clear examples where the exploitation of immigrant labour has undermined existing wage levels.”

But…

Shiraz carries this story:

Dear Len: this is Unite policy on Brexit – and it *doesn’t* rule out a ‘people’s vote’ and *doesn’t* call for a crack-down on immigration.

Unite members stand up for free movement after Gen Sec’s comments.

As Unite members, we are concerned by recent reports that our union General Secretary, Len McCluskey, has privately told Labour MPs that we – his members – want them to vote for a Brexit that clamps down on immigration.

We are proud members of a diverse union that brings together workers of all origins to fight for our common interest. As Labour Party conference voted in September: “stagnant wages, crumbling services and the housing crisis are being exacerbated by the government and employers making the rich richer at working people’s expense, and not immigration.” The idea that free movement depresses wages or drives unemployment is a right-wing lie, disproven by the evidence and designed to set workers against one another. As trade unionists, we recognise when xenophobic sentiment is fuelled to divide us, and we expect our General Secretary to reject such harmful rhetoric and stand up for the rank and file members, many of whom are those same migrants!

Clamping down on our freedom to move, live and work across borders will not solve any of the problems we face, which are down to exploitative employers and the right-wing politicians who serve them. In truth, by leaving migrant workers precarious and at the mercy of unscrupulous bosses, it is anti-migrant policies that threaten to undermine all of us. Our union should work to tear down anti-migrant policies, not to build more.

We call on our General Secretary to clarify whether the reports of his comments are accurate. If so, we call on him to withdraw them and instead to stand up for defending and extending free movement and the rights of all his members.

You can sign here.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 6, 2018 at 12:58 pm

The Gilets Jaunes: some details on the political composition of Saturday’s events in Paris.

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Au pied de l’Arc de triomphe, des manifestants arborent un drapeau avec le blason de Jeanne d'Arc.

 

Quel mythe! dit Hussonnet. Voilà le peuple souverain!

Sarpolotte! Comme il chaloupe! Le vaisseau de l’État est ballotté sur une mer orageuse!”

L’Éducation sentimentale. Gustave Flaubert. 

Who hasn’t taken an active part in a political riot?

I have a friend, a close friend, who recalls chucking bricks at fascists, and bank windows. He tells me that back in the day he got caught up in some protests in the Quartier Latin that ended with a luxury shop being pillaged. He still dislikes the taste of fruit flavoured tea bags.

Last Saturday saw a much more serious series of confrontations across France.

Eyes turned to those that took place in Paris.

Le Monde offers what, by all accounts, is an accurate report on the events around the ChampsÉlysées.

The article says that at the start, at the Place de l’Étoile, there were 2,000 to 3,000 militants prepared for a fight. Amongst them was a strong contingent from the far-right, including Bastion social (ex-GUD), and Action française. They called themselves ‘nationalists’. Harder to find were those responding to the call of the site Lundi Matin, the latest incarnation of the Comité invisible. At another rallying point, there were also a people from the anti-fascist Comité Adama (Le comité antiraciste appelle les quartiers populaires à manifester samedi aux côtés des gilets jaunes.)The latter groups were involved with a few clashes with far right, one of whose leaders, the anti-semite, Yvan Benedetti was hurt. The vandalism at the Arc de Triomphe involved Gilets Jaunes. Many ordinary Gilets Jaunes were caught up by their anger and enthusiasm in the violence. The first rioters likely to be arrested were the less experienced, that is neither from the far right nor the fringes of the left. A third group, involved in the pillage of shops, had young people from the banlieue taking advantage of the opportunity.

Violences de samedi à Paris : quel a été le rôle des ultras ?

Lundi Matin has a theory to justify their involvement: that this kind of action is a challenge to the infrastructure  of society, and a step on the way to destabilising  the state. This idea can be traced to the text  Introduction à la guerre civileThe epigraph, which calls for a permanent effort to conjure up stasis, unrest, is their loadstone. They celebrate the violence over the weekend and blame the CRS and Police (Contrairement à tout ce que l’on peut entendre, le mystère, ce n’est pas que nous nous révoltions, mais que nous ne l’ayons pas fait avant.)

The strategic geniuses published a text recently  saying that the victory of the extreme right in Brazil was not too bad at all, it’s the occasion to get rid of illusions in democracy, the left, and to prepare better things in future: “En réalité, l’arrivée du fascisme n’est jamais aussi mauvaise qu’elle ne paraît à première vue. Au moins est-elle l’occasion de déchanter, de mûrir et de faire un peu mieux à l’avenir.”   LE PROLÉTARIAT BRÉSILIEN N’A PAS ÉTÉ VAINCU PAR LA DICTATURE MAIS PAR LA DÉMOCRATIE

By contrast, les quartiers en gilets jaunes, that is, the initiative of the Comité Adama, attracted several hundred people. It ended caught up in the chaos of the main march (Reportage à la manifestation des “quartiers en gilets jaunes” à Paris). It was and is a democratic and open initiative. These are good people who should be supported. How far they come from the banlieue is not clear.

Image result for quartiers en gilets jaunes a paris

 

In the meantime one of the – all too representative – figures of French conspiracy thinking, who is very active in the Gilets Jaunes, has a secret hoard pf documents  which involve  the imminent start of the Third World War:

(1) “La politique fut une de ces évidences, une invention grecque qui se condensait en une équation : tenir une position, c’est prendre parti, et prendre parti, c’est déclencher la guerre civile. Guerre civile, position, parti, c’était un seul mot en grec, stasis. Et la politique, c’était l’art de conjurer la stasis.”

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 5, 2018 at 1:34 pm

French Government Backs Down on Fuel Tax Rise . “The Solution, it’s the People!” Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

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Image result for gilets jaunes la taxe

Stop Taxes! Gilets Jaunes “aspire” to Mélenchon’s Programme.

French Prime Minister announces suspension of fuel tax hikes

France fuel protests: PM Philippe suspends fuel tax rise

BBC.

France’s PM has announced a six-month suspension of a fuel tax rise which has led to weeks of violent protests.

Edouard Philippe said that people’s anger must be heard, and the measures would not be applied until there had been proper debate with those affected.

 

The below puts the result in its true historical perspective:

 

The genial Mélenchon has found a whole new raft of supporters!

They have given “weight to my words”.

And “aspire” to his programme.

Bless!

Written by Andrew Coates

December 4, 2018 at 1:22 pm

“Confusion in politics internationally is great.” Lindsey German, Counterfire.

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Image result for lindsey german press tv

“Great disorder under the Heavens and the situation is excellent.”

The Convener of the Stop the War Coalition and leading member of the groupusucle Counterfire, writes a Weekly Briefing.

It always  brings a kind smile weary activist’s’ lips.

Today her latest has a click-bait title:  The Brexit blizzard is there to blind us; it’s time to take out the Tories and that means a general election, argues Lindsey German

She begins by talking about the  ‘Britain is Broken, We can’t afford the Tories’ campaign which the People’s Assembly (largely Counterfire’s enterprises these days) organised.

After this stirring moment the she shifts to an emollient  mood.

The partner of John, ‘actuality of the revolution’ Rees, brought back some happy memories to this reader,

When I first became politically active nearly 50 years ago, there was a sense of working class power in Britain.”

Followed by a swift turn back to the stony realism for which those who who only during the last election were calling for mass action in the streets against the threat of a Tory “coup” can bring to a debate.

Today, while the majority of people still see themselves as working class, there is not that sense of working class power.

