Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

The Wit and Wisdom of the anti-Corbyn Campaign.

with 43 comments

Ruled the Earth a lot longer than New Labour.

DOMINIC LAWSON: Comrade Corbyn’s biggest problem? He never smiles! (Even though his Marxist views are such a joke).

20th July.

On Tuesday a former aide to Mr Blair said the MPs who nominated the left-winger to encourage debate were “morons”.

22nd July.

Tony Blair, “mocked people who say their political heart wants to support Mr Corbyn, telling them bluntly: ‘Get a transplant.’

22nd July.
And so it goes:

In the last few days we’ve had this:



Nick Cohen,

Worse than the tyrannophilla, from a practical point of view, is that Corbyn does not have a chance of winning the 2020 general election.

August the 9th.

An ‘interview’ with Jeremy Corbyn

Cross-Post, August 10th 2015, 8:54 pm

Interviewer: Salah has propagated the blood libel, claiming that Jews bake bread with the blood of gentile children.

Corbyn: I’m no expert on culinary matters – there are more important issues facing our society, after all – and never had any reason to chat about recipes with him. But all that is beside the point. How am I supposed to fulfill my diplomatic mission to make peace between Raed Salah and the UK if I DON’T praise him effusively?

Interviewer: Salah has also boasted about taunting a Jewish teacher with a drawing of a swastika.

Corbyn: If I only campaigned on behalf of people who DON’T bait Jews with swastikas, I’d never get out of the house. That can’t be the solution.

Harry’s Place.

Oh our aching sides!


43 Responses

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  1. Do you find nothing concerning in this article?


    I did spot a mistake – I think – which is that it implies a 2012 letter from Corbyn was sent more recently. I find it depressing that only those who were already against him seem to think this is significant.


    August 11, 2015 at 4:46 pm

  2. I am not Jeremy Corbyn’s media rebuttal unit.

    But I would find this story extraordinary given Corbyn’s long association (he is Chair) with the respected human rights organisation Liberation (ex-Movement for Colonial Freedom).

    Liberation publishes material supporting universal human rights, in countries that include Bangladesh (in defence of secularism and against Islamist religious cleansing), Sudan, the plight of the Kurds, as well as the Middle East proper, Saudi Arabia, – and yes, Israel and Palestine.

    I hope Sarah, somebody I have a lot of time for, you realise the effect that associating Corbyn with the blood libel has on many people.

    Andrew Coates

    August 11, 2015 at 5:17 pm

  3. I am willing to see this problem as a kind of persistent blind spot for Corbyn rather than a settled malignity, but he keeps on allying himself with disreputable people. For example here is a post which references Raed Salah’s invocation of the blood libel.


    and here are Corbyn’s words about him.

    “He is far from a dangerous man. He is a very honoured citizen, he represents his people extremely well, and his is a voice that must be heard.’ Corbyn added, ‘I look forward to giving you tea on the terrace because you deserve it!’ :


    With Sizer there’s also a whole series of problems. I agree with Corbyn that it’s easy to link to an unfortunate site by mistake, but I’ll note just two further problems, already in play in 2012.

    One is that he had a link to Alison Weir on his site.


    Another is a statement from the Council of Christians and Jews maintaining that the problem alluded to by JC was not just an oversight.


    He seems to keep on making such mistakes and this suggests that he doesn’t take concerns about the issue seriously.

    See also the CST on the issue



    August 11, 2015 at 6:27 pm

  4. I really suggest Sarah you look at Liberation’s magazine.

    To repeat I am not Corbyn’s media unit, and why you would think I would turn a blind eye of defend anybody taking such – alleged – positions is beyond me.

    I have heard Corbyn speak at Labour Briefing AGMs (a magazine I have written for many many times) for over 25 years, amongst other events, (I was even born in his constituency and have many friends who live there or in Haringey and other parts of North London): it would astonish me utterly if he were an anti-Semite.

    The accusation is borderline libel.

    I happen to disagree with his politics on the Middle East.

    It would not take a long look at this Blog to see why.

    I agree with his politics on austerity and many many other issues – a list too long to give now.

