Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Left Out. Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire. A Review from the Left.

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Left Out by Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire


Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn by Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire  Bodley Head. 2020.

Yesterday three Labour MPs, Beth Winter, Nadia Whittome and Olivia Blake quit  junior roles on Keir Starmer’s front bench after they broke the whip to vote against the Overseas Operation Bill condemned by Jeremy Corbyn. A total of 18 Labour MPs voted against the legislation. Over the weekend at a fringe meeting on Labour Connected by Stop the War the former Labour leader warned against a new cold war between an aggressive Trump and China. There was no mention of the attack on Hong Kong Democrats or the oppression of the Uyghurs. It would seem that the Labour left has returned to political terrain it knows well: opposition to real and potential abuses of human rights by the UK military on mission overseas, and ambiguous posturing about global politics that ignores human rights abuses by countries that are targeted by the US.

Readers of Inside Left expect the “inside story” of Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. They get it, although that has not stopped some complaining about the “sniggering gossip-column vibe.” (Mike Phipps) Politics is about people, and others will relish information about life inside Team Corbyn, from LOTO (the Leader’s Office) “on the warpath” against Margaret Hodge after she called the Labour leader an “anti-Semite and a racist”, to McDonnell (rightly, as often the case, in this reviewer’s opinion) “gripped by an almost biblical anger at the decision to proceed with action against Hodge”. (Page 117)

The rise, and “crumbling” of Executive Director of the Leader’s Office,  Murphy’s “empire” and the end of the ‘cult of Karie’, might also seize readers’ attention, if only they could keep a hold on the shifting cast of players. Seumas Milne, the ‘Great Milne’, wafting in and out, is caught with an expression adopted at length by his comrade Andrew Murray, dismissing the issue of Brexit as “culture wars”, ignoring, as a pro-Brexit euro-sceptic, that Labour’s 2017 surge had been fuelled by anti-Brexit supporters. (Page 70)

Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, who fell from grace in the eyes of most people for his role in whipping up moral panic about the fantasist accusations of Carl Beech a secret ring of paedophiles,  does not shine, He emerges as  a singularly ineffective, but damaging, leader of factionalist opposition, powered by self-righteous  hysteria,  to Corbyn and the left.

Corbyn, Anti-Semitism and Love.

The book revolves around Jeremy Corbyn. “Power was not something he pursued” (Page 359). “Corbyn had never wanted to be leader of the Labour Party But, in the wake of 2017, he had come to like the idea of being prime minister His was a mission waged on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people who have invests their hopes in him in the vain belief that politics might change” Yet “Corbyn had failed himself” (Page 357)

On anti-Semitism “the failure was his.” “In the face of accusations of racism he too often emphasised with himself.” (Page 358). Those who thought of the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel in terms of 1970s struggles for national liberation were given leeway, letting in their wake people with distinctly prejudiced views on ‘Zionism’ expresses, at length, their opinions. Left Out does not, as in its wider picture, cover the factional forces at work, from Jewish Voice for Labour to Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

It seemed to some of us that they were perusing the objective of making Labour an explicit supporter of the struggle against Israeli statehood in any form. It quickly looked as if they were prepared to indulge a degree of rhetoric against ‘Zionism’ that could often  blindside many Jewish people and the wider public.  Pogrund and Maguire state that accusations of anti-Semitism “struck at the very core of his sense of self.” (Page 321). Those of us who know some of the people involved in these bitter disputes are more than a little surprised that this came as a revelation to the campaigner for Palestinian rights, as if he had studiously ignored some of the more extreme voices, shouting loudly  in his close neighbourhood for many years.

Amongst many incidents in other areas, the clash involving Corbyn’s new private secretary Iram Chamberlin, whose Westminster Security clearance had been challenged in dubious conditions is striking.  Corbyn’s response to demands for an explanation about her presence at a MI5 Briefing, where she asked about their work on far-right extremism and Islamophobia, was “one of boyish innocence, likened by one witness to the young Jesus at the Temple” . (Page 154) Chamberlin was summarily pushed out, but Murphy’s long-term position had been undermined.

The Redeemer is, it is said, a popular figure in many circles. Keith Kahn-Harris (The problem of love in Corbyn’s Labour Party: Reflections on Left Out) in a widely read review, suggests, that “love was always the problem”. People poured out their emotions on Corbyn, and those with the greatest affection and awareness of his best qualities were not likely to be persuaded by those who devoted their time to hatred of the Labour Leader.


But  political problems, above all the Brexit problem, was not going to be solved by love. “The Project’s weakness, and its internal divisions, be they the distrust of Murphy’s combative stile, the deep resentment that festered among junior staff in LOTO, or John McDonnell’s freelance excursions on Brexit, all flowed directly from Corbyn’s own” Page 359). Or as Steve Bush’s review (Why Corbynism Failed)  puts it, the Leader “manages to combine indecision, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to deliver bad news in one fantastic package”

The “centrifugal forces” of Brexit, the daily dramas in the House of Commons,  were piled onto those concerned about their own potential loses to anti-Brexit parties, like the Liberal Democrats or Greens  and those who were chiefly concerned about the popularity for withdrawal from what they perceived to be their core constituency, the Red Wall. But underneath were divisions within the Project over what was right to further any transformative socialist governing agenda.  One one side were left-wing internationalists opposed to the Hard Right Brexit Project, who saw in the European political space a place to build alliances with other lefts for a root and branch change to the mechanisms of the EU,  On the other side were those who welcomed the opportunity to break free from the EU the better to take the British Road to Socialism.

Left Out offers a detailed account of what happened in the 2018 Labour Conference at which Keir Starmer emerged as a leading figure in the anti-Brexit, pro-Referendum camp. The backdrop the People’s Vote campaign  as well as the presence of the ‘Corbynite’ pro-European left, Another Europe is Possible (AEIP) is covered, and the bitterness Corbynista ultras from Momentum and Team Corbyn showed towards them. It indicates the strong support for Second Referendum motions from Labour constituencies, resolutions which were drawn up by the radical left Another Europe is Possible as well as the People’s Vote campaign (this writer was a participant).

What the book does not illustrate is the way in which hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets from 2018 to October 2019 on the issue. What it does not suggest is the obvious point that for people in Team Corbyn, used to having the streets filled with protests from their side, on issues such as the War against Iraq, and anti-Austerity were shaken by a movement that only the (numerically small) left of AEIP took part in. The supporters of Lexit, a ‘left’ Brexit, did not respond with their own demonstrations for a ‘People’s Brexit’.

This division, with a part of the radical left, whose positon on Europe can be traced back to the 1980s Socialist Society, Internationalist Marxist  groups and a wider section of  democratic socialists, on a different side to others behind the Project, has not gone away. McDonnell knew that he had to pick a side. He chose well. And if there is one message that rings throughout Left Out it is that the Shadow Chancellor, as well as other figures such as Andrew Fisher, tried to build the Project on serious ground – I would cite, for example, the hard work on issues that matter such a tax reform and an end to fiscal crookery – trying not to get bogged down in the chaos of the Team by reaching outwards.

Corbynist Futures.

Corbynism, the Project, and its electoral failure needs an account with a  wider framework than offered by Left Out, an “outside Corbyn’s Labour“. Yet the book offers important signposts about  the reasons for defeat in the misfunctioning Team Corbyn.

Those who had encouraged the illusion that Brexit was a progressive step, or just a merited kicking for the ‘neo-liberal’ EU can now see somebody who had promised to “Get Brexit Done’ in charge. Others will be happy to rediscover Corbyn the campaigner on international issues back. As the introductory paragraph to this review indicates, indeed it is, weighed down with ambiguity.


Andrew Coates.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 24, 2020 at 12:51 pm

As Keir Starmer Speaks to the Public, Factionalist Left Calls for “Socialist Co-Ordinating Committee”.

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Keir Starmer Goes for Johnson’s Jugular.

As Keir Starmer’s speech to the Labour Conference goes down well, out on the left, way out, there are now calls for a new ‘co-ordinating Committee”.


James Schneider, who was the deputy to Seamus Milne (both attended Winchester public school) and helped found Momentum, and former co-Chair of Oxford University Liberal Democrats clearly has some ambitions.

Earlier this year (April), on the pro-Brexit Verso site he expressed strong opinions against internationalists who fought against Brexit,

Bridging the Gap: Corbynism after Corbyn

Brexit gave the establishment a wedge to drive into the heart of the Corbyn project – and it did so with glee. Its repertoire – round-the-clock attacks, accusations of idiocy, performative confusion – need not be rehearsed. Within the party, those who both wished Corbyn well and to overturn the referendum result acted in large part as the establishment’s unwilling dupes. They wanted Corbyn to make the anti-democratic, Europhiliac argument that he never convincingly could. By the 2019 general election, Corbyn had lost his room for manoeuvre and his team was fundamentally divided on how to play an extremely challenging hand. The burnish of 2017, when Corbyn had appeared a politician apart, authentically himself, had been painfully wiped off.

To put it simply, the anti-Brexit left were part of the blame for the December General Election defeat.

This was Schneider’s strategic vision for the future of the left in April 2020.

With no party leadership to defend, Momentum could focus on bridging the gap between the moment’s possibility and the movement’s weakness. It could help build socialist capacities across the movement as a whole and offer coordination on every terrain of social struggle.

The Corbyn movement may be half-orphaned but it is no infant. It can succeed if it proves its maturity through tolerance for diversity, internal generosity and commitment to the long haul. Corbyn’s leadership was never going to bring socialism, even if elected with a majority government. It was a spark, an organiser and a staging post. It is up to the movement to take the cause further and win advances, for the many, not the few.

The movement can prove Jeremy Corbyn right: there is no such thing as Corbynism. There is socialism. And, things can, and they will, change.

It is hard to see any of these “dupes” and “Europhilics”  willing to work on a common project with Milne’s colleague.

As for socialism, there is little to indicate what this means. If he seriously believes the following then we can only remain in despair, “The horizon of state power turbocharged the Corbynite intellectual space: several important books were published in 2018 and 2019, Tribune and Novara expanded their output, and a boom in left-friendly think tanks developed.”

He has clearly not given up on the hopes he outlined in 2016 in an interview for the left-populist US journal Jacobin,

Maintaining Momentum

They see themselves as part of a post-2008 movement that has engaged with the Labour Party to change politics.

I see my role in Momentum as a dialogue between those two. I’ve read Miliband, I learned from his critiques, but I don’t come from his tradition. He helped me understand the historical development of the Labour Party and concepts like Labourism, but he was also writing in a different moment of history. The direction of history and politics, the nature of the economy, and technology’s role in society is quite different today. Our job is to adapt to that and to build coalitions that can win social majorities for change.

One of the tasks is to unite these two camps. That is the nature of a movement-party, combining the benefits of a tradition with the innovations of newer movements. What we have seen over the course of the year since Corbyn’s election is each group learning a lot from each other. They have become stronger. If you’re going to build a mass organization today, and repoliticize society, you need new ways of organizing, thinking, and communicating. But if you’re going to win the change you want to see, to be the government, to be in power, you need to engage and win with a party.

Those were the days, Sanders, Corbyn….

This camp has not come to terms with their defeat, nor with the wider problems of left-populism, in retreat across Europe. where it’s had a serious presence, France and Spain.

His initiative has had these more positive responses:

And this,


We have yet to register the response from the heavyweights of the alt left, Skwawkbox, and Aron Bastani’s Novra Media.

Bastani seems to engaged his troops in an important war of manouvre against Paul Mason.

It’s all to play today…

For some reason many people on the left just do not take these initiatives seriously.



Written by Andrew Coates

September 22, 2020 at 12:35 pm

New Cold War? The Return of Stop the War, Jeremy Corbyn and ‘anti-imperialism’.

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Jeremy Corbyn, “the levels of anti-Chinese racism in our society are quite horrendous” .

In Left Out (Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire. 2020) it is said that “foreign policy is the real locomotive force” of Jeremy Corbyn’s leftism and that of his Director of Strategy and Communications, Seumas Milne.    (Page 77) Activists on the left would hardly have needed this book to tell them: the former Labour Leader was both prominent in the protests against the Invasion of Iraq, in the Stop the War Coalition (StWC), and, less visibly to the wider public, has been active within Liberation, the successor (renamed in 1970) to the Movement for Colonial Freedom. (MCF).

For Pogrund and Maguire his worldview is that “the US was both a global hegemon and a force for ill in the world. They believed its imperialism ought to be resisted, and that resistance to its imperialism could almost always be justified.” (ibid).

This is unfair to Corbyn (though not to Milne). Jeremy Corbyn has always emphasised human rights. Yet one would hope that he gave them first place, not get locked into the views put forward by (amongst others) his former top aide that submerge them with issues about ‘imperialism’.

The Movement for Colonial Freedom was born out of resistance to the British Empire. At present its legacy can be traced in the reckoning with this past, given a stimulus recently by the American-centred Black Lives Matter. But, as Priyamvada Gopal has argued in her important  Insurgent Empire. Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent  (2019) these radicals were shaped by a form of “engagement with non-European peoples.” (Page 453.) She traces the history right back to the French Revolution, the Chartists, Caribbean revolts, the long-history of the drive for independence in the Sub-Continent,  and the post-Russian Revolution anti-colonial movements, seen in on the left with the transnational League Against Imperialism (1927) and the emergence of Pan-Africanism.

The “insurgents who inspired them” changed the way anti-colonialists, anti-imperialists, thought. In place of liberal paternalism, and the view that the colonised learnt their demands from the example of ‘British’ liberty and the rule of law, the British, and other European lefts began to work with equals and became changed as a result.

Outside of academic and circles  ‘contrapuntal histories’ of Empire, however brilliant,  or battles over the symbols of the ‘culture wars’ over Empire, is of less importance than the kind of solidarity shown in the past by campaigns such as the Movement for Colonial Freedom. Many of us have taken the view that we have to listen to what today’s ‘insurgents’ from Syria, Belarus to Hong Kong have to say. Many of us, looking at the “post-colonial” world have found that demands for human rights, defined by people suffering abuses or demanding their own freedoms, take priority over global conflicts between the ‘hegemon’ and the rest.

Jeremy Corbyn is, as indicated, a supporter of the Stop the War Coalition. The meeting he addressed is titled, “The US, China, and the threat of War.”

Here is what a writer for Counterfire, a left group which has great influence in the StWC says of one player in this conflict.

China: a socialist force for good or an imperial superpower in the making? An historical evaluation – long read

Dragan Plavšić

China is an emerging imperialist power that is seeking to assert itself in a world dominated by the established imperialist power of the US, still the most powerful economic, political and military force in the world today. The escalating tensions between the US and China make the dangers of another Cold War palpable, with the Trump administration in particular determined to shift the traditional focus of US and Western foreign policy from Russia to China.

In this impending conflict, the left in the UK, the closest ally of the US, has a crucial role to play. First and foremost, it must be guided by the principle laid out in the First World War by the German socialist, Karl Liebknecht, that our main enemy is at home, not least given the eminently pragmatic fact that this is the enemy within reaching distance of our protests.[18]

But in following this principle, for all the reasons argued here, it would be a mistake to see China as somehow on our side, even if only on the misleading basis that our enemy’s enemy is our friend. This temptation should certainly be resisted, not least because we ought not to forget the corresponding principle of international solidarity with genuine struggles against oppression in other countries. We need to give expression to both principles as and when the need arises.

He gives an example,

The crisis in Hong Kong is a case in point. The left should certainly support the movement for the defence of democratic rights there, but in ways that encourage its political independence from the US and the West. In particular, this means opposing those who would raise the demand for Hong Kong’s independence, as this is a demand whose logic would drag the movement into increasingly submissive dependence on Washington and London.

Plavšić concludes

It therefore follows that our ally in China is not the CCP-run state but the working class.

This is a start, at least.

But the obsession with the potential for protests and movements to play into the hands of the ‘US and the West’ is not a good sign. It serves as a very convenient pretext for ignoring any message somebody, or in this case, a groupuscule, does not like. It enables them to protest “at home” while ignoring an ‘abroad’ that modern communication and migration, personal contact, and even holidays, makes pretty close to hand.

Human rights are universal. The national, religious and cultural oppression of Uighurs is an issue regardless of what the ‘West’ says and the class inflection it takes. We have to learn, like our forebears, that we cannot stand by and let their voices be unheard.


Unheard they were at the Stop the War Coalition’s Labour Fringe event.

This is an account (from the video) of what was said:

The meeting was introduced by Shelley Asquith. She introduced Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn began with the Coronavirus crisis, the refugee crisis, an environmental crisis, seen in the fires in the US and Brazil, and the effects of global warming on the polar regions. He then spoke on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and British complicity through supplies of arms to Saudi Arabia, Palestine, the dangers in the Middle East, . He wished to apologise for the War on Iraq, driven by “xenophobia” “excessive nationalism” and lies. It had unleashed terrorism. He wanted to see Peace in the Middle East (no mention of Syria).  The Stop the War Coalition needs to be here to oppose War. It can help halt the arms industry that has fuelled conflicts by moving in the direction of a “green sustainable future”.

Lindsey German focused on rising US-China tensions, and warned about being  “taken in by this kind of rivalry”. She stated while there are “criticisms that can be made” (no mention of what these might be) these should not be an excuse for War. Salam Yaqoob, claiming to be on the ‘left’  talked of Julien Assange, and algorithms, and compassion (Nothing about Uighurs),  joining the ‘keyboard war’ to promote solidarity and mental well-being.

At the end of the meeting, Corbyn talked “the levels of anti-Chinese racism in our society are quite horrendous” linked to Covid-19 (Corbyn), and a the encouraging international solidarity towards the United States the Black Lives movement, (nothing about Uighurs). Issues now  pumping up arms in the Middle East, stocking conflict with Iran, human rights (nothing about Uighurs). Builds up anti-China rhetoric, direct conflict, or wars by proxy with China. Our policy should be guided by environmental sustainability and human rights (nothing about China).

As Asquith said, the “anti-imperialist” movement has some way to go…

Full Video: Facebook.

I am blocked from following the Stop the War Coalition twitter feed to find out more reactions,   but there is this report;

Morning Star.

WE MUSTN’T bend to the propaganda campaigns of the warmongers,” Labour MP Diane Abbott told a Stop the War fringe meeting during Labour Connected at the weekend.


Ms Abbott pointed out that while in the US, as in Britain, there “is no money for proper personal protective equipment” Mr Trump had hiked the military budget by 18 per cent to $738 billion (£571bn).

She condemned his aggressive foreign policy, including the imposition of tariffs on other countries.

“Trump even slapped tariffs on Britain once — so much for the special relationship,” she said.

“But Boris Johnson owes so much to Trump that when Trump says jump, Johnson says ‘how high?’” — pointing to Britain’s craven agreement to cease working with China’s Huawei corporation under US pressure.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the world faced three huge crises: coronavirus, a refugee crisis that has displaced 70 million people and climate change.

“Yet where is the biggest humanitarian crisis? In Yemen because of the Saudi war.

“What is our contribution? To provide more and more arms. We are complicit in the killing of wholly innocent children,” he charged.

Mr Corbyn said he was proud to have formally apologised when Labour leader for the party’s role in starting the Iraq war.


Nothing about the universal human rights of those in China, the focus of the New Cold War.

Nothing about Syria.

Nothing about Venezuela.

Those who now hold mantle of League Against Imperialism ignore the very universality of rights that they claim to defend.

See: Shiraz. 

China and Myanmar face Uighurs and Rohingya that are fighting back after years of oppression




Nick Griffin Celebrates “English Resistance” at Resist and Act for Freedom Rally: “I Choose the Opposite Side to these People on All Matters, Jonathan Reynolds MP.

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“I choose the opposite side to these people, on all matters.” (Photo, SE)

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Lab/Co-Op MP for Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley, Longdendale & Dukinfield.

Here is an indication, if we have got this right, of the Times report during the week that  David Icke and Piers Corbyn are now the moderates of the Covid Denial anti-Vax movement, fighting the extremist splitters who organised today’s rally.

“GO Local #Build26Sep on wknd 19/20 ignore FakeNews* +diversions
(*Piers +DavidIcke are in TrafSq 26th NOT 19th).”

It would be funny, except, that it is not.

As in:

Nick Griffin
Met police show today that they don’t only run from Islamist marches and blm riots. They’re now equal opportunities cowards! Great to see – the #English resistance to the #plandemic lockdown.

And there was this:


And here.


Back to Griffin:

And here:


Gut wrenching – look at the QAnon posters on the top right of this post.

There is also this:

And this lot:

Is this a fair summing up?

This is next week:



Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2020 at 8:08 pm

Stephen Cohen, Historian of the Soviet Union, and Bukharin, Dies at 81.

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Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution - National Book Foundation

One of the Most Important Books on the Russian Revolution.

Stephen Cohen has passed away (Wikpedia)

There is a full tribute in the New York Times today.

“He chronicled Stalin’s tyrannies and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and he was an enthusiastic admirer of Mikhail Gorbachev.”

Stephen Cohen’s full-scale study of Bukharin is the first major study of this remarkable associate of Lenin,” Harrison Salisbury’s wrote in a review in The Times. “As such it constitutes a milestone in Soviet studies, the byproduct both of increased academic sophistication in the use of Soviet materials and also of the very substantial increase in basic information which has become available in the 20 years since Stalin’s death.”

Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution deeply influenced many people, from mainstream historians, to those the left, above all those with a critical view on Stalin and Stalinism.


It is both a study of Bukharin the theorist of Imperialism and World Economy (1917) and political career from left-communism, alliance with Stalin against the left, champion of the New Economic Policy (NEP) that allowed some private business to continue, and then, the last independent figure to Stalin He emerges as a figure  both accommodated to the Egocrat and, finally, pushed to resisting, tried to mitigate the worst. Fully aware of the depths of mass killing and famine that went with forced collectivisation, Bukharin was, he argued, a far more formidable opponent to Stalin that Trotsky, who had been exiled without great difficulty from a party which did not hold him in high regard.  Out of power the one-time ‘darling of the party’, continued to offer an alternative to totalitarian rule by forced labour and mass murder, a (relatively) moderate ‘right’ Communism.

When that terror reached its crescendo Cohen  shows that Bukharin was did not cooperate in his own Show Trail, for the greater good of the Revolution, as suggested in fictional form by Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon (1940), and  (more sceptically) pondered over in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s reflections on the sacrifices needed for the goal of socialism,   Humanisme et terreur,  (1947).

This was the final episode in Bukharin’s life: the Moscow Trials

Bukharin was tried in the Trial of the Twenty One on 2–13 March 1938 during the Great Purge, along with ex-premier Alexei Rykov, Christian RakovskyNikolai Krestinsky, Genrikh Yagoda, and 16 other defendants alleged to belong to the so-called “Bloc of Rightists and Trotskyites”. In a trial meant to be the culmination of previous show trials, it was alleged that Bukharin and others sought to assassinate Lenin and Stalin from 1918, murder Maxim Gorky by poison, partition the Soviet Union and hand out her territories to Germany, Japan, and Great Britain.

Even more than earlier Moscow show trials, Bukharin’s trial horrified many previously sympathetic observers as they watched allegations become more absurd than ever and the purge expand to include almost every living Old Bolshevik leader except Stalin. For some prominent communists such as Bertram WolfeJay LovestoneArthur Koestler, and Heinrich Brandler, the Bukharin trial marked their final break with communism and even turned the first three into passionate anti-Communists eventually.

This is how Stephen Cohen describes Bukharin’s last stand.

“Protecting Bolshevism’s  historical legacy by refuting the criminal indictment was Bukharin’s main objective. But eh wanted also to use his courtroom testimony to make a last political statement on the two major issues confronting the country – war with Germany and he advent of terror by Stalinism.” (Page 378)

In many people’s view Cohen established, by a forensic examination of the accused’s conditions of imprisonment, his personal stakes in the process, and a  detailed account of his testimony, that Bukharin, rebutted the criminal indictment, within the limits set by the Court. He ended, “prepared to die” was as an American correspondent said, “manly, proud and almost defiant He is the first of the the fifty-four men who have faced the court in the last three public treason trails who has not based himself in the last hours of the trial”.

Cohen says, “It is difficult to judge Bukharin’s real optimism about the possibility of decisive reform and resisting Stalinism, or to know exactly when ti turned to despair” (Page 264) Yet while not making a judgement about his political actions a large audience should remember the moment when his “socialist humanism” led him to protest at the brutality of the regime, its forced collectivism, “a mass annihilation of completely defenceless men, together with their wives and children.” (ibid)>

Nigel Doggett published this account of the book in Chartist in 2018.

Nikolai Bukharin – Forgotten Revolutionary

Stephen Cohen’s 1973 biography Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution covers his life and legacy in a broader account of the revolution than the many histories focussing on Lenin and Trotsky. The Mensheviks and other ‘old’ Bolsheviks have largely been marginalised, maybe lacking the appeal of ideological purity. The old adage that history is written by the victors was true in Russia under Stalin’s rule but Trotsky survived in exile to write eloquently about the revolution, Soviet Union and Stalin and to bolster opposition until his assassination in 1941.

Dominant narratives on Soviet history present the succession to Lenin in 1924 in terms of Trotsky and Stalin. Given such a choice, most on the left might opt for the former, but residual Stalinist attitudes still retain influence, manifested in attitudes to Russia today (see Paterson and Zernova, Chartist 293) where post-Soviet traumas have spawned an unholy Russian Orthodox-Nationalist-Communist-kleptocrat alliance.

A decade younger than Trotsky and Stalin, Bukharin was described by Lenin in his final ‘testament’ as its biggest theoretician and “favourite of the whole party”. He was the principal advocate of the New Economic Policy (NEP), leader of the Right wing and finally Right Opposition.

He began on the Bolshevik left, enthusiastically supporting the October Revolution. Following the civil war and authoritarian ‘War Communism’, in the light of the ruinous state of the country he supported a more politically and economically conciliatory approach.  From 1921 when Lenin instituted the NEP, Bukharin provided theoretical justification. Private business was tolerated and even encouraged. Whilst favouring the ‘smychka’ (alliance of peasants and workers) he was open to attracting elements from the middle classes (in our terms the ‘precariat’) but no further.

Russia also became more intellectually and culturally pluralistic, allowing space for a glorious flowering of creativity in the arts.  Bukharin was a sponsor of ‘proletarian’ culture but valued variety and toleration. Throughout his life he engaged in dialogue with alternative viewpoints and opponents. When the foundation of a Communist Third International was mooted he advocated including anti-war social democrats and Mensheviks, an early indication of his ecumenical approach.

When the anticipated revolutions failed to materialise in Germany and elsewhere he sympathised with the pragmatic call to pursue what became known as ‘socialism in one country’ (anathema to Trotsky and the left). In 1925 the other leaders Kamenev and Zinoviev joined Trotsky to oppose Stalin. Bukharin disastrously opted for joint leadership with Stalin on the basis of Bukharin’s liberal economic policy. But his call to the peasants to “enrich yourselves, accumulate, develop your economy”, went a step too far towards liberalisation, which he was forced to retract.

Stalin manipulated the party in his quest for absolute power, switching policies to wrong-foot his opponents, while left and right alike underestimated him, seeing him as preferable to the other side. Within three years the left was defeated and Bukharin in turn was ousted by Stalin, who now pursued policies of rapid industrialisation more radical than those advocated by Trotsky. Bukharin belatedly approached Trotsky, writing “the disagreements between us and Stalin are many times more serious than all of the disagreements we had with you,” but was spurned with the quip: “With Stalin against Bukharin? – Yes. With Bukharin against Stalin? – Never!”

Though sidelined, he continued to write, extolling a ‘socialist humanist’ alternative to the rising totalitarian fascism, and implicitly to Stalinism too. In 1936, shortly before his final downfall, on a trip West he confided in emigré Mensheviks, describing Stalin as “ this small, malicious man, no, not a man, a devil”. He nevertheless returned to Russia knowing he was doomed, leading inexorably to a bizarre final act where Bukharin, with fellow rightist leaders Rykov and Tomsky and others were accused of plotting with the Trotskyites to overthrow the revolution. It is widely believed that he capitulated to Stalin in the final show trial.

Right wing and liberal accounts tend to conclude that Stalinism grew inevitably from Leninism. Orwell too believed that a victorious Trotsky would have been as bad as Stalin. Yet many roads not taken might have lessened the dangers of tyranny, which had been foreseen in revolutionary circles. Trotsky warned in 1904 (long before he joined the Bolsheviks) of the dangers of a Leninist centralised party: ‘The party organization substitutes itself for the party, the central committee substitutes itself for the organisation, and, finally, a “dictator” substitutes himself for the central committee’. Similar arguments were made by Rosa Luxemburg in 1911.

Cohen sees Bukharin as an inspiration for such developments as the 1968 Prague spring, the Italian and Spanish ‘Eurocommunist’ parties and Gorbachev’s Glasnost and Perestroika, all seeking to liberalise Communism.

Here are Cohen’s views on the post-Soviet developments,

Cohen’s thesis is that Yeltsin, rather than Russia’s first democratic leader, was a neo-czarist bumbler who destroyed a democratization process that, in fact, should be credited to Mikhail Gorbachev,” Robert D. Kaplan wrote in a Times review. “Cohen is particularly scathing toward American journalists, whom he depicts as overly influenced by the prosperity of a small, rapacious upper class in the major Russian cities, and who seldom ventured out into the countryside to see the terrible price of the reformers’ handiwork.”

His attitude towards Putin remains controversial.

Here is the NYT’s summary,

Many journalistic colleagues accused Professor Cohen of defending Mr. Putin, who curtailed democratic freedoms but boosted the economy, which grew for eight straight years. Wages for ordinary Russians tripled, poverty was reduced, and national growth jumped fivefold as rising prices of Russia’s plentiful oil and gas overcame a depression.

In a recent interview for this obituary, Professor Cohen denied that he had “defended” Mr. Putin.

“He holds views that I also hold,” Professor Cohen said. “It’s the views that I defend, not Putin.




Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2020 at 12:00 pm

John McDonnell, Left Should not Shout ‘through the Letterbox’ at Starmer and become isolated.

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John McDonnell: Labour would save families more than £6,700Parikiaki | Parikiaki Cyprus and Cypriot News

At the beginning of Left Out, Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire’s coruscating, account of Labour during the Corbyn leadership, two sparks are thrown out.

There are two quotes;

Jeremey Corbyn, ‘We Won the Argument’.

John McDonnell, ‘I own this disaster.’

In the concluding pages there are these words,

“The Project’s weakness, and its internal divisions, be they the distrust of Murphy’s combative stile, the deep resentment that festered among junior staff in LOTO, or John McDonnell’s freelance excursions on Brexit, all flowed directly from Corbyn’s own. Power was not something he pursued. At times it felt that he was a man living in anticipation of another happy accident.

“The Shadow Chancellor, without whom the Project would have never existed, was the opposite. For four years he worked himself ragged in the pursuit of power. He set aside his sectarianisms and moderated and mellowed, or at least had the good sense to pretend to.”(Page 359)

This is not a review of Left Out. readers of this Blog may guess that the direction one will take. There is a  view that Jeremy Corbyn would have been more content,  and perhaps more effective,  in the leadership the League Against Imperialism circa 1927. The full story the Project fell apart is not the issue here.

But some general points can, and should be, made.

There is a judgement, contrasting with Pogrund and Maguire, that the “centrifugal forces” of Brexit and personality clashes, were overshadowed by divisions over what was right. One one side were left-wing internationalists opposed to the Hard Right Brexit Project, on the other side were those who either welcomed the opportunity to break free from the EU, or stayed confused about how to mobilise Labour’s electorate against it.

John McDonnell ultimately had more in common with the internationalists, and his actions were far from inexplicable but based on his ability as a politician to work with those from this camp, rather than the way the People’s Brexit faction attempted to dismiss us.

To illusrate his abilty to talk to, and not ‘use’,  other people we have this report today.

McDonnell has now said: “The most important thing for the left now is not to allow itself to be portrayed as oppositionists, shouting from the sidelines, shouting through the letterbox, that sort of thing.”

What there is, is the evidence of John McDonnell’s actions now.

McDonnell advises Labour left not to be seen as “shouting from the sidelines

John McDonnell has urged Labour left members not to let themselves be “portrayed as oppositionists, shouting from the sidelines” and instead “make sure that we win every political debate around the policy issues that we now confront”.

In an interview with Antonello Guerrera of Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the former Shadow Chancellor warned the party’s left flank against allowing itself to become isolated, saying: “We mustn’t alienate people within the party.”

He reminded members that Keir Starmer won the Labour leadership election earlier this year “on the basis of adopting a template policy programme which was drawn from the last two Labour manifestos” in the 2017 and 2019 general elections.

McDonnell said: “The most important thing for the left now is not to allow itself to be portrayed as oppositionists, shouting from the sidelines, shouting through the letterbox, that sort of thing.

We mustn’t allow ourselves to be isolated or in any way, and we mustn’t alienate people within the party of the majority of the Labour Party members.”

He argued that while most members are “willing to give Keir Starmer a chance to see how we can really keep the party together and develop it”, the majority “don’t want any retreat from the radicalism of Jeremy Corbyn”.

McDonnell also said that some members within the party had been alienated by the leadership’s statements on certain issues that have “not been carefully worded or well chosen”, but said people were not leaving Labour “on any mass scale”.

These comments follow others which confirm this Blog’s view that not only was John McDonnell one of the most serious figures in Corbyn’s Labour pushing a transformative democratic socialist agenda, that he has a “nose” for the political bargaining involved,  but that he is simply somebody with a lot of good sense.

The hysterics of many articles and comments made by those claiming to be on the left  shown towards Keir Starmer is repulsive.

Not only will they alienate the majority of the Labour Party, and the wider public, but the go against the grain of democratic socialist politics.

People used to talk, not least his own ‘knowing’ supporters,  of Tony Blair “getting in the betrayal first” when, well before election victory,  he had got rid of Clause Four and key left-wing policies on replacing Thatcherism.

This writer has heard those who knew absolutely nothing about Keir Starmer, who had a period of radical left activism of some years in the 1980s, as a Blairite.

You do not have to have met Starmer during his years editing Socialist Alternatives, or indeed to have worked with him in his Chambers, to feel your stomach churn at some of the scattergun, often very personal, attacks.

John McDonnell, like Andrew Fisher, are well placed to call for these  bilious shouts.

McDonnell’s interview has made waves for another aspect,

In an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the former shadow chancellor drew parallels between Johnson and US President Donald Trump and claimed that parts of the world are “in quite a dangerous moment when it comes to the development of the forms of the Right”.

“The depiction of right-wing populism can be described in some instances as ‘proto-fascism’, with regard to Trump and also with regard to our own country, the rise of Johnson, Johnson’s politics,” McDonnell told the paper.

“It’s proto-fascism, no respect for democratic values, no respect for democratic institutions, no respect for the law, no respect for some of those rights and entitlements that particularly Labour and trade unions in our own country secured after struggles over the years.”

Boris Johnson is ‘proto-fascist’, says John McDonnell


That sounds a better row to get into!

But on Labour’s left will he be listened to?

We hear that leading Labour left-wingers, or rather, those who define themselves against others by their identification s left wing are already saying, “Comments and articles like this are  unhelpful by John McDonnell” They are preparing to buckle down.

To see what alternatives there are (not forgetting the previous post on this Blog on Chris Williamson) here is an interesting critical assessment of life outside the Labour Party.

Marxist Method and Orientation to Mass Organisations of the Working Class II

Socialist Voice.


“A Matter Of Prestige ” and “Marxist Method and Orientation to Mass Organisations of the Working Class (Part One)”, published in August 2019 and July 2020 respectively, examined the destructive role played by The Socialist Party of England and Wales (SP) in the United Kingdom civil service and out-sourced workers’ trade union the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) and the subsequent wider split in the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI).