Being a kindly gent myself I can only agree with this comment,

The danger is the combination of Labour adopting a second referendum position, while at the same time doing far too little to support and spread the resistance to Tory austerity policies. That would be an unpopular retreat on the one hand, but also a failure to mobilise working class organisation over issues affecting everyone’s lives. In places like Doncaster or Sunderland, where Labour councils are implementing the austerity policies, that could be a very serious failure indeed.

There is much to learn about “neo-liberals” assembled at the G20 summit. One can only applaud that German keeps us on our toes with this bold  analysis:

It is hard for anyone to see anything but further crises and conflict coming out of the summit.

After, wisely, avoiding details about the Gilets Jaunes the august leader observes,

The confusion in politics internationally is great – there is bitter resentment of governments but no clear path forward. It’s a big task for the left, but one we have to take on.

How true, how very true.

German claims that,

We can make a start by demonstrating against the fascist Tommy Robinson next Sunday 9 December who is using the Brexit issue to spread his hate. I’m very glad that this looks like being one united demo now – well done to those making that happen.

In a spirit of unity I hope to present her with this seasonal gift:

 

Related image

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 3, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Left Loses Majority in Andalucia as far-right Vox Enters Regional Parliament in Force.

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La izquierda ha perdido la mayoría en el Parlamento andaluz y Vox ha entrado con fuerza.

Socialists lose ground in Andalusia, extreme right party takes 12 seats

Vox becomes the first such group to win a major success since Spain returned to democracy, and holds the key to forming a government with Ciudadanos, Popular Party

The southern Spanish region of Andalusia, which has been dominated by the Socialist Party (PSOE) for the last 36 years, saw a historic shift in its political map on Sunday at regional elections. The country’s most-populated region took a step toward the right with never-before-seen support for the extreme party Vox.

While the PSOE technically won the election, their loss of 14 seats compared to the 2015 polls means a bitter victory for the party’s regional chief, Susana Díaz, who is almost certain to be unable to return to power. Her 33 seats, combined with the 17 of Adelanta Andalucía (an alliance of left-wing parties Podemos and United Left (IU)), or the 21 seats of center-right group Ciudadanos, are all far from the absolute majority of 55 seats.

In what was probably the saddest night of her political career, last night Díaz recognized the waning support for the left and for her party, but called on the opposition parties to not pact with the far right. “I’m calling on the pro-Constitution parties: let’s show that we are such by stopping the far right in Andalusia. I, at least, am going to try it,” she said.

But the plans of the PP and Ciudadanos appear to be headed in the other direction, and their respective candidates were already positioning themselves last night to govern the Junta, as the regional government is known. The PP took their second-worst result in their history in terms of percentage of vote, and have fallen in four years from 33 to 26 seats.

Juan Marín, the Ciudadanos candidate, who went from nine to 21 seats, let slip last night that he would seek to join forces with the PP and the far right. “Change has arrived in Andalusia,” he said. “There are enough deputies to force a change.” These words were echoed later by the party’s national leader, Albert Rivera: “We are going to throw the PSOE out of the Junta.”

Vox: Wikipedia.

Vox: the new face of the far right in the Spanish State FERNANDEZ Brais

Vox: The Return of the Spanish Far Right. Tendance Coatesy. October the 27th 2018 .

Vox has a hatred of ‘gender theory’ that extends to opposition to laws against sexual harassment and violence.

They propose to create a Ministry of the Family to protect the “natural family” and a ban on feminist organisations spreading false accusations.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 3, 2018 at 12:14 pm

After Saturday’s Violence: the Politics of the Gilets Jaunes, La France périphérique and the Far-Right.

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On the Champs-Elysées, during the demonstration of yellow vests Saturday, December 1st.

Gilet Jaune: Sacred Heart, The Hope and Salvation of France?

The French government will consider imposing a state of emergency to prevent a recurrence of France’s worst riots in years, but while it is open to dialogue it will not change course, its spokesman said on Sunday.

France 24

Masked, black-clad groups ran amok across central Paris on Saturday, torching cars and buildings, looting shops, smashing windows and fighting police in the worst unrest the capital has seen since 1968, posing the most formidable challenge Emmanuel Macron has faced in his 18-month-old presidency.

Disturbances also rocked several cities and towns and across France – from Charleville Mezieres in the northeast to Nantes in the west and Marseille in the south.

“We have to think about the measures that can be taken so that these incidents don’t happen again,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told Europe 1 radio.

According to figures released by the French interior ministry, around 75,000 demonstrators took to the streets across France on Saturday. The headcount was significantly lower than for the last two “Yellow Vest” protests, which drew roughly 300,000 and 100,000 respectively.

Authorities were caught off guard by Saturday’s escalation in violence overshadowing the spontaneous protest movement, dubbed the “Yellow Vest” protest because many participants are wearing the fluorescent safety jackets kept in all cars in France.

In Paris, police said they had arrested more than 400 people while 133 were injured, including 23 members of the security forces. Police fired stun grenades, tear gas and water cannon at protesters at the top of the Champs-Elysées boulevard, at the Tuillèries Garden near the Louvre museum and other sites.

The analysis below is gaining traction:

It is in this France périphérique that the gilets jaunes movement was born. It is also in these peripheral regions that the western populist wave has its source. Peripheral America brought Trump to the White House. Peripheral Italy – mezzogiorno, rural areas and small northern industrial towns – is the source of its populist wave. This protest is carried out by the classes who, in days gone by, were once the key reference point for a political and intellectual world that has forgotten them.

France is deeply fractured. Gilets jaunes are just a symptom  

Le Monde this week published David Goodhart. He employed his distinction between “somewhere” and “anywhere” people in The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics (2017) to say much of the above:  Gilets jaunes » : « La “France périphérique” demande à être respectée.

There is something in this.

The distinction taken from the writings of Christophe Guilluy, between better off urban areas to the left behind regions and “peri-urban” areas, exists. But there is a great deal of rhetoric, shared by Goodhardt,  about a “cosmopolitan” urban liberal electorate and and the “real” country, La France profonde, inhabited by  françaises de souche and (in the French case) the banlieue where there are large number of people whose origins lie in post-War and more recent immigration.

In the case of the Gilets Jaunes their principal complaint – fuel prices – is based on transport. That is, the need (and we would not dismiss the choice) of a car. This is easy for people across Europe to get to grips with: you can see it where I am writing from, where austerity has meant fewer, if any  bus services in rural areas, and villages described as “fossils” with few services at all.

The problem is that claims about a gulf between the Citizens of Nowhere and those from Somewhere is not a sociological portrait.

It is not directly a picture of classes, people are defined by where they live, and their culture, not their work or their ownership of economic agents.

It is clearly directed by those who oppose the Nowhere people and try to assert their authority to speak for the Somewheres.

The fiercest opposition to rootless cosmopolitans comes from  nationalists….

We would not reduce the Gilets Jaunes to this cultural-political-economic ferment at all.

But it’s not hard to see that this is fertile ground for the right, and we should not forget that the far-right has intervened vigorously in the protests.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Marine Le Pen et Marion Maréchal  droite tente de se rhabiller en jaune

This is an account of the presence in Paris of groups to the right of the above:

Gilets jaunes : à Paris, groupuscules nationalistes et d’extrême droite s’affichent.

The journalist noted the presence of groups equipped with catapults  umbrellas, hammers….

Libération was thus able to identify Yvan Benedetti, former president of the ultranationalist group “L’œuvre française”, dissolved in 2013 after the death of Clément Méric. There was graffiti from the GUD (Groupe Union Défense), a far-right student organisation, sprayed  on shop fronts and street furniture.

(Note, the GUD is notorious for decades of physical attacks on leftist students).

