Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Comrade Paul Mason Backs Keir Starmer; on Starmer’s ‘Socialist Alternatives’ background.

with 13 comments


Starmer has a proud Left-wing background.Paul Mason writes today

Clive Lewis and Keir Starmer are the candidates who understand how Labour must change

You can criticise Starmer for many things: the compromises he made as director of public prosecutions and his resignation during the chicken coup. But you cannot say he is not left wing. From the miners and print workers’ strikes onwards, even if you leave aside co-editing a Trotskyist front magazine in his 20s, Starmer has been of the humanist and socially-liberal left. As someone who stood in the way of the same mounted police charge as he did, at Wapping in 1986, I can tell you it didn’t feel very centrist at the time.

In an era where personality matters, Starmer has a lot going for him. The raw 12 minutes he spent bossing Andrew Marr in the studio last Sunday felt like a revelation after the months we’ve spent wincing during Corbyn’s live appearances. He also connects with working-class people better than Corbyn did – though that is not a differentiator in this contest: all of the candidates do. By this I mean real, undecided or hostile voters, not the bussed-in faithful at Labour Roots rallies.

Finally, Starmer has worked and lived in the world of professional competence. Corbyn surrounded himself with amateurs: strategists who didn’t care about the polls, office managers who could not manage.

This aspect of Stamer’s background  has been followed up: Keir Starmer used to edit a radical socialist newspaper

Keir Starmer is often portrayed as a “moderate” candidate in the race to become Labour Party leader, but it seems that these suspicions are slightly misplaced.

Writing in the New Statesman today, left-wing journalist Paul Mason pointed out that Comrade Keir was in fact the co-editor of a radical left-wing publication, in his early 20s.

Indeed, it appears as though Starmer was the co-editor of “Socialist Alternatives” magazine – a publication so left-wing that Mason describes it as a “Trotskyist front”.

The far right media has already got that one.

Keir Starmer’s chilling explanation of Labour election defeat exposed

KEIR STARMER explained why Labour would lose in a general election in a throwback editorial for a socialist newspaper, it can be revealed.

Starmer was active in the new left Socialist Society some of whose leading figures, Hilary Wainwright and John Palmer have been active on the present pro-European internationalist left.

The journal Socialist Alternatives (SA) was set up by a small group active within this body, and was also part of the broad current known as the ‘new left’.

The key idea was ‘the alternative’, a term used in France by the Fédération pour une gauche alternative (FGA)  an alliance of leftist groups, including trade unionist supporters of self-management, and some councillors during the 1980s.

The objective was to find alternatives to traditional socialist and social democratic parties, and SA can be read as strongly influenced by Green politics and social movements.

It was strongly opposed to ‘actually existing Communism’.

It would be misleading to call it  ‘Trotskyist’ although SA was directly inspired by the French current known as ‘Pabloism’. This was originally Trotskyist but by the 1980s had dropped Trotsky as their main reference point. They were only one current within the broader bloc, or ‘cartel’ as it was known.

I was active in the group which inspired many of these themes, the FGA, and campaigned with them.

To indicate our politics, I was one of the groups’ delegate to the committee which organised a demonstration following the Chernobyl distaster.

Our own local committee in the 17th and 18th arrondissements of Paris had a councillor for the 17eme, elected as a member of the PSU in alliance with the Parti Socialiste.

It was hardly ‘trotskyist’  in the conventional sense.

There were  the Unified Socialist Party (PSU), like Jean-Pierre Lemaire, who are opposed to participation in the government and gathered around the Left Self-Management trend , as well as some observers of Trend 3 of the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR). Some Pabloites ( Maurice Najman , Gilbert Marquis , Michel Fiant ) and other extreme left activists ( Jacques Archimbaud , former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) (PCR), and Patrick Petitjean, a former member of the Communist Organization of Workers (OCT)) are also part of the rally, as well as some members of the French Communist Party (sociologist Philippe Zarifian ).