One’s eyes are drawn to this passage on one of the groups shouting loudly for people to leave Labour and join their brand of politics.

 – SP & CWI and the Trade Unions

As predicted, the SP/CWI’s surrender to prestige politics and abandonment of the united front strategy has driven an inexorable descent into destructive sectarianism, currently most evident in their continuing “rule or ruin” strategy in the socialist led PCS, one of the most militant, democratic, lay-led unions in the UK. Their abandonment of the principles and method through which the CWI played such an outstanding role in building a united left over many decades that defeated one of the most corrupt right-wing bureaucracies in the movement has left their now tiny forces isolated and alienated from even their erstwhile supporters on the left. Prestige politics inevitably results in a pursuit of “strategies” based on grudge-bearing, vendettas and self-abasing delusions of victimhood rather than a sound method of Marxist analysis. For them everything is now personal.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 18, 2020 at 5:57 pm

Chris Williamson: From Vegan Cooking Tips to Resistance.

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Vegan Cookin’ With Chris!

With the autumn just around the corner, now is a good time to start thinking about those warming dishes to keep the cold out.


Chris Williamson’s new movement, The Resistance, is said to be unable to make a wave in puddle.

Yet he appears to attract ever more friends and alllies.

There is this, one Ian Donvan, who writes on the pages of Socialist Fight (Trotskyist Faction, Canal Historique), that,

Starmer’s Labour: A Racist Party led by Pogromists

The strategic aim of Marxists in working with layers of militants such as those who are currently leaving the Labour Party in droves and beginning to coalesce around initiatives such as that of Chris Williamson, has to be to create a genuine working class party, where the functionaries are materially and politically subordinate to the working class membership, not the other way round. A key part of the political basis for such a party must be to draw a very hard line against Zionism, which is playing an insidious role as an anti-working class, destructive far-right force, seeking to destroy any trace of working class politics and consciousness in Labour.

Here is another of his new best freinds (Trigger Warning: Socialist Fight (Trotskyist Faction, Canal Historique), is not, repeat not,  muckers with T. Greenstein (MOnster Raving Greenstein Party).

If that’s whet your appetite here’s Chris Cuisine.

Britain’s best-known Vegan is ready with  the must-watch of the year: Cookin’ With Chris!

Ideal grub for tonight.

Here is one the stars of tonight’s show (above)!

Read More:


I keep seeing stuff online about the Workers Party, and it’s quite frustrating, as a member of the party, to see this stuff bandied around willy-nilly. Even some pretty good people, that you think are ok, that you seem to largely agree with, seem to have this really weird mental block about our party.

Since joining the party last December, pretty much the minute that Corbyn lost, I have never felt such a sense of camaraderie. The party was tiny when I joined, and the benefit of that was that you got to know pretty much everyone in it. Now, as new people join, it’s harder to keep track, but I love seeing a new person with a little target logo on their profile and seeing that we’ve got new bods rocking up all the time. It’s like collecting Pokemon, but more fun, and slightly less cute.

To be honest, unlike toss-pot Ray Woolford (whose attempt to get nominated for Labour’s NEC has got nowhere)  Delaney sounds a decent person (okay, she laughed at one of my jokes).

She is keeping really really bad company….

News Hounds report that this Ray chap is a real wrong ‘un

So let’s have no more of this:

Bon appétit!

Len McCluskey: Keir Starmer is “Absolutely on the Side of Working People.”

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Len McCluskey, the leader of UNITE has announced, in effect, that he will follow Andrew Fisher’s recommendation that the left cooperate with Keir Starmer.

Here are Len McCLuskey’s tweets,

Labour List notes,

The Labour leader’s TUC address got a very warm reception from trade unions, particularly Unite general secretary Len McCluskey who said it “showed him to be absolutely on the side of working people”. Unions have come together in recent months to use the same key terms to deliver their demands and warnings: we need to ‘build back better’, and the government is risking a ‘tsunami of job losses’. UNISON launched a ‘No Going Back to Normal’ campaign earlier this week, stressing that we must not “return to undervaluing our public services and the people who provide them”. Labour’s call for the furlough scheme to be replaced by more targeted measures shows the movement is working as one. Reinforcing the message, McCluskey has today written to the PM urging him to act before the “redundancy floodgates” open and requesting a meeting.

The Morning Star has yet to comment on these statements.  It has published this article by Len McCluskey, which does not mention Keir Starmer:

Labour left must work with Starmer or risk ‘return to tomb’, says Corbyn adviser

The left has got to build an alliance with that centre-left of the party that voted for Starmer – and a lot of Corbyn supporters who voted for Starmer – to defend that kind of programme. That’s the sort of constructive role we’ve got to play.”

Fisher’s intervention echoes that of former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who received some criticism within the left after saying Starmer had gauged his response to the government’s handling of Covid-19 “exactly right”. He added that he believed Starmer was a socialist.

The leader of a major trade union will have to work with the Labour leader.

McClusky’s reaction should be seen first and foremost in this light.

But it comes after reports of a more fraught relationship (Sir Keir Starmer warned not to take Unite’s Labour funding for granted by union leader.)

One of the reasons for McClusky’s difficult relations with Keir Starmer comes from the fall out over Europe that marked the Labour Party in the aftermath of the vote to leave the EU in 2016.

In Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick MaGuire’s  Left Out, The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn. (2020), there is an account of the conflicts inside the Party over a Second Referendum on Europe. The present head of Labour, they state, has “never intended to be Labour’s Remainer-in-chief” (Page 128)  He wanted to “govern”, to negotiate, even, in his role as Shadow Brexit Secretary,  to ‘save’ Brexit with a soft version.

Michael Chessum of Another Europe is Possible,  claims that Starmer had not initially joined the campaign for a Public Vote.  Yet outside support for a new ballot rather than a ‘better’ Brexit, grew, accelerated by the protests organised by the People’s Vote campaign launched in April 2018. One sign of membership feeling was the large numbers of motions, sent by constituency parties to Labour’s annual decision-making body that year.  They were aimed at cancelling Brexit. The future leader was not involved.  Chessum asserts, “There was no sense in which Keir Starmer was cooperating with the Remainers who had got those motions to conference,” (Page 137) But, there were those, who had worked with Starmer on the radical left in the late 1980s,  who had got the message (or at least the hope) that he was unlikely to stand aside on the issue.

In the midst of the Parliamentary struggles over the implementation of the Referendum, and the impasse of new PM  Theresa May in the Commons, pressure grew for a move towards an assertive pro-EU opinion began. Pressure came from both anti-Corbyn People’s Vote Labour wing, and the pro-Corbyn AEIP. The activists were spurred on by the first wave of large public demonstrations (without a parallel from the pro-Brexit left for their own ‘People’s Brexit’). The subject started to make waves inside the party being taken up in Branches and constituencies.

LOTO (the Leader of the Opposition Office)  stayed hostile, even virulently so, to anything other than accepting Brexit. How could they deal with the political move in the direction of the national populist right, as the strident public presence of Nigel Farage was there to remind them? They buckled down. Having a new contest would, they believed, feed Anti-EU anger, if not worse. Xenophobic reaction could not be fought head on, only answered by a watered down, better Brexit   Close to LOTO, McCluskey wanted no option to roll back the principle of leaving the EU “Do we want to go back into the European Union? he asked, “The people have already decided on that.” (Page 141)

Left Out presents Starmer’s speech to the Labour Conference in 2018, when the issue came to a head. The Party appeared to have ruled out the possibility that there be a new vote on Europe that included the possibility of staying in the EU. The key  that without an election, “It’s 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 an option.” This received a standing ovation.

LOTO had already accused AEIP of “sabotaging the project”. Now they railed that Starmer had “completely fucked us”.” Pogrund and  MaGuire agree, the Shadow Brexit Secretary “had screwed LOTO and the Project”.

This is the interpretation that some believers still hold to. Descriptions in Left out of Andrew Fisher’s willingness to attempt compromises with internationalists and other Remain forces – not to mention the sheer weight of facts about the looming hard-right shift leaving the EU would bring –  over Brexit indicate that The Project was never cast in the fixed mould the pro-Brexit group around Corbyn would have wished for. People were there to point out that the Brexit steamroller would push hopes of socialism aside. A form of national neoliberalism, linked to Donald Trump,  was taking hold inside the Tory Party. Under Boris Johnson it won a landslide victory in December 2019.

But the accusation of “sabotage” remain.  Writers for the Morning Star continue to believe, like Solomon Hughes, that opposition to the EU was used as a “scam” to get Starmer elected as Labour Leader, and ” the real aim wasn’t to stop Brexit — it was to stop a Labour government take power under a socialist leader.”

The anger over Starmer’s pro-Referendum stand might also be part of the reason why licence has been given to minions such as Steve Walker of Skwawkbox. He continues attacks on Keir Starmer (Corbyn enters fray over school return in implicit rebuke to Starmer’s failure and ‘School is safe’ Starmer IS self-isolating because one of his children ‘at school throughout’ showing C19 symptoms, say insiders) Other alt-left ‘news’ sites compete at this kind of tale-telling  and vitriol directed at Labour’s leader.

These anti-Labour voices look as if it’s about to lose some prominent support. That is, from people who, while not running with this pack, have  not shown displeasure at its barking.

Whether the anti-Starmer yelps will quieten down, and critical support – returning to issues raised by AEIP about subjects like freedom of movement –  takes their place, remains to be seen.

It will be interesting to see how the following develops.

Efforts to co-ordinate a major gathering of the left are still under way, though they have been disrupted by the pandemic. A Unite insider said: “There have been some very active discussions over the summer with key people on the left and it is clear there is an appetite to work together to help Labour back into power.

“When conditions allow, there will be an event that brings us together. That’s clearly not possible now, but it is great to see the enthusiasm for ensuring Labour stands for a better, fairer Britain and that Keir’s 10-point electoral platform is delivered.”



George Galloway (Alliance 4 Unity) Warns of Green Parties who “collude with the ruling class.”

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Galloway Warns Against Greens, “Across Europe, Green parties invariably collude with the ruling class against workers’ interests. “

Old friends of George Galloway, like this Blog, have been concerned about the dapper gent these last months.

An unbecoming obsession with Zoe Ball and remarks that many consider beneath a man of Galloway’s stature, mark his Tweets today.

Jealousy, the Green-eyed monster, they suggest, is behind his new support for Defund the BBC.

But there’s still some hard politics, hard talking from the former leader of Respect, close friend of left-wing bigwigs like Lindsey German and John Rees, and, more recently a comrade in arms of Nigel Farage.

Everybody’s favourite man in Fedora re-tweets the Chinese Embassy in NIgeria and  China studies  wiz-kid John Ross on the achievements of a world beating human rights pioneer state.



Galloway has allies on the issue all over the place.


He even finds the time  for some advice to Muslim protesters so outraged at Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses that they called for his murder.


But, apart from his sideshow work in Scotland-Alliance for Unity, it’s Galloway’s leadership of the newest star on the left, the Workers Party of Britain that has brought the

He and his comrades ae now advising the world on the danger represented by Extinction Rebellion and Green Parties.

Workers Party member Tess Delaney on how XR is diverting the energy and enthusiasm of its activists into ultimately futile actions.

The clue is in the fact that to run this set-up takes lots of dolla. The big businesses and corporations are the ones with all the dolla, so they’ll be the ones setting this up and becoming the heroes, with green versions of their logos stretching as far as the eye can see.

However, in this late stage capitalist society in which we find ourselves, everything that is done will be to provide a smokescreen to make us all be quiet and ignore all the other stuff.


The ONLY way to solve this is for the people to be in charge. You are many; they are few. What you gonna do? There is only one big fight worth having. Stop wasting time.



The Alliance 4 Unity, led by G.Galloway, by contrast operates in the interests of the workers.


Indeed: The Alliance for Unity party was formed in July by George Galloway and Conservative Jamie Blackett.

Cllr Linda Holt – who left the Conservative party and went independent last year – announced that she will be standing for a list seat representing Mid Scotland and Fife.


George Galloway says he’ll work with Tories at Holyrood election to stop SNP breaking up Britain

These are the kind of people they attract:

George Galloway’s Alliance 4 Unity candidate outed as vile racist who loved tweet calling George Floyd ‘black lowlife pile of s**t’

Here is Galloway struggling with the workers against the Ruling Class:





What is left anti-semitism and how can it be confronted? Report on 13th of September Meeting.

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 Confronting Anti-Semitism.

Last night there was a Zoom meeting, “What is left anti-semitism and how can it be confronted”, Steve Lapsley (speaking in a personal capacity) and Daniel Randall (Alliance for Workers’ Liberty).

The event began with Daniel Randall explaining the roots of left anti-semitism in the 19th century. He outlined the hostility to Jews amongst early socialists and radicals such as Proudhon, and Wilhelm Marr, a hatred that combined very old prejudice against the Jewish ‘race’ with attacks on ‘Jewish’ finance (I was reminded of Les juifs, rois de l’époquehistoire de la féodalité financière, Alphonse Toussenel. 1847. The utopian socialist author was a disciple of Charles Fourier). The picture of secretive state-making Jewish power and money  was an influential theme across the European left for the rest of the century. Randall noted, it was the original “socialism of fools” denounced by  August Bebel. It has no “emancipatory” message, just a mustering of hatred. 

The speaker showed this quote:


Randall then traced the history of Stalinist anti-semitism. This reached a peak in the last years of Stalin’s rule as an Egocrat. After initially backing the creation of the State of Israel the Soviet Leader fomented purges of Jewish Communist leaders in the Eastern glasis. His openly anti-Jewish ‘Doctors’ Plot left an imprint on Communist Parties. This could be extended to the fall-out from the  6 Day War in 1967.  and the embrace of the Palestinian cause by leftists in the 1970s. The decade saw the rise of a parallel form of leftism amongst a minority of Palestinians – a process that has ground to a halt in the new millennium with the rise of Hamas and Hezbollah.

One enduring trait is that  many see Israel as a uniquely reactionary state (out to influence world events)  and Jewish nationalism, ‘Zionism’  as a uniquely reactionary nationalism. As he pointed out, people do not talk about Turkey as the ‘Kemalist’ state or harp on and on about the nationalism of other countries rather than political parties or leaders in power. Randall did not discuss the political traditions on the Jewish left, such as the Bund, which were hostile to creating a Jewish national homeland. One can only observe that the Bund has, tragically, not been a mass force since the Shoah.

It was perfectly right to campaign for Palestinian rights, Randall argued, giving forceful examples or oppressive Israel government actions,  which recognising that for most Jewish people worldwide Israel itself was a “raft” of hope. While the internationalist left is not a promoter of nation states, we would support people’s human right to make their own decisions on this.

Those with long-standing acquaintance and friendship with Jewish people do not perhaps need talk of the “community” to know that most are strongly attached to Israel.  Yet you can still be surprised to find those, in the Labour Party, who are not aware of the depth of feeling this stirs up.

Steve Lapsley talked of his own – unhappy – experience of dealing with the former MP ‘anti-Zionist’ Chris Williamson, and his own Labour Party, within which some activists gave priority to the Palestine and Israel issue over all other international causes, and even British politics. He spoke of how even members of his Liberal Synagogue had become so incensed by what the problems with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party that it has caused him great pain.

In the discussion (TC did not contribute) there was some debate over Randall’s belief that administrative means were very far from the best way to deal with any indication of anti-Semitism. But can discussion be the only way to confront left anti-semitism? It was pointed out that some individuals are not deliberately provocative but held views and acted in way  incompatible  with  membership of a democratic socialist party.

The meeting was a model of clarity and genuine  debate.

Why Now?

There is a view that the recent LP problem was brought out not just because of these long-standing issues. When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader the most ‘anti-Zionist’ campaigners on Palestine believed they would be able to take the Labour Party along with them and lead a campaign on Israel on their terms. They thought they were at a ANC moment (when anti South African apartheid campaigns became a mainstream priority). Believing Labour open to their movement, they were mortally offended to find that could not do this. Their own ultras reacted at the top of their voice. The valves opened.

Historic  anti-semitism lives on in conspiracy theories, the openly racist far right, and national populism.  It also has echos on the fringes of the ‘anti-globalist’ left and red-brown movements, like Alain Soral’s Shoah denying Égalité et Réconciliation. Stalinist and other ‘absolute anti-Zionist’ movements bear the imprint.

As if to illustrate the point Tony Greenstein’s latest ‘anti-Zionist’ crowing arrived on Facebook this morning.

And this got posted in the comments here, a link to Ian Donovan’s latest rantings,

Labour: A Racist Party led by Pogromists

The election of Keir Starmer as Labour’s leader in April was the revenge of Labour’s contingent of the neo-liberal bourgeois elite for the ‘aberration’ of Corbyn’s election in 2015.”
Truth seeking Donovan asks
the “question of how it is possible, in terms of Marxist sociology and materialist analysis, that a far-right, bourgeois supremacist trend such as Zionism can come to play such an unusual role in the British Labour Party. Why is it that all candidates for the Labour leadership election that were voted on by the membership should swear what amounts to an oath of loyalty to the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BOD).

He finds that,

the role of Zionism in a dissolving bourgeois workers party whose bureaucrats and privileged layers are in transition from being lackeys of finance capital in the old sense, with its more concentrated industry and proletariat, to being lackeys of today’s imperialism with its qualitative enhancement of financialised capital.

Donovan’s New Course:

The strategic aim of Marxists in working with layers of militants such as those who are currently leaving the Labour Party in droves and beginning to coalesce around initiatives such as that of Chris Williamson, has to be to create a genuine working class party, where the functionaries are materially and politically subordinate to the working class membership, not the other way round.

A key part of the political basis for such a party must be to draw a very hard line against Zionism, which is playing an insidious role as an anti-working class, destructive far-right force, seeking to destroy any trace of working class politics and consciousness in Labour. 

So ‘Zionism’ is responsible for “dissolving” Labour and making it into a party of “lackys of imperialism”  etc etc etc….

For an explanation of this mindset:

See: The left and anti-semitism. Daniel Randall. 

A video of the meeting will be available.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 14, 2020 at 11:41 am

American SWP (no relation to UK SWP) Denounce “Violent course of antifa, Black Lives Matter threat to working class.”

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Page 7: “Antifa, Black Lives Matter threat to working class.”

This Blog does not often comment on US politics. The earthquakes that have been happening recently have been covered from the left too well elsewhere.

There is excellent information available daily through Marx Mail, and Louis Proyect and people like Spencer Sunshine. Spencer is excellent on antifa and their fight against the US far-right.

It does not take long to imagine why there has been little comment here: conditions are dramatic and you need to be familiar with what is very different culture,  and political landscape, to write anything useful.


But this article in the very latest Militant (the original, not the UK version of years past), a Trotskyist publication which dates back to the 1930s, is too extraordinary to pass without comment.

Violent course of antifa, Black Lives Matter threat to working class

In recent weeks there has been an escalation in deadly street violence  led by antifa and leaders of Black Lives Matter, as well as by some rightist vigilantes – from Portland, Oregon, to Kenosha, Wisconsin. The looting, intimidation, arson, street fighting, and shootings pose a deadly threat to the working class.

All summer, groups of antifa have carried out provocative nightly actions in Portland, including attacking police, setting fires and breaking windows. These actions are dangerous for working people looking for ways to resist bosses’ efforts to push the capitalist crisis onto our shoulders. They deal blows to fights by unionists, against cop brutality and for Black rights.

This is unforgivable:

As they glorify violence, the embittered middle-class forces of antifa rail against “the elite,” elevate small group action above political struggle and remain deeply alienated from the working class. They have much in common with fascist groups they claim to oppose. Others have traveled this road previously, like Italian Socialist Party leader Benito Mussolini who went on to lead fascist forces to power in 1922.

There is more in the same vein,

The violence and thuggery practiced by antifa and Black Lives Matter is the opposite of the broad, inclusive mobilizations that were organized in late May, largely by young people in thousands of towns large and small across the country in response to police brutality.

By focusing on “Actions seeking to silence, “shame” and intimidate people are on a political course toward anti-working-class thuggery” – actions few would hesitate to condemn – as if anybody is in favour of thugs –  the SWP misses the dynamic in which this is happening.

It is not hard to agree with US comrades who immediately see this part of the sentence, that in the US the “deadly street violence (is)  led by antifa and leaders of Black Lives Matter, “

In other words, they are a major cause of “violence and thuggery”.

To boot, they are not just opposed to broad demonstrations, they  have “much in common” with  Mussolini’s  squadristi.

How has it come to this?  

The American Socialist Workers Party  (SWP) is  the oldest continuous organisation in the world which comes from the Trotskyist tradition. Formally created in 1937 its origins go back to the Communist League of America (CLA) created in 29128 by opponents of Stalin who had been expelled from the US Communist Party.

Many British people on the radical left have an affection for the early years of the party whose most famous leader was  James.P.Cannon.

When you read about Trotskyism in the 1930s and 1940s, from the strike waves during the Roosevelt years, to the New York Intellectuals,  you will find many references to the SWP. One dissident faction, the. Shachtmanites, which broke from them at the start of the 1940s, even gets a mention in the Coen Brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis

This Blog comes from a different strand of the radical anti-Stalinist left, largely European. The tradition that supported workers’ self-management represented by Michel Pablo (Rapitis), was originally Trotskyist, and at frequent loggerheads with the US SWP. For some, our ideas are shaped by non-Trotskyist democratic Marxist traditions which have had roots  in such currents the London Bureau of left-socialist parties, later called the International Revolutionary Marxist Centre, the body that was behind the ILP and George Orwell’s support for the POUM during the Spanish Civil War or the 1960s New Left of  Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Low Countries.

In broader terms our  activities, our socialist, social democratic, and labour parties, and radical new leftist groups which have had an electoral presence, have an imprint that makes it hard for us to relate to a political environment where ‘left’ frequently means liberal, and the Democratic Party has marginalised anything less moderate than (in European terms) social democrats like Bernie Sanders.

Some people in the UK have had more direct contract with the SWP. Within the 1970s British left, in the International Marxist Group, the supporters of the US party ‘The Tendency’ were a vocal presence during the 1970s and continued there until the mid-1980s.  They stood for very different politics to TC, above all through its hostility to the Portuguese radical left following the 1974  ‘Carnation Revolution’. For some the activities and over-vocal presence  of this group, described even then as ‘cultish’ did not create much affection for their parent body.

The tiny fragment that remains of this group, the Communist League, is pro-Brexit and has a variety of other obnoxious positions (cosying up to Castro’s successors for a start). They are part of what is the SWP’s ‘international’, the Pathfinder tendency Careful observers sometimes spot them at demos with their characteristic hand-made placards covered with felt-tip slogans, a practice mimicked by the Spartacists. They sell Pathfinder books and copies of the US Militant.

Here is a rare photo of their ‘candidate’ for the London Mayor in 2016  (he did not run in the end) Roger Silverman, who was once quite prominent in the IMG.

Galloway Faces Strong Left Challenge as Communist League Silberman Stands for London Mayor. | Tendance Coatesy

Their US parent has moved away from Trotskyism, summed up  Jack Barnes Their Trotsky and Ours (2002) and move to turn themselves into an ally of the Cuban Communist Party. After years of purges, shrunk down to a small cult, with more than enough money to keep going and attempt to run a 2020 candidate for President, Alyson Kennedy.

In case you think that description is a bit shop-worn, this is how Louis Proyect describes their present form,

In this photograph, dated March 15, 2020, you will see a group of mostly senior citizens defying the call for social distancing. Who could they be? Rightwing Christian evangelists? Libertarians standing up for liberty?

Instead, you are looking at members of the Socialist Workers Party at a memorial meeting for one of their members who died last month. The Militant newspaper reported that more than sixty people were in attendance. That’s probably about half the membership, and 1,900 less than when I was a member back in the 1970s. What happened to all these people, including me? Most either drifted away or became victims of a purge in the early 1980s when they fought to preserve the party’s Trotskyist heritage. Over the past decade, the dropout rate accelerated mostly as a result of the party adopting increasingly peculiar positions. Of the remaining 100 or so, their activism mostly consists of going door to door like Jehovah’s Witnesses peddling the books and newspapers of what most would view as a cult.

The SWP and Social Distancing: a Study in Abnormal Political Psychology

This is the SWP’s present perspective,

It is in the course of these fights and broader struggles in the years ahead working people will learn how to defend ourselves in disciplined ways from assaults by the bosses and cops who protect their rule. And we will see more clearly the middle-class character and dangerous anti-working-class course of antifa and the Black Lives Matter leadership.

As we do so we’ll gain confidence in our own forces and have the opportunity to build a movement capable of bringing an end to capitalist rule and replacing it with our own government.

Some suggest that they have just got older and more conservative with the years….



Some links: USA: On the Formation of the Jack Barnes Cult in the SWP Gus Horowitz.

USA – SWP: Long March to Oblivion David Finkel.

More than a cultist. Andrew Coates reviews Memoirs of a Critical Communist. Towards a History of the Fourth International, by Livio Maitan.


 The American Socialist Workers Party (no relation to the UK SWP), the oldest Trotskyist party in the world, and an influence on the celebrated list of 1930s New York Intellectuals, under the impact of Jack Barnes today subordinates its politics to the Cuban state. Maitan charges them with their leader’s ‘authoritarian behaviour’ and purging their group by accusations of ‘disloyalty’. He does not explore allegations of ‘cultism’ and ‘Trotskyist missionaries’ common to those who have had contact with them in Europe.


Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2020 at 8:30 pm

Labour Should Intervene in the Boris Brexit Shambles.

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Le Monde Cartoonist Plantu on Boris Johnson’s Covid-19 and Brexit Strategies.

The Morning Star, which has lost its once close links to the Labour Leadership, is now waging a culture war for Brexit. investigative journalist Solomon Hughes alleges that Keir Starmer was propelled into the position held by Jeremy Corbyn as part of a pre-planned attack on the left that used the campaign for a Second Referendum to remove socialists from being in a position to lead Labour and win a General Election. The daily now publishes articles defending Boris Johnson’s defiance of international law in his plans for Brexit.

The mischief making intention is transparent.

Away from the ‘People’s Brexit’ fringes the issue of opposing the present terms of leaving the EU  has come back to the fore,

Last week Johnathan Lys argued in Prospect.

It’s time for Keir Starmer to talk about Brexit

There is no advantage, anywhere, to remaining silent. If we leave with a disastrous no deal, Starmer can say that he warned about it and sought to avoid it. If we leave with a deal, he can say that he argued for that and it was the right thing to do. Nobody will say that he should have backed remaining outright, because that proposition disappeared after the 2019 election.

The Labour leader does not have to advocate staying in the single market or customs union. It is effectively too late to recommend either, and the government will in any case ignore him. All he has to do is advocate the closest arrangement within the currently deliverable parameters. In practical terms, that means arguing for a deal on fishing and accepting the level playing field. As and when Brexit significantly harms our economy and costs jobs, he will have the political space to advocate the closer relations embodied in a so-called soft Brexit, and include it in a future Labour manifesto.

Owen Jones argued on Thursday,

Brexit is back – and Labour’s dilemma has not changed

The latest Tory ruse on Brexit is tediously straightforward. By talking up no deal and expressing a willingness to flout international law, the Conservatives intend to bounce Brussels into a favourable agreement while torturing their Labour opponents. It is the Tories who have relitigated Britain’s rupture with the EU – despite coasting to victory with a commitment to “Get Brexit done”.

They know that if the airwaves are flooded with Labour’s angry reactions, their opponents can be easily portrayed, once again, as blocking Brexit altogether. They believe that their electoral coalition has little interest in international law. They want to toxify Keir Starmer in so-called red wall seats by portraying him as an aloof, establishment, metropolitan, remainer lawyer.

Starmer’s team has noted the trap and sidestepped it. “Get on, negotiate, get the deal that was promised,” declares the Labour leader, while his team blames Boris Johnson for reopening the supposedly done Brexit. This seems like sound politics: Labour knows that while most of its voters are remainers, any path to victory includes winning over leave supporters in English and Welsh towns.

He concludes,

as Brexit returns to the headlines and there is consensus in the commentariat that the opposition is cleverly sidestepping Johnson’s trap, let us conclude that that should have been everyone’s approach from the very beginning.

MIchael Chessum, campaigner for the left-wing anti-Brexit Another Europe is Possible, and who did not back Keir Starmer during the Labour internal contest has written in Labour List. He says that by not taking a public position the Party leader is making the “same mistakes” as Jeremy Corbyn.

It is urgent that Labour starts campaigning around an alternative vision for Britain after Brexit. This shouldn’t be hard, because it already has a full alternative policy, democratically established at its conference and supported by Starmer in his leadership campaign. Continued free movement, single market access and improved, rather than eroded, protections for workers, migrants and the environment: these could form a basis for Labour’s policy, both now and at the next election.

Remainers are silent because they are demoralised, but the part of the public which was rallied in opposition to the right wing nationalist politics of Brexit is still sout there. Labour’s road to victory was and remains finding this new mass base, and marrying it to working class organisation and a renewed radical politics. If it fails to energetically fight the Tories’ Brexit agenda, progressives will get more demoralised, Dominic Cummings will decide the new normal, and we will wake up in five years’ time in an economy modelled on Singapore, with nobody even promising to take us back.

The New Statesman’s Stephen Bush puts forward a different approach in the I’,.

 The calculation that Starmer is making is not just that keeping quiet on all things EU makes it more likely he will win the next election, but that a centre-left policy platform can be delivered just as easily outside the bloc as within it.

It does seem incredible, to say the least,  when the British, European and International Press, is full of articles, and politicians’ statements on Boris Johnson’s plans, that Labour has not said anything.

Our relations with the EU are not something you can reduce to electoral calculation.

There is a fundamental political division which is not going to go away.

The Hard Right (and their ‘left’ pro-Brexit allies, who wish for the same power for different ends) stand by these views, as Fintan O’Toole makes clear. This is the “larger mentality of Brexit..”

 At the heart of its theology is the fantasy that there is such a thing as absolute national sovereignty, a complete unilateral freedom of action that had been taken away by EU membership. Once Britain is “unchained” from the EU, Britain can do whatever it damn well pleases. The withdrawal treaty is not a set of permanent obligations, merely a route towards the obligation-free future that starts on 1 January 2021.

The project for national neoliberalism has now reached a decisive point.

The issues raised by the undermining of agreed Treaties, the Irish Peace Agreement, negotiations which could left substandard US food into the UK, not to mention private companies eyeing up public services, are too big to be sidestepped.

It is hardly too much to say that we need to stand up and present a different way forward.


Morning Star Exposes Keir Starmer “scam” to win Labour Leadership contest.

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Unity' candidate Starmer accused of turning blind eye to conflict on his own patch | Morning Star

“Scammer” who used to People’s Vote anti-Brexit Campaign – Reveals Morning Star.


The Brexit ultras of the Morning Star carry this story today.

Now he’s safely in charge, Starmer’s backing Brexit

Whatever happened to ‘Remainia,’ asks SOLOMON HUGHES? Remember the rallies, the articles and the millions (of pounds in dodgy corporate cash)? Dropped like a bad habit: the real aim wasn’t to stop Brexit — it was to stop a Labour government take power under a socialist leader.

Hughes, who well-established rumour has something to do with investigative journalism and has had something to do with  a fortnightly satirical magazine, has scored a new scoop!

Only a month after the FInancial Times published How the People’s Vote fell apart (which explains how the campaign finished in feuds and a massive cock-up) the Star’s ace-reporter has just  published the low-down on the disappearance of the People’s Vote campaign: it had actually achieved its real goals. (1)

The People’s Vote campaign being  as dead as very dead perroquet. Hughes asks the question on the lips of everybody who backed Brexit.  Have you not noticed that the bird is no longer tweeting? “Was it all — you wonder — a bit of a scam?”

Campaigners in the Referendum and its aftermath  had managed to  spoon-fed opinion polls to a very supportive press have gone quiet.

The ” big money” involved remains (ha!) a mystery. Like the Leave campaign, ‘dark money’ flowed in “very ugly sources.”, worse, “not pretty” at all (note to self,  Have this book to pick up tomorrow from Ipswich libraryDemocracy for sale : dark money and dirty politics Geoghegan, Peter, 2020.)

What’s the shadow in this shady affair?

a…. desire for politics to go back to “centrist” normal, rather than the current polarisation.

Hard Nosed Newshound Hughes know his ‘hood, the Labour Party:  .

There were real grassroots groups (note, no mention of any such as Another Europe Is Possible)  that wanted to overturn Brexit. But they would have remained a small, active fringe.

But, alas, these types hadn’t a clue about what was really going on.

The “people’s vote” came to dominate Labour politics because the big money, corporate-dominated organisations, Best for Britain and Open Britain, had the cash and the media access.

The Intel is there. The operation stands exposed.

They drove the obsessive focus on trying to change the Labour opposition.

And so the party abandoned its 2017 manifesto plan to respect the referendum and try for a better Brexit.

Pause: big money, big business, intervention in Labour Party, result!

The result was disastrous for Labour, which crashed in the polls and equally disastrous for the supposed cause, as Boris Johnson’s big victory guarantees a “hard” Brexit.

Post election….and ever since….

Yet mysteriously the “people’s vote” gang now seem very quiet.

Or as he tweets:

Hughes smells a rat.

Another of of the biggest groups, Rudd’s Open Britain, actually closed itself down in November 2019, just before the election.

And although Best For Britain’s accounts say it still has £1.3m in the bank, it seems to have stopped campaigning.

Perhaps because their focus on opposition has paid off: while Johnson and Brexit won, Labour’s loss finally broke Corbyn’s grip and put “sensible” Keir Starmer in charge.

The rodent, Keir Starmer, owes his election to these manoeuvres.

Having got his paws on the Party what’s he doing?

Sky News says Starmer is now a politician who wants to “Get Brexit done” himself.

Starmer told Sky: “The arguments about Leave and Remain that tore us apart for years are over” because a deal is now “in the national interest … We need to get a deal and we need to move on.”

A “senior Labour figure” told Sky: “This was our Brexit detox,” as “we are now the party of getting on with Brexit.”

Hughes concludes,

Starmer used the “people’s vote” to jockey for Labour’s leadership. It helped the party crash in the 2019 election, but gave him the chance to become leader. Job now done, he is jettisoning any talk of “fighting Brexit.”

Wise-guys take note: Starmer rode on the back of “dark forces”, plotting to “break Corbyn’s grip”  got himself in place because he opposed Brexit, and has now dropped all pretence: he is just one of  gaggle of “opportunistic politicians”.

What to do when you are scammed? It’s hard not to dwell on the details of how you were fooled — after all, I’ve spent some time doing that here.

But it is better to learn the lessons: we know next time a corporate-funded campaign led by dubious lobbyists  backed by opportunist politicians comes along, it is probably not your friend.

Were there a British Pulitzer Prize the guy with the real low-down, Solomon Hughes  is a push-in for the category of investigative reporting.

Those of us who opposed Brexit to the hilt, and continue to so, because that it’s a  hard right project in the interests of financial capitalists, national neoliberalism, dodgy Tories, the Brexit Party and and their hangers-on and entrepreneurial chancers, not to mention deluded Lexiters like the Morning Star who though leaving the EU would enable them  to turn the oceans of global capitalism into the lemonde of socialist sovereignty, will be impressed.

Let’s put it tabloid-wise: big business wanted no Corbyn, wanted no Corbyn, and no more Corbyn.

Any means were justified to that end.

Sound of scales falling, eyes opening….

But most people will reject this conspiracy theory with its talk of ‘dark money’.