A little further on, we read this inscription:«On est chez nous.»  “We are at home.” A slogan taken up in chorus by a few dozen people, sometimes wrapped in blue-white-red flags, who threw stones and bricks at police vehicles. In another place, there was the“Justice for Esteban” that was made, in reference to the skinhead Esteban Morillo, sentenced to eleven years in prison for killing –  in a fight – the anti- fascist Clément Méric in 2013.

Several traditional Catholic groups, including the Saint Pius X fraternity, the Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet church are also present, recognisable by symbols such as the flag of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, adorned with the slogan “Hope and Salvation”, and royalist emblems  with the fleur-de-lis.

This has appeared on the Facebook pages of French leftists.

 

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

And this violence:

Placed alongside this response from the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) seems feeble:  support for the Gilets Jaunes without qualification.

The French far-left, no doubt encouraged by reports which talk of “urban guerrilla warfare”  is said to be desperately searching for texts to justify backing tax revolts.

Amongst a call for a d’états généraux de la fiscalitée to plan taxes, referdums and Proprotional Representaiton, emerging from the Gilets Jaunes is the demand  for an immediate freeze on the tax rise on fuel, and for fewer checks on cars, that is MOTs in the UK. (Des Gilets jaunes lancent un appel : “Nous voulons être les porte-parole d’une colère constructivele Journal du Dimanche).

This morning it was noticeable how  carefully right-wing figures treated the violence – which would have been far from the case had it happened if young inhabitants of the banlieue had invaded the ChampsÉlysées.

Large sections of Marcon’s party (LREM), following nearly all the political class, have responded by demanding a Moratorium on Taxes.

Amongst the cacophony Jean-Luc  Mélenchon,  has called for the return of the tax on the wealthy, the impôt sur la fortune .

Although we discover he managed to find this programme, close  to his own, put out by the “gilets Jaunes”.

Spooky!

 

The US Jacobin has just published a piece defending the revolt. We’re With the RebelsAURÉLIE DIANARA

Even the moralistic criticisms that accuse the gilets jaunes of materialism and selfishness can be  called into question. as not the increase in the price of bread the main factor pushing the women of Paris to mount their furious march on Versailles in October 1789?

One can understand the appeal of calls to reduce, if not abolish, taxes, to the wealthy owner of this publication.

Though this justification for the movement looks like flaying at very dry old straws.

Brendan O’Neill would relish these lines, about left-wingers who criticise the Jilets Jaunes,

 Criticisms of their behaviour have been influenced by an evident contempt for the “lower classes”: social media are awash with jokes about the “pig-headed” “imbeciles” of the “France d’en bas.” Such derision also appeared across the social networks close to the autonomous “movement” left, before the powerful demonstration of November 17.

Oddly  attempts by the other side,  those to wish to “shape the movement” with wise left guidance,  have yet to discover the magic potion which will make the following problem vanish. Even somebody as wreathed in a halo as the author admits,

Ecologists and the defenders of nature have been, to say the least, disconcerted by the hubbub around a movement that basically asks to be able to burn more fuel at a lower price and that seemed initially uninterested in the government’s at least explicit intention to use this “carbon tax” to fund the ecological transition.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 2, 2018 at 2:02 pm

Galloway’s Former Bagman, Kevin Ovenden, Gives Advice on Fighting Tommy Robinson to Another Europe is Possible.

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Image result for Kevin Ovenden and george galloway

Ovenden in Previous Unity Offensive with Labour.

Equating fascism with Brexit is disastrous, irresponsible and gives a hand up to Tommy Robinson

Kevin Ovenden is George Galloway’s former Bagman in Respect.

His most recent experience of fighting fascism was his call to fight to the last French person against Marine Le Pen, but not to vote against the Front National in the second round of the French Presidential elections.

This is actually the moment of the fighting left. The agency for rupturing into a half century political settlement has been someone whose politics are actually closer to the patriotic social democratic left than they are to anti-capitalist revolutionaries.

(Here one suspects Ovendon does not actually speak the language)

But the rupture is made, in any case – égal (sic) And that poses a challenge for those of us who are of the anti-capitalist left. Our politics – in a practical, and therefore real sense – were formed out of 1968. In the intervening years it has been easy for them to become buried under sedimentations of formulae and reflexes built up in decades of relative social peace, punctuated by minor eruptions. And with each subsiding of an eruption, so the sediment thickened.

It does mean breaking once and for all with a satellite status orbiting the Socialist Party and the Communist Party. They are dying stars. Out of their orbit is the only way to avoid going down with them.

France: an historic moment for the left

Today Ovenden is all in favour of unity with interstellar social democracy, the “left leadership of the Labour Party”.

What he is against (a mild way of describing an incontinent rant) is Michael Chessum and Another Europe is Possible .

Arguments tying opposition to fascism with opposition to Brexit makes out half the country as Tommy Robinson supporters. This is idiotic in the extreme, argues Kevin Ovenden

His charge?

The demo against Brexit and Fascism, called in opposition to Tommy Robinson’s rally Against the ‘Brexit Betrayal’ is wrong to link Brexit and Robinson.

(it) lumps together fascism with Leave – a stupid and dangerous thing to do – and it talks of mobilising only “Remainers”. Most people on the left want to unite the labour movement and working class. This AEIP operation wants to continue to divide it – in just the way that its paymasters in the second referendum campaign want to: weakening left-led Labour.

One assumes that the Labour Party Conference decision to leave a Second Referendum as a possible ‘option’ was a sign of Labour members, and John McDonnell’s  interest in the possibility is also weakening Labour.

This “transparently anti-left intervention out of the Blair-Campbell stable” ” suicidal sectarianism” is no doubt unwelcome for Counterfire, which pushes the doomed ‘People’s Brexit”, something few are interested in, even if they have heard of it.

According to the former leading figure of Respect, after having been a long-standing activist in the Socialist Workers Party, Another Europe is saying, “Brexit equals fascism and today’s Labour leaders are “social Brexiters”.

“One of the critical mistakes of the left in the early 1930s was not to recognise the specific danger of fascism and to refer to social democratic leaders as “social fascists”.”

For those not as familiar with the history of Stalinism he is accusing Another Europe of adopting the tactic of the Comintern during the late 1920s, during the ‘Third Period”. This, the Communists asserted, was a time of intensified class against class clashes – following the second period of relative capitalist stablisation, following the first period of the upheaval unleashed by the October Revolution,

“We are witnessing Third Period Liberalism.”

Apparently.

The idea that UKIP adviser Robinson’s Rally needs to be confronted by those who are opposed to his calls against ‘Brexit Betrayal” would seem a reasonable one to most people.

But not to Ovenden of the “fighting left” and his pro-Brexit mates in the revolutionary socialist Counterfire.

He (and he is far from the first from this lot to use the allegation) refers to the Other Europe is Possible “paymasters” and alleges that we are on “the Blairite dime”, that is we are paid for to mount a ” transparently anti-left intervention out of the Blair-Campbell stable.”

He claims that that we should go into the Robinson base and argue.

How can we argue if we are saddled with having to say, “We agree with you lot about leaving the EU, but please we want a nice anti-racist Brexit.”

“Left tails of the Liberal Bourgeoisie” Another Europe is Possible Castigated by Weekly Worker Toff, Jack Conrad

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Image result for soros anti-semitic cartoon

Soros, “born in 1930 in Hungary to well-off anti-Semitic Jewish parents” funds Another Europe is Possible says Weekly Worker.

This Friday is proving to reap a number crop of Trainspotting jewels.