    Andrew Coates

    August 11, 2015 at 6:50 pm

  5. I meant that Corbyn had a blind spot, not you! It’s not a matter of asserting that he is personally antisemitic, but one can have a low level of sensitivity or awareness, and this is quite compatible with sincerely opposing antisemitism (and the same goes for other kinds of bigotry or racism).


    August 11, 2015 at 7:09 pm

  6. Now that the Nick Cohens of the world, popularly known as Decency, have the opportunity to comment upon national politics, rather than upon Britain’s role in international affairs, their real nature is rapidly becoming clear. And I don’t think it’s mainly or even partly about Corbyn’s perhaps ill-chosen words on a platform here or perhaps misplaced signature on an appeal there, but rather Decency’s political platform.

    The main thrust of Corbyn’s platform is not support for Hamas (but you’d may think it was were our Decents’ recent statements taken literally), but reforms that would benefit the mass of the population of Britain: anti-austerity policies, renationalising the railways, claiming back the NHS from the private-sector vultures, reining in the bankers, stopping the victimisation of claimants, that sort of thing. Things that are popular with traditional Labour voters and beyond them, things that might enthuse people rather than the soul-destroying crypto-Tory neo-liberal policies on offer by Labour at the last election.

    So why are our Decents in such a paroxysm of rage? It’s because they, I believe, are opposed to Corbyn’s reform programme, they believe in the neo-liberal policies proposed by the Blairites and neo-Blairites, they do not want Labour to change course away from austerity. Of course, they can’t, without looking very silly, openly proclaim this; rather such reforms are ‘unrealistic’, or minor questions, such as Corbyn’s occasional ill-chosen words on, say, Hamas, are blown up into matters of global importance. Or the reforms are seen as dooming Labour to another defeat — as if warmed-up Blairism worked in 2015.

    Nick Cohen & Co are the heirs of the 1950s Labour Revisionists, the Blairites avant la lettre. Corbyn’s campaign gives some hope for a change in direction away from the neo-liberal orthodoxy of the last 20, 30 or more years: that’s what is important, and that’s why the New Labourites and their journalist fans detest him so much.

    Dr Paul

    August 11, 2015 at 8:01 pm

  7. I do wish we could get an answer on stuff like this, rather than yells of ‘smearist’ from supporters (I’ve had that). For example on how on earth he turned up at a Lyndon LaRouche event. That is, that we could actually hear from a ‘rebuttal unit’. I assume he feels he doesn’t need one and, who knows, maybe he’s right?

    As well, as I have pointed out, he appears to say one thing one place and another in another place. Which, of course, makes him a politician (and not the messiah).

  8. He clearly does have a rebuttal unit, such as when his “campaign team” (presumably Simon Fletcher) told Diane Abbott off publically for posting a tweet/message in Corbyn’s name claiming that he was supporting her campaign to be candidate for Mayor of London; and stating that this was certainly not the case.

    The thing is, there is so much ridiculous criticism of Corbyn in the media that is just nonsense that perfectly reasonable questions on his judgement just fall under the radar and I presume his “team” realises there’s no point drawing further attention to some of the stuff by rebutting it.


    August 11, 2015 at 8:18 pm

  9. He’s not the messiah, but nor is he a very naughty boy. He’s a politician who spreads himself thinly around a remarkable range of campaigns, many of which (like virtually all campaigns of any breadth) have some dubious people involved. And sometimes he has been incautious with some of his associations. But so what? None of us are perfect, and the more we actually get out there and do things with other people, the less perfect we are.

    An article in today’s Guardian summed up for me why the current Labour ascendancy has to go:


    Cameron looks as though he is prepared to cut young workers’ benefits just so that he can cut benefits to EU migrants for four years. And Labour’s response, as articulated by Stephen Timms, (whoever the hell he is): “I think the government should – they haven’t been able to deliver, it appears, the four years – have a go at two years. They might be able to get further with that.”

    The Corbyn campaign represents a groundswell of revulsion against that sort of “Tory-lite” politics. Its figurehead may not be perfect. But that fightback is long overdue.


    August 11, 2015 at 9:36 pm

  10. Corbyn has shown up at a Larouche event? That does a lot of explaining to do. You cannot associate yourself with Lyndon Larouche and keep your hands clean.


