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Factionalism in the Time of Coronavirus Part 14: Calls for New Workers’ Party and ‘Resistance Movement’.

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It’s all happening on the Home Front! 

From what remains of the left (we hear that Momentum has revised its membership total down to 8000, from a high of 45k)  the drip drop of criticism of Keir Starmer continues, without a pause,

Momentum is trying to re-merge as a force:

 

But other strategists have been plotting the way forward.

At the beginning of August the revolutionary socialist groupuscule Counterfire which runs what remains of the People’s Assembly, and strongly influences the surviving structures of the Stop the War Coalition  carried this analysis, from the white-heat of the actuality of the revolution,

Life After Corbyn: don’t lose the radicalism

There has been some speculation that Corbyn might be expelled, and that he might then set up a new mass party of the socialist left. It won’t happen. Starmer isn’t stupid, he would prefer to keep Corbyn as a prisoner of the PLP so that what’s left of Labour’s radical left can be kept to heal and picked off one by one in the witch hunt. So if we need something new we are going to have build it ourselves.

Roy Wilkes concluded.

Plurality of ideas and approaches is positive and healthy. Plurality of sects competing with each other isn’t. And if we are going to extricate ourselves from the terrible predicament we find ourselves in, following over a century of failure to build an effective proletarian leadership, then our best hope is surely to force ourselves to come together, one way or another.

 

This is where revolutionary socialist leadership should be stepping in to the breach. It isn’t too late to change the course of history and avert catastrophe. But it soon will be.

Zooms apart there is little sign of this popping its head above the parapet.

Yet.

Chris Williamson is garnering support for his initiative, The Resistance Movement, as critics of Keir Starmer seek a welcoming political home.

Many will  relish his plain speaking.

 

They will no doubt admire how he stands up to the “Zionist” lobby,

Last week the Socialist Party called for a “new mass workers’ party”.

Labour payouts: unions must discuss political representation

the Socialist Party has called for discussion in the workers’ movement on the need for a new mass workers’ party.

A ‘major gathering’ of trade unionists and socialists is definitely needed, in the form of a conference that can democratically discuss and debate how political representation for the working class can concretely be re-established in the situation created by Starmer’s leadership.

 with or without the involvement of any particular individual, the need for a mass workers’ party that can discuss and adopt a socialist programme is inherent in today’s situation.

The Socialist Party has already initiated a call for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to once again stand anti-cuts candidates in the next local and mayoral elections, following TUSC’s suspension of standing in the last local elections.

Presenting candidates who will fight for workers’ interests can only aid the discussion on how a mass workers’ party can be built, while in the meantime playing an important role in putting a socialist alternative on the ballot papers.

Yet, so far no answer seems to have come.

Socialist Worker comments,

Battles and infighting inside Labour reflect the party’s limits Charlie Kimber

Socialists should always be for the Labour left against the Labour right. But they also have to recognise that, even at its best, Labourism is not going to transform society.

A left that couldn’t effectively confront the right in its own party can hardly deal with the pressures of global capital and the state.

The obsession with Corbyn-nostalgia matters because big struggles are coming. Every day there is more news of job cuts and frequent predictions of mass unemployment.

The need for resistance focused on the workplaces and the streets, not parliament, is more urgent than ever.

At the moment the main energy of these factions has been concentrated on building Colvid-19 Action fronts, People Before Profit: Health Worker Covid,  and  agitating for NHS workers’ pay rises – a better way of spending their time some might say than the usual party/groupuscule building.

 

Hot on their heels George Galloway’s Workers Party calls on the masses to spurn those  “beholden to the Westminster brethren”.

 

H

The Future of a Delusion, “If our whole party had united behind Jeremy, Labour could have won in 2017 and saved tens of thousands of lives. “

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Election 2017 broadcast - Chinese for labour

 The 2017 election that might have been won, if it hadn’t been for a completely different result.

In his only novel, Zuleika Dobson; (1911) Max Beerbohm recounts the adventures of a femme fatale’s visit to Oxford. All the undergraduates fall in love with her. In a final proof of their passion they “leapt emulously headlong into the water”. and “plunged into the swirling stream”.

The  lees of such a homage were as nothing to the claims now being made in the afterglow of this article.

Jeremy Corbyn accuses Labour officials of sabotaging election campaign

Ardour for Jeremy Corbyn has led people to declare that Labour could have won in 2017, and “saved tens of thousands of lives”, if only……

There are good reasons to be outraged at the way that outgoing Party Officials are alleged to have treated the incoming Corbyn team.

On the material presented there is the strongest possible case, given in the newspapers, that “clear evidence of factional activity by senior paid employees of the party against the elected leadership of the time” exists.

We wholly sympathise with Joe Ryle on that.

But what has emerged is a far wider set of claims

They allege that in 2017 hostile officials set up a “shadow operation” in a Westminster office as part of efforts to plot their own election course, which included starving potential target seats of money and focusing resources on MPs not allied to Corbyn.

In the Independent this is stated,

The 13-page contribution, seen by The Independent, says: “Given that Labour was less than 2,500 votes in key seats away from forming a government, having won 40 per cent of the popular vote, it’s not impossible that Jeremy Corbyn might now be in his third year as a Labour prime minister were it not for the unauthorised, unilateral action taken by a handful of senior party officials in 2017.”

The messages detail at length senior staffers disappointed when Labour did better than expected in the election or polls, with some saying explicitly that they had been working against a good result for the party.

Reports  underline a “shadow operation”” aimed at “starving potential target seats of money” and factionalists giving vivid expressions of joy at Labour losing.

What kind of “shadow operation” was at work?

Were there people out there in the constituencies pouncing on party workers, thwarting their activities,  and garbling their messages?

This will come as news to those who campaigned in target seats, such as Ipswich, which was won by Labour by a highly competent well-resourced Labour team backed by members and supporters all over town.

The “separate operation” must have been so hidden in the shades, bound in the darkness, that we, in our stupid good-humoured way. failed to notice it.

Sandy Martin won this ‘target seat” for Labour in Ipswich.

Where was it during the 2019 European Elections, when Cobyn’s team was in charge?

That was a half-hearted campaign if ever there was one.

Where was this parallel wrecking centre in December 2019….?

 

 Anthony B. Masters, Royal Statistical Society Statistical Ambassador. 

The 2017 general election: not that close after all

The claim relies on the smallest number of votes changing in a specific way. It ignores that, based on the same logic, the Conservatives needed only 50 switched votes for a working majority. It also ignores the fact that constituencies are not independent events.

Far more votes would need to have shifted to plausibly change the outcome.

By the same logic, the Conservative needed only 50 switched votes to reach 321 seats. Given Sinn Fein’s abstentions, this is a probable working majority. 528 votes would have needed to switch for the Conservatives to win 326 constituencies — a Commons majority.

We should remember that constituencies are not independent events. We can also calculate what vote share would need to switch across Great Britain. How big does a uniform national swing need to be?

That also requires three assumptions. If one party increased their vote share, that same change happens in every seat. Only switching between Labour and the Conservatives occurs. Turnout does not change.

Under those assumptions, 0.04 points from Labour to the Conservatives gives the Conservatives 321 seats. Some 0.37 points in the other direction reduces the Conservatives to 310 seats.

These two switched vote shares are equal to around 13,000 and 116,000 votes across Great Britain. The Conservatives would have needed fewer switched votes than Labour to plausibly change the outcome in their favour.

There are other considerations to take into account, too. If Labour had been closer to the Conservatives in votes, then the electoral dynamics would also have changed.

In this alternate universe, the messages and targeted campaigns could have been dissimilar. Indeed, Theresa May might not have called the election in the first place.

The ‘2,227 votes’ figure appears to be a miscalculation. Suggesting Labour were a few thousand votes from “forming a government” relies on diamond-strong assumptions. It is time to bring it to an end.

Reactions are rolling in:

Where the battle lines are being drawn over leaked Labour report

There is no easy way through, however considered the response. Corbyn’s supporters are convinced by the election betrayal; many BAME MPs and members want more than just words from Starmer about tackling toxic attitudes at Labour HQ; and the officials are insistent the law will uphold their belief they have been maligned and defamed.

If there are any compensations for Starmer, it is that this will likely play out amid the political noise of coronavirus and far enough away from an election that many voters will not notice.

The Morning Star has its own explanation for Labour’s two most recent election defeats.

Editorial: The leaked report is important – but it was not sabotage that defeated the Corbyn project

The first is that the Corbyn leadership faced deliberate, planned obstruction from the Labour Party machinery from the beginning.

