Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Britain’ Category

The Morning Star and the Left. “Why I will no longer write for the Morning Sta. Rabbil Sikdar.”

with 4 comments

The Morning Star Newspaper by Party9999999

Paper of a Faction of the left?

Some people on the left, more than a few at any rate, read the Morning Star.

It has good labour movement, that is trade union, reports. There are useful articles about social issues, like Universal Credit. There is proper reporting on the goings on of  those privateers trying to milk profit from second rate public services and those demanding rent for providing utilities.

The daily is accessible, and has a human side, even if not everybody would wish to follow the recipes of hard-line vegetarian Commie Chef (typical: take 200 grams of brown organic rice. Boil. Serve with grated turnip).

Following Andrew Murray’s use of the paper to launch a factional bid to readmit George Galloway to the Labour Party questions are being asked about the paper’s  ‘broad’ remit.

The Star is clear about where it is coming from – if your read the fine print,

Since 1945 the paper has been owned by a broad-based readers’ co-operative, the People’s Press Printing Society (PPPS). The paper’s editorial line remains anchored in the political programme of the Communist Party of Britain but it offers a broad left perspective on political, industrial and international issues.”

More ambitiously it describes itself as the People’s Daily and, often, as the paper of The Left.

To critics the daily is in fact the paper of a small section of the left, the pro-Brexit, pro-Assad Left with more than a few bees in its bonnet about Israel and a tolerant (though not uncritical) attitude towards Russia’s President Putin.

Rabbil Sikdar launched a relevant attack on this left a few months ago in the Huffington Post.

The Left Are Losing Their Internationalism

It’s the left that backs Brexit and the left that can witness a massacre take place and deny its existence if the west wasn’t responsible for it. It’s the left who will criticise the USA and Saudi Arabia but ignore Russia and Iran. To them, it’s futile to criticise others and more useful instead to focus on one’s own government and allies. Theresa May and the Tories are rightly criticised for indulging Saudi Arabia despite their treatment of women yet Jeremy Corbyn has never been criticised for taking money from Press TV, the state channel for Iran – a country that violently represses gays and women. When it comes to ethical consistency in foreign policy and relations, the left are dangerously wayward. Oz Katerji, a journalist, explained this to me as “hypocrisy based on outdated ideological assumptions about the world where discussing our international responsibility to protect civilians from harm, a fundamental precept of international law, is gas-lighted as British imperialism.”

He concldued,

Genocide happens and parts of the left simply erase it on a consistent basis. I dialled down my criticisms of Corbyn after 8th June but it’s immoral to remain silent over something as important as this. The Labour Party is becoming a political home for awful genocide apologists and it runs right through to the leader himself.

It is far from the case that the Labour Party, and the Corbyn leadership can be so brutally accused.

What might be true is that the Labour leader, like everybody else, has no easy answer to the problems of violence across the world.

It is equally the case that this left is not the left.

There are many, from radical left groups to left-wing defenders of human rights who would not recognise themselves in Sikdar’s broadside.

But there is a section of the left, which has a stand about a key area that matters a great deal at present – Syria – which is at odds with basic human rights politics.

Sikdar focused last year on Syria in an  attack the embodiment of this left, the Morning Star.

His views had all the more force in that it is a paper he had written for.

Why I will no longer write for the Morning Star Rabbil Sikdar

I wear my socialism on my sleeves and will never shy away from that. Every Political Compass test has me basically nailed down as a ‘hard left’ person. The things I believe in, radical to some, sensible to others define my sense of socialism: fair wages, fair taxes, strong public sector, social housing and a compassionate welfare system.

He announced,

 I no longer write for the Star and for a while had been winding down my contribution. By the end it was just sport content because of my respect for the sports editor. For the other part, I have a lot of things to be angry about with the Star.

For a newspaper that subscribes to left wing values, that should include free speech and right to criticise politicians. Unfortunately this never extended to criticism of Corbyn’s failing leadership, or Diane Abbott; it didn’t include the ‘Lexit’ vote — and where it mattered most crucially, it did not include Russia and Assad.

The paper has never criticised the Assad regime or Putin. Lines that go along with “we’re no fans of the Assad regime but…” are poor condemnations. In fact, they’re not condemnations at all. Someone recently described it quite well as imagining defenders of the British Empire dismissing the Amritsar Massacre. Likewise, saying “we condemn all bombings” gravely misunderstands who is doing the bombing and draws a false equivalence between aggressive actors and those responding to the violence. The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported in 2015 that the Assad regime was responsible for more than 10,000 deaths. ISIS, for all their barbarism, had killed just over a thousand. Since then, those statistics have continued in underlining the basic fact that Assad — backed up by Russia — has been responsible for the brutal carnage.

And this,

One of their long-time contributors John Wight, a staunch unwavering supporter of Assad and Russia, called me a “liberal apologist for murder” (paraphrasing here) in a heated Facebook row. It led to one of the editors apologising to me, but it was then I began noticing something.

