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France, Manifesto Against the “New anti-Semitism”.

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A woman carries a poster reading "I am a jew" as she attends a silent march to honor an 85-year-old woman who escaped the Nazis 76 years ago but was stabbed to death last week in her Paris apartment, apparently targeted because she was Jewish, and to denounce racism, in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

More than 250 French dignitaries and stars have signed a manifesto denouncing a “new anti-Semitism” marked by “Islamist radicalisation” after a string of killings of Jews, published in the Sunday edition of Le Parisien newspaper.

The country’s half-a-million-plus Jewish community is the largest in Europe but has been hit by a wave of emigration to Israel in the past two decades, partly due to anti-Semitism.

“We demand that the fight against this democratic failure that is anti-Semitism becomes a national cause before it’s too late. Before France is no longer France,” reads the manifesto co-signed by politicians from the left and right including ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and celebrities like actor Gérard Depardieu.

The signatories condemned what they called a “quiet ethnic purging” driven by rising Islamist radicalism particularly in working-class neighbourhoods. They also accused the media of remaining silent on the matter.

“In our recent history, 11 Jews have been assassinated – and some tortured – by radical Islamists because they were Jewish,” the declaration said.

The murders referenced reach as far back as 2006 and include the 2012 deadly shooting of three schoolchildren and a teacher at a Jewish school by Islamist gunman Mohammed Merah in the southwestern city of Toulouse.

Three years later, an associate of the two brothers who massacred a group of cartoonists at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killed four people in a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

In April 2017, an Orthodox Jewish woman in her sixties was thrown out of the window of her Paris flat by a neighbour shouting “Allahu Akhbar” (God is greatest).

The latest attack to rock France took place last month when two perpetrators stabbed an 85-year-old Jewish woman 11 times before setting her body on fire, in a crime treated as anti-Semitic.

Her brutal death sent shockwaves through France and prompted 30,000 people to join a march in her memory.

Condemning the “dreadful” killing, President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his determination to fighting anti-Semitism.

“French Jews are 25 times more at risk of being attacked than their fellow Muslim citizens,” according to the manifesto.

It added that some 50,000 Jews had been “forced to move because they were no longer in safety in certain cities and because their children could no longer go to school”.

Libération reports on the Manifesto and adds,

Les actes antisémites ont été pointés en repli en 2017 (-7%) pour la troisième année consécutive, selon les données du ministère de l’Intérieur. Mais cette baisse globale masque l’augmentation des faits les plus graves (+26% des violences, incendies, dégradations, tentatives d’homicide…). La communauté juive, qui représente environ 0,7% de la population, est la cible d’un tiers des faits de haine recensés.

According to the Interior Ministry antisemitic incidents were in decline in 2017 (minus 7%) for the third year in a row. But this overall decrease hides a growth in the most serious acts (plus 26% in violence, arson, damage to property, attempted murder). The Jewish community, who represents around o,7% of the population has been the target of a third of all hate crimes recorded.

However caution about statistics in this area is always in order.

Le Monde  published in March this lengthy analysis of how difficult it is to make these judgements.

L’antisémitisme, une réalité difficile à mesurer précisément

While the main thrust of the Manifesto will find an echo, the value of signatories such as former PM Manuel Valls, Gérard Depardieu and Nicolas Sarkozy on an anti-racist Manifesto is doubtful.

Pointing to a problem, that of “la radicalisation islamiste – et l’antisémitisme qu’il véhicule”, and stating that the difficulty in France is exacerbated by the political calculations of French political parties, is not a very constructive way of addressing the fight against Jihadist Islam.

Others will remark that stating that “l’antisémitisme musulman est la plus grande menace qui pèse sur l’islam du XXIème siècle “, when armed Islamists have attacked and murdered rival Muslims, Christians and secularists, and have, above all, tried to wipe Yazidis off the face of the earth, is not to take full measure of the depth of the problem.

Manifeste «contre le nouvel antisémitisme»

Le Parisien.

« L’antisémitisme n’est pas l’affaire des Juifs, c’est l’affaire de tous. Les Français, dont on a mesuré la maturité démocratique après chaque attentat islamiste, vivent un paradoxe tragique. Leur pays est devenu le théâtre d’un antisémitisme meurtrier. Cette terreur se répand, provoquant à la fois la condamnation populaire et un silence médiatique que la récente marche blanche a contribué à rompre.

Lorsqu’un Premier ministre à la tribune de l’Assemblée nationale déclare, sous les applaudissements de tout le pays, que la France sans les Juifs, ce n’est plus la France, il ne s’agit pas d’une belle phrase consolatrice mais d’un avertissement solennel : notre histoire européenne, et singulièrement française, pour des raisons géographiques, religieuses, philosophiques, juridiques, est profondément liée à des cultures diverses parmi lesquelles la pensée juive est déterminante. Dans notre histoire récente, onze Juifs viennent d’être assassinés – et certains torturés – parce que Juifs, par des islamistes radicaux.

Pourtant, la dénonciation de l’islamophobie – qui n’est pas le racisme anti-Arabe à combattre – dissimule les chiffres du ministère de l’Intérieur : les Français juifs ont 25 fois plus de risques d’être agressés que leurs concitoyens musulmans. 10 % des citoyens juifs d’Ile-de-France – c’est-à-dire environ 50 000 personnes – ont récemment été contraints de déménager parce qu’ils n’étaient plus en sécurité dans certaines cités et parce que leurs enfants ne pouvaient plus fréquenter l’école de la République. Il s’agit d’une épuration ethnique à bas bruit au pays d’Émile Zola et de Clemenceau.