Jack Conrad, known to be John Chamberlain, a Hampstead toff who enjoys fine wines in his exclusive Heath residence, normally channels his thoughts and energy  into the work of the Labour Party Marxist. With a substantial shareholding in Labour Against the Witch-hunt, ably run by his trusted minion, Tony Greenstein, who asks for little beyond a daily van-load of mince-pies in return, life is sweet.

The elder statesman can look back on a successful career in the Communist Party of Great Britain (faction: The Leninist),  the Socialist Labour Party, the Socialist Alliance, Respect, the Campaign for a Marxist Party, Left Unity, amongst others. He has built long-term close relations with the Republican Socialists/League Against the Corn Laws, and Gerry Downing’s Socialist Fight – both groups have regular columns in Chamberlin’s hebdomadal organ, the Weekly Worker.

For some reasons, comrades suggest the green eyed-monster is at work here, he does not esteem Another Europe is Possible. This may be because it does not have a funny sounding acronym. It might be because he does not like the new best friend of this Blog, good old George Soros, our mucker.

Who knows.

Genius has its own rules.

This is some of Chamby’s prose poem, just out today and already stirring up debate in the Duck and Dove.

Left tails of liberal bourgeoisie

To praise, to cooperate with, to promote a People’s Vote is to praise, to cooperate with, to promote the interests of big capital and bourgeois politicians, such as Chuka Umunna, Vince Cable and Anna Soubry. Organisations such as the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, Socialist Resistance, Left Unity, etc, do exactly that. To all intents and purposes they constitute themselves the extreme left of liberal opinion.

The embodiment of such abject opportunism is Another Europe is Possible. Its perspectives are thoroughly reformist; its attitudes tailist and accommodating.

..

Reviving illusions in the capitalist states of Europe combines with a strikingly naive endorsement of the EU’s supposed “core values” of “peace, democracy and ever closer union”. Konrad Adenauer, Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman would have approved.

..

EIP provides a “progressive left” flank for People’s Vote and the interests of anti-Brexit big capital.

And, follow my gaze…

Unsurprisingly, given the invaluable nature of such a service, AEIP has received some substantial financial grants and donations.

More than mince-pies I’ll wager!

Figures for February 2016 to May 2017 reveal £45,000 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, £2,000 from a certain C Lucas, £4,000 from LUSH Ltd, £5,000 from N Marks, £5,000 from Open Democracy and £2,000 from Unison.

From June 2017 to May 2018 the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust upped its AEIP contribution to £75,000 … and more recently still George Soros chipped in with £70,000.

The more stupid amongst AEIP’s paid employees, partisans, allies and dupes claim that taking such money is essentially no different from the Bolshevik leaders, Lenin and Zinoviev – along with a range of other leftwing Russian émigrés – negotiating with the German authorities to travel from their Swiss exile back to revolutionary Russia in 1917.

..

The Weekly Worker has rightly rounded on the acceptance of Soros money. It shows that AEIP is more than acceptable to bourgeois liberal opinion. Yet, revoltingly, descending to the level of the gutter press, defensively, wracked by guilt, AEIP paid employees, volunteers, allies and dupes have responded with utterly baseless accusations of conspiracy-mongering and anti-Semitism. Just like Viktor Orbán, Breitbart News and Glenn Beck, AEIP paid employees, volunteers, allies and dupes highlight Soros’s Jewish background (he was born in 1930 in Hungary to well-off anti-Semitic Jewish parents).

For those interested, indeed capable of digesting the previous stream of consciousness,  there follows a long diatribe about esteemed Comrade Soros which links it, for reasons which Cde Greenstein’s’ Nerve Doctor, Sir Roderick Glossop, may be able to explain….

Over the last two or three years there has been a huge, unprecedented campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. A campaign carefully crafted, hatched and skilfully promoted by the US right, the Israeli government and the British establishment. The AWL and its Clarion outriders provide a useful ‘left’ cover.

Accusations of conspiracy-mongering and anti-Semitism are therefore clearly unfounded – a desperate attempt to prevent, to close down, to head off critical discussion of the AEIP’s politics and finances.

Pause for the rhymester to continue.

Ironically, it is quite conceivable that Soros would himself be found guilty of anti-Semitism under the IHRA’s so-called definition.

Fair’s fair.

Toodle Pip, and meet you in the Flask…

Written by Andrew Coates

November 30, 2018 at 6:43 pm

The Socialist Party and Socialist View Split in the PCS Union Grows.

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Image result for socialist party pcs

The PCS Internal Dispute Grows.

The world may have forgotten about the Socialist Party, although it is said that copies of Militant by Michael Crick (1984) are still selling and valued like gold dust.

This week they made a raft of demands including the following, a call for

An emergency labour movement conference, open to all genuinely anti-austerity forces to discuss the transformation of the Labour Party along democratic, socialist lines. This should include discussion on: restoring the policy-making power of Labour Party conference – including the trade unions playing a full democratic role; the introduction of a new socialist ‘clause 4’, replacing the one introduced by Tony Blair with one committing to democratic public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange; the opening up of the Labour Party to all socialist and anti-austerity forces to participate on the basis of a renewed, federal structure.

This prospect, sure to be welcome across the labour movement and in the Labour Party, for those who’re interested, part of their, “Editorial of the Socialist issue 1020. For a socialist alternative to the EU – mobilise to kick out the Tories!“.

Some may relish the prospect of solving the present politics crisis by, “mass action, including organising an emergency national demonstration to kick out the Tories.”

Alas, what most people are interested in is something that concerns people, active and solid people on the left, active in the civil service Trade Union, the PCS.

When the present row began the Socialist said,

The dispute within the left of Britain’s largest civil service union raises key issues for the whole labour movement.

After the left won control of the union, there have been important moves to democratise and transform PCS. Unfortunately, however, we now see the danger of that process being thrown into reverse, with power increasingly concentrated in the hands of unelected officials. Pressure in this direction is inevitable, given the difficult period the trade union movement is going through, but it is vital it is resisted.

PCS: the real issues at stake 20th of August.

In the course of this comradely debate the SP said,

Unfortunately, it is typical of some of Janice’s supporters’ false methods of argument to put up straw men in order to attempt to bombastically smash them down.

Despite the outrage expressed at the concerns we raised about the undermining of the democratic traditions of PCS, the SV reply repeatedly confirms this danger.

……

The SV authors accuse us of lying when we said that “arguments for affiliation [to Labour] will be put” in the new consultation on political representation that was agreed at this year’s PCS conference. We never suggested that the consultation would call for affiliation. This is clearly unlikely given the response to the last, 2016, consultation which raised affiliation as one option. Mark was sympathetic to looking seriously at that, arguing in a Policy and Resources Committee paper (published on 5 October 2015), “I’ve been approached by a number of people inside & outside PCS on the question of affiliation to LP… I do believe that we have a duty to consider this question.” However, “responses did not support” it.

In a woeful attempt to denigrate Chris’s record, the SV authors write: “Chris doesn’t take the average wage of a skilled worker”, and add that Janice has committed to do so. They and Janice turn their fire on Chris, but what demands have they made on Mark Serwotka? When Chris first stood for AGS he pledged to move to London, relocating his family at considerable expense and upheaval, in order to be based in the union HQ and be able to do his job effectively. Despite the financial demands of relocating, he pledged in his election address – with the agreement of other Socialist Party members including Janice Godrich – to repay part of his salary to union funds and make regular donations to strikes and labour movement causes in Britain and internationally. Chris has consistently met that pledge.

…..

They have not formally resigned from the Socialist Party, but the SV article, written by one Socialist Party member and one non-member, makes clear that they no longer see themselves as part of our party. It is not accidental that at one stage they refer to the Socialist Party as “their party”, meaning Chris and his supporters. They suggest that the Socialist Party’s “end objective” of “winning the leading positions in the union for their party justifies any actions, no matter how dishonest those means may be”.

