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Galloway ‘Not the Killing of Alexander Litvinenko’ – Mocks Russian’s Death on Twitter.

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The Blair Doc

Will Galloway now produce ‘Not the Killing of Alexander Litvinenko’?

George Galloway Dismisses Putin Links To Alexander Litvinenko Murder And Accuses BBC Of Holding ‘Show Trial’.

Reports the Huffington Post.

George Galloway has rejected a public inquiry’s conclusion that Vladimir Putin was “probably” involved in the murder of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko – claiming the process was “riddled with imperfection” and accusing the BBC’s Newsnight of conducting a “show trial”.

The former MP, who is standing to be London mayor for the Respect Party, defended the Russian President for “trying to restore a lot of the lost prestige” in the country and being “the most popular politician on the planet”.

The ex-Labour politician also likened Sir Robert Owen’s inquiry – which found Russians Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun to have deliberately poisoned the 43-year-old in London in 2006 by putting the radioactive substance polonium-210 into his drink at a hotel – to the inquest into the death of Iraq weapons inspector, Dr David Kelly, which has been blighted by cover-up theories.

As part of an attempt to pour scorn on the findings of the Public Inquiry Galloway has since tweeted this.

And re-tweeted this distasteful material.

Will Galloway  consider”crowd funding” a documentary which will expose the real reasons for these claims about Putin?

In the meantime we have this to look forward to:

Reserve your DVD at The Works, Remainder Store.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 23, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Podemos, the Labour Party, and Momentum.

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Is it also the Moment for Momentum?

The radical left party, Podemos, won 21,3% (69 seats) in Sunday’s Spanish General election, just behind the socialist PSOE, at 21,7% (90) With Rajoy’s conservative PP party at 28,7% (123) and the centrist Cuididanos (Citizens) at 14,9 % (40) negotiations for coalition are underway involving smaller regional and other parties (Wikipedia).

Both Podemos and Cuididanos were present in this contest for the first time. Their entry into the Cortes Generales is a political earthquake with Europe-wide implications. Podemos draws on the Indignados movement that began as protests against the political class “la casta”, their corruption, budget cuts and mass unemployment (at the time up to 21%). Cuidadonos’ name also echoes that period, the march dubbed Mareas Cuidadanas – citizens’ tide).

Owen Jones, has expressed the view that the Labour Party is represented in Parliament by a British counterpart of the Spanish Socialist Party, the PSOE, while supporters attracted to Jeremy Corbyn were more akin to the radical left party, Podemos. Jones, whose pre-election visit to lend support to Podemos’ campaign was reported on the state broadcasters, is one amongst many on the European left who admire its left populist anti-austerity politics. In this view the change in Labour’s leadership (allowed through emulation of the ‘primary’ party elections of the French Parti Socialiste and Italian Partido Democratia, open to all for a modest fee, rather than the structures of Podemos) had brought our politics closer to Spain’s. It suggested that a form of ‘new politics’ has emerged in the United Kingdom, inside the traditional left and now given expression in the open forums of Momentum.

Ciudadanos

Podemos leader Juliá Iglesias’ entry into Parliament is joined, nobody has failed to notice, by the ‘centre’ group, Ciudadanos. Jones seems to have found a centrist counterpart in Peter Hyman. The former speech-writer and strategist for Tony Blair argued in the Observer that Labour is becoming the “Ukip of the left”, a party of protest and not power, with the prospect of capturing at best 28% of the vote (Observer. 20.12.15). This means that the party “mainstream” will look elsewhere. Corbyn, head of a left wing party, “appealing to mix of metropolitan elites, students and some trade unionists”, a popular constituency in “tribal Labour loyalty”, relying on “big state solutions” will carry on. They will keep trying to win arguments but have no prospect of coming to power. One could note that the British electoral system, unlike Spain’s proportional one, remains an effective bloc to the kind of shake up Hispanic politics has undergone.

Hyman attacks Ed Miliband for opening the door to the left – although it was the modernisers who promoted the idea of One Member One Vote in a ‘primary’ election form. He states that with the “wrong” result, – Corbyn’s victory – there is a “gaping hole in the centre and centre-left of British politics.” It would not take much to extend this to say that against the Podemos road Hayman advocates a British Ciudadanos. This would be an alliance of the centre and the centre-left, “modern progressive values-driven party” with a “commitment to social mobility”. A new ‘project’ would aim for a “leaner, more agile empowering state” that backs “social entrepreneurs” to build “diverse and democratic communities”. This formula, Peter Hayman believes, his appetite no doubt wetted, would have a “fighting chance of winning an election”.

It would be mistake on the left to take the take the analogy with Podemos and the POSOE to heart. Spain has suffered several decades of corruption scandals, affecting the established left, as well as a prolonged ‘dirty war’ against the armed wing of the Basque independence movement, in which Socialist governments were deeply compromised. These scandals continued under the conservative PP, from the 2013 Bárcenas affair, a slush fund to pay party members, and others too numerous to list, including one involving the than leader of the Catalan nationalist leader Jordi Pujol, whose party is now demanding independence.

There has been nothing in Britain to parallel the mass movement of the Indignados, the cradle of Podemos. It is estimated that between 6 and 8 million people participated in these street activities. Those protests made the US Occupy Wall Street look trivial, not to mention the smaller British initiations of the American demonstrations and occupations. A much more successful UK initiative, the anti-austerity People’s Assembly, has mobilised hundreds of thousands and set up large groups all over the country. It was, and is, however closely linked the existing mechanisms of the labour movement. There was none of the loathing for all “politicians” that the Spanish masses expressed. France, where the Podemos breakthrough has been heralded by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and the home of the (deceased) writer Stéphane Hessel, whose book Indignez-Vous! gave the Indignados their name – saw, and has seen, practically no movement at all apart from trade union protests.

Populism.

The comparison with Podemos also runs into obstacles when one considers it more broadly. Its strategic line is said to draw on the writings of Ernesto Laclau. Laclau and Mouffe’s Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1988) offered a critique of traditional Marxism and a freeing of political and social contradictions from rigid class categories. It was widely regarded on the British left as dense theoretical fog for a shift from class politics to the nebulous democratic alliances of ‘new times’. In subsequent writings, generally languishing in academic obscurity, Laclau developed an approach to the specificity of politics. His interest in a left strategy that focused on the discursive articulations of popular democratic struggles and fights for left hegemony broadened into approaches to the – still predominantly ‘discursive’ – mechanisms of politics. Interest in the figure of the ‘People’ against the elite, linked Laclau to some of his earliest writings on Populism, with special reference to Latin America.

In On Populist Reason (2005) Laclau retained an emphasis on the specificity of democratic movements outside and against formal political power. Laclau stated, “populism requires the dichromatic division of society into two camps – one presenting itself as a part which claims to be the whole; that this dichotomy involves the antagonistic division of the social field, and that the popular camp presupposes as a conditions of its constitution the constriction of a globalised entity out of the equivalence of a plurality of social demands.” Put simply populism means pitting the people against an array of forces solidified into a simple enemy – an observation which did not wait for Laclau to be discovered. Interviewed this year in New Left Review Iglesias acknowledged his theoretical attraction to almost Marxist ‘Gramscian’ earlier writings, but that the later work offers a “useful tool” for explaining the “autonomy of politics”. Or, again, to put it directly, it gives legitimacy to a way of constructing politics in terms of friend and foe (Carl Schmitt) using a galaxy of propaganda forms to give this shape. It is widely claimed that Podemos’ consciously utilises this instrument in their strategy: the People are mobilised against the ‘Casta’, the ruling caste. (1)

These ideas, whose abstraction and infinite extension, leftwards and rightwards, critics have not failed to note, should not hide the difficulties of creating a different type of politics. Paul Mason’s post-election claim that the pro-business SNP is part of the same ” radical, populist and nationalist left” only reinforces this impression. (Guardian 21.12.15.)

The more modest and attractive aspect of Podemos has apparently been its openness, its willingness to dissolve traditional political organisational forms into new ones, connected to social media and other ways of vertical communication. But when it comes to decision-making problems arise. US and British experience of cumbersome conformity and construction of new elites inside the ‘structurelessness’ of vertical communication and “consensus decision-making” emerged in the wake of the Occupy movement. Inside Podemos there are widely shared complaints about a very visible “vertical” and top-down leadership. This has not been without its faults, as few members participated in voting on the Podemos electoral programme or candidate selection. By contrast Íñigo Errejón, a defender of their strategy, has talked of leading from in front, and the key role of the charismatic Julias Iglesias, as welcome features of Podemos’ efforts to break the mould of traditional left-right politics, indeed to surpass this “old” division. It is a “fundamental element in building hegemony.” (2)

Labour: a ‘Synthesis’.

The Labour Party is, to say the least, not a ‘new’ party. It is a coalition, or better, a ‘bloc’ of disparate forces. Unlike a true coalition it has not always reached full agreement on a detailed programme of political action. There have always been substantial differences on major issues – the present leader is the best example of this extending to Parliamentary votes. But as a “bloc”, that is to say a common front for elections, it has brought together ‘sociological’ forces – the unions – the Party – the NEC, the Parliamentary Party, professional politicians, an army of local councillors, and small more ideological groups or networks, from Progress to the Labour Representation Committee. In more sociological terms this is often portrayed in terms of a marriage between the radical intelligentsia, middle class social reformers, hard-headed trade unionists, and, it has to be said, patriotic ‘national’ Labour of all classes. It is electoral activity that holds these all together. But the signs are, as Haynes indicates, that as more ideological forces enter the field, from Labour First to and Momentum, disagreements are becoming sharper. Divorce, some say, is the only answer.

This break up may be desirable for some on the left and the right. But Hyman is right to suggest that winning elections is not a trivial affair. For those who want to see a Labour government a split is a disaster. The electoral system is not going to change – with boundary changes it is going to become more difficult for the party to elect MPs. In these conditions the principal problem for an old, not a new party, is not to extend its debates outwards. It is to reach some kind of equilibrium within Labour that holds the apparatus together. In some of the more ideological European socialist parties the idea of a “synthesis” between the different parts of these organisations in the process of presenting an electoral platform is a way to resolve these differences. Jean Jaurès, the towering figure of the 20th century French left, advocated a strongly democratic form of socialism (republicanism), human rights, reforms, social ownership and Marxist principles of class struggle. In short, he combined “evolution” and a revolutionary transformation of capitalism into socialism. The notion of drawing ideas together rather than setting them up for stage battles has, for those who wish to see a Labour Prime Minster elected with a party in support, is surely preferable to a prolonged civil war. (3)

What relevance does Podemos have in this context? Their tertulias (open debating forums) may perhaps inform some of those involved in Momentum. But there the analogy breaks down. There is nothing resembling the common sense of deep social angst and purpose that animated the 15-M Movement. Momentum is recruited around support for the new Labour leadership. Already the operations of small socialist organisations, using the Corbyn’s supporters’ network to promote their own agenda of party building and throwing discredit on Labour MPs and councils, have weakened claims about “new politics”. It seems that one objective, of these bodies, to hector councillors to set illegal anti-cuts budgets, has already met with Jeremy Corbyn’s disapproval. It is doubtful if these people care. These groups believe in making a new left-wing party, of contestable democratic credentials, whether the bulk of Labour Party members and supporters want it or not. The activities of the People’s Assembly, directed at the real enemy, the Conservative government, with the clear backing of the trade unions, engaged in a fruitful and respectful dialogue with sections of the Labour Party, appear to have run out of steam.

If we pick our way through the debates inside and outside the Labour Party there are grounds to imagine that a new ‘synthesis’ or at least co-existence of different strands of thought could come about. The modern Labour Party can make space for social democratic proposals for reform, universal principles of rights and justice, with our modern understanding of racial, sexual and gender equality, and expanded renewed welfare provision, Green issues, and more radical ideas on democratic nationalisation, economic transformation, internationalism, and the promotion of working class interests. Hay

Ideas of greater social mobility, “social entrepreneurs” and “progressive” alliances will look pretty tired faced with proposals for genuine equality, liberty and social solidarity. A rich vein of radical literature, from Pierre Rosanvallon’s studies of equality, Thomas Picketty’s critique of rentier capital, to David Harvey’s undogmatic Marxist approach to capitalism – to cite only a handful of new resources for change – could help debate. Some of the able Labour leaders’ advisers can surely expand this list of ‘tool boxes’ for democratic socialist change. In this sense Labour could present a challenge not to a broadly defined ‘casta’ but to the right-wing business and oligarchies and their hangers profiteering from the privatising-state not to mention their political representatives who are our real opponents.

Activists and Policy.

New Labour was marked by separation between policy and activism, between those who decided and those who carried out the leadership’s decision. This drove people away in crowds. If Podemos teaches us something it is that their brand of leftist populism has clearly reached an audience. It also, unfortunately, indicates that there is more than one way to institutionalise an inability to influence policy.