Dans la Fédération pour une gauche alternative se rassemblent des militants du Parti socialiste unifié (PSU), comme Jean-Pierre Lemaire, opposés à la participation au gouvernement et rassemblés autour de la tendance Gauche autogestionnaire, ainsi que quelques observateurs de la tendance 3 de la Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (LCR). Quelques pablistes (Maurice NajmanGilbert MarquisMichel Fiant) et d’autres militants d’extrême gauche (Jacques Archimbaud, ancien membre du Parti communiste révolutionnaire (marxiste-léniniste) (PCR), et Patrick Petitjean, ancien membre de l’Organisation communiste des travailleurs (OCT)) font aussi partie du rassemblement, ainsi que quelques membres du Parti communiste français (le sociologue Philippe Zarifian).

Alternatives writing in the journal included  Frieder Otto Wolf  who was  from 1984 to 1989 and in 1994  a leading member of the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in the European Parliament.

A a key figure helping create the group in the UK (apart from ‘Harry Curtis’) was Maurice Najman.

Maurice Najman ,born onn Paris and died onin Paris 1 ,was  a journalist having worked in particular in the newspaper Liberation and in the monthly Le Monde diplomatique. Active on the extreme left , a libertarian Trotskyist passionate about the underground , he was one of the figures of the protest movement of May 68 , having notably co-founded the action committees of high school students or CAL in 1967.

Maurice Najman (who spoke Yiddish ) came from a Polish Jewish family . Her father was a communist activist and her mother, Solange, daughter of a cousin of Rosa Luxemburg , Maria Luxemburg was a survivor of Auschwitz .

His flat, in Belleville, was situated in historic Jewish quarter of the Paris.

Maurice was greatly loved.

When he passed away the French press was full of respectful tributes.

Mort du journaliste Maurice Najman. Militant gauchiste; il avait travaillé à «Libération».

Comrade Paul Mason is right to say that our left was and is, “humanist and socially-liberal”.

There is nothing obscure about Keir Starmer’s new left background, nor anything to hide.

I was also part of the Socialist Society when I returned to the UK in the late 1980s and early 1990s when SA were part of the body.


Written by Andrew Coates

January 8, 2020 at 5:15 pm

13 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. You get rid of one Islington leftie and another one comes along…

    Steven Johnston

    January 8, 2020 at 6:13 pm

  2. Fun fact – Keir Starmer sat in Keir Hardie’s chair when he interviewed Tony Benn.

    Btw, another “fun fact”, NEC member Rachel Garnham (who’s backing Rebecca Long-Bailey for Leader) says the “Left” candidate for Deputy is Richard Burgon while RBL herself is backing Angela Rayner for that position. John McDonnell, it has to be said, is backing RBL/Burgon. It is looking like an interesting contest.

    John Rogan

    January 8, 2020 at 7:05 pm

  3. Starmer “socialism should advance to a new type of individualism where the individual, instead of being repressed by society, is positively encouraged to develop freely her/his own individuality.” 10/10

    David Walsh

    January 9, 2020 at 10:03 am

  4. A definition of socialism with no socialism in it. Sludge without nuggets. 0/10.
    He sounds like a libertarian!

    Steven Johnston

    January 9, 2020 at 10:20 am

  5. When the Tories examine his record they will have no end of ammunition. If there is to be a clear break with the Marxist/Trotskist/Leninist past he isn’t the man to do it.

    Dave Roberts

    January 9, 2020 at 10:44 am

  6. The next leader of the Labour party is just that. They won’t become PM and will lead the party to their firth electoral defeat.

    Steven Johnston

    January 9, 2020 at 10:57 am

  7. Dave, do you remember when the left used to care about the state unlawfully killing people? Like Blair Peach of Liddle Towers. Now they are very glib about Starmer allowing the policeman, who unlawfully killed the homeless news vendor, Ian Tomlinson, off scot free.

    Steven Johnston

    January 9, 2020 at 11:06 am

  8. Barry Gardiner expected to enter Labour leadership race

    Barry Gardiner’s support for Narendra Modi is unacceptable. (letter signed by activists last year)

    We are appalled by Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner’s tweet not only hailing Narendra Modi’s election victory, but endorsing Modi’s utterly false claim that his government represents India’s “diversity” and “progress”.