PCS: the real issues at stake – a reply to Socialist View

Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary

Recently qualified Leftist Trainspotter, Howie, posts this, keeping us up to date:

Socialist Party lose first stage of PCS Assistant General Secretary Campaign.

The influence of the Socialist Party begins it’s final decline as incumbent PCS Assistant General Secretary Chris Baugh failed to win the Left Unity nomination. Janice Godrich as expected won. Only the interim result has been published though as you guessed it the Socialist Party are contesting the result.

They are indeed,

Throughout the campaign and emphasised by Chris at a number of debates, a fighting strategy and positive approach has been given that can take the union forward. Chris won a majority in three of the five election debates that he took part in, with Martin Cavanagh and John McInally deputising for Janice Godrich. This included London, which was attended by Mark Serwotka who argued against Chris.

We thank all those Left Unity members who took part in the debates, particularly those who supported our candidates.

On the AGS election, the interim report indicates 139 votes for Chris Baugh and 167 votes for Janice Godrich. However, Left Unity members are still waiting for the final results. This is because a whole number of votes have been ruled out – some postal ballots and those cast at three voting meetings, including London.

Despite this, the ‘interim’ results were published. Many Left Unity members are shocked and angry that this was done when there are issues still outstanding. Despite the claims of Janice’s supporters in Socialist View, the ruled-out votes could materially affect the results of three key positions: AGS, Left Unity chair and Left Unity editor.

The only way to clarify this is for the full report to be published, with all the results included, along with explanation for those omitted. This is not an attack on the integrity of the scrutineers, as Socialist View claims, but a call for transparency and democratic processes.

Comes the response from Socialist View,

Socialist View Statement on PCS Left Unity elections 2018

Following a long campaign to decide the nominations for the Left Unity slate for next year’s PCS national elections the LU Scrutineers Interim Report was published on Sunday 25th November.

 

The report confirms the result of the ballot for all contested elections, including the Assistant General Secretary and National President. We are pleased that the results show both Janice Godrich and Fran Heathcote have been successful in their attempt to secure the LU nomination for the posts of AGS and President respectively. Alongside Janice and Fran all other nominees, supported by the Socialist View campaign, have also been successful.

 

This clear result is testimony to the campaign which has been run by Janice and her supporters, and to the difference in strategy put forward via the Socialist View throughout this campaign.

 

The difference in policy and strategy between those of us supporting Janice, and the supporters of the incumbent Chris Baugh, have become increasingly polarised in recent weeks especially in relation to national pay campaign. The choice between building our union’s capability to improve our organisation in every workplace to win on pay, proposed by Janice and her supporters, versus the strategy, argued for by Chris and his supporters, of disaggregated group ballots linked to other employer based issues, has been a key strand to this campaign. The outcome of this election reflects the positive campaign ran by supporters of Socialist View and indicates wider support for the belief we have in our members ability to win, against the conservative approach of our opponents.

Some  have commented that only a few hundred people voted in the ballot.

It is not unusual for Leninist groupuscules to have ferocious splits.

This one, apparently, involves a far from exceptional degree of personal rancour

It is, however, out of the ordinary to see these disputes played out in public inside a trade union with around  185, 000 members, in an important sector of employment,  and inside an organisation which enjoys wide respect for its work.

The PCS Independent Left meanwhile have their own candidate:

John Moloney to stand for PCS Assistant General Secretary

At its Annual General Meeting, the PCS Independent Left nominated John Moloney as our candidate in the Assistant General Secretary elections next year.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 30, 2018 at 1:26 pm

Top Oxford Don and Islamic Scholar Tariq Ramadan had Sexual Relations with Minors in Switzerland.

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jacket, Islamic Ethics

A Very Short Book Indeed.

Oxford Don Tariq Ramadan is in the news again today.

Affaire Ramadan : en Suisse et au Qatar, de gros revers pour le théologien

Libération reports,

In Geneva, an official report confirms his inappropriate behaviour with former students, while in Doha, a former relative asks Muslims to stop supporting him because of his proven double life…

Tariq Ramadan made sexual suggestion to at least three of his underage students in the years 1986, 87, 89, reads in this report that Libération was able to consult. A very charismatic French teacher from 1984 to 2004 in various schools in Geneva, he used to invite students to the restaurant, and accompanied by them by car. At their September hearing five of them reported similar facts.

In Qatar (the country which is the source of funds for his Oxford post) Mohamed el-Moctar al-Shinqiti, a political analyst and well-known commentator on Al Jazeera, published a text on his blog calling on Muslims to stop supporting Tariq Ramadan, a “sex addict who despised those he abused and uses lies to mislead Muslims.” 

 

Investigations uncover Banna’s grandson’s sexual relations with minors

According to a secret investigation issued by the Swiss State Council on October 31, Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan faced new charges of having sexual relationships with minors in Switzerland, French L’OBS website reported Tuesday, Nov. 27.

Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan el-Banna, the founder of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The investigation revealed that Ramadan tried to seduce a 14-year-old girl but did not succeed. He also had consensual sex with three female students aged between 15 and 18. These incidents took place from 1980 to 1990, when Ramadan taught French and philosophy in two schools (the secondary school of Susie and the middle school of Kudri).

It is noteworthy that the Islamic scholar confessed on Nov. 18 to having a consensual sexual relationship with one of the women who sued him for rape, according to French news source Europe 1.

Ramadan’s lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny stated that the scholar will talk in front of the judiciary about the relationship that he had with one of the women suing him.
Up until now, four women in France and Switzerland have filed lawsuits against Ramadan accusing him of sexual assault.

Ramadan denied having any relations with the first two women who accused him of rape. But when confronted with the third woman, he admitted having a consensual sexual relation with her.

Marie, Ramadan’s third plaintiff, also provided investigators with a dress allegedly having Ramadan’s semen on it. The tests are still underway to specify if there is correlation between DNA samples. The French police detained Ramadan in January, a legal source said.

In June this year, Ken Loach, Yvonne Ridley and Peter Oborne, the Canadian one-time New Leftist Charles Taylor, and a host of Oxford Academics, and others across the world, signed a Petition in support of Ramadan (here)

It is not known if he still retains his Oxford link.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 29, 2018 at 2:09 pm

Socialist Worker and Novara Media Attack Anti-Fascist Anti-Brexit Demo Against Tommy Robinson Great Brexit Betrayal Rally.

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Related image

Pro-Brexit Rally Calls for Anti-Brexit Response.

The Another Europe is Possible protest “No to Tommy Robinson, No to Brexit” continues to create controversy.

Leave or Remain, We All Hate Tommy

Callum Cant and Benjamin Walters write,

Another Europe is Possible (AEIP) is an ultra-remain campaign group that positions itself as the left wing of the ‘Stop Brexit’ movement. Its support base varies from Alliance for Workers’ Liberty members to Guardian columnist Zoe Williams. AEIP have called for a People’s Vote/Stop Brexit counter-protest to the far right march.

They argue that it’s not enough to simply oppose racism and fascism – we have to specifically oppose Brexit. For them, Brexit is not just a recruiting ground for the far right, it is actually a far right project in its entirety. So, the anti-fascist response has to be to try and stop Brexit.

After having carefully established that AEIP is “ultra”, AWL backed, no less, and, apparently has a view (which is not referenced) on the Brexit basis of the “far right project in its entirety” they outline an alternative.

Cant and Walters argument appears to be that the left needs to talk to  Brexit supporters, to weed them away from Robinson and UKIP leadership.

