Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘British Govern’ Category

UN resolution: George Galloway to Back United Bombing Campaign Against Da’esh?

with 2 comments


Gun’em George?

The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a France-sponsored resolution Friday sending a unified message from the world powers to the international community “to redouble and coordinate” programs to suppress terrorist acts by “all necessary measures.”

The resolution singles out the territory under the control of the Islamic State or Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, ISIL and Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, but also points to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, including the Al-Nusrah Front, while it condemns the “horrifying terrorist attacks” in Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon, France and over Sinai. The text condemns hostage taking and killing as well as terror attacks, calling them “a threat to peace and security.”

CBS news.

Our old friend George Galloway has been having a bit of a change of heart recently,

George Galloway on shoot-to-kill

20 November 2015 Last updated at 00:47 GMT

Former Respect MP George Galloway says Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn should be clear in his backing for shoot-to-kill powers for police officers in the event of a terror attack.

Speaking on the BBC’s This Week, he says it is important officers are backed to “gun them down if necessary”.

He adds: “I would gun them down myself if necessary.”


These are some of his most recent retweets which reflect Galloway’s interest in getting this kind of UN resolution.


We understand that a full Galloway public statement supporting the UN resolution, and “programmes to suppress terrorist acts by ‘all necessary measures.’, including bombing and other uses of military forces, by countries, including Russia and France, may well be in the pipeline.

Meanwhile his former comrades in the Stop the War Coalition are sticking to the limits of this position:

Defeating ISIS means firstly cutting its support from some of the most reactionary regimes in the region, including Saudi Arabia. Secondly it means not creating further grievances which help to fuel its support. That means rejecting the idea that bombing and intervention can make things better. We are told that we need to be ‘doing something’ in the face of these attacks. It is precisely because what we have been doing in the region that we face this threat.

Stop the War works for a world without terrorism and imperialism, and will continue to campaign for a peaceful solution to the crises in the Middle East.


Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Socialist Unity Comes Down Squarely Behind Syria’s Assad.

with 12 comments


John Wight, of Socialist Unity and Russia Today.

Stop the War, Peter Tatchell, and the malign legacy of Western liberalism

You have to feel for the Stop the War Coalition. Back in June I attended one of their conferences in London, where during one of the plenary meetings a few people voiced criticism from the floor over the organisation’s refusal to come down squarely on the side of Assad in the Syrian conflict.

He adds, “I have long expressed sympathy with this position.”

I have had my share of differences with the Stop the War Coalition over the years, but I have no hesitation in crediting them with maintaining a principled opposition to wars and conflicts unleashed in the name of a status quo of injustice and might is right. Its organisers and activists have given over a decade’s service to exposing the hypocrisy and subterfuge employed to defend the indefensible, and consequently I feel duty bound to defend them now.

But on the other hand (there’s always another hand).

Peter Tatchell on the other hand is a classic example of the Western liberal whose conception of the world is akin to that of a child let loose with crayons on a blank sheet of paper, allowing said crayons to go wherever they please with no thought of the mess being made or lack of coherence being wrought.

He adds,

Worse, he and his co-thinkers continue their slavish attachment to the wondrous virtues of ‘humanitarian intervention’, despite the history of the catastrophic consequences of this very concept in practice.

Now slaves we – all – may be, and wonderfully wondrous as “humanitarian intervention” may be to some, hard-to-find, people, but comrade Tatchell is on record as having opposed the US-Led invasion of Iraq (No Invasion of Iraq! Arm the Kurds to Topple Saddam.

On Afghanistan he stated in 2011,  “The Afghan war strategy is not working. After 10 bloody years, there are too many civilian casualties and no prospect of defeating the Taliban. We are propping up a Kabul government mired in corruption, which gained power through fraudulent elections. Our intervention has focused on war-fighting to the relative neglect of economic reconstruction and the empowerment of civil society. The cost to the British people of this half-baked venture is a staggering £5bn a year, when public services are being slashed. For all these reasons, I’m supporting the mass anti-war assembly in Trafalgar Square this Saturday. But I do so critically.” (Guardian).