    Modi presided over the genocidal attacks on Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and in the last five years Modi’s regime has been violently majoritarian, anti-Muslim, anti-Dalit, anti-minority, and anti-worker. It has murdered dissidents and critics from journalists to judges and is the bitter enemy of all progressive people in India. Modi is the counterpart of other right-wing demagogues including Trump, Bolsonaro, Salvini, Netanyahu and Erdoğan.

    In contrast to Jeremy Corbyn’s support for progressive struggles in South Asia, Gardiner’s comments about deepening his ‘friendship and trade’ with Modi sends a message of hostility to progressives in India and to many in the diaspora, particularly Dalits and Muslims.

    This is a continuation and stepping up of Gardiner’s shameful two-decades-long record of acting as an ally and an apologist for Modi. The Labour Party must repudiate his comments and make clear its solidarity with the labour movement, the left and the oppressed in India. Gardiner must resign or be removed from his shadow cabinet position.


    Seema Syeda – Secretary, Streatham CLP
    Nadia Whittome – Nottingham South CLP
    Sacha Ismail – Lewisham for Corbyn Secretary, The Clarion editor
    Cllr Lakhvinder Singh – South Derbyshire CLP, East Midlands Unite BAME Chair, Minorities of India
    Jagdip Lehal – Broxtowe CLP, Indian Workers’ Association
    Aliya Yule, Co-Founder, Labour for a Green New Deal
    Abdallah Al-Ammari – Stirling CLP, Scottish Young Labour BAME Officer
    Hasib Baber – External Liasion Officer, Labour Against Racism And Fascism
    Ansh Bhatnagar – Chair, London Labour Students
    Cllr Shaista Aziz – Oxford East CLP, Stop Trump Coalition
    Cllr Sasha Das Gupta
    Cllr Niroshan Sirisena, Labour Party, Fairfield Ward, London Borough of Croydon
    Cllr Tauseef Anwar – Lewisham Deptford CLP
    Artin Giles, Vice-chair, London Young Labour
    Neha Shah – Oxford Young Labour Co-Chair
    Shezan Renny – BAME Officer, Highgate BLP
    Ilyas Nagdee – Stretford and Urmston CLP, NUS Black Students Officer
    Vijay Jackson – Edinburgh Central CLP Youth Officer, Momentum Edinburgh Treasurer, NCAFC national committee
    Malak Mayet – Broxtowe CLP, University of Nottingham Students’ Union/ NUS Disabled Students’ Campaign 2nd place elect
    Rida Vaquas – Oxford East CLP, former Momentum NCG member
    Jagdish Patel – Rushcliffe CLP, National Union of Journalists
    Neal Tank – Wirral South CLP, Nottingham Trent Labour Students Chair
    Lubaba Khalid – Croydon South CLP
    Sara Khan – Manchester Withington CLP, University of Manchester Students’ Union Liberation and Access Officer
    Kulsoom Jafri – Bristol West CLP, Central Branch Secretary
    Kas Witana – Political Education Officer, Penistone and Stocksbridge CLP
    Camila Bassi – Sheffield Central CLP
    Joshua Kelly – Streatham CLP, former St Leonard’s Branch BAME Officer
    Hassaanah Amejee – Streatham CLP
    Geeta Kauldhar – Wolverhampton South East CLP
    Omar Raii – Lewisham Deptford CLP
    Dharam Kauldhar – Wolverhampton South West CLP, GMB rep
    Kalyani Mitra – Rushcliffe CLP
    Asad Rehman – West Ham CLP
    Sol Gamsu – Newcastle East CLP
    Sammi Ferhaoui – Enfield North CLP
    Heather Peto – Nottingham South, former PPC Rutland and Melton
    Cllr Georgia Power – Nottingham South CLP
    Ben Towse – Co-founder, Labour Campaign for Free Movement
    Steve Lapsley – Nottingham East CLP, Open Labour national committee
    Daniel Round – Hornsey and Wood Green CLP, The Clarion editor
    Barnaby Marder – Richmond CLP, Socialists Against Antisemitism Founder (pc)
    Daniel Nichols – Political Education Officer, Romford CLP