Wight is known to this Blog as a former author at Socialist Unity, until he fell out with Andy Newman.

Always a bit of an amateur military strategist Wight now produces material for Putin’s Sputnik.

It is a relief to find him anti-Brexit, but as for the rest, well,

The launch of the military operation to liberate Idlib province in northwestern Syria brings with it the prospect of a final military victory over Salafi-jihadi terror groups in the country, which congregated there upon the liberation of Aleppo back in January.

Together with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial withdrawal of Russian troops and personnel from the country, it is evidence that the conflict has entered its last stage.

Sputnik.

That aside, the chief, and most significant complaint, is what Sikdar “began noticing” – the following,

Whenever I wrote articles that were critical of Assad and Putin, they were never published. I never even got responses on them. Other times articles had lines critical of Assad tweaked, removed entirely often. I wrote a football article about the Middle East, talking about Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and also Syria. The point about Syria was enough to get the entire article pulled. What was the point? “In Syria, the Civil War saw the football destroyed. Players and coaches took sides, willingly or reluctantly, Assad or the pro-democracy rebels. There were more who were neutral. Others left the country, compelled by intimidation or fear for safety. Some players such as Musab Balhous were imprisoned for supposedly helping rebels. More left because they came to regard the Syrian national team as associated with Assad…Incidentally, though the league system has been resuscitated, the power has shifted, tilting towards clubs in Damascus who are free from Assad’s ruthless bombing. Since the league was restarted, the last two titles have gone to Al-Shorta and Al-Jaish, clubs from the capital. Those from rebel-based cities have suffered immensely.” Again, this paper failed to acknowledge even the slightest of criticisms of Assad. Why?

Sikhar concludes,

My anti-imperialism is consistent and just as with my socialism, it’s not something I’ll ever apologise for. It applies to America and Russia. Saudi Arabia and Iran. Assad’s Syria and Netanyahu’s Israel. It doesn’t excuse and apologise for a genocidal fascist simply because USA are on the opposite side and because he’s a secularist. We measure the barbarism and cruelty of ISIS by the thousands they have killed. Well, Assad has killed hundreds of thousands. But the Star would have us believe this man is a “liberator”. And they would silence internal criticisms within the paper.

Perhaps they will answer.

For us we would also ask: is the Morning Star the paper of the Left or a faction of the left?

If it has tried to open its pages to a wider range of writers is it, on Syria (and we can be sure, on Brexit) it has, on this evidence, begun to narrow their selection down.

A much more recent example was their indulgence of Andrew Murray and his cracked call for George Galloway to be admitted into the Labour Party.

No doubt they do not fit with the “political programme of the CPB” “people’s sovereignty” and all  the stale remains of the British Road to Socialism…..

Advertisements

Written by Andrew Coates

December 18, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Purging Mania Sweeps Tory Factionalists and ‘left’ Sovereigntists foam as Parliamentary Sovereignty Asserted.

with 11 comments

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Purging mania.

No-nonsense Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has called for Remoaner MPs last night who secured politicians a veto on Brexit to be deselected and barred from standing for the Tory Party again. Westmonstor. 

The one time Revolutionary Communists of Spiked on Line  set the pattern for fellow sovereigntists.

MPs’ ‘meaningful vote’ on Brexit is a blow to popular sovereignty. Brendan O’Neill. 

The Remoaner joy over the meaningful vote captures brilliantly how ridiculous and elitist the pro-EU side has become. First, there’s their treatment of an incredibly tight vote in parliament as some kind of historic win for the institution of democracy. In their minds, 17.4million people voting to leave the EU – the largest number of Brits that has ever voted for anything – is a mistake, a cry of hatred, a crime, and definitely not ‘the will of the people’, but pro-meaningful-vote MPs beating anti-meaningful-vote MPs by a poxy four votes – 309 to 305 – is a ‘great day for democracy’. These people are hilarious

The great man pauses, the Remoaners,  the ridiculous poxy anti-meaningful elite aside, it is time for some reflections on what is going on behind the hilarity “in their minds”.

O’Neill has the knack for getting the low-down behind the vote,

Secondly, there’s the small matter that these people have not the remotest interest in defending parliamentary sovereignty. If they had, they would not be fighting tooth and nail in defence of an institution – the EU – which is almost entirely devoted to weakening parliamentary sovereignty.

At the risk of running out of stale metaphors O’Neill continues.

The EU and its apologists are only cheering parliamentary democracy now to the extent that it might be wielded to undermine popular democracy; because they think it can be used to slow or scupper that decision made by the largest group of people in British democratic history. This is the level of cynicism they have reached: they increasingly see parliament, not as a true tribune of the people, but as a possible counter to the people, the sensible, cool restraint on the masses’ dangerous anti-EU passions. They are setting up parliament against the public, which is a very sinister thing to do..