If Labour wishes to reach outwards it needs more open policy-making. Meetings that count, and not simple get-togethers, or tertulias, stand a better long-term chance of mobilising those new to politics. Nothing can prevent those who wish to grandstand, or find a pretext for criticising the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, coming along. Democracy always means minorities that disagree. But when the stakes, the possibility of making a difference to how a party works and what it is aiming at, are there, the potential for agreement also exists. Drawing a new audience into Labour and not outside it, the feeling that the public is not separated from ‘them’ inside the party, is not easy. But one suspects that it is preferable to a ‘populism’ whose final destination remains unclear.

******
(1) Page 83 Ernesto Laclau. On Populist Reason. Verso. 2005. Pablo Iglesias. Understanding Podemos. Interview. New Left Review. No 93. 2015. Populisme, Itinéraire d’un mot voyager. Gérard Mauger. Le Monde Diplomatique. July 2015.

(2) Podemos and its Critics. Bécquer Seguín. Radical Philosophy 193. 2015.

(3) Jaurés et le Réformisme Révolutionnaire. Jean-Paul Scot. Seuil. 2014.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 22, 2015 at 3:09 pm

“Progressive Alliance” Mania: Green MP, Caroline Lucas Calls for Alliance with Labour, *and* the Liberal Democrats.

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For a Progressive Alliance of Greens, Labour and…..Liberal Democrats.

Peter Hyman, former key Blair speech writer and strategist, has called for a new alliance of the centre of British politics.

In the Observer on Sunday this appeared,

In a devastating critique of the party’s recent failures, from New Labour’s second term onwards, Blair’s former speechwriter and chief strategist Peter Hyman suggests its plight is now so desperate that it may even be necessary to form a new party with others, including the Lib Dems, to fill the “gaping hole in the centre and centre-left of British politics.

But Hyman is not alone is courting the Liberal Democrats.

Leading Greens are making eyes in that direction.

A progressive alliance of Labour, Lib Dems and Greens should be formed to take on the Tories in the 2020 General Election, Caroline Lucas has claimed.

Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, the Green MP called on anti-Conservative parties to band together to stop the “terrifying” prospect of a further decade of Tory rule.

Ms Lucas, who increased her Brighton Pavilion majority in May’s General Election, said one of the key principles those in the alliance should agree upon is to introduce proportional representation in order to end the “logjam” of the current “archaic voting system.”

The Green MP refused to say this year’s election was a missed opportunity for her party, and instead blamed the campaign of fear run by the Tories for the party’s failure to secure anymore MPs.

Not so long ago the Greens also admired the nationalist parties.
March 2015. Scottish Herald.

UK Greens back ‘progressive alliance’ with SNP at Westminster.

THE Green Party’s only MP has backed Nicola Sturgeon’s claim that a ‘progressive alliance’ could be formed between their parties at Westminster.

Caroline Lucas, who defeated Labour to win in the Brighton Pavilion constituency at 2010, told a conference of the Green Party for England and Wales that she wants to “forge a new grouping in Parliament” with the nationalists.

Like the SNP, the Greens have increased their membership substantially since the last General Election, with the party rivalling the Liberal Democrats in recent polls.

Ms Lucas said: “With the rise of the SNP, and with our own Green surge, we have the chance to forge a new grouping in Parliament. A progressive alliance.

This latter, a link-up with centrist pro-business Scottish nationalists, Plaid Cymru, and the Greens, found an admirer in the shape of Red Pepper’s apparently left-wing Editor.

Hilary Wainwright on the 7th of May wrote in Red Pepper.

These smaller parties – the SNP (Scottish National Party) Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalists) and the Greens are already talking about forming a ‘progressive anti-austerity alliance’ with left wing Labour MPs – there are still some but not many – and using their bargaining power to push Labour to the left.

This kind of alliance combining parliamentary and extra-parliamentary sources of power, is my dream

The growing network of militant extra-parliamentary, direct action campaigns are also insisting that these MPs give support to their struggles and not confine themselves to the shenanigans of parliamentary politics. All three parties and many left Labour MP’s have a strong record of engagement in campaigning politics outside of parliament. The new contingent of SNP MPs who will arrive at Westminster are mainly the product of the radical movement for Scottish independence which had real roots in working class communities and was hitherto largely autonomous from the SNP. And the one Green MP, Caroline Lucas, gains her inspiration more from outside parliament than inside. Many of the leadership of the Welsh Nationalists spent time in prison as a result of direct action in support of the Welsh language.

New alliances for the Greens have shifted since then, or have they not?