The FInancial Times report (cited above) concludes that political tactics designed to win voters’support are behind his present position,

Starmer, now Labour leader, has hardly spoken about Brexit. The less the left talk about Brexit, the better for them — and the same is true for the Tories, who promised in December’s election to solve the issue, says pollster James Johnson. “I see in my focus groups the absolute same focus on not wanting to hear about it, especially in light of the pandemic,” he says. “[Brexit] tends to prompt derision and laughter (‘why would we be arguing over that now, when there’s the virus’ et cetera).”

Left-wing opponents of Brexit, and others who backed a People’s Vote, have criticised this silence, particularly in view of the present ‘negotiating’ brinkmanship of the Johnson’s government.

Meanwhile the muckraker is still looking for more answers to his questions.

This is the main who is a  “Journalist, Private Eye magazine, Also Vice, Buzzfeed, Guardian, Observer and more.”

Oddly he does not vaunt the Morning Star link!

This might be a clue to his behaviour!


(1), From the FT on what actually happened with the People’s Vote Campaign as it imploded. “Relations were beyond repair. Big donors were getting cold feet. In October 2019, when a general election was inevitable, Rudd moved. One Sunday evening, with the board’s backing, he fired McGrory and Baldwin by email. “We needed to do more to focus on digital and data operations, which had been hugely neglected. Frankly, it was not 1997 any more,” Rudd recalls.

At this point, People’s Vote imploded — in public view. Most staff went on an impromptu strike. They used People’s Vote Twitter and Facebook accounts to attack Rudd. Rudd had to change the locks of the offices. It was an astonishing scene, just as the country was preparing for an election. Rudd arranged a staff meeting at the Hilton hotel, which descended into uproar. He had underestimated the campaign team’s antipathy to him and Patrick Heneghan, newly appointed as the campaign’s director — and their loyalty to McGrory and Baldwin. The net result was disastrous. Ahead of the 2019 election, People’s Vote had more than £1.5m in cash and detailed tactical voting recommendations. Its dissident staff spent the start of the campaign in the Grosvenor pub.

The People’s Vote campaign is a lesson that engagement only takes you so far. In 2019, what really counted was not a campaign group, but the political parties. Many people wanted to stop Brexit. They couldn’t agree how to do it or who should take the credit. They couldn’t find a language or a vehicle to win a majority.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 11, 2020 at 7:56 pm

Covid ‘Truthers’ on City Tour to Expose ‘Covid Hoax’ and “Scrap new pretend Laws.”

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‘Street activism’ tour  to ‘scrap new pretend Laws’ and expose the ‘Covid Hoax’.

This is happening across the country:



The tour started in London’s Leicester Square on September 1 and is reportedly travelling across the country, before ending back at Hyde Park in London at the end of the month.

A poster, seen by Leicestershire Live, claims the conspiracy theory tour will come to Leicester on Sunday September 13. A specific location or time in the city is not given.

The tour is travelling from city to city in a yellow camper van, and apparently starts from noon everyday in each new location. The tour is visiting 26 cities in the UK in 28 days.

Leicestershire Live.

Background (Video).



Then there is this:

One prominent supporter is this chap, Mark Devlin,

Mark Devlin is a UK-based club and radio DJ and music journalist, specialising in black/ dance music in its many forms. He’s also written his first book, ‘Tales From The Flipside’ (available at authorhouse.co.uk and amazon.co.uk) In more recent years he has begun speaking on radio and at events about the dark forces that have been manipulating and controlling the mainstream music industry for decades, and how this ties into the much larger picture of what is really going on in the world.

He has a keen interest in history,

Last December I participated in the Questioning History residential conference in Hertfordshire, England. I’m happy to announce that the event is planned to return over the weekend before Christmas this year, (Covid madness willing!) This time it runs from Friday to Sunday. 

The event brings together like-minded people for presentations challenging the official versions that we’ve been given of many historical events, and examining the evidence for re-assessing our understanding of how they really went down.

I’ll be giving three talks across the weekend, as follows:

Friday – Proof The Coronavirus Scamdemic Was Pre-Planned.

Saturday – The Dark Heart of the BBC.

Sunday –  Manufacturing The 1960s Hippie Dream.

Other speakers will include John Hamer, Gerry Docherty, Gloria Moss, Andrew Gough and David Bates. It’s presented in association with Megahome Water Distillers – https://www.megahome-distillers.co.uk/water-distillers?

All this from Devlin and his mates gives the usual conspi far-right stuff a bit of a “new age” ravers twist.


This is going to complicate the Truther rallys.

The latest measures to deal with Covid-19 have already hit a stumbling block.

Who is going to enforce them?

How are they going to deal with this event?




Written by Andrew Coates

September 11, 2020 at 9:27 am

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (Socialist Party and RMT) to Stand Candidates in Next Year’s Local Elections.

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TUSC Re-Launched.

The Socialist Party (formerly known as Militant) underwent a debilitating split in 2019. This extended throughout its global organisation, the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI).

At issue was “Petty Bourgeois Mandelism”.

SP leader Peter Taaffe wrote In Defence of a Working-class Orientation for the CWI 

It is necessary to call things by their right name. Barely a month has passed since the IEC and yet it is already quite clear that the CWI faces an opposition to the policies and programme of the CWI with tendencies towards petty bourgeois Mandelism. This opposition originated with the leadership of the Irish section, but it is also present in the leadership of a number of sections of the CWI who support them. This is most prominently displayed in the recent lengthy Greek Executive Committee’s resolution written by Andros P, which represents an open political retreat from the policies and analysis of the CWI.

For those still wondering what Mandelism is, and what this was all about, we can only indicate the following article written from the Trotskyist current linked to Ernest Mandel (1923 – 1995). Mandel was a respected figure, a Marxist  economist and talented political writer and activist,  possibly with a bigger readership, in French, German, English, Spanish and many other languages) than Taaffe.

At issue is the fact that Mandel, and groups who worked with him (there was and is nothing like the reliance on a ‘guru’ in this wing of the Fourth International) showed openness to what they called in a series of 1970s statements,  the ‘new vanguard’. This included, apart from militant workers  (this was the 1970s!) people newly radicalised around feminism, green causes, gay rights, anti-racist struggles. The principle was that the left should not tell these movements what to do, and seek to absorb them into ‘front’ organisations.

The leadership of the Socialist Party likes to deal with these issues through ‘fronts’ that they control. But some parts of the CWI, in for example Ireland,  looked to a more flexible approach in campaigns on women’s rights, and let people make their own minds up, while influencing them through dialogue.

Manuel Kellner wrote, Petty bourgeois deviations?

…a 12-page text by Peter Taaffe (English member of the leadership of the CWI for almost 50 years) dated 15 January this year and entitled “In defence of a working-class orientation for the CWI” is available on the Internet. At the very beginning, heavy guns are fired at the CWI: “… the CWI is confronted with …tendencies towards petty bourgeois Mandelism”. [Above all, Taaffe accuses the Irish organization of the CWI of “abandoning the necessity of an organization based on the working class movement” in favour of “identity politics”

The Socialist Party (the group publishing The Socialist, and previously known as Militant) has split after a special congress on 21 July. So has the CWI, the international network of groups of which the SP was the pivot.

SP delegates voted 173-35-0 to “refound” the Committee for a Workers’ International by calling an international conference in 2020. The congress also declared that people continuing to support the existing CWI would place themselves outside of Socialist Party membership, effectively expelling the minority in Britain who support the (apparent) majority internationally within the CWI (bit.ly/cwi-26).

The split concludes months of bitter and increasingly public fighting within the Socialist Party (public due to lack of computer skills by some, rather than to any spirit of open debate).

The faction led by longstanding SP leader Peter Taaffe accused their opponents of “capitulating to petit bourgeois identity politics”. The opposition contended that Taaffe’s standoffish approach to feminist or other broader political mobilisations takes away the opportunity to fight for working-class politics in these movements.

At present while the SP has lost the majority of the CWI its opposition in Britain, To the list of bodies which have left the party, the largest being Socialist Appeal (‘the Marxist Voice for Labour and Youth’) , and  a small splinter called Socialist View (active in the PCS trade union), was added a new group, Socialist Alternative who are “are proud to be part of a vibrant international organisation of dedicated socialist fighters, which has sections in 30 countries across the globe: International Socialist Alternative.

Andrew Murray once described the Socialist Party as “trying to build a shadow labour movement around itself, with its own electoral front, its own shop stewards network etc. Such groups are producing the mistake Paul Buhle identifies US socialists as making a century ago, ‘substituting themselves for a political working class that did not exist but might be successfully constituted. The first approach strives to lift socialists to the level of leading the movement; the second in effects works to shrink the movement to a size manageable for a small group to dominate.” (Left Unity or Class Unity. Socialist Register. 2014).

They remind this blog of the French ‘Lambertists‘, a Trotskyist current which devoted a lot of its energy to activity within the Force Ouvrière union federation (compare SP in the public service union, the PCS), had its own front, the Parti des Travailleurs (later the Parti ouvrier indépendant, POI), is violently anti-EU, and whose ideology is paleo-Trotskyism. Their own split (which took place in 2015) resulted in the creation of a rival to POI, the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID – a weighty name!) 

The perceptive analysis of how these groups work through a range of ‘fronts’ did not stop Murray’s group (at the time) the Communist Party of Britain, co-operating with the SP and the RMT in the No2EU campaign, This anti-EU slate (compared by some to a ‘left-wing UKIP’) for the 2009 (1% of the vote)  and 2014 (0,19%) European Parliament elections.

The domestic electoral front, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, had a national General Election  score of 0.1% in 2010 and 0,1% in 2015. Over the years it has done better in local elections has won a handful of council seats. In one celebrated contest in Meadway 2015 they received no votes at all…

Paul Dennis, who stood for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in Rainham North ward in the Medway Council elections in Kent, was left “baffled” at the count when the announcer revealed he had not got any votes at all.


Over the years TUSC has attracted a variety of left groups, including Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity,  in (usually) short lived election agreements, but only one union, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT)

TUSC did a speaking tour during the EU Referendum arguing for Brexit.

Paul Embery, than of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) best known these days as a campaigner against “rootless cosmopolitans” and articles in Spiked and the Sun appeared for Trade Unionists Against the EU (a group which received money from a grateful Arron Banks).

After his more recent pro-Brexit activities overstepped union lines, Embery no longer holds a position in the FBU

Paul Embery speaks at the TUSC meeting in Cardiff photo Ross Saunders

Paul Embery speaks at the TUSC meeting in Cardiff photo Ross Saunders .

When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party TUSC was put aside.

The SP became ‘Jeremy’s’ best friend.

A few attempts were made to work within the Labour Party, including a short-lived front, Trade Union Momentum (“Trade Union Momentum launched to organise to defend Corbyn” The Socialist. November 2015. “Steps towards setting up Trade Union Momentum“. The Socialist January 2016).

Then there was this:

I am writing to you on behalf of the Socialist Party (previously the Militant). We would like to meet with you to discuss the possibility of our becoming an affiliate of the Labour Party. From the beginning we have enthusiastically supported Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party, which has offered the possibility of transforming Labour into a clear anti-austerity party, based on the trade unions and the working class. Clearly, your appointment as general secretary, replacing Iain McNicol, is an important step towards the renewal of the party along these lines.”

Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary

Reply (basically: No),

Whilst the Socialist Party continues to stand candidates against the Labour Party as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, it will not be possible to enter into any agreement.

The leader of a political party is judged by their electoral success. Standing candidates against the Labour Party is damaging not only to local Labour Parties but also to Jeremy. You will therefore understand why there can be no discussions given that TUSC stood candidates against the Labour Party in May this year.

Yours sincerely,

Jennie Formby, Labour Party general secretary

The SP, though occupied with its internal split, maintained its labour front, the National Shop Stewards Network.

Apart from that not much had been heard of them until they began publishing attacks on Keir Starmer and vaunting a handful of new recruits.

Now it seems the SP have decided to revive their electoral activities.

Having declared that the Labour Party was lost to capitalism, then saved for socialism by Jeremy Corbyn, they have  now switched back.

In July they stated,

Workers need a new mass party to defend their interests

When Keir Starmer was elected Labour leader the Socialist Party warned that it represented “a qualitative step in the capitalist class’s campaign to make the Labour Party once again, as it was under Blair, a reliable vehicle for their interests.”

The Socialist Party is urgently raising the need for the workers’ movement to discuss how to solve the crisis of political representation, by taking steps to towards building a new mass workers’ party with a socialist programme. One vital step in that direction would be to organise the widest possible number of anti-cuts candidates in next May’s local and mayoral elections

Now this has been announced:

TUSC to stand in elections again against pro-austerity politicians

9th of September.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee, meeting on 2 September, has agreed to resume standing candidates in elections, starting in the contests scheduled for next May.

TUSC was established in 2010 to enable trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists from different parties and none, to stand against pro-austerity establishment politicians under a common banner and an agreed platform of core policies. Within that framework hundreds of TUSC-authorised candidates had stood in elections, polling over 375,000 votes between them – until 2018.

TUSC had already recalibrated its electoral activity after the unexpected but warmly welcomed victory of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2015.

It did not contest the general elections fought under his leadership and, for other contests, pursued a rigorously selective approach so that TUSC candidates could only stand against candidates who opposed Jeremy and were continuing to implement austerity policies locally.

In 2018 the steering committee decided to suspend all electoral activity until further notice. But now, at its meeting 2 September, it recognised that the changed situation required a changed response.

Representatives from the biggest component organisation of TUSC, the RMT transport workers’ union, reported to the meeting that the union’s national executive committee had debated the matter over the summer.

They had agreed that, “in the new conditions of a Starmer leadership and the continued implementation of austerity cuts by many Labour-led authorities, we believe it is correct for TUSC to lift its suspension of electoral activity”. And that is what the steering committee agreed.

Against the background of the deep economic and social crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, it was time to ensure that politicians from whatever party who try to pass the Covid crisis costs onto the working class face the possibility of a challenge at the ballot box. TUSC is back at work!

Dave Nellist writes,

The background to TUSC’s activity changed dramatically when Jeremy Corbyn, my fellow comrade on the Labour backbenches in the 1980s, was unexpectedly elected as leader against the overwhelming opposition of the capitalist establishment.

This was a development which every component of TUSC wholeheartedly supported – the RMT, for example, officially represented on the TUSC steering committee since 2012, was the second biggest donor to both of Jeremy’s leadership campaigns, in 2015 and 2016, behind only the 1.4 million-member Unite union.

Although, as we warned, ‘New Labour’ supporters remained entrenched in particular in the Parliamentary Labour Party and council Labour groups, here was an opportunity to re-establish working-class socialist political representation on a mass basis.

In response, TUSC recalibrated its electoral activity, not standing in either the 2017 or 2019 general elections. We only contested local elections on a strictly selective basis, against councillors who opposed Jeremy and who were continuing to implement austerity policies in the council chamber, until suspending all electoral activity in 2018.

But now, with Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party, the situation has changed once again. The opportunities for achieving working-class political representation within the Labour framework created by Jeremy’s leadership have receded, against the background of the deep economic and social crisis triggered by the Covid pandemic.

Consequently, the TUSC steering committee has agreed to resume standing candidates in future elections, although still with due regard to particular circumstances, and to seek to broaden participation in the steering committee from the trade unions especially. Hence this invitation to you.

The SP’s efforts to win new friends for this project include this literary spat about something  called “post-Stalinist”.

In defence of our great anti-poll tax victory

Clive Heemskerk.

Radical publishers Pluto Press have released a new book looking back at the defeat of Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax. Unfortunately it fails in presenting the real historic significance of the anti-poll tax movement – led by Militant, the Socialist Party’s predecessor organisation

Look we explained what “Mandelism” was, that one will have to wait….

The reply to the Millies, “The Socialist Party didn’t like my book on the Poll Tax“.


Written by Andrew Coates

September 10, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Morning Star: “What’s not to like?”in Boris Brexit Plans.

with 5 comments


Man waving Union Jack on 31 January 2020, the day the UK left the EU

Festival of Brexit Planned for 2022.

Will ‘Lexit’ Left join to “celebrate our nation’s diversity and talent, and mark this moment of national renewal with a once-in-a-generation celebration”? 

One of the first things you learn on the left, if you bother to listen, is the difference between the “responsible” left and, the left which refuses to take responsibility – for anything.

That is between those who think they will be in a position to carry out their ideas in existing government structures, national or local, and those for whom this is something secondary, if they consider the prospect at all.

Democratic socialists take seriously the conservative sociologist Max Weber’s criticism of those who subordinate politics to an “ethics of conviction”, ultimate goals such as socialism. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the principle that we should be brought to answer for the “(foreseeable) consequences of one’s actions” haunts anybody who sets out trying to transform society wholescale or introduce any reform. (Politik als Beruf. 1919) Amongst other aspects of this essay Weber talked of those who lived for politics, making this their life, and those who live off politics, as a source of income. Those engaged in paid full-time party apparatuses, it is not hard to see, are likely to have conflicts with those looking towards the distant political horizon.

The Brexit “revolution” is a shadow of the revolutionary upheavals that Weber faced in Europe after the Great War. He was willfully blind to those, like Rosa Luxemburg, engaged in insurrectionary challenges to the German state, kept in sight the immediate effects of revolutionary actions and defended democratic institutions, “freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently” “Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element.” (cited Page 62.  Paul le Blanc. The Living Flame, Haymarket 2019). Everybody, she believed, the “whole mass of the people” should be engaged in politics, living it themselves. Luxemburg perhaps indicates that those who stake everything on an ultimate goal can also try to keep the results of their immediate actions at the forefront.

At present we are living through the Brexit process, a project successfully engineered by the hard right, the European Reform Group, backed by the outriders of UKIP and (subsequently) the Brexit Party, and being put into place  by a purged pro-Brexit Conservative Party. It would not be overstating things to see a drift towards a politics of ultimate ends at work. Law? “Yes, this does break international law, in a very specific and limited way”. National populism, and national neoliberalism, are more important that legal agreements.

Thanks to Lewis, however, we don’t have to do the delicate dance of balancing the government’s line against its dissenters. Whether this new bill tramples over huge sections of the Withdrawal Agreement or offers “minor clarifications” to areas that have not been finalised in the joint committee on the Northern Irish protocol, it breaks international law.

Of course it does: the government is seeking to overwrite an international agreement that was made as an insurance policy in the event of no further agreement. It has decided unilaterally to “clarify” matters that are the subject of a bilateral agreement and subject to further clarification only through a specifically-designed bilateral joint committee. But instead of days and weeks arguing about whether this is technically lawful,a cabinet minister has provided us with the gift of a frank answer, and one that will go down in history, to be repeated back at this government and at the UK by other countries for decades to come.



Others have noticed a different side to the emerging new stand.

A few days ago this appeared in the Spectator,

Nick Tyrone Is Boris pushing for a socialist Brexit?

One of the main things that’s holding up an UK-EU trade deal is the demand that the UK sticks to current state aid rules. Boris and Frost are refusing to budge. They want the freedom to do whatever they wish with state aid in post-Brexit Britain

When you get rid of state aid rules, horrible things can happen, particularly from a centre-right perspective. Eliminating all laws surrounding the use of state aid is one of the first acts a new socialist regime would likely carry out as it would allow them to nationalise on the cheap, among other nefarious things. The government can buy one energy company, then lower prices astronomically in order to make the competition go bust. After that, they own the only energy company in the country; nationalisation the easy way.

He continues,

First and foremost, why does the government think a post-transition Brexit will be so dire that whole industries will have to be propped up – even if we get a trade deal with the EU?

Secondly, this seems to be a real unwinding of Margaret Thatcher’s legacy. She went to great effort to stop the UK government propping up failing industries with taxpayers’ money – and now Boris Johnson is doing something that only makes real sense if he wants to create a whole tranche of companies that can only survive through the charity of state largesse. I mean, if the Tories want to undo Thatcherism at its deepest roots, fine; all I ask is that conservatives who value Thatcher’s legacy think long and hard about the dismantling of a significant part of it by a Tory government.

Third and finally, wanting to move state aid rules significantly to the left represents a crossing of the Rubicon – in what way are the Conservatives the party of free markets if this is their priority? If the answer to that is ‘the red wall’, I will retort with the following, further queries: what was the point of defeating Corbyn only to ape Corbynism in such a vital way? Was getting Brexit done more important than the reason you wanted Brexit in the first place? If the free market isn’t the answer to making Brexit work, what does the Conservative party think the free market is the answer to any longer? Freed from the clutches of EU state aid policy, we might be about to find out the answers to these questions.

The pro-Brexit left are not just devoted to the (achieved) goal of leaving the European Union, by crook and hooked into backing the hard right project. They are formidable mythomanes. They ignore the existence of the radical left pro-European, Another Europe is Possible, the “innocents” which opposed Brexit. They ignore the views of the majority of Labour members who voted for a Second Referendum in party resolutions (only to have their ambitions thwarted in back-room manoeuvres).

With the help of those who live ‘off’ politics, key advisers inside Corbyn’s office in Labour Party, and trade union functionaires the Lexit left have promoted the idea that once free of European Union rule, and in command of a truly ‘sovereign’ nation-state they can do what they like in the face of capital, markets, international or domestic. Anything is possible,  the British road to socialism, worker controlled limits on immigration, recreating the labour movement of the 1970s, turning the ocean into lemonade (actually I stole that idea from Cde Charles Fourier). Every means can be justified to get this ultimate goal in place.

The ends are nigh, and the Morning Star today is amongst the first to observe the silver lining (forecast by Nick Throne) in the latest Brexit negotiations.

Our future is either a high wage, high value planned economy — or none at all

“GET Brexit done” was an election-winning slogan for Boris Johnson, and it sank Labour’s bid to make its progressive industrial and social agenda the centrepiece of the election.

One can skip the extended whine about anti-Brexit forces financed by international monopoly  capitalism and the rest and go to this

Where Labour might gain some traction, find a way of talking to its lost voters in the industrial heartland and open up an already existing fissure in the ruling class — and possibly find an echo among Tory MPs whose material interests are bound up in British manufacturing — lies in voicing a comprehensive industrial development policy.

Yesterday the Financial Times carried a piece in which the guy who, seven years ago, set up Britain’s state-owned development bank called on the government to provide more support for crucial industries and regional growth.

This is what is emerging.

Massive state aid to support industrial development where the government becomes a key investor in precisely those parts of the economy that require substantial capital investment, draw upon and enhance pools of highly skilled labour and result in a high-value technologically advanced economy. What’s not to like?

Like a pup rejoicing in the return of an absent master they jump up and down,

It evokes the rousing verse in Red Fly the Banners Oh, sung at many a union conference: “Five for the years of (Stalin’s) Five Year Plan, and four for the four years taken.”

A word of caution, while they digest this treat.

No-one thinks that a Tory government pledging state aid to buttress capitalist industry is building the foundation of a socialist economy. But even the most insipid of Labour’s present leadership surely can see the utility of a real-life effort to modernise Britain’s industry in the face of a marked reluctance by private capital to do so except whenever the returns rival City speculation and bond dealing.

Real-life could not get better!

The Boris Bolsheviks get back to business….

But Michel Barnier’s brief includes compelling acceptance by Britain’s negotiators of the single-market rules that circumscribe state aid to industry as part of a deal.

In other words, all is still to play,

Perhaps the Morning Star could help by giving the Tories some stiffness in their lip….

Others take a very different view:

Here is the statement,


Boris Johnson has issued an ultimatum if no deal is reached by October 15th, he will walk away from Brexit talks and the UK will leave without a deal. It is simply impossible to know if the government intends to go through with No Deal, or if this a stunt which will allow them to claim some marginal concession before they sign an agreement

A No Deal Brexit would be a calamity for workers, migrants, the environment, human rights and food standards – but so would Boris Johnson’s deal. Now is not the time to remain silent. The future of the UK, Europe and the planet itself depends on the ability of the left to mobilise an internationalist response to Trumpism, Brexit and the new nationalist right.

Another Europe is Possible is proud to have campaigned against Brexit and the politics it represents since the referendum of 2016. Now, everything we said about Brexit is coming true: it is a project aimed at building borders, blaming the vulnerable and deregulating the economy.

The Tory Brexit agenda is intended, with or without a deal, to bring about:

  • The end of free movement and the biggest expansion of border controls in many decades
  • An unprecedented attack on the rights of workers
  • The downgrading of environmental standards
  • A trade deal with the US that could open up the NHS to irreversible privatisation and downgrade our food and consumer standards
  • The UK’s withdrawal from some European human rights conventions
  • A fundamental threat to the economic and political stability of the island of Ireland
  • The creation of deregulated geographical zones (or “free ports”)
  • A race to the bottom on tax and regulation to attract multinational corporations

No Deal will sharpen these threats. The Tories won’t abolish state aid rules to enact some progressive agenda. Their reasons are very different: to engage in crony capitalism and hand tax breaks to big companies.

We call on everyone on the left to mobilise against the government’s Brexit agenda – regardless of how you voted in 2016. Those who fought against the Brexit project in recent years must also now wake up and break their silence.

Another Europe, supported by allies across progressive political parties, trade unions and civil society, has put forward our demands on the Brexit process: The Alternative Mandate. We know that it is unlikely that we will be successful in winning many of these in the next few years, but it is vital that we make noise about what the government is doing, fight it for every inch of our rights, and keep alive a progressive alternative that can be realised in the future.

This autumn, we will be mobilising a new campaign, to bring the left and the remains of the anti-Brexit movement back to life – to fight against a US trade deal and for the rights of migrants and workers, where we could yet push the government back.



Well established rumour has it that the Communist Party of Britain and its independent organ, the Morning Star (wholly owned by the Co-Op) will take part in this event:

The organisers of a £120m national festival to be staged in 2022 have put out a call for creative minds to come up with “daring, new and popular” ideas to bring the UK together after Brexit.




CND/Stop the War Coalition ‘Peace’ Forum to be Addressed by Defender of Chinese detention of Uighurs

with 5 comments


No Cold War, “Organising worldwide against the US-led New Cold War on China”.

This is the latest cause for the ‘anti-imperialist’ wing of the ‘Peace’ movement.

A New Cold War against China is against the interests of humanity

We note the increasingly aggressive statements and actions being taken by the US government in regard to China. These constitute a threat to world peace and are an obstacle to humanity successfully dealing with extremely serious common issues which confront it such as climate change, control of pandemics, racist discrimination and economic development.

We therefore believe that any New Cold War would run entirely counter to the interests of humanity. Instead we stand in favour of maximum global cooperation in order to tackle the enormous challenges we face as a species.

WIth its aim to defend not just China’s people, but the Chinese regime, the Peace Forum’s initiatives are already beginning to look like a reenactment of the worst aspects of the 1950s World Peace Council, with a much thinned out audience.

To say that this group has a sectarian and neo-Stalinist agenda opposed to internationalism and the democratic traditions of the labour and socialist movement, and the aspirations of the world’s progressives,  would be to downplay just how repugnant the new front is.

Here is their attack on our American comrades:

The former leader of the International Marxist Group, and present-day supporter of socialism with Chinese Communist Party  characteristics, John Ross is excited at their latest initiative.

The defender of China’s outstanding human rights record is right to be exhilarated at Victor Gao’s presence.

This is not a concentration camp’: Analyst Victor Gao on China’s Uighur prisons

High-ranking Chinese analyst Victor Gao defends the detention of an estimated 1 million Uighurs in the Chinese province of Xinjiang on DW’s Conflict Zone, by saying China is dealing with extremism and separatism.


Here is his Wiki entry:

Victor Zhikai Gao (born 1962) (Chinese高志凯pinyinGāo Zhìkǎi) is a Chinese international relations expert and translator.[1][2] He is a Director of the China National Association of International Studies[3] and an Executive Director of Beijing Private Equity Association. He is best known for his position as the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping‘s translator…..

Here are other speakers, who are also unlikely to be known to the wider public.

Here is Jodi Evans.

Margaret KImberley is also quite an internationalist.

She found time from her busy schedule to re-tweet this:


Julie Tang is a patriot.

China’s national anthem means peace and unity

Here is Chris Matlhako.

This seems to be one of his principal international interests.

 Abdallah El Harif of the Moroccan النهج الديمقراطي‎,  la Voie démocratique, a radical left group, seems a decent person working in very very hard conditions.

He holds strong views on the threats to China.

He is cited in this article by fellow speaker at the Forum, Vijay Prashad ,stuffed with citations from Mao-Tse-Tung) by another of the speakers at the ‘Peace Forum’.

Abdallah El Harif, a leader of Democratic Way (Morocco), spoke to me this week about CoronaShock.

China was able to defeat the virus because the government took quick, efficient, and appropriate measures. They mobilised resources because they considered human lives as their priority. The strong Chinese public health system – which is oriented to serve the people – played a key role. China and Cuba taught us about solidarity and internationalism as they sent medical teams around the world to fight the virus.

We are now witnessing the consolidation of a bipolar system. There is the US pole, which is rooted in military force, the imposition of the dollar as the world currency, the US control of the organisation of the global economy and finance, and so on. On the other side, the rising pole is represented by China, which is based on a strong, sovereign, and yet open economy. The Chinese do not have military ambitions, and they do not launch wars against other people; they respect international law and strike commercial – not imperialist – deals with other countries. The US pole sees the deterioration of its hegemony, and so it is lashing out at China. The aims of a government such as Trump’s is to divert domestic opinion from its own crimes in dealing with the pandemic by putting the blame on China.

Maroc : « Démystifier les mensonges sur “l’exception marocaine”, la “transition démocratique”, “la monarchie éclairée” et autres balivernes… » (2016. NPA)

Ollie Vargas is a supporter of the former Bolivian leader Evola Morales.

Vargas has strong opinions about Trotskyists.

Ludo De Brabander is a Belgium peace activist and Dutch speaker. Those who speak that language may be able to tell us more about him.

Here is Code Pink:

Black Alliance for Peace: China, Militarism and Bipartisan Games.

Trump shut down the Chinese consulate in Houston as both parties are in fierce competition to demonstrate their toughness on China. Neither party can explain to the people why China is such a threat today. Just a few months ago, Russia was the main threat.

That is why the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) takes the unequivocal and unambiguous position that we will never allow the U.S. state and its ideological henchmen to push us into opposition against any external enemy. We say, “no to a new cold war with China,” no to militarism, no to domestic repression, and no to the continued neglect of millions of workers and poor people in the United Stat

Kate Hudson (CND) and Lindsey German (Stop the War Coalition, Counterfire) will already be well known to this Blog’s readers. Many will be disappointed that Veteran Rally Speaker Tariq Ali is not billed.

No to War, No to Nato, do not seem to have updated their site or tweets to include this important event.

But, backed by people with such moral authority the world’s burgeoning movement to defend the Chinese state from accusations of violent oppression against the Uighurs, oppression of other minorities, and the suppression of democratic and labour rights, from Hong Kong onwards, the International Peace Forum is sure to have an impact.

There is another view:


Written by Andrew Coates

September 8, 2020 at 11:24 am

Boris to Renege on EU Deal: Brexit Reality and the ‘Lexit’ Fantasy.

with 11 comments


French Daily’s Take on Boris Johnson’s Brexit Antics.

Brexit is turning out to be an economic catastrophe and a boost for Britain’s racists and fascists, as the ‘culture wars’ waged by nationalist identitarians show. The far-right protests in Dover over the weekend to defend UK borders against migrants  are only the latest part of the fall out.

Boris Johnson ‘planning to rip up key parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement’

Boris Johnson is planning to rip up key parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement putting at risk trade talks with the European Union.

The Mirror has learned the Prime Minister intends to use domestic legislation to override the “oven-ready” Brexit deal he signed with the EU at the end of last year.

The high stakes move would be a breach of international law and could damage the UK’s reputation on the international stage.

Government insiders also suggested it would give the UK a pretext later this week to blow up trade deal talks in favour of an Australian-style relationship.

reports the Mirror.

The Irish government responds,


The French left of centre daily Libération carries the story:

What is Boris Johnson playing at? Has he chosen the “nuclear option” in negotiations with the EU for a possible free trade agreement  ? The Financial Times revealed on Monday that the British government intends to present to Parliament on Wednesday a bill which, in fact, “clearly and consciously”, “would remove the legal weight of parts of the Withdrawal Agreement” on Brexit, signed last October by the British Prime Minister, in particular in the area of ​​state subsidies and customs in Northern Ireland.

On the eve of the eighth session of negotiations on the post-Brexit relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, which starts on Tuesday in London, these revelations could threaten the continuation of the discussions, already extremely tense.

Le Monde states,

In the absence of an agreement before December 31, only the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), with their high customs duties and extensive customs controls, will apply. Which will further weaken economies already hit hard by the pandemic.

Der Spiegel talks of the threat of a hard Brexit. Left-wing members of the European Parliament have called for a response.


Older readers may recall the campaign for Lexit, ‘left’ Brexit.

Ardent Lexiteer Nick Wright wrote,

It is precisely because we want an alternative to Britain’s crazily unbalanced and financialised economy that we campaigned for Britain to leave the neoliberal EU and in doing so free ourselves from the anti-union judgments of the ECJ, the restrictions on state aid to industry, the obstacles to public ownership and the drive to militarise the EU.


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

This of course is exactly what has happened…..

In The collapse of Corbynism – radicalism without class power, Johnny Lewis outlines the divisions in the Labour Party that focused on this issue.

The sharpest division between the PC’s (‘political Corbynites’)  and the social democrats was over the EU, a rupture made all the more important because ‘Lexit’ (the idea that there could be a “left-wing” Brexit, and/or that the reality of the Tories’ Brexit could somehow be turned to the advantage of the left and the working class) was deeply rooted in the Party’s neo-Stalinist wing. They stood on one side of the divide, while mobilised on the other was the Party’s base along with nearly everyone under 45 who wasn’t a Tory, a racist, a supporter of Farage, or all three.

An important section of the radical left in Another Europe is Possible was involved in mobilising against the Hard Right Brexit. We attended the broader People’s Vote national demonstrations and local protests.

In the Labour Party there was a furious dispute over the failure to come out with a clear anti-Brexit position.

As Zoe Williams, a supporters of Another Europe is Possible, wrote recently in the Guardian,

. By 2017, CLPs were using the very rebel spirit that had made Corbyn party leader to force him out of his strategic leave position. Let’s park this eternal question of who lost the 2019 election between remainers and the former leader; it is hackneyed to the point of being unkind to repeat how unpopular Corbyn was in the run-up to it. What recent years have shown is that most of the debate around the power of the membership is symbolic: they are a mighty mandate when it suits their leader, and a clearable obstacle when it doesn’t.

The treatment of the members is synecdoche for the party’s positioning: certainly, some leaders like to make a show of ignoring the membership to indicate how much more likely they are to listen to regular folk; other leaders pay vocal and elaborate respect to the members as a signal of their radical intent, but that doesn’t mean they’ll let them interfere with their strategic vision.

One of the reasons people in the Labour Party, including a section of the left,  voted for Keir Starmer, was his support for the campaigns against Brexit, and their disgust at manoeuvres inside the party to prevent their voice on the issue being heard.


A leading supporter of Lexit, Lindsey German, of the revolutionary socialist Counterfire, and the Stop the War Coalition, and whose group runs what’s left of the People’s Assembly, spends her time these days attacking Keir Starmer,


She writes this week: Labour adrift while the second wave builds – weekly briefing


It’s increasingly clear however that under Starmer’s leadership Labour’s main priority is to protect British capitalism from the worst effects of the crisis, and that the interests of workers are going to come a very poor second. This means that Labour has been very strongly in favour of the reopening of schools regardless, that it backs more people going back to work and that it wants to minimise the numbers of those working from home.

For those not interested in the hobby of  snipping against the Labour Leader the issue of Brexit looks unlikely to go away.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 7, 2020 at 10:43 am

Socialists of Colour: Jewish Voice for Labour Joins Row on Anti-Semitism Claims.