Evidence of this is not confined to the report, which was not a bolt from the blue. The suspension and expulsion of thousands of members during the leadership elections of 2015 and 2016 on the most trivial pretexts — an 82-year-old was expelled for having retweeted a demand that the Green Party be included in election debates — was very obviously an effort by the party bureaucracy to stop Corbyn winning.

Nor was the attempt to bar Corbyn, the incumbent leader, from standing for re-election in 2016 a secret.

The real fight was deeper,

For five years the political front line of class struggle in Britain was not between the two main parties but inside one of them — between those Labour forces invested (often literally) in the status quo, and those who wanted socialist change.

In the end, in the sense that Corbyn’s successor is not building on the socialist project but reversing it, the former won. Or rather, the latter lost.

Because the second key lesson is easily forgotten amid justified outrage over the leaked report. The socialist project was able to advance despite their sabotage. As one of the saboteurs put it on election night 2017, “they [Corbyn’s team] are celebrating and we are silent and grey faced.”

The relentless attacks did tremendous damage. But it was only when the Labour leadership allowed its own radicalism to be blunted, subordinating its socialist message to the liberal cause of a second EU referendum and prioritising parliamentary manoeuvres over mass mobilisation, that the wheels came off.

The People’s Vote marches for a Second Referendum were backed by figures like Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, and many Labour MPs. John McDonnell addressed a Final Say Rally in October 2019.  There was radical left support from Another Europe is Possible which organised hundreds-strong contingents at protests that  drew, hundreds of thousands onto the streets.

If, as the Morning Star asserts, Labour did not engage in “Mass mobilisation” why did not they, and the rest of the pro-Brexit ‘Lexit’ (Left Exit) groups, organise their own demonstrations in favour of leaving the EU?

Perhaps they were afraid of attracting the nationalist support that lay behind pro-Brexit vote and the subordination of their socialist message to the cause of populist national sovereignty.

The daily’s own conclusion is that the left should have “grappled” with its enemies within, and that it should speak to the “whole working class” – as if working class voters were not divided on Brexit.

The Editorial concludes,

If we attribute our failure to the strength of ruling-class opposition, we may as well give up on socialism: it will never go away.

The important thing is to develop strategies to overcome it. The left did not grapple seriously enough with its enemies in Labour, but it was when it ceased to speak to the whole working class that it stopped being heard.

So the real struggle is against Labour’s enemies within.

Here’s some people with ideas about that:

 

Pseudo-Marxism has no place in our movement

All of this guff is nothing but dust being thrown into the eyes of the movement, intended to confuse and disorientate socialist activists – and, ultimately, to hide the real liberal, reactionary, bourgeois class content at the heart of Mason’s thesis.

In reality, Mason – like Kautsky – has lost his head. But at least the latter had a head to lose in the first place.

There is nothing radical to be found in Mason’s apologia for liberalism. Indeed, there are no positive suggestions for the left at all.

Most notably, in Mason’s (30-plus minute read!) essay, there is no mention of the need for the left to fight for mandatory reselection; to reverse Blair’s legacy; or to kick out the bureaucrats and careerists that have conspired against a Labour victory.

Instead, Mason has gone on record recently to defend Starmer – the right-wing Labour leader who is opening waging war on the left on behalf of the establishment, attempting to reverse all the gains of the Corbyn era.

This is a telling and textbook case study of where you end up if you abandon a class approach. The ideas of ‘culture wars’, postmodernist ‘narratives’ based on ‘values’, and popular fronts are a dead end for the movement. It is only the genuine ideas of Marxism that can unite the working class and offer a way forward.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 8, 2020 at 10:51 am

Social Democratic Party Leader Warns, “Britain is turning into the Eastern Bloc.”

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In Spiked SDP’s William Clouston Warns of “rise of Pravda-truth.”.

The Social Democrat Party (SDP) was a centrist break-away from the Labour Party founded in 1981. It was created by the ‘Gang of Four’, Roy JenkinsDavid OwenShirley Williams and Bill Rodgers. A central plank of their platform was to defend “moderation” against Labour left influence, and to offer a balanced alternative to Tory and left-wing extremism. Many made their pro-European views well known as points of principle.