Whereas the Momentum-backed counter-protest is using the slogan ‘No to Tommy Robinson, No to Fortress Britain’ without taking a line on Brexit, AEIP are linking together an ultra-remain position with an anti-fascist position. This is a very bad mistake.

It is a mistake because it maps the political division of the Brexit debate (48% Remain, 52% Leave) onto the political division between fascists and anti-fascists (90% anti-fascist, 10% fascist). It gives Robinson exactly what he wants: leadership.

Instead of challenging his attempt to lead Leave voters and splitting the hard core of the far right away from the 52%, it consolidates his position from the other side of a police line. Robinson is a general looking for an army. AEIP’s line, if pursued, will do much to form his battalions for him.

Yes, we “all hate Tommy”.

But, one might ask how, as they suggest,  is the left going to lead Leave voters?

By arguing for a People’s Brexit?

By saying that a Brexit Britain with a “socialist economy” will be (as a Counterfire contributor put it recently) a “Beacon” off the shores of Europe?

Brexit is not a “floating signifier” that you can moor to the left’s politics.

It is a reactionary project through and through.

Trying another tack the authors assert,

…..anti-fascist fronts should only express the limited politics necessary to defeat the fascists on the day. They should appeal to as many people as possible (regardless of what they think about Brexit). They should recognise that the goal of the front is only to prevent the fascists from taking leadership.

Just how limited?

They argue that the demonstration called by the SWP Fronts Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism is against ‘Fortress Europe” is such a step

It is against Europe, that’s for sure.

Here is the SWP:

Unite and stop the racists and fascists on 9 December

Tomáš Tengely-Evans writes,

The Another Europe Is Possible campaign has called a separate mobilisation under the dangerous slogan of “No to Tommy Robinson—no to Brexit”. The organisers link opposition to Robinson to demands for a “People’s Vote” to stop Brexit.

Racism against migrants pushed by both Tory Brexiteers and Labour ­“centrists” who want to block Brexit has added to the racist atmosphere.

So the ‘limited’ united front is also against “Labour ‘centrists'”.

The SWP view on “anti-fascists” who “send volunteers to the Middle East to fight Isis” is not known.

In the meantime back in the real world of Brexit:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 28, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Back the No to Tommy Robinson, No to Brexit March on December the 9th!

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No to Tommy Robinson, No to Brexit!

The far right is marching for Brexit. Will the left stand against it?

 writes in the Guardian today,

The far-right activist Tommy Robinson will march on London under the banner of “Brexit Betrayal” on Sunday 9 December – just two days before the parliamentary vote on Theresa May’s deal. The demonstration represents the real-life, undeniable intersection of the Brexit project and the far right. The response of both the left and the anti-Brexit movement could define them for years to come.

….

Another Europe is Possible has, along with a series of prominent left figures, called for an explicitly anti-Brexit mobilisation on 9 December, which will build numbers for a joint general anti-fascist protest

But, above all, what happens now is a litmus test for the British left. Brexit means the biggest expansion of border controls in decades. It will vindicate and mainstream the far right’s narratives on immigration and aggressive nationalism. With a negotiated compromise deal in place, signed by either the Tories or Labour, Robinson’s campaign against an imagined national betrayal will go on indefinitely, nourished by the victory of the wider Brexit project.

From the Another Europe is Possible site.

On December 9th, we will rally in Parliament Square. Join us to demand:

  • Vote down the Brexit deal

  • Give the people a final say

  • Stop the far right – defend free movement.

Join the Facebook event here. Share and invite everyone you know.

On December 9th, the day before parliament votes on Theresa May’s deal, the far right will march on London under the banner of “Brexit Betrayal”. We will mobilise, in massive numbers, to combat their message of hate and division.  And we will demand a serious alternative: a society that works for everyone, and a final say for the people on Brexit.

Tommy Robinson is not just using Brexit as a tool to attract followers. Brexit has from its earliest days been driven by the far right, and the far right will benefit from it for decades to come unless we defeat it and the conditions on which it feeds.
 
The far right is growing because the economic and political system has failed us. We need decent homes and jobs, we need a transformation of the economy that gives people control over their destinies.
Supporters include: 
David Lammy MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Manuel Cortes, TSSA general secretary
Ann Pettifor, economist
Mike Galsworthy, Scientists for the EU
Amelia Womack Deputy Leader of the Green Party
Zoe Williams, journalist
Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
Michael Chessum, Another Europe is Possible
Nick Dearden, Global Justice Now
Julie Ward MEP
Marina Prentoulis, senior lecturer at UEA
Shaista Aziz, Oxford unites as an anti-racist city and Stop Trump campaigner
Hugh Lanning, former general secretary of PCS
Paul Mackney, former UCU general secretary
Joseph Healy, Left Unity principal speaker
Niccolo Milanese, European Alternatives
Simon Hannah, author and Lambeth UNISON joint Secretary
Neil Faulkner, archaeologist and historian
Daniel Randall, RMT activist (pc)
Don Flynn, migrants rights campaigner

Cllr Graham Campbell, SNP BAME Convenor and SNP Trade Union Group

A dissenting voice comes from  the Revolutionary Socialist group Counterfire.

Lindsey German says,

Another Europe is Possible have called a counter-protest which links opposing Robinson with opposing Brexit. This is unbelievably crass politically. It links Brexit voters to the far right – wrong. It builds up Robinson as the leader of Brexit – wrong. It prevents leave voters who oppose fascism from joining their demo – wrong. And it narrows the number of people who potentially would demonstrate – wrong.

I hope the organisers will think again on this. But given their closeness to some of those who back policies which helped lead to the far right growing in the first place, like Vince Cable and Alastair Campbell, I’m not holding my breath.

Bashing Counterfire is about the easiest sport in the world, but German’s comments are spectacularly stupid even by the groupuscule’s low standards.

German appeared last week on a platform with people who laid a hefty part of the blame for British economic problems on ‘German’ capital and migrant labour.

Counterfire voted, with the far-right, UKIP, and the Tory right, to back Brexit, a major opportunity for Robinson’s politics to grow.

Robinson is now an official adviser for UKIP…..

As Michael Chessum says,

The left now faces a choice. As the far right and the Brexit project intersect, it can connect these dots, and fight against the politics of Brexit while presenting its wider radical vision for society. Or it can stand aside from history.

Update: the following post appears today in the Hard Brexit (Bolshevik) Morning Star today: Don’t play Tommy Robinson’s game

Another Europe is Possible’s separate protest against Ukip’s march on December 9 risks splitting the anti-racist forces on the basis of EU Leave or Remain. Now is not the time for division, says DAVID ROSENBERG

Don’t play Tommy’s game

I  was a reluctant Remain voter, who, like others, saw what the EU did to Greece. I have witnessed the far-right and right-wing populist forces getting stronger across Europe and fear that the next European Elections will strengthen the most reactionary, authoritarian and racist forces within the EU. I also fear the potential for the far right to become much bigger here. This is not at all the time to split our forces on the question of racism and fascism, so I appeal to Another Europe is Possible to join a united effort to stop Batten and Robinson’s street movement in its tracks.

In other words, do nothing to fight against far-right populists about their opposition to the EU but unite with those Brexit Bolsheviks  in a “united front” when Robinson appears in public to demonstrate against Brexit Betrayal.

There is pretty contorted logic at work here.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 27, 2018 at 1:21 pm

8 Official Spokespersons “Elected” for Gilets Jaunes, One already booted out for belonging to a Trade Union.

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Image result for Des "gilets jaunes" une "délégation" officielle

Macron, t’est foutu, la TaxPayers Alliance est dans la rue!