Pourquoi ce silence ? Parce que la radicalisation islamiste – et l’antisémitisme qu’il véhicule – est considérée exclusivement par une partie des élites françaises comme l’expression d’une révolte sociale, alors que le même phénomène s’observe dans des sociétés aussi différentes que le Danemark, l’Afghanistan, le Mali ou l’Allemagne… Parce qu’au vieil antisémitisme de l’extrême droite, s’ajoute l’antisémitisme d’une partie de la gauche radicale qui a trouvé dans l’antisionisme l’alibi pour transformer les bourreaux des Juifs en victimes de la société. Parce que la bassesse électorale calcule que le vote musulman est dix fois supérieur au vote juif.

Or à la marche blanche pour Mireille Knoll, il y avait des imams conscients que l’antisémitisme musulman est la plus grande menace qui pèse sur l’islam du XXIème siècle et sur le monde de paix et de liberté dans lequel ils ont choisi de vivre. Ils sont, pour la plupart, sous protection policière, ce qui en dit long sur la terreur que font régner les islamistes sur les musulmans de France.

En conséquence, nous demandons que les versets du Coran appelant au meurtre et au châtiment des juifs, des chrétiens et des incroyants soient frappés d’obsolescence par les autorités théologiques, comme le furent les incohérences de la Bible et l’antisémite catholique aboli par Vatican II, afin qu’aucun croyant ne puisse s’appuyer sur un texte sacré pour commettre un crime.

Nous attendons de l’islam de France qu’il ouvre la voie. Nous demandons que la lutte contre cette faillite démocratique qu’est l’antisémitisme devienne cause nationale avant qu’il ne soit trop tard. Avant que la France ne soit plus la France. »

« Le Nouvel Antisémitisme en France », Ed. Albin Michel, 213 p., 15 euros.