Who knows?

Caroline Lucas and Hilary Wainwright may consider the idea of a tie-up between Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru is still on the cards.

But the competition for the attention of the Liberal Democrats is already there.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 21, 2015 at 5:28 pm

“Hard Edged Secularism” in UK to Blame for Support for Islamic State, Says Top Tory.

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Crabb: Standing up to Hard-Edged Secularists. 

The Guardian reports.

A Tory cabinet minister has said that Britain’s increasingly secular society risks “pushing more young Muslims into the arms of Isis”.

Stephen Crabb, the Welsh secretary, used a speech to claim that a “hard-edged” secularism in Britain was partly to blame for “aiding and abetting” extremism, as mainstream religion is marginalised in public life.

Crabb is a committed Christian who voted against gay marriage and is one of at least two prominent members of the Conservative Christian Fellowship in the cabinet, alongside the education secretary, Nicky Morgan.

He made the intervention on Tuesday, the day after the commission on religion and belief in British public life proposed that schools should no longer face a legal requirement to provide daily acts of worship of a Christian character. It also suggested the teaching of religious belief should be overhauled to make it more relevant in a diverse and increasingly secular country.

Although extremism is not part of his usual brief, Crabb spoke about the issue as he gave the annual Wilberforce address for the Conservative Christian Fellowship.

Apparently religious liberty is menaced.

The minister, who has been tipped as a possible outside candidate for the next Tory leadership race, said he thought freedom of religion was now under threat, citing the case of the advertising company that refused a Church of England cinema commercial promoting the Lord’s Prayer.

In the speech, he claimed the current mood meant “faith gets squeezed further into the margins of public life and religion becomes delegitimised through suspicion, fear or ridicule”. This could have implications for the fight against Islamic extremism, Crabb suggested.

“The answer to the seduction of Isil [Isis] is not a greater dose of secularism that delegitimises their faith in the public space,” he said. “I believe the marginalisation of religion in our national life risks pushing more young Muslims into the arms of Isil.”

On the Spectator Blog  comments,

He also admitted finding it easier not to talk about his own faith at all as a politician, and worrying that ‘I doubt whether we will ever see again a British Prime Minister who can talk openly about the times when they might pray to God’. He said:

‘So here we are in 2015, in an age when it is easier for a politician to admit to smoking weed or watching porn, than it is to admit that they might take prayer seriously in their daily life.’

She continues,

Crabb pointed to the open ridicule that politicians such as Tim Farron and Tony Blair invited for saying that they prayed. He also said the decision by major cinema chains to refuse to screen a Church of England advert about the Lord’s Prayer was ‘an act of enormous ignorance and intolerance’.

Crabb’s call has already had a wide echo in progressive circles.

Reports indicate that Goldsmiths College plans to offer a new MA on the intersecting social identities and related systems of secularist oppression, domination or discrimination and marginalisation of faith communities, provisionally entitled Interfaithality.

It is said that Matt Carr, an expert on Jihadism and the Spanish International Brigades (StWC) will be one of the course tutors.

Hilary Benn: Many on the Left Underestimate his Speech in the Syria Debate.

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“Greatest oratory can lead us to the greatest mistakes.”

Many on the left gravely underestimate the power of Hilary Benn’s speech in the House of Commons debate yesterday.

Not so John McDonnell who has shone with his good sense and judgement throughout the debate on Syria.

“His oratory was great. He reminded me of Tony Blair’s speech taking us into the Iraq war and I am always anxious that the  as well.”

He dismissed the 66 Labour MPs who voted with the government as a “small minority” and said Mr Corbyn had the backing of the majority of Labour members, the party’s national executive and the shadow cabinet.

He also condemned the abuse directed at Labour MPs who backed military action.

“We have said if they are Labour Party members we have disciplinary processes and they will take place. We cannot have intimidation in our party,” he told Today.

BBC

We can only endorse this statement:

Momentum strongly disapproves of anyone who engages in abusive behaviour towards MPs or anyone else, and threatening or bullying, whether they are outside the Labour Party (as most are) or inside it. We specifically asked our supporters to emulate Jeremy Corbyn, and to keep their messages about the issues and to refrain from any personal attacks.”

Momentum is not a threat to MPs who voted for bombing. We have made clear that we will not campaign for the deselection of any MP and will not permit any local Momentum groups to do so. The selection of candidates is entirely a matter for local party members and rightly so.”

Those determined not to respect the opinions of those they oppose on UK intervention should pause.

If there is one place to start from it’s from reading or watching Hilary Benn’s speech.

These extracts give some flavour of Benn’s intervention.

Now Mr Speaker, no one in this debate doubts the deadly serious threat we face from Daesh and what they do – although sometimes we find it hard to live with the reality. We know that in June four gay men were thrown off the fifth storey of a building in the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor. We know that in August the 82-year-old guardian of the antiquities of Palmyra, Professor Khaled al-Assad, was beheaded and his headless body was hung from a traffic light. And we know that in recent weeks there has been the discovery of mass graves in Sinjar, one said to contain the bodies of older Yazidi women murdered by Daesh because they were judged too old to be sold for sex. We know they have killed 30 British tourists in Tunisia, 224 Russian holidaymakers on a plane, 178 people in suicide bombings in Beirut , Ankara and Suruc, 130 people in Paris – including those young people in the Bataclan, whom Daesh, in trying to justify their bloody slaughter, called them apostates engaged in prostitution and vice. If it had happened here they could have been our children, and we know they are plotting more attacks.

Sister Socialist Party.

So the question for each of us and for our national security is this: given that we know what they are doing, can we really stand aside and refuse to act fully in our self defence against those who are planning these attacks? Can we really leave to others the responsibility for defending our national security when it is our responsibility? And if we do not act, what message would that send about our solidarity with those countries that have suffered so much, including Iraq and our ally France. Now France wants us to stand with them , and President Hollande, the leader of our sister socialist party, has asked for our assistance and help. And as we are undertaking air strikes in Iraq, where Daesh’s hold has been reduced, and we are already doing everything but engage in air strikes in Syria, should we not play our full part?

From Iraq to Kobane.

Now Mr Speaker, it has been argued in the debate that air strikes achieve nothing. Not so. Look at how Daesh’s forward march has been halted in Iraq. The house will remember that 14 months ago people were saying, ‘They are almost at the gates of Baghdad.’ And that is why we voted to respond to the Iraqi government’s request for help to defeat them. Look at how their military capacity and their freedom of movement has been put under pressure. Ask the Kurds about Sinjar and Kobane. Now of course air strikes alone will not defeat Daesh, but they make a difference because they are giving them a hard time and it is making it more difficult for them to expand their territory.

International Brigade.

Now Mr Speaker, I hope the House will bear with me if I direct my closing remarks to my Labour friends and colleagues on this side of the House. As a party, we have always been defined by our internationalism. We believe we have a responsibility one to another. We never have and we never should walk by on the other side of the road. And we are here faced by fascists. Not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us here tonight, and all of the people that we represent.They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy, the means by which we will make our decision tonight, in contempt. And what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated. And it is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists and trade unionists and others joined the International Brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It’s why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It is why our party has always stood up against the denial of human rights and for justice. And my view, Mr Speaker, is that we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria. And that is why I ask my colleagues to vote for this motion tonight.

Mirror

This is not rhetoric.

It is a carefully constructed argument studded with language of some grandeur.

We stand with the victims of Deash, for its defeat, and this sets out a deep ethical dilemma.

That its premises and conclusions are contestable does not take away from the fact that it, this has to be said, is ethically kilometres away from the slogan mongering of those who say, with Alex Callinicos, of the Socialist Workers Party, “Our job is to defeat imperialism, not Isis.

We are not going to wait for the “Arab Revolution”, as these voices suggest, to resolve the Syrian civil war.

But we can express more than doubt that the forces Benn backs are a vehicle for human rights and justice.

Who can answer his arguments?

The Stop the War Coalition has issued this statement, in the name of Andrew Murray and Lindsey German.

The Stop the War Coalition believes that the decision taken by MPs tonight is profoundly mistaken and dangerous. The prime minister made no good case for war, and his abuse of those who differ as “terrorist sympathisers” gives a measure of his small-mindedness. There is no good case for British airstrikes in a war which is already seeing the two major military powers, the U.S. and Russia, bombing Syria. A new war will not increase the prospects of peace in Syria, nor will the British people be safer from terrorism. And the record of two years’ bombing of IS in Iraq shows that it will not be dislodged by a great-power air war.

How far can this be taken seriously? Are they the people to persuade us for an anti-war movement based on human rights and justice.

Andrew Murray is a member of the Communist Party of Britain, which supports the legitimacy of the actions of one of these “major military powers”, Russia.