Stuart Hall called them the “little Caesars of Social Democracy’. The theorists of ‘Thatcherism’  said that for all their talk of “participatory democracy” they were “at present devoid of any single vestige of popular politics or popular mobilisation”. In place of pitting a simulacrum of the “people” against the “power bloc” and offering national unity around a free-market programme, they offered “participation’. This presented a potential “cross class” centrist politics. They tried to manufacture  a “compromise” to replace Thacher’s uncompromising government. (In the essays collected in The Hard Road to Renewal. Thatcherism of the Crisis of the Left.  Stuart Hall. 1998).

28 Labour MPs joined the Party, and one Tory. There was support in the Guardian. A prominent student Communist (ex-NUS President), Sue Slipman, and the SDP’s student organiser John Mumford, an ex Young Communist, joined. There were efforts from that quarter to justify their membership, and, despite Hall’s analysis, some around Marxism Today appeared to consider the “reformers” (as opposed to the ‘centrists’) in the SDP a potential part of a “broad democratic alliance” against Thatcher. It was suggested the SDPs tradition, if the economics was faulty the original ‘revisionist’ Crosland’s social programme was still of value.

The departing Labour leaders of the new Party  formed the SDP-LIberal alliance in the year they launched. At one point they were polling ahead of both the Labour Party and the Conservatives.

The SDP’s never achieved anything other than helping keeping Labour out of power. After poor showings in repeated elections it merged with the Liberals and became the Liberal Democrats in 1989.

Man of Destiny, social marketeer, David Owen lumbered on, creating the Continuity SDP .

The party was dissolved in 1990 in the aftermath of a by-election in Bootle in which the party’s candidate was beaten by Screaming Lord Sutch‘s Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

That is, if one does not count the  SDP (Canal Historique).

This has its own Wikipedia entry: Social Democratic Party (UK, 1990–present)

One reads that,

The SDP is a centrist political party combining traditions of the centre-left on economics and centre-right on defence and social issues. A formal statement of its values and aims were set out in the SDP’s New Declaration in October 2018.

 

 

David Owen has moved to the sovereigntist right.

This is a pronouncement he issued this year (if anybody was listening):

STATEMENT ISSUED BY LORD DAVID OWEN ON THE EVE OF THE UK’S EXIT FROM THE EU
FRIDAY 31 JANUARY 2020
I will celebrate with the all-Party Vote Leave referendum campaigners on Friday evening and in particular with those who spent the last three and a half years, at personal cost in time and money, dealing with the Electoral Commission and those who tried to use the law in the hope of overturning the people’s decision.

Interest has been created by the SDP move to the right, and further.

They backed Brexit. Strongly.

They live, like the People’s Brexit Backers, live in that special world where Brexit was going to a launchpad for social progress.

With their celebration of sovereignty and national identity they have entered into the confused area where left has and embraced the right: red-brown politics.

One not too far off the kind of Blue Labour ‘anti-woke’ politics of Trade Unionists Against the EU Paul Embery, backed during the Referendum by the Socialist Party and other ‘Lexiteers’.

Pouting Prelate Giles Fraser, once a leading supporter of ant-globalisation protests,  is now a member.

Rod Liddle, Satan have mercy on his soul, is another.

Rod Liddle – Journalist and SDP Member

Rod Liddle is a journalist and author. A previous editor of Radio Four’s Today programme, he is currently a columnist for the Sunday Times, Sun and Spectator, of which he is associate editor. He is a member of the Social Democratic Party

I expect a Newshawk will find some link with the Full Brexit but for the moment….

And there is this in Spiked.

Britain is turning into the Eastern Bloc

William Clouston is leader of the Social Democratic Party.

On TV, on social media and in the workplace, Britons feel they cannot openly speak the truth.

Thirty-five years on, Eastern Europe and the UK appear to have swapped places. I first saw glimpses of this after the 2016 Brexit vote, when Leave-supporting friends in academia said they were too scared openly to endorse a view held by 52 per cent of the electorate. They feared being socially ostracised, condemned as racists or sacked from their jobs.

Many of us fear speaking out precisely because we feel alone and isolated, which has allowed the forceful minority of hyper-progressives to dominate our public discourse. The most potent way to disempower them is to show to those around you that decent, level-headed people do not need to play the game of Pravda-truth.­­­

How true, how very true.

Everything evil eventually lumbers its way to Spiked.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 31, 2020 at 11:57 am