Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Caliphate John Tummon Joins the Labour Party.

with 14 comments

A former campaigner for a hard-left party who defended Isis as having “progressive potential” has been allowed to become a Labour member.

John Tummon, a former activist for Left Unity, a political party founded by Ken Loach, the film director, made controversial remarks about the terrorist organisation in 2014. His comments were last night denounced by some Labour moderates as appalling.

This is the background.

2014: Caliphate John’s motion:

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. (from 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.”

In another passage of Tummon’s amendment, which was seconded by Mark Anthony France, he writes: “Left Unity neither supports the western alliance nor the Islamic State and we see the struggle of the Kurds, the Sunnis and other Middle Eastern peoples as dependent on their ability to work together to establish a geographically wide, inclusive polity as an alternative to the existing nation states in the region.

“Insofar as the call for a Caliphate means such an inclusive, diverse polity, we support the call for it among the peoples of the Middle East.”

The motion got no support beyond its movers.

These are some of his replies to the Blog’s coverage and critical comments:

Andrew, your demonisation of me seems to know no bounds and the lack of grammatical grasp that has caused lots of people who say they are angry at this proposed amendment shows their political cowardice in denouncing any attempt to try to reach out towards a more strategic analysis of the Middle East shows the moralism ratehr than the politics of you and them and dependence on western media for your facts.”

“What do you know about what the concept of the Caliphate is, has been and might be apart from via propaganda?

Using secularist reflexes rather than engaging empathy and curiosity is the mark of Left dogmatism.

Yes, IS has picked up the flag of the Caliphate for its own tactical reasons, but not only Al-Qaeda but lots of ther organisations have publicly criticised them for abusing this call. Read Hizb-ut-Tahrir on the Caliphate. Nation states do not appeal to Muslims for well-documented reasons and, at bottom, the Caliphate represents a means of dispensing with them. The absence of a non-IS organised movement in favour of a Caliphate is not the way to assess this, because it is so fundamental.

The reality is that both the nation state and the Caliphate are shells which have to be defined in terms of their political content; they are both subject to class struggle and other struggles once in place, so to argue ‘there is nothing “remotely democratic or socialist about even the most ideal schemes for a caliphate” is an ahistorical comment which assumes an unwarranted closure of possibility and ignores the fact that, to paraphrase Marx, people make history but not in circumstances of their own choosing. Removing the Versailles settlement would loosen up all sorts of forces, including democratic and socialist forces; just look at Scotland once the assumption of a centuries-old political structure no longer applies – it frees up and releases the political imagination – tens and tens of thousands have joined the SNP, RIC, Greens and SSP.


More recently (13th December 2015) Caliphate John has said this:

ISIL did begin an insurrection against the post-WW1 imperialist settlement in the Middle East and I advocated critical support for the development ISIL was and still is trying to provide – a new, overarching settlement in the northern Middle East, as I said, but I disagreed then and still do now about how they have gone about it – in a sectarian and terroristic way, which has alienated all but the most desperate, stateless Sunnis. I am much clearer about the second part of this than I was then, because of what has become apparent since.

Back in August 2014. When this discussion happened, the news about ISIL was new and its sudden expansion was accompanied by a handful of atrocity stories but I had good reason to cast doubts on, because of the undeniable track record of truth being the first casualty in war and the way Srebrenica had been used in this way in the 1990s, especially that keynote photograph of Bosnians behind barbed wire which, it turned out, actually surrounded the photo-Journalists, who had erected it. What I was wary of, therefore, was of the Left yet again being softened up for demonising an opponent, especially after Cameron had closed down 40 websites in which we might have found out something the western media is not loyally feeding us on. That has remained the case over the past 18 months, although other important things have changed, chiefly, the relentless use of terror by ISIL, which is no longer something I doubt. What I hoped for and was explicit about at the time was that their rise would create a new political space in which a more humanitarian and less sectarian version of Islamism, which does exist, by the way, could take a federalised arrangement forward as a progressive alternative to the Versailles settlement. This has clearly not happened amidst a horrific cycle of violence which has got worse. I can no longer advocate a policy of critical support for ISIL.

Debates and positions on the Left move on, and so should they. The idea that whatever someone thought and said at an earlier stage is the be all and end all of what we need to know about them because subsequent developments proved them to have been wrong on some key aspects would mean that no-one – not Marx, Lenin, Bakunin. Trotsky, Mandel, Gramsci or Althusser – would have a reputation that was not in tatters. Part of me feels that the reason why I have been subjected to so much of this abuse is that some forces on the Left really have a lot to lose through any process of thinking outside the box in order to try and get to what is really happening. That’s what I tried to do and still am.

Irrespective of whether or not you or Jim accept this, I won’t be doing any more self-justification. I will only come on here to debate what Andrew put at the start of this thread.


14 Responses

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  1. Well, he can join his mate Mark Anthony France (who seconded the pro-Isis motion) in Momentum.

    Mr France organised the first “Momentum Bromsgrove” meeting (link 1). He is now the (anonymous) contact for “Momentum North-East Worcestershire (link 2).

    He should have bought a new sim card, though.

    (1) http://heyevent.uk/event/5qwrv4cu6ylnea/first-meeting-for-momentum-bromsgrove

    (2) https://www.facebook.com/MomentumNEW/?fref=photo&hc_location=ufi

    John R

    March 23, 2016 at 2:20 pm

  2. Just to note, whilst everyone is having fun with this, that the plight of Muslim women in the Labour Party is getting practically no attention on the left, in the centre, from left media, from left writers – from anyone. This is despite two pieces on Newsnight!