On Libya Tatchell like the leader of the French left-party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, supported a limited ‘No-Fly Zone’.

Tatchell is not a “humanitarian interventionist” in the sense of giving blanket support for Western invasions of countries like Iraq.

He makes  simple, and humanitarian, points about the need to support Syrian  democrats.

If that is “cultural imperialism” then, so be it.

Wight makes no mention of the role of Russia – something which Stop the War Chair Andrew Murray regards with equanimity – an affair between sovereign countries.

That is, obviously, not imperialism.

Wight is concerned with this,

..that Assad should be overthrown are not motivated by the belief that he is a benevolent leader, but rather that his government is all that currently stands between Syria’s survival as a secular state in which the rights of its minorities are protected, and it being turned into a mass grave by the modern incarnation of the Khmer Rouge…..

This is a legitimate fear.

Indeed if Socialist Unity were not so concerned to talk about violent Islamism as some kind of ‘blow back’ to Western imperialism, or continually talk of Muslim reactionaries as ‘victims’,  they might not be so surprised that Daesh has found its own dynamic in the Syrian conflict.

Along with other, equally unsavoury Islamists, from the alNusra Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra, onwards.

Apart from the Baathists’ role as a dictatorship it remains a very uncertain question whether Assad can crush these genociders without agreement with democratic forces.

We are concerned about Wight.

Is this a cry for help?

Just as a crayon in the hands of an unsupervised child spells havoc in the home, moralism in the breast of a liberal spells havoc in the world.



From Shiraz: In response to Stop the War statement regarding Parliamentary meeting event on the 4th November 2015.

Lie No.1: Regarding “Andrew Murray’s support for the Syrian regime”

During the meeting Andrew Murray called for the support of the Syrian Army and the Iraqi Army in the fight against ISIS. This will be on record of the footage that Stop the War Coalition have yet to release of the meeting (unless they choose to edit it).

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Another small group, Independent Socialist Network, to join Labour: is this the way to win backing for Marxism?

with 8 comments

Another Group Joins Labour? 

Rethinking Labour: More of the same or change of course?

Nick Wrack is a respected socialist activist who has long argued for a new Marxist party in Britain.

He is part of the Independent Socialist Network.

The history of that current is extremely complex even by the high left’s standards (for those who so wish they can look at its site,  here.)

Like many he is deeply impressed by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, which he describes as a “game changer for left-wing politics in Britain”.

If I may jump over the article this is something he is not impressed with,

We have considered it worthwhile participating in TUSC and standing candidates against Labour in the hope that this could be a springboard to the formation of a new party. However, that is clearly not going to happen. It puts a negative over the whole project, even more so now that Corbyn has won the leadership of the Labour Party. TUSC will obtain even worse votes in the short term and standing to obtain risible votes cannot even be justified with the argument that it is to lay the basis of building a new party. In these circumstances it is time, in my opinion, to draw a line in our participation in TUSC.

A similar situation exists now with Left Unity. Left Unity has politics no different from Corbyn, so why would any of them join it? Why join a party of 1,500 when you can join a party of hundreds of thousands, with millions of affiliated trade unionists? Its perspective for any meaningful contribution to the socialist cause is minimal, if that.

It is unlikely, we note, that these failures are due to the following, causes which he mentions,

  • No group will give up its claim to be “the one true socialist party”. As result they cannot achieve, “unification of Marxists into a single organisation.”
  • The various socialist groups have sought to limit the nature of the project to essentially reformist policies, while presenting themselves as the ‘real’ socialists.
  • In Left Unity, Socialist Resistance and other non-aligned Marxists actively prevented clear socialist aims and principles being incorporated into the party constitution, preferring to blur the distinction between socialists and social democrats because they don’t want to put anyone off.

A simpler explanation is that these ideas have little connection to social reality and popular thinking.

