Tendance Coatesy

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Left Unity: ‘Caliphate’ John Tummon (NC, North-West) Standing for Leadership.

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Islamic State: John Tummon wanted Left Unity to “distance itself” from use of “intemperate, inaccurate and moralist language such as ‘terrorism’, ‘evil’, ‘fundamentalist’, ‘viciously reactionary’, ‘murderous’, genocidal’

One of the delights of Britain’s left is the ongoing squabbles. In the deepest recesses, or the bowels of the left, trying to emerge.

The Weekly Worker is rightly prized as significant hebdomadal (a quotidian word daily on Richard Seymour’s lips) reading in this respect.

On the elections for the leadership of Left Unity it is, we can safely say, without competitors.

The latest issue contains this ‘questionnaire’ to candidates.

Amongst them is this:

2. Do you oppose the idea of forming some kind of bloc within Left Unity that includes the social-imperialist Alliance for Workers’ Liberty? Should those who support the pro-Nato government of Petro Poroshenko, who refuse to condemn the 2003 invasion of Iraq or the possibility of an Israeli nuclear strike against Iran, be considered legitimate bloc partners?

Readers of the august journal might ask about the Weekly Worker/CPGB (Provisional Committee) and its own lengthy  unity negotiation with said ‘social-imperialist’ Alliance for Workers’ Liberty – an episode sadly neglected in the present pages of the paper.

This began around 2000 with the declaration, “The AWL is a small organisation of serious revolutionaries.” “what distinguishes the AWL from that which often falsely passes itself off as Trotskyism is its culture of comparative openness and a willingness to think.” (9.3.2000)

Such as this, on the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s annual weekend school, Ideas for Freedom (17.7.2002)

The school was an excellent event and CPGB comrades learned a great deal from participation in both its formal sessions and in more off-the-cuff exchanges. Given our common commitment to open educational events such as this and the forthcoming Communist University, we should explore more imaginatively the possibilities of further joint schools and forums. Mark Fischer.

The honeymoon did not last. A few weeks later we see this:

“In more recent times, we have been able to collaborate with the CPGB/WW on many issues in and around the Socialist Alliance. Lately problems have arisen in AWL-CPGB relations.” AWL  October 2002.

Future historians will no doubt unravel what happened in those fraught times, so crucial to the development of the international left.

But what interests the Tendance now is the bid by ‘Caliphate’ John Tummon for leadership of Left Unity.

John Tummon (NC, North-West) replies to two of the Weekly Worker’s exam questions as follows (Weekly Worker):

5. Do you disassociate yourself from those who resort to violence or threats of violence within the left? Will you insist that anyone found guilty of making such threats issue a public apology, no matter how belatedly?

6. Do you think Left Unity should draw a clear red line between the socialist politics of the working class and the petty bourgeois politics of the Green Party?


5. No – some behaviour is so bad that it provokes violence either of the word or deed and everything must be assessed by its context. I am not for absolute rules and detest the concept of zero tolerance.

6. No – the Greens have very similar policies to LU; both are broad parties, but LU is far smaller. The Greens are progressive.

This is from Tummon’s (defeated) Caliphate motion, at Left Unity’s last year Conference.

To show solidarity with the people of the Middle  East by supporting the end of the  structure of the  divided nation states imposed by the Versailles  settlement and their replacement by a Caliphate type polity in which diversity and autonomy are protected and nurtured and the mass of people can effectively control executive authority’. Left Unity distances itself specifically from the use of intemperate, inaccurate and moralist language such as ‘terrorism’, ‘evil’, ‘fundamentalist’, ‘viciously reactionary’, ‘murderous’, genocidal’, etc in discussion about the Middle East; these terms are deployed by people and forces seeking not to understand or analyse, but to demonise in order to dominate, and they have no place within socialist discourse. ft Unity Resolution.

“We also distance ourselves  from the Eurocentric brand of secularism that  believes that the peoples of the Middle East must accept western terms of reference by consigning  their religious faith to a separate part of their  lives from their political aspirations, if they are to  develop progressive societies.”

They certainly ‘ave ’em in Left Unity

This election will be by Single Transferable Vote – just like the do in god’s Caliphate.


8 Responses

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  1. I hope he wins. Then the British far left can be subjected to the same media scrutiny that the ISIS-apologist sections of the ‘human rights’ sector are starting to be subjected to. It’s long overdue.

    It doesn’t do for parts of the left to be protesting about unfair dismissal one day and the next be making excuse for mass rapists, slavers, ethnic cleansers and murderers who stand against everything that socialists are supposed to stand for. There is a deep sickness on parts of the left, and it needs curing.


    March 17, 2015 at 5:38 pm

  2. Perhaps they could begin by looking at this – in the Tendance’s opinion a fair judgement.,

    ” Salafism today is probably the fastest-growing Islamic movement in the world. The interpretation that Isis applies to Muslim scripture may be exceptional for its savagery – but not for its literalism. Islamic State, in its conceit that it has trampled down the weeds and briars of tradition and penetrated to the truth of God’s dictates, is recognisably Salafist.