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Image may contain: text that says "vl JewishVoiceForLabour @JVoiceLabour United against racism? jwsvcefrbo.utmn/.. We are astonished at recent actions of Socialists of Colour that appear to threaten to split the anti-racist movement, We call on SoC to withdraw their official complaints to the Party and issue apologies to Carol Brian & Jackie. CONTENT WARNING United against racism? We are astonished recent actions of Socialists of Colour that appear to be threatening to split the anti-racist movement, and 5 so doing... jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk 7:43 PM Sep 3, 2020 TweetCaster for Android 77 Retweets 8 Quote Tweets 109 Likes"

 “We call on SoC to withdraw their official complaints to the Party and to issue appropriate apologies to Carol, Brian and Jackie.”

Jewish Voice for Labour is the latest group to have got entangled in the row over Socialists of Colour.

This is their statement:

We are astonished at recent actions of Socialists of Colour that appear to be threatening to split the anti-racist movement, and in so doing empower the right.

Socialists of Colour (SoC) was formed earlier this year with admirable aims including: “To support strong socialist and anti-racist activists running in election” and “To provide a space for political education and raising consciousness for People of Colour”. It has disgracefully failed in both aims at its first hurdle.

SoC posed a number of questions to all candidates standing for the CLP section in the NEC election. Wisely all but one of the 6 candidates in the Grassroots Voice team did not respond. Such tests of political virtue are all too often converted into attack weapons. And this is exactly what has happened. Two of the left candidates who answered their questions have had their replies published, with a full screen headline bearing the notice CONTENT WARNING, followed in each case by a statement that: “Some responses from this candidate we believe include openly antisemitic and/or racist views”. Socialists of Colour have followed this up by complaining to the Labour Party about their responses – which in the current climate is almost bound to lead to their suspension and elimination as candidates.

Two left candidates received this treatment. They are Brian Precious and Carol Taylor-Spedding. Their answers can be found here and here. When asked to name“one Black socialist man who inspires you” Taylor-Spedding took the feminist route and preferred to nominate several Black Labour women, including Diane Abbot and Dawn Butler as well as Jackie Walker, a black Jewish woman who had been “expelled unjustly from the party”.

The allegations against Precious are even less clear. Possibly saying that only “0.1% of members charged with antisemitism, let alone disciplined or expelled. Israel is institutionally antisemitic via its ethnic cleansing of the (semitic) Palestinians since 1948.” That, and maybe calling on all Labour members to support Jewish Voice For Labour, is, presumably, what condemned him.

When asked to explain their allegations of antisemitism, SoC stated: “We believe that defending or apologising for Walker’s behaviour is an attempt to discredit valid antisemitism claims and is therefore, in our belief, racist and/or antisemitic.”

With this statement, they have bought into the myth that accusation equals guilt and have joined forces with the right in the witch hunt. Lamentably, these attacks on genuine, anti-racist socialists will undermine our essential united struggle. Fighting racism in all its forms is at the core of JVL’s commitments, and this – from a group we thought were allies – is disappointing in the extreme. Jackie Walker was not expelled for antisemitism and we stand by our position that the allegations were without substance.

We call on SoC to withdraw their official complaints to the Party and to issue appropriate apologies to Carol, Brian and Jackie.

There is a petition circulating which supports one of those suspended.


There are issues about singling out 3 individuals who may be less practised in answering questions as more practised political figures may be.

A keen observer of JVL tweets some of the reactions to this statement,

This workshop at The World Transformed, virtual or not, is expected to be a hot one!

Image may contain: text that says "23:55 39% Decades of Labour and anti- racism: A history of struggle and hope SEMINAR SUN 20.09.20 5PM-7PM GMT+1/ BRITISH SUMMER TIME"

Antisemitism Reading Group, run by Eran Cohen and Keziah Berelson, and fully booked. Socialists of Colour are involved in this workshop.

For those interested in further background on the Labour Left Alliance (the group that kicked off the protests against Socialists of Colour) see;

Sticking to failed politics

Cub reporter of the Labour Party Marxist, “Clive Dean” gives the low down.


August 22-23 saw the second conference of the Labour Left Alliance. Like most things these days, it took place online, but over 120 delegates and observers were officially present (as things progressed some fell away).

Arguably, the LLA had arrived a year too late. It was conceived at the end of the 2018 Labour Party conference, when activists realised that a leftwing coordinating organisation was urgently needed, fulfilling the role abdicated by Momentum. Labour’s annual conference had just rejected open selection of MPs, but had revised the trigger ballot mechanism instead, as a route for Constituency Labour Parties to remove wayward Westminster careerists. Success for the Corbyn project required a major clear-out of the Parliamentary Labour Party, and that needed a clued-up campaign. But then nothing happened for nearly a year.

Following protracted negotiations between the Labour Representation Committee, Red Labour and Labour Against the Witchhunt, the appeal for a Labour Left Alliance was finally launched in July 2019. Very quickly the 1,000-signature target was achieved, and local groups began to affiliate.

But it was not plain sailing. The different approaches of the LRC and LAW became apparent as the organisation became active, and at the end of October 2019 the LRC decided to withdraw its backing, stating that “serious disagreements exist around both the political orientation of the LLA and the character of what should be built in the short term”. For the LRC, the LLA was moving too fast and was doing too much. Incidentally, recently the LRC and Red Labour have set up the rather more sedate ‘Don’t Leave, Organise’, which has not organised much at all. Perhaps that is the model they had in mind for the LLA.

More on the site of the Weekly Worker, organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee).

Other rows continue to develop…




Extinction Rebellion, Citizens’ Conventions and Socialism.

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Extinction Rebellion demand climate emergency bill [Video]

Emergency Politics.

Climate change is back on the political and activist agenda. Hundreds have been arrested during Extinction Rebellion protests in Britain this week.

But what is the direction of the movement? What are its politics?

Some people think that the issue is so important that it over-rides existing political divisions, that we can no longer have confidence in an ideology.

One of them is socialism:

The Morning Star  responded,

The most generous interpretation of this tweet is that XR wants to build the broadest possible coalition in favour of radical action on the climate, and does not want non-socialists put off.

If so, it was self-defeating: activists from many organisations attend large demonstrations and nobody was likely to assume that the communist banner, emblazoned with a hammer and sickle, spoke for everyone there.

By aggressively rejecting its message, XR achieves the opposite, signalling that not everyone is welcome on its demos. This may be deliberate: the organisation has a number of wealthy backers and it may fear that big money would be withdrawn if it becomes seen as a socialist movement.

The editorialist, a Cde Davidus Spartacus, continued,

But the problem with the assumption that such an assembly could address the climate crisis is the same as that of XR’s whole tweet: it wilfully ignores the central role of the capitalist system in driving climate chaos.

Socialism or extinction? XR’s tweet and a capitalist crisis

Why did XR Tweet this statement?

What is the current Campaigning of XR aimed at?

There are some past parallels and influences that have contributed.

A parallel can be drawn with the 1980s campaigns against Cruise Missiles. There was a widespread feeling that nuclear war remained an imminent threat. During the 1980s E.P.Thompson coined the term Exterminism.This highlighted the drift towards conflict propelled by a military structure and politics, that in the process of endless development, ” the USA and the USSR do not have military-industrial complexes: they are such complexes.” The movement against nuclear war is not a programme of resistance for the working class against its rulers; it is ‘the defence of civilization, the defence of the ecosphere — the human ecological imperative.’

exterminism itself is not a ‘class issue’: it is a human issue. Certain kinds of ‘revolutionary’ posturing and rhetoric, which inflame exterminist ideology and which carry divisions into the necessary alliances of human resistance, are luxuries which we can do without.


New Left Review No 121.1980.

Today we hear of a “dual-edged crisis facing humanity”, the climate crisis. The science is definitely on the side of those protesting on the issue of climate change.

But what of their strategy and tactics?

Anybody watching the Extinction rebellion in action can see some echoes of this CND tradition, right back to the direct action of the Committee of 100 of the 1960s.

One can see Extinction Rebellion as related to such movements, particularly as “Extinction Rebellion is a loosely networked, decentralised, grassroots movement which, like the Committee of 100, is prepared to break laws and risk arrest. Anyone who takes action in pursuit of “XR’s three goals and adheres to its ten principles, which includes non-violence, can claim to do it in the name of XR.” “anyone who plans an action that drives forward XR’s three goals and adheres to its ten principles, which includes non-violence, can claim to do it in the name of XR.”

But how could these actions move beyond protest to tackling the causes of global warming?

Previous radical green and other direct action movements, such as Zad occupations in French ecological he Nuit Debout camps, like that La Place de la République, the alter-globalisation  Occupy! camps have been marked by  the idea of “direct democracy” and “consensus decision-making”. This means lengthy, really lengthy, debates, that majorities can be overruled by minorities, and, as unkind people have suggested, there is a right of veto by the loudest and thickest).

Few would suggest that is going to work to gain national support and undertake the kind of structural change Extinction Rebellion aims at.

So they have now adopted the idea of a Citizens’ Assembly on the Climate Emergency,. Those taking part are chosen at random. This also has  supporters on the radical left, who like to remind people of the use of selection by lots to call up people in Ancient Greece for popular Assemblies that decided on legal cases, and took political decisions. “The Athenians believed sortition to be democratic but not elections and used complex procedures with purpose-built allotment machines.”

Given modern sensibilities the “random” aspect could be modified by ethnic, gender and age categories to ensure that a Citizens’ Assembly is a full tranche of the different groups in the population. How you would do that is anybody’s guess.

Peter McColl argues in Extinction Rebellion and the left (Left Foot Forward) that,

A Citizens’ Assembly is a participatory approach that takes a demographically balanced group of citizens and allows them to create proposals for a way forward. In Ireland this helped to deliver the long-running demand for equal marriage.

It’s not hard to work out why this approach appeals to some in XR. There has been a sustained and very effective attack on ideology over the past 40 years. This has left many to believe that socialism is unhelpful, a barrier to progress, and something that will get in the way of the change we really need. I believe none of that. But it is what we are told every day of our lives, and it’s unsurprising that this is what people believe.

For some, the response has been to attack the concept of the Citizens’ Assembly. This is also a problem. Throughout the twentieth century, the socialist movement actively fought the capitalist class, using mass mobilisation to win on many occasions. And it is attractive to believe that this is still something we can achieve. Indeed it is important to make the case that progressive change – from winning the vote for women to ending apartheid – is possible.

Ireland and Scotland may offer examples of how such conventions work. The latter is however dominated by people who already agree on nationalist break-away and will be able to devote their time to discussing, “the establishment of a legal framework providing the option for a referendum through the ‘Referendums (Scotland) Bill’ and cross-party talks to identify areas of agreement on constitutional change.”

But there is another example of a Citizen’s Assembly on issues closer to Extinction Rebellion’s heart,

Earlier this year.

French Citizens’ Assembly delivers a roadmap for stabilizing the climate

On Sunday 22nd June, a unique French body, the “Citizen’s Convention for the Climate” delivered a milestone proposal to the Ministry for Ecological Transition, including far-reaching measures for cutting national carbon emissions from buildings, transport, agriculture and other sectors so as to meet a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. The citizens’ group, commissioned by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, was composed of 150 people randomly selected by mobile phone numbers. The group spent nine months exploring the climate challenge, interviewing dozens of experts and ultimately approving a series of 150 proposals to accelerate climate action.

The US populist magazine Jacobin has an opinion on XR, and offer a useful article that also discusses the French case.

Extinction” Is Exactly the Choice We Face MARK MONTEGRIFFO

Extinction Rebellion leaders have dismissed the idea that protests for climate action have anything to do with “socialist ideology.” But refusing to take political positions — and to relate green politics to the interests of the social majority — will reduce environmentalism to an ineffective moral protest.

What of Macron’s Assembly?

President Emmanuel Macron has accepted just 3 out of the 149 recommendations from a citizens’ commission following the gilets jaunes protests. Although such deliberative democracy has been praised in Ireland, for example — paving the way for its reproductive rights referendum — it contains an assumption that solutions could be found inside the context of our current neoliberal capitalism, so long as the discussion was participatory enough.

This is an odd way of reading the following, “qu’il retient les 149 propositions des citoyens à l’exception de trois“,that is Macron kept all but 3 of the proposals ! (Ce que Macron écarte ou retient de la Convention citoyenne pour le climat). Perhaps Jacobin writers will one day learn that writing the exact opposite of what happened is not a good idea.

The problem is that in the actual legislative process many have got lost…

The source of the problem is that it is being suggested by XR activists, that as long as we “participate” good sense will emerge. But apparently not by voting – one can only assume that in elections people get nobbled….

for this reason, XR proposes “sortition” — selecting citizens by lot, as an alternative to voting.

As Montegriffo points out, this idea is more than a floated demand. It refers to an actual Bill in the House of Commons, proposed by Green MP Caroline Lucas.

There is a campaign to support the “Climate Emergency Bill”, Climate emergency bill offers real hope.

From these cooler years of the early 21st century, we look to a bleak future. A future where the Earth continues to heat, with more extreme weather, with parts of our planet made uninhabitable, leaving millions homeless and destitute. A future where we face the threat of mass extinctions, for which we are responsible.

We will need all of our ingenuity and imagination to prevent this future from unfolding. As we see in the response to Covid-19, people can come together, and our governments can – when they need to – do the “impossible”. The climate and ecological emergency bill was introduced in parliament today by the Green party MP Caroline Lucas with our support. Drafted by scientists, academics and lawyers, it will – if backed all the way by MPs – strengthen the Climate Change Act and ensure that Britain has a comprehensive strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and restore our natural world.

This is the relevant section of the legislation,

Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

  • What’s new in the Bill? An emergency citizens’ assembly(CA) will be convened to help both the UK Government and Parliament create and review the strategy to achieve the bill’s objectives. The CA will empower MPs to take bold decisions and allow people to have a real say in the pathway of, not only a fair and just transition to a zero carbon society but of one leading to a thriving natural world.
  • Why? Fundamental societal changes are required if we are to tackle the climate and ecological crisis, head on. In order to prevent a ‘yellow vest’ effect, it is essential that citizens are involved in decisions that will significantly change their lifestyles. Citizens’ Assemblies are a tried and tested route to engaging citizens in the democratic process. CAs empower politicians to arrive at recommendations that will address very difficult decisions -decisions that will have a profound impact on society. Whilst six-cross-party select committees did commission the Climate Assembly, UK, (CA,UK), the CA,UK’s remit fell well short of the scale and scope required to address the climate and ecological emergency: recommendations were advisory only, members were tasked with identifying a pathway to the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target with no mandate to question the target itself, and the assembly was not called upon to consider adaptation or biodiversity.
  • The CEE bill’s integration of an emergency CA means that the assembly members will be tasked to fully contribute to the recommendations for and the review of, the bill’s ‘strategy’ to meet the ‘objectives’, alongside both government and parliament. In this, the most exceptional of times- this dual-edged crisis facing humanity-the engagement of CA in collaborating in emergency policy-making will allow the government and parliament the public mandate to implement the necessary fundamental societal changes.

The potential futility of such an Assembly faced with an even less sympathetic executive than French President Macron is obvious. Also obvious is why on earth people selected by lot (fancy name “sortation”) should be entitled to decide on answers to the “crisis facing humanity” with no democratic control on their actions. Cynics may suggest that this sounds like a more elaborate version of “consultations” on legislation, a possibly useful source of ideas, but nothing path-breaking.

Above all, the idea that  all is needed   “in order to prevent a ‘yellow vest’ effect” suggests that the XR stunts are designed to threaten people with disruption unless they agree to this scheme.

We shall leave readers to enjoy Montegriffo’s concluding wordy, polemic,

 “what the movement is missing — or not stating clearly enough — is that the climate crisis is the result of neo-liberal capitalism, and a global system of extraction, dispossession and oppression.” Without this, Extinction Rebellion is more of an organization seeking to make a splash in the media, than a “movement” as such.


This also leaves XR open to other, dangerous influences. I was myself one of the admins behind Extinction Rebellion’s social media presence, and saw instances where activists, or individuals posing as activists, have disseminated eco-fascist propaganda. On occasion, we would receive messages asking whether this was official Extinction Rebellion material. Having to clarify that your group is not in favor of population control laws is probably an indication that the politics of the movement is not as clear as it could be.

The campaign continues:


Written by Andrew Coates

September 4, 2020 at 5:49 pm

Conspiracy Theories and QAnon: Ideologies for a Mass Society?

with 10 comments



Ideas for a Mass Society?

Is conspiracy thinking gaining ground across the world? Sunday’s anti-Lockdown rally in London has gained a lot of attention. Some on FB who claim to be on the left give the protest credibility, arguing that there are real concerns about restrictions on people’s freedoms, that the event was not “really” right wing”that   this pandemic will be used  to remould the world, with tighter, top down, medically led authoritarian governments with intrusive surveillance and excessive monitoring.

In this week’s Workers’ Liberty there is a vivid picture of one of the theories that has gained popularity, QAnon.

What exactly do QAnon followers believe? The answer is complicated. By this point, QAnon has snowballed into an all-encompassing super-conspiracy. Believers frequently disagree with each other on details, but there’s room for you in the movement whether you believe that the Earth is hollow or that it is flat.

QAnon centres around a supposed military intelligence officer, “Q”, who is exposing a corrupt cabal in the US government by posting cryptic messages on anonymous imageboards. The first “Q drop” — referring to Q’s arcane messages — appeared on 4chan’s neo-nazi /pol/ board on 28 October 2017. The drops later migrated to 8chan, a site infamous for its popularity among mass shooters and paedophiles.

Other foundational beliefs are: There is a deep state run by Satan-worshipping paedophilic Democrats, who drink the blood of children to satisfy their adrenochrome addiction. (In real life, adrenochrome is the product of the oxidation of adrenaline, and has no addictive properties.)

In Les Origines du populisme published at the end of last year the writers that the failures of the right and he left have left the way open for radical “anti-system” parties. They cite Hannah Arendt, that what we are witnessing is the “passage tumultueux” from a “société de classe” a une société de masse” faite d’individues abandonnés a eux-mêmes au milieu des désordres du monde”. A mass society in which individuals are left alone faced with the world’s tumult, is fertile ground for many forms of ‘anti-system’ ideas.

Mashalleling substantial research they argue that the old class aligned politics has been eroded to the point where in a “mass society” people are mobilised  through their resentment, lack of trust in others, and cultural issues. If, in France, there is now a substantial working class vote for the far-right Rassemblement National, it is not a result of wage-earners casting their ballots for the the RN as workers but to show their “défiance générale a l’égard des institutions et du reste de la société.” They, unlike those inclined to favour radical left protests against the ‘system’ are not inclined to demand wealth redistribution, but search security. So that despite there being class divisions, however altered by the decline of industrialisation and production,  people’s political consciousness, they argue, are polarised according to different “champs de force” (force fields), notably on immigration, and “valuers d’ordre cultural”.

The Communist vote in France for example, has declined from double figures to a couple of percentage points while the same social groups show a majority backing the RN. . This does not mean that former Parti Communist français voters have migrated to the racist right. It is their contemporary  “sociological” make-up. The only  legacy the researchers can trace is that the radical left Jean-Luc Mélenchon and La France insoumise I support does show a political connection with areas which showed past Communist voting.(1)

Conspiracy theories could be said to represent this defiance at the degré zéro of confidence in other people and institutions. They are  personifications of forces that appear to threaten security. There is some evidence, in France and elsewhere,  that there is a cross-over with support for right-wing populism.  Full-time proponents of conspiracy theories are on the far-right who draw on a tradition going back to 1930s fascism and beyond and would wish to see a general front of the “people” against the enemy, the cosmopolitan leftists and their puppet-masters, the  globalists. Its most recent manifestation is in protests against rules trying to stem the spread of Covid 19 by means such as mask-wearing. (« L’adhésion aux différentes théories du complot est un trait caractéristique des “antimasque’’ »). These display every kind of reaction to destabilising outside forces, the means used to bring in the New World Order. 

Hannah Arendt’s  The Origins of Totalitarianism has been described as a “story of the deterioration of the state ….woven together with her story of the loss, across all classes, of common interests and a shared world.” (2) In the complex book that tied to uncover the patterns that led to Nazism and Stalinism,  Arendt talked of the effects of imperialism – in Rosa Luxemburg’s sense of a drive for expansion and exploitation of ‘non-market’ societies – as creating a ‘mass society’. At the top there is a free-booting class of buccaneers fighting it out in the world market. The politics that resulted eroded civic duty, republican and democratic values,

“When, in the era of imperialism, businessmen became politicians and were acclaimed as statesmen, while statesmen were taken seriously only if they talked the language of successful businessmen and ‘thought in continents’, these private practices and devices were gradually transformed into rules and principles for the conduct of public affairs.”(2)

In the same pile was the “mob” people without any stable place in society. There was tribal nationalism, insisting that “its own people is surrounded by a ‘world of enemies”. There was a “. break down of class system, rise of “one great unorganised, structure less mass of furious individuals…” “The chief characteristic of mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relationships.”(3) , Arendt asserted that ““Totalitarian movements are mass organisations of atomised, isolated individuals.”(4) Conspiracy thinking was their mainstay.  They manufactured an ideological a “fictitious world”of plotting enemies. These ideas were sustained by parties, undemocratically run (by the leader principle or Stalinist ‘democratic centralism’) , in effect, secret societies operating the plain light of day. Their audience lapped their propaganda up, unmasking the “true” cabal running the planet.

Can we say that the Web is a mass communication vehicle for such a “fictitious world”.

Paul Mason suggests that in some respects  we can,

At a literal level, QAnon purports to explain what neither liberalism nor Marxism nor mainstream conservatism can: why the world doesn’t work; why nothing changes; why power elites persist. But at a sub-literate level it serves a function that Arendt identified in the ideologies of both Nazi Germany and the USSR: to promote irrationalism. Observers of QAnon networks have likened their activities to a collaborative roleplay game: you have to work out what the cryptic “Q-drops” mean, and to do so you have to consult other atomised and confused people. It’s fun, it creates structure and meaning, and then – when you take to the streets over, for example, a road closure proposal by the local council – you “find each other”.


Arendt understood that the purpose of conspiracy theories was to make people knowingly complicit in irrationalism: to shut them off from facts, analysis and reason, and to create a closed world in which everything makes sense. In the “lying world” created by Nazi propaganda, she wrote, “through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their expectations.

It is these “uprooted” masses, people without confidence in others, without trust, without a stake in movements that they have confidence in, that can be swept up in conspiracy thinking. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, make it available, and a participative experience, at the touch of a keyboard. The world of those who individually ‘uncover the truth’ is in this respect, the opposite of the anti-democratic 1930s totalitarian party structures.

The QAnon conspiracy theory, however, is not the work of a single person: unlike the Nazis, we have a networked information society and the “wisdom of crowds”. The theory has a life of its own, and is being deepened and made more comprehensive with the addition of health and lifestyle lunacies, and the Covid-19 conspiracies.

 How far the growth of these ideas can be explained in terms of “mass societies”, a society of alienated individuals held together by a culture industry that served the interests of capitalism remains open. Arendt’s theory is more precise than the Frankfurt school’s general picture of cultural “production”, although one might add to her picture a tendency to grasp at the individualist  ‘irrationalism’ of a variety of fads, including belief in conspiracies.  But her portrait was of the political conditions in which organised bodies of the far-right manufactured and sustained conspiracy thinking as a weapon of struggle, under very different conditions than post-war prosperity and today’s relative economic disjunctions and the processes of a deeper globalisation than the globalisation at play in the 19th century.

There are, at present, no mass totalitarian movements, with disciplined numbers of armed supporters, willing to fight their enemies. National Populism is not totalitarian but claims a monopoly of voice to command a nation’s  Sovereign power. It appeals to those “standing outside society’s political representation” with a call to join together against an enemy, not to place them in concentration camps. Its class support may be wide but the class fractions whose driving it are a combination of those who benefit from national protectionism, and, most visible  in the British case,  the most reactionary elements of finance capital who profit from inter-state competition and markets hemmed in by the same nationalist imperatives without inter-state regulation.

National populism is based on national neoliberalism, private enterprise states, farmed off public services, and efforts to return to a battle for economic advantage on the world market.  It has yet to find enduring roots, or structures. but what it has bears little direct resemblance to the totalitarian wave of the 1930s. Trump is a loud-mouth at the head of a 19th century caucus party that’s adapted to the information society. The French Rassemblement National, for example, has, to begin with, only just over 20,000 members and has so far served more as a warning, and a unifying call to back the Macron centre than a government-in-the-waiting.  The recent Presidential victory in Poland of the Law and Justice Party has as in Hungary, consolidated an authoritarian, paternalistic state, but has not swept opponents into exile. The Islamist populism of Erdoğan has put opponents in gaol, and is prepared to act to restore Ottoman imperialism yet has not driven dissenting masses into camps.

Britain has only experienced a simulacrum. The Brexit Party were founded by businessmen, railed against foreigners and the EU,  headed the British European Polls in 2019,  and vanished, with the cash, into their pockets. Johnson dallies with national neo-liberalism and patriotism on behalf of a team of pick-pockets and chancers. And its international project is an effort to grab the coat-tails of Trump….

Zékány observes,

People are thoroughly dissatisfied with the political establishment. They feel powerless, and on some level they know that the ruling class — although they wouldn’t use the term — doesn’t care about them. The years pass, they keep voting, and things don’t seem to get any better. Inequality is growing, and has been growing for years.

The immediate thought is, what can we do about that? How can we build, as Mason proposes, ” a political and social alternative to the present” To begin with he says we need to explain “, what’s wrong with QAnon, and climate denial, and the “plandemic” myth, needs to be the subject of sermons, school curricula and, above all, the speeches of serious politicians.” How could we encourage a politics built on trust and projects that recognise the class structures that hold people back, exploit them and divide them in a common project to redistribute wealth and  change things for the better?

The last group would not include those in the Labour Party and left fringes who spend most of their time attacking the new Labour Leader, Keir Starmer.



(1) Les Origines du populisme. Enquête sur un schisme politique et social (2019) . Yann Algan Elizabeth Beasley Daniel Cohen Martial Foucault

Le populisme est le produit de deux secousses telluriques. Premier séisme : la montée d’un immense ressentiment contre les partis et les institutions politiques. Face à l’échec de la droite et de la gauche à contenir les excès du capitalisme, la radicalité « anti-système » a brisé les compromis que l’un et l’autre camps étaient parvenus à édifier. Deuxième séisme : la fin de la société de classes, au profit d’une société d’individus pensant leur position sociale en termes subjectifs. Une nouvelle polarité en résulte, qui sépare les « confiants » des « méfiants » envers autrui. La droite populiste surgit au croisement d’une double méfiance – à l’égard des institutions politiques et à l’égard de la société. Elle prospère sur le désenchantement démocratique, tout en renouvelant le clivage gauche-droite. Fondé sur des données inédites, cet ouvrage se révèle essentiel pour comprendre le présent et l’avenir des sociétés démocratiques.

(2) Page 220. Hannah Arendt. For Love of the World. Second Edition, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl. Yale University Press. 2004.

(3) Page 138.The Origins of Totalitarianism. Hannah Arendt. André Deutsch. 1986 (1951) See also. Hannah Arendt Politics, History and Citizenship, Phillip Hansen. Polity Press. 1993.

(4) Page 317,The Origins of Totalitarianism.

(4) Page 313,The Origins of Totalitarianism.

See also:


Written by Andrew Coates

September 3, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Labour Left Alliance in Ferocious Row with Socialists of Colour.

with 11 comments


Vice Chair of Labour Against the Witch-hunt Speaks out.

Yesterday this story ran on Labour List.

The Labour Party is understood to be investigating complaints of alleged racism submitted by Socialists of Colour activists against three national executive committee candidates, LabourList can reveal.

The anti-racism group, which organises within Labour and outside of it, sent a series of questions to each party member who has put themselves forward for the internal NEC elections currently taking place.

After the responses were provided to the activists and published in full on their website, Socialists of Colour complained to Labour about the statements of Brian Precious, Carol Taylor-Spedding and James Chespy.

A Socialists of Colour steering committee member told LabourList: “A number of responses to our questions we disagreed with but could be put down to political difference. However, there were some that entered into clear-cut racism and antisemitism, which Socialists of Colour do not in any way endorse.

“Responses that warranted content warnings for their antisemitic and racist content included the defence of Jackie Walker, who was expelled from the party for antisemitism, the denial of institutional antisemitism, perpetuating conspiracy theories and comments around certain communities being more predisposed to commit crime.

This is the crucial section,

“We are also deeply worried about the erasure of antisemitism especially in the face of the EHRC investigation into the party. Some of these issues have been picked up by the party, with Brian Precious’ original candidate statement being taken down due to antisemitism and then replaced.

“It is evident that party vetting processes when it comes to candidates are not thorough enough and do not have conclusions that effectively hold candidates, or people who should not be candidates due to their racism, to account.”

The responses labelled by SoC with a “content warning” included a defence of Jackie Walker. Local party rep candidate Taylor-Spedding said Walker was expelled from the party “unjustly” once her high-profile case concluded.

Exercising her right of reply, Taylor-Spedding told LabourList that the accusation of antisemitism “does not make any sense” because Walked was expelled for bringing the party into disrepute rather than for antisemitism itself.

Walker was expelled from Labour in March 2019 for “prejudicial and grossly detrimental” behaviour. She had suggested at a 2016 event that Holocaust Memorial Day should be “open to all people who experienced holocaust”.

The Labour Left Alliance, a group on the party’s left, has launched an open letter that says Socialists of Colour are “entirely mistaken” in their conclusion that Taylor-Spedding’s statement was racist.

This was also noted,

Brian Precious, another member seeking nominations while standing to be a local party representative, described the view that Labour is institutionally antisemitic as a “smear”, amongst other comments found to be antisemitic by SoC.

The Labour member from Burnley also received criticism for his original candidate statement, which was published by Labour on its own website before reportedly being replaced with a different statement.

Precious’ statement on the Labour website now reads: “Antisemitism was massively exaggerated so as to be [weaponised]. This created the fear and intimidation typical of a witch hunt, as in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible”.

Many people thought that it was odd that the people singled out by Socialists of Colour were people pretty unknown to the left, left alone the wider Labour Party. One, somebody this Blog has encountered, Brian Precious, used to be interested in the obscurities of Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau’ writings. James Chepsy’s politics would have remained in decent obscurity without this row.

Carol Taylor Spedding, also unknown until recently,  however has developed a more public presence.

A candidate for the NEC elections Taylor Spedding is supported by the Labour Left Alliance.

Left Horizons call to vote for her:

Fight on a Socialist Platform:

Alec Price

Roger Silverman

Carol Taylor-Spedding

She is also backed the paleo-Trotskyists of Socialist Appeal,

Socialist Appeal believes that – alongside backing the Grassroots Voice slate (with 1-6 STV preferences) against the right wing – left activists should also offer their support (with CLP nominations and 7-9 preferences) to the ‘For Socialism’ platform of candidates: Alec PriceRoger Silverman, and Carol Taylor-Spedding.

Labour’s civil war: We must take the fight to the right

These are views she has expressed.

No doubt there were grounds by supporters of Taylor-Speeding  to object to this statement.

But we hardly expected this furious reaction:

We believe that you are entirely mistaken in your assessment that this answer constitutes an example of the serious accusation of racism and urge you to immediately take off the content warning. You should also issue an apology to Carol for the distress you have caused her and the damage you have caused to her democratic right to stand for the Labour Party NEC.


  1. Firstly, Jackie Walker – a black Jewish woman – was not expelled for antisemitism, but for the catch-all phrase of “bringing the Labour party into disrepute”. Specific charges of racism or antisemitic behaviour were not brought against her. Any charges of this nature that were mooted or decided on in a trial-by-media would have had to stand up in a legal hearing. Jackie, an anti-racist campaigner, was one of the first victims of a political campaign by the right in and outside the Labour Party directed against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, a campaign which in December 2019 led to Labour’s defeat and Corbyn’s resignation. 
  1. When you give your reasoning, “We believe that defending or apologising for Walker’s behaviour is an attempt to discredit valid antisemitism claims and is therefore, in our belief, racist and/or antisemitic”, we note that the premise is false. Not only was Jackie Walker not expelled for “valid anti-semitism claims”, but nowhere in Carol’s answer does she defend or apologise for Jackie Walker’s (undefined) “behaviour”. The statement disagrees with Jackie Walker having been expelled. Therefore, on its own terms, your accusations are false and you have no basis for the damaging actions you have taken.
  1. You are declaring Carol guilty of antisemitism merely by association, which has consequences for every Labour Party member. Nothing that Carol wrote is in any way “openly antisemitic”. Carol has simply stated that she believes Jackie Walker was ‘expelled unjustly from the party’. Members have a democratic right to disagree with, appeal, or even take legal recourse against party sanctions if required. Supporting that is not the inherently racist act you have claimed it to be. 
  1. Allegations of antisemitism and racism can be very harmful and damaging, and not just to the electoral prospect of a candidate, but also their entire reputation politically and personally. Unfounded, politically motivated, vexatious accusations of racism are a wound to all who seek an end to racism. 
  2. We also have to express our concern that NEC candidate Jermaine Jackman is listed as one of the nine people behind the website ‘Socialists of Colour’, which, since it contains a slander of a rival candidate, is surely a serious conflict of interest, and could be judged to fall foul of the NEC candidate code of conduct. We urge Jermaine to publicly disassociate himself from the slanderous comments and repeat our request that Socialists of Colour remove the accusations which put him in this situation.
  3. Lastly, we note that you give no “content warning” when it comes to candidates like Luke Akehurst who in his answer to you declares his support for the imperialist war on Iraq, in which hundreds of thousands of working class Iraqis were killed.

Please do the right thing by taking down the accusations immediately and apologise.

We encourage all CLPs to nominate Carol and other socialists for NEC to ensure the defence of members rights and party democracy. 


  • Roger Silverman, NEC candidate
  • Alec Price, NEC candidate
  • Chaudhry Qamer Iqbal, NEC candidate
  • Ekua Bayunu, NEC candidate
  • Steve Maggs, NEC candidate
  • Cate Tuitt, NEC candidate
  • Carol Taylor-Spedding, NEC candidate
  • Esther Giles, NEC candidate (treasurer)
  • Moshé Machover, Hampstead & Kilburn CLP
  • Jackie Walker, anti-racist campaigner
  • Tina Werkmann, secretary Labour Left Alliance
  • Tony Greenstein, first Jewish member to be expelled!

Full List on link: Open Letter to the group ‘Socialists of Colour’

Labour list has added this,

This article was amended at 9.45pm. Walker did not complain that Holocaust Memorial Day failed to commemorate genocides other than that in World War Two, but suggested that it should be “open to all people who experienced holocaust”.

We do not expect that these signatories endorse Greenstein’s remarks.

Greenstein’s language is no surprise.

Greenstein has used this kind of abuse so often and for so long (including to my good self) that most people have become inured to it.

He is part of the kind of political world these people inhabit.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 2, 2020 at 10:32 am

On the Eve of the Trail of the 2015 Terror Attacks Charlie Hebdo Republishes Caricatures of Mohammed.

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Charlie Hebdo Will Never Give Up.

On the eve of the trial of the attacks of January 2015 Charlie Hebdo   republishes  the cartoons of the prophet who made the weekly the target of jihadist terrorists.




Their own Tweet:

This is Le Monde’s report:

Here is another.

Report in English.

France’s Charlie Hebdo reprints Mohammed cartoons for trial

France 24. 

Agence France Presse.

French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, the target of a massacre by Islamist gunmen in 2015, said Tuesday it was republishing hugely controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to mark this week’s start of the trial of alleged accomplices to the attack.

