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Christine Shawcroft in row over saying, “major trade unions are actively opposed” to Labour rank-and-file members.

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Shawcroft told HuffPost that she was not speaking on behalf of Momentum and had acted in ‘the heat of the moment’.

This story tends to confirm the well-informed opinion that Lansman’s Labour General Secretary challenge is aimed, not at trade unions as such, but  a ‘union shoe-in’ for their candidate for the post.

But before one expresses sympathy for Shawcroft.. (Huff Post)

Shawcroft is understood to have expressed her frustration with union ‘stitch-ups’ in the past, and in recent months told one Momentum meeting it was time to deal with the union issue once and for all.

Her outburst on Facebook came after fellow NEC member Darren Williams expressed his frustration that the disputes committee had voted on Tuesday – with union support – to refer several cases of alleged anti-semitism for a full disciplinary hearing.


HuffPost understands that Momentum-backed NEC reps objected and wanted those accused to be issued with formal warnings rather than a route to explusion. But the rest of the committee heavily supported disciplinary inquiries.

On Wednesday, Shawcroft told HuffPost that she had been advised to take down her Facebook remarks because Lansman did not want Momentum associated with them.

She insisted that she was not speaking on behalf of Momentum or of Lansman.

It was just a bit of a heat of the moment thing, a personal one. Nothing to do with Momentum whatsoever. I’m just a committee member for Momentum, it’s not like everything I do or say has to be seen through that prism,” Shawcroft said.

“I don’t speak for them or tell them what to do. I’m just a member, same as anyone else.”

Shawcroft still faced a backlash for her remarks, with Unite’s Len McCluskey, GMB union boss Tim Roache  and Unison’s Dave Prentis all attacking her stance.


More emerging now (Total Politics).

When Momentum founder Jon Lansman announced that he was challenging Unite boss Jennie Formby for the job of Labour general secretary, the battle lines could not have been clearer.

“The first major Unions/Momentum skirmish is already causing some disquiet within Labour’s ranks,” we noted in a piece on Lansman’s candidacy.

A week later that is starting to look like an understatement…

Writing on her Facebook page, veteran activist and senior Momentum official Christine Shawcroft said Lansman should be general secretary because “only someone from his tradition will support the rights of rank and file members in the CLPs”.

Going further, she claimed that the major trade unions “stick it to the rank and file members time after time after time” and even called for Labour to break its historic links with the trade union movement.

Naturally the comments from Shawcross – who is an ally of Jeremy Corbyn and has been on Labour’s ruling national executive committee for over a decade – sparked a furious backlash from union bosses after they were revealed today by PoliticsHome.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Christine Shawcroft is a member of the Labour party. The clue is in the name. We are the party of labour, founded by the trade union movement. Her proposals for disaffiliation aid the most backwards forces in our society and she should withdraw them.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis stated: “Christine Shawcroft’s comments are wrong on every count. Trade Unions are an integral and historic part of the Labour Party. This is no time for this kind of divisive nonsense – we need to focus on getting Labour elected.”

Also weighing in today was Corbyn’s former chief of staff Simon Fletcher, once described as “the linchpin of the Corbyn operation”.

He argued: “The Labour left advances most clearly when it builds an alliance of the CLP left and the unions. The demand to break the union link is longstanding goal of the right in British society. This intervention tips disorientation over into rottenness.”


Huffington Post more on the story.


EXCL Labour row erupts as Jeremy Corbyn supporter calls for party to break from trade unions

Veteran activist and senior Momentum official Christine Shawcroft claimed “major trade unions are actively opposed” to the party’s rank-and-file members.

Ms Shawcroft, who is head of Labour’s powerful disciplinary committee, is supporting Momentum boss Jon Lansman’s bid to succeed Iain McNicol in the powerful role.

He defied pleas from Jeremy Corbyn and his closest aides not to run in order to leave the way clear for Unite official Jennie Formby to take the post.

Ms Shawcroft, who has been on Labour’s ruling national executive committee for over a decade, launched her attack on Facebook in the wake of a fractious meeting yesterday of the disputes sub-committee she chairs.

Responding to one Labour member, she said: “Unfortunately, reviewing the disciplinary process is going to come too late for some of our comrades. This is why I am supporting Jon Lansman, or a woman in that tradition, for general secretary.

“Nothing would induce me to support a candidate from a major trade union, they stick it to the rank and file members time after time after time. It’s also time to support disaffiliation of the unions from the Labour party. The party belongs to us, the members.”

In a post on her own Facebook page, she added: “I was supporting Jon Lansman for general secretary before today’s NEC sub committee meetings, but after today I’m even more determined.

“Only someone from his tradition will support the rights of rank and file members in the CLPs (constituency Labour parties). The major trade unions are actively opposed to us, a very cursory examination of trigger ballots in mayoral “selections” will tell you that. Look at their track records before you rush to support someone.”

Her comments are highly significant because she is a key supporter of Mr Corbyn and a major figure on the left-wing of the party.

Momentum has also enjoyed support from trade unions such as the TSSA, Unite and CWU.

Labour’s new general secretary will be chosen by the party’s NEC on 20 March.

Jennie Formby has already been forced to condemn “anti-Semitic” attacks on Mr Lansman.

A Momentum spokesperson said: “We’re very proud of the strong links Momentum has to the trade union movement.

“From running digital campaigns in support of striking McDonalds workers to making viral videos highlighting Tory cuts to public services with the CWU and the TSSA – we believe Labour is strongest when trade unions and member organisations work together closely.

“The unions were central to the formation of the Labour Party, and every day they represent millions of people fighting for better rights at work. We firmly support Labour’s trade union link, and hope to see more unions affiliate in the future.”

Yet more:

Update from The Clarion Edd Mustill.

This week comments made on Facebook by a prominent figure in both the Labour left and Momentum, Christine Shawcroft, have provoked fierce criticism and some alarm. Shawcroft appeared to call for the ending, or at least weakening, of the link between trade unions and the Labour Party.

However serious these comments are or whether they were made in the heat of the moment (it should be noted that Momentum quickly distanced itself from Shawcroft’s comments), it is immensely disappointing to see a prominent leftwing apparently advocating something that has been a fantasy of the party’s Blairite wing for a quarter of a century, albeit no doubt for very different reasons.

recently argued that any debate around how trade unions formally relate to the membership of a mass socialist party should be welcomed by Labour members. That said, any calls, from any wing of the party, to end or dramatically weaken the link should be robustly resisted.


This looks a mess, and entangles many themes.

But, firstly, there is a problem with the ambitions of people, and unions, coming before both Momentum or UNITE’s goals, either a social movement or ‘political union’. This does not just refer to the most visible person in this case, as those in a position to know are aware of other individual’s projects at play.

Secondly, these are really pretty secondary affairs compared to Labour’s overriding need to win this year’s local elections and the next General Election.

Finally, Labour activists are not going to be pleased with this clash being acted out in public, either by union leaders or by Momentum. Since it is not principally important for the left who is a “reliable ally” of whom, but Labour policy and direction, the dispute is highly unwelcome.


Written by Andrew Coates

March 7, 2018 at 1:36 pm

As Corbyn backs EU Customs Union, from the ‘Lexit’ fringes, Galloway attacks ‘Stab in the Back”.

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Corbyn Moves to back EU Customs Union.

Corbyn: Labour would stay in EU customs union for a say in trade deals

Guardian – for more rolling news follow link.

BBC: Jeremy Corbyn backs permanent customs union after Brexit

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has backed the UK being in a permanent customs union with the EU in a speech setting out his approach to Brexit.

He said this would avoid the need for a “hard border” in Northern Ireland and ensure free-flowing trade for business.

The policy shift could lead to Labour siding with Tory rebels to defeat Theresa May on her Brexit strategy.

The Tories said it was “a cynical attempt” to frustrate Brexit “and play politics with our country’s future”.

The Mail says,

Corbyn’s Brexit betrayal: Labour leader to snub millions of voters by refusing to limit migration and kill off dream of striking trade deals

Jeremy Corbyn was accused of a Brexit ‘betrayal’ last night as he prepared to set out plans that would keep Britain shackled to Brussels.

The Labour leader is expected to say he will sacrifice the ability to strike new trade deals in order to keep Britain locked in an EU customs union – and allow free movement to continue.

In his most significant Brexit speech since the referendum today, he will also call for a ‘close relationship’ with the single market, citing Norway and Switzerland as examples of the kind of deal he is seeking.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said Mr Corbyn ‘seems certain to break the commitments he made to Labour voters at the last election’.

Pro-Brexit Labour MPs warned their leader he risked betraying millions of party supporters who voted to take Britain out of the EU. Former minister Frank Field said keeping the country shackled to Brussels would be ‘to rat on the people’s decision to leave’.

Writing on the far-right Westmonster site, George Galloway says,

Labour’s volunteered to kill off Brexit, they’ll be labelled ‘betrayers’  by George Galloway

Sir Keir Starmer is an excellent backstabber. Nobody knows that better than Jeremy Corbyn who has just been led by the nose by him like a beast to the slaughter in what Frank Field the Labour MP has described as a “deadly electoral trap”.

Starmer was a key conspirator in the coup against Corbyn in 2016, resigning from the Shadow Cabinet in the most insulting and wounding way. Yet Corbyn, it is clear, has been led by the QC MP into an actual U-Turn – and one which ineluctably will lead to a second and thereafter, why not, a third.

Labour has now volunteered to be the executioner of Brexit, Theresa May, to her considerable relief no doubt, will be the champion of the 17.4 million betrayed. The stage is set.

The label “betrayer” will be pinned to the back of every Labour MP (virtually none will be “deselected”) in the 70% of Labour-held constituencies which voted Leave in the referendum and the many others which Labour came close to winning in 2017 and now will not.

The “stab in the back” narrative which will now be spun by the Tories and their press backers will be overwhelmingly powerful. The gratitude of the Macchiato-classes will be scant and short-lived and electorally useless in vast tracts of the country.


This represents a defeat for Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell – whose policies for Britain cannot be implemented with Britain in the Single Market – whether they have gone along with it or not. It represents a victory for Tony Blair and his ramp within the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Labour apparatus, whose leader Ian McNicholl is shortly to re-emerge wearing the ermine robes at last.

U-turn if you want to Mr Corbyn. I and millions like me are not for turning.

Others agree – in a slightly more muted form – with the Galloway position broadcast on Westmonster.

“Staying in the single market would make it much harder—not easier—for a Labour government to stick to Corbyn’s left wing manifesto promises.”

The Socialist Party has attacked the” right-wing Labour shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer” and claimed that,  “A bold stand by Jeremy Corbyn against the anti-working class treaties and policies of the EU could electrify the debate across Europe.”

What do they think now that Comrade Starmer appears to have won the debate?

Corbyn loyalists in the Morning Star meanwhile celebrate this victory.

More responses: Was Corbyn’s speech a bold Brexit vision, or playing politics? The panel verdict

Owen Jones: A clear contrast with the Tories.

David Shariatmadari: The best remainers could have hoped for.

Faiza Shaheen: Some much-needed pragmatism.

Katy Balls: This spells trouble for Theresa May.

Only fanatical Priest Gilles Fraser, previously only known for his religious musings and loathing of the anti-clerical Charlie Hebdo, strikes a sour note,

The gap between old-style socialists and young liberals is now great than ever within the Labour party. At stake in the debate over Brexit is the degree of comfort with which Labour embraces market forces as a necessary evil of the modern world. Some of us had hoped that Corbyn would be the one to put a stake through the heart of New Labour. But in the end he appears to have bottled it.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 26, 2018 at 1:42 pm

Tony Greenstein’s New Best Friends: George Galloway (Telly Putin), the New Worker and the Morning Star.

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Ken Livingstone to appear next?

Greenstein also features in the lead  Editorial of this week’s New Worker (23rd of February), pushing ahead of pressing issues such as the achievements of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at PyeongChang 2018, “Dear leader” “Kim Jong Il’s Birthday (“long been known as the Day of the Shining Star) and praise for President Assad’s “popular front government in Damas”.

Apparently Greenstein got expelled from Labour because of allegations about “so-called anti-Semites”.

Against this they note that he is “Jewish”.

“Putting someone who is Jewish in the same category as Adolf Hitler us a trick perhaps only the most brazen Blairites and Zionists can do.” comments the august publication of the New Communist Party of Britain.

Due to technical difficulties caused by imperialist sanctions the latest issue is not online yet.

Greenstein’s persecution by Zionist Blairites has also earned him an Editorial eulogy and this moving tribute from this aspiring poet in the Communist Party of Britain’s Morning Star.

We Are Delighted To Announce
for Tony Greenstein  

The first execution of a man convicted
of using inappropriate language..

The screeching was confined to
a few pseudonymous moderates
post-coitally whispering the hope
that this legally implemented death
not be the last of its kind.

We must be sure and include
our least favourite black woman, the Irish,
and, at a minimum, one more Hebrew
in the commonsense cleansing we envisage.

Kevin Higgins.

It is believed that the Irish person referred to is none other than Cde Gerry Downing.

As yet neither the Communist Party of Britain (MarxistLeninist),  Communist Party of Great Britain (MarxistLeninist)  nor the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (MarxistLeninist) have given public endorsement to Tony Greenstein.

We await their support.


Labour, the Customs Union and a Marxist Case against Brexit.

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Image result for Communist Party Lexit

Lexit Mythomania.

It has been said that Trotskyism is noted for ‘mythomania’. (1)

Whether on not that is true for Trotskyists the word fits the myth-spinning Lexit’ – pro-Brexit – left to a T.

Recently the leader of Counterfire asserted,

Labour should stick with its People’s Brexit strategy argues John Rees”.

I can’t recall Labour ever campaigning for or deciding in favour of a ‘People’s Brexit’, although few would doubt that Labour is in favour of a “A new economic settlement that works for the many.”

And Rees’ wish list of “better than the EU not worse than the EU.” is an interesting suggestion coming from a faction that supported leaving the EU under a Tory government that was bound to make things worse.

As Catherine West MP has written in the Independent (30.1.18),

It has often been argued by advocates of “Lexit” that a hard Brexit will allow a future Labour government to end austerity. That by leaving the single market and customs union and shaking off the shackles of Brussels we will have more freedom to invest in the economy.

This is nonsense. The reality is that austerity in the UK has been a political choice, made by this Tory Government, and has nothing to do with the EU or single market rules. EU rules impose no restriction whatsoever on the level of public spending. Its strictures are about deficits, that is, how much, in normal times, governments finance their spending by borrowing instead by taxation. Crucial is that the rules allow governments the flexibility to deliberately spend in a Keynesian manner during a recession and to invest.

Let’s be clear: a hard Brexit, whereby we leave the single market and customs union, will cause an economic loss that will reduce tax receipts and therefore risk an extension or intensification of austerity.

All credible economic analyses of the long-term cost of Brexit have found broadly the same hierarchy of effects: the further Britain travels from the single market, the greater the economic loss. Indeed, the Government’s leaked analysis, published by Buzzfeed, of the impact of Brexit says that the UK would be worse off under all scenarios. Furthermore, most estimates of the cost of Brexit may well be conservative and do not include uncertainty, business confidence and flight of EU workers, which will have a negative effect on the UK’s productivity.

She concludes,

for as long as the Conservatives remain in power, leaving the single market risks the extension of austerity for years to come, on top of the last decade of public spending cuts.

This is the report the article is based on: Busting the Lexit Myths.

The choice is clear. We can sit back and wait for the consequences of a hard Brexit to become so severe that it topples this terrible Tory government. Or we can stand up for those who will be worst affected and fight for membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union. Future generations will not forgive us for inaction or for perceived complicity in a Brexit that damages our country and our economy. Those of us on the left who believe in building a more equal, more prosperous and sustainable country must not be duped into supporting a Tory agenda that would do the opposite.

This brochure comes highly recommended from the guardians of Parliamentary Sovereignty in the Communist Party of Britain, as the product of  “Forces set on subverting the Brexit vote (who) have targetted the labour movement.”

Perhaps Counterfire, who campaigned for Brexit, alongside Trade Unionists Against the European Union (recently embroiled in controversy over their funding from hard-right millionaire Arron Banks), could bear this in mind and take a look at the real political debate over the EU.

If it’s not too much trouble

The BBC reports today,

Labour and customs union: Evolution not revolution. 

The Labour position has been to argue that “a” customs union was “a viable option” and that the government should “keep all options open”.

What we are likely to see on Monday is wording that makes plain that “a” not “the” customs union would have distinct benefits and is the most logical way to solve the thorny issue of the Irish border.

It won’t just be a viable option but a viable end point. And the policy is likely to evolve in another way too.

Currently Labour recognises that when we are out of the EU, we are out of the single market.

So it is arguing that it wants to retain the same benefits as single market membership – such as tariff-free trade.

I’m told the same formulation could be applied to “a” customs union, that in the long term a future Labour government could sign up to one, if the UK got the exact same benefits as it gets from “the” customs union – frictionless trade and a say over the external tariff on imported goods.

As Labour has talked about the benefits of some form of customs union before, this would be an incremental not dramatic move forward.

However party insiders say that Jeremy Corbyn can’t guarantee that a future Labour government would definitely be in such a customs union because it would have to be negotiated with the EU.

But one insider said that people listening on Monday will have no doubt where Labour is headed: That a customs union is the preferred option.

Speaking on LBC radio, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry gave credence to this by saying: “We have to negotiate a new agreement. That, we think, is likely to be a customs union that will look pretty much like the current customs union.”

On the strategy to take the New Statesman carried this article a few days ago,

A Marxist case against Brexit: Trade union leader Manuel Cortes on what Labour should do.

The TSSA General Secretary  states,

Cortes has called for the UK to remain in the EU. “Any Brexit deal that introduces friction and borders will finish off the job that Thatcher started because our manufacturing industry will just dwindle away,” he warns. A “soft Brexit” (remaining in the single market and the customs union), meanwhile, would condemn the UK to “vassal statehood” by making it “a rule-taker, rather than a rule-maker”.

Will Labour listen to this pro-EU view, one which many on the left (outside fringe groups like Counterfire or the Sovereigntist Morning Star) share?

But Labour’s 2017 manifesto pledged to end free movement and Corbyn has refused to endorse a new referendum on Brexit (Cortes was said to be “furious” when the issue was not debated at last year’s party conference). “The Tories are having a conversation with themselves, I think we need to have a conversation with the country,” says Cortes. “Labour is ideally placed to start that conversation.”

Does he believe that Corbyn, a lifelong Eurosceptic, could yet change his mind? “My view is that Jeremy listens to people and he will continue to look at what the facts are,” Cortes says. “And as those facts change, and he continues to listen to people, I’m sure he could change his mind. I see no reason why he would be fixated on any position.”

The AWL certainly agrees,

The resignation of the Blairite Lord Adonis from his position as adviser to the Tory government has shown the issue of Brexit, and whether or not to try and stop it, is not over in the Labour Party.

A new survey has suggested that allegedly 78% of Labour members want Brexit to be stopped or at least want a second referendum.

Up until last year’s election the right-wing of Labour (notably Progress) had only half-heartedly taken up the issue of stopping Brexit. They avoided directly opposing Brexit because they feared the electoral power of nationalistic sentiment.
They couched their opposition to Brexit primarily as the need to retain membership of the EU single market, aware that there was considerable cross-party concern about the impact of withdrawal on business.

For the left in the Party, issues of migrant rights and the growth of political nationalism were the major concern. Last autumn the Labour Campaign For Free Movement collected hundreds of signatures on a statement calling for the Party to be unambiguous in its defence of migration.

For Workers’ Liberty, opposing Brexit required taking the issue of defending migrants into “Leave” sections of the working class. These were often poorer sections of the class: unorganised and politically demoralised by decades of austerity.

Our positive case should include developing real links with the rest of the radical workers’ movement in Europe and transforming the EU.

Moving toward government, a radical Labour Party can energise the European labour movement. We can stop Brexit, challenge austerity on a cross-European basis and stop the nationalist narrative trapping British workers.

We need a working-class campaign to stop Brexit.


(1) A term which is something of a leitmotif in Christophe NickLes Trotskistes, Fayard, 2002,

On the Demise of Tribune.

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Latest Private Eye.

After a talk in Ipswich a couple of week ago, on Orwell and Suffolk (the book,  Anderson, Paul, ed. Orwell in Tribune: ‘As I Please’ and Other Writings, 1943-7) is well worth reading, we were chatting about Tribune.

Very few people appear to refer to the paper, or read it. In recent years it has dropped off the political map.

From what was said at the time in the Woolpack it appears that the Private Eye information about the ownership of the venerable Labour left paper is probably true and the weekly looks like disappearing in any recognisable form.

That it is on the slide to ceasing publication is not surprising.

Though the last entry on the Tribune  site dates the 20th of February.

The Wikipedia entry needs reviewing.

In March 2009, 100% ownership of the magazine passed to Kevin McGrath, through a new company Tribune Publications 2009 Limited, with the intention of keeping Tribune a left-of-centre publication though broadening the readership.[5][8][9]

In late October 2011, the future of Tribune looked bleak once again when McGrath warned of possible closure because subscriptions and income had not risen as had been hoped.[10] Unless a buyer could be found or a cooperative established, the last edition would have been published on 4 November.[11] McGrath committed to paying off the magazine’s debts. Another rescue plan saved the magazine at the end of October.

Tribune played an important role on the Labour left for many years, and not just in the 40s and 50s, remembered through the association with Orwell. Under Michael Foot’s editorship, (1955 – 60) Richard Clements (1960 – 82 – when I first read the weekly) and Chris Mullin (1982 – 84) is was a must-read  in the Labour Party and amongst socialists.

It was, as is often said about the background thinking of British and Irish socialists, marked by an appreciation not just of politics but of literature.

Paul Anderson (Editor, 1991 – 3) and his left-wing colleague, David Osler, brought the paper in contact with broader circles, including New Left figures from the Socialist Society, and the Socialist Movement/Chesterfield conference, as well as those supportive of Neil Kinnock. From 1993 Mark Seddon, and Barckley Sumner opened the paper up to critics of Tony Blair and modernisation.

As in here:








In the new millennium Tribune followed, critically, the fortunes of the Socialist Alliance, and George Galloway’s Respect.

By around 2010 many people had drifted away from reading the paper when, after a series of financial crisis, and ‘rescues’, it was poorly distributed and the Web site failed to compete with new media outlets for the left.

It still carried quality reviews, particularly of films, but the aura of the “must-read” had gone.

Open to the broadest forms of democratic socialist opinion Tribune has no parallel  in the print media today.

The site still carries this message,

“Tribune is the organ of no political party and has no association nor understanding with any party” is the opening line of the statement of aims and beliefs in our first edition of January 1, 1937.

Tribune was founded as a voice for unity against fascism in Spain and Nazi Germany.

For more than 75 years our journalism has been based on internationalism, the search for economic and intellectual liberation and the love of equality and democracy.

Our wartime literary editor George Orwell laid out the Tribune standard for writing about politics in 1946:

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin, where it belongs.”

The New Statesman continues to publish quality articles from a variety of standpoints on the left and the left-of-centre. But the the left audience is fragmented. Publications such as the Clarion, the on-line New Socialist, and continuing left journals, such as Chartist and Labour Briefing, offer opportunities to writer-activists and take up the issues that concern our constituency.

There is Red Pepper, whose politics of an ‘anti-Tory progressive alliance’ and support for ‘new’ nationalist movements across Europe, occupy a niche market. There is the Morning Star, competing with the Weekly Worker  in its enthusiasm for Tony Greenstein. There are the remaining party organs, such as the Socialist and Socialist Worker. Solidarity produced by the AWL has an audience beyond its own ‘heterodox Trotskyism’.

There are also the ‘alternative news’ blogs, some with pretensions to be genuine vehicles for information.

No doubt the end of Tribune has a lot to do with the decline of print.

It is still to be regretted.



Written by Andrew Coates

February 22, 2018 at 12:17 pm

As Mad Max Dystopia looms ‘left’ Counterfire lines up with Kate Hoey to denounce efforts to thwart Brexit.

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Image result for kate hoey cartoon

Kate Hoey: Fighting  EU free market policies

The Counterfire groupuscule has issued a dire warning about the dangers of the European Union.

Chris Nineham is  “a founder member and National Officer of the Stop the War Coalition” and a specialist in the works of noted theorist of the “actuality of the revolution” and the reification of commodities,  Georg Lukács  (Capitalism and Class Consciousness: The Ideas of Georg Lukács).

Nineham has now extended his brief to write on the European Union.

The EU has derailed left governments at least three times – don’t let Corbyn be next.

I shall not discuss his views on the Greek crisis, but focus on two episodes I know a lot better.

Amongst other things Nineham rewrites history to claim that,

“The EU – then the European Economic Community (EEC) – played a less dramatic but still decisive part in the calamitous story of the Socialist Party government in France in 1981 – 1986. “

This is some real history,

The 1982-3 ‘moment’, a conjuncture that brought together political and economic strategic change with a cultural shift towards the market, remains marked in PS history. The Mauroy government, abandoned a strategy, reinforced with the entry of Communist Ministers in the cabinet, of nationalisations, proactive industrial policy, and increased consumption, came as the first Mitterrand governments failed to reduce unemployment or stimulate growth. Put simply, with the world in recession, going it alone was not working. Warnings of economic disaster starring the President and Prime Minister in the face during the summer of 1982 and the judgement that the franc risked going through the floor, strained the country’s membership of the European Monetary System (EMS) to breaking point. Retrenching at this point was more than a “pause” in reform. The government suddenly dropped all the idea of top-down ‘statist’ economic intervention. The initial wave of nationalisations (which remained in place for the time being, including important parts of the banking system) were not the ‘instrument’ of economic growth and social change. Industry had to be “restructured”, that is modernised at the cost of closures and layoffs; budgets had to restrained. The PS, soon free of a vestigial alliance with the Communists (PCF), came to grips with what they considered the impossibility of ‘Keynesianism in one country’. The “mutation” of modern capitalism was embraced.


That the austerity programme in 1983, and the zealous pursuit of ‘modernisation’ under the subsequent PM Laurent Fabius, has marked the governing French left ever since is not in doubt. But the alternative answer, argued by the Minister of Industry, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, for France to “go it alone” outside the EMS, may well have led, as his opponents claimed, to a collapse in the franc, and to France going cap in hand, for help to another international “neoliberal’ institution, the IMF, with an equally severe plan for budget cuts. A left-winger might well ask about the reaction of the labour movement. From Mitterrand’s victory in 1981 to the policy change, there was little popular activity, and the brief displays of CGT militancy that followed the exit of the Communists from government never rose beyond fragmented protest

The Centre Can Hold’: Perry Anderson, French Politics in the Era of Macron, A Critique. Part One.

Chris Nineham argues further that Britain’s entry into the EU under PM Harold Wilson in the 1970s  was also a plan by the capitalists to sabotage left wing economic policies,

The pro Europe campaign won the referendum by more than two to one and business rejoiced. Wilson seized the chance to sack Benn and Heffer, shifting the balance of power in the cabinet from left to right. As economists Mitchell and Fazi put it recently in their book Reclaiming the State, the referendum ‘all but killed the impetus for radical reform’.

Following this defeat for the left, sabotage and subversion started in earnest. Investors and currency speculators used growing levels of inflation as an excuse to pull out of the British economy. There was a massive run on the pound. Instead of responding by deepening government control over the economy and introducing currency controls the government ended up imposing wage restraint and going to the IMF for loans that were tied to cuts in public spending on hospitals schools and on government Investment in industry.

He solemnly concludes on the basis of this ‘evidence’,  – that a vote to Join the EU was the precondition for such “subversion” that,

This history should give pause for thought to those who see remaining in the single market or the customs union as in any sense left policies. Pro-business and anti-left groups in social democracy have always lined up with the EU because it promotes free market policies. Today is no exception. The list of 64 Labour MPs who rebelled and voted in December to try and keep Britain in the customs union is a list of those who are amongst the most hostile to Jeremy Corbyn’s progressive economic agenda. Once again the issue of the EU is the frontline of an attack on the left, this time against Corbyn and Corbynism.

Kate Hoey, one of the most celebrated former members of the International Marxist Group (IMG) in Parliament and famous for her sense of humour.

And political judgement.



Written by Andrew Coates

February 20, 2018 at 3:20 pm

The Weekly Worker and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty: A Forgotten Love Affair.

with 5 comments


Spooky but True: the Untold Tale of Weekly Worker AWL Unity.

Followers of the minutiae of the left,  and there are them, will know that no bitterer enemies exist than the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee CPGB-PCC). and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

Both publish papers, which it has to be said, many on the left read, the former’s Weekly Worker for its articles on theory, socialist history its reports on Italy, Iran,  and some other European countries, curious letters, and serious book reviews. The AWL’s Solidarity has valuable – accurate – reports on trade union and welfare issues, the Labour Party, and covers the history of the left, and international topics. It  also carries good coverage of books.

The two groups are now locked in a never-ending battle.

“Social-imperialism” and  comparisons with ‘Stasi busybodies” are some of the milder terms used by the Weekly Worker to describe their foes in the AWL. The AWL dismisses the, admittedly groupusculaire  WW, and its key ally, the Monster Raving Geenstein Party.

Yet things were not always so….

It was in the year 2000.

Spring was coming. The world was full of daffodils and gamboling hares. And love.

Report of a partisan observer John Bridge and other Weekly Worker writers discuss the AWL 09.03.2000

Five observers from the Communist Party of Great Britain attended the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s 7th conference over the weekend of March 4-5. In general we met with a friendly reception. There was certainly a keen interest in our ideas, as witnessed by a sale of over 40 copies of the Weekly Worker. An impressive figure and much to the credit of the AWL – especially given that there were no more than around 80 of their comrades in attendance.


The AWL is a small organisation of serious revolutionaries – it has 110 full and a handful of candidate members – with a relatively long history in Britain’s Trotskyite milieu. Once they existed as a faction in Tony Cliff’s International Socialism organisation. That is, until they were bureaucratically expelled. Since then, led by Sean Matgamna, they have been through a labyrinthine series of name changes, primeval unities and fragile partnerships. However, what distinguishes the AWL from that which often falsely passes itself off as Trotskyism is its culture of comparative openness and a willingness to think.


We in the CPGB share and defend exactly that approach.

Love blossomed,

Rapprochement begins

Two representatives of the CPGB’s Provisional Central Committee and two representatives of the AWL’s National Committee met on Friday March 3.

Discussion began with Mark Fischer outlining the history of the PCC’s struggle for a reforged CPGB and why we put Partyism at the centre of our work. It was explained to the comrades from the AWL that we have no CPGB golden age. Our project is about the future, not the past.

We also discussed the importance of trade union bulletins and trade union work. CPGB comrades assured the AWL representatives that we had no objections to trade union work nor trade union bulletins. There was, however, the matter of priorities.

Blair’s constitutional revolution was raised, along with the national question in Wales and Scotland. One AWL comrade did not see why we were so concerned with such issues. This led on to what the CPGB’s PCC understands by economism.

The entry work the CPGB carried out in the SLP was praised and criticised by the AWL comrades. We replied that it was easy to criticise from the outside.

The commitment of the CPGB to a minimum-maximum programme was touched upon. CPGB comrades questioned the AWL about their project of a new Labour Representation Committee. We were told that this was for propaganda purposes and at the moment was of no particular importance.

The principles of democratic centralism were emphasised by the CPGB comrades, as was the need for a polemical communist press in the conditions of today. We stressed the necessity of engaging with advanced workers – ie, those susceptible to theory.

Both sides agreed to hold a further meeting in mid-March and to have a joint day school in early April on the Party question. The three headings of debate will be: economism; organising the class; party and programme.

Halcyon days!

CPGB-AWL rapprochement. 27.7.2000.

Representatives of the CPGB and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty have been meeting to explore areas of difference and agreement between us. Over the coming weeks, we will feature edited minutes, starting here with those of the March 3 meeting. Comments and criticisms are welcome.

Agreed in conclusion: to put economism; organising the revolutionaries to revolutionise the labour movement; and Party and programme – minimum-maximum and transitional – on the agenda for a day school (date to be fixed). Next four-hander discussion: Friday March 17, to cover minimum-maximum and transitional programmes, and the nature of the ‘official communist’.

CPGB-AWL cooperation. 15.11.2001.

The Communist Party of Great Britain and the Alliance for Workers? Liberty are continuing to explore areas of theoretical difference and agreement, and are looking at the possibility of joint work. Representatives of the executive committee of the AWL and the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB met recently to discuss a number of issues of current practical concern and issues of ongoing debate between the two organisations.


The dalliance did not last, as this document (January 2003) indicates.

Followed by,

By Paul Hampton
The CPGB, those pretentious squirrels of left-wing tittle-tattle, outdid themselves by chickening out of a debate with the AWL over Iraq.

They have sought in vain to manufacture mischief with some AWL comrades who disagree with the group’s position on Iraq. After a series of private e-mails demanding that the AWL minority agitate to “clear out the leadership of the scabs”, the CPGB invited David Broder to debate with them at their overinflated “communist university”, under the title: troops out – but when? David referred the matter to the AWL office, which generously put up Sean Matgamna to speak for our politics.

The Weekly Worker responded in the shape of a piece by a certain Ian Donovan.

Workers’ Liberty: Descent into cultism

Ian Donovan assesses the current trajectory of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

Being “transnational Jewish bourgeoisie” Donovan one can imagine the angle he took on the Palestine Israel issue which divided the two groups.

Yet the vicarious-Zionist AWL has issued not one word of criticism or analysis of this ultra-reactionary phenomenon, which is one of the key, concrete manifestations of Zionism today.

He defended George Galloway,

the matter in hand is to defend Galloway against the bourgeois witch-hunt.


Whether over Galloway, the question of the Iraq war, Israel-Palestine, the Socialist Alliance (where it has squandered an enormous opportunity to be joint initiators of a genuinely broad paper of a pro-party minority), the AWL is retreating headlong back into the most bizarre and unsavoury forms of sectarianism.

Our interest in this tale is waning, so I will end there, yet it remains etched on many a broken heart.