La liste des signatairesCharles Aznavour ; Françoise Hardy ; Pierre Arditi ; Elisabeth Badinter ; Michel Drucker ; Sibyle Veil ; François Pinault ; Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt ; Marceline Loridan-Ivens ; Radu Mihaileanu ; Elisabeth de Fontenay ; Nicolas Sarkozy ; Pascal Bruckner ; Laure Adler ; Bertrand Delanoë ; Manuel Valls ; Michel Jonasz ; Xavier Niel ; Jean-Pierre Raffarin ; Gérard Depardieu ; Renaud ; Pierre Lescure ; Francis Esménard ; Mgr Joseph Doré ; Grand Rabbin Haïm Korsia ; Imam Hassen Chalghoumi ; Carla Bruni ; Boualem Sansal ; Imam Aliou Gassama ; Annette Wieviorka ; Gérard Darmon ; Antoine Compagnon ; Mofti Mohamed ali Kacim ; Bernard Cazeneuve ; Bernard-Henri Lévy ; Philippe Val ; Zabou Breitman ; Waleed al-Husseini ; Yann Moix ; Xavier De Gaulle ; Joann Sfar ; Julia Kristeva ; François Berléand ; Olivier Guez ; Jeannette Bougrab ; Marc-Olivier Fogiel ; Luc Ferry ; Laurent Wauquiez ; Dominique Schnapper ; Daniel Mesguich ; Laurent Bouvet ; Pierre-André Taguieff ; Jacques Vendroux ; Georges Bensoussan ; Christian Estrosi ; Brice Couturier ; Imam Bouna Diakhaby ; Eric Ciotti ; Jean Glavany ; Maurice Lévy ; Jean-Claude Casanova ; Jean-Robert Pitte ; Jean-Luc Hees ; Alain Finkielkraut ; Père Patrick Desbois ; Aurore Bergé ; François Heilbronn ; Eliette Abécassis ; Bernard de la Villardière ; Richard Ducousset ; Juliette Méadel ; Daniel Leconte ; Jean Birenbaum ; Richard Malka ; Aldo Naouri ; Guillaume Dervieux ; Maurice Bartelemy ; Ilana Cicurel ; Yoann Lemaire ; Michel Gad Wolkowicz ; Olivier Rolin ; Dominique Perben ; Christine Jordis ; David Khayat ; Alexandre Devecchio ; Gilles Clavreul ; Jean-Paul Scarpitta ; Monette Vacquin ; Christine Orban ; Habib Meyer ; Chantal Delsol ; Vadim Sher ; Françoise Bernard ; Frédéric Encel ; Christiane Rancé ; Noémie Halioua ; Jean-Pierre Winter ; Jean-Paul Brighelli ; Marc-Alain Ouaknin ; Stephane Barsacq ; Pascal Fioretto ; Olivier Orban ; Stéphane Simon ; Laurent Munnich ; Ivan Rioufol ; Fabrice d’Almeida ; Dany Jucaud ; Olivia Grégoire ; Elise Fagjeles ; Brigitte-Fanny Cohen ; Yaël Mellul ; Lise Bouvet ; Frédéric Dumoulin ; Muriel Beyer ; André Bercoff ; Aliza Jabes ; Jean-Claude Zylberstein ; Natacha Vitrat ; Paul Aidana ; Imam Karim ; Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine ; Lydia Guirous ; Rivon Krygier ; Muriel Attal ; Serge Hefez ; Céline Pina ; Alain Kleinmann ; Marie Ibn Arabi-Blondel ; Michael Prazan ; Jean-François Rabain ; Ruth Aboulkheir ; Daniel Brun ; Paul Aidane ; Marielle David ; Catherine Kintzler ; Michèle Anahory ; Lionel Naccache ; François Ardeven ; Thibault Moreau ; Marianne Rabain-Lebovici ; Nadège Puljak ; Régine Waintrater ; Michèle Anahory ; Aude Weill-Raynal ; André Aboulkheir ; Elsa Chaudun ; Patrick Bantman ; Ruben Rabinovicth ; Claire Brière-Blanchet ; Ghislaine Guerry ; Jean-Jacques Moscovitz ; André Zagury ; François Ardeven ; Estelle Kulich ; Annette Becker ; Lilianne Lamantowicz ; Ruth Aboulkheir ; Christine Loterman ; Adrien Barrot ; Talila Guteville ; Florence Ben Sadoun ; Michèle Anahory ; Paul Zawadzki ; Serge Perrot ; Patrick Guyomard ; Marc Nacht ; André Aboulkheir ; Laurence Bantman ; Josiane Sberro ; Anne-Sophie Nogaret ; Lucile Gellman ; Alain Bentolila ; Janine Atlounian ; Claude Birman ; Danielle Cohen-Levinas ; Laurence Picard ; Sabrina Volcot-Freeman ; Gérard Bensussan ; Françoise-Anne Menager ; Yann Padova ; Evelyne Chauvet ; Yves Mamou ; Naem Bestandji ; Marc Knobel ; Nidra Poller ; Brigitte-Fanny Cohen ; Joelle Blumberg ; Catherine Rozenberg ; André Aboulkheir ; Caroline Bray-Goyon ; Michel Tauber ; André Zagury ; Laura Bruhl ; Eliane Dagane ; Paul Zawadzki ; Michel Bouleau ; Marc Zerbib ; Catherine Chalier ; Jasmine Getz ; Marie-Laure Dimon ; Marion Blumen ; Simone Wiener ; François Cahen ; Richard Metz ; Daniel Draï ; Jacqueline Costa-Lascoux ; Stéphane Lévy ; Arthur Joffe ; Antoine Molleron ; Liliane Kandel ; Stéphane Dugowson ; David Duquesne ; Marc Cohen ; Michèle Lévy-Soussan ; Frédéric Haziza ; Martine Dugowson ; Jonathan Cohen ; Damien Le Guay ; Patrick Loterman ; Mohamed Guerroumi ; Wladi Mamane ; William de Carvalho ; Brigitte Paszt ; Séverine Camus ; Solange Repleski ; André Perrin ; Sylvie Mehaudel ; Jean-Pierre Obin ; Yael Mellul ; Sophie Nizard ; Richard Prasquier ; Patricia Sitruk ; Renée Fregosi ; Jean-Jacques Rassial ; Karina Obadia ; Jean-Louis Repelski ; Edith Ochs ; Jacob Rogozinski ; Roger Fajnzylberg ; Marie-Helène Routisseau ; Philippe Ruszniewski ; André Senik ; Jean-François Solal ; Paule Steiner ; Jean-Benjamin Stora ; Anne Szulmajster ; Maud Tabachnik ; Daniel Tchenio ; Julien Trokiner ; Fatiha Boyer ; Cosimo Trono ; Henri Vacquin ; Caroline Valentin ; Alain Zaksas ; Slim Moussa ; Jacques Wrobel ; Roland Gori ; Nader Alami ; Céline Zins ; Richard Dell’Agnola ; Patrick Beaudouin ; Barbara Lefebvre ; Jacques Tarnéro ; Georges-Elia Sarfat ; Lise Boëll ; Jacques Wrobel ; Bernard Golse ; Céline Boulay-Esperonnier ; Anne Brandy ; Imam Karim ; Sammy Ghozlan.

Here.

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 22, 2018 at 12:58 pm

From French Trotskyism to Social Democracy. “68, et Après. Les héritages égarés. Benjamin Stora” Review.

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Image result for 68, et Après. Les héritages égarés. Benjamin Stora. Stock. 2018.

68, et Après. Les héritages égarés. Benjamin Stora. Stock. 2018.

The present wave of strikes and student protests in France have drawn comparisons with the stoppages and protests against the 1995 ‘Plan Juppé”. This reform of state health and retirement insurance, including the railway workers’ pensions, struck at the heart of the French welfare state. There is a strong resemblance between this social movement and the opposition of public sector workers and undergraduates to President Macron’s efforts to ‘modernise’ the French rail system and Universities, (Le Monde 28.3.18).

Others, notably in the English-speaking left, have evoked the spirit of ’68. Some on the French ultra-left, who might be considered to inherit a fragment of the soul of that year’s revolts, state in Lundimatin, that they “do not give a toss” (on s’en fout) about the anniversary of the May events. (Nicolas Truong. Le Monde 15.3.18) Rather than commemorate, or organising Occupy or Nuit Debout style alternatives, they will be busy tearing into Macron, speaking truth for the Coming Insurrection. (1)

That section of the far-left is, of course embroiled in the continuation of the Tarnac trial. Others from a close milieu are involved in resisting the clearing of the last self-organised squats at Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

Benjamin Stora’s 68, et Après is written from a standpoint both familiar internationally, the fall out from the crushing defeat of the French left in last year’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections, and one far less well-known, the history of a section of Gallic Trotskyism, the ‘Lambertists’.