“We will never lie down. We will never give up,” director Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau wrote in an editorial to go with the cartoons in the latest edition.

“The hatred that struck us is still there and, since 2015, it has taken the time to mutate, to change its appearance, to go unnoticed and to quietly continue its ruthless crusade,” he said.

Twelve people, including some of France’s most celebrated cartoonists, were killed on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage at the paper’s offices in Paris.

The perpetrators were killed in the wake of the massacre but 14 alleged accomplices in the attacks, which also targeted a Jewish supermarket, will go on trial in Paris on Wednesday.

The latest Charlie Hebdo cover shows a dozen cartoons first published by the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005 — and then reprinted by the French weekly in 2006, unleashing a storm of anger across the Muslim world.

In the centre of the cover is a cartoon of the prophet drawn by cartoonist Jean Cabut, known as Cabu, who lost his life in the massacre.

“All of this, just for that,” the front-page headline says.

– ‘The right to blaspheme’ –

The editorial team wrote that now was the right time to republish the cartoons and “essential” as the trial opens.

“We have often been asked since January 2015 to print other caricatures of Mohammed,” it said.

“We have always refused to do so, not because it is prohibited — the law allows us to do so — but because there was a need for a good reason to do it, a reason which has meaning and which brings something to the debate.”

The paper’s willingness to cause offence over a range of controversial issues has made it a champion of free speech for many in France, while others argue it has crossed a line too often.

But the massacre united the country in grief, with the slogan #JeSuisCharlie (I Am Charlie) going viral.

“A thousand bravos,” Zineb El Rhazoui, a former journalist for the weekly, said on Twitter, calling the republication of the cartoons a victory “for the right to blasphemy”.

The former director of Charlie Hebdo, Philippe Val, also hailed a “remarkable idea” for defending freedom of thought and expression in the face of “terror”.

In a nuanced response, the president of the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM), Mohammed Moussaoui, urged people to “ignore” the cartoons, while condemning violence.

“The freedom to caricature is guaranteed for all, the freedom to love or not to love (the caricatures) as well. Nothing can justify violence,” he told AFP.

The suspects, who go on trial from 0800 GMT on Wednesday, are accused of providing various degrees of logistical support to the killers.

The trial had been delayed several months with most French courtrooms closed over the coronavirus epidemic.

The court in Paris will sit until November 10 and, in a first for a terror trial, proceedings will be filmed for archival purposes given public interest.

National anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard dismissed the idea that it was just “little helpers” going on trial since the three gunmen were now dead.

“It is about individuals who are involved in the logistics, the preparation of the events, who provided means of financing, operational material, weapons, a residence,” he told France Info radio on Monday.

“All this is essential to the terrorist action.”


After the Islamist slaughter there were those, from Tariq Ali, Seumas Milne, the SWP, to George Galloway, who denounced Charlie Hebdo and suggested that they “had it coming”.


To that ghastly crew Charb’s words ring out:


Written by Andrew Coates

September 1, 2020 at 3:29 pm

BBC “Left-wing comedy shows to be axed”. It’s the Culture Wars, innit?

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“Whether we want a culture war or not, it’s clear that one is upon us.” Tom Hunt Ipswich Tory MP.

While the alt-left media ineffectively rails about the BBC the troops of the right have been waging a war of manoeuvre against the public service broadcaster.

Their foot soldiers have been mobilising across the Land.

Tom Hunt is a very right wing MP for Ipswich.

This has been one of his main campaigns.

As squaddy in the Culture Wars Hunt has been doing sapper work. He’s been singing Rule Britannia morn till noon, and defending ‘mainstream opinion’ on the widely followed call to “strip the Sussexs of their titles” and saying that that Boris Johnson’s government has taken many a “correct decision”.

The battles continue as a new front has opened up.


The issue of the BBC has played hard in the Tory fringes.

A few days ago Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich took time off from attacking migrants  (Tory MP calls for UK to cut all ties with EU amid ‘unacceptable’ migrant crossings) to…attack the BBC.


This is long and rambling, extracts:

STATEMENT ON THE BBC LICENCE FEE: Like many, I’ve had concerns about the BBC for a number of years now. The coverage of Brexit and last year’s General Election are just some of the high-profile examples of where the Corporation’s output has fallen below the standards the public expect from their national broadcaster.

However, I’ve always stopped short of joining others in calling into question the future of the licence fee. For me growing up, the BBC represented a unique part of our national identity and the role it played in our country’s life always gave me an emotional connection which I wouldn’t have with any other broadcaster.

I also recognised that the BBC has come in for criticism from both Conservatives and those on the radical Left over the years so perhaps the BBC was getting somewhere near the middle ground.

This has been my view on balance until the last few months where the BBC’s coverage and the actions of many of its publicly funded executives and journalists have unfortunately become completely out of control; leading me to reflect seriously on whether the licence fee continues to be justified.

While the BBC has been making plans to cut back what makes the licence fee stomachable, it’s been chipping away at many of our most cherished cultural institutions. And has been played like a fiddle by woke Leftists who have demonstrated their determination to radically change the character of this country.
This has now reached an unbearable crescendo with the farce over the Last Night of the Proms.

The reports of plans to expunge ‘Rule Britannia!’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ entirely and then the BBC’s announcement they would be played without their lyrics, represent an assault on one of the most important nights in our cultural calendar.

Many will have read the disgraceful comments by the Executive Producer of the BBC’s Songs of Praise programme likening the singing of Rule Britannia to Nazis singing about gas chambers because of the slave trade.

In her rush to apologise for the history of this country, she must have forgotten the blood and treasure the Royal Navy spent in abolishing the appalling Atlantic slave trade and how we can be proud of that today.

This is by far not the only abject failure of impartiality by those paid well to keep their biases in check. The article on exam results by Newsnight’s policy editor, Lewis Goodall, which took the front page of the left-wing New Statesman magazine last week, didn’t even pay lip service to the principle of impartiality in its hostile and partisan attacks  on the Government.

The woke, metropolitan and censorious worldview that the BBC is offering no longer interests vast swathes of people up and down the country, many of which have become frustrated at being obliged to pay for content they don’t want, cuts to content they do want and an organisation which fundamentally doesn’t represent them and doesn’t even look like it wants to.

Hunt continues, and continues, spickle covering his statement.


The Telegraph article looks like an effort to ward off the Hunts and their troops.

The Corbynistas are confused:

This prominent sage sums up their dilemma:

Moaning Mendoza’s warnings went unheeded…..

Channel Four is set to show Funny Cow (2018), a slice of cinema verité about Northern Comics from the Red Wall. IT’s got some rip-roaring comedy about ‘Pakis’, women and gays.

That will go down well on the BBC.

We hear that the BBC is thinking of a pilot for a series in which Maxine Peak will reprise her role..


It seems to be the case that the “culture wars” have reached a new stage.

As Nesrine Malik  says in the Guardian. 

….culture-war skirmishes are no longer a sideshow to our politics – they are the politics. They are how rightwing electoral prospects are now advanced; not through policies or promises of a better life, but by fostering a sense of threat, a fantasy that something profoundly pure and British is constantly at risk of extinction. What our most successful politicians understand is the insatiable public appetite for these falsehoods, the wish for these lies to be true – for Britain to be a precious damsel in distress rather than a battered country impoverished by the misrule of its governing class.

The right’s culture war is no longer a sideshow to our politics – it is our politics

From the Spiked national populists we learn however,

Who started this culture war?

Tom Slater.

The identitarian left stirs up cultural conflict and then blames it on everyone else.

…who started this culture war? Maybe it’s the people who have been charging around demanding that statues be toppled, speech be censored and now songs not be sung in the name of equality – rather than the people who, in the face of all this guff, dare to say ‘hang on a minute’.

À la lutte!

Written by Andrew Coates

September 1, 2020 at 10:35 am

Piers Corbyn: From International Marxist Group to Red-Brown Charlatan.

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Ex-International Marxist Group activist now stands with Holocaust denier David Icke and the far-right.


The Guardian carries an article, on the demonstration, Coronavirus sceptics, conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers protest in London.

But, this, written in a respectful tone, is how it talks about three of the best-known participants..

Among those due to speak were Piers Corbyn, the weather forecaster and older brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the former newspaper columnist and health journalist Dr Vernon Coleman, and the conspiracist celebrity David Icke.

Although the demonstration focused on coronavirus restrictions, those taking part espoused anti-authoritarian grievances ranging from the lockdown to the imprisonment of Julian Assange to claims of elite child sexual abuse.

On the eve of the protest, Corbyn told the Guardian that a number of groups had come together to join in with the demonstration.

“In terms of whether you believe that the virus is a hoax or not, whatever is happening now is less than or equal to a normal flu, so the lockdowns and all that goes with them is unjustifiable in any terms,” he said.

“We are calling for MPs to refuse renewal of the Covid Act [Coronavirus Act], and if they do not, we will campaign to have them removed from office.”

One of the aspects of Piers Corbyn which is not given a wide airing is the revulsion that his former comrades in the International Marxist Group (IMG) and others on the radical left feel about his present politics.

In the 1970s Piers was better known on the left than his brother.

From Imperial College to the Squatters’ movement, he was a well-known figure on the left. He was active in the IMG, standing in 1977 in Lambeth Central for a GLC election under the group’s name. Not everybody appreciated his efforts to create a Squatters’ union. Like the rest of the British section of the Fourth International he joined the Labour Party and was a party councillor in Southwark between 1986 and 1990. He remained in the Borough, and people speak of him in the 1990s selling left publications in his local pub.

Corbyn appears in the 2006 BBC Documentary ‘Lefties‘, in the first episode, Property is Theft, about squatting in the 1970s.

PIers made a career forecasting the weather, forming WeatherAction, in 1995. The meteorologist was still sending out EMails about his prognostic power to leftists (using a wider list) when the Internet began to take off in the new millennium. He fell out with the same left when he began promoting climate change denial in the same decade, and was pushed out of left-wing politics. His thinking was wildly at odds with his former Fourth International comades, who took an Eco-Socialist turn at the same time and joined the fight for “Global Climate Justice”.

Interviewed in 2016 (Guardian) he was without regrets: “Like his brother, physicist and meteorologist Piers Corbyn is a man of revolutionary zeal. His own battle, however, is against all this ‘climate-change nonsense’…

He has certainly changed, and not just because of his climate change denialism.

This is one of the leaflets he has been distributing this year.


We must “unite against the globalist common enemy”, the “Nazified NHS”, “AntiFa and BLM are funded by mega billionaire Soros. The (BLM) concerns and attacks on statues are “orchestrated by the richest most evil men and mega corporations” to “divert your attention and bring in a ‘New Normal’ – New World Order” “Covid ..is nothing more dangerous than a cold or flu.”

Most people would say that somebody who produces this material is not entitled to any respect whatsoever.

This is the far-right charlatan yesterday in London.

These are some more of this friends.

And these:



There is a view that the a core group protesters who assembled against the Lockdown in Trafalgar Square come from a long-established fan-base of David Icke. Others, from  Save Our Rights UK organisation, Q Anon, ‘Wellness’ anti-Vaxx campaigners, and anti 5-G obsessives, are of a more recent ilk. They are political confusionism, a mixture of right and left united against an enemy that they define in their imagination.

This is an international phenomenon as this report on a demonstration in Ireland last week indicates,

A Garda investigation has begun into an anti-face mask rally held in Dublin at the weekend on suspicion it breached coronavirus regulations prohibiting the organising of events.

Separately, a number of disturbances at the rally were also under criminal investigation, including one incident during which men who were armed with sticks or batons clashed with others present. *

They wore black caps and scarves covering their faces, as well as PPE-type latex gloves, and clashed with a number of other men present in what appeared to be a pre-planned attack. One man suffered significant injuries before gardaí restored order. *

The event was organised by the Health Freedom Ireland, which says it is a non-political organisation, with support from Yellow Vest Ireland.


Other speakers included members of the Irish Freedom Party which wants to “regain control” of Ireland’s border to more closely control immigration.

Berlin yesterday:

There is a sharp political edge, one underlined by Piers Corbyn: the anti Bill Gates and above all, George Soros, theme.

Soros is a hate figure for the far-right and some on the ‘anti-imperialist’ left (see above picture about Syria).

George Soros Conspiracy Theories Surge as Protests Sweep US.

USNews and World Report.

George Soros, the billionaire investor and philanthropist who has long been a target of conspiracy theories, is now being falsely accused of orchestrating and funding the protests over police killings of Black people that have roiled the United States. Amplified by a growing number of people on the far right, including some Republican leaders, online posts about Soros have skyrocketed in recent weeks.

They have been accompanied by online ads bought by conservative groups that call on authorities to “investigate George Soros for funding domestic terrorism and his decades-long corruption.”

We can add Piers Corbyn to that list of conspiracy theorists.

The leftist rhetoric about the New World Order, first used in the 1990s after the First Gulf War, has been moulded after a well established pattern into a rant about mysterious figures controlling the planet.

It is said that there is a special place in Hades for renegades from the IMG who turn to the far-right.

Worse than this (story not verified):



Written by Andrew Coates

August 30, 2020 at 10:35 am

Political Confusionism: Anti-Lockdown Conspiracists, from Fascists to Anti-Vacs, Fill Trafalgar Square .

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British Union of Fascists Flag: Anti-Vac and Conspiracy Right-Wing Mingle with Trafalgar Square Demo.



The London protest brings together Piers Corbyn and David Icke, and a raft of other far-right conspiracy activists.




Here is another shot of them.

The far-right conspiratorial background of the march’s principal organisers is well-known.

There is David Icke and Piers Corbyn. Corbyn has taken to railing at the ‘New World Order’, George Soros, and the ‘Nazification’ of the NHS.

Here he is this afternoon:

They are part of a Europe-wide (and further afield in North America and Australasia) movement that brings together ‘anti-vaccination campaigners, ‘civil liberty’ anti-‘big government’ rightists, and straightforward racists.

These cross-overs in this latest outbreak of political confusionism are already being charted.

Le Monde, a few days ago carried a detailed  report highlighting the cross-over between those who hold anti-lockdown ideas and conspiratorial right-wing thinking.

La défiance imprègne notre société » : le discours antimasque, nouveau terreau complotiste

As indication they pointed to a Facebook site which had renamed itself from Zemmour (the surname of a French far-right-wing anti-immigrant historian) to “Non au masque” (no to Masks).

In an opinion survey of 800 members of these Web platforms it was found that 52% believed in the Illuminati (against a whopping 27% of the general population!), 56% believe in the Great Replacement by Immigrants (against 25%), and 52% in a Zionist “plot” against France (22%).

In the UK the culture warriors and identitarians of Spiked are also stirring the pot.

Britain was often a pretty unfree place before 2020. But this year illiberalism has gone into overdrive. The state now dictates that we must cover our faces in certain places or face a fine.

Yesterday: Not a single healthy child has died from Covid

A new study confirms the virus poses a negligible risk to children.

With the evidence mounting that kids are largely safe from Covid, it is clearer than ever that schools are safe. Those who want to hold up the return to education are massively over-stating the risks. In fact, they are causing harm to children by restricting their lives in the name of protecting them from a negligible threat.

Let’s stop scaremongering and get schools back to normal.

More Background from Hope Not Hate.


New conspiracy theory-driven street movements, spreading dangerous QAnon, 5G and anti-vaccine propaganda, have held dozens of small protests in the UK recent months. These groups are collaborating and gathering momentum.

Last Saturday, over a hundred protesters marched to Buckingham Palace, where a section angrily chanted “paedophiles” outside the gates. Some protestors bore signs referencing QAnon, a baseless US-centric conspiracy theory alleging that President Trump is waging a secret war against a cabal of powerful Satanic paedophiles, alleged to be kidnapping, torturing and even cannibalising children on a giant scale. The conspiracy theory, which has strong undercurrents of antisemitism, has spread rapidly in the US and developed pockets of support in Europe in recent months.

The outfit behind the protest, Freedom for the Children UK (FFTCUK), is the British branch of a new American group, which held scores of gatherings across the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand last Saturday. FFTCUK itself organised events in eleven cities across Britain, and whilst some were tiny, others, including Manchester , were hundreds strong.

Whilst FFTCUK’s deliberately vague branding appears to have attracted many concerned by genuine child trafficking, several of the group’s central UK organisers have expressed QAnon beliefs. The iconography of the theory was displayed by attendees at events around the country, as well as numerous references to broader Satanic ritual child abuse conspiracy theories.

FFTCUK is just one of a constellation of conspiracy theory-driven protest groups to have emerged during lockdown, which, despite being founded on diverging issues, appear increasingly willing to pool their efforts. FFTCUK’s Manchester event was supported by Stand Up X (SUX), a homegrown anti-5G outfit which, since launching in May, has organised dozens of small anti-lockdown events.

This Saturday SUX is, alongside a number of other groups, co-organising what may be the largest conspiracy theory protest in recent months, as David Icke, a major British conspiracy theorist and antisemite, is set to speak against the lockdown in London alongside prominent anti-vaccine activists.

Today is Saturday.


Written by Andrew Coates

August 29, 2020 at 3:59 pm

Plans for UK Right-wing US-style Opinionated Television “News” Station.

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Fox's Media Bias and Climate Change | Discover Magazine
The Worst is Yet Upon us: Fox Style ‘News’ to Come to UK.

As the ‘culture wars’ manufactured by right-wing identity politics continue,  and Brexit opens the opportunity for deregulation the right is bidding to become an active player in ‘news’ provision.

Anybody familiar with Tories and Brexit patriots in the flesh will know that the campaign underway against the BBC has resonated amongst their circles. There is a sheer nastiness amongst the right, a real national populist mood against all forms of left wing and even liberal opinion.

Listening to people you can see that while Farage is transparently looking for ways to continue his business revenue, financial and political, he has also continued to tap into a continuing groundswell of national populism. With the arrogance of their patron, Trump’s UK operators would like to shout their message at everybody.

This now looks no longer like barking in the wilderness. As the British left has concentrated on attacking Keir Starmer the Tories plans for extending the ‘free market’ for the wealthy are extending to the media. The attacks on the BBC are only a prelude to reshaping broadcasting.

From Times Radio, which few listen to, to television the right want to have a hold on fabricating the news.



The Guardian reports today,


Rivals plan Fox News-style opinionated TV station in UK

Tim Waterson .

This article is setting off alarm bells.

Rival efforts are under way to launch a Fox News-style opinionated current affairs TV station in Britain to counter the BBC.

One group is promising a news channel “distinctly different from the out-of-touch incumbents” and has already been awarded a licence to broadcast by the media regulator, Ofcom, under the name “GB News”. Its founder has said the BBC is a “disgrace” that “is bad for Britain on so many levels” and “needs to be broken up”.

A rival project is being devised in the headquarters of Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire by the former Fox News executive David Rhodes, although it is unclear whether it will result in a traditional TV channel or be online-only.

The first project has close links to the US national neo-liberal right, Murdoch’s politics are too well known to need repeating here,

This character does not look a welcome import.

GB News is the work of a company called All Perspectives, controlled by two British-American executives who are associated with the US billionaire John Malone. (1) Known as the “cable cowboy”, Malone chairs Liberty Global, the owner of Virgin Media, as well as the parent company of the Discovery television network.

Andrew Cole, one of the co-founders of GB News, also sits on the board of Liberty Global. He told the Guardian he hoped to be able to discuss the project in September, but he has previously made clear his views on the broadcasting landscape.

(1) From Wikipedia: “Malone’s political beliefs have been described as libertarian.[36] He is on the board of directors for the (hard right)  Cato Institute. He donated US$250,000 to Donald Trump‘s inauguration in 2017, with colleague Greg Maffei, Liberty Media, and Liberty Interactive each donating a further US$250,000.”

This is from a puff for him in The Gentlemans Journal,

In recent years, Malone, like fellow magnate Rupert Murdoch, has supported Donald Trump – an unsurprising move given that he is a former chairman of the Libertarian think tank, Cato Institute.

Speaking to a Liberty Media investor day in 2016, Malone forecast a stronger American dollar, accelerated growth and some inflation under a Trump presidency. “I think the deregulatory aspects of a Republican administration will be favorable. I think the likelihood you will see government intervening to support one particular industry’s goals, relative to another’s, is probably less risky today,” he told investors.

In January this year, Malone and Liberty Media were among the biggest contributors to the president’s inauguration, donating a collective $1m to the festivities.

What can you say?

Howdy Pardner!

The problem of getting rid of broadcast rules remains to be solved by Dominic Cummings.

The challenge both projects face is the UK’s strict broadcast rules on due impartiality, enforced by the media regulator. One possible route around them is to follow the lead of the radio station LBC, which has achieved record audiences by realising that the rules can be interpreted to allow strongly opinionated presenters, so long as they are balanced out elsewhere in the schedule with alternative viewpoints.

A similar model has been followed by Piers Morgan’s outbursts on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, which regularly become talking points online and drive substantial traffic to tabloid newspapers. News UK’s TalkRadio has pushed this tactic further, with regular debates on culture war hot topics rapidly turned into clips shared on social media.

In other words Piers Morgan is a pioneer of reducing news to “talking points”.

Just to cheer us the Guardian article ends with this,

One of the great unknowns of any such project is the role of Nigel Farage. The former Ukip leader left LBC amid staff anger over his comments on migrants crossing the Channel, but he has the potential to deliver a ready-made anti-BBC, pro-Brexit audience. He has recently appeared on the Sun’s YouTube channel and TalkRadio, both owned by News UK.

Faced with this many would hope that the endless whinging from some on the left against the BBC would stop.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 29, 2020 at 10:16 am

Decline and Fall of the Alt-Left Media.

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How A Small Group Of Pro-Corbyn Websites Built Enormous Audiences On Facebook

“But I don’t know anything about the subject, I’ve had no experience, I’ve got no testimonials, and I can’t write’. ‘It doesn’t do to be too modest,’ said the new alt-Left media tycoon ‘It’s wonderful what one can author when one tries.” (Decline and Fall. 2020)

In 2017 Jim Waterson of Buzzfeed UK (defunct) wrote,

They’ve been mocked, ignored, and dismissed as conspiracy mongers – but a small group of hyperpartisan British media outlets have quietly built enormous audiences on Facebook in the space of just two years with relentlessly pro-Corbyn coverage.

……articles by Another Angry Voice (who?) and other similar alt-left media publications such as The CanaryEvolve Politics, and Skwawkbox are consistently and repeatedly going more viral than mainstream UK political journalism.

The Rise Of The Alt-Left British Media

Waterson did not mention Novara Media, or anticipate later additions like Labour Heartlands,  but you get the picture.

It is hard to imagine anybody writing this today.

Lack of political direction after the end of Corbyn leadership and election disaster, audiences in free-fall, these outlets are at a loss.

The late-night phone calls from anybody who matters in the Labour Party have ceased. Only a few lowly union figures, bored with Netflix, might give a bell to a  chosen minion when an internal trade union battle of limited public interest is underway.

Evolve Politics, for the many who have never heard of it, now runs stories such as,



Skwawkbox has turned himself into a one-man anti-Labour Party band.

This is his latest,

Starmer selling access to front-benchers for £500. Plus VAT. Online.

Walker is only rivaled as an anti-Labour site by the pro-Brexit “Labour Heartlands”.

Labour MP shows why Labour will never be a credible Party again: Labour MP brands Brexiteers ‘absolute sh*tbag racist w*nkers’ during Rule Britannia row

The Canary specialises in rewriting MSN stories:

Donald Trump just received some terrible news about his election prospects.


Don’t even talk about the revamped US owned ‘Tribune’, who tried to scramble on the alt-media bandwagon when the wheels were about the spin off.

Their whose latest tales are grey upon grey:

How a Decade of Cuts Made School Reopening Harder.

Why They Want a ‘Rule, Britannia!’ Culture War

Historians of the alt-media blip will perhaps trace  the moment these outlets fell to the time when the personalities behind them became more of a story than the alt-news they carry.

As in this spat: between the Canary’s Boss and Owen Jones:

Novara Media’s co-founder Aaron Bastani is a favourite of the wits of the Internet.

This is his latest humorous effort.

He has still the power to inspire dislike.

In a successful attempt to destroy what’s left of their reputation Novara Media today published an article blaming the plight of refugees in the channel on the European Union,

Britain’s Channel Crossings Policy Comes Straight Out of Fortress Europe’s Playbook by Chloe Haralambous and Barnaby Raine.

The PHD students at the USA  Columbia University, the authors, one of whom did some work a number of years ago with refugee rescue  have a past (which Novara Media does not signal).

They were part of the pro-Brexit Socialist Workers Party breakaway RS21 (Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century) *(Making live and letting die: “refugees”, “migrants” and Fortress Europe Chloe Haralambous (2015) How to learn from Lenin Barnaby Raine.) Unsurprisingly Breit has not led to anything resembling their “internationalist left position”. So they blame the consequences of the hard right project of Brexit on the ……European Union.

IThe learned academics assert that,

Though it is sometimes venerated as a progressive bastion, the EU represents the united force of old colonial powers, a weapon peculiarly inimical to reform and wielded against the poor of the European periphery, African farmers and migrants from Europe’s former dominions and current imperial ventures. Anti-racists should have no truck with it.

The graduate students at a top US University take the time to denounce “continental chauvinism” – a word used for some kind of bellicose patriotism in non academic circles. Perhaps they believe the EU is about to declare ‘war’ on somebody or some country.

The need is greater than ever for a politics of principled internationalism, refusing the continental chauvinism of the EU in the name of free movement for all rather than nationalist myths. Just as tough, we need an anti-racist movement beyond the liberal humanitarianism that talks of refugee plight (helpless and deserving refugees, that is: never crafty and undeserving ‘economic migrants’) without ever connecting their struggles to the battles of native Europeans for more liveable lives.

So refugee suffering and  British immigration policy can be blamed on the European Union.

Nice one.

* EU referendum: for an internationalist leave position RS21.





Written by Andrew Coates

August 28, 2020 at 5:23 pm

David Icke and Piers Corbyn to Speak out Against ‘Covid Laws’ and New World Order.

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Note Piers Corbyn (with megaphone) as a Speaker.

There is a planned anti-lockdown, anti-mask, anti-contact-tracing – essentially anti all the “emergency” measures the government has taken – on 29th of August, in Trafalgar Square.

Many doctors and other experts will be speaking, some via video link some in person, including Dr Scott Jensen (Republican Party of Minnesota)  and Dr Dolores Cahill (Note: Hard-right  anti-EU Irish Freedom Party)

Next month the Coronavirus Bill is up for its first “6 month review”, Parliament can vote to end the bill, let it run for it’s full two years or even extend it. If you want to make your voice heard, join the march this weekend.


David Icke will be speaking at the end of the march.


Piers Corbyn:

This is serious Piers.

If you are reading this. I, who also in the International Marxist Group and used to admire your work in the Squatting movement,  feel sick to the stomach that you have gone this far,  whatever your personal issues may be.

I know that this is not just one person’s view.

Icke, were it possible, has also got a lot, a lot, worse during the pandemic.




Icke’s conspiratorial ramblings are firmly located on the extreme-right.



Here is how far Piers Corbyn has fallen:





Written by Andrew Coates

August 27, 2020 at 10:43 am

Unidas Podemos: Pablo Iglesias and Irene Montero Stand up to Far Right Harassment.

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Galapagar, la frontera entre el escrache y el acoso a Pablo ...

“Some people see the home of Pablo Iglesias and Irene Montero as a legitimate place to protest against the Government. “Melisa Domínguez, leader of the neo-Nazi collective Hogar Social.

Those who follow Spanish  politics, a country which has a serious left and a Socialist-left governing coalition,  will know that the radical “left populist” party Podemos has faced some severe challenges over the last weeks.

Supporters of the far-right Vox party have been harrassing Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.

In the middle of August this happened.

Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias and his partner, Equality Minister Irene Montero, cut short their vacation in Asturias on Monday “for the safety of their children” after they were subjected to threats and protests in the municipality of Felgueras. Sources close to Iglesias, who is also one of Spain’s deputy prime ministers in the Socialist Party-led coalition government, told news agency EFE that the family opted to return to their home in Madrid after messages appeared on social media revealing the location of their holiday home.

Podemos leader, equality minister forced to cut short vacation due to fears for safety

This English language story on the El Paîs site (18th of August) is accompanied by many, many, more on its main pages.

In their reports the centre-left newspaper has compared the ‘protests’ of Vox to ‘Escraches’, that is, ” publicly harassing public figures, usually by congregating around their homes, chanting and publicly shaming them. For many the daily harrying against the Podemos leading figures and their children have stepped over the boundary between pestering and stalking.

Iglesias has reacted with dignity, saying that this kind of stalking by the far-right is much less than what other people in the world have suffered for their beliefs. To put it in context, there are those who have “Payed with their freedom, their lives, or through torture, to defend their ideas and political activism. That is not our case. “


His party, Unidas Podemos, says that some of the media have helped stir up the far-right.

Far from stopping after the end of the holiday the treatment has continued with the return home.

Today a local resident protests that they are totally bleeding fed up.

It is becoming the case that this is not just a protest but something a lot worse.

Por qué lo que sufren Pablo Iglesias e Irene Montero no es un escrache sino algo peor.

El Diario. 22nd of August.

Esa persecución por ser lo que son, por ser de izquierdas, por formar parte de un Gobierno que sus acosadores detestan, por representar a un sector del país, si no es una manifestación de odio ideológico ya me explicarán qué es.

This is  persecution for being what they are, for being on the left, for being part of a government that their stalkers detest, for representing a sector of the country, if it does not show  ideological hatred, then explain what it is.

HuffPost today describes how a quiet, semi-rural zone, la Navata,  of Galapagar,  to the North West of Madrid has been transformed with the arrival of the fascist protests,

Desde mayo, la tranquilidad se ha transformado en gritos, caceroladas e insultos. La zona está plagada de policía, de Guardia Civil y de manifestantes de extrema derecha que van de excursión a hostigar al vicepresidente segundo del Gobierno, a la ministra de Igualdad y a sus tres hijos menores de edad.

Since May, the tranquility has been transformed into shouting, beating of casseroles and insults. The area is full of police, the Civil Guard and extreme right-wing protesters who go on excursions to harass the Second Vice President of the Government, the Minister of Equality and their three young children.

Then there has been a long-rumbling legal case alleging dodgy finance.

Judge calls members of Podemos leadership to testify after accusations of irregular financing.

11th of August.

The move comes after the latest in a series of accusations of wrongdoing by a former lawyer for the left-wing party, José Manuel Calvente.

A Madrid judge has called several members from the leadership of Spanish political party Podemos to appear in court for questioning after a former lawyer from the left-wing group, José Manuel Calvente, made claims of irregular financing. The Unidas Podemos party, which is made up of a coalition of Podemos and the United Left (IU), is currently the junior partner in the coalition government headed up by the Socialist Party (PSOE), and its leader and founder Pablo Iglesias is one of Spain’s deputy prime ministers.

As was first reported by Spanish news website Público, and was later confirmed by sources from Podemos, the magistrate has cited the following party members to appear in court: communication secretary and current member of Iglesias’s cabinet Juan Manuel del Olmo; party manager Rocío Esther Val; treasurer Daniel de Frutos; and employee Andrea Dedoto.

This is the latest development.

Pablo Iglesias will not have to respond to the congress on charges 

August the 25th.

Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos and second vice-president of the Spanish government, will not have to appear before the Congress of Deputies to explain the allegations of illegal financing that fall on the party, reported the newspaper El Mundo.

Requests to appear at an extraordinary plenary session and at the Social Affairs Committee were made by PP and Ciudadanos and voted in favor by both parties and Vox. But the proposals ended up failing with the votes against PSOE, Pode, ERC, PNV, EH Bildu, JxCat and Compromís. by lawyers José Manuel Calvente and Mónica Carmona. The complaint speaks of a “corrupt sub organisation” within Podemos and alleged practices of “coercion”, “silencing” internal dissidents and “bonus” payments for those who participate in the alleged “illegalities”.

This is now for the Courts to decide on.

What should be clear though is that we should stand for shoulder with Iglesias and Montero against the fascist rabble.

Though Vox figures are careful to maintain distance between official channels and the more extremist views of their supporters, at times the line is unavoidably blurred. Until the easing of the lockdown filled pavement cafes with socially distanced revellers, for several weeks the evening’s silence was broken by Vox’s nightly protests against the government and lockdown. Protesters spanned disaffected citizens to those with Falangist sympathies – but also featured individuals with AHTR T-shirts, a key feature of online neo-Nazi dissemination – and others performing the Heil Hitler while draped in Spanish flags.

Eleanor Rosenbach 


Written by Andrew Coates

August 26, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Arguments on the Left on “Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn.”

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Aides feared Jeremy Corbyn was sabotaging his own campaign in ...

Debate on Labour Under Corbyn Grows.

Last December’s General Election was a catastrophe for the Labour Party.

A hard-right led Conservative Party promising to “Unleash Britain’s Potential” and “Get Brexit Done” won 265 seats and 43,6% of the vote  and  to Labour’s 203 and 32,2%.

This was not the disaster suffered by Labour’s counterpart in France, the Parti Socialiste (PS)  in 2017. They went  from governing the country under President François Hollande and being in government to marginalisation. They scored with their Presidential candidate Benoît Hamon, standing on a Green left platform won 6,36%, and 25 seats in the National Assembly (out of 577). Their defeat, the result of disillusionment with the outgoing President’s personal detachment,  and cabinet’s policies, rooted in a long-term concern with power-for-power’s sake,  had been helped by the defection of key figures and supporters to Emmanuel Macron and his movement, La France en marche.

Immediately after the election the PS Premier Secrétaire Jean-Christophe Cambadélis,  published, after resigning his position, Chronique d’une Débâcle (2017). The book was harsh, and detailed, about the “solitary behaviour” (that is, taking decisions off his own back) of Benoīt Hamon The socialist candidate appeared to wish to “refound” the left as a whole, morally and ideologically, rather than lead his troops into battle (“à la charge supreme”). The concentration on what one could call a Green New Deal, failed to talk to the wider public. With Hamon’s “Green Party” campaign, you got a “Green Party election score (“campagne d’écologiste, score d’écologiste” Page 111). He was not, in short,  “présidentiable”.

For somebody of my generation the first introduction to the genre of political insider accounts was through the memorable pages of La Vie quotidienne à Matignon au temps de l’union de la gauche. Thierry Pfister. (1985). The journalist tells the story of the first left governments under François Mitterrand. It pulled no punches either, presenting a detailed account of how Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy operated, and how he had got squeezed out. Pfister did not hide his antipathies, including towards the President, a view which he elaborated in Lettre ouverte à la génération Mitterrand qui marche à côté de ses pompes (1988).  La Vie quotidienne was introduced to the world by the right-wing daily Le Figaro.

I can’t recall much sustained hatred, other than some whinging, about Pfister from his targets. Nor, on the publication of Chronique d’une Débâcle were Hamon supporters omnipresent on social media screaming at the Saboteurs of the Parti Socialiste Parallel Centre.

Thin Skins…

Perhaps French centre left and left-wing activists have thicker skins, or are used to these kind of hard-hitting accounts.

By contrast, some on the left in Britain have taken great exception to the extracts just published from Times’ journalists Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire, Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn.

From what one can read the book lacks much of a hold on Labour Party internal currents, that is ‘factionalism’ – something which Pfister (long background on PS left), and Cambadélis (former Trotskyist of the ‘Lambertist’ brand) have in spades.

The Week gives the main points:

Five things we learned from new tell-all book on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership

  • Labour was warned of 2019 election disaster.

  • Corbyn ‘could not trust’ his closest allies, “

    Despite the damning polling results, “many in the room still believed” Labour could triumph, arguing that “the election of 2017 had shattered the old certainties, and Corbyn was determined to do so again”, the book says.