After a meeting of regional representatives the Gilets Jaunes now how Spokespeople and an Official Delegation.

Des “gilets jaunes” créent une “délégation” officielle

They have issued these demands,

After consulting  supporters on Facebook, the delegation addressed “two main proposals” to the government  : “reduce  all taxes” and  “create of citizens’ assembly” to discuss the themes of ecological transition, “taking in account of the voice of the citizens “, the increase of the purchasing power and insecurity (i.e. crime), the text announced.  They also ask to be received at the Élysée Palace by the Head of State.

Some local groups have not reacted favourably to the initiative, reports  Laure-Hélène de Vriendt for RTL Paul Mara,  spokesperson for Marseille compared the Macron’s Paris centred decison-making. 

A peine nommés, les 8 porte-parole des gilets jaunes réfléchissent… à virer l’un d’entre eux.

The appointment of the eight spokespeople was made “in a hurry” this Sunday, during a procedure restricted to 44 regional representatives of the movement.

After examining their credentials, for any political or trade union affiliations, one of them, Jason Herbert, a former journalist, now in charge of communication as a member of the National Council of journalists of the CFDT-Journalists was found out. He had also a ‘past’ as a representative for workers at employment tribunals,  (Conseils de prud’hommes.)

France Info reports more divisions inside the movement with more and more local groups refusing to recognise these people’s legitimacy:

“Pour qui se prennent-ils ?” : les huit porte-parole officiels des “gilets jaunes” ne font pas l’unanimité

 

There’s even a new Yellow Party:

Those on the British left who have reported on the Gilets Jaunes have so far studiously ignored the far-right element at the head of the march chanting the Identitarian slogan “on est Chez Nous on Saturday on the  Champs-Elysées.

The French government is not so forgiving:

“Gilets jaunes” : le slogan “on est chez nous” rappelle “furieusement la peste brune”, juge à son tour Benjamin Griveaux.

Today President Macron is making a speech on his “Green” “Transition énergétique.”

Faced with violent anti-government protests, French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday will announce a 10-year blueprint for France’s transition to cleaner energy.

France 24.

Update: It’s just emerged that one of the 8 national Spokesperson of the Gilets Jaunes, Thomas Miralles, stood for the Front National (now Rassemblement National) of Marine le Pen in 2014, and before that a Republican list backed by the Parti Socialiste (2010). Both apparently were “youthful  mistakes”.

RTL played this song today: And Me and Me and Me, to celebrate the Gilets Jaunes’ demand for lower taxes and, no doubt, more, better, public services.

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 27, 2018 at 11:41 am

Another Setback for La France insoumise after Defeat in By-election.

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Image result for Farida Amrani affiche

After predicted win, defeat for La France insoumise.

The American radical progressive journal Jacobin ran this story this weekend,

France Insoumise’s Farida Amrani is the frontrunner to replace France’s former prime minister Manuel Valls as MP for Évry.

A Foot in the Streets An interview with Farida Amrani. 

Talking to a progressive French patriot, Cde Broder, Amrani the candidate for Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Rally, said that their progressive politics were clear,

We work in the interests of a program created by and for the people, above partisan divides.

Amarani lost, heavily, to the candidate of la République en Marche (LREM), President Macron’s Party.

He, the Mayor of Évry, Francis Chouat got 59,1% of the vote.

There was a high rate of abstention in the by-election, 8,08 % in the first round.

And in the second (83%), which the Leader of the Progressive LFI drew some comfort from – by blaming it for stifling the voice of the people’s anger.

 

The candidate of LREM was less unhappy:

 

The owner of Jacobin, the wealthy Brexiter and radical progressive  Bhaskar Sunkara has recently bought into the British left.

Well-established rumour has it that he has sent his majordomo,  Sebastian Budgen, to negotiate a slice of the media empire of La France insoumise, the “web-télé” imaginatively titled Média.

It is said that after this, and other setbacks for LFI, stocks are on offer at an attractive price.

 

More information: Législative partielle en Essonne : Francis Chouat, soutenu par LREM, succède à Manuel Valls

Written by Andrew Coates

November 26, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Gilets Jaunes: the Ultra-Right Accused of Creating Saturday’s Violence.

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Image result for ultra-droite aux champs elysees on est chez nous!

Ultra-Right Accused of Leading Violent Protest on the  Champs-Élysées.

According to initial reports, (the violence) was in the majority created by members of the ultra-right, who infiltrated the movement with the sole intention of smashing everything up. These rioters were largely said to be young men, who came from the regions.

“D’après les premiers éléments, il s’agirait en grande majorité de membres de l’ultra-droite, qui se seraient infiltrés au mouvement avec l’unique ambition de tout ravager. Ces casseurs seraient des hommes plutôt jeunes, venus de province.” BFM

The historian of social movements Sylvain Boulouque  evoked the “political colouring” behind the flags carried on the Champs-Elysées, some of which held sympbols of the Sacred Heart and the  fleur de lys. “Calls were spread on the all the web sites of the radical right calling for people to pour into the Champs-Elysees and to storm the Elysée, or at least to get close to it.”

“une coloration politique” des drapeaux représentés sur les Champs-Elysées, parfois frappés du Sacré-Cœur ou de la fleur de lys. “Des appels fleurissent également sur tous les sites de le droite radicale pour descendre les Champs-Elysées et prendre d’assaut l’Elysée, ou du moins s’en rapprocher”,

France Info

In this interview Boulouque notes that the ultra-right were at the head of the march.

 

Here is a broader report:

Anti-government protesters clashed with French police on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Saturday, leaving the area cloaked in tear gas and smoke from fires on a fresh day of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

France 24.

Demonstrators wearing the yellow, high-visibility vests that symbolise their movement threw projectiles at police preventing them from moving along the famed shopping avenue, which was decked out in twinkling Christmas lights.

They also built barricades in some spots, and tore down traffic lights and street signs, creating riotous scenes reminiscent of France’s 1968 civil unrest, or street insurrections in the mid-19th century immortalised in paintings and movies.

Police arrested 130 people, 69 of those in Paris, and 24 people were injured, five of them police officers including one who suffered burns to his groin, the city police department and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

The interior ministry counted 106,000 protesters across France on Saturday, with 8,000 in Paris, of whom around 5,000 were on the Champs-Elysees.

That was far less than the national tally of 282,000 in the November 17 protests.

Castaner said after the tumult died down that damage on the Champs-Elysees was “small”.

The French government cast blame for the unruly protests on far-right politician Marine Le Pen,claiming she egged them on.

But Le Pen rejected that accusation saying she had “never called for any violence whatsoever” and in turn accused the government of “organising the tension” and seeking to make her a scapegoat.

Meanwhile, opposition parties on both the right and left accused the government of trying to reduce the protests to just the sporadic scenes of violence, and turning a deaf ear to the demonstrators’ grievances.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the radical left France Unbowed party who attended a separate march Saturday protesting violence against women, tweeted that the action on the streets was “a mass protest of the people” which signalled “the end for [interior minister] Castaner”.

There is no doubt that there were ultra-right protesters on the Champs-Élysées.

That, is, apart from the Front National, who in French political language are just far-right…

Amongst those present on Saturday was prolific anti-semitic far-right writer, Hervé Ryssen, originally an anarchist, then a holocaust denier, and obsessed with Jewish ‘plots’ Ryssen recently rendered homage to   Robert Faurisson after his death.

Violences aux Champs-Élysées: une centaine de membres de l’ultra-droite parmi les gilets jaunes

Here is a video of them chanting “On est chez Nous” – that is, “It’s our Homeland”

 

This is another picture of them.