The ghosts of the English Civil War are rising,

 …..we defended an ideal that the English fought a civil war over and which millions of Brits marched and fought for against an EU elite and a British parliament that had become cavalier about this ideal; we offered parliament the backbone, the authority, that it had lost. We saved parliament, we saved representative democracy. And what thanks do we get? None. Less than none, in fact. We now have parliamentarians who spy in the ‘meaningful vote’ a chance to slow or wound the people’s historic defence of parliament, of them. They do not deserve us.

A cruel and thankless world indeed.

Poor ‘us’.

But History will surely absolve Spiked-on-Line’s offer of “backbone” that “saved Parliament”.

Bang on cue Labour Leave retweeted this:

Not forgetting the supporters of Nationalist Chaos Theory.

Note Paul Embry is Paul Embery is the Regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and National Organiser of Trade Unionists Against the EU. He has written for the far-right Westmonster site:  TRADE UNION MOVEMENT MUST RECONNECT WITH WORKING CLASS POST-BREXIT

 

A different view:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 14, 2017 at 1:24 pm

Labour Right-Wing Factionalism, Labour First.

with 6 comments

This, circulated yesterday,  is causing a stir.

 

Labour First is increasingly behaving like the ‘factionalists’ is derides,

Labour First

Labour First, founded in 1988, is a pre-Blairite pressure group seen as the voice of the party’s traditional right. Headed by campaigner and former councillor Luke Akehurst, this faction supported ABC (Anyone But Corbyn) in the leadership election, while Akehurst himself backed Yvette Cooper. In the deputy race, it emphasised its ties to Tom Watson. The group made headlines during the leadership contest by urging fellow centrist group Progress to promote the other non-Corbyn candidates as well as its first choice, Liz Kendall. The groups have since held events together espousing moderate Labour values. Labour First says it “exists to ensure that the voices of moderate party members are heard while the party is kept safe from the organised hard left”.

Before going further it is important to note that the AWL is not, how shall I put it, at the forefront of Momentum.

Next I would point out that, Lord Hattersley notwithstanding,  there are not large real factional divisions in the Labour Party, but differences on policy issues.

Such as this:

Or this,

Just a suggestion, but if Labour First is going to go in for factionalism, they should consult the real classic studies not just do a bit of ‘organising’.

Such as this book:

 

Trigger-warning: factionalist activity in meetings is not universally appreciated. 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 9, 2017 at 1:40 pm

Ken Loach to speak in defence of Anti-Semites of Socialist Fight? – Ken Livingstone and Tariq Ali “invited”.

with 2 comments

This Week: Mass Support for Labour Against the Witch Hunt.

The Newshounds of Shiraz have scooped us on this one, but this remains an interesting development in the shambles that is LAW.

Reporting on the latest rows in Labour Against the Witchhunt the latest Weekly Worker states,

The meeting included a discussion on the participation within LAW of Socialist Fight. The steering committee had taken the decision to exclude SF from the campaign because of the group’s position on Jews, which can only be described as anti-Semitic.

SF declares that Jewish “overrepresentation” amongst the bourgeoisie is a major factor explaining imperialist backing for Israel. At the meeting itself SF’s Ian Donovan stated that, while this “overrepresentation” “doesn’t determine everything”, it “determines quite a lot”. He also talked about the undue influence of “Jewish communalist politics”, while the SF leaflet handed out at the meeting stated that “Jews” today have become “an oppressor people”.

The SC sought approval from the meeting for its decision to exclude SF from LAW – on the basis that a campaign which places a large emphasis on its opposition to the disgraceful, knowingly false accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ wielded by the right against principled anti-racists should not itself tolerate individuals whose public pronouncements are clearly anti-Semitic. To do otherwise opens us up to claims that we cannot be taken seriously when we say the right’s accusations are nothing but smears – after all, it would then appear that we ourselves cannot tell the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Labour Party Marxists put forward a motion, directed against not only Socialist Fight, but also the social-imperialist Alliance for Workers’ Liberty:

LAW does not wish to be associated with those who excuse the ongoing witch-hunt in the Labour Party: ie, support the expulsion of Ken Livingstone. Nor do we wish to associate with those who advocate anti-Semitism: ie, those who explain US and other imperialist countries’ foreign policy on the basis of the number of Jews in the ruling class.

Unfortunately neither this motion nor one from the steering committee, which called for its decision to exclude SF to be endorsed, was successful. Only nine comrades were in favour of endorsing the SC position, with 12 against, plus a number of abstentions; as for the LPM motion, there were 12 votes in favour and 12 against, and so it was not carried either.

The organ of the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee) admits,

the participation of Socialist Fight remains in our view a problem that might well have to be revisited.

But let that not detract from the useful role that LAW intends to play – now is the time to really step up the campaign.

They add,

In the meantime, LAW is organising what it hopes will be a public launch meeting on January 29. Ken Loach has already agreed to speak and a number of others such as Tariq Ali and Ken Livingstone have been invited.