    But to do so would “require Corbyn to summon every drop of the energy” that months of Brexit drama and anti-Semitism scandals has “drained from him”, write Pogrund and Maguire.  And “those closest to him suspected he was in no state to do so”.

    These fears grew during the campaign, as Corbyn began falling out with his “closest lieutenants”, whom he came to “barely trust”.

    “His detractors at Westminster often contended that he had no idea what he was doing,” the book says. “For once, the jibe was accurate – though not for want of trying on Corbyn’s part.

    “Strategy for the campaign he was supposed to be leading had largely been decided – or, more accurately, disagreed on – in his absence.”

  • Deputy (Tom Watson)  considered defecting

  • Split with McDonnell over anti-Semitism.

  • Republican Corbyn bonded with the Sussexes

Poor old Skwawky has tried to his oar in over one part of the book:

Many would consider that the deep disagreements over Brexit are at the heart of the account.

This is the stand of John McDonnell.

His worst fears had been realised: despite his best efforts to cajole Corbyn into supporting a second referendum, Labour was repelling pro-EU voters. As Waters sat down, the shadow chancellor delegated the inquisition to his wife. Cynthia, like Lavery, struggled at first to believe what she had been told. She had spent much of her career at market-research companies and queried whether the research was watertight. An angry Lavery went further. YouGov, attendees recall him fuming, had been founded by card-carrying Conservatives, a charge he raised with Waters and Sookoo repeatedly. He insisted that they could not and should not trust a “Tory firm”.

But McDonnell had already made up his mind: Labour must do everything in its power to win back pro-EU voters. It would refrain from discussing the detail of Brexit and extol the virtues of giving voters the final say via a second referendum. It was a strategy Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s chief strategist, had long argued against, warning that the working class could desert Labour en masse. But he was not present that day. He was also increasingly outmuscled by Corbyn’s oldest comrade, who was by then plotting Milne’s demotion. “From that point out, our strategy was to hug the remainers,” says an official present that morning.

Some now piling in suggest that Labour was wrong to offer the prospect of a Second Referendum.

Their opinion might be taken seriously if they did not come from circles, like the inner core around Corbyn, his advisers Seumas Milne and Andrew Murray, which supported Leave in the first place. Had not the Lexit (Left Exit) argued that leaving the neo-liberal EU open the way for a movement to “take back control”?  Instead here was marked shift to the right.  The Brexit Party (involving people that the Lexiteers worked with in the Full Brexit front) in the 2019 European election topped  the poll at 30,52% and , 29 seats. It was the xenophobic right that was taking charge.

The backers of a People’s Brexit in the labour movement and left ranged from the traditional Labour Right, the patriots of Blue Labour, Parliamentary sovereigntists, to the Morning Star, Counterfire, the SWP, and national Trotskyism, in groups like the Socialist Party. They were joined by vociferous opponents of any referendum like the paleo-Trotskyists of Socialist Appeal.

This left had done all it could to keep a movement going against austerity with the People’s Assembly. As attendance at their events dwindled off the scale, they were pained to see the People’s Vote campaign bring hundreds of thousands onto the streets. It was galling to see internationalists from the independent radical left, Labour left and centre-left and Greens organise a broad campaign, Another Europe is Possible, that joined, with very visible contingents, these protests.

Lacking the courage to organise their own People’s Brexit march the Lexit left’s  main public effort seemed to be to encourage an early election.

In September 2019 Lindsey German wrote on the Counterfire site,

General election: unite and fight

General election speculation grows and it looks like it may be called later this week, for a date in mid-October. The Blairites and Libdems want to delay, partly because they want a second referendum, partly because they fear a Corbyn government.”

“Labour needs to be confident that it can win against these rich and undemocratic right wingers. It needs to project this. It needs trades unions, campaigners, all those who suffer under the Tories……..

This is some of the background which could be added to the book.

But what there is remains of great interest.

Arguing, in the face of growing debate, some people are still inclined to dismiss Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn.

Phil writes,

The Hack Obsession with Corbyn

What’s interesting are the dynamics driving this continued obsessive focus on matters Corbyn, despite having sat on the backbenches for the last four months. Some comrades locate it in a generalised campaign against socialist politics – discredit Corbyn, discredit the ideas. Well, yes. And that’s why the Tory press can always find space to put the boot in, but in the age of the attention economy and social media, it’s not solely driven from the editorial offices.


This is the condition of establishment journalism in our period of crisis. Attention gives them incentive to bang on about Corbyn, their experience of social media gives them incentive to bang on about Corbyn, and their pooled anxieties give them incentive to bang on about Corbyn.

This might have a shred of credibility if backbench retiree Corbyn had not taken the step of publicly advocating support for a candidate in an internal trade union election.


John McDonnell takes another view:


The extracts continue,

For Milne, just as for Corbyn, foreign policy was the real locomotive force of his leftism. Both understood their socialism in terms of global power, and who wielded it. In their view, the US was both a global hegemon and a force for ill in the world. They believed its imperialism ought to be resisted, and that resistance to its imperialism could almost always be justified. According to aides, Corbyn was wont to break off sensitive discussions at shadow cabinet to bend the ear of Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, “about the Western Sahara or about West Papua. Self-determination for oppressed peoples was his driving thing when it came to foreign policy”. No matter how fractious relations between Thornberry’s team and the leader’s office, Corbyn only ever wanted to talk about one thing. “Emily always knew,” says a source close to Thornberry, “that if she walked into the room, he would still want to ask: ‘Did you see that article by John Pilger about East Timor?’

To his MP critics, Milne took a similarly Manichean view of geopolitics, and during his career at The Guardian had on several occasions ended up on the same side of the argument as Putin. In March 2014 he had defended Russia’s annexation of Crimea and praised its role as “a limited counterweight to unilateral western power”. In October of that year, Milne attended the Valdai conference for Russia experts in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. There he chaired a lengthy question-and-answer session with Putin. However, he had always criticised the regime’s authoritarianism and aggression.

All one can say here is that this “anti-imperialism”, campism, is not, in many left-wing people’s view, internationalism.

The influence of Seumas Milne became a sticking point between the Labour leader and Mr McDonnell.The huddles were conducted under lobby terms — meaning Milne’s answers could be used, but only on the condition that they were credited to a Labour spokesman rather than him personally.

What he said on March 14 was deemed so remarkable by the parliamentary press corps that the Press Association, the most conservative of media outlets when it came to questions of style and convention, defied the unspoken rule and named Milne as the Labour spokesman in question. He had not only doubled down on Corbyn’s suggestion that the government send a sample of novichok to Russia for testing, but compared the incident to the build-up to the Iraq War. “I think, obviously, the government has access to information and intelligence on this matter which others don’t,” he said. “However, also, there’s a history in relation to WMD [weapons of mass destruction] and intelligence which is problematic, to put it mildly. So I think the right approach is to seek the evidence; to follow international treaties, particularly in relation to prohibited chemical weapons, because this was a chemical weapons attack, carried out on British soil. There are procedures that need to be followed in relation to that.”

When news of the briefing reached John McDonnell’s office, James Mills, the shadow chancellor’s spin doctor, kicked a bin across the room. “That’s f***ing going to cost us the election!” Mills shouted. “That’s f***ing stupid. Who the f*** does stuff like that?”
While the leader’s office happily took the speech off McBride’s hands, there was a limit to the case they were willing to make. Andrew Fisher, primary author of most of Corbyn’s Commons speeches, and Milne, who had identical views on foreign policy to the leader, sought to dilute the tone. It was gutted of any statements levelling blame at Russia, support for Nato, or anything else that Corbyn might regard as unduly imperialist in its tone.
Where Thornberry would have labelled Russia “guilty as charged”, Corbyn said: “There is clear evidence that the Russian state has a case to answer, and it has failed to do so.” A section on the importance of seeking cross-party consensus on Britain’s response — and committing Labour to supporting the government — was deleted. Thornberry’s endorsement of the government’s reprisals against the Kremlin was replaced with the more restrained: “We have supported actions taken.” A call for a European Court of Human Rights “case against Russia” turned into a more general inquiry about whether the government would consider “initiating or supporting” a wider examination of extraterritorial violations of human rights.


Against the advice of the dismissers many comrades have already ordered copies of the book…


Andrew Murray on Corbyn and Anti-Semitism, “But…the Jewish community today is relatively prosperous”.

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Latest Extract from Left Out by Gabriel PogrundPatrick Maguire

This Morning I was going to write a post comparing supporters of the Corbyn nearly won in 2017, with Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The leader of La France Insoumise  gave a lengthy, I mean lengthy, speech yesterday to his supporters at his movement’s summer camp, okay université d’ete. The leader of La France insoumise  ranged widely, he talked of the French revolution, of women’s struggles against Le Maitron (Baker’s boy, the nickname for Louis XVI), the value of Cuban doctors, the threats of ‘anglo-saxon’ Pension funds against French sovereignty, how Covid-19 was exacerbated by cross-border workers, the People, Socialism and the national Plan, Sovereignty,  and his  Green policies.

Addressing the issue of alliances with the French Green Party (EELV) he reminded them firmly of his 7 millions votes in the French Presidential elections of 2017.

Here he is, after a few others, ending with a rendition of the Marseillaise  (Video, Two Hours long – enjoy!)

Apart from a comparison with Mélenchon there were plenty  of other things to say about this Sunday Times report,

The failure to take a clear internationalist stand against Brexit, the omnishambles, the rows, the way Corbyn would not speak to John McDonnell for months (something I can personally well believe – ask me!), and the nasty asides (I hate to say it, but even I ended feeling sorry for the way some treated Corbyn).

This extract needs some serious consideration,

McDonnell listened in silence. His worst fears had been realised: despite his best efforts to cajole Corbyn into supporting a second referendum, Labour was repelling pro-EU voters. As Waters sat down, the shadow chancellor delegated the inquisition to his wife. Cynthia, like Lavery, struggled at first to believe what she had been told. She had spent much of her career at market-research companies and queried whether the research was watertight. An angry Lavery went further. YouGov, attendees recall him fuming, had been founded by card-carrying Conservatives, a charge he raised with Waters and Sookoo repeatedly. He insisted that they could not and should not trust a “Tory firm”.

.But McDonnell had already made up his mind: Labour must do everything in its power to win back pro-EU voters. It would refrain from discussing the detail of Brexit and extol the virtues of giving voters the final say via a second referendum. It was a strategy Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s chief strategist, had long argued against, warning that the working class could desert Labour en masse. But he was not present that day. He was also increasingly outmuscled by Corbyn’s oldest comrade, who was by then plotting Milne’s demotion. “From that point out, our strategy was to hug the remainers,” says an official present that morning.

Many in the room still believed. The election of 2017 had shattered the old certainties, and Corbyn was determined to do so again. Even the doubters felt there might be a path to victory, if only, as Milne had told colleagues in August, they could move the argument beyond Brexit.

There was even a a tale to heat the cockles of your heart:

I jest but there were good people engaged in the Labour election campaign for a transformative democratic socialist programme.

It is a tragedy.

But initial considerations, about those (from Counterfire and the Morning Star and their pro-Brexit allies in Labour) who pushed for an election, and who welcomed the opportunity offered by the LIberal Democrats decision to do for one,  seem pushed aside after the news today.

This, to say the least, is going to create waves.


The Mail says,

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn couldn’t empathise with today’s ‘prosperous’ Jewish community and stopped talking to shadow Chancellor John McDonnell for months, a new book claims.

Stunning new details from the party’s largest general election defeat since 1935 have come to light in Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour under Corbyn, written by two journalists with front row seats to Labour’s calamitous attempt to gain power.


Serialised in The Sunday Times and the Times, the book details how Jeremy Corbyn ignored his chief of staff Karie Murphy who had suggested a visit to Auschwitz as a gesture after he faced criticism for failing to address antisemitism in the Labour Party.

It also reveals Mr Corbyn fell out with John McDonnell to the extent that the pair didn’t speak to each other ‘for months’.

The book claims Mr McDonnell was unhappy with the disciplinary matters against Jewish MP Dame Margaret Hodge who had questioned Mr Corbyn about antisemitism in the Commons and Mr McDonnell was furious that Jeremy didn’t intervene.

Left Out, by Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire. claims top advisors knew the party was heading towards electoral disaster months before voters went to the polls in 2019, but were unable to stop it.

Murray’s statement does not indicate anti-Semitism but a reluctance to give the issue a priority.

One can speculate that Corbyn, and there is evidence for this, was early on unlikely to empathise with the North London Jewish community in prosperous places such as Muswell Hill. This is near to where he first became active in Crouch End. Claims by Jewish Voice for Labour that Corbyn defended the Wood Green Jewish Community (there is no Synagogue in Wood Green, nor a ‘community’ the nearest are in Bounds Green and Muswell Hill) always sounded hollow. *

This indicates a problem which Murray does not help resolve.

*Corbyn “organised the Apr. 1977 defence of Jewish populated Wood Green from a Neo-Nazi march” (Jewish Voice for Labour) – Corbyn was a liaison for Haringey Labour Council, not the “organiser”.


Jewish Chronicle. Aleks Phillips.

In an effort to “reclaim an overwhelmingly hostile narrative”, Mr Corbyn’s chief of staff Karie Murphy is said to have drawn up a list of suggestions that might help to “soothe the nerves” of the Jewish community about the Labour leader.

The book says: “Some of Murphy’s suggestions were mundane: a round-table summit with community organisations, a series of meetings with Jewish Labour activists and MPs, outreach to Jewish communities outside of London, and a new strategy for rebutting stories in the media.

 “Others were more striking. Corbyn would visit Auschwitz. He could meet children at London’s Jewish Free School. Haaretz, Israel’s liberal broadsheet, would get a set-piece interview. Congregants at a progressive synagogue and residents of a Jewish care home would get to mix with Corbyn too.”

However, all but one of those suggestions came to naught. Labour’s code of conduct was amended to “comprehensively rule out all forms of prejudice”.

The book also claims Mr Corbyn deferred to a circle of Islington friends who formed a “kitchen cabinet” to help him make decisions on how to deal with the party’s antisemitism crisis.
“To them, the communal organisations demanding the adoption of full IHRA — like the Board of Deputies — were firmly of the right, and therefore too unrepresentative to dictate policy in the community’s name,” the book says.
Mr Corbyn “harboured the same aversion” to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism as those who contended its examples “were an attempt to police legitimate criticism of the Israeli state’s conduct in Palestine”, according to “those who knew him best”, the book claims.”

Written by Andrew Coates

August 24, 2020 at 9:52 am

Jean Luc-Mélenchon’s weakened La France insoumise looks for Green friends.

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Fameuse photo

Friday: Jean-Luc Mélenchon shares platform with the Green (EELV)  Mayor of Grenoble Éric Piolle. 

Left populism is fizzling out. France has been one of the best known laboratories for this experiment. At one point even the English language left press  was full of article about La France insoumise and its would-be charismatic leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Dullards who expressed doubts about the patriotic side of the one-time Lambertist Trotskyist and life-long admirer of French President François Mitterrand. were regularly treated to lectures on the deeply held love of France’s revolutionary history by the French left.

Yet accusations of nationalism have dogged the rallying-point, as the controversy over anti-immigration sovereigntists such as Djordje Kuzmanovic (edged out in 2018), indicated. A regional councillor, Andréa Kotarac, went so far as to leave LFI last year to give his support to Marine Le Pen in that year’s European election.

The Catholic patriot and socialist writer Charles  Péguy, once wrote, ” Tout commence en mystique et finit en politique” – Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics.” In the case of La France insoumise it looks as if neither their mystical vision of uniting the people against the elite (Nous-le peuple, eux-les élites) nor their political hopes of “taking the power” are on course.

Readers of La Chute de la maison Mélenchon  by Thomas Guénolé (2019), will know that the attempt to weld together the people an epoch their leader called l’ére des peuples. have had deep problems over the last couple of years. As the political scientist and former activist, who left LFI in a storm of controversy,  wrote, the “movement” of those who ” se reconnaissent dans la démarche de Jean-Luc Mélenchon”. One cause was the lack of any democratic way of bringing supporters to that recognition other than in agreement to the leading group’s views.

“Démocratie véritable et autogestion dans les paroles, mais pilotage centralisé et autoritaire dans la réalité.”

Guénolé launched his broadside against LFI not only because it claimed to offer genuine self-managed democracy in words, but was centralised and authoritarian in reality. Having been created by the Helmsman and his inner circle, drawn initially from the party-club the Parti de gauche (PG)  (which originated as a faction within the Parti Socialiste) LFI, run as a “dictatorship” it expended people’s energy in false hope. It had become concerned with the interests of an small group, not the people of the left as a whole. It  could not be, he argued, in its present form, the basis for a real “union de la gauche” , toute la gauche”, from  the Communists, the Greens, to the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste and Lutte ouvrière, and open to potential offers from the Socialists. This was the basis, he passionately declared,  that could win elections for the French left.

The crises pictured in La Chute have not been overcome.

After having treated his 2017 Presidential score (first round) of  7 million vote (19,58 %) as his personal property, which anybody else on the left had to accept, if he cared to allow them to agree with him, Mélenchon ended up with 17 seats in the National Assembly (out of 577).

He has since seen his electoral position progressively eroded

LFI sank to 6,3% of the vote in the 2019 European elections,

This year’s poor showing in the local elections set the seal on LFI


lists were for the most part eliminated in the first round or (in their rare presence) had a reduced place in the few union lists (with other forces on the left, or with Greens)  where they were present, LFI have failed to meet their targets.

Après l’échec aux municipales, La France insoumise mise déjà sur 2022

At the end of June this year Manon Le Bretton, head of their internal education department, quit her official post in the latest in a new wave of discontent

La France insoumise ne parvient pas à régler ses tensions internes

Abel Mestre. Le Monde 24th of June 2020.

At the beginning of June, Le Monde obtained an internal memo, signed by some forty executives and activists, denouncing “a way of operating that endangers the future of the movement” .

One of the inner party managers, Charlotte Girard, loyal since the days when the PG was part of the Parti Socialiste, resigned. She stated that inside LFI there was no channel to express disagreements, “ il n’y a pas de moyen de ne pas être d’accord ». 

A few days ago the French media carried stories about an opening by LFI towards other groups on the left and to left-wing Greens.

This bloke was on France Inter:

LFI are still going on about their 2017 vote:  Du côté de LFI, les cadres vantent les sept millions d’électeurs qui ont voté “Insoumis” à la présidentielle de 2017.

France Info today.

By sharing the platform with Jean-Luc Mélenchon , it is to the left wing of the environmentalists that the mayor of Grenoble (Isère) Éric Piolle sends a message….“Let us look at each other in our common fights, (…). In a family, there is diversity: we argue, we bother, but in the end (…) we have the same objectives. Our opponent it is the right, it is Macron, it is the extreme right “ , declared the mayor of Grenoble, on the occasion of the summer university of rebellious France in Châteauneuf-sur-Isère.

The France Info (above) report notes that activists from the green party EELV are considerably more sceptical.

As well they might be!

Le Monde, which did not even bother in this article to add the word “left” to the description of LFI as “populist”, continues the saga up till this week.

Affaiblis, les « insoumis » de Jean-Luc Mélenchon sortent de leur isolement

Après des élections municipales compliquées, La France insoumise profite de son université d’été pour tendre la main à l’aile gauche d’Europe Ecologie-Les Verts.

In the meantime the social democratic wing around the Parti Socialiste, in the shape of former editor of Libêration, Laurent Joffrin, have their own plans to draw in the Greens….

Galloway’s Scottish Tory-Unionist-Marxist-Leninist Alliance 4 Unity Backed by Workers Party of Britain.

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Marxist-Leninist Cadre of Workers Party of Britain Back Alliance 4 Unity.

This has indeed set the cat amongst the pigeons.

Michael Gove in talks with George Galloway to discuss protecting the United Kingdom against Scottish independence

Nationalists have reacted to the dapper Gent’s latest proposal on who should vote in an Independence Referendum.

George Galloway sparked outrage today after he spoke out about the Scottish referendum.

The controversial political figure – who advocated for Leave during the Brexit vote – said if a second IndyRef does take place then the 795,000 Scots living elsewhere in the UK must have a vote.

In 2014 those who considered themselves Scottish living outside of the country were not able to have their say. Regardless, Scotland voted 55 per cent to remain as part of the union.

In a shock move the Workers Party of Britain (leader George Galloway) – Scotland – has backed George Galloway’s Tory-Unionist-Marxist-Leninist Front, the  Alliance 4 Unity.

The Party, whose deputy is  Joti Brar from the Communist Party of Great Britain (M-L) and an active member of the Stalin Society,  has not lost its Marxist-Leninist principles. Playing a leading role in the Gallowayite bloc with the patriotic  advanced bourgeoisie they can spot anti-national pro-imperialist forces rearing their heads in Belarus.

Jodi Brar says,

Support is mushrooming for the new Galloway front:


Kerry-Anne Mendoza, “¡No pasarán!” alt-left doesn’t need “liberal commentators policing our resistance to Fascism”.

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 ¡No pasarán! to “Bullshit Liberal Commentators Policing Our Resistance to Fascism”.

Time was when the ‘new media’ Barons and Baronesses of the ‘alt-left’ media in the UK were talk of the day.

In fact, no time at all, since this appeared  in 2017,.

The Rise Of The Alt-Left British Media

The 2017 general election is driving record traffic to the loose collection of alt-left British outlets that are positioning themselves as Corbyn’s outriders, jumping on stories without much of the nuance of outlets that remain rooted in mainstream reporting traditions.

Jim Waterson continued,

The Canary – the doyen of the alt-left media outlets – first launched in late 2015 it was dubbed “the left-wing Daily Mail” by virtue of being written in a way that is accessible to everyone. 

Phil had a perceptive overview,

The Alt-Left: A Critical Appreciation

You know who I’m talking about. The CanarySkwawkboxNovaraEvolve Politics and Another Angry Voice have been singled out by the mainstream as the authentic voices of the new socialism that has seized hold of the Labour Party and powered it to its highest number of votes for 20 years.

What they all share is a default (and correct) assumption that the system is rigged and the powers-that-be will conspire, collude, and collaborate to forever gerrymander privilege for themselves and their cronies. 

He noted the “size of their audience”.

Alas, things didn’t turn out the way these enthusiasts hoped.

Novara (who? it’s that bloke who talks about luxury communism, or spaceships, or something), Evolve Politics (?) Another Angry Voice..

Skwawkbox, or his mates call him, Skwawky – that’s the one who’s got a bit of a UNTE leak problem, who spends his time these days campaigning to make sure no Labour government is every elected – and the Canary are still followed by a few.

Audiences are said to be in free-fall for all these outlets.

The Boss of the Canary, Kerry-Anne Mendoza,  has just got herself into a fine mess.

She’s fallen out with Owen Jones, somebody she calls a ‘kiss bottom’.


The brave anti-fascist is not backing down!


Here is her really at it: kneecapping and all.

Here’s why:

Happy are the days of those who can pile into Owen Jones.

Mendoza, who was a star Corbynista, is no longer a member of the Labour Party, although she remains a leading resistance fighter against fascism.

Perhaps she hopes that being boorish will help her media vehicle regain a lost audience.

Somebody loves her:


This Blog Says:

More Power to You Cde Owen!



Written by Andrew Coates

August 21, 2020 at 4:47 pm

Coming to terms with Keir Starmer: the future of the “post-Corbyn Left”.

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Keir Starmer: fighting “the Block of Reaction Behind Johnson and Cummings”.


The last weeks have seen an outpouring from what some call a “pool of toxic emotions” about the Labour leader. In a counter-reaction there are signs are that a section of the Corbyn left is beginning to rethink.  There are influential calls to end the  self-absorption and relentless attacks against what they perceive as Labour Leader Keir Starmer’s ‘failure’.

Books, such as Owen Jones’ This Land,  are scheduled for the autumn.

This is what Owen says,

The following has been widely circulated.

It lays out some important markers.

An argument for hope — an open letter to the post-Corbyn left

Christine Berry ( previously Director of Policy and Government for the New Economics Foundation)

 Over the last six months many Labour activists will also have experienced burn-out and grief following the 2019 election result; bitterness and resentment at the revelations in the ‘Labour Leaks’ report; disappointment and despair at the turn taken by the Starmer leadership.

The piece is important and should be read through. People can make up their own minds.

Here are few highlights,


……it’s worth remembering that Corbyn was given a free pass by activists on many of the things that Starmer is now berated for — simply because they trusted the former and do not trust the latter. Starmer’s interview on Black Lives Matter was awful, but Corbyn promised more police on the beat — using anti-austerity politics to appeal to socially conservative attitudes rather than challenging them. Starmer was roundly abused for not committing to the party’s 2030 decarbonisation target, but neither did Corbyn: the policy was pushed and passed by members and did not make it into the 2019 manifesto (reportedly because of union opposition). Yes, of course the left must hold Starmer to account. But we can only do this effectively if we’re honest about what really marks him out from Corbyn — not by holding him up against a mythical and increasingly idealised version of the latter.

It is possible to expand this list. One of my gripes is that the good work on developing policies on taxation and social ownership was not accompanied by anything more than (fairly muted)  rhetoric on replacing Universal Credit and offering a serious set of policies on what should replace it – an issue that affects millions of people.


There’s no doubt about it — despair is tempting. But it’s not helpful. Despair risks turning us all into angry armchair Twitter warriors. If there’s no longer anything at stake, why not vent your rage at Starmer and his shadow cabinet, denouncing them as a shower of ‘red Tories’? The problem is that this produces a vicious cycle: in the nature of social media, the main audience for this is actually other people on our own side, who in turn feel increasingly powerless and despairing. The left shrinks down to an embittered and isolated sect that nobody else listens to.

Berry could have added that the continued taint of anti-semitism is far from absent amongst these comments.


Some are inclined to characterise the Starmer leadership as a return to unreconstructed Blairism. I don’t think this is particularly helpful. It simply isn’t yet clear what Starmer stands for. Perhaps he doesn’t even know himself. To be sure, the Labour right are doing their level best to step into the vacuum — but their victory is not a foregone conclusion. The internal debate is still raging — there are those pushing from inside for the party to be bolder and to engage more seriously with the left. Even the Labour Together report concluded that the party must retain its economic radicalism in order to win. But this debate cannot be contested if its left pole becomes fragmented, bitter and demoralised — still less if merely engaging in that debate is enough to get you loudly denounced as a shill who’s probably angling for a job in HQ.

I am not clear exactly what a “shill” is, my North American is pretty rusty. But I assume it’s to say that anybody who comes out with anything good about the Labour leader is a toady.

It is hard for anybody (and there are those of us around) who first came across Keir Starmer in the Socialist Society and Socialist Alternatives in the 1980s and early 1990s – left activism that went on for nearly a decade – to think of the present leader as a Blairite. Let alone “unreconstructed”. He then spent another decade as a respected human rights lawyer, and some of us actually know people who worked with him to boot!

But the loud-voices of factionalists (many from very unreconstructed leftist splinters) and their gulls, are not going to be answered by saying that “perhaps” Starmer does not really know what he thinks, poor chap.

Many would suggest that Keir Starmer is a left of centre Labour leader and politician – not in the latter respect as would-be ‘populist’ of the left – committed to  socialist internationalist values and human rights. It is up to his team, and our efforts as Labour members and supporters, to help him develop policies that embody transformative politics. It is also, and it is hard not to underline this too much, a good place to start by helping and supporting our elected leadership.

Berry concludes,

It might be hard to see it right now, but the UK left is still stronger than it was five years ago — and will remain so if we can find it in ourselves to act out of hope rather than rage. In decades to come, perhaps Corbynism will look like a transitional phenomenon on the way to the era-defining change we need. We have to hope so, and act as though it is true. What else is there to do?

Despite the above critical remarks there are many acute observations in the article, but one is not there:  the fact that there were people on the left who called to vote for Keir Starmer. I am one of them

From those who did not there are plenty of “cries of rage and recrimination” , so many that apart from emotions (ones that seem to have clouded the what Starmer actually said on Black Lives Matter, the word “moment” far from a dismissal was, for a start, clearly a reference in terms of expressions like “an historical moment”: “an exact point in time, an “appropriate time for doing something, an opportunity, a “stage in the development of something or in a course of events” (Oxford Dictionary).

I would like to have explored a lot more what “the illusion that our job was simply to get Corbyn into Downing Street, and the rest would take care of itself.” was. Or exactly what this means, that the present leadership is  “trying to game the UK’s increasingly decaying political system, rather than finding ways to change it. They don’t believe it is possible to win by challenging powerful interests…”

There is nothing to back up this rhetoric. It would be clearer to say that Starmer is not trying win over establishment opinion but public opinion, full stop. Whether it will be “challenging powerful interests – is politics on the left  some kind of game in which you have to prove your fighting intentions? If there is a decaying political system what is it?

The continued hand-over of public services  to useless  private companies continues apace. That would be a good place to start a political and social fight-back…

Keir Starmer is not going away.

Back in the bunker all is not well.


Against socialist participation in Starmer’s shadow cabinet”.


Thank you for supporting the motion “Against socialist participation in Starmer’s shadow cabinet”. A PDF of the motion is attached.
Please see correspondence below from the LRC Conference Arrangements Committee,  disallowing our motion on the formal grounds of being proposed by only 9 confirmed paid-up members.
One new applicant is not found on the membership database, but 5 of the 15 proposers are deemed out of time in joining or renewing their LRC membership, as they are “still to complete payment” – which appears to reflect a difficulty which applicants may encounter in navigating the membermojo self-service membership system.
Consequently, our motion is not on display on the LRC Conference web page.
Of course, we shall ask conference to overturn this decision and allow the motion to be debated.
The motion they dare not debate!

Against socialist participation in Starmer’s shadow cabinet


LRC Conference, September 5th 2020


Motion proposed by Stan Keable and another 15 LRC members 


It was right to condemn the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey from Labour’s shadow cabinet, another example of the ongoing anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism witch-hunt.
However, instead of calling for her reinstatement, the socialist left should use her sacking as an opportunity to discuss, debate and agree our attitude to participation in Keir Starmer’s shadow debate and agree our attitude to participation in Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet. It is, after all, committed to running capitalism, not replacing it. In effect, the shadow cabinet is a capitalist government in waiting.
RLB calls herself a socialist – she is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs. We oppose the participation of socialist MPs in capitalist governments. Likewise we should oppose socialist MPs being members of shadow cabinets which do not aspire to challenge the rule of capitalism.

As Keir Hardie famously said in 1910, we need Labour MPs, “not to keep governments in office or to turn them out, but to organise the working class into a great, independent political power to fight for the coming of socialism”.

 Take the Power Labour Party Marxist!

Written by Andrew Coates

August 20, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Claire Regina Fox Campaigns for ‘Don’t Divide us’ as Calls Continue to Scrap her Peerage.

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From champion of terror to peer of the realm: who put Claire Fox ...

A few days ago this appeared in the Sunday Times,



The ructions continue.

With regal disregard Claire Regina Fox seems to be devoting her time elsewhere, to appearing on Sky Press Review.

She has a new hobby, doing good works for the Spiked Front, Don’t Divide Us.

This is the would-be Baroness’ latest:

But all is not well amongst the Spiked cadres.

James Hartfield (born James Hughes, he renamed himself after the left-wing German photomontage artist John Heartfield) spluttered at the sight of the Sunday Times article and leader.

Perhaps the former full timer of the Revolutionary Communist Party can also shed welcome light on this aspect of history.

“….the amity only lasted until the IRA’s declaration of a ceasefire in July 1997. Claire and the Comrades went bat-shit crazy. The Irish people had been sold out again! History could never be vindicated until the stain of shame had been cleansed from the face of our nationhood. The ceasefire must be renounced, the war of liberation resumed!

Claire was so distressed by this misfortunate turn of events that she stormed along to the Blutcher Street home of one of Derry’s top Sinn Feiners, banged on the door and demanded an explanation. His response that she should – to use a technical term – fuck off, appeared to dampen Claire’s fervour. Shortly thereafter, she left town, possibly grinding her teeth at the crass ingratitude of those who’d abandoned the armed struggle which she had travelled so far to solidarise with.”

Times journalist and Leader Writer Oliver Kamm has written on the very same RCP.

“The bigotry, intolerance and denialism of a far-left group that has transported itself without a break on to the other side of politics shows the dangers of dogmatism across the spectrum.”

The extraordinary journey of the Revolutionary Communist Party is a lesson in politics

There is a voluminous literature of ideological converts travelling from left to right (and of a few people going in the other direction). Some of it is outstanding. Witness by Whittaker Chambers, a former Soviet spy, is a memoir of honesty and even beauty, whether or not you share the conservative politics and Christian faith he came to embrace. But it’s much rarer that an entire political organisation transplants itself from left to right. The Japanese Communist Party arguably did so in the 1930s, embracing imperialism and xenophobic nationalism, and far-left splinter groups (such as the followers of the French communist leader Jacques Doriot) attached themselves to fascism, but I can think of no other obvious institutional case bar one.

John Rogan has replied to the latest attempt to defend Claire Regina Fox,

A Reply to Ruth Dudley Edwards.

Read the full Article (link above).

John concludes,

I’m sure there will be more discussion within Conservative ranks and articles in the press before Ms Fox swears her Oath of Allegiance and takes her seat in the House of Lords. Let’s see if it actually happens.


From China to Belarus, the ‘New Cold War” and the Tankies Fighting it.

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Internationalists Stand With Belarusian Democrats.

In  Exterminism and the Cold War (1982) Edward Thompson lead essay outlined the developing Second Cold War, the 1980s arms race, and the threat, most visible in the form of Cruise missiles, of a head-on confrontation between the Soviet and Western blocs. Weapons innovation had become “self-generating”. two “imperial formations”  were “exporting the means of war” their arms race and military structures had developed together, a process of “isomorphism”, both states of “military-industrial complexes” .

Thompson, and other contributors to the book called for “the resistance of peoples inside each bloc.European Nuclear Disarmament (END) attempted that task. A feature was that this, and other independent peace movements, tried to engage with independent forces in Europe from both  camps, including democrats opposed to their own  Eastern Soviet leaderships,

Is the drive to mass destruction present today? The end of the Soviet System has not meant an end to military rivalries. In the same collection of essays Lucio Magri observed that “new revolutionary forces”, supported by the New Left of the 1980s, were already evolving towards “exasperated forms of populism, incapable of furnishing any answer to real problems and therefore seeking imaginary solutions in integralist religion or regressive nationalism”. (Pag 131) . His insight could be widely extended in this millenium.

Some, however, think that the Cold War has only changed its key players,

International meeting calls for opposition to the ‘new cold war’ against China

(Meeting 25th July)

AN international cast of speakers came together on Saturday to oppose a new cold war on China, which they say is “against the interests of humanity.”

The chair, author and academic Jenny Clegg, welcomed a “truly global gathering” with people from 49 countries attending the Zoom webinar, which others were able to follow on Facebook and YouTube.

Introducing the event, author Carlos Martinez said that the US was ramping up pressure on all countries to pick a side in its confrontation with China.

US activist Medea Benjamin of the Code Pink peace campaign called for a “pivot to peace, not a pivot to Asia.”

She said that she suspected an ulterior motive when US politicians “talk free speech while shooting rubber bullets at peaceful demonstrators.

“It’s hard to take them seriously [over allegations of persecution of Muslims] when both parties have supported a two-decade war on Muslims throughout the world, torturing them at Abu Ghraib, throwing them into prisons in Guantanamo.”

US news site Black Agenda Report editor Margaret Kimberley warned: “We’re told that a million Uighurs are in prison when there is quite literally no evidence of any such thing,” cautioning listeners to remember previous scare stories about “weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and babies taken from incubators in Kuwait.”