    August 12, 2015 at 12:52 am

  11. We are not being asked to vote on Corbyn’s foreign policy or on every campaign or petition he has ever signed – at Briefing AGM”s I should add (and I imagine more widely) he has a queue of people waiting to ask for his support for this and that etc etc.

    Are we?

    I have made my own positions on many international issues pretty clear, and, judging from the number of people who read this Blog – 500 to 1,000 a day – I imagine they are known to at least some on the left.

    Andrew Coates

    August 12, 2015 at 11:28 am

  12. I hope Sarah, somebody I have a lot of time for, you realise the effect that associating Corbyn with the blood libel has on many people.

    Corbyn has associated HIMSELF with such people, Andrew – violent and ‘non-violent’ Islamists, Holocaust deniers and Jew-baiters. It is disingenuous of you and Francis to suggest this is just the consequence of ordinary political campaigning. Most politicians, including most Labour politicians, manage to get by, even dealing with people they don’t agree with, without repeatedly sharing platforms with and praising bigots with the same narrow field of interest.

    You are losing the plot here in blaming and importuning the motives of others for rightly raising objections to this.

    Antisemitism, homophobia and misogyny matter. Maybe they don’t matter to you as much, because they don’t impact on you directly. But don’t smear those of us they do impact.


    August 12, 2015 at 12:35 pm

  13. @Pinkie,

    “Corbyn has shown up at a Larouche event? That does a lot of explaining to do. You cannot associate yourself with Lyndon Larouche and keep your hands clean.”

    In Corbyn World, all principled people associate with and strongly befriend and praise Holocaust Deniers. It’s vital in the fight against austerity, apparently.


    August 12, 2015 at 12:42 pm

  14. Andrew, you don’t have to explain your Corbyn support, I do get it. What is shocking me is the abuse from other supporters when something like his support for Russian imperialism (which I think is demonstrably true) is raised. Or the active, stated indifference, the isolationism.

    This piece from Gary Kent is very good on why we should all be yelling at the Corbyn ‘movement’ on FP, rather than hoping we get to shift it at some future point https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/gary-kent/jeremy-corbyn-and-british-foreign-policy

  15. The view that this approach to Islamism is wrong, in Corbyn’s case, like that of Counterfire and the StWC, is hardly something I have kept to myself.

    This blog has also reviewed Secret Affairs, Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam. Mark Curtis. Serpent’s Tail 2010. which traces out another angle on the wider responsibility for this.

    Unlike Corby, who has never been close to political power, Tony Blair engaged in a disastrous foreign policy that left Iraq in ruins and prey to large scale sectarian murders, not to mention the spiral of events that are still unfolding.

    Because I consider that the political actors in the Middle East have their own responsibilities, and that genocidal Islamism has its own responsibilities, does not mean that Blair and Brown’s contributions to this condition should be forgotten.

    Blair is a friends of despots, misogynists, and corrupt bigots, and does well, financially, out of it.

    I note that none of the other leadership candidates proposes a full balance-sheet of this recent past, or an approach to repeated US efforts to intervene without confronting Turkey’s role in the rise of Daesh and it own assaults on the Kurds.

    In fact I find none of the candidates offer a clear message of support for the Kurdish struggle, in the terms the Kurds themselves ask for.

    As for Corbyn beeping “enthusiastic” about ” misogynists, homophobes and antisemites” – apart from the outrageous suggestion itself, have you ever seen him?

    Hard to imagine much taking over possession of his phlegm as it is…..

    Andrew Coates

    August 12, 2015 at 1:07 pm

  16. I would like to see him pinned down on that.

    I read the article earlier Paul, when you Tweeted it (though I get Open Democracy on E_Mail as well), and agree with some of the points (blaming everything on the US) but it’s from somebody who is not prepared to do a critical balance sheet of the initial invasion of Iraq……

    Andrew Coates

    August 12, 2015 at 1:10 pm

  17. Dr Paul – spot on. And if Corbyn wins and lots of the “decents” go stomping off in a huff to their spiritual home among the Tories, that will be an added bonus. Although the predictable articles they will write along the “I haven’t left Labour, Labour has left me” lines will be powerfully emetic.


    August 12, 2015 at 2:16 pm

  18. “As for Corbyn beeping “enthusiastic” about ” misogynists, homophobes and antisemites” – apart from the outrageous suggestion itself, have you ever seen him?”

    Yes, he can be seen praising Hamas for their “dedication to social justice”, in the same speech where he welcomed them as ‘friends’.

    See it here:

    Corbyn: “The idea that an organisation that is dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice, and political justice in the whole region should be labelled as a terrorist organisation by the British government, is really a big, big, historical mistake.”

    Have you read the Hamas Charter, Andrew? Do you know how they treat women and gay people? Do you know what they advocate doing to every single Jew (NB not even just Jews in Israel/Palestine).

    He’s also fulsomely praised Raed Salah, whom you ought to know about, and described as a very good friend Ibrahim Hewitt. If you don’t know what the loathsome Hewitt advocates against various groups in society, you can guess which groups and what he advocates. And we could go on.

    There’s hardly an Islamist, Holocaust denier, serial Jew-baiter or Putinbot in Britain that Corbyn hasn’t happily associated with in the past decade. It’s a habit. Doing the wise monkey act just because you want to vote for him is unworthy of you, Andrew.

    It’s not outrageous that we say he has done things, it’s outrageous that he has done these things.


    August 12, 2015 at 2:20 pm

  19. This seems to be the approach Francis: they have not the slightest intention of openly defending the free-market conservative politics of the Blairites, or their foreign policy record.

    Not a dickey bird on the intervention in Iraq.

    It is equally outrageous that Lamina fails to deal with the major issue confronting the Middle East at present: the pro-pro-Western Islamist Erdoğan, accused by journals like Le Monde of complicity with Daesh – is attacking the Kurds.

    What other democratic force is fighting the genociders?

    What international power has now ditched them?

    As I write I am listening to France Culture where there are reports on this very process.

    Andrew Coates

    August 12, 2015 at 4:47 pm

  20. This also broadly reflects a very similar view:

    Sacha Ismail.

    “Corbyn’s view of international issues seems to have become increasingly shaped by the idea that opposing Western imperialism and wars requires diplomatic soft-soaping of the West’s enemies. The roots of that approach are clearly in Stalinism, but Corbyn is no more an enthusiastic supporter of anti-Western reactionaries, like say George Galloway, than he is a Stalinist.

    It is necessary to maintain perspective. Being soft on the Cuban government is bad, but in practice it isn’t the same thing as being an out-and-out apologist for Stalin’s gulags.

    Corbyn’s closest ally in Parliament, who organised his campaign to get on the leadership ballot, is John McDonnell, who has a better stance on international politics, closer to an independent working-class line. For instance he strongly supports the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign.

    I couldn’t help noticing that James Bloodworth doesn’t say who he is supporting for Labour leader. This is hardly a small omission.

    It is not as if the other three candidates have a good record on international issues. On the contrary, they have all been complicit in New Labour’s appalling record.

    And there is an important difference: Corbyn’s view of peace and international human rights is flawed, but he has one. The approaches the others take are decisively shaped by what they judge politically acceptable for a careerist bourgeois politician.

    To explain what I mean, a story. Last year, when Workers’ Liberty was collecting signatures for the campaign to free jailed Iranian trade unionists Shahrokh Zamani and Reza Shahabi, there was a week in which I grabbed two Labour MPs at meetings and asked them to sign. One was Alison McGovern (now supporting Liz Kendall), who looked irritated and said she’d have to look into it. The other was Corbyn, who signed without hesitation and told me to contact his office for more help.

    Elect Burnham, Cooper or Kendall and the crawling to Saudi Arabia will continue! So will the sucking up to the US government – which, whether or not it is “enemy number one” as Bloodworth queries, is certainly an enemy of democracy and human rights and the left.

    Corbyn made some wrong and politically harmful comments about Hamas, but he also says he supports the Palestinians, supports a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine and opposes a general boycott of Israel. Meanwhile the other candidates say they will carry on selling arms to Netanyahu.

    While criticising Corbyn on important issues, we should keep perspective and look at the big picture. That picture not only includes Corbyn’s admirable positions and record on most issues, but also his campaign’s huge potential for helping to renew and strengthen the class-struggle left.