It is also an autobiography, from his origins in as a North African Jews, his education, his many years of activism, and university career. Stora  has produced important studies of French Algeria, the war of liberation, and post-independence Algerian history, including the exile of its Jewish population. There is a finely handled account of the tragic death of his daughter in 1992. Stora’s commitment to study the Maghreb did not wholly override political commitment. Opposition to the Jihadists – and be it said, the Military – during the 1990s civil war in Algeria – led to Islamist intimidation. After a small coffin inscribed with words from the Qur’an, and a death threat addressed to Unbelievers, Jews and Communists arrived at his home the historian was forced to leave France and spend time in Vietnam, the occasion for further fruitful reflection on post-colonial societies.

Generation 68

Stora argues that the notion of a 68 ‘generation’ (popularised in Hervé Hamon and Patrick Rotman’s landmark 1987 book of the same name) is misleading. He notes the two volumes lack of attention to his own tradition. A full-time activist in the 1970s the former Lambertist suggests, notably, that his own tendency, whose internal regime and (to put in terms this reviewer, whose background is amongst its left-wing rivals) stifling narrow-minded morality (up to hostility towards feminism and gays), was also part of the post-68 radical movement. This is indeed the case, although not many beyond their circles had a taste for denunciations of “petty bourgeois deviations” and ritual revolutionary socialism. (Page 31) Those familiar with the history will suspect the reason for their absence (one Index reference to Lambert) in Génération. That is, the Lambertists’ call during one of the most celebrated moments of 68, for students to disperse from the Boulevard Saint-Michel rendered, “Non aux barricades” and to go to the workers at Renault, Michel (Night of 10-11th of May). (2)

The history of this highly disciplined current, around the figure of Pierre Lambert (real name Boussel) in 68 known as the Organisation communiste internationaliste (OCI) is long and, to say the least controversial. But their imprint is not confined to the fringes. Lambertists have played an important part in the recently governing Parti Socialiste (PS). Amongst one-time members are the former Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, and the ex-Socialist  leader of La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Stora, like PS General Secretary until last year, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, was part of a several hundred strong Lambertist faction which joined the PS in 1986. Cambadélis, in his most recent book, Chronique d’une débâcle (2017) makes passing reference to a Trotskyist past (his ability to spot sectarian manoeuvres is undiminished). L’après 68 gives an extensive account of the organisation, from weekly cell meetings, whose minutes were rigorously kept and transmitted to the party HQ, to their exploits in the student unions and ‘mutuals’, friendly societies which play an important part in assuring student health and other forms of insurance.

Stora’s La Dernière Génération d’Octobre (2003) covers, he remarks, the post-68 culture and politics of his time in the OCI. The present volume gives probably more attention to the way in which his faction from this generation moved from full-time Lambertist activism, often paid for by one of the fractured French student unions, the UNEF-ID, in some cases by Teachers’ unions) into the late 1980s Parti Socialiste. Going from a clandestine fraction, led principally by Cambadélis, suspicious of surveillance by a group whose way of dealing with dissidence was not too far off the British WRP’s, they broke with Leninism. This was not just in opposition to the vertical internal regime, and the reliance on the “transitional programme” but, as they saw it, to establish a left-wing force within the democratic socialist spectrum represented in the post Epinay PS.  

A deal reached with Boussel, to avoid the violence and rancour traditionally associated with splits, was soon behind them. Despite the author’s best efforts it fails to disperse the suspicion, which those of us who are, let’s just say, not greatly fond of their tradition, had that some kind of arrangement also took place between Lambert and the PS itself over their entry into the party. (3) 

Inside the Parti Socialiste.

An organised PS current, Convergences socialistes, with all the self-importance that afflicts parts of the French left and academics, they numbered around 400 members. Of these a few moved into open professional politics. As a coherent body it is hard to find much trace of them in the shifting alliances within the PS, although one may find some remaining allies of Cambadélis as he clambered  up the party hierarchy. 

Just how adept former Lambertists could be in the PS game is registered by Stora’s portrait of an individual who had joined the PS some years before, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The present chief of La France insoumise, with a seat in the senate’s august halls, shared a wish create a new vanguard with his own tendency, the ‘Gauche socialiste’. He was equally  marked by burgeoning admiration for François Mitterrand. This did not go down well. Stora recalled the President’s role in the repression of Algerian insurgents…(Page 49 – 50). In a critique of Mélenchon’s present politics, Stora draws comparisons with the old Communist Party’s wish to impose its hegemony on the left, and keep its activists preoccupied by frenetic activism (Pages 150 – 153).

The root cause of the present  débâcle is  Parliamentary left lost touch with the people, part of an autonomous political sphere. The history of how a section of the radical left made the transfer from revolutionary full-timers to PS MPs and functionaries (and a galaxy of dependent positions) is not unique. It could be paralleled on a smaller scale by the career of the UK Socialist Action in Ken Livingstone’s London Mayor administration. The insulated, amply rewarded, lives of politicians, is, it is often said, one of the causes of the break down of the traditional French parties of right and left. Stora does not neglect his own current’s involvement in the student mutual, MNEF, corruption scandals, (Page 129). Whatever remains of the difference between ‘revolutionaries’ and ‘reformists’ fades into the distance faced with a managerial-bureaucratisation enveloping the current. The same processes, born of their reliance on union positions and opaque funding are not without effects on the remaining loyal Lamberists in the le Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI) , and their split,  the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID).

After 68?

Après 68 is above all is a rousing condemnation of the “neo-nationalism” grounded on French “identity” and fear of “decline”. This, from the 2005 European Constitution Referendum (which divided the French left including, Stora notes, some on his section of the radical left)  dominates French politics, left and right, up to its presence in the ‘synthesis’ offered by President Macron. French political space, he observes, no longer dominated by the Parti Socialiste, is open. From 1968, writes both the historian and left winger he keeps two passions, for History (the source of his productive career) and the internationalist defence of those without rights, the desire for a common human civilisation. Staying hopeful that hopes for a new world have not been extinguished, L’après 68 is full of important messages from an old one.

*****

(1) See: A nos Amis. 2014. Le Comité Invisible 2014. Page 64. “Voilà ce qu’il faut opposer à la « souveraineté » des assemblées générales, aux bavardages des Parlements : la redécouverte de la charge affective liée à la parole, à la parole vraie. Le contraire de la démocratie, ce n’est pas la dictature, c’est la vérité. C’est justement parce qu’elles sont des moments de vérité, où le pouvoir est nu, que les insurrections ne sont jamais démocratiques.”

(2) Pages 467– 469. Les Trotskyistes, Christophe Nick. Fayard. 2002.

(3)See for example, the series in le Monde by Nathaniel Herzberg in 1999 on the subject commented on here:  De la « génération » comme argument de vente… A propos d’une série d’articles sur la « génération MNEF ».

Arron Banks, Hard Right Donator to Trade Unionists Against the EU, Embroiled in Cambridge Analytica Scandal.

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Sharing the stage: Brittany Kaiser, circled, sits alongside Arron Banks, the Leave.EU boss, at a press conference in 2015. She has now left Cambridge Analytica.

Brittany Kaiser, circled, sits alongside Arron Banks, the Leave.EU boss, at a press conference in 2015. She has now left Cambridge Analytica.

Arron Banks’ is one of the best-known Brexiteers.

His hard right wing Westmonster site (A full, clean Brexit, defeating radical Islam, ending the scourge of violent crime. These are our priorities. If they are yours as well, please support Westmonster and help us grow), is a conduit for the frequent articles by George Galloway.

As in,

Galloway: The project is subvert Brexit democracy is succeeding

Banks also donated to Trade Unionists Against the EU, a Brexit campaign backed by, amongst others, the Morning Star and the Socialist Party.

Now Arron Banks is in the news for some more skullduggery.

Cambridge Analytica bragged: We have vast data for Brexit vote

Evening Standard.

The founder of Leave.EU, Arron Banks, referred in his book The Bad Boys Of Brexit to CA being “hired” in October 2015. But he told the committee this simply referred to an early meeting and an intention to work together if Leave.EU won lead status, entitling it to spend up to £7 million, get a free mailshot, TV broadcasts and £600,000 public funds, in the referendum campaign. He insisted the group “devised and implemented its own social media strategy … without any input from Cambridge Analytica”.

Confusingly, a CA staffer, Brittany Kaiser, appeared on the platform of a Leave.EU press conference in November 2015 alongside Mr Banks, seemingly to present their campaign plans. She has since left the data company.

But…..

The Guardian leads with this story today,

Cambridge Analytica misled MPs over work for Leave.EU, says ex-director

Exclusive: Brittany Kaiser contradicts CEO, who told MPs the data firm did not work with Brexit campaign group.

Cambridge Analytica conducted data research for one of the leading Brexit campaign groups and then misled the public and MPs over the work the company had undertaken, according to a former employee who has spoken to the Guardian.

In an exclusive interview, Brittany Kaiser, Cambridge Analytica’s business development director until two weeks ago, said the work with Leave.EU involved analysis of data provided by Ukip.

Emails and other documents, seen by the Guardian, show the company was worried about whether it could speak openly about the “interesting findings” and the origins of the data that had been analysed. It decided against doing so.

Kaiser, 30, said the work took a number of weeks and involved “at least six or seven meetings” with senior officials from Leave.EU, which was co-founded by Arron Banks, a Ukip donor. She said the work took place as part of an effort to secure formal business with the campaign group.

Kaiser said she felt she had lied by supporting Cambridge Analytica’s company line that it had done “no paid or unpaid work” for Leave.EU. “In my opinion, I was lying,” she said. “In my opinion I felt like we should say, ‘this is exactly what we did’.”

Day of Strike Action in French Public Services Against Background of Unity Call for the Left.

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Image result for CGT jour pour la fonction publique 22 mars

Today is March the 22nd, the same day in March when, fifty years ago,  the revolt of May 68 began.

“when a a French student movement at the  University of Nanterre founded on 22 March 1968, started a prolonged occupation of the university’s administration building.”

After occupying the building, the school dean called the police, and a public scuffle ensued that garnered the movement media and intellectual attention.”