“When the US talks of human rights, remember it has more of its population incarcerated than any other nation, that its police force kills 1,000 people a year and that its military budget is bigger than the next 10 countries combined.”

The US talked “as if China were US property not a sovereign country, but that is what results from white supremacism extended to the field of foreign relations.”

And she savaged the “vassals and lackeys known as US allies that follow the lead of the gangster state.”

Academic John Ross said it was essential to resist a US administration that was “tearing up treaties,” had walked out of the Paris agreement on climate change and was trying to “force its policies on the world.”

Other speakers included The Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal, Tricontinental Institute for Social Research director Vijay Prashad, Renmin University executive dean Wang Wen and many more.

It is a sad spectacle to see anybody recycling 1950s rhetoric about the faults of the US to divert attention from those of the Chinese Communist Party state.  Few are those who are “serious” deny that China has  massive human rights problems, from their mass ‘re-education’ of the Uighurs, repression of trade unionists, control over freedom of speech, the “surveillance state” (We Have Been Harmonised. Life in China’s Surveillance State. Kai Strittmatter. 2019. and destruction of democratic gains in Hong Kong.

But if you wish to watch this group of well-rewarded apologists for the Chinese state you can see a video of the event here.

The idea is taking hold.

The ‘West’ is on the move.

Today the same Morning Star warns of the menaces against Belarus.

“Communist parties in Italy and Russia have warned against another US-sponsored “colour revolution” similar to those that took place in Georgia and Ukraine.” states the Morning Star in a report on Belarus,

Rival Belorussian protests take place in Minsk as EU ponders new sanctions

The Communist Party of Belorussia welcomed the “unconditional victory” of Mr Lukashenko, calling it the natural consequence of the economic growth of the republic since he came to power in 1994.

It blamed the protests on “subversive work” by “specially trained instigators, from outright fascists to inveterate criminals,” saying that it enjoyed the support of at least 18 fraternal communist parties.

It warned that “foreign puppeteers” were aiming to carry out a coup in Belarus. “It is clear that if they win, the country will face bloody chaos and landslide degradation,” a statement from the party central committee said.

Here’s a Tanky Masterclass:

A couple of days ago the paper, which describes itself as The People’s Daily, and the “daily paper of the left” carried  an attack on Paul Mason,

Socialists oppose the new cold war against China: a reply to Paul Mason

The broadside followed in the footsteps of Socialist Appeal which recently compared Mason to the “renegade Kautsky” and announced that his “Pseudo-Marxism has no place in our movement” (Storytelling, ‘culture wars’, and the Left: A reply to Paul Mason )


For the Morning Star writer Carlos Martinez states,

The fundamental problem with Paul Mason is that, in the final analysis, he stands on the side of imperialism. Even his support for the left Labour project – now quickly dropped in the era of Starmer – existed within a pro-imperialist framework, rejecting Corbyn’s anti-war internationalism and pushing support for Nato and Trident renewal.

But, unlike perhaps Socialist Appeal, the ” independent researcher and political activist from London ” expects to be taken seriously.

He began, “Living in the heartlands of imperialism, you learn to expect censure if you defend socialism and oppose war.”

We trust that Morning Star will soon publish critics of the stategry of UNITE the union, whose industrial and defence policy  includes backing Trident.

Rather than go further, Jim deals with the pile of ordure so I will just link to his post:

Morning Star denies Uighur genocide – spouts Beijing’s propaganda

As Edward Thompson put it, the internationalist left stands for human rights independently of “blocs” and sides. This was true in the 1980s and it remains so today.





Written by Andrew Coates

August 17, 2020 at 11:13 am

Stuart Christie, Class Struggle Anarchist, 1946 – 2020.

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Buy Granny Made me an Anarchist 9780743263566 by Stuart Christie

Class Struggle Anarchism.


“On Tuesday 1 September 1964, as Britain prepared to make its choice between Harold Wilson and Lord Alex Douglas Home in the General election I was in Madrid’s First Permanent Military court facing a drumhead court martial – a Consejo de Guerra sumarísimo, case No 1154 – 64 – charged with ‘banditry and terrorism.’

Spain’s secret police had arrested me eighteen days earlier in possession of plastic explosives and detonators to be used to blow up Spain’s fascist dictator, Generalissimo Fance, and his inner circle in the royal box at Santiago Bernabéu during the final of the Generalissimo’s cup. The penalty for this offensive was death by garrote-vil the grisly process of neck-breaking and slow mechanical strangulation by an iron collar and a bolt through the neck.”

Stuart Christie.Granny made me an anarchist. 2005.

Freedom News
16 hrs

Stuart Christie, one of the most influential British anarchists of modern times, has died from lung cancer aged 74.

Most famous for his attempt, aged 18, on the life of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, Christie went on to work closely with Albert Meltzer. Together they founded Black Flag, which was probably the most prominent anarchist publication of the 1970s.

His most enduring legacy will be as a publisher, founding both the Cienfuegos Press and, later, Christiebooks (https://christiebooks.co.uk/), which hosts possibly the largest open anarchist film archive available today. Christie leaves an immense body of work behind him, and is a great loss to anarchism not just in Britain but internationally.

The above announcement does not capture the depth of Christie’s contribution and Freedom will be looking to produce a full obituary in due course.


Here is an immediate tribute.


A full obituary and tribute  would give an account of Christie’s trial in Spain, his eventual release, the British state’s attempt to implicate him in the Angry Brigade, and his work founding the Anarchist Black Cross (involved at this very minute in solidarity with people imprisoned in Belarus), and the publication, while based in Orkney, of  Black Flag and the Cientifugos Press Anarchist Review.

Granny made me an anarchist  is a  reminder of the working class class struggle tradition in anarchism. Christie came from “working class Glasgow”.  He refers to a number of figures from the city’s left, including  Guy Adred of the Glasgow Anarchist Group, which went back to the 1930s. My dad, who grew up in Springburn, was attracted to anarchism when he left school at 14,  and went to work as a packer and delivery boy in the 1930s. He talked of going to listen to anarchist speakers. A Coventry member of the libertarian left group Solidarity –  which Christie was involved with in 1960, he promoted their mimeographed publication, Solidarity (Page 69)  –  told me about this aspect of the history of the Glaswegian anarchists.

Following activism in CND, and its direct action wing, the Committee of 100, Christie became an anarchist and was involved with the Glasgow Federation of Anarchists at the beginning of the 1960s. Guy Aldred was amongst the resilient veterans. He says that John T Caldwell and Guy Aldred had been “heavily involved in helping comrades get into Spain and in publishing the Barcelona Bulletin, which exposed the Stalinist repression in May 1937 of the Catalan anarchists and the anti-Stalinist POUM.” (Page 81)

Just how did an 18-year-old lad from Glasgow get mixed up in a plot to assassinate General Franco in 1964? Duncan Campbell meets veteran anarchist Stuart Christie, and in an exclusive extract from his new book Christie relates the unlikely escapade that led to him being sentenced to 20 years in a Spanish jail.


Wikipedia: Stuart Christie.

Stuart Christie 1946-2020 Anarchist activist, writer and publisher John Patten

Lib Com: Stuart Christie.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 16, 2020 at 11:10 am

Open Labour’s welcome proposals for “Member-led democracy”.

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Open Labour - Home | Facebook

Welcome Ideas.

Many people in the Labour Party are tired of constant attacks on Keir Starmer

The below comes from a site which claims a close link with one of Labour’s main backers, UNITE the union,

The constant attempt to undermine Labour’s new Leader extends to this:

Some left wing activists, inside and outside Labour,  refer, constantly, to Jeremy Corbyn, his socialism, and his achievements, which they contrast with today’s Shadow Cabinet’s policies and actions.

There is still a great deal of disappointment swirling around, and a search for targets to blame.

Many critics are activists who worked to get Corbyn elected and have long supported Labour.

But some influential voices who join in,and amplify, criticisms of Labour and who wish  to “defend our legacy” are from those who only supported Labour after Corbyn was voted leader.

Counterfire which runs the better known People’s Assembly, and has great influence on the Stop the War Coalition, is one. This was their call at the end of July “Starmer’s stampede to the right means that socialists will need to reach beyond the Labour Party to build a fighting left, argues Chris Nineham.” This message can be found debated amongst those who say they will “stay and fight” and those off for some new vehicle outside of Labour.

Counterfire’s leadership were key figures in George Galloway’s Respect Party.

What kind of politics did they have? In 2004 Counterfire leader John Rees declared in 2003, “”Socialists should unconditionally stand with the oppressed against the oppressor, even if the people who run the oppressed country are undemocratic and persecute minorities, like Saddam Hussein.”(Guardian).

Rees stood on a Respect slate in the European elections and in 2006 in a local election in East London (coming second against Labour). Do they defend that legacy?

Instead of looking to the past – and this Blog could continue for a long time in this vein…..- we should perhaps take a different approach.

Yesterday Open Labour published these proposals,

Open Labour’s 11 party reform proposals for the Forde Inquiry

Our party has never been more inward-looking in this century. But this gives us an opportunity for serious self-reflection, so that we can get our own house in order, rather than continue to allow internal crises to threaten to implode our party and rupture the labour movement.

For several years, Open Labour has been pushing for internal culture change and a healthier democracy within the Labour Party. We have repeatedly expressed solidarity and support for Jewish members and sought to put pressure on the party to root out antisemitism. During the initial coronavirus lockdown, we hosted an online workshop for Young Labour members where we discussed the need for the party to become a more welcoming environment where no one is left behind

In summary these are

  1.  Co-operate with the EHRC investigation and implement its findings in full.
  2. The Labour Party should make a statement clarifying that it considers the matters of antisemitism, all other forms of prejudice, and sexual harassment to be squarely above sectarian politics; that they must be taken seriously regardless of the factional allegiances of the alleged offenders.
  3. The Labour Party must make clear at all levels that members must not dismiss the antisemitism issue as an anti-Corbyn or anti-left conspiracy.
  4. The Labour Party should implement an independent complaints procedure to depoliticise these processes .
  5. Welcome Keir Starmer’s promise to deliver antisemitism training to staff. We would also like to see equalities training delivered to party staff covering multiple forms of racism and other prejudices.
  6. The Labour Party should carry out regular staffing audits and push to diversify party staff at all levels, to identify and solve particular areas of underrepresentation.
  7. The Labour Party must work with its own affiliates, such as the Jewish Labour Movement, and other BAME Labour groups, when reforming internal processes.
  8. The NEC must draft and publish a clearer code of conduct for staff and ban explicitly sectarian behaviours of the type we have outlined, for as long as people are on the party payroll.
  9. Labour Party staff at all levels should act as neutral civil servants in carrying out the party’s democratically agreed aims, and promote a professional rather than sectarian culture.
  10. The Labour Party should formally distance itself from social media campaign accounts that propagate antisemitism or any other prejudice, and/or undermine the party’s ability to campaign against racism, whilst purporting to speak in the name of the Labour Party or parts of the Labour Party.
  11. The Labour Party should extend the use of the single transferable vote (STV) in internal elections that party members participate in.

The authors note,

This summer, we won a landmark campaign for a fairer, less sectarian, more democratic voting system for members to elect their Constituency Labour Party (CLP) representatives to Labour’s governing body, the national executive committee (NEC). Our organisation democratically selects preferred candidates for internal elections, and our members have overwhelmingly endorsed Ann Black and Jermain Jackman for CLP Reps on the NEC, along with George Lindars-Hammond as the new disability rep and Alice Perry for the local government section. For us, democracy must be at the heart of our approach to politics. It’s good to see other groups starting to catch up to us.


This is their conclusion.

We must make our party a welcoming environment for all, enforce zero tolerance for bigotry and bullying, and bring our member-led democracy into the 21st century.

We need to look outwards, beyond our own ranks and we need to have a bold, radical offer to the people of these islands. If we can’t do that, then why are we here? We don’t have all the answers, and we don’t pretend that we do, but we know that these 11 proposals are key to a more tolerant and democratic party that can live up the ambitions of our supporters.

Open Labour will continue to play our part in making the Labour Party.

These are welcome ideas above all the call to “look outwards”.

See also Open Labour Site.

We hope that within the Party all sides will be interested and that, specifically, the influential group Momentum will take note of the proposals.

Here is a report from their representatives on Labour’s National Executive Committee – it has not been widely circulated, beyond inner Momentum circles, and certainly has not been seen by ordinary party members who voted in the NEC elections.

It’s from the end of July 2020.

This is a collective report on behalf of NEC CLP reps: Yasmine Dar, Huda Elmi, Rachel Garnham, Ann Henderson, Jon Lansman and Darren Williams from Labour Party National Executive Committee meetings taking place in June/July 2020.

30 June – Emergency NEC

CLP reps thanked Keir for the work Labour was doing to hold the government to account, which should be Labour’s priority. Keir was asked again about his strategy for unity, asking if he agreed with the quote from Harold Wilson that ‘the Labour Party needs two wings to fly’, and how he planned to engage the 44% of party members who didn’t give him their first preference.

The report contains this extraordinary passage: 

Keir was asked if he would take the opportunity to apologise to the black community in Britain and the rest of the world, for his interview on BBC Breakfast which reduced Black Lives Matter to a ‘moment’ and it was pointed out that this did nothing to alleviate the just concerns that the black community have about the police.

It was stated that Keir’s comments emboldened the Far Right such as Nigel Farage, dishonoured George Floyd’s memory and those organising to eradicate racism across the world.

The question was a request for a simple Yes or No answer to apologise in an attempt to rebuild trust.

Those who crafted, carefully, this “report” with this strident, hectoring, language, do not represent the opinions of many Labour members.

Instead of disagreeing with a remark about a “moment” – “an exact point in time, an “appropriate time for doing something, an opportunity, a “stage in the development of something or in a course of events” (Oxford Dictionary) – the  called for Keir Starmer to “apologise to the black community in Britain and the rest of the world.”

Momentum representatives on Labour’s NEC took a strong  stand against the SIngle Transferable Vote.

The fourth discussion was about whether Single Transferable Vote should be used for the CLP section for the NEC. A whole series of concerns were raised by left NEC members, including the most important of all that such a significant decision should be made by annual conference. Other concerns included the need for an equality analysis as the new system appeared likely to have a detrimental impact on representation, the lack of any detail about how the new system would work including the women’s quota, the potential impact on turnout given the new system could cause confusion, and a serious request for a proper argument in favour other than ‘in line with commitments made by the Leader and Deputy Leader during the recent leadership election’ it was pointed out that it was by no means a central plank of their campaigns, and most members would not even have seen any pledges made on this issue.

THis is how the report presents the change.

As one CLP rep put it, the proposal appeared to be ‘another nail in the coffin of Keir’s commitment to Party unity.’ Nevertheless the NEC voted to approve STV for the CLP elections.

It will be interesting to see if Momentum responds to Open Labour’s proposals.

Labour members will make up their own minds about whether the group’s candidates for the NEC merit their vote.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 15, 2020 at 11:24 am

George Galloway and A4U Plan to Save the Union Attract (Right-wing) Backing.

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Galloway Launches New Scottish “Unionist” Front, the “Alliance for ...

Story Revealed by Tendance Newshounds Develops.

Announced in July Galloway’s plan to fight for the Union in Scotland, now called,the Alliance for Union, A4U seems to have attracted growing and  prestigious support,

The Conservative The Critic published Jamie Blackett, “educated at Ludgrove, Eton, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and later Warwick Business School (MBA)”. He is also Deputy Lieutenant for Dumfriesshire, a few days ago.

Why Scotland needs a new party

How the Alliance for Unity plans to defeat the SNP in the bitter battle for Britain.

He has an interest,

I was one of Galloway’s early recruits and am now Deputy Leader of the Alliance for Unity. I remembered George as the most effective debater by far on the anti-separatist side in the 2014 independence referendum. And like many people from all points on the political spectrum I was despairing at the utterly abject appeasement of Sturgeon by the opposition at Holyrood since 2016.

Blackett has a grand strategy…

All new political parties say that they are introducing a new type of politics but I think we must be the first party in history to promise in effect to dissolve our party as soon as we are elected. The early signs are that people like what they are hearing. After three weeks we had more followers on Twitter than the Scottish Liberal Democrats and momentum is continuing to build. The challenge is probably not in persuading the electorate that Scotland deserves better than the separatists’ authoritarian one party state but in persuading the older unionist parties that, if we are going to restore neighbourliness to the UK and especially to Scottish communities, the pro-union parties really are ‘better together’ in what promises to be a bitter fight.

Now the prolific Jamie Blackett writes for the Conservative Spectator.

… professor Alan Sked of the LSE (the original architect of Brexit), whose home is in Easter Ross, and ex-regimental sergeant major Arthur Keith of the Black Watch. I enjoyed ringing Arthur to congratulate him with the traditional Army greeting, ‘Stand by your beds!’ and we had a good chat about the similarities between the SNP and their soulmates in Sinn Fein, with whom Artie and I have had dealings in the past.

Galloway’s Workers Party could not agree more with these progressive thinkers:

One can only wish them bonnie good luck!

George loves grand theatrical gestures; one of which was to tweet the idea that we need a big figure to bring Scotland back together again. He would offer ‘the greatest living Scotsman after Sir Alex Ferguson’, The Spectator’s chairman Andrew Neil, a plum seat if he would agree to come and be First Minister in the government of national unity. Pick up the phone Andrew!

Get to that Mobile Andy!

Have his Galloway’s old muckers in Counterfire and the Stop the War Coalition, Respect, the SWP, and all the admirers of the Bradford Spring, anything to say on the blower?

Despite speculation about potential falling-outs the Workers Party of Britain re-tweeted this

Written by Andrew Coates

August 14, 2020 at 5:22 pm

Socialist Action: Left Should not be “taken in” by “US Lies” about Uighurs in China.

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Seeking ways to tell 'My China Story'[2]- Chinadaily.com.cn

John Ross, “China has a real understanding of human rights”.

Socialist Action is a small left wing organisation, visible largely only through its web site.  It originated in the International Marxist Group (IMG).

Its best known member is John Ross, who led a Tendency (‘B’) in the IMG and was effectively the group’s leader  untright through to the creation of the Socialist League or  Socialist Action.

Others will add their own fond memories of Ross, and the Rossites, their ability to cite Lenin, at length.  Plans to ‘Bolshevise’ the organisation by schemes such as creating a ‘cell’ based structure, and later the “turn to industry”

You can read more about the IMG and related history on the excellent site, Red Mole Rising including this section, Discussing the Turn to Industry- a 1980 perspective and (more significantly, as the role of John Ross is discussed): On the Turn to Industry, the American SWP and other questions of IMG history

There were serious splits in the 1980s. The Ross faction retained the name Socialist Action and by the end of the 1980s had moved away from the Fourth International (there is no picture of Trotsky on their site) . Some of its key members, such as  Redmond O’Neill, went on to become key members of London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s inner team  after his victory in the election of 2000. Ross himself was Policy Director of Economic and Business Policy.

Not a great deal has been heard of them since the end of the first decade of the new millenium.

John Ross, apparently, ” better known in China under his Chinese name Luo Siyi  (罗思义) is a  senior fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China. 

Ross has vocally defended the Chinese government’s policies, and the Chinese Communist Party’s record on human rights,  for some time.

Here is an example from this year.

China’s human rights record is keeping people alive: British scholar

China’s human rights record is keeping people alive, said John Ross, a British senior fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, when talking about China’s anti-coronavirus efforts in an interview with RT.

“All the misrepresentation and nonsense which has just come now will fade away and people will understand that China is the only country that got the virus under control,” he added.

He has tweeted.

Ross appears on Chinese official televison.

Now his helpers have sprung into action:


The left should not be taken in by ‘US WMD lies’ – this time about Uyghurs


Sometimes it is necessary to wait years before the lies of US of US intelligence agencies are definitively revealed. The following outstanding piece of investigative journalism by Max Blumenthal, editor of the US website the Grayzone, is therefore extremely valuable because it catches the latest case of such US intelligence services lying in the act – this time about the Uyghurs. It shows in detail, in Blumenthal’s words, ‘the micro socio-political relationships’ in how the US security services lies about the Uyghurs were constructed and propagated. Blumenthal’s account does not need amplification and needs simply to be read in full by anyone taken in by the US intelligence services lies.

All that needs to be added here is the ‘macro’ aspect of the situation – that is why the US had to resort to the lying and falsification Blumenthal so meticulously exposes? It is because any look at the situation reveals that the US was lying.

Take the claim that there are a million Uyghurs in concentration camps in Xinjiang. If that were true there would be a mass of satellite photos that would reveal what would be the massive number of such camps and the US would be displaying them all the time. They don’t and there is only one explanation – because they don’t have such photos because the camps don’t exist. They are a fabrication of right-wing fantasist, ‘sent by God’, Adrian Zenz who Blumenthal reveals the character of in detail.

Take also the claims that ‘genocide’ is taking place against the Uyghers in Xinjiang. Take the facts.

The Uyghur population in Xinjiang grew from 5.55 million to 11.68 million in the 40 years 1978-2018 – i.e. it more than doubled. But in that period the total population of China grew by 46% while the Uyghur population grew by 110% – that is the Uyghur population grew more than twice as fast as the overall, majority Han, population of China. A very strange ‘genocide’ in which the population against which it is supposedly being carried is growing in size twice as fast as the rest of the population. We fail to recall that the Jews under the Nazis grew in population twice as fast as other Germans.

Why did this more rapid growth of the Uygur population of China than the majority Han population take place? Because under the one child policy in China, which only recently ended, Han Chinese were only permitted one child., but ethnic minorities, specifically including Uyghurs, were allowed two. This was probably precisely because China did not want to, and did not want to be seen, as discriminating against ethnic minorities. Given this situation of course the Uyghur population increased much more rapidly than the Han population. Again, it is very strange form of ‘genocide’ in which the Uyghur families were permitted to have more children than the Han Chinese. Perhaps someone will  point to which of Hitler’s laws specifically permitted Jews to have more children than other Germans?

In short, the ‘macro’ facts clearly prove that the US claims about the Uyghurs are simply lies. But Max Blumenthal has done the inestimable service of ‘catching the thief with their hand in the till’ – that is showing in detail how these lies were invented and the nature and means used by right wing fanatics, the US security services, and the US media to fabricate them. They are simply the methods that were used to invent the lies about WMD in Iraq and the non-existent attack by North Vietnam on US warships in the Gulf of Tonkin. And they were invented for the same reasons – to launch US aggression.

And what should the left do about this? They should not get caught up in spreading the same type of lies as those about WMD that were used to justify the Iraq war, and the lies that were used about the Gulf of Tonkin to launch the Vietnam war.

These are very serious claims, ones disputed by nearly everybody, including the left – with the exception of the daily Morning Star.

In the Trotskyist movement only Sam Marcey (1911 – 1998) was marked by such a turn away from workers’ democracy and towards the Chinese state.

The assertions of Socialist Action are stomach-churning.


Written by Andrew Coates

August 13, 2020 at 12:57 pm

Factionalism in the Time of Coronavirus Part 14: Calls for New Workers’ Party and ‘Resistance Movement’.

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It’s all happening on the Home Front! 

From what remains of the left (we hear that Momentum has revised its membership total down to 8000, from a high of 45k)  the drip drop of criticism of Keir Starmer continues, without a pause,

Momentum is trying to re-merge as a force:


But other strategists have been plotting the way forward.

At the beginning of August the revolutionary socialist groupuscule Counterfire which runs what remains of the People’s Assembly, and strongly influences the surviving structures of the Stop the War Coalition  carried this analysis, from the white-heat of the actuality of the revolution,

Life After Corbyn: don’t lose the radicalism

There has been some speculation that Corbyn might be expelled, and that he might then set up a new mass party of the socialist left. It won’t happen. Starmer isn’t stupid, he would prefer to keep Corbyn as a prisoner of the PLP so that what’s left of Labour’s radical left can be kept to heal and picked off one by one in the witch hunt. So if we need something new we are going to have build it ourselves.

Roy Wilkes concluded.

Plurality of ideas and approaches is positive and healthy. Plurality of sects competing with each other isn’t. And if we are going to extricate ourselves from the terrible predicament we find ourselves in, following over a century of failure to build an effective proletarian leadership, then our best hope is surely to force ourselves to come together, one way or another.


This is where revolutionary socialist leadership should be stepping in to the breach. It isn’t too late to change the course of history and avert catastrophe. But it soon will be.

Zooms apart there is little sign of this popping its head above the parapet.


Chris Williamson is garnering support for his initiative, The Resistance Movement, as critics of Keir Starmer seek a welcoming political home.

Many will  relish his plain speaking.


They will no doubt admire how he stands up to the “Zionist” lobby,

Last week the Socialist Party called for a “new mass workers’ party”.

Labour payouts: unions must discuss political representation

the Socialist Party has called for discussion in the workers’ movement on the need for a new mass workers’ party.

A ‘major gathering’ of trade unionists and socialists is definitely needed, in the form of a conference that can democratically discuss and debate how political representation for the working class can concretely be re-established in the situation created by Starmer’s leadership.

 with or without the involvement of any particular individual, the need for a mass workers’ party that can discuss and adopt a socialist programme is inherent in today’s situation.

The Socialist Party has already initiated a call for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to once again stand anti-cuts candidates in the next local and mayoral elections, following TUSC’s suspension of standing in the last local elections.

Presenting candidates who will fight for workers’ interests can only aid the discussion on how a mass workers’ party can be built, while in the meantime playing an important role in putting a socialist alternative on the ballot papers.

Yet, so far no answer seems to have come.

Socialist Worker comments,

Battles and infighting inside Labour reflect the party’s limits Charlie Kimber

Socialists should always be for the Labour left against the Labour right. But they also have to recognise that, even at its best, Labourism is not going to transform society.

A left that couldn’t effectively confront the right in its own party can hardly deal with the pressures of global capital and the state.

The obsession with Corbyn-nostalgia matters because big struggles are coming. Every day there is more news of job cuts and frequent predictions of mass unemployment.

The need for resistance focused on the workplaces and the streets, not parliament, is more urgent than ever.

At the moment the main energy of these factions has been concentrated on building Colvid-19 Action fronts, People Before Profit: Health Worker Covid,  and  agitating for NHS workers’ pay rises – a better way of spending their time some might say than the usual party/groupuscule building.


Hot on their heels George Galloway’s Workers Party calls on the masses to spurn those  “beholden to the Westminster brethren”.



Human Rights in the Age of National Populism. Les droits de l’homme rendent-ils idiots? Justine Lacroix et Jean-Yves Pranchère.

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Les droits de l'homme rendent-ils idiots ? - Lacroix - Pranchère ...

 Les droits de l’homme rendent-ils idiot ? (2019) Justine Lacroix et Jean-Yves Pranchère.

“This sphere that we are deserting, within whose boundaries the sale and purchase of labour-power goes on, is in fact a very Eden of the innate rights of man. There alone rule Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham.”

Karl Marx Capital Vol 1. Chapter 6. The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power.

Earlier this year Benjamin Ward, of Human Rights Watch, wrote,

The government’s new Attorney General Suella Braverman, its top legal adviser, is on record recently arguing that the courts’ ability to hold the government to account should be restrained, and expressing her criticism of human rights.

It’s increasingly clear that Johnson plans to water down the Human Rights Act, which keeps us safe from government harm, and make it harder for British courts to intervene when the state tramples on people’s rights.

“Human rights are no longer popular”, Justine Lacroix and Jean-Yves Pranchère begin Les droits de l’homme rendent-ils idiot ? with this statement from a former  judge at the European Court of Human Rights, Françoise Tulkens. That they are not a “priority” for governments. Not only have we seen national populist leaders, on both sides of the Atlantic, in practice undermine human rights protections, but scorn for  “droits-de-l’hommisme” has grown. The idea that rights-culture, rights-ideology, is a feature of the “nouvel ordre néolibérale” , an alliance between capitalist economics and social liberalism, remains influential on the left. Individual rights lead to individualism, people “sans appartenance et sans obligation à l’égard de la collectivité” (without belonging and without obligation to the collective)  The “culture of narcissism” a demand for “respect” without concern for others, undermines the family, and “respect d’autrui” (others). The “multiplication” of rights, and obsession about them,  has created bad citizens and a world of “incivilité”.

Les droits de l’homme rendent-ils idiot ? is a defence of human rights on the “champ intellectuel”. This is a crowded field. The authors begin by warning that national populism, or, as they call it,  “illiberal democracy”, puts forward an ideal of “l”homogénéité nationale” in countries like Poland and Hungary that moulds politics against  what Carl Schmitt called “the enemy”. This is in contrast to the democratic principles though by the thinker Claude Lefort. For the former Socialisme ou Barbarie thinker democracy comes from everybody, but democratic (institutional) sovereignty is an “empty” space (lieu vide)  in that no party in the name of the people can permanently occupy it.  Efforts, from identifying ‘the’ people with one party, or determining politics through a totalitarian one-party, one person, “égocrate” eats up the very incertianity that breathes life into democracy.  Lefort, as they later outline, is a touchstone for the idea that human rights are self-created, part of a long process he called the “democratic revolution”. Human rights are a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to create this democratic world, one  that everybody can live in.

Lacroix and  Pranchère do not cite Jacques Rancière. But the radical philosopher’s asserted  that human rights are constantly redefined, through “dissensus”  from the “outside” by the “plebe”, the “rights of the rightless” (Who Is the Subject of the Rights of Man?). “In this way, the ‘‘abstract’’ and litigious Rights of Man and of the citizen are tentatively turned into real rights, belonging to real groups, attached to their identity and to the recognition of their place in the global population”.This underlines the way that those excluded from the homogeneous sovereign people of national populism create new demands. Written in 1791 Olympe de Gouges’s Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne is one such claim followed by her calls to abolish slavery,. First and foremost she demanded the right for women to be equals in politics, “A woman has the right to mount the scaffold. She must possess equally the right to mount the speaker’s platform.” The Guillotine did not stop her voice ringing  throughout the ages.

Neoliberalism is an economic project, a belief in the efficiency of markets, not a belief in human rights. Hayek was opposed to human rights and any kind of social “constructionism”, opposing human rights in the same vein as Edmund Burke, with a experimental knowledge rooted in tradition. Only  “néolibéralisme est responsable pour le néolibéralisme.” Against this Lacroix and  Pranchère praise a side of John Stuart Mill and Benjamin Constant’s political liberalism, their resistance to authoritarianism. They can help indicate to those who draw on the human rights thought see  the need to balance “liberty and equality”.

Many on the left remain suspicious of human rights. Some of this goes back to the early years of socialism. Marx’s famous reference to human rights in Capital was accompanied by support for the “legal limitation of the working day”, a modest Magna Carta. In the passage heading the present review, Jeremy  Bentham was as an unlikely figure to muster in support of human rights. He was, the authors note, as hostile to the French Revolution’s founding declarations as De Maistre and Edmund Burke. More so in fact, in Anarchical Fallacies Critique of the Doctrine of Inalienable, Natural Rights (1796), he dismissed them” Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense, — nonsense upon stilts.” Perhaps Benthan advocacy of the workhouse could be seen as a means to ensure the greatest good, through a felicific calculus of pleasure and pain, but of human rights ideology, there was none.

Justine Lacroix and Jean-Yves Pranchère offer this way of looking at Marx’s views. In the celebrated statement that the  “free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” implies that we base on the liberty of all on the liberty of each individual, and not the other way around. (Il s’agissait bien de fonder le liberté de tous sur la liberté de chacun, et non l’inverse.” (Page 94)

Lacroix and  Pranchère are academics, who have published on political theory and human rights. They are both  based on Brussels. But, references to (mostly) French language controversies aside (they offer important insights into the writings of Marcel Gauchet for example)  Les droits de l’homme rendent-ils idiot ?  has striking echoes of near- identical debates in Britain and the anglophone world. In part this is the result of the curious reprise of US polemicist Christopher Lasch’ writings on the “therapeutic” roots of narcissistic politics,  by, amongst many others,  the French ‘original socialist’ Jean-Claude Michéa, who considers that the original fault of French socialism was to have aligned with liberalism. But, as we have indicated with PM Boris Johnson’s potential attacks on human rights legislation, these are not only issues stuck in the world of ideas. From here we move to the global ‘culture wars’, and to clashes on battle-grounds of American liberalism and conservatism, Bolsarono’s Brazil, and back to Europe’s illiberal states and national populists.

There is , it could be argued, increasing convergence between the ideas of conservatives and a certain nationalist or “sovereigntist” left. This has a more limited range, perhaps to Europe. where the stakes have involved parties of the left with  influential socialist traditions that are marginal in the USA. Every one of the book’s broader account of the claims against human rights and the “culture wars”  they are held to foster, every linkage between neoliberalism and human rights, every complaint against ‘ interfering’ laws and gender politics, is to be found on the Spiked Magazine (run by former Revolutionary Marxists ) site, Blue Labour (whose views on the family could be inserted into many paragraphs), in the writings of the Full Brexit supporters and in groupuscules like the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Les droits de l’homme rendent-ils idiot ?  makes a case that has its counterpart in Britain, and elsewhere, despite our obvious different historical relationship to the first French Republic’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789. A defence of human rights as part of a strategy of solidarity (“une politique de la solidarité”) and internationalism open to defending both individuals and social groups fighting injustice. Justine Lacroix and Jean-Yves Pranchère are to be congratulated on showing some of the way.

See also: Review: Les droits de l’homme rendent-ils idiot ?


Statement from the left-wing collective Ta’amim al-Masaref in Lebanon: ‘It is time for rage’

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Les dirigeants prévenus en juillet des risques dans le port

(Picture from L’Orient du jour.)

A statement from left-wing collective Ta’amim al-Masaref in Lebanon: ‘It is time for rage’

Comrades, we are trapped.

We are trapped between the barbarism of capital accumulation and the subsequent nonchalant greed it enables.

As our lives become more worthless by the hour, we are trapped between the military machine deployed to defend private property at all costs, and the ruling class it has vowed to uphold.

We are trapped between the death cult that is capital accumulation and its tendency to accumulate, store, bargain for better deals, negotiate and accumulate further, even at its own risk. Especially at our expense.

The August 4 blast is an immediate and irreversible ramification of the ruling class’ deliberate indispensability of the masses. The capitalist, neoliberal system was built at our expense, and always – without exception – seeks to serve the interests of the ruling class. It will never be more evident and salient than it is today the extent to which our lives are regarded as expendable and worthless.

But the blast does not propagate evenly. It rips apart working-class neighbourhoods relentless and with impunity. Wave after wave, we can feel our precarity laid bare as our windows and doors shattered, and our buildings collapsed. The explosion both accelerates our condition and decelerates business as usual. It is in this spatio-temporal reality that we are trapped.

Our livelihoods are closest to the epicentres of destruction. How could they not be, when our livelihoods depend on reproducing chaos, zombie capitalism, and our destitute condition? It slows uncovers their violence and their gentrifying displacement. As their interminable towers merely tremble, their children are kept safe by our comrades, domestic workers.

This regime functions precisely as it was constructed to: to exploit us, displace us, crush us and kill us, unapologetically and without hesitation.

They are untouchable even in defeat. They are indestructible even in catastrophe

But they are unreachable no more.

As thousands of families remain stranded and homeless, it is now our duty to occupy their luxurious homes. The ones purposefully kept empty as a form of class war, as an undying bourgeois sneer. We must occupy what they think is theirs. We must occupy what is, in fact, ours.

As this catastrophe steadily becomes militarized, it is our duty to fight against the unfolding military coup that is going to be perpetually imposed on us.

As we are living through famine, hunger, and poverty, it is our duty to supply for our comrades. To fight for food sovereignty. To divorce dependency from our bellies.

We must demand justice for our dead. For our victims.