    Andreas Wittel – Nottingham East CLP
    Andrew Peak – Oxford East CLP
    Dana Mills – Oxford West and Abingdon CLP
    Benetta Adamson – Lewes CLP, honorary member BECTU
    Joe Kearsey – Chingford and Woodford Green CLP, Unite Bar and Restaurant Workers branch rep
    Sylvia Schwarz – Rushcliffe CLP
    Will Stephens – Hampstead and Kilburn CLP
    Hannah Sawtell – Nottingham East CLP
    Daniel Randall – Assistant Chair, RMT Bakerloo Line branch (pc)
    Matthew Heath – Rushcliffe CLP
    Tom Leach – Nottingham South CLP
    Lynton North – Torridge & West Devon CLP
    Norman Wood – Wantage CLP
    Alena Ivanova – Bethnal Green and Bow CLP
    Sandy Paul – Poplar and Limehouse CLP
    Ruth Cashman – Women’s Officer, Tooting CLP
    Stefano Vozza – Bermondsey and Old Southwark CLP
    James Simpson – Birmingham Yardley CLP
    Fabian Newton-Edgar – Leeds North East CLP
    Emrys Travis – Cambridge CLP
    George Gray – Woking CLP
    Hatty Ruddick – Levenshulme CLP, Salford Labour Students
    Joanne Land – Holborn and St Pancras CLP
    India Wilkins – Exeter CLP
    Karol Florek – Cambridge CLP
    Rowan Fortune – Brentford and Isleworth CLP
    Andy Richards – Hove CLP
    Cian Ireland – Dwyfor Meirionydd CLP, Stirling University Labour Society Treasurer
    James Jacobs – Broxtowe CLP, Branch Disability Officer
    Vicki Morris – Nottingham East, University of Nottingham Unison branch chair (pc)
    Billy McLean – Salford and Eccles CLP
    Marko Dimač – Nottingham South CLP
    Kristian Ravnkilde – Broxtowe CLP
    Tom Harris – PCS rep
    Janine Booth – Trade Union Liaison Officer, Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP
    Lucy Stokes – Dudley North CLP, Unite Community and Neurodivergent Labour
    Maisie Sanders – Hornsey and Wood Green CLP
    Thomas Johnson – Lewisham Deptford CLP
    Liam Cooper – Dulwich and West Norwood CLP
    Christie Neary – Croydon South CLP
    Phil Dodds – Lewes CLP
    Andy Warren – Lewisham Deptford CLP
    Charlie McDonald – West Ham CLP
    Joe Rayment – Bath CLP
    Nick Foster – Bristol West CLP
    Rob Shorrock – Grantham and Stamford CLP, NASUWT Convenor
    Daniel Davison-Vecchione – Cambridge CLP
    Joshua Barretto – Cardiff Central CLP, GMB
    Josh Berlyne – Sheffield Central CLP, Unite the Union workplace rep, University of Sheffield branch


    Andrew Coates

    January 9, 2020 at 11:24 am

  9. Is this the old “not as bad as” argument? Keir Starmer isn’t as bad as the others, so he should get the leadership?

    Steven Johnston

    January 9, 2020 at 12:02 pm

  10. Starmer is one of those people who think they can be on both sides of the class divide and it isn’t something socialists can straddle, the clue to his first loyalty and politics is in the prefix to his name. That alone makes him unfit to be LP leader.

    Mick Hall

    January 9, 2020 at 9:18 pm

  11. Correct Mick Hall! Better plain old Mr/Mrs/Ms. than to join the legion of dishonour.

    Though there is the matter of this…


    Which get glibly passed over as “just one of those things” or, even worse a disgusting comment about how the homeless man deserved it (did I get that right Andrew?).

    Truly the man is a c**t.

    Steven Johnston

    January 9, 2020 at 9:55 pm

  12. Yes Steven, we are just supposed to blithely accept that even when good men are in a job such as the Director of Public Persecutions they sometimes do bad things.

    Ms Black

    January 10, 2020 at 12:58 am

  13. Yes Ms Black, they are very understanding with the death(s) of other peoples relatives.

    Steven Johnston

    January 10, 2020 at 12:25 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: