Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Counterfire on “Post-Corbynism”, “Rebecca Long-Bailey is not continuity Corbyn enough” .

with 11 comments

Image result for the sea of faith arnold

Labour in vain? – weekly briefing

Lindsey German, on “ Post Corbynism” .

The leader of the revolutionary socialist Counterfire is already retreating from Long-Bailey.

And what’s more, she has, in-between defensive remarks based on her own group’s unique standpoint, begun to talk sense.

The main thrust is to undermine the claim that Long-Bailey is the ‘real’ left candidate to lead Labour.

The problem for the left however is that Rebecca Long-Bailey is not continuity Corbyn enough. She advocates the use of nuclear weapons. She declared herself a Zionist at the Jewish Labour Movement hustings. And she has signed a statement over trans policies in Labour which contradicts the manifesto pledges, and which threatens to lead to a witch-hunt against some feminists. I understand the pressure that she is under, but we can see from the experience of Jeremy Corbyn himself over the past four years that giving in to pressure doesn’t mean it gets easier further on down the line.

Lindsey German may be wrong to highlight ‘Zionism’ as a be-all-and-end-it all issue.

She ignores the pressing issue of Syria. Many would like to see Labour leadership candidates confronted with the need to support the Kurdish fight and that of democrats against Assad and wider Middle East. Other democratic struggles, across the world, are pressing, from Hong Kong to South America.

Labour’s whole flawed foreign policy needs dropping.

As Rohini Hessman says,

The attempt by the Corbyn team to cover up the brutality of Russian airstrikes in Syria illustrates what I call their pseudo-anti-imperialism: opposition only to Western imperialisms while supporting non-Western imperialisms like Russian imperialism and Iranian regional imperialism, which share responsibility with brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad for over half a million dead and over half the population displaced in Syria.[17] Putin’s is a far-right regime which has provided funding and other support to neo-fascist parties throughout Europe,[18] and to far-right politicians – including Trump – in the rest of the world. Evidence has emerged that it has supported Boris Johnson too.[19] One reason why it has bombed Syrian civilians and democracy activists in support of Bashar al-Assad is to entrench its power in the Middle East; but another is to support its neo-fascist allies in Europe by giving them an ‘enemy’ to demonise, namely millions of Syrian refugees fleeing for their lives.[20] It is disturbing that Corbyn’s team would want to cover up the crimes of such a regime; equally disturbing is the implicit contempt for Syrian working people struggling against unemployment, poverty and authoritarianism.

 It is important that the Labour left – and indeed all socialists – abandon the simplistic notion that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ which has been used to support anti-Western tyrants and imperialists, and take a consistent position in solidarity with all struggles against oppression and exploitation. They need to be able to deal with complexity; to understand that it is possible to oppose military assaults on Iran and sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians, and at the same time oppose the repressive, extreme right-wing Islamic regime; to acknowledge that prejudice against Jews is racist and antisemitic, but denying Palestinians the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is also racist, and campaigning for those rights is not antisemitic.

German continues on Long-Bailey,

She will get the majority of the left’s votes, although some of those will go to Keir Starmer, who is tacking very much to the left at the moment. His support for Owen Smith back in 2016, his record at the DPP, his ultra-remain politics, are all on the back burner for the next month and a half. Lisa Nandy is the most right wing of the candidates and has already signalled retreat on nationalisation. All three of the remaining candidates have distanced themselves from Jeremy Corbyn in a number of ways, even though December was clearly a Brexit election and even though there are many signs that Labour’s policies were, and remain, popular.

This is where it get sticky.

The Brexit election…German means an election in which Counterfire backed Brexit, and,  with the help of a rag-bag of parties like the Communist Party of Britain, the SWP, left sovereigntists, ‘traditional’ Labour nationalists helped confuse politics by supporting an imaginary ‘People’s Brexit’.

‘Remain’ was the right policy for internationalists, the prefix “ultra” signifying Counterfire’s annoyance at the consistent and principled influence on the left and the Labour Party of groups like Another Europe is Possible.

German opines further on Labour’s  popular policies,

Equally fanciful is the idea that the left-wing policies put forward by Corbyn were unpopular. Indeed if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then we should look at the way in which Johnson’s government is scooping up a number of these policies and claiming them as its own. We’ve already had the nationalisation of Northern Rail, and rail nationalisation is likely to go much further. Now Johnson has declared massive spending on bus services, something that Corbyn was ridiculed over just a couple of months ago.

As has been said time and time again, such clear policies were swamped in the sheer volume of announcements the Labour Party put out.

The faith in Corbyn, a man with many merits, but not a charismatic leader for most of the population, is disintegrating.

Is this one answer?

Rebecca Long-Bailey would offer Jeremy Corbyn a place in her shadow Cabinet

The need to remove the failed team, the “corridor cabal”  that botched an already hard election battle, and to build a united Labour party, would suggest otherwise.

One threat has emerged.

On trans issues German says,

It should be possible for socialists to discuss these issues and reach a position which opposes all oppression. The trans debate in the Labour Party is in danger of ending up in a bad place if it does not do this. Some of the pledges put out by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights are in my view unacceptable, especially those calling organisations like Woman’s Place UK transphobic, and calling for expulsions of transphobes (presumably including members of WPUK). What I find most worrying here is that women who are good socialists are being branded as transphobes because they have a different perspective on women’s rights and trans rights, and that there are repeated moves to close down this discussion. This is being done in an authoritarian manner through threatening expulsion. We have already seen protests at WPUK meetings, attempts at no platforming women such as historian Selena Todd, and attempts to sack women who disagree.

This leads to a situation where it is impossible to move the debate forward. Labour’s manifesto called for full support for trans rights, but also for retention of rights relating to women as a sex under the 2010 Equality Act. Both Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey seem to have dropped this approach in favour of signing the pledge. Laura Pidcock’s eminently sensible call for discussion led to a stream of abuse directed at her. It really has to stop.

For a very different view (this Blog tends to agree with German on this issue but this is an important, heartfelt, article) see:

What’s Wrong With Woman’s Place?

There have been few more bitter struggles on the left in recent years than the conflict between those who support trans inclusion and those who style themselves as Gender Critical and refuse to accept that trans people should be socially or legally treated as their aquired gender.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 17, 2020 at 12:43 pm

11 Responses

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  1. MEDIA regulator Ofcom has imposed a fine of £75,000 on Talksport Ltd in relation to Talk Radio for “failing to comply with our broadcasting rules”.

    Ofcom has said it will also require the service to broadcast a summary of their findings.

    “Under Ofcom rules, all broadcasters must remain duly impartial when covering matters of major political controversy,” Ofcom said.

    They added: “Talk Radio failed to do so in three episodes of the George Galloway programme during discussions about the poisoning of Yulia and Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, and allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party”.

    George Galloway’s Talk Radio show was previously ruled to have breached rules on due impartiality with comments that aired after the Skripal poisoning.

    An Ofcom spokeswoman at the time said: “Our investigation found that this phone-in programme breached our due impartiality rules.

    “It failed to give due weight to a sufficiently wide range of significant viewpoints about the political aftermath of the events in Salisbury in March 2018.”

    Ofcom said it was “minded to consider the imposition of a statutory sanction”.


    February 17, 2020 at 2:36 pm

  2. Thnaks Ace reporter Yvonne.

    He used to be George Galloway you know!

    “On three occasions, when audience contributions about the Skripal poisoning differed from the former MP’s position, Galloway joked that the listeners who had sent in their messages were in Broadmoor psychiatric hospital.”


    The fine is, of course, derisory.

    Andrew Coates

    February 17, 2020 at 5:21 pm

  3. Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Angela Rayner have all signed up to the “Labour Campaign for Trans Rights” pledges. Maybe some of the other Leader/Deputy Leader candidates have too. I’ve kinda lost track with the clusterfuck which presently goes under the title “Labour Leadership Election”.

    Alongside these pledges calling Woman’s Place UK and LGB Alliance “hate groups” and for Labour to campaign against them, there are also calls for those with “transphobic views” to be expelled from Labour. This would presumably mean someone like Ruth Serwotka who helped set up WPUK.

    These three candidates have been asked for proof for the accusation that these are transphobic “hate groups”. Instead of proof, we get vague statements about “causing offence” with no specific quotations/links of what constitutes the “hate”.

    This is political frivolity of the highest order from people who say they want to form a Government or, at the very least, be able to offer a coherent opposition to the Tories. These candidates slander organisations as “hate groups”, call their members/supporters transphobic and say they should be expelled. When asked for proof, there’s nothing. They don’t even bother to retract or admit to making a mistake.

    The Tories must love this. Labour looks like it’s having a dysfunctional Student’s Union election where the candidates are vying with each other to look like the coolest kids in the Uni Bar with no thought as to the consequences of what they’re signing up to. Of course, it means that if WPUK or LGBA try to have a fringe meeting at any Labour/TU Conference, they’ll be subjected to the type of abuse the former had last year in Brighton. After all, the likely next Deputy Leader, Ms Rayner, has now pointed the finger at them as transphobic hate groups.

    We’ve got just over another six weeks to go of the contest. I dread to see what comes next and, yes, I am aware of the Lisa Nandy “child rapist in a women’s prison” comments which are discussed in this sensible thread –

    John Rogan

    February 18, 2020 at 3:05 pm

  4. @ John Rogan, you can’t have your cake and eat it. If someone commented something along the lines of “Allah does not exist” you would immediate denounce that as “hate speech” and some sort of -phobia. That is how hypocritical and inconsistent you and your ilk are.

    Where is pillar of the Establishment SIR Keir Starmer on this one? Long-Bailey, Nandy or Rayner will win the Leadership election on this alone – and they deserve to. All right-minded people are with Long-Bailey, Nandy, and Rayner on this one. Transwoman Joanna Void has only just published a well-thought out article denouncing the hate group WPUK. And they ARE a hate group. As Joanna says these TERF nutters are fighting against what feminists before them have fought for.



    February 18, 2020 at 3:43 pm

  5. Shirley, I wouldn’t say that the statement “Allah does not exist” is hate speech. It’s a view held by atheists as is “God does not exist”.

    As for WPUK and LGBA being “hate groups”, what have they said, in any of their statements, which constitute “hate”?

    My main point is that if Long-Bailey, Nandy and Rayner truly believe that WPUK and LGBA are “hate groups” and their members and supporters in the Labour Party should be expelled, they should be giving evidence to back up that claim and using their influence to start disciplinary proceedings against them. If not, they are not being serious. They are the ones who signed the “Labour Campaign for Trans Rights” pledges after all.

    We’ve another six weeks of the contest. Let’s hope interviewers keep asking them how they will fulfil what they have signed up for.

    Here are five more Labour MPs supporting the campaign to expel gender-critical Labour members.

    John Rogan

    February 18, 2020 at 4:58 pm

  6. @ John Rogan, if a person or person(s) perceive your words to be motivated by hate then by LAW it is “hate speech”. A simple dislike or difference of opinion can easily he construed as “hate”. That is how Orwellian this “hate speech” baloney is.

    The “Allah does not exist” was given as a tentative, non-confrontational example just to make a point. Is “Moham****ed liked children” clearer? Coming through loud and clear now. Surely you would construe such an outrageous statement as “hate speech”?

    The point is that you and your ilk peddle this “hate speech” baloney when it suits you. And when it doesn’t suit you you blithely dismiss others allegations of hate speech with “where’s the proof”. Like “proof” was ever required when it comes to “hate speech”. It is mental gymnastics, something radical feminists are very good at.


    February 18, 2020 at 5:17 pm

  7. Nadia Whittome calls for the expulsion from the Labour Party of Woman’s Place UK “ringleaders”. I assume she means Ruth Serwotka among others.

    John Rogan

    February 18, 2020 at 6:58 pm

  8. Good call, Nadia Whittome. At long last some sense from the Labour Party. Turf the TERFs out!


    February 18, 2020 at 7:11 pm

  9. Why is there so much anger on this thread? All you are debating is the next leader of the Labour party. That is meaningless, as all the leader will do will lead them to their fifth consecutive election defeat.
    Or have I missed something?

    Steven Johnston

    February 19, 2020 at 11:20 am

  10. Entirely agree with John. The views of one side in the disagreement over the GRA cannot possibly constitute “hate speech”. There are clearly conflicting human rights issues here which require proper debate and not campaigns for expulsions.

    Actually Shirley the LAW on this (as it currently stands) is here:

    Click to access miller-v-college-of-police-summary.pdf

    This is a far more robust judgement than most expected and likely to be subject to appeal. For the avoidance of any doubt I view Millers tweets as going well beyond reasonable disagreement and think they are certainly trans-baiting and possibly “hate speech”.

    Meanwhile outside our “safe spaces”:


    Boleyn Ali

    February 19, 2020 at 1:24 pm

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