One might say (with reference to, Lars T.Lih. Lenin Rediscovered. 2008) that Wrack’s view is based on the common ground of Erfurt Marxism (which could be said to be shared by the pre-Third International Lenin and social democratic Second International). That is,  that the “good news” of socialism has to be brought to people by democratic politics  ((Wrack’s group has always insisted on this point, in distinction from vanguardist Leninist groups),  debate on Marxist analysis (or socialism more widely) and activism.

In this respect it is clearly false for Wrack to claim that there are “two incompatible political ideologies – revolutionary socialism-communism versus reformist social democracy (which) – have existed in opposition since the second half of the 19th century.”

It would take many pages, of earnest theoretical and scholastic debate to determine what is ‘Marxism’, but the line between “revolutionary socialism-communism” and “reformist social democracy” is pretty minor compared to the distinction between Stalinism and democratic socialism.

In reality there is no one ‘Marxism’. There are Marxisms.

Where there is a fault line on the left and between Marxists, it lies in the difference between those who wish to emphasise the importance of political liberty, before and after the winning of political power by socialist parties, and those who believe that everything – including liberty – has to take second place to gaining and sustaining that power. We could go further and say that some of the latter still believe in the ‘actuality of the revolution’ – its continued presence ready to spring into life and led to victory the right manoeuvres of small left groups. Democratic socialism is the belief that we proceed by consent and by voting to a “revolution” in social structures and culture, not an imposed political leadership, or by violence – which as our founders said, was only justified against  “slave holders'”.violent opposition.

That kind of democratic Marxism is only one strand amongst an increasingly bewildering number of other left themes, third-wave feminism, the renewed  egalitarian social democracy of the people around Pierre Rosenvallon in France,  of the vast variety of Greens, radical democrats, other-globalisation theorists, supporters of décroissance and a host of other other left ideologies,  from the broad appeal of democratic secularist anti-racism, to other ideas, with a more limited audience, such post-Negri autonomism and the tradition stemming from Cornelius Castoriadis.

To varying degrees all these ideas exist within trade unions (the ultimate ‘reformist’ bodies), and parties like the Labour Party, the French left bloc, the Front de gauche, and a long list of European left and social democratic parties.

If Marxist ideas have any value it is not because they are ‘Marxist’ but because there are Marxist researchers and activists who can help develop a democratic socialist strategy and practical policies for achieving  – amongst a very very long list:

  • an egalitarian and socialist  response to neo-liberal economics based on the classical premises of class struggle politics: in the conditions of vastly changed class structures.
  • policies that offer a democratic transformation of the European Union.
  • policies that democratise the state: end the system of farming public functions (welfare, health onwards) off to private rentiers and take them under democratic control.
  • Workers’ rights, social rights, and the whole galaxy of human rights based on popular movements, not NGO’s lists of ideas.
  • the goal of the “an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

A creative left current, with an input from all these sources cannot be reduced to ‘Marxism’.

  • There is no evidence that “true” socialism exists in which the left can unite on the basis of Marxist doctrine. There are varieties of socialist politics and parties, many of which are incompatible No democratic socialist would want to be part of a party based on the kind of democratic centralism practised in the SWP or Socialist Party. Their version of Leninism is not accepted as ‘true’ Marxism either.
  • Out of experience many on the left would not touch these parties and their various ‘fronts’ with a barge pole.

We can imagine that it’s the fact that Wrack is part of the movement, and an activist, which had the main pull in the following analysis.

Having said that, there is an enormous battle taking place now within the Labour Party and the Trade Unions. This battle is going to intensify over the next year. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are principled social democrats. They do not, in my opinion, put forward a programme for overthrowing capitalism or for establishing a socialist society. But they are sincere and honest supporters and defenders of the working class and its interests. They support workers on strike; they support workers in protest; they stand up for the poor, the migrant and those on welfare. Arrayed against them is the whole of the capitalist class, the media and their echoes in the Labour Party and trade unions.

