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Spiked Network’s New Front: “Don’t Divide us” Exposing, “racial division being sown in the name of anti-racism. “

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Spiked, Brexit Party ex-MEPs, Learned Pundits, Minstrels and Wordsmiths, try to heal divisions over Race.

Some might say it’s odd, a new front set up on the issue of race, that says “don’t divide us” whose three main initiators are: a former Brexit Party MEP and ex-Revolutionary Communist Party stalwart, Claire Fox of the ‘Academy of Ideas’, a one-time Brexit Party candidate and author at Brexit Central, and Spiked, Inaya Folarin Iman, and “anti-woke” glee and mirth-man, and – do we need to say? – Spiked contributor Andrew Doyle.

But it is so…

The Spiked Network (for more on this group see SPIKED FOOTNOTES) has geared into action…

The Spectator.

Racial division is being sown in the name of anti-racism

….activists, corporations and institutions seem to have seized the opportunity to exploit Floyd’s death to promote an ideological agenda that threatens to undermine British race relations.

The power of this ideology lies in the fear it inspires in those who would otherwise speak out, whatever their ethnicity. But speak out we must. We must oppose and expose the racial division being sown in the name of anti-racism.

The consequences of this toxic, racialised agenda are counter-productive and serious.

  • Under soulless acronyms such as BAME and POC, all ethnic minorities are robbed of individual agency, and assumed to be victims of injustice.
  • Free speech is being eroded by a McCarthyite culture of conformity in which to question the new dogma means to risk one’s livelihood and reputation.
  • Calls for the wholesale destruction of historical statues, symbols and works of art are fuelling an unhealthy war against the past and stirring up culture wars in the present.
  • An obsessive focus on the impact of colonialism threatens to turn history into a morality tale, rather than a complex, three-dimensional understanding of the past.

People will instantly agree that what we need on the issues of race and colonialism, slavery and ethnicity and nationalism, is the kind of complex nuanced debate that this little lot promoted as members of the Brexit Party, united behind the calm, anti-racist, leadership of Nigel Farage.

Or indeed by their on-line magazine Spiked:

Or: ‘The left is turning into a Woke Taliban’

They are surely right to conclude that “We will not be divided – by reactionary racists or culture warriors – who refuse to see us as individuals beyond our skin colour.”

Our ace-reporters are working on this right now, but look at some these tasty anti-division names that have backed this new Spiked Front:

William Clouston, party leader, The Social Democratic Party.

Recent healing Tweet:

Ben Habib, businessman; co-founder, Unlocked; former MEP (Brexit Party, modestly not mentioned…).

Christina Jordan, former MEP, South West England (Also Brexit Party, unmentioned).

Mercy Moroki:

Ed Husain, author The House of Islam: A Global History

Helen Pluckrose, specialist in the appealing sounding “Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship”.

Courtney Hamilton, Writer, (not mentioned: Author at spiked).

Another gleeman Simon Evans – he sounds a right laugh!

This all looks more like a Blue and Bluer Front than the previous Spiked initiative, The Full Brexit, which drew support from the Communist Party of Britain to the Brexit Party….
Perhaps closeness to Number 10 is altering the line…

 

Zeev Sternhell (1935 – 2020): Historian of Fascism and Pioneer of ‘Red Brown’ Studies.

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La Droite Révolutionnaire - 1885-1914, Les Origines Françaises Du ...

General Boulanger and the original Red-Brown Front.

In Memory of a Great Voice, Zeev Sternhell, 10 April 1935 – 21 June 2020.

France 24,

Israeli historian and political scientist Zeev Sternhell, a peace activist and one of the leading thinkers of the country’s left, has died aged 85, Jerusalem’s Hebrew University said Sunday.

Polish-born Sternhell, head of the university’s political science department, was an outspoken champion of Palestinian rights who strongly criticised Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Hebrew University president Asher Cohen hailed Sternhell, a professor emeritus there who was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for political science in 2008, as “among the most important researchers” to emerge from the institution.

“His innovative political science research, which was translated into many languages, brought a deep change in the academic perception of ideological movements, specifically radical movements,” Cohen said.

Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab-led Joint List in Israel’s parliament, wrote that “during his childhood in Poland, Sternhell experienced the terrible results of fascism, and throughout his life had the courage and strength to research and fight it.

“For decades he was a significant voice for Palestinian human rights and against the occupation in the territories.”

The article continues,

His academic work also delved into the “French roots of fascism” and stirred lively debate and controversy, according to former student Denis Charbit, now a lecturer at the Open University of Israel.

Sternhell was a “very demanding” professor, but also one “attentive” to his best students, Charbit told AFP.

In addition to academic writing and books, he regularly published opinion pieces in Israeli newspapers, most notably Haaretz, many of which were critical of settlers.

On one occasion Sternhell called the settlement movement a “cancer” in Israeli society, and in another instance said a settlement should be attacked with tanks

Sternhell continued his political combat,

After receiving the Israel Prize in 2008, he was wounded the same year by a bomb planted outside his house by a right-wing extremist.

Sternhell himself said the attack was testimony to the “fragility” of Israeli democracy.

In an interview with Haaretz later that year, he warned of the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories and the condition of Israel “not respecting the national rights of others”.

In a 2014 interview with Haaretz, during Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, Sternhell warned that the Jewish state’s democracy was “facing collapse”.

“The Israeli democracy is eroding, and the signs (of emerging fascism) exist,” he said.Tamar Zandberg, of left-wing party Meretz, said Sternhell’s lasting legacy would be his work towards “a strong and not occupying Israeli democracy”.

Communication Minister Yoaz Hendel offered his condolences to the Sternhell family, noting that while he didn’t share many of Sternhell’s opinions, “prominent intellectuals like him, from right and left, are the foundation to our existence as the people of the book”.]

According to Haaretz, Sternhell died as a result of complications following surgery.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters and several grandchildren

Zeev Sternhell was at the centre of not just of Israeli political debate, but amongst the left and anti-fascists, in Europe, above all in France. Awarded a Ph.D. in 1969 from the Institut d’études politiques de Paris,  for his thesis on The Social and Political Ideas of Maurice Barrès, a key figure in the culture and ideology of the nationalist right, he had a great influence had, far wider than academic circles and far beyond the hexagone.

I first came across his books during the mid-1980s in the Bibliothèque municipale  Place Jules Joffrin, 75018 Paris in  The study,  Ni droite ni gauche. L’idéologie fasciste en France, 1983; transl. Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France, has an enduring impact. This was reached many people on the left, as has been testified on hearing of his passing.

Sternehell’s work has found new audiences with the rise of national populism, and the creation of ‘neither right nor left’ red-brown fronts across Europe, from the pro-Brexit alliances in the UK to the defection of many parts of the sovereigntist left in many countries to the nationalist ‘anti-metropolitan elite” right. His account of the literary and polemical figure of the nationalist Maurice Barrès and his appeal to La terre et les Morts (Maurice Barrès et le nationalisme français. 1972), the homeland heritage and the living memory of the dead, evokes ideas one can find amongst defenders of the ‘somewhere’ folk who criticise the ‘anywhere’ people.  

In La Droite Révolutionnaire, (First Edition, 1978) Sternhell proposed that late 19th century and pre-Great War France was the cradle of fascist ideology. France was, in Sternhell’s eyes, an ideal field for studying pre-fascism, and, full blown, “neither left nor right” fascist thought. His focus began on General Boulanger’s 1886 campaign, an anti-parliamentarian movement which, following defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870 1871)  of  demanded ‘revenge’ against Germany, – the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France – and a clear out of the ‘cabals’ in the name of the People. His campaign was backed by Monarchists, Bonapartists, Maurice Barrès, some republicans and revolutionaries from the Blanquist tradition, and nationalists.

A part of the early French socialist movement  saw in the movement a protest against (as Sternhell put it) ” les grands seigneurs de la finance.” Some saw in Boulangism a patriotic reaction against Parliamentary and social elites,  that they could turn towards the left. Anti-Jewish sentiment, organised anti-semitism, appeared, leading to the creation of the Ligue antisémitique de France in 1889. Others from the socialist movement considered that the left should stand firm behind republican democracy and reject Boulanger: Le Bilan Boulanger. 1888 (M. Lissagaray)

In Ni droite ni gauche: l’idéologie fasciste en France (First Edition, 1983), Sternhell  turned to the 20th century.  In the years preceding the Second World War these movements drew together calls to “workers of all classes” against banking “hyper” capitalism, drew on the romance of the nation, and opposition to the liberalism of the Enlightenment and the elites of the Third Republic. This, he argued,  indicated that fascism originated and continued to operate as a synthesis of socialist ideas and nationalism.

The book surveyed anti-parliamentarian nationalism (the ‘ligues’), “planiste” sections of French social democracy (Marcel Déat), the Monarchist and anti-Semite Action française, the mass parties of the later 1930s, the Parti Social français (PSF), the Parti Populaire français (PPF) of the renegade Communist Jacques Doriot, and a mixed bag of admirers of National Socialism and Mussolini. 

Last year Sternhell edited and contributed to an important study of pre-war French far right movements, L’Histoire refoulée. La Rocque, les Croix de feu, et le fascisme français. Sous la direction de Zeev Sternhell. 2019.

In 2006 Sternhell published a study of anti-Enlightenment thought, Les anti-Lumières: Une tradition du XVIIIᵉ siècle à la guerre froide. Edmund Burke and Thomas Caryle took their place alongside Herder and Charles Maurras as those defend the “moral capital” of tradition against what Frank Feurdi, from the Red-Brown sie Spiