Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Andrew Fisher: Solidarity!

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Andrew Fisher, Respected and Much-Liked Comrade.

Everybody has had a go at Andrew Fisher over the last few days.

I haven’t heard complaints from Ipswich yet, a non-1% elite town which Andrew visited earlier this year.

He came and talked to the Ipswich Trades Council and the Suffolk People’s Assembly on anti-austerity economics.

Fisher’s message is summed up in this review of his book, The failed experiment and how to build an economy that works. (2014)

With eloquence and passion Fisher argues debt and growth are not the real issues, the economic problems we face are in fact “the consequence of political decisions”. The conditions that neoliberalism demands in order to supposedly free human beings from the slavery of the state – minimal taxes, the dismantling of public services and welfare, deregulation, the breaking of union.

Those listening to him didn’t go to Cambridge. But they included trade unionists, teachers, clerical and manual workers, retired people, Labour Party members, and supporters of socialist groups, Greens and anti-cuts activists.

We were distinctly impressed – and he’d travelled all the way from the wilds of Sarf London to speak to us.

As Labour Briefing is one the best read left weeklies round here we are equally pleased to see his contributions in the paper.

The Guardian lays down the present charges:

Jeremy Corbyn is under mounting pressure to dismiss his policy adviser, Andrew Fisher, as a second, stinging letter of complaint about his past support for candidates from other parties was leaked to the Observer.

Fisher was suspended by Labour general secretary Iain McNicol on Friday, two weeks after Emily Benn, former parliamentary candidate for Croydon South, lodged a complaint to the party, saying Fisher backed the Class War candidate in her constituency ahead of the general election in May.

In a move that angered many at the top of the party, Corbyn said he still “had full confidence” in Fisher who would continue to work for him, though he respected the “integrity” of the general secretary’s office.

But in a new blow to Corbyn’s defence of his aide, the Observer has obtained another letter sent on Tuesday to McNicol from a former treasurer and executive member of the Labour party in Brighton, Peter van Vliet, about separate alleged instances of Fisher backing rival candidates. Van Vliet protested “in the strongest possible terms” that Fisher had encouraged people to back Green candidates before the 2010 general election. The Greens’ Caroline Lucas went on to take the Brighton Pavilion seat from Labour with a majority of just 1,252 votes.

Van Vliet told McNicol he found it “unacceptable that Mr Fisher is now allowed to remain a party member” because he urged people to consider supporting parties other than Labour.

After Benn’s complaint, Fisher apologised for putting out a tweet in August 2014 which said: “FFS if you live in Croydon South, vote with dignity, vote @campaignbeard.” @Campaignbeard was the Class War candidate’s Twitter account. Fisher maintained that the tweet was a joke and did not indicate his support for Class War at the time, a line since backed in public by Corbyn’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

The Sun helpfully adds to the list,

JEREMY Corbyn’s top aide was suspended last night over footage of him admitting he was tempted to beat up a former Labour bigwig.

The Sun played the party a video of Andrew Fisher saying he was tempted to “thump” ex-cabinet minister James Purnell for not being left-wing enough.

He was filmed saying “It took every sinew of my self-discipline not to thump him” over his views on welfare reform.

The wider context is well-covered by Phil here: Andrew Fisher’s suspension isn’t about rule-breaking – it’s about factional struggle.

These are some more points.

  • James Purnell – involved in a serious Expenses scandal – was Work and Pensions Secretary from 2009 – 2009 (when he resigned, claiming disagreements with Gordon Brown – but see previous link). As such he presided over the Flexible New Deal – the precursor of the present Work Programme. It was based on the principle that rpivate companies would ‘provide’ the programme for the out of work, and that they would be put into “work placements” – unpaid work. This is how the Guardian represented his policy in 2008, “James Purnell accused of introducing US ‘workfare’ with benefits reform. Work and pensions secretary says under white paper proposals virtually everyone claiming benefits will have to do something in return”. It may be imagined that it was not only Andrew Fisher who took a dislike to the man.
  • The ‘Class War Tweet was made in August 2014. That is pretty far outside of the General Election. Now, much as the Tendance likes Ian Bone, Class War is generally considered something of a joke on the left. Not, indeed, as funny as the Posadists. But pretty amusing.  Note to Labour Party, the Tendance  has tweeted backing for J. Posadas’ views on Communist Flying Saucers and intelligent dolphins.
  • That Andrew said some nice things about Carolyn Lucas and some Green Party policies,  is something he shares with about 99% of the British left – excepting steel-hardened comrades like Andrew Coates. He did not back the Green Party.

There is quite a list of other notorious “tweets” (here).

For once Ken Livingstone has followed the Tendance’s lead (on our own Tweets and Facebook).

He suggested on Channel Four yesterday that Andrew Fisher was ‘aving a larf.

As also suggested here: Andrew Fisher’s comedy career is all over. David Osland.

Odd, innit, that when right-wing gits make off-colour remarks this is proof of what great characters they are.

When a lefty shows a bit of rancour, and humour…all hell breaks lose.


Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2015 at 12:56 pm

9 Responses

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  1. “The first hope of the Blairites and Brownites appalled by Corbyn’s election was that all but a tiny rump of Labour’s 232 MPs would defect to a new party in such numbers that they would become the official opposition.

    “Backers were prepared to put up millions of pounds for the new party, provisionally called the Progressive Democrats, which would have left the Labour Party behind with its debts.”

    Adam Boulton (the above text comes from someone with paid access).


    Andrew Coates

    November 8, 2015 at 4:24 pm

  2. Can the entire text of that article be posted (somewhere)?


    November 8, 2015 at 5:08 pm

  3. I agree (though not with Phil, who defends Milne).

    FAR more relevant to the specific charges against Andrew is that Emily Benn all-but-endorsed Sandi Toksvig’s party. See http://insidecroydon.com/2015/10/25/benns-attempt-at-labour-purge-highlights-her-support-for-wep/

  4. If you like Corbyn, then you should vote for Galloway for mayor!


    November 8, 2015 at 10:21 pm

  5. Forget Fisher, time to invite Galloway back into the Labour Party.

    Germaine Greer is right as well, and we should all show her more solidarity.


    November 8, 2015 at 10:24 pm

  6. Andrew Coates

    November 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm

  7. Dagmar, I haven’t got it available like that.

    It does all seem far too elaborate to be true.

    Andrew Coates

    November 9, 2015 at 1:09 pm

  8. I agree with Paul’s point. Also – as an anyone-but-Corbyn Labour member – I watched the video and thought AF was essentially being droll/hyperbolic – perhaps it was a bit ill-judged but the Sun seemed to soup it up.


    November 11, 2015 at 8:23 am

  9. Sarah, absolutely.

    But also Purnell, if you follow blogs about welfare, such as Ipswich Unemployed Action, amongst many many others, was a ‘tough love’ advocate of workfare, cracking down on the idle poorm amongst other things.

    He was pretty widely disliked when he emerged during the expenses scandal.

    It is hardly a secret that people had strong opinions on him – there are comments on our Ipswich Blog which make AF’s look mild.

    As I mention on the post, Andrew Fisher came to Ipswich and spoke.

    Nobody further from a dogmatic ideologue can be imagined.

    AS for Boney, as I said, he is widely known amongst our lot, and a good bloke in many respects – rough diamond etc. But nobody takes him seriously.

    Andrew Coates

    November 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm

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