Today is March the 22nd when a day of strikes, from the Public Service to Trains, is taking place.

L’Humanité leads with the story,

Mobilisations. Les agents se battent pour sauver notre service public

A day of action in public services, joined by train drivers, is supported by all the unions,  CGT, FO, FSU, CFTC, CFE-CGC, Solidaires  and FA-FP. On the rail network a united front of the SNCF (CGT, UNSA, SUD-Rail, CFDT), backed by FO are moblising against the “reform” of the train service, which directly touches the conditions of workers, notably the locomotive drivers.

The Guardian reports,

Thousands of train drivers, teachers, nurses, air traffic controllers and other public sector staff have gone on strike across France and begun street protests against Emmanuel Macron’s latest reform drive.

France’s centrist president, who has been in power for nearly a year, has so far escaped large strikes and trade union action, managing to easily push through an overhaul of labour laws in the autumn despite limited street marches.

But Thursday’s strike marks a new joint phase in trade union action – it is the first protest against Macron that has brought together civil servants and railway staff.

Rolling news from LibérationFonctionnaires, cheminots…, tous ensemble

This happens against the background of successful appeal for left unity behind the strike action and protests, issued by Olivier Besancenot of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA).

Déclaration unitaire : Défendons tous les services publics ! Solidarité avec les cheminots et les cheminotes !

Une réunion unitaire s’est tenue dans les locaux du NPA la semaine dernière. Elle a aboutit à un appel unitaire large, d’une grande partie des organisations politique du mouvement ouvrier, en soutien aux mobilisations à la SNCF et dans les services publics. Une conférence de presse se tiendra également jeudi.

Le Monde dedicated a long report on this welcome initiative.

A gauche, l’unité (presque) retrouvée.

12 parties and groups have backed the call, from Alternative Libertaire (AL) ; EELV ; Ensemble ; Gauche Démocratique et sociale (GDS) ;  Géneration.s, (led by former Socialist Presidential candidate Benoît Hamon) ; Groupe Parlementaire FI ; NPA ; Nouvelle Donne ; PCF ;  PCOF ; Parti de Gauche (PG)  to République et socialisme.

The Parti Socialiste, and its newly elected leader, Olivier Faure, were, in view of the record of their recent government, not asked to join.

It goes without saying that the leader of La France insoumise (LFI), Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who considers his rally is the only force that counts on the left, is keeping his distance.

Strikes in France: A guide to navigating transport, childcare and more.

France 24.

Spring is officially here, and with it comes the start of strike season in France. With workers across the country set to walk out on Thursday, here is a brief rundown of which services will be affected and tips on how to survive the madness.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, France is the country with the second-highest number of days not worked due to industrial action in Europe, bested only by Cyprus, according to the European Trade Union Institute.

Yet despite the regularity of strikes in France, navigating disrupted services can be stressful for even the most experienced of locals. To make life easier, here’s a guide to Thursday’s strikes, as well as a few tips on how to survive.

Who’s striking?

 A total of seven trade unions have called on public sector employees across the country to strike on Thursday, including school and hospital staff, civil servants, air traffic controllers and Paris metro (RATP) workers.

As Front National changes its Name, Trump Former Adviser Steve Bannon tells French Far-right, “History is on our side”.

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La poignée de mains entre l'ex-conseiller de Donald Trump, Steve Bannon et la présidente du FN Marine Le Pen lors du 16e congrès du parti, le 10 mars 2018 à Lille

US Trump Far-Right Meets French Far-Right.

Steve Bannon populist roadshow hits Europe

After a number of other shows Bannon hit France, where his speech at the Front National Conference was a major event. (Politico)

Steve Bannon, the former Trump strategist and “alt-right” publisher, capped a European tour this week by urging a gathering of France’s struggling National Front party to stand by their populist guns.

“Let them call you racists,” Bannon told a party congress in Lille on Saturday, according to a video of the speech. “Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor.”

Steve Bannon tells far-right Front National party in France ‘history is on our side’

Independent.

President Donald Trump’s former adviser tells them they are ‘part of a worldwide movement bigger than France, bigger than Italy’

Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump‘s one-time trusted adviser, addressed the far-right Front National party in France and said “history is on our side”.

The former editor of right-leaning Breitbart News had helped the President shape his “America First” agenda and met with National Front leader Marine Le Pen, known for her controversial anti-immigration views.

“You’re part of a worldwide movement bigger than France, bigger than Italy,” he told a cheering crowd in Lille, France for the party’s convention. Ms Le Pen said inviting Mr Bannon to speak was important because he was “the architect of Donald Trump’s victory”. She also cited his views on giving regular people “power, which in his mind and mine, too, has been practically illegally captured by the elite”.

Much of the French media focused on Bannon’s praise, not for Marine Le Pen, but for her niece,  Marion Maréchal-Le Pen who had spoken at the end of February in the USA at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) (Front National: dans la famille Le Pen, Steve Bannon préfère la nièce)

Le Monde cites the far-right Party’s spokesman Sébastien Chenu praising Trump, the “incarnation of the rejection of the Establishment, the European Union and the “political-media system”.

le porte-parole du FN, Sébastien Chenu a de son côté estimé samedi matin sur France Inter que l’ex-conseiller de Donald Trump « incarne pour nous le rejet de l’establishment, de l’Union européenne [UE], du système politico-médiatique ».

As a measure of the gauge Bannon’s organ, Breitbart, has on French politics their strapline on the meeting was the following.

Stephen K. Bannon To Speak At Major Front National Conference Rumoured To Rebrand Party

Rumoured, as in their publicly announced official intention for months and months and months.

Wear ‘racist’ like a badge of honour, Bannon tells French far-right summit

France 24.

The fanfare over Bannon is a distraction from the glaring paradox of this otherwise largely technical party convention, one poised to reinstate Marine Le Pen as leader even as faith in her leadership has indisputably waned.

She has looked to stir up excitement for the party name change she will suggest on stage Sunday, a rebranding set to put the 49-year-old’s indelible stamp on a party she took over in 2011 from her rabble-rousing father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded it in 1972.

Hellbent on “de-demonising” the National Front in the public eye, Marine Le Pen made a show of snubbing the shaved-head and bomber-jacket types fond of her father and touting an economic programme that vilified the Euro currency and advocated a state that protects the vulnerable (or at least the ones who hold French passports). Reaping the rewards of nascent respectability in one election after another, she built a stable of elected officials at nearly every level of government. Advocates claim that changing the ostensibly sulphurous name is a necessary next step, the last obstacle to political alliances that would finally carry the FN to power.

But members seem sceptical. According to the party’s own unverifiable numbers, only 52 percent of members who bothered to return a questionnaire approve of calling the party anything else.

 As Le Monde reported a few days ago Marine Le Pen’s popularity is in steep decline, “Une image en chute libre”.

Volontaire pour 80 % des sondés en février 2017, elle ne l’est plus que pour 66 %. Sa capacité à prendre des décisions s’est effondrée de 69 % à 49 %. Les Français ne sont plus que 40 % (en baisse de 9 points depuis un an) à estimer qu’elle comprend leurs problèmes. Déjà érodée depuis 2016, sa capacité à rassembler au-delà de son camp ne lui est plus reconnue que par 30 % des sondés (en baisse de 12 points). Elle n’était déjà jugée sympathique et chaleureuse, il y a un an, que par 35 % des personnes interrogées ; elles ne sont plus que 25 %. Enfin, 16 % seulement des sondés (contre 24 % il y a un an) considèrent qu’elle ferait une bonne présidente de la République.

From being considered “Decisive” by 80% of those polled in February 2017, she has dropped to 66%. The assessment of her ability to take decisions has fallen from 69% to  49%. There is a drop of 9 points, to 40% who consider she grasps their problems. Eroding from 2016 downwards, the cap to appeal beyond her own side has gone down 12 points to 30%/ She was  judged warm and kind a year ago by 30% of the respondents,  this stands now at 25%. Finally, only 16% (as opposed to 24% a year back) think she would make a good |President of the Republic.

Some might consider this a good score for an acerbic apprentice dictator, but it is unlikely to please her party activists.

More reporting (Libération):  Steve Bannon, un air de populisme américain au congrès du Front national.

This notes the surprise at the invitation, and the not entirely happy reaction of some party activists, who rushed to declare (in view one imagines of Trump’s popularity in France) that there was no formal “alliance” between the FN and Breitbart.

Meanwhile the UK far-right is also building links with Bannon.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 11, 2018 at 12:36 pm

The Delusions of a ‘People’s Brexit’ and Corbyn’s Custom Union speech.

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Image result for people's brexit

How long ago it all seems.

Counterfire originated in a split from the Socialist Workers Party in 2010. They led the Coalition of Resistance (CoR) – the grand title ‘resistance’  US term ‘coalition’ referring to liberal pressure groups, obscuring an alliance of national trade unions, local trade union and anti-cuts activists against austerity. CoR became the more successful People’s Assembly, which, held successful national anti-austerity demonstrations, thousands of local meetings, and continued the campaign against austerity with more political presence and energy.

Leading figures of Counterfire, Lindsey German, John Rees and  their small circle, run the Stop the War Coaltion (StWC) in a long-term partnership with other figures, notably Andrew Murray of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), who now plays a major role in the Labour Party.

Coutnerfire activists are extremely competent and widely appreciated organisers of national campaigns and demonstrations.

Nevertheless there are many problems with their politics.

One that is of pressing concern is that their leadership feels, while the People’s assembly is sidelined in Labour’s project of becoming a “social movement” in a position to act as “player” in the Labour Party.

As keen supporters of the Respect adventure Rees, German, and others published on their web-site, have a distinct take on international issues, which continue the ‘anti-imperialist’ politics of the original Stop the War Coalition, in conditions, above all Syria, where this has led them into irrelevance at best, and at worst, a refusal to take an internationalist human rights approach to the slaughter.

In UK politics Counterfire takes a variety of positions, but they are guided by a pro-Brexit strategy which they call a ‘People’s Brexit’.

To this end they have used their control of the slimmed down People’s Assembly to adopt a list of what might be generously called ‘impossibilist’ demands for Brexit.

That is a list of what the PA said in 2017 on Brexit, without any indication of the political means in Parliament or how these principles could be achieved.,

 “We say no to  ‘No to A Bankers Brexit’. We need to overhaul  the tax system to clampdown on tax avoidance, to increase corporation tax, the personal tax and  inheritance tax of the wealthy.

4. The Peoples’ Assembly calls for a new charter for workers rights and for the abolition of the  anti-union laws. We need an end to Zero Hours contracts, and we call for mandatory collective bargaining for large workplaces.

5. We demand a  Charter for migrant rights: No scapegoating of refugees, full retention of rights for European workers

6. No TTIP and all neo-liberal trade deals (NAFTA and CETA etc.)

Unlike some of their allies this is not based on a specific policy of restoring national Parliamentary sovereignty detached from the rest of the world.

The whole wish-list is part of strategy to “take control” – they leave the ‘how’ for the ‘movement’ to decide.

Counterfire’s reaction to Corbyn’s speech on Monday can be taken in the light of these remarks.

Martin HallWhat does Corbyn’s Brexit speech really mean?

Overall, the speech reiterated Labour’s overall aims and objectives in terms of the kind of government it wants to be, and very good points were made regarding the rights of EU nationals, the refugee crisis, internationalism, workers’ rights and the paramount importance of keeping the NHS safe and out of any future deals the EU might cut with other countries.

As a strategy Hall comments of Corbyn’s intentions,

He will hope it will be seen as the continuation of the manifesto position of a jobs-first or People’s Brexit, and that it provides a big enough tent for most Labour voters to get under.

Labour’s 2017 Manifesto makes no mention of a People’s Brexit.

This is a term unknown to the general public. It is used by pro-Brexit ‘Lexit’ forces, and employed by Counterfire through the People’s Assembly to disguise their alignment with the right-wing pro-business nationalists who led the Brexit drive. The other group which used the expression is Trade Unionists Against the EU, TUAEU (What We Need Is A People’s Brexit)  TUEAU has yet to respond to the revelation that they received a generous donation from far-right Millionaire and arch-Brexiteer, Arron Banks.

What Labour said was.

We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations.

We will end Theresa May’s reckless approach to Brexit, and seek to unite the country around a Brexit deal that works for every community in Britain.

We will scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union – which are essential for maintaining industries, jobs and businesses in Britain. Labour will always put jobs and the economy first.

Labour will always put jobs and the economy first.”  (Negotiating Brexit. Manifesto). In this context, supporting the idea of the UK being part of a European Customs Union, that is an free trade zone based on the same import duties, entirely consistent. It is, in short, no innovation.

Hall however continues,

What Jeremy Corbyn has set out today is, in some ways, a brave attempt to stymie the most rabidly pro-remain aspects of his party, while keeping Leave voters in the tent. This was most strongly seen in this statement towards the end of his speech:

‘The European Union is not the root of all our problems and leaving it will not solve all our problems. Likewise, the EU is not the source of all enlightenment and leaving it does not inevitably spell doom for our country.’

The “rabid” Remain supporters are no doubt there to contrast to the non-rabid Leave supporters….

The ventriloquists of Counterfire then speak for the Leave vote.

All the evidence from June 2016 points to the prime drivers of the Leave vote as a desire to take back control, including a variety of differing positions on the question of immigration and borders, allied to an attendant anger at what neo-liberal, free trade economics had done to the UK’s industrial heartlands.

That is, a key drive behind the Leave vote was…to “control”…immigration and frontiers.

No other example is given.

Counterfire avoids the fact that few people, outside of their restricted circles, talked about “neo-libralism” by pointing to the effects of economic restructuring. That is a way of claiming anybody who dislikes the way the economy has gone for their ‘anti-capitalist’ side.

What Jeremy Corbyn has set out today is, in some ways, a brave attempt to stymie the most rabidly pro-remain aspects of his party, while keeping Leave voters in the tent. This was most strongly seen in this statement towards the end of his speech:

The European Union is not the root of all our problems and leaving it will not solve all our problems. Likewise, the EU is not the source of all enlightenment and leaving it does not inevitably spell doom for our country.

In other words he said everything and nothing about whether the future of the peoples of the UK is better or worse inside or outside the EU.

It remains to be seen how achievable any of this is, though. It is also possibly a speech designed in the hope of winning an election rather than securing a future relationship with the EU. If and when this is rejected by the EU, what will be next? Staying in the Single Market from the point of view that the EU is reformable? Reform from a position of sitting on the edge of the tent? It is quite likely that the EU will state that it will not countenance any deal that gives full access to the Single Market that allows Britain not to be bound by all of the four freedoms. So what happens then? That will be the real test and it may be one that the Labour Party is required to address sooner rather than later.

True: at some point there will be a show-down between the Sovereigntist left that stands with the Right and left-wing internationalists  opposed to Brexit, full stop. 

For the moment the below, from Kevin Maguire in the Mirror,  is a fair assessment,

Jeremy Corbyn blasted May for being on the road to nowhere – now his own journey is finally getting somewhere

The penny is dropping that Parliament could honour the referendum decision and still be in a customs union or the single market

 

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

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Corbyn Moves to back EU Customs Union.

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

Guardian – for more rolling news follow link.

BBC: Jeremy Corbyn backs permanent customs union after Brexit

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

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

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

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

The Mail says,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

..

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corbyn loyalists in the Morning Star meanwhile celebrate this victory.

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

Owen Jones: A clear contrast with the Tories.

David Shariatmadari: The best remainers could have hoped for.

Faiza Shaheen: Some much-needed pragmatism.

Katy Balls: This spells trouble for Theresa May.

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

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

Written by Andrew Coates

February 26, 2018 at 1:42 pm