Marxists cannot stand aside in this battle and say, “It’s nothing to do with us.” Marxists participate in all aspects of the class struggle. Marxists must do everything we can to defend Corbyn and McDonnell, while engaging in a thoroughgoing criticism of their programme. We must defend Corbyn and McDonnell but fight for socialist policies. I do not have the space here to develop details points of programmatic criticism but fundamentally the issue boils down to what Corbyn is attempting to do differently from Syriza. How can Corbyn succeed where Tsipras failed? In my opinion, the weaknesses of the Syriza approach are present in Corbyn’s programme. How can we alter this to strengthen the movement for change?

Or perhaps not.

Activism seems to get downplayed in favour of, the no-doubt to be welcomed, “through-going criticism”

I spelled out some aspects of disagreement in an earlier article. I think that both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have already made too many concessions or compromises, in a vain attempt to appease their opponents in the Parliamentary Labour Party, where they are in a small minority. But they cannot hope to win the battle they face in the Labour Party on the basis of the PLP. It seems that they have understood the need to base themselves on their support outside the PLP and have set up Momentum to organise that support. Momentum has to develop into a genuinely democratic organisation in which its members can influence policy and tactics.


For all these reasons I am now of the opinion that all Marxists should, at the very least, join Momentum. We can play a key role in helping to defend Corbyn and defeating the right. Where possible, therefore, Marxists should also join Labour. This is best done as an organised group, rather than as individuals. The purpose of joining is two-fold: to strengthen the forces in defence of Corbyn and against the rightwing in Labour and the trade unions and to argue for a Marxist ideas in the mass movement around Corbyn. There is no knowing how long this battle may last or what the outcome will be. Those coming into Momentum and into the Labour Party will include thousands of people who simply want change. But many will have no clear idea of what that change should be or how it can be accomplished. Marxists have to engage with the debate. What change? How can it be achieved? What programme is necessary?


The ISN will seek to organise all independent socialists in and out of the Labour Party who want to fight for Marxist ideas in the labour movement and we will work with all who see the need ultimately to build a mass united socialist party based on Marxist ideas.

It is hard to not see just how far this analysis from the ILN is from reality.

  • How is Momentum going to change the Labour Party? Is is going to act as an organised group that will take control over local Labour parties, and Council groups, on the basis of ‘debate’? How will this work within the slow process of Labour Party internal democracy? How on earth will this group actually oeprate within, say Policy Forums, CLPs? As an alternative party or as a simple current of ideas?
  • How will they cope with set-backs? The experience of ‘new’ politics, from Podemos onwards, indicates that ‘new’ democratic methods are hard to create, and frankly, the rhythm of Labour Party internal life is going to be an obstacle to anybody wanting instant political gratification.
  • How will they appeal to the large centre-ground inside the Labour Party which has to be convinced on solid grounds of the reasonableness of the new politics? The sudden arrival of new people, who campaigned against Labour in the General Election, eager to give advice, is, perhaps not likely to impress everybody. A simple thought: you have show respect for your opponents, even work for their election in councils, and so forth. Will the ILN manage that?

It is hard to not to think that some people on the left, with limited experience of how the Labour Party actually works, and the inevitable disappointments for those with simple and clear goals of “defending” Corbyn, are going to get frustrated and bitter very quickly.

Stop the War Coalition Confusion on ‘Bombing Syria’.

with 10 comments


Yes, but whose Hands?

The official position of the Stop the War Coalition on UK intervention in Syria could not be clearer,

Syria, Labour party policy, and Russian intervention: Stop the War Statement. Stop the War Coalition  (StWC) 30 September 2015.

Stop the War warmly welcomes the Labour conference vote in opposition to British military intervention in Syria.  It shares the view of conference delegates that this would only risk repeating the dreadful consequences of previous such interventions in Iraq and Libya.

We believe that every possible pressure must be put on Labour MPs to support the Party’s position if and when David Cameron decides to bring the issue to the Commons for a vote.  It is vital that the strong lead given by Jeremy Corbyn in favour of peace and in opposition to western interventionism, now endorsed by conference, be supported by all Labour MPs, whether or not there is a ‘free vote’ on the matter.