 

There is an issue as to why the Police let these demonstrators erect barricades, something, to say the least, unusual  in the posh 8th arrondissement.

Mélenchon of the rally La France insoumise (LI) claims that the protests were part of the great French revolutionary tradition of refusing to pay taxes for the rich.

The far-right Sovereigntist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, leader of Debout la France, who has very publicly backed the protest.,accused the government of seizing on a few idiots to discredit the movement, the honest folk behind the Gilets Jaunes movement.

The Gilets Jaunes protests could be called “populism in the streets”, an upsurge against the government by a very mixed group of people.

It is hard to not to sympathise with those, trapped into using their cars in many parts of France without proper public transport (as is the case in many areas of Britain) are the first to suffer from tax rises on the diesel they were  encouraged to use.

But it is hard to claim that this this protest is ‘floating signifier’ which the left  can ‘hegemonise”  (“Le gilet jaune comme signifiant flottant.  ) There is a case for addressing the issues of the “peripheral” parts of France, which, as in the rest of Europe, suffer from poor transport and a shrinking number of public services. But how exactly can any left, the “composantes progressistes du champ social” convince those who, to put it simply, correspond to the “petrol heads” of Top Gear. Clearly the far-right have not been able to work within the Gilets Jaunes so easily without a reason. Any Green measure is likely to be fought by these people.

It does not take a Doctorate in the behaviour of the far-left to see something of an opportunist running after any form of popular unrest here.

Macron and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner have not just been able to accuse Marine Le Pen and the   Rassemblement National of fomenting disorder.

They have (with transparent logic) posed a real problem for those parts of the French left which have shown sympathy with the Gilets Jaunes.

It is fortunate, helped by support for the march against sexual violence at the same time,  that none have said, “No, it was not the ultra-right – we were there too!”

and Ligne rouge et gilets jaunes  by  & 

and: Classes d’encadrement et prolétaires dans le « mouvement des gilets jaunes »

 

Notably, 

Cet agrégat informe d’individualismes, qui ne veut pas payer pour les autres, s’insère dans un fond idéologique d’extrême-droite. Au delà de la présence plus que problématique de l’extrême droite parlementaire et extraparlementaire, un discours, qui revient comme une rengaine : contre les « parasites » dits du haut (Macron, les bobos, le gouvernement, mais pas la classe capitaliste) et du bas (les précaires, les immigrés, les chômeurs, etc) qui profiteraient de la redistribution. Cela s’est traduit concrètement par des attaques physiques sur une femme voilée, un reporter asiatique, un couple homosexuel, des migrants cachés dans un camion et livrés à la gendarmerie, un camarade noir, etc.

People’s Brexit Meeting – for “a socialist economy off the shores of Europe”, free of “German Capital” and “Cheap Labour”.

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People’s Brexit Promises a Socialist Economy off the Coast of Europe.

 

Larry Elliot, writes in the Guardian today,

The left needs to work on its own plan to rebuild our economy, and that will be easier after Brexit.

 …there is an opportunity to do things differently, to exploit the policy space that Brexit affords and tackle the structural problems that have plagued the economy for decades. The right has its plan: more liberalisation. It is time for the left to come up with its own vision that would deploy every available policy tool to modernise the economy, rebuild Britain’s industrial space and spread prosperity more widely.

Such a transformation is much more likely to happen outside the EU than inside. That’s because the two most significant UK imports from the rest of Europe – German industrial goods and cheap labour – have helped to bend the economy out of shape by holding back the manufacturing sector and encouraging the growth of low-wage service sector jobs. It is possible to do better than that.

The economy is out of kilter because of “German industrial goods” and “cheap labour” (that is migrants).

The Socialist People’s Brexit will see off these foreign imports!

We’ll have our very own socialism off the shores of Europe!

Written by Andrew Coates

November 23, 2018 at 1:49 pm

The Politics of the Gilets Jaunes in France, is the Far-Right only at the Fringes?

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“Police Force. We hope that you will not touch French people in Gilets Jaunes. If you feel you need exercise you can start by going into the Estates and defend yourself against the scum of 10 to 16 years old when they spit and attack you instead of doing nothing about it.”

Today le Monde leads with the claim that the Gilets Jaunes movement is running out of steam ahead of its Saturday March on the Champ-de-Mars in Paris.

« Gilets jaunes » : la mobilisation s’essouffle au sixième jour du mouvement

Opinion is divided on the Gilets Jaunes.

The movement, protesting against a rise in the tax on transport fuel, has no formal leaders.

But there are plenty of political figures circulating around.

On the BBC site Lucy Williamson comments,

There’s lively debate here about the true nature of the protests – whether the movement is being steered by hard-right agitators, or hijacked by political interests. But for every one out blocking roads, there seem to be many French citizens supporting them at home. A survey by the polling agency Elabe found that almost three-quarters of French voters approved of the protests, and that more than half of those who voted for Mr Macron support them.

Several of the main opposition parties have publicly backed them, including the centre right Republicains, the far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon and his far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

Most people agree this is about much more than fuel taxes. It’s about the economic policies of President Emmanuel Macron in the face of growing frustration from low- and middle-income workers about making ends meet.

Are French riots a curse or a blessing for Macron?

Jean Luc Mélenchon is clearly enthused by the Gilets Jaunes:

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Olivier Besancenot of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) has welcomed the France wide blockages as a “social upheaval”. The unrest, he asserted, was about the cost of living, not about ecological policies.”

“On n’a pas affaire à une fronde contre un gouvernement écologique, on a une fronde sociale contre la vie chère, qui n’a pas d’hostilité contre la transition écologique”, a analysé le fondateur du NPA.

Gilets jaunes: “C’est une fronde sociale qui ne fait que commencer”, affirme Olivier Besancenot

Robert Hirsh of the bloc, Ensemble (which has 2 MPs, allied to La France insoumise) states that their comrades participated in the blockages, and that the far right had not ” décisivement” impacted on the demonstrations. Hirsh sees the future in terms of a broader “anti-austerity” movement. (Passer des gilets jaunes aux drapeaux rouges et verts…)

On the same site, of Ensemble, a group of left-wing figures claim that the self-organised Gilets Jaunes, are welcome news, a popular movement after a long series of set backs, ” Ce mouvement d’auto-organisation populaire fera date et c’est une bonne nouvelle.” (Les “gilets jaunes” sont aussi le produit d’une succession d’échecs du mouvement social.)

Others are less than happy at reports of this character, illustrating joint action between Mélenchon supporters and the factions of the far right.

Notably:  Gilets jaunes: des manifestations très à droite… LE BLOG DE LANCETRE

Mediapart.

Here are some of the aspects of the movement which have caused concern.

“Yellow vests” deliver migrants hidden in a lorry to the gendarmes

The Tanker in which the six migrants were located was stopped in cyclist, near the a16 motorway in the Somme.

 

Here is more of the political support: (RN – Rassemblement Rational is the new name for the Front National).

Les gilets jaunes ne font pas de politique…Mais accueillent Dieudonné !

We wish those attempting to turn this into a broader anti-austerity movement well.

But there are few signs that the social groups moblised by the Gilets Jaunes are likely to turn to wider social solidarity. The trade union federations have kept, an often ambiguous, distance, while expressing some support for their demands. The political problems of the British fuel protests of 2000, and following years (up to 2007) which involved right-wing groups, such as  Farmers for Action and coincided with the hard-right Countryside Alliance protests, look small in comparison. The tolerance of the far-right, and many incidents of casual bigotry,   and overt racism, indicate a fracture – reflected across Europe, including the UK  –  between this “populism in the streets” and the left.