    Now why might this be, people. Can we guess?

  3. Will Jeremy Corbyn appoint him head of a Labour Muslim affairs department given his anti-imperialist bona fides?


    March 23, 2016 at 3:01 pm

  4. There is this man, Labour councillor (Bradford), Khadim Hussain,

    Exclusive: Labour suspend councillor over Hitler and ISIS posts.

    Khadim Hussain shared a post which said: “Your school education system only tells you about Anne Frank and the six million Zionists that were killed”


    I am informed that the American Free Press is a holocaust denying neo-Nazi paper,

    Attendees of the 2006 American Free Press / The Barnes Review conference included [5] Arthur Jones, former member Nationalist Socialist White People’s Party [6] and USS Liberty (AGTR-5) investigator Tito Howard. Dr. Hesham Tillawi whose show has been called “a megaphone for Holocaust deniers and white supremacists seeking to broadcast their hatred and anti-Semitism into American homes”[by whom?] also was a speaker.

    Some authors of the American Free Press such as Michael Collins Piper and Carto-affiliated institutions such as the Institute for Historical Review have published books which have been published in paper and electronic format on the America First Books website America First Books.[7][8] William B. Fox is the publisher. It promotes nationalist viewpoints similar to those of the American Free Press and its authors. On its website it is explained why “supporting nationalism, to include even certain forms of ‘white nationalism’ makes good long term business sense”.


    Andrew Coates

    March 23, 2016 at 5:42 pm

  5. Grandmason Illuminati Zionist Masters’ Organisation! (GIZMO!)

    Public Statement.

    As our only communication with the public is our Twitter feed, @JRogan3000, which Paul has highlighted above, GIZMO! would like to make the following announcement.

    First of all, welcome to our 20 Twitter followers. It is an example of your discerning intelligence, good taste and thirst for knowledge that you have the occasional peek at what we are saying. The fact you managed to find us is proof of that. GIZMO! does not do vulgar publicity or pathetic boasting about our influence. We are, and have been many times in the past, happy to let others take the credit. So long as our ultimate goal of promoting “Peace, Love and Understanding” is moving forward, let lesser mortals bask in the adulation.

    Our reason for going semi-public now is that we consider it of supreme importance that Britain remains in the EU to help World Peace.

    As we said, we don’t do boasting but, sadly, in order for GIZMO! statements to be taken seriously, a very small boast is required on this occasion as proof of our influence.

    On March 5th, we left a statement (comment 14) about the Gerry Downing affair on the Labour Uncut website (1). The hard core Blairites were, obviously, too busy feeling sorry for themselves to do anything productive with this news. GIZMO! had to then try a different tact.

    We emailed Guido Fawkes on March 8 as we knew he would be bound to cause a fuss. GIZMO! were very pleased with the result (2).

    As we said, we do not do publicity or boasting (well, maybe a bit) but we did feel that the time has come to try and be slightly more open about our views.

    We did say more about the Downing case on another thread so have a look at that if you wish.

    One more thing. You can’t join GIZMO!. We may contact you if we have a helpful suggestion to make about promoting “Peace, Love and Understanding” but, obviously, we haven’t and will not sign the message “GIZMO!”

    Best Regards for now


    PS On the other thread, I missed out “mason” and wrote “Grand” instead of “Grandmason”. Our Freemason members felt excluded by this omission and I apologise to them. It won’t happen again.


    “What’s so funny about Peace, Love and Understanding?” – Elvis Costello.

    Nothing, says GIZMO!

    (1) http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2016/03/03/the-slow-inexorable-hard-left-takeover-of-the-party-machine-is-a-disaster-for-labour/#comment

    (2) http://order-order.com/2016/03/09/911-apologist-reinstated-as-full-labour-member/

    John R

    March 23, 2016 at 7:58 pm

  6. Reblogged this on Redvince's Weblog.


    March 24, 2016 at 8:29 am

  7. […] headache for Labour does not simply end with Tummon’s support for a Caliphate; he has also said: “and I advocated critical support for the development [of] ISIL.” Is he arguing that […]

  8. […] Party bereitet nicht nur Tummons Forderung nach einem Kalifat Kopfschmerzen, er hat ebenfalls geäussert: „und ich befürwortete eine kritische Unterstützung der Entwicklung des IS.“ Argumentiert er, […]

  9. […] de cabeza del Partido Laborista no terminan con la defensa de Tummon de un califato; también ha dicho: “Y defiendo un apoyo vital al desarrollo [del] ISIL”. ¿Está sosteniendo que Reino […]

  10. […] casse-tête du parti travailliste ne se réduit pas au soutien que Tummon apporte au Califat ; il a ajouté « et je préconise un soutien stratégique au développement de l’Etat islamique ». […]

  11. […] für Labour enden nicht einfach mit Tummons Unterstützung für ein Kalifat; er hat ebenfalls gesagt: „und ich befürwortete kritische Unterstützung für die Entwicklung [von] ISIL.“ Argumentiert […]

  12. […] headache for Labour does not simply end with Tummon’s support for a Caliphate; he has also said: “and I advocated critical support for the development [of] ISIL.” Is he arguing that […]

  13. […] de cabeza del Partido Laborista no terminan con la defensa de Tummon de un califato; también ha dicho: “Y defiendo un apoyo vital al desarrollo [del] ISIL”. ¿Está sosteniendo que Reino […]

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