Just as Stop the War has criticised US bombing, and the possibility of British intervention, in Syria, so too we cannot support Russian military action.  It remains our view, supported by long history and experience, that external interference has no part to play in resolving the problems in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East.

Only strong, sovereign and representative governments in Syria and Iraq can take the fight to Islamic State and provide a real alternative on the ground to its rule.  External powers should refrain from any direct or indirect military intervention and concentrate instead on assisting a negotiated end to the Syrian civil

They have more recently explained the reasons for this stand,

Syria: Safe Havens and No-Fly Zones

  1. The creation of safe havens or no-fly zones requires the ability to engage in military operations and to take out the enemy’s air defence systems.
  2. Military intervention would risk a military clash with Russia.
  3. Islamic State would not be threatened by a no-fly zone since it lacks an air force. The Assad government and those supporting it can be the only target of such military operations: the goal is regime change.
  4. Previous no-fly zones did not prevent attacks on minorities and endangered populations (e.g. the Iraq government’s attack on the southern March Arabs) but escalated the levels of violence.
  5. The 2011 no-fly zone in Libya helped to create a full-blown war, tens of thousands of casualties, regime change and a collapsed state.
  6. The war in Syria includes a complex combination of actors: the Assad government and Russia, IS, the US and its international and regional allies (including Saudi Arabia, the Free Syrian Army and the local al-Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front), as well as Kurdish groups (some of which are being attacked by Turkey).
  7. Instead of getting involved militarily in this dangerous quagmire, Britain can provide much greater help to the people of Syria by seriously focusing on humanitarian aid and on helping to facilitate peace talks.

We must expresses scepticism, bearing in mind all of the complexities in Syria involved – not to mention the re-election of the Islamist AKP party in Turkey that there is any such thing as “non-intervention” in present conditions. These forces are involved. The question is what to do with it.

One issue stands out.

If the US (and not, as Counterfire’s leader John Rees once imaginatively suggested, Venezuela) stopped  arming the Kurdish-led Democratic Forces of Syria (the YPG) – which has not had great success but remains the only barrier to the genocidal intentions of Daesh against the Kurds and their allies – where would that leave them?

But to return to the main point.

Andrew Murray is StWC chair, and a  Communist Party of Britain (CPB) member.

On the 19th of October he expressed this judgement,

The only solution to the dreadful civil war which has laid waste to Syria is a negotiated diplomatic end, says Andrew Murray.

The clear need is not for Britain to jump further into this toxic mix. It is for a negotiated diplomatic end to the dreadful civil war which has laid waste to Syria. Ultimately, only the Syrian people can determine their own future political arrangements.

But the foreign powers could assist by all ending their military interventions, open and clandestine, in Syria – ending the bombing and the arming of one side or another.

They should further promote peace by abandoning all the preconditions laid down for negotiations. Such preconditions only serve to prolong the conflict and to give either government or opposition hope that foreign military and diplomatic support could somehow lead to all-out victory.

On the CPB’s site he has added this, (no date),

Our bipartisan armchair strategists are obviously riled by Russia’s escalating military involvement in Syria.  But it is a fact.  What form of military intervention could now be undertaken which would not lead to a clash with Russia they do not say.  Even the head of MI6 has acknowledged that “no-fly zones” are no longer a possibility, unless the NATO powers are prepared to countenance conflict with Moscow.


This is the CPB’s view, expressed on the 14th of October.

In a statement today Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths said:

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.

  • Is Andrew Murray saying that his comrades should change their opinion that Russia has “every right” to bomb in Syria?
  • Or is he indicating to the StWC that Vladimir Putin is effectively helping their call for the UK not to get involved?

There is also this, adding to the confused fog;

It is the fashion to show deference to Seamus Milne, such is the man’s elevation, beyond the dreams of say, a mere Malcolm Tucker.

But perhaps on the basis of his expertise on Russia, he can inform us of what’s really going on: A real counterweight to US power is a global necessity. 

Iron grip: Jeremy Corbyn's pro-Kremlin aide Seumas Milne pictured shaking hands with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, at a propaganda summit in Sochi last year



Written by Andrew Coates

November 4, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Neil Clark, Sputnik, Threatens Tendance Coatesy.

with 18 comments


Neil Clark: Top Sputnik Intellectual.

Dear Andrew Coates,

Re your attack on me on your blog:

1. Kindly remove the photograph of me which you don’t have permission to use.

2. If you’re going to attack me by selectively quoting from pieces I have written in the past- well that’s one thing.

But what I won’t allow to stand is your attempt to smear me on the basis that my work, without my knowledge and without my permission has appeared on some French far right sites (if that’s indeed what they are- I have never heard of them).

If you can’t see how dishonest it is to attack someone for their work being stolen and put on sites without their permission- then I think you’ve got big problems.

At the moment I’m consulting with lawyers over representing me on a conditional fee arrangement in a legal action against Oiver Kamm (Sic) , who has waged a 10 year smear campaign aganst me which has involved regular posting of defamatory comments-(most seriously that I am a ‘Srebrenica denier’ ) an action which would also bring in the assistance Kamm has received in his campaign from ‘Andrew Philip Cross’, who, like Kamm cyberstalks me and who I saw (surprise surprise) soon joined in the attacks on me on your blog post, wth his links all at the ready (classic stalking behaviour).

He continues….

I really wouldn’t want to broaden any action I might take to include you– but at the same time I am not prepared to let your insinuation that I wrote directly for French far-right websites stand.

I therefore request that you amend your blog post to add the following :

Neil Clark has contacted me to say that his work appeared on the French sites (you can add their names) without his knowledge and permission  – and I apologise for giving readers the impression that he had written directly for these sites.

Please can you acknowledge safe receipt of this email.

Thank you in advance,
Neil Clark


We are working on the assumption that this semi-literate communication is not a joke (“aganst” “Oiver Kamm” “wth”)


His demand is that I write this:

“Neil Clark has contacted me to say that his work appeared on the French sites (you can add their names) without his knowledge and permission  – and I apologise for giving readers the impression that he had written directly for these sites.”

I apologise?

He has yet to even acknowledge that they are far-right.

Any apology has to come from a different source.

Let us see what I actually said,

His writings also appear on the 9/11 ‘Truther’ site ‘Voltaire Net.” (Réseau Voltaire) – here. Voltaire Net was set up by Thierry Meyssan who is best known for 9/11: The Big Lie (L’Effroyable imposture).

If Neil Clarke is unaware of the French sites (the 9/11 ‘Truther’ site,  Réseau Voltaire), using his articles, a big ‘if’ since it took me a few minutes to find them, then it is his responsibility to make sure that this is widely known.

And if not, there’s always Google.

To repeat.

They published his material: ’If you’re in NATO you can get away with murder’: Neil Clark to RT’ Réseau Voltaire. 12th June 2013.

If he does not known what Réseau Voltaire is, and who  Thierry Meyssan is, then perhaps he should start writing about something less intellectually challenging than politics, like posting comments on Facebook pictures of his pets.

Égalité et réconciliation may be a little more difficult – knowing about the most celebrated French far-right conspiracy theorist Alain Soral is nevertheless made easy even for dunderheads by his Wikipedia entry in English (though it’s not very comprehensive and needs an update).

This is what I wrote, in a comment.

He’s even on the openly fascist site of Alain Soral (Egalité et Réconciliation)

Neil Clark – Il est temps de mettre un terme aux brimades contre les Serbes


As for this shower – which I referred to not on the Blog post but, to repeat,  in the comments,  here is how they present his oeuvre.

He has yet to make clear his condemnation of either, or seem to grasp why these people find it useful to reproduce his opinions.

In these conditions pointing out that his work appears on these sites, is simply stating the truth.

I did not, therefore, say he “wrote” for the sites.

Rather than attacking Tendance Coatesy – of greater concern apparently than anything else –  what is going to do about their appearance on the French language and English language version of Réseau Voltaire/Voltaire Net, and Soral’s vehicle?

By contrast we are happy to remove his precious photo – though we have no idea that images available through Google are in some fashion copyright (presumably there are special pictures on the net that require a stamp from the Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravleniye to use).

On this demand alone I have shamelessly caved in and replaced it with one of our own.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 26, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Is Labour Changing its position to back Military Action in Syria?

with 4 comments


Fighters Against the Genociders of Daesh.

Corbyn signals Labour could back military action in Syria without UN support.

(Hat-tip: PW)

Patrick Wintour. Guardian.

Jeremy Corbyn has signalled for the first time that Labour could support forms of military action in Syria without UN support if Russia blocks a security council resolution.

Taking a more flexible approach to UK military involvement in the Syrian civil war, the new statement urges David Cameron to try again to win support for a new UN resolution allowing military action, and affirms that the party supports the creation of safe zones within Syria to protect Syrians who have had to flee their homes.

In an article in the Guardian on Monday, Diane Abbott, the shadow international development secretary, rejected the idea of safe havens when proposed by Jo Cox, one of the backbenchers trying to assemble a broader Labour policy on Syria that does not just wait to react to government proposals.

The new positions, an attempt to assert a collective shadow cabinet policy, are laid out in a new article on Comment is Free by the shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, and follow a meeting on Tuesday morning between Benn, Corbyn, the shadow lord chancellor, Lord Falconer, the shadow attorney general, Catherine McKinnell, the shadow defence secretary, Maria Eagle, and the shadow chief whip, Rosie Winterton.

In a bid to underline this as the agreed Labour leadership position, Corbyn issued a brief statement, saying: “I met with shadow cabinet colleagues today and Hilary Benn is setting out the position today.”

The new stance, taking into account the unexpected Russian air campaign in Syria in defence of Assad, is also significant since it is the Labour policy with which the prime minister will have to work if he is to build a clear consensus in the Commons for further UK military action as part of a wider diplomatic plan.

At present, Cameron is looking for at least 35 Labour MPs to give cast iron guarantees to vote with him on military action, but Downing Street may feel engaging with Benn’s broader strategy offers a superior route to winning broad Commons agreement for a new approach in Syria.

More has just been published.

Labour could support military action in Syria without UN authorisation.


Hilary Benn has suggested Labour could now support using British military personnel in Syria if Russia blocks a security council resolution.

Labour is shifting its stance and could support military action in Syria without the approval of the United Nations, the shadow foreign secretary has said.

During Labour’s conference in Brighton earlier this month, delegates voted to only support strikes in Syria if there was “clear and unambiguous” UN authorisation.

But in an article for the Guardian, which has been endorsed by Jeremy Corbyn, Hilary Benn has suggested Labour could now support using British military personnel in Syria if Russia blocks a security council resolution.

Mr Benn writes: “On the question of airstrikes against Isil/Daesh in Syria, it should now be possible to get agreement on a UN security council chapter VII resolution given that four of the five permanent members – the USA, France, Britain and Russia – are already taking military action against Isil/Daesh in Iraq or Syria or in both countries.”

Russia would most likely veto a UN resolution, as the Russian president continues to defend its own bombing campaign in Syria and his support for Bashar al-Assad.

He adds: “Of course, we know that any resolution may be vetoed, and in those circumstances we would need to look at the position again.”

Mr Corbyn has backed the change in position, saying: “I met with shadow cabinet colleagues today and Hilary Benn is setting out the position today.”

This marks a huge shift for Mr Corbyn, who has repeatedly outlined his opposition to military action in Syria.

During the leadership contest Mr Corbyn said could not think of “any circumstances” in which he would back the deployment of British troops in Syria.

Speaking in September, he said: “The issue would be we bomb, we kill people, we wouldn’t destroy or defeat ISIS, we probably make the situation considerably worse.

“If that doesn’t work the question is would you put boots on the ground? I don’t think so.”