    When Islamic State fighters smash the statues of pagan gods, they are following the example of the Prophet; when they proclaim themselves the shock troops of a would-be global empire, they are following the example of the warriors of the original caliphate; when they execute enemy combatants, and impose discriminatory taxes on Christians, and take the women of defeated opponents as slaves, they are doing nothing that the first Muslims did not glory in.

    Such behaviour is certainly not synonymous with Islam; but if not Islamic, then it is hard to know what else it is.”

    “It is not merely coincidence that IS currently boasts a caliph, imposes quranically mandated taxes, topples idols, chops the hands off thieves, stones adulterers, exec­utes homosexuals and carries a flag that bears the Muslim declaration of faith. If Islamic State is indeed to be categorised as a phenomenon distinct from Islam, it urgently needs a manifest and impermeable firewall raised between them. At the moment, though, I fail to see it.”

    Tom Holland.

    New Statesman. 17th March 2015.


    Andrew Coates

    March 17, 2015 at 6:22 pm

  3. I think the problem with Tummon’s part of the left – and it’s not just confined to the margins, it runs across to the Guardian and the Polly Toynbee types, is that it just cannot and will not accept that an ideology can rise and act independently of western capitalism/socialism. They can’t get their heads around the fact that Islam existed long before evil western civilisation did, and so they just have to pretend that what appears to be a religious impulse and religiously-derived behaviour must really be something else caused by ‘us’ and be designed to ‘resist’ us.

    They can’t explain how anger at Western foreign policy kiling innocent Muslims in the Middle East really could make people travel to Syria and rape and kill Muslims, let alone enslave Yazidis or destroy ancient Assyrian heritage, so they tend to swerve around that and discuss ISIS as if they are not really doing any of that at all but are in fact only killing westerners. Even John Prescott was trotting out such bullshit a few days ago. It doesn’t at all correspond with the reality of what ISIS actually do and to whom they are doing it, but what the hell.


    March 17, 2015 at 7:55 pm

  4. so, in reality, there is an Islamicist/Leftist alliance. i dismissed it as right wing scaremongering for quite a long time, but i’m forced to admit i was wrong.

    the person who is most responsible for this is John Rees, in my opinion, and this counterfire/swp stwc leadership clique.

    i think there’s going to be all kinds of weird moves and alliances in the next few years!


    March 17, 2015 at 9:15 pm

  5. […] Source: Left Unity: ‘Caliphate’ John Tummon (NC, North-West) Standing for Leadership. […]

  6. All of the above about the loony left, yes they do still exist, is true, but it has to be remembered that they are tiny and their views run counter to those of the vast majority of those in the UK and elsewhere. It is easy in the self contained world of the left to imagine that Rees/Counterfire/The SWP are actually important never mind the other tiny sects.

    The reality is that they aren’t except in their own inflated view of themselves. There is an interesting debate on the subject of ” Islamophobia” over at Liberal Conspiracy where, as usual, Sunny Hundal is getting an intellectual kicking.

    The High Court hearing into electoral malpractices In Tower Hamlets ended a week ago and the report should be out after Easter. I understand it is going to be interesting. This will be the first open judicial enquiry into the setting up of a Muslim state in the middle of a western capital city which is essentially what happened.

    All of those who nailed their colours to their masts in screaming ” Islamophobia” are going to have some explaining to do but as I speak the likes of Jon Lansman, Sunny Hundal, The Guardian and sundry others are probably already preparing the ” conspiracy” defense.

    Dave Roberts

    March 18, 2015 at 10:56 am

  7. @ Kimchee,

    Yes Rees is the key figure. And his partner Lindsey German set the tone for this a decade ago when, as the SWP allied with Islamists she excused the alliance with Isalamists, declaring that gay rights could not be a ‘shibboleth’ of the left. At the time that horrified a lot even on the far left, but since then her attitude has become the far left norm.

    Your post is encouraging. Acknowledging there is a problem is a better step towards solving it than refusing to accept it exists. There is no good reason or need for socialists to align with Islamists.

    @ Dave Roberts,

    You are absolutely right that the SWP are only a tiny minority as a group. Indeed as a party they are a joke. But as individuals they are well-placed in many institutions such as universities, NGOs, unions, local authorities etcetera, as well as numerous campaigns. So their actual power and influence beyond the SWP should not be underestimated. They are a blight on many organisations and our civic society. And no one on the broader left ought to have anything to do with them – or they will find, as organisations such as Amnesty (itself SWP infiltrated) and Joseph Rowntree Trust are finding, that they lose credibility and goodwill in the wider community.

    And you (rightly) admit the Guardian as part of the loony left, but that’s the house paper of the BBC and numerous far more respectable (just about still) organisations than the SWP.


    March 18, 2015 at 1:33 pm

  8. There should have been a multiple choice question for John Tummon and co:

    ‘Which of the following ISIS policies would you most like to see Left Unity fighting to achieve in Britain:

    a) enslaving and raping non-Muslim teenage girls
    b) ethnically cleansing Kurds
    c) ethnically cleansing Christians
    d) executing homosexuals
    e) forbidding women to go out in public unless accompanied by a man
    f) cutting children in half for refusing to convert to Islam

    Come on John, do tell. Which of those ‘progressive’ policies gives you the biggest thrill?


    March 19, 2015 at 7:18 pm

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