    There is no principle against commenting in the mainstream press, but if James Bloodworth seriously wants to change the politics of the labour movement left, he should do it from within the movement – and preferably from within the movement supporting Corbyn’s candidacy. If he was really engaged, he might find it harder to pretend that Corbyn’s limitations cancel out the huge possibilities his campaign offers for breaking the Blairite blockade of working-class politics.”


    And see Phil at: Some Questions for Jeremy Corbyn.

    “1. Dealing with hostages to fortune. It’s a sad, depressing fact that too many on the left are careless about who they ally with. A case in point this last week has been the stories about unsavoury friends in the Palestinian solidarity movement. Of course, anyone who takes an interest in and is critical of Israel for any length of time will eventually get criticised for imputed anti-semitism. All the more reason why left wingers shouldn’t turn a blind eye/fight shy of noted anti-semites. Jeremy’s championing of the Palestinian cause is consistent with the rest of his politics. Associating with the likes of Paul Eisen and other holocaust-denying riff-raff is not. The “revelations” of these associations, first aired with not a small quantity of chutzpah by the Daily Mail, have barely registered. But if he is leader and when Corbynmania dies down, this and similar about the likes of Hamas, about Hezbollah, about Iran, and so on, are going to come back to haunt him. These questions need an answer – they cannot be allowed to stand without Jeremy and the party itself sustaining reputational damage.”

    I agree.


    Andrew Coates

    August 12, 2015 at 5:08 pm

  21. @Dr Paul – the agitation about JC really isn’t, in my opinion, just a veil for a strong opposition to his policies on austerity and so on. I have read several pieces (both ATL and casual comments) from JC opponents saying that on *these* issues they either like his views, or at least sympathise with them. It’s probably those opponents who might be termed ‘Decents’ who are most likely to be focused on international issues rather than domestic ones. I really wish more people would take him to task on the former. I’ve just read this piece on the topic



    August 12, 2015 at 5:35 pm

  22. Francis “Cameron looks as though he is prepared to cut young workers’ benefits just so that he can cut benefits to EU migrants for four years. And Labour’s response, as articulated by Stephen Timms, (whoever the hell he is): “I think the government should – they haven’t been able to deliver, it appears, the four years – have a go at two years. They might be able to get further with that.””

    It’s a clever, but so old, “blame the EU” line by Cameron to try and keep the anti-Europe tories quiet for a while. Of course the EU doesn’t make anyone cut UK citizens’ young workers’ benefits. If Cameron was truly interested in cutting *only* EU migrants’ benefits he would do it differently: he would introduce some kind of national insurance credit scheme giving young people in UK education, from 14 years above maybe, basic NI contributions. Then young people’s/young workers’ benefits would me made dependent on NI contributions existing for 4 years previously. It would not be based on nationality, but on the number of NI credits, and obviously only those who have lived in the UK would have them – regardless of which passport they have.

    It’s the kind of way Germany does things, by the way. Or they would (as in Germany) restrict needs-based (as opposed to contributions.-based) benefits to those who are deemed, by the courts, if necessary, to have a chance of finding paid labour (of a level above benefits/subsistance) within a year. If appropriate language skills don’t exist, for example, benefits get cut immediately (100% sanctions). They can obviously also do this to UK (German) citizens on the same basis.

    It’s not nice, but all this “blame the EU” crap pisses me off. They can be nasty to groups of people they don’t like without having to bring “Brussels” into it, and they must know it. Or are they so insular that they have no idea about how the rest of the EU gets around supposed EU rules or introduces them totally differently, in a way NOT designed to piss people off and enourage further growth of the likes of Ukip, Pegida, etc.?

    Hm, it is possible, I suppose.


    August 12, 2015 at 9:02 pm

  23. Dagmar – I quite agree about Cameron and his EU demagogy. My (despairing) point was not about that, but that official Labour’s response seemed to be to suggest that the Tories try cutting EU migrants’ (and UK-born young workers’) benefits by only two years instead of four…


    August 12, 2015 at 9:10 pm

  24. Yeah, I know, Francis – but I just wanted to point out that the UK, all governments, introduce EU regulations in a way that seems deliberately designed to annoy people and cause “anti-Europe” feeling.