Former prominent Liberal Democrat Tariq Ali, (“In the tightly fought battle for the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, the Liberal Democrats have received the support of prominent writer and film maker Tariq Ali, who says he will be backing the party in the forthcoming General Election. Mr Ali, who lives in the constituency, is a long-time critic of the Government over the war in Iraq.”March 2005) may have second thoughts when asked about his participation, as no doubt might Livingstone.

Our ace reporters will chase up Ken Loach….

In the meantime Socialist Fight publishes this today,

The United States would be blamed, rightly, for encouraging Israel to annex East Jerusalem and all that follows. This is why previous administrations, even when they pandered to the most hardline elements of the powerful Jewish-Zionist caste within their own ruling class (and their fellow travellers), hesitated to actually do this. Obama paid lip service to this idea when he was trying to get elected but shied away from it in power.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 8, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Roy Hattersley, Momentum, and ‘Labour’s worst crisis”.

with 4 comments

Image result for choose freedom hattersley

 

Roy Hattersley, Momentum, and ‘Labour’s worst crisis”

“Socialism requires the use of collective power to increase individual rights and to extend individual freedom.”

“Public ownership in the form of state corporations, centrally owned, planned and administered, is essential for the public utilities.”

Pages 120 and 185. Choose Freedom. The Future for Democratic Socialism. Roy Hattersley. 1987.

Sunday’s Observer saw elder Labour statesman, Roy Hattersley, launch a call to arms (This is Labour’s greatest crisis. Time to fight back. 3.12.17). Momentum, the pressure group dedicated to winning elections for Labour and supporting the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, aims to move the party to the “far left of the political spectrum”. The “threat” to Labour from their “extremism”, “Corbyn’s revolutionary guard” is carrying out a “cull of councillors” and the “replacement of moderate MPs”. It must be “beaten”. The task is to “save British social democracy from extinction”.

Hattersley’s polemic has its moments. Many enjoyed the phrase struck, with successful comic effect, describing former Militant supporters, “the old gang” in Liverpool now apparently active again in the party, “All that is changed is that the Militant now travel to meetings with their bus passes.”

Less appreciated was his effort to explain other local developments. On the challenge to Haringey’s Labour leadership, the former Labour Deputy leader is seriously awry. Aggressive newcomers were also at work. ‘New recruits’ brandishing a call for “democracy” were to blame for new councillor selections. A reference to the disastrous implications of the council’s plans to redevelop council housing by removing some estates from “public ownership” and handing them over to a private dominated development (“the biggest transfer of local authority resources to a private entity in UK history, and would see Lendlease own a fifty per cent stake in a company which will profit from public assets for at least twenty years”)  in which the poor have no place is missed. Absent too was the long, very long, history of disputes over ‘modernising’ Labour in Haringey, which predate Momentum by….several decades. (1)

 

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DQcafafVAAAhcYz.jpg:large

Momentum.

Momentum can no doubt reply for itself and there are already many commentaries on Labour’s Greatest Crisis. It is hard to identify the pressure group with the ‘far left’. When Militant, now known as the Socialist Party, tried to move in en masse, attempting to create its own “Trade Union Momentum”, they were rebuffed. Another group of left-wingers, after several figures were removed from national office, put some effort in forming Grass Roots Momentum. It has foundered. No doubt individuals from various leftist factions are active in Momentum, a proportion of the membership put at lower single figures.

Some on Labour’s right appear to believe that Momentum’s interest in ‘extra-parliamentary’ activity is anti-democratic. The term is misleading. Public protest is no more opposed to electoral work (which is the core of the movement’s existence), than UNITE Community’s Day of Action against Universal Credit, or demonstrations on the NHS. Or indeed, at the labour movement’s foundation, strikes for better pay and conditions leading to negotiations for collective agreements. Complaints about UNITE’s efforts to influence Labour more directly seem even more paradoxical, if criticism is directed at anti-Westminster politics.

There are legitimate concerns about some aspects of the way the Momentum operates. Conferences attended by delegates selected by lot, a practice adopted in France by President Macron’s En Marche! party and used for a percentage of attendees at Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise, may quell factionalism. But despite reference to the ancient Athenian Constitution, this method of choosing representatives is not today widely accepted as a democratic method.

No doubt we will learn just how democratic the opposing slate of candidates for Labour’s NEC emerged. At present there are none.

On what other grounds does Hattersley accuse Labour of moving to the far-left? The party programme, its policies? Labour is committed to re-nationalising public utilities. One might disagree about the claim that “market distribution” can be fixed to respond to “demand” when, as he noted in Choose Freedom, that income is so unfairly distributed. The objective of developing a replacement for Universal Credit, still in its early stages, can surely be modelled in with traditional social democratic redistribution. In his 1987 book he cited John Rawls’ ‘difference principle”, that is judging reforms by their ability to make the poorest better off. This remains a workable gauge of real reform of welfare. Hattersley’s “struggle for democratic rights” equally remains an objective which unites otherwise divided strands of democratic socialism. The Corbyn and McDonnell leadership indeed puts it at the centre of their policies.