Number 10 have said there are no plans for an “imminent” vote on Syria, but David Cameron has said he would push for a vote on air strikes in Syria without the Labour leader’s backing.

Mr Benn said: “We have a responsibility to protect people, but in Syria, no one has taken responsibility and no one has been protected. It is the great humanitarian crisis of our age and one of our greatest tests too.

“The way we take any decision will matter a great deal. MPs and others may disagree about what the right thing to do is, but we must never forget that we have a responsibility both to help the Syrian people and protect British citizens.

“Deciding to intervene militarily in another country is one of the most serious decisions parliament can make, but equally, nobody should be in any doubt that inaction is also a decision that will have consequences in Syria.”

It is unclear how British intervention will help the people of Syria.

But with the US and Russia actively involved in the battles, not to mention France, Iran, Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, nobody can claim that the country is a normal sovereign state which will be the fresh target of new interference.

Whether or how Labour is changing its stand, given that Guardian Political Editor Patrick Wintour is as much a political ‘player’ (and not for Jeremy Corbyn) as a journalist, is not certain.

Our own position remains, for all its apparent idealism, to stand behind the UNITE Labour Party policy in support of a UN sanctioned attack on Daesh.

If that fails, as these reports indicate, given the immense seriousness of what is at stake, we hope the Labour Shadow Cabinet reaches a reasonable settlement based on the need to destroy the genociders of Daesh and not the Conservative government’s plans, which include concessions to almost as bad Islamists funded by the Saudis and other reactionaries. Another concern is support for Turkish manoeuvres in the region – Erdoğan has shown himself an enemy of democracy.

We would like to see recognition and support for the Kurdish-led Democratic Forces of Syria, which says that it is is a “force for all Syrians, joining Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs and others groups. The Democratic Forces of Syria includes the YPG, various Arab groups including Jaysh al-Thuwwar (Army of Rebels), and an Assyrian Christian group.

A Kurdish militia in northern Syria has joined forces with Arab rebels, and their new alliance has been promised fresh weapon supplies by the United States for an assault on Islamic State forces in Raqqa, a spokesman said on Monday.

The alliance calling itself the Democratic Forces of Syria includes the Kurdish YPG militia and Syrian Arab groups, some of which fought alongside it in a campaign that drove Islamic State from wide areas of northern Syria earlier this year.


We are well aware of all the problems and the complexities of the terrible conditions in Syria.

But support for those democratic groups fighting Daesh is a priority.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 14, 2015 at 11:56 am

Millionaires, Tory, UKIP and Labour MPs Unite to Campaign to leave the European Union.

with 2 comments

Who Else Will Join Labour MP Kate Hoey in Alliance with Tories and UKIP? 

A new cross-party campaign for Britain to quit the European Union in the referendum due by the end of 2017 has been launched, with millionaire donors to the Conservatives, Labour and Ukip named as its treasurers.

Former Tory treasurer and banker Peter Cruddas, Labour donor and mail-order millionaire John Mills and spread betting tycoon Stuart Wheeler, who was a major donor to the Conservatives before becoming Ukip treasurer, are expected to give significant financial backing to the Vote Leave campaign.

Vote Leave has also signed up MPs from the Conservatives, Labour and Ukip, as well as prominent business people including another former Tory treasurer, the former Dixons chairman Lord Kalms, and former Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson. Other prominent supporters include author Frederick Forsyth, Green Party peer Baroness (Jenny) Jones, historian Andrew Roberts and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lord Trimble.

More on the Guardian site.

Vote Leave, whose supporters include Labour’s Kate Hoey and UKIP’s Douglas Carswell, says it wants to negotiate a new deal based on free trade and friendly co-operation.

It is competing with a rival group, UKIP-backed Leave.EU, to be the official Out campaign in the referendum promised by the end of 2017.


It is not known what campaign ‘left’ supporters of an independent capitalist UK will launch, or whether they will follow Kate Hoey’s example and join up.

Perhaps No2EU, which scored an impressive score in the 2014 European election, of 31,757 votes or 0.2% of the total.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2015 at 1:21 pm