The Communist Party maintains its opposition to US, NATO and British military intervention in Syria. Whatever the pretext – whether to defeat the barbaric ISIS or to rescue civilian populations – the real aim is clear: to strengthen the anti-Assad terrorist forces (Islamic fundamentalists who have largely displaced the Free Syrian Army ‘moderate opposition’), create areas in which these forces can operate freely (in the guise of ‘no-fly zones’ and ‘safe havens’) and ultimately to partition Syria and replace the Assad regime with a compliant puppet one.

Russian military forces are now attacking all the anti-Assad terrorists, including Isis, at the invitation of the Damascus government – which has every right to issue such an invitation as the internationally recognised political authority in Syria.

Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffith

It hardly needs adding that having to rely on figures like George Galloway and Tariq Ali to convey their message at demonstrations does not add to the Stop the War Coalition’s moral authority or popular appeal.

Galloway is too well known to bring up further.

On Ali can only note this,

Tariq Ali spoke at a Stop the War rally in London on November 28, 2015, on the need to oppose any Western interventions in Syria. He did so by propagating, again, conspiracy views and actually legitimizing Russian imperialist interventions in Syria.

But, for all Hilary Benn’s power of persuasion,  he has not presented a convincing case for Cameron’s actually existing plans.

These rely on many forces who are very far from a new International Brigade. 

The Coalition rests on Saudi Arabia (Islamist totalitarian state), Turkey (authoritarian Islamist democracy – violently opposed to the Kurds). It requires the tolerance of Iran (semi-totalitarian Islamist theocracy), and Putin’s Russia – not to mention some kind of modus vivendi with Assad (for the moment…).

As for the forces on the ground that Cameron and his allies place hopes in,  many of them “hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy, the means by which we will make our decision tonight, in contempt.”

‘Britain is on the verge of entering into a long war in Syria based on wishful thinking and poor information…’ Patrick Cockburn

“The notion that there are 70,000 moderate fighters is an attempt to show that you can fight Isis and [President Bashar al] Assad at the same time,” says Professor Joshua Landis, the director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and an expert on Syrian politics. But he is dismissive of the idea that such a potential army exists, though he says there might be 70,000 Syrians with a gun who are fighting for their local clan, tribe, warlord or village. “The problem is that they hate the village down the road just as much they hate Isis and Assad,” he said.

The armed opposition to President Assad is dominated by Isis, the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and the ideologically similar Ahrar al-Sham. Some of the smaller groups, once estimated by the CIA to number 1,500, might be labelled as moderate, but only operate under license from the extreme jihadists. Aymenn al-Tamimi, a fellow at the Middle East Forum and an authority on the Syrian armed opposition, says that these groups commonly exaggerate their numbers, are very fragmented and have failed to unite, despite years of war.
pg-8-syria-map.jpg

He recalls that one group he met during a recent visit to Latakia province in north-west Syria claimed to have 2,000 fighters, but probably numbered only 500.

Sectarian Hatred.

He warns that they pretend to the outside world that they are more moderate than they really are, speaking of “the equality of all Syrians before the law” when they are outside Syria or communicating with people who have never been to the country, but express “hatred for Shia and Allawites” on all other occasions.

Mr Tamimi says that the smaller armed groups, which sometimes have good weapons supplied by the Americans, had acted as auxiliaries to Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham when they captured Idlib City in fierce fighting with the Syrian army in May.

Even if such groups are not extreme Islamists, they do not have the strength to refuse to cooperate. This will make any ceasefire very difficult to arrange because such moderate fighters as there are who might be willing to accept a truce, are intermingled with powerful Nusra forces which will not do so.

Radical Islamic Ideology.

Moreover, radical Islamic ideology has been gaining ground in all parts of the Syrian opposition. James Harkin, the author of Hunting Season about the kidnapping of foreigners in Syria and a frequent visitor to opposition-held areas, says that it is important to grasp that “none of these people [the armed opposition inside Syria] like us”.

They see the US, Britain and France as enemies. This includes the non-jihadists, whom the West hopes to enlist, who suspect they will be used as cannon fodder and then discarded.

Kurdish Forces.

The one group that has some claim to be non-sectarian, secular and a powerful fighting force is the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) who claim to number 50,000, but probably total half that. It has been the most effective anti-Isis ground force and, heavily supported by US air strikes, its territory now stretches across northern Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates.

It claims to be non-sectarian and that it does not persecute Sunni Arabs, but sectarian fear and hatred is today so deep in Syria – partly but not entirely because of the atrocities of Isis – that people flee the attack of every other sectarian or ethnic group different from themselves. The Sunni population in Raqqa, Isis’s Syrian capital, or in Mosul in Iraq, may dislike Isis, but they are even more terrified of the Kurds or the Shia militias.

Are these, seriously, the vehicles to help defeat fascism? 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 3, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Yvonne Ridley, George Galloway’s Best Friend, Asks “Are Zionists at the heart of the Tory bullying scandal?”

with 3 comments

Are Zionists at the heart of the Tory bullying scandal?

Yvonne Ridley. Middle East Monitor.

Yvonne has been a prominent member of George Galloway’s Respect Party.

Yvonne Ridley Respect candidate in Rotherham election 2012.

In January 2014, Ridley was nominated for the Muslim Woman of the Year award at the British Muslim Awards.

Sister Ridley was at one time tipped at the leader of George Galloway’s Respect Party.

But according to the Guardian she refused to answer in 2013, “Neglecting to confirm or deny whether she was the leader”.

After the Chechen leader Shamil Basayev (responsible for the terrorist attack on the Beslan school) was killed, Ridley wrote an article referring to Basayev by the Muslim honorific shaheed, meaning “martyr”. She went on to refer to Basayev as leader of “an admirable struggle to bring independence to Chechnya”. (Here).

So what is the answer the question that is on everyone’s lips: Are Zionists at the heart of the Tory bullying scandal?

A political scandal which has rocked the British government, forcing the resignation of a Conservative minister, also reveals the powerful influence of pro-Israel Zionists at play.

Grant Shapps has already quit his post of international development minister after damning evidence emerged of bullying following the death of a young political activist. It seems that the former Conservative Party chair failed to act over allegations of bullying, sexual harassment, drug taking and the blackmailing of some MPs, according to media reports. The focus of the allegations is Mark Clarke, who was appointed by Shapps as the director of the Road Trip election campaign last year. The appointment is said by some media reports “to have baffled many in the party.”

While Middle East political observers may regard the fall out as nothing more than a domestic spat, they couldn’t be more wrong, because snippets of information are beginning to come out which reveal the dirty tricks of Zionist influences at the heart of David Cameron’s troubled government.

Most people will not have even got this far, so to spare them from any further boredom, we will simply reproduce Sister Ridley’s conclusion,

Quite why Grant Shapps seems determined to protect Mark Clarke remains to be seen but it is a question to which Baroness Warsi and the parents of Elliott Johnson want an answer. It will also be interesting to see if any more evidence of Zionist influence leaks out. In the meantime, Prime Minister David Cameron is under pressure to hold a full inquiry into the bullying allegations made by Johnson, Warsi and others who have also complained about the hectoring culture within the ranks of the Conservative Party. Let’s hope that he doesn’t bottle it, for the sake of Elliott Johnson’s parents and everyone else keen to remove rotten apples from the core of British politics.

On Ridley’s Facebook Page this comment on the above article appears:

Why are people surprised? Zionist rule the World. They controls the Banks, Media and the Press. Many Zionist keep their Jews identity as a secrets so many times we don’t know that rich, white man or woman in suits are Zionist.

Obvious, innit!

Thanks AT….

Written by Andrew Coates

November 30, 2015 at 1:35 pm

George Galloway, Posadist, “Every terrorist will be shot down dead, and if I can, I will pull the trigger myself from my Sputnik.”

with 3 comments

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Watch out World: Galloway is in Orbit!

George Galloway has been a busy bee.

Here is Galloway this morning:

Here was Galloway yesterday:

Here was also Galloway yesterday.

This yet again was Galloway yesterday:

He even claims that Russia is the forefront of the fight against the Daesh genociders.

Forgetting perhaps that it was welcome US air-support that saved the Kurds from in Kobane from mass murder.

Here was him last week.

The police will find a friend in me,” he added.

Every terrorist will be shot down dead, and if I can, I will pull the trigger myself.

“I say to the police officer in the room, when it comes to your wages, your resources and your strengthening, you can count on me.”

Speculation is rife that Galloway plans to follow Vladimir Putin and wrestle a terrorist, bare-handed, to the ground.

He is there, up in space, with a new Communist civilisation, orbiting the earth, just waiting……

Here is an earlier incarnation of Sputnik.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 29, 2015 at 12:53 pm