We do not need any investigations. We know who the culprits are. Structurally, yes it is the ruling class, its third-party tradesmen, middle-men, technicians of doom, and trades of destruction.

We must form neighbourhood committees, and workers must control their own destiny, both in the production and reproduction of wealth. We must rebuild our own homes. We must share them with our comrades.

We must open public schools. Transform them into temporary hospitals for the wounded.

We must honour our dead. Celebrate their lives. Continue their fight.

We must not let them force us into normalisation. Nothing that we have lived through in our lifetimes, and in the last year, has been ‘normal’.

As we look at Palestine and Syria, we know that our struggles are intertwined, as are our regimes. Millions of Syrians, Palestinians, Sudanese, Algerians and Arabs have fought their regimes in an open war of manoeuvre that has not said its last word. We are nothing if not a continuation of this war.

We must gather the strength to emulate our comrades in 1982 who fought against the Israel onslaught of Beirut. We will fight capitalism at home as we have previously fought imperialism.

We must be inspired by our Syrian comrades who have lived through thousands of the regime’s barrel bombs and Islamist occupation.

We must draw inspiration from our Sudanese comrades in their organising and from our Algerian comrades in their perseverance.

Comrades, the time has come for us to organise and obliterate capitalism and its enablers.

It is now time for rage. For revenge. For justice. It is time to obliterate this regime, by any means necessary. We need to organise, and we need to organise now.

And with that, death to the system that kills our comrades.

Ta’amim al-Masaref in Lebanon

Beirut, 11 August 2020

This statement does not necessarily reflect the views of the Alliance of MENA Socialists.


More statements from the site of the The Alliance of Middle Eastern and North African Socialists


Founding statement,

November 24, 2017

We are an alliance of Middle Eastern socialists opposed to all the international and Middle Eastern regional imperialist powers and their wars, whether the U.S., Russia and China  or Israel, Saudi Arabia,  Iran and Turkey.  We also oppose other authoritarian regimes such as Assad’s in Syria and El Sisi’s  in Egypt as well as religious fundamentalism whether of  ISIS, Al Qaeda,  Hezbollah  or the  Muslim Brotherhood.   Although the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah consider themselves gradualists and oppose the Jihadism of Al Qaeda and ISIS, all of these organizations share the goal of establishing a state based on Shari’a Law and preserving the current capitalist order.  

We oppose capitalism, class divisions, patriarchy/sexism, racism, ethnic and religious prejudice and speak to the struggles of women, workers, oppressed nationalities such as Kurds and Palestinians, oppressed ethnic and religious minorities, and sexual minorities.  We also oppose Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.  

We stand for socialism as a concept of human emancipation and an affirmative vision distinguished from the authoritarian regimes that called themselves “Communist.”

The effort to create an Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists, originally started in March 2016 as an Alliance of Syrian and Iranian Socialists with a trilingual website (English/Arabic/Persian)  to help express the aspirations of  “the Other Middle East” and to  offer analyses of critical issues and  new dialogues and bonds of solidarity between Syrians and Iranians opposed to their authoritarian regimes.

Since the destinies of people are linked across borders, important developments in the region –some terrifying and some hopeful—have compelled the formation of a broader Alliance.  

Amongst the international press Le Monde has had extensive coverage.

These are important opinion pieces calling for international solidarity.




Written by Andrew Coates

August 11, 2020 at 11:50 am

Belarus and the New International Solidarity.

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Global Solidarity Needed with Belarus Democrats,

One of the most influential books on nationalism in modern times was Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities.  (1983) Thinking about the nation as “an imagined political political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign” a “deep horizontal comradeship”, in different styles (languages, cultures), and though the arrival of print,  in which this relationship occupies people’s minds, and through the sovereign state, were hallmarks of Anderson’s approach.

Imagined Communities was at its most convincing for the case that nationalism was not just another ‘ism’, “a system of ideas, an ideology”.  It was at its least plausible when it extended an argument against those who tried to battle against nationalisms which were plainly an ideology, part of political projects which projected a future for a national sovereign body based on the common “fellowship” of a people. Critics of Anderson, such as Eric Hobsbawm, pointed out that that the idea of People and Nation are no doubt created in this way (Including very imaginary inventions of tradition and organic roots). But “politics constantly tended to take up an remould such pre-political elements for its own purposes”. (Nations and Nationalism since 1780. 1991)

In this millennium a new generation of nationalists has learnt to “speak for dead people” to defend their nationalism and imagined sovereignty. National populisms, amongst other boasts,  claim to give voice to the People against the ‘globalist elites’. These themes have helped sustain governments like Donald Trump’s , the election of Boris Johnson, and to propel the hardline regimes of Poland and Hungary.

The left has had a hard time finding an alternative. A few, like the editors of the journal which Benedict’s brother,{erry sustained for many years, have variously welcomed ‘anti-system’ movements of all stripes against the ‘globalising’ ‘neoliberal’ European Union, and relished Brexit  as shocks to the world order, while spending their time in wishful thinking about a small American left unable to create an alternative would-be hegemonic radicalism to national populism.

Some wish to channel national feeling into left populism. Attempts to do so have not been successful, as the failure of the most explicit left-wing populist project, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise indicates. This suggests that the diversity of modern European societies may be one reason why it is not easy to mobilise and draw together  the “people” against a capitalist elite, but not as difficult to speak for one group of people against an ‘anti-national’ enemy, foreigners in general and domestic groups of migrant origin.

Reflecting on his academic career  in the posthumous A Life Beyond Boundaries (2016) Anderson spoke of his writing on nationalism.

I began to recognise that the fundamental drawback of this type of comparison, that using the nation and nation states as the basic units of analysis totally ignored the obvious fact that in reality these units were tied together and crosscut by ‘global’ political-intellectual currents such as liberalism, fascism, communism and socialism, as well as vast religious networks and economic and technological forces. I has also to take seriously the reality that very few people have ever been ‘solely’ nationalist. (Page 128)

People can be “gripped” by global cultural and political products and ideas, Hollywood, Manga comics, neoliberalism, Islamism, human rights, and democracy, As he observed, global forms of communication, created with the “telegraph and the steamship” had moved on. One word, Internet, plus, another, global travel. And another migration. We can communicate across the world not just through “supranational’ languages, like English, Arabic, Spanish, French, Mandarin, but in any language, if only through with the help Google translation. TO the Internet we can add migration, global travel, and migration.

It seems that many on the left, particularly the pro-Brexit left which prepared the ground for Boris Johnson’s message of Get Brexit Done, have been unable to grapple with the results of these underlying changes.

These are times and conditions not just for the rise of national populism, but for a new internationalism to grow.

In recent weeks we have seen support for Chinese democrats, protests against the persecution of the Uighurs, and a wave of deep empathy with Beirut.

But for some on the left the model of solidarity seems stuck on the late 19th century. That is, calls for solidarity between the peoples, each separate, and communicated to through vertically. It is suggested that people are constantly getting their support ‘wrong’, and should leave it to official channels; that our real business is with our “Own” imperialism.

This is not going to happen…..

Revolts in places across the world inspire direct support.

Here is –  clear, simple and an intensely moving – account  of one.

Lukashenko may be announced the winner. But his victory won’t last long

Let’s put this type of response in the dustbin of history:

Background Articles: Why the clock is ticking for Belarus’s Lukashenko

The opposition’s wooing of Moscow may have sealed the fate of Europe’s “last dictator”.

Belarus blues: can Europe’s ‘last dictator’ survive rising discontent?

Andrew Roth.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 10, 2020 at 12:19 pm

The Future of a Delusion, “If our whole party had united behind Jeremy, Labour could have won in 2017 and saved tens of thousands of lives. “

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Election 2017 broadcast - Chinese for labour

 The 2017 election that might have been won, if it hadn’t been for a completely different result.

In his only novel, Zuleika Dobson; (1911) Max Beerbohm recounts the adventures of a femme fatale’s visit to Oxford. All the undergraduates fall in love with her. In a final proof of their passion they “leapt emulously headlong into the water”. and “plunged into the swirling stream”.

The  lees of such a homage were as nothing to the claims now being made in the afterglow of this article.

Jeremy Corbyn accuses Labour officials of sabotaging election campaign

Ardour for Jeremy Corbyn has led people to declare that Labour could have won in 2017, and “saved tens of thousands of lives”, if only……

There are good reasons to be outraged at the way that outgoing Party Officials are alleged to have treated the incoming Corbyn team.

On the material presented there is the strongest possible case, given in the newspapers, that “clear evidence of factional activity by senior paid employees of the party against the elected leadership of the time” exists.

We wholly sympathise with Joe Ryle on that.

But what has emerged is a far wider set of claims

They allege that in 2017 hostile officials set up a “shadow operation” in a Westminster office as part of efforts to plot their own election course, which included starving potential target seats of money and focusing resources on MPs not allied to Corbyn.

In the Independent this is stated,

The 13-page contribution, seen by The Independent, says: “Given that Labour was less than 2,500 votes in key seats away from forming a government, having won 40 per cent of the popular vote, it’s not impossible that Jeremy Corbyn might now be in his third year as a Labour prime minister were it not for the unauthorised, unilateral action taken by a handful of senior party officials in 2017.”

The messages detail at length senior staffers disappointed when Labour did better than expected in the election or polls, with some saying explicitly that they had been working against a good result for the party.

Reports  underline a “shadow operation”” aimed at “starving potential target seats of money” and factionalists giving vivid expressions of joy at Labour losing.

What kind of “shadow operation” was at work?

Were there people out there in the constituencies pouncing on party workers, thwarting their activities,  and garbling their messages?

This will come as news to those who campaigned in target seats, such as Ipswich, which was won by Labour by a highly competent well-resourced Labour team backed by members and supporters all over town.

The “separate operation” must have been so hidden in the shades, bound in the darkness, that we, in our stupid good-humoured way. failed to notice it.

Sandy Martin won this ‘target seat” for Labour in Ipswich.

Where was it during the 2019 European Elections, when Cobyn’s team was in charge?

That was a half-hearted campaign if ever there was one.

Where was this parallel wrecking centre in December 2019….?


 Anthony B. Masters, Royal Statistical Society Statistical Ambassador. 

The 2017 general election: not that close after all

The claim relies on the smallest number of votes changing in a specific way. It ignores that, based on the same logic, the Conservatives needed only 50 switched votes for a working majority. It also ignores the fact that constituencies are not independent events.

Far more votes would need to have shifted to plausibly change the outcome.

By the same logic, the Conservative needed only 50 switched votes to reach 321 seats. Given Sinn Fein’s abstentions, this is a probable working majority. 528 votes would have needed to switch for the Conservatives to win 326 constituencies — a Commons majority.

We should remember that constituencies are not independent events. We can also calculate what vote share would need to switch across Great Britain. How big does a uniform national swing need to be?

That also requires three assumptions. If one party increased their vote share, that same change happens in every seat. Only switching between Labour and the Conservatives occurs. Turnout does not change.

Under those assumptions, 0.04 points from Labour to the Conservatives gives the Conservatives 321 seats. Some 0.37 points in the other direction reduces the Conservatives to 310 seats.

These two switched vote shares are equal to around 13,000 and 116,000 votes across Great Britain. The Conservatives would have needed fewer switched votes than Labour to plausibly change the outcome in their favour.

There are other considerations to take into account, too. If Labour had been closer to the Conservatives in votes, then the electoral dynamics would also have changed.

In this alternate universe, the messages and targeted campaigns could have been dissimilar. Indeed, Theresa May might not have called the election in the first place.

The ‘2,227 votes’ figure appears to be a miscalculation. Suggesting Labour were a few thousand votes from “forming a government” relies on diamond-strong assumptions. It is time to bring it to an end.

Reactions are rolling in:

Where the battle lines are being drawn over leaked Labour report

There is no easy way through, however considered the response. Corbyn’s supporters are convinced by the election betrayal; many BAME MPs and members want more than just words from Starmer about tackling toxic attitudes at Labour HQ; and the officials are insistent the law will uphold their belief they have been maligned and defamed.

If there are any compensations for Starmer, it is that this will likely play out amid the political noise of coronavirus and far enough away from an election that many voters will not notice.

The Morning Star has its own explanation for Labour’s two most recent election defeats.

Editorial: The leaked report is important – but it was not sabotage that defeated the Corbyn project

The first is that the Corbyn leadership faced deliberate, planned obstruction from the Labour Party machinery from the beginning.

Evidence of this is not confined to the report, which was not a bolt from the blue. The suspension and expulsion of thousands of members during the leadership elections of 2015 and 2016 on the most trivial pretexts — an 82-year-old was expelled for having retweeted a demand that the Green Party be included in election debates — was very obviously an effort by the party bureaucracy to stop Corbyn winning.

Nor was the attempt to bar Corbyn, the incumbent leader, from standing for re-election in 2016 a secret.

The real fight was deeper,

For five years the political front line of class struggle in Britain was not between the two main parties but inside one of them — between those Labour forces invested (often literally) in the status quo, and those who wanted socialist change.

In the end, in the sense that Corbyn’s successor is not building on the socialist project but reversing it, the former won. Or rather, the latter lost.

Because the second key lesson is easily forgotten amid justified outrage over the leaked report. The socialist project was able to advance despite their sabotage. As one of the saboteurs put it on election night 2017, “they [Corbyn’s team] are celebrating and we are silent and grey faced.”

The relentless attacks did tremendous damage. But it was only when the Labour leadership allowed its own radicalism to be blunted, subordinating its socialist message to the liberal cause of a second EU referendum and prioritising parliamentary manoeuvres over mass mobilisation, that the wheels came off.

The People’s Vote marches for a Second Referendum were backed by figures like Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, and many Labour MPs. John McDonnell addressed a Final Say Rally in October 2019.  There was radical left support from Another Europe is Possible which organised hundreds-strong contingents at protests that  drew, hundreds of thousands onto the streets.

If, as the Morning Star asserts, Labour did not engage in “Mass mobilisation” why did not they, and the rest of the pro-Brexit ‘Lexit’ (Left Exit) groups, organise their own demonstrations in favour of leaving the EU?

Perhaps they were afraid of attracting the nationalist support that lay behind pro-Brexit vote and the subordination of their socialist message to the cause of populist national sovereignty.

The daily’s own conclusion is that the left should have “grappled” with its enemies within, and that it should speak to the “whole working class” – as if working class voters were not divided on Brexit.

The Editorial concludes,

If we attribute our failure to the strength of ruling-class opposition, we may as well give up on socialism: it will never go away.

The important thing is to develop strategies to overcome it. The left did not grapple seriously enough with its enemies in Labour, but it was when it ceased to speak to the whole working class that it stopped being heard.

So the real struggle is against Labour’s enemies within.

Here’s some people with ideas about that:


Pseudo-Marxism has no place in our movement

All of this guff is nothing but dust being thrown into the eyes of the movement, intended to confuse and disorientate socialist activists – and, ultimately, to hide the real liberal, reactionary, bourgeois class content at the heart of Mason’s thesis.

In reality, Mason – like Kautsky – has lost his head. But at least the latter had a head to lose in the first place.

There is nothing radical to be found in Mason’s apologia for liberalism. Indeed, there are no positive suggestions for the left at all.

Most notably, in Mason’s (30-plus minute read!) essay, there is no mention of the need for the left to fight for mandatory reselection; to reverse Blair’s legacy; or to kick out the bureaucrats and careerists that have conspired against a Labour victory.

Instead, Mason has gone on record recently to defend Starmer – the right-wing Labour leader who is opening waging war on the left on behalf of the establishment, attempting to reverse all the gains of the Corbyn era.

This is a telling and textbook case study of where you end up if you abandon a class approach. The ideas of ‘culture wars’, postmodernist ‘narratives’ based on ‘values’, and popular fronts are a dead end for the movement. It is only the genuine ideas of Marxism that can unite the working class and offer a way forward.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 8, 2020 at 10:51 am

Corbyn and McDonnell Faced “hundreds” of incidents of Factionalist Obstruction – Joe Ryle.

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Who is the worst threat to Labour over the leaked report on right ...
Labour Needs to Turn its Back on All Factionalism.

Today a disturbing account of how the factional opponents of Jeremy Corbyn reacted to his leadership of the Labour Party has been published.

I saw from the inside how Labour staff worked to prevent a Labour government

The work of senior Labour staffers to stop Labour winning is only just starting to come out.

Joe Ryle Open Democracy.

Ryle has a background in climate activism and took up work for John McDonnell and Labour ” mostly unaware of all its different political affiliations and factions”.

The Evening Standard (February the 23rd 2016)  reported,

Joe Ryle helped organise for activist group Momentum in London, where some MPs fear it is behind attempts to deselect them.

He also played an active role in aviation campaign group Plane Stupid, with whom he was arrested after a protest at Stansted Airport.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell under fire for employing Momentum and Plane Stupid activist

Ryle may have been aware of Labour’s factionalism because he had been a Green Party member, and Press Officer, for Keith Taylor Green Party MEP (South East England).

GIven the way the Green Party, and the European Parliament, operate,  was it surprising to find this? ” We were in for quite a shock when we were confronted with the machine of Labour HQ.”

This tweet from John McDonnell indicates that his work was appreciated.


The story that has just broken will unsettle anybody, even to those familiar with machine politics.


Joe Ryle states,

Some of the behaviour of senior officials at Labour HQ has already been documented in the 860-page leaked Labour report. But there’s a lot more that went on behind the scenes and I think it’s important that people have the whole story.

There is plenty of detail to back his account up.

The most shocking sabotage I personally witnessed was an encounter with the notoriously difficult regional offices who were often the most ideologically opposed to the Corbyn regime. At my request, attempts were made to organise a rally for John McDonnell via one of the regional offices. Given that John was one of the most senior members of the shadow cabinet, I expected my request to be met with enthusiasm.

When I found out that the location they had chosen was in the middle of nowhere I was left flabbergasted. I was told this tactic had been used before – apparently to avoid lots of members showing up and being won round by the new regime.

There were hundreds more incidents like this that I’m aware of; press releases regularly blocked from going out, staff members briefing against Corbyn’s office, weekly planning grids leaked including the 2019 General Election grid, an almost constant refusal to share content on the party’s social media platforms and the coordination of staff resignations to damage the party. As a political first, the party’s 2017 manifesto was also infamously leaked.

Ryle continues,

.On the night of the 2017 General Election I was in the press team at the party’s HQ. I’ll never forget the deathly silence and the looks on the faces of those staffers that we knew to have been plotting against Corbyn since day one. While we celebrated robbing Theresa May of her majority, party staffers mourned in the room next door: “they are cheering and we are silent and grey faced. Opposite to what I had been working towards for the last couple of years!!, one senior staffer allegedly wrote on WhatsApp that night, according to the leaked report.

This is serious account from somebody who is well-regarded as a party worker.

It needs a proper response.

Factionalism amongst opponents of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell was rife in  key Labour Party structures.

We need to end Labour factionalism, Keir Starmer has said.

That means all. factionalism.

But is this true?

The number of extra votes in marginal seats that Labour needed in 2017 to give Corbyn a chance of being prime minister was an agonising 2,227. This will forever remain a sore point for many of us. Because as the leaked report exposed – we know that in 2017 party resources never reached many of the winnable seats that they should have, with allies of the small faction in party HQ standing in safe seats seen as the first priority.


Without the actions of this small group of highly experienced saboteurs, I genuinely believe we would now be three years into a Labour government investing in our NHS and public services – an outcome which surely would have better prepared the country for the Coronavirus pandemic.

The idea that Labour came within a whisker of winning in 2017 is simply not true.

NIck Tyrone, no doubt a factional opponent of the left,  points out,

No, Labour did not almost win the 2017 general election. Here’s a breakdown of why – and why this is important

I’ll give the Corbynistas their precious 2,227 votes exactly where they need them so they can take those seven seats off the Tories by one vote each. For the sake of what follows, they are theirs. So, what happens if Labour gets those seven seats off the Conservatives in 2017? They won the election then, right? No, not even remotely close.

An extra seven seats would have given Labour 269, which if you are a keen observer of British politics you will note would still have put Labour someways off the 326 needed to have an outright majority in parliament and even way short of the 321 needed for a nominal majority when Sinn Fein, the speaker, etc are taken out of the equation. More than 50 seats short in fact, which is a strange way to call something a victory. So, what the hell are the Corbynistas on about then? Well, remember they took these seven seats off of the Tories, which means instead of the 317 the Conservatives actually ended up with, they now have 310. Even hooking up with the DUP only collectively gets them 320. If you add Labour’s 269 to the SNP’s 35, the Lib Dems 12, Plaid Cymru’s 4 and Caroline Lucas, you get 321. A one seat majority over the Tory-DUP configuration! Which means Corbyn would have been prime minister! Right?


Written by Andrew Coates

August 7, 2020 at 11:17 am

China, Human Rights, and the New Internationalist Left.

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Internationalist Left Defends Human Rights.

Human rights are criticised from two principal sides. National Populists, defend a nation’s absolute sovereign right to make laws without legal interference.  Rights legislation, national and international, are the result of a “fear of democracy”. Luke Gittos writes on Spiked, “The existence of a human-rights framework owes everything to postwar elites’ attempt to exert economic and political control over the heads of European peoples.”

From another side, human rights are accused of promoting and even justifying neoliberalism. The neoliberalism of a market society would only be the theoretical deepening and the  realisation of the liberal individualism of their market origins. By their absolute and uncompromising character, individual rights would only promote the figure of a bad citizen concerned only with her own interests.  Andrew Murray writes, “the preference for individual rights over the collective has come to which has come to predominate on much of the Western left, a flowering of the more poisonous seeds of personal identity and human rights” (The Fall and Rise of the British Left. 2019)

Democracy without rights is not a democracy. The majority will of the voters, as expressed at the ballot box, is not the only criterion of democracy it is only a consequence of these primary criteria of equal rights and freedom for all. wrote Justine Lacroix and Jean-Yves Pranchère in Les droits de l’homme rendent-ils idiots ? at the end of last year,

In a powerful assault on the idea that human rights are ‘bourgeois’ and individualistic Lacroix and Prancheere take up a thread running throughout the  history of the First International. Marx and Engels, despite their criticisms of  flowery phrases about “right and duties” – the weight of the late 19th century democratic and national struggles led by figures such as the Italian republican Giuseppe Mazzini, backed demands for social and individual rights and legislation to protect workers’ interests. These were demands going back to the limitation on the working day to which Vol 1 of Capital devotes a whole chapter.These are rights, as they remind us, that for socialists should balance both “liberty and equality”. In this respect we could say that the Trade Union movement is one of the biggest movements for human rights in history.

By the end of the 19th century socialist leaders, such as Jean Jaurès, put democratic rights, individual and collective at the centre of their politics. Many on the left continue their work. By contrast, today “Populism” is not a defence of liberty but a claim for identity “d’un peuple homogène”(Page 17) By affirming absolute national sovereignty in the name of the “people”, a ‘general will’ that exists only through their own parties,  populists and others deny the real voices of individuals and conflicting classes.

Reviewing the book for the radical left  Lignes de Crêtes  observes that

JYP and JL methodically destroy the rhetoric of being ‘anti-system’ means being against political liberalism and  the rhetoric according to which social rights and civil liberties are the individualistic and selfish corollary of economic oppression.  and are opposed to social rights. this rhetoric definitively died with Stalin, but it is not the case, even in certain parts of the radical left, where pitting the ‘societal’  against social issues,  has become commonplace.

That socialism was a proposal to go beyond the original human rights, and was seen as a base to be extended and consolidated, and not to be destroyed has again been largely forgotten. Jean Yves Pranchère and Justine Lacroix remind us. Deconstructing certain hypocrisies based on the formal appeal to human rights is not the same as naming them as an ideological enemy in itself. At a time when it is fashionable to support autocrats like Maduro or Assad, in the name of the destruction of the Established Order, the reminder is vital.

Review: Les droits de l’homme rendent-ils idiot ?

This is the conclusion of Les droits de l’homme rendent-ils idiots ?

“les droits de l’homme devraient être le nom d’une politique de la solidarité, qui ne content pas compenser l’exclusion sociale par des mécanismes d’assistance, mais qui lie les libertés civiles et politiques à une reprise de la question sociale au sense le plus large, incluent les conditions du vivre-ensemble et donc la construction d’un monde commun puisse s’épanouir l’individualité de tous.” (Page 97. Les droits de l’homme rendent-ils idiot ? 2019.)

Human rights should be the name of a strategy of solidarity, one that is not just a means of fighting social exclusion by support mechanisms, but one which binds civic and political freedoms in ways that bring back the social issues in in he broadest sense, including the conditions of community life, and, as a result, building a common world in which everybody’s individuality can flourish.

Political developments have  brought China  and human rights to the fore.

We are not dealing with the limits of bourgeois ‘egotistic’ rights but an autocracy whose methods, re-education, camps, forced labour,  are intimately connected to the Stalinist tradition of Maoism.

The repression that hybrid Stalinist-Capitalism of the CCP state has unleashed is an assault on human rights.

Left solidarity is no respecter of national sovereignty, or the interests of nation states.

Labour has officially taken notice:

Paul Mason offers one of the best approaches to what the left should, and can, do.

Here are some of his points:


The left, and above all anyone who thinks the term “Marxism” is worth saving, should be outraged. But parts of the British left seem determined to apologise for China’s crimes against human rights and free speech.

In recent Labour meetings at which activists have tried to raise solidarity with democrats and trade unionists in Hong Kong, or with the Uighurs, they have been met by accusations that they are “promoting Western imperialism” and “media lies”.

If anybody doubts this they can see recent tweets,


Or the comments underneath this Tweet from Momentum:

Former leader of the International Marxist Group, John Ross, has joined in,

Ross’ argument, recycled from 1960s Soviet Bloc interventions at the UN, is at root that giving people better material living conditions is more important than the ‘bourgeois’ freedoms of expression. Not a very good counter to criticism of political oppression, and the lack of independent trade union rights.

The former Trotskyist has  been at it in the Chinese state media.

False U.S. accusations against China expose its own human rights problems: People’s Daily commentary

John Ross, former director of Economic and Business Policy of London, said that China has “a real understanding of human rights” and “the key human right is to stay alive.”

The right to life is among the most basic human rights enshrined in the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” of the United Nations.

The so-called “human rights abuse” fabricated by some ill-intentioned U.S. politicians constitutes an affront to Chinese people’s anti-virus fight, the article said.


Paul Mason, by contrast, continues:

I am certain that the renewed salience of the Uighur question, which was ignored for years during the “golden era” of Sino-British relations declared by George Osborne, is in part being driven by the US’s newly aggressive stance on China. But the point of being a socialist is being able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

This, however, seems beyond the two left-wing publications in the UK that appear committed to whitewashing China’s authoritarian form of capitalism: the Morning Star and Socialist Action.

He asks,

 The problem for the left remains, as it did in the original Cold War, of how to support democracy, human rights and workers’ rights in China – and in its wider diplomatic sphere of influence – without supporting the Sinophobic rhetoric and aggressive militarism of Donald Trump’s America.

He develops the theme,

What should distinguish the British left’s approach to China is knowledge of and engagement with the workers’ movement. Beyond the outright CCP apologists there is a more widespread belief, born out of lazy cultural relativism, that it is somehow imperialist or even racist for British people to criticise China’s human rights record.

This is the clinching argument,

For those of us on the left who want to maintain an architecture of thought based on historical materialism, whose genealogy runs from Marx, through the early Communist International, the “Western Marxism” of the 1930s, the New Left of the 1960s and the anti-capitalism of today, I am afraid taking a position on Xi’s actual ideology is not a luxury.

Xi’s “Marxism” is overtly and systematically anti-humanist. Its endlessly repeated loops of closed and meaningless phrases make the Newspeak of Orwell’s Oceania sound positively lyrical. The forced, televised confessions of corrupt officials are – as China expert Christian Sorace has argued – part of an attempt to create “affective sovereignty”: love of the party above the state, irrespective of what it says or does.

Human rights are universal.

They will be defended against this “Marxism”.

Xinjiang – Neither Washington nor Beijing: the Left Must Stand With the Uighurs

Ben Towse,

The international left cannot duck out just because Western powers criticise China. We cannot support our enemy’s enemy, uncritically regurgitating its propaganda as the Morning Star shamefully does. But nor can we ally with our imperialist rulers.

We must think about alliances and action independent of the ruling classes. We must reaffirm the left’s understanding of the transnational working class, and oppressed peoples, as their own emancipators. In the tradition of consistent anti-imperialism, we must look to build a ‘third camp’ that makes links and solidarity across borders, opposing all our rulers and exploiters. As inter-imperialist tensions escalate into a new Cold War, update the old slogan: “Neither Washington nor Beijing, but international socialism”.

For instance, despite harsh repression, class struggle in China continues to seethe with unofficial disputes and strikes. Far from uniformly anathematising (or idolising) the entire nation, let’s seek to reach out to this potent force of Chinese workers against the state and ruling class.

 Building international solidarity.

The Uyghur Solidarity Campaign UK, with which I’m an activist, has been formed to build solidarity in the workers’ movement and the left in the UK. The campaign has protested monthly at the Chinese embassy with London’s Uighur community (resuming this week after a coronavirus-hiatus), and in March we invaded the Oxford Circus flagships of Nike, H&M and Microsoft to protest forced labour. A solidarity motion passed at Labour conference last year; a range of union branches and PCS have joined the protests; and socialist MPs including John McDonnellKate Osamor and Nadia Whittome have got on board.

There’s much more for the campaign to do in terms of alliance-building, protest, and direct action. There are also clear international connections to make around anti-racism, state violence and reproductive freedom.

A particular goal of the campaign is worker action. From trade union history – Lancashire textile workers rejecting slave-picked Confederate cotton in the US civil war, Scottish factory workers grounding Pinochet’s jet engines, French and Italian dockers refusing to move Saudi arms in 2019 – we know capitalism’s global supply chains provide avenues for concrete action. Organised workers in businesses connected to surveillance and forced labour in China, from dockers to programmers to shop assistants, could have huge leverage.

Back this campaign!

Were the RCP/Living Marxism/Spiked MI5 Agents? Official Tendance Coatesy Statement.

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Brendan O'Neill Gets the Hump about “McCarthyite assaults on ...

Agents Provocateurs? (Cartoon by John Rogan)

Some years ago a poster on a leftist site asked,

Does anyone out there know what happened to the membership of the Revolutionary Communist Party? Have their ex-members become part of the anti-capitalist movement (God I hope not!) or have they simply gone into retirement living off their MI5 pensions?

Whatever happened to the Revolutionary Communist Party?

The question weighs like a nightmare.

On a page by Bella Caledonia there is reference  to a past of the RCP/LIving Marxism/Spiked when “many on the left thought they were a bunch of MI5 agents”.

Discussion by Spotters fails to unearth the truth about the allegation which has focused on Claire Regina Fox, Baroness Fox, in recent days.

This Blog can finally spill the beans.

M15 only tried to recruit one Warwick University Graduate, myself.

Over a haunch of Venison and a bottle of Château Margaux, at Simpson’s in the Strand, they made an attractive offer to Cde Coates.

I declined, made my excuses and left for the Drones Club.

Inside its doors I confided in Michael Ezra.

Cde Ezra said that he would have a word with Gerry Healy.

Tariq Ali came over and intimated that he too had had to turn down tempting proposals. Yet the bright-eyed firebrand had decided that his future as a leader of the World Revolution was best furthered by work with Yuri Andropov.

An ebullient Ted Grant took out a tome by Trotsky from his bulging briefcase and began to tell us all about the help that Father Georgy Apollonovich Gapon rendered the revolution.

January 9th would not have taken place if Gapon had not encountered several thousand politically conscious workers who had been through the school of socialism. These men immediately formed an iron ring around him, a ring from which he could not have broken loose even if he had wanted to.

History of the Russian Revolution. Leo Trotsky.

That was at the end of the 1970s, and anybody who can’t remember it was there.

Many things have changed.

Some suggest that in the new millenium Claire Regina Fox, and her comrade-in-arms Brendan (future Baron?) O’Neill, are today’s Gapons, leading the masses to the revolution that is Brexit.

Others point that the key role in helping Boris Johnson  “get Brexit done” is hotly disputed by groups such as the Communist Party of Britain, the Socialist Party, the SWP, Counterfire and New Left Review (that name Tariq Ali – again!).

This speculation aside, Tendance Coatesy can reveal that MI5 did not recruit Claire Regina Fix.

Bumping into my would-be handler at Poundland last week he said to me, “we would never accept anyone with a “second class degree (2:2) in English and American Literature.”


Written by Andrew Coates

August 5, 2020 at 4:36 pm

French Media Unites to Defend Charlie Hebdo and Freedom of Expression Against New Death Threats.

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France Charlie Hebdo Trial: 14 suspected accomplices go on trial in Paris

France 24. 22nd of September.

Five years after the attacks against a Jewish supermarket and the #CharlieHebdo newspaper that left a total of 17 dead, the #trial of 14 suspected accomplices of the perpetrators of the massacres takes place Tuesday in #Paris.

Testimony has already been given.

It is deeply distressing.

The widow of a victim of the anti-Semitic killings at the Hyper Cacher supermarket was amongst those who gave an account of their traumatic experiences.

A survivor, Zarie Sibony, a cashier at the Kosher shop pleaded and offered the butcher money. She was told by one of the killers, Amedy Coulibaly, that “Vous êtes les deux choses que je déteste le plus au monde : vous êtes juifs et français’.” You are the two things I loathe most in the world, Jewish and French.”

La veuve d’une victime de l’Hyper Cacher : “Je leur ai dit qu’un méchant monsieur avait tué leur papa”


Every Jew is aware today that they can be the victim of terrorists.

You can follow the trial:

EN DIRECT – Procès des attentats de 2015 : les rescapés de l’Hyper Cacher racontent l’horreur de la prise d’otages

As if these heart-wrenching accounts were not enough the Islamists, State and non-State,  and their allies continue to menace Charlie.


More than 100 French media organisations have signed and published an open letter defending freedom of speech against threats from “terrorists and states”. reports the Guardian.



The tribune was released after a member of staff at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo – targeted by Islamist gunmen who killed 12 people in January 2015 – was forced to leave her home after receiving death threats.

The open letter, titled “Together, we are defending freedom”, was initiated by the paper’s director, Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau.

“It has never happened before that the media, which often defend divergent points of view and whose manifesto is not the usual form of expression, have decided together to address audiences and fellow citizens in such a solemn manner. If we do so, it is because we felt it was crucial to alert you to one of the most fundamental values of our democracy: your freedom of expression,” it read.

“Today, in 2020, some of you are threatened with death on social networks when you expose singular opinions. Media outlets are openly targeted by international terrorist organisations. States put pressure on French journalists ‘guilty’ of publishing critical articles.

“The violence of words has gradually turned into physical violence. Over the past five years, women and men in our country have been murdered by fanatics because of their origins or their opinions. Journalists and cartoonists have been executed to stop them writing and drawing freely forever.

“It is the entire legal edifice that has been built over more than two centuries to protect your freedom of expression that is under attack, as never before in the last 75 years.”

The letter was signed by national, regional and local newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations.

It concludes: “The laws of our country provide each of you with a framework that allows you to speak, write and draw as in few other places in the world. It is up to you to take it.

“Yes, you have the right to express your opinions and criticise those of others, whether political, philosophical or religious, as long as it is within the limits set by law. Let us recall here, in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, which has paid for this freedom with the blood of those who worked there, that in France, the crime of blasphemy does not exist.

“Some of us are believers and may naturally be shocked by blasphemy. Nevertheless, they unreservedly associate themselves with this initiative. Because, in defending the freedom to blaspheme, it is not blasphemy that we are defending, but freedom.”

Background in English:




Written by Andrew Coates

September 23, 2020 at 4:30 pm