    Back to Corbyn: it seems Blair has got involved in the pro-Corbyn election strategy, which I find bizarre. Especially as he doesn’t open his mouth these days without getting paid the same as I’ve earned in the past 40 years for a couple of hours’ “work”. I can’t imagine that Corbyn’s donations or the Guardian would stretch to that far, so it’s good to see him getting involved out of conviction.


    August 12, 2015 at 9:55 pm

  25. As I noted, the only one with a decent approach on Ukraine is actually Liz Kendall. But I would not vote for her if you held a gun to my head. Burnham and Cooper are nowhere.

    Andrew is not the only one to mention McDonnell and I’m afraid I may have gone overboard on that today > http://paulocanning.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-lefts-russia-naivete.html But at this point do I look like I give a sh&t?

  26. @ andrew Coates:

    “It is equally outrageous that Lamina fails to deal with the major issue confronting the Middle East at present: the pro-pro-Western Islamist Erdoğan, accused by journals like Le Monde of complicity with Daesh – is attacking the Kurds.”

    I have been commenting on that issue, in unequivocal support of the Kurds, for a long time – you know that perfectly well from my comments here and your responses over the past year.

    To suggest I am ignoring that issue unworthy of you, Andrew, and plainly false, as you know.

    This article/thread is about the suitability – or not – of Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party. To evade that by making up an easily provable falsehood about myself is very poor whataboutery.


    August 13, 2015 at 12:12 am

  27. It would be interesting to do a “top trumps” comparison of all 4 candidates views on international issues. I suspect however that you would find the other 3 offering little more than mainstream new labour international diplomacy in comparison to Corbyn. That’s hardly pretty and we could do without either. Rather we might hope that a Corbyn victory would lead to the refining of his personal positions with a concurrent drift to a more internationalist foreign policy. Whatever, it would certainly open up the chance for debate, not least about collective policy-making and accountability.

    These are not the main issues in this election however. Rather they are the chosen angles of attack of people who, wittingly or otherwise, fall into the ABC camp (anyone but Corbyn).

    Boleyn Ali

    August 13, 2015 at 11:43 am

  28. @Boleyn Ali

    I am getting fed up of hearing this. Andrew just posted on the history of the left in the party. My experience is that it is the left which has stood up for gays, blacks and women’s rights. The right and the centre have consistently dismissed them as ‘election losers’ until some tipping point when they suddenly became OK. It seems to have been forgotten that this also happened with Blair some time way, way after 1997.

    I recall the 80s, when black sections were being trashed by the right. That involved a broad political makeup of black people (no acronyms then) in the party from Vaz to Abbott. The only reason any black MPs got elected was the left. There was also an practical alliance with gay activists – I know because I was involved.

    In now banging on about Ukraine I have consistently thrown shade on the entire left from the perspective of a *member of the left*. Because I do not accept that Ukraine is unimportant, because I think people are getting Russia disastrously wrong, and also because I do not accept reassurances regarding policy once Corbyn’s elected does not mean I support any of the other three!

    Got that? Nuanced enough?

    Frankly, the ‘wait until he’s elected’ arguments – ‘take it on trust’ – remind me strongly of those made towards gay and black activists in the past, to shut them up. It inspires zero trust. Corbyn backers throwing shade on me and others raising questions? Did not wash then and does not now. Stop impugning motives.

  29. Paul, a respected left figure who is a Facebook friend, is right now behind campaigns such as this:

    “The Ukraine Solidarity Campaign seeks to organise solidarity and provide information in support of Ukrainian socialists and trade unionists

    Since April this year they have raised this:

    Supporting campaign to Free Anti-Fascist Prisoner Alexander Kolchenko
    April 12, 2015 · by ukrainesolidaritycampaign · in Uncategorized

    Alexander Kolchenko is a left, social activist and antifascist who is held in captivity by the Russian authorities. Along with renowned film director Oleg Sentsov, he has been kidnapped by the Russian FSB (ex-KGB) and is now detained following the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, he is held as a political hostage in Lefortovo jail in Moscow. He is charged with committing “acts of terrorism” and “belonging to a terrorist community”.