Sunday’s broadside is a shot from the bows at ..what? The vast majority of members are united around the need to elect a new Labour Government. Yet, behind this there are serious issues at stake within the party. They do no neatly fall into a division between “far left” and “moderates”, or even different appreciations of the Blair and Brown years.

New Dividing Lines?

At the risk of whittling down a whole forest of contentious issues some stick out.

  •  Europe. The Labour Party contains both a small right wing ‘patriotic’ anti-EU current, a left-wing ‘Lexit’ (left-exit) current, and a big majority, from the centre to large parts of the left, which wants the smallest possible break from Europe. Some do not want to leave the EU at all. The Lexit left is in disarray as their glee at seeing Britain leave the ‘Bosses Club’ has turned to ashes faced with the complexities of exit, and the prospect of being at the mercy of the WTO and stronger economies, from the EU itself to the USA.
  • Specific Policy. Labour’s stand on Brexit, is seeking the ‘best deal’ and letting the Tories tear themselves apart in Brexit negotiations, while balancing its statements with an electoral strategy that attracts anti-EU voters. This has left many unsure about what a possible Corbyn led government will do. On a key aspect, failing to debate the Freedom of Movement at Conference, an issue brought up by left wing activists, does not mean the issue has disappeared.
  • Internationalism. While the majority of the Labour party, including the activist left, are committed to defending universal human rights (leaving aside weighty philosophical agreements on the topic), there are differences on where to start. Some groups, in numbers only groupuscules about with wider influence within the Party, give priority to fighting ‘imperialism’, that is the USA. Those backing ‘anti-imperialist’ forces have watered down their public rhetoric. But as recent pronouncements by Andrew Murray, chief of Unit’s political strategy and the Stop the War Coalition (StWC), and of the indicate, there remain elements prepared on international issues who are prepared to align openly with forces hostile to democratic socialism.

As this sketch illustrates, disagreements within the Labour Party and broader left, have moved on from the stark divisions with which Roy Hattersley tries to frighten his readers. Far from being in a position to stifle these differences in a Labour Party that excludes “everyone with whom they disagree” Momentum is obliged to confront them. The progress made so far to elaborate a “synthesis” between different strands of thought in Labour in a policy platform that is resolutely democratic socialist gives one grounds for hope.  That they, Momentum, – and it is hard to call such a disparate group a ‘they’ – have a core objective it is an eminently Parliamentary one, electing the next PM. One hopes the former deputy leader will do his best to work for that. .

 

(1): On this see: “We Took the Last Option”: The Fight for Democracy in Haringey. New Socialist.

As Labour Against the Withchunt Collapses in Infighting: “Third-Camp Stalinoids bring Witchhunt into ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ (that’s enough Witchhunts ED)

with 14 comments

Image result for labour against the witch hunt

Witch Hunters themselves, say Socialist Fight.

Amongst the eternal classics of the workers’ movement, As Soon as this Pub Closes stands tall.

A dog-eared copy exists in the Coatesite archives.

It opens with this,

THE entrance to the conference hall is nearly deserted. The delegates have retired to adjacent hostelries to sink enough pints to allow them to sleep through the afternoon debate, so most literature sellers have taken a break.

Only two groups remain. One, the Spartacist League, are chanting ‘General Strike Now’, while another, the International Communist Party, try to drown them out with ‘Build the ICFI’ – International Committee of the Fourth International to the uninitiated. Do they hope to convert each other? Or myself, the only other listener? Surely not, but each feels that the first to leave would be chicken. I am glad my daughter is not in sight as she is probably warm and dry – on the other hand, she has my coat. Resisting the temptation to raise my own slogan – ‘Smash neo-Kantian revisionism!’ – I leave both groups to the sardonic screaming of the gulls. The rain drizzles from a lead-grey sky as I walk to the station. ‘So what’, you may say, ‘I never did care for Brighton.’ However, the two groups, and their rivals who have gone to lunch, form the core of organised British socialism. If a bureaucrat temporarily wakes from his slumber during the afternoon and feels any guilt about applauding the hypocritical rhetoric coming from the platform, he has certainly in his youth been a supporter of one of the socialist groups. This work is to be commended for providing the uninitiated with a guide through the labyrinth.

Yet the Tendance considers that even John Sullivan would find it hard going navigating this one.

Breaking news from our Ace reporters…

Hold the Front Page: anti-semites not to be expelled!

To our considerable relief and greatly to the credit of those attending the meeting, the proposal to exclude Socialist Fight from the Labour Against the Witchhunt campaign, made by the three members of the executive, was rejected. In fact, two votes were held effectively on the proposed exclusion, one was closely lost and one slightly different but in effect the same was tied, therefore also falling. Our own broader motion was lost 5 votes for, 8 against and 8 abstentions.

In the interests of getting LAW on an even keel, we are not going to go into more detail. But we do note that SF supporters were the only organised left tendency present arguing for a non-exclusionist united front campaign of the entire Labour Left against this witchhunt, with the only real condition for participation being a complete, principled opposition to all exclusions of the people on the left. Outside of that, there should be no exclusions of any left-wing current from the campaign.

We in Socialist Fight welcome this victory for working class norms of democracy and will do everything we can to build LAW as such a principled united front campaign, aimed precisely at broadening the space in the Labour Party for political and programmatic debate, including over contentious questions involving political Zionism and the Middle East.

Once the issue of our non-exclusion was resolved, there were some useful discussions on among other things organising a LAW public meeting in January in London, with another one planned for Birmingham on 30th Jan also. There were some important debates about the wider Labour Left and the witchhunt; the meeting voted to withdraw support from Ann Black as an NEC member nominated and supported by the left who has participated enthusiastically in the witchhunt, and to demand a wider repudiation of Ms Black by the left.

There was a powerful speech by Grassroots Black Left activist Mark Wadsworth, a Labour member and long-time anti-racist campaigner who was outrageously suspended by Labour for ‘anti-semitism’ for challenging the collaboration of right-wing MP Ruth Smeeth with the Tory media at the Labour press conference on the launch of the Chakrabarti Report into antisemitism on 30 June 2016. The comrade’s address drew considerable applause. A model motion for Labour Party bodies, coming from the Grassroots Black Left, containing a very powerful attack on the unlawful trawling of social media by the witch hunters, was approved by the meeting. We will reproduce it later when we have the text.

LAW resolved to meet monthly; we will hold the next meeting in early January. And the interim executive was expanded to include Steve Price of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and Deborah Hobson of the Grassroots Black Left, making a broader-based five-strong executive.

Seek ‘Safe Space’ from real Anti-Imperialism/Anti-Zionism

It would seem absurd in the middle of a campaign against socialists in the Labour Party, for part of the left, itself under attack with suspensions and expulsions, to refuse to defend others and imply that some socialists really are worthy of expulsion. Such behaviour would surely be regarded as grotesque treachery by any class conscious worker.

Apparently three members of the Steering Committee of ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’, an organisation that has held one national meeting (on October 21st) have decided that Socialist Fight, one of only two organised Marxist trends at the initial meeting, are to be excluded. A statement to this effect was published in the Weekly Worker of 23 November..

Socialist Fight (SF) finds the weak point in the arguments used by this crew. Why exclude the AWL for their hostility to all forms of anti-semitism, including a left-wing version, when they’ve got rid of their groupuscule on the grounds that it is ‘anti-semitic’ (in reality, informed sources suggest that the reason is that SF is seen by even committed ‘anti-Zios’ as too wild, a tactical rather than principled decision).

So apparently the AWL are unwelcome, not for their actions, which our intrepid three cannot quarrel with in principle judging by the above, but for their ideas. Conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, and thus believing in ‘left-wing anti-Semitism’ which is apparently a ‘myth’.

But if ‘left-wing anti-semitism’ is a ‘myth’, how come Socialist Fight is being excluded on the basis of the same myth? For two of the three signatories of the above statement are fellow-travellers of the Weekly Worker/CPGB, supporting its allied group in the Labour Party, known as Labour Party Marxists, as is comrade Keable, or a years-long sympathiser and contributor, as is comrade Greenstein. It is not clear where comrade Walker stands with regard to this, but she appears to concur with them in any case, so the question is abstract.

Consistency is not the CPGB’s strong suit. Their anathema against our analysis of the role of Jewish bourgeois in the diaspora in bolstering Israel’s strength in the older imperialist countries goes back to 2014, when one of our now-leading members was driven out of the CPGB-initiated ‘Communist Platform’ in Left Unity, before the Corbyn movement emerged. That anathema stated that our comrade had to be driven out because..

We leave it to Cds to read the rest, though this stands out as an indication of how fast this lot are disintegrating,

This would be too ‘anti-imperialist’ for the CPGB, whose cowardice here is similar to their flinching over the witchhunt against Galloway over Iraq in 2003-04. We submitted our motion on 19 Nov. On 22 Nov we received the following communication from Stan Keable on behalf of the three-person rump steering group of LAW (Pete Firmin, the fourth member, had resigned due to difficulty in working with some of the others).

Pete is, unfortunately for Donovan, a real human being and a genuine democratic socialist…..

Not to mention this,he CPGB are sabotaging the potential of Labour against the Witchhunt to unite socialists in Labour against the witchhunt. They actually are trying to turn it into a confessional sect, in their own terms. We would actually have no objection to working even with the Alliance for Workers Liberty in a body like LAW, provided they were prepared to defend all victims of the Labour bureaucracy against the right. Of course, this is a big if. But ideological proscriptions, based on spurious smears, in a body whose purpose is to unite the left against a witchhunt, indeed amount to sectarian sabotage. Even more so when the ideological proscriptions are incoherent and self-contradictory, as demonstrated above.

Observers may feel that Donovan has a point.

How can Greenstein go on claiming that there is no such thing as left wing anti-semitism, or, in a weakened form, that the charges of anti-semitism against  people in the Labour Party are trumped up ‘Zionist’ fabrications and then go on to exclude poor old Gerry and Ian for anti-semitism?

There is more to this spicy soup – we leave it to others to relish the attack on Hal Draper – on grounds one can guess…..

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the author of this text, one Ian – International Jewish bourgeoisie – Donovan suggested that George Galloway lead the campaign.

  • The claim that left-wing anti-semitism is a ‘myth’ appears accepted by all sides of this barney and is the bone of contention.
  • The claim that there is a “witchhunt” against Socialist Fight.
  • None of them accept the findings of the Chakrabarti Inquiry, in particular ” Labour members should resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular.”
  • This puts them at odds with Labour Party policy.
  • The whole crew are barmy.

Evidence, M’Learned Friends,

Greenstein’s Blog,

A Sense of Humour Failure – The case of the JLM’s Ella Rose
Ella Rose is a free transfer from the Israeli Embassy to the Jewish Labour Movement where she is now Director.  She played a starring role in the Al Jazeera undercover programme, The Lobby. She came across as a petulant, foul-mouthed, potentially violent young woman.  She threatened physical violence against Jackie Walker because ‘she’s like 5’2” and tiny’ and ‘’if it came to it I would win that’s all I really care about’ which is a perceptive comment on Zionism and its ideals.  In the course of her musings Ms Rose stated ‘I’m a Zionist, shoot me.’  To which I responded that it was tempting.

 

Labour Against the Witchhunt splits amidst bitter row on ‘anti-Zionism’ and Anti-Semitism.

with 3 comments

Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) has split.

The declaration below rejects the participation of anybody who does not accept their own stand on ‘anti-Zionism’.

The meeting that decided this was followed by angry exchanges by various supporters. One group, Socialist Fight, wrote a letter reproduced below.

A bitter row has also developed over the last few days after a post, by a prominent LAW supporter, on the suspension of a Labour Party member following complaints by Adam Langleben about antisemitism (Labour member suspended months after councillor reports anti-Semitic posts. BBC.) The Evening Standard reports that, “One tweet reported by Mr Langleben read: “Hear it from a Jewish grandmother how Jews love money and are a bunch of crooks”.”

This is one of the Tweets by a, as yet unnamed woman, that he reported.

On the Facebook page here are some of the comments on a post   – since deleted – commenting on Adam Langleban and this suspension.

Image may contain: text

Image may contain: text

This is the declaration of the split.

Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) is a Labour Party campaign. We urge all those who oppose Labour’s witchhunt against Corbyn supporters and critics of Israel/Zionism to stay in the Party and fight.

Labour Against the Witchhunt welcomes the participation of all people who support its three key aims:
1. an end to automatic suspensions and expulsions;
2. rejection of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people;
3. abolition of Labour’s ‘compliance unit’.

Those, like the Alliance for Workers Liberty, who promote the false anti-Semitism smear, who conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and who promote the myth of left anti-Semitism, are not welcome in LAW.

Those who, like ‘Socialist Fight’, promote the “socialism of fools” – the view that imperialism’s support for Zionism and Israel is because of the influence of Jews – are also not welcome in LAW.

LAW Steering Committee
Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable, Jackie Walker

First fall out from the division.

Letter in latest Weekly Worker (30.11.17) protesting against their exclusion by Socialist Fight – Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan.

Oppressor Jews

It would seem absurd in the middle of a campaign against socialists in the Labour Party, for part of the left – itself under attack with suspensions and expulsions – to refuse to defend others and imply that some socialists really are worthy of expulsion. Such behaviour would surely be regarded as grotesque treachery by any class-conscious worker.

Apparently three members of the steering committee of Labour Against the Witchhunt have decided that Socialist Fight, one of only two organised Marxist trends at the initial meeting, are to be excluded. A statement to this effect was published in the Weekly Worker of November 23:

“Those, like the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, who promote the false anti-Semitism smear, who conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and who promote the myth of left anti-Semitism, are not welcome in LAW.

“Those, like Socialist Fight, who promote the ‘socialism of fools’- the view that imperialism’s support for Zionism and Israel is because of the influence of Jews – are also not welcome in LAW” (signed by Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable and Jackie Walker).

Aside from the anti-democratic nature of this decree – apparently we are to be excluded without any kind of hearing or democratic process, purely for our political views on the Israeli/Jewish question, there is a glaring contradiction between the two paragraphs above.

Apparently, the AWL are excluded, not because of their actions– refusing to defend leftwingers, which would be correct and rational – but purely for the ideas, from which those actions flow. This is no accidental formulation: if people were to be excluded from Labour Against the Witchhunt for refusing to oppose the witch-hunt, then surely these comrades would, on the basis of this statement, have to exclude themselves.

After all, by excluding expelled Labour member Gerry Downing from LAW, they are behaving no differently from the AWL: seeking to exclude Labour socialists whose programmatic and political stance they oppose, contrary to the elementary working class maxim that “an injury to one is an injury to all”. Whatever anyone may say about the politics of Socialist Fight, we are the only tendency demanding a genuine united front defence campaign and the reinstatement of all socialists expelled from Labour.

So the AWL are unwelcome for their ideas – conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, and thus believing in “leftwing anti-Semitism”, which is apparently a “myth”. But if “leftwing anti-Semitism” is a myth, how come Socialist Fight is being excluded on the basis of the same myth? For two of the three signatories of the above statement are fellow-travellers of the Weekly Worker/CPGB, supporting its allied group in the Labour Party, known as Labour Party Marxists, as is comrade Keable, or a years-long sympathiser and contributor, as is comrade Greenstein.

Consistency is not the CPGB’s strong suit. Their anathema against our analysis of the role of Jewish bourgeois in the diaspora in bolstering Israel’s strength in the older imperialist countries goes back to 2014, when one of our now-leading members was driven out of the CPGB-initiated Communist Platform in Left Unity, before the Corbyn movement emerged. That anathema stated that our comrade had to be driven out because “Advocacy of anti-Semitic ideas is not the exclusive preserve of the far right … there is a left anti-Semitism too. Sadly that is still the case …. Anti-Semitism, especially its leftwing version, plays directly into the hands of the Israeli government” (‘No place for anti-Semitism’ Weekly WorkerSeptember 18 2014). So it seems that the ideological rationale by which CPGB fellow travellers seek to exclude AWL supporters from Labour Against the Witchhunt is one that the CPGB are also guilty of. It is key to their rationale for purging Socialist Fight.

This exclusion decree from the CPGB’s fellow travellers has the name ‘Jack Conrad’ written all over it. It is his practice, in the past and now, to sabotage real political and programmatic debate on the left through bureaucratic tricks. His motion in the Communist Platform in 2014, quoted above, was designed to stop discussion of the document, ‘Draft theses on the Jews and modern imperialism’, submitted for debate within the Communist Platform.

This time around, the exclusion has a similar purpose: stopping the kind of principled political debate that a genuine united front campaign should engage in to arm the workers’ movement politically against the Zionist/Blairite witch-hunt.

The CPGB’s fellow travellers accuse Socialist Fight of believing that “imperialism’s support for Zionism and Israel is because of the influence of a Jewish component of the capitalist class”. It is factually demonstrable that there exists a Jewish component within the ruling classes of western countries that exceeds, by many times over, the proportion of Jews in the general population, and that this part of the ruling class is overwhelmingly loyal to Israel. This does not determine the bare existence of a western alliance with Israel. What it does, however, is play an important role in transforming what would otherwise be a ‘normal’ relationship, similar to that of the US, UK, Germany, etc with each other, into a servile relationship, where states like the USA give barely critical support to Israeli atrocities against Palestinians that certainly do not accord with obvious US, UK, etc imperial interests.

This is an empirically obvious fact that has been noted by a wide range of observers – from Israeli dissidents like the late Israel Shahak and more recently Gilad Atzmon to Jewish diaspora dissidents like Norman Finkelstein, and even conservative US bourgeois observers like Mearsheimer and Walt.

Yet the CPGB and its allies deny that this phenomenon exists, and seek to deny workers’ democracy to those who draw attention to it. This is not an anti-racist struggle on their behalf, but a pandering to the nationalism and communalism of an oppressor people – as Jews have become today insofar as under Zionist leadership they manage to act collectively.

Socialist Fight
email

In the same Weekly Worker he writes:

Zionism and holocaust abuse. It is completely legitimate to draw comparisons with the Nazis, insists Tony Greenstein.

Extracts:

There are clearly similarities between Israel today and Nazi Germany. This is not to say the two states are identical or that Israel is fascist or planning to exterminate the Palestinians (although genocidal ideas are indeed common in Zionism today). Israel is a settler-colonial state, the most racist state in the world. Israel calls itself a ‘Jewish democratic state’, but in practice it is democratic for Jews and Jewish for Arabs.

..

The Zionist movement understood how the holocaust could be exploited to serve Zionist purposes. As early as September 1942, when most of Europe’s Jews were still alive, the Zionists were thinking of creating a memorial to them. The creation of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, was proposed. This was seen as “the very last opportunity to score any financial success”.39 At this time the Jewish Agency had not even acknowledged that there was a holocaust.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 1, 2017 at 12:50 pm