    Only strong and massive pressure on the Putin regime, protests around the world would give a chance to set our comrades free. We demand their immediate discharge and the end of their prosecution.


    Why do think John McDonnell supported this campaign?

    Andrew Coates

    August 13, 2015 at 5:15 pm

  30. Andrew, I know about McDonnell. I wrote about this in my last post >

    If Jeremy Corbyn is elected leader he gets to select a shadow Foreign Secretary and he gets to set the direction of travel of Labour Party foreign policy.

    As I explained in my now viral post on Corbyn and Ukraine it is clear as day that he supports Russian imperialism. But as I also explained I am pessimistic that the party will take Ukraine and Russia seriously because foreign policy was not being raised at the hustings. It still isn’t. Only now – only now – is a key left website like Left Foot Forward publishing ‘Why is no one challenging Jeremy Corbyn on foreign policy?’

    So why should I trust that the party will reign Corbyn in on foreign policy? Which seems to be the argument from Corbyn supporters who share some, if not all, of my concerns. This puts all the weight onto one person, MP John McDonnell, Corbyn’s agent in the leadership race, who does support Ukraine.

    I wrote that post because, 1/ no one else was going to and, 2/ because I felt I owed it to the people of Ukraine. Unlike gay asylum seekers, people like the Ukrainian socialist I quoted have, for two years, struggled to get any hearing on the British left. There is no evidence suggesting that will change and that someone like McDonnell will be able, termite like, to eat away at the leader’s Putin backing.


    Also here’s an update on Kolchenko + SEntsov http://paulocanning.blogspot.com/2015/08/free-anti-fascist-prisoner-alexander.html

  31. Nothing I’ve read by Stephen Cohen recently seems particularly outrageous. What is he supposed to have said which is so appalling?


    August 14, 2015 at 10:34 am

  32. Paul

    I did not set out to impugn anyone’s motives – least of all yours. My motivation, for a fairly rare comment, was the linked articles in the main post and in some of the comments, and not what you have said here.

    Do we know a single international position of the 3? – let alone are they under scrutiny/attack for them. I imagine they are content with arms to despots and a blind eye to Turkey, but we are not likely to find this out right now. For sure Corbyn should be pushed on a range of matters but this is not the main issue in this election – building a real opposition to austerity is. I will vote for him despite his attitude to Hamas/Russia etc. certainly not because of it.

    Neither do I have a “take it on trust” attitude or ask anyone to wait till he is elected – I just think that is missing the point. Plus – one potentially positive side effect of a Corbyn victory is a party where collective rather than presidential decision-making, and accountability, might emerge. We will hopefully have a much greater chance to influence policy across the full range of issues under Corbyn than any of the other 3. (I too was there in the 80s and don’t think the black sections/LBGT comparison you make holds, but there you go).

    This is the most important leadership election in our lifetimes, that is why the ABC campaign is becoming so strident and the angles of attack so diverse. I grudgingly STFU in the party after we lost Clause 4, this might just have the opposite effect. If so I guess we will be in the same corner.

    Boleyn Ali

    August 14, 2015 at 11:07 am

  33. As far as I know a central plank of Corbyn’s stand is that Labour policy to be more influenced by Conference and by party members.

    This would mean a big shake up in the present closed-system, limited to influence by a small group of people, a kind of ‘magic circle’.

    It would be excruciatingly boring to go into this in detail (I know it for those for want to, and know people who have tried, from a position of importance, people who know what they are talking about, have deep roots in campaigns, unions, academic research, on issues as varied as welfare and planning legislation).

    The point is that the present mechanisms frustrate all but a certain small layer of business lobbyists and, occasionally, favoured pressure groups , and sometimes, unions (on limited points).
    The Forum system is not democratic: multifamily it is sieved by publicists and opinion managers, and those with vested interests in the “Privatising State” (Outsourcing companies like Capita) – to cite but a few cases.

    This is an alternative:

    “In an essay for the Fabian Society published on Friday, Corbyn explained that he wanted to give Labour’s grassroots a greater say in the party’s policies.

    We cannot simply make policy at party conference once a year. We need to review our policy-making process to ensure that it is inclusive, accessible, participatory and able to take democratic decisions quickly when necessary.

    Labour has drifted into a presidential model of politics in which the leader and their office comes up with all the policies. I want to change that.”


    If people have policies on international issues that are radically different to existing Labour ones, and to Corbyn’s views – not that as far as I ama ware we are voting on his full programme on every conflict on the planet, relations between countries and human rights – he is offering a way to influence policy and to change it.

    No other candidate is offering that.

    Andrew Coates

    August 14, 2015 at 5:46 pm

  34. Thinking about it today, what is happening is in line with what is happening in other European countrie. Greece has seen the rise of SYRIZA, Catalonia has PODEMOS, and in France there is the Whatsit of the Gauhe. Let’s face it, European capitalism has changed and therefore teh political opposition ot it has evolved. Why should a young person, living on a windswept council estate in Manchester, with no prospect of a job, barely literate and no money feel committed to social democracy? OK, that’s an extreme example, but looking at the photos of Corbyn supporters, they appear to be overwhelmingly young. Even middleclass youngsters have to worry about their chance of finding work, establishing a home etc. The Labour Party refuses to address these issues, and we all know why. I think a new politics, a split in the Laobur Party will happen. What will come of it, I don’t know. I think it will be interesting to see where the ‘traditional’ :Left (and we all know them) go, will they stick with the ‘official’ Labour Party or veer off to the New Leftwing Labour Party. What the unions would do too in those circumstances is interesting. I have no idea which side they would back.

    Sue R

    August 14, 2015 at 9:12 pm

  35. @Francis

    Really? Haven’t you heard Cohen going ballistic that ‘the West’ was blaming poor, benighted Russia for #MH17?

    There’s lots more but here’s one from May last year on Cohen http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117606/stephen-cohen-wrong-russia-ukraine-america

    Paul Canning

    August 15, 2015 at 6:31 pm

  36. @boleynAli

    I agree on other three candidates. I responded on Corbyn, in part to Andrew, here http://paulocanning.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-lefts-russia-naivete.html

    Andrew’s point on a change to policy making is a very good one and of course I would agree. However from Ukraine’s perspective it may well not be good, as I have seen from response to questions I have raised. I would imagine, for example, that NATO hostility is near universal among the new members and that will undoubtedly seep into any consideration of opposition to Russian imperialism.

    Paul Canning

    August 15, 2015 at 6:38 pm

  37. the wordpress again

    Paul Canning

    August 15, 2015 at 6:38 pm

  38. “…*on* Cohen…” That’s precisely my point. I’ve been trying to read pieces *by* Cohen to see what all the fuss is about. Any links to any particularly egregious ones actually by the man himself?


    August 15, 2015 at 7:41 pm

  39. PS – I had been looking through the past few months of Johnson’s Russia List, just to see what dreadful things SFC had been saying. His main theme seems to be that the current drift towards confrontation with Russia is a very bad idea. And I wholeheartedly agree with him on that. No good will come of it – neither for Russia, nor for Ukraine (on whose territory the fighting will continue to take place all the time there is no resolution), nor for the rest of Europe.


    August 15, 2015 at 7:55 pm

  40. @Francis

    This is a top Kremlin troll quoting Cohen http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-07/top-russia-expert-ukraine-joining-nato-would-provoke-nuclear-war

    He did say the mad stuff at the end about MH17 on Democracy Now.

    Arguments are much like Corbyn’s so see me on Corbyn http://paulocanning.blogspot.com/2015/08/corbyn-and-ukraine-its-not-pretty.html

    Paul Canning

    August 16, 2015 at 3:41 pm

  41. Thanks Paul. I’ve not seen anything there to shift my generally sympathetic attitude towards Cohen and Corbyn. The Ukraine-Russia relationship needs patching up, first and foremost for the sake of the people(s) of Ukraine, who are suffering growing hardship as the war drags on. Is the Russian leadership part of the problem? Certainly, yes, as Cohen recognises. Is it the only cause of the problem? The Ukrainian nationalists and the Western war party would like to pretend that that is the case. That is why there is this hysterical demonisation of people like Cohen and Corbyn on the Ukrainian question. They upset the narrative.


    August 16, 2015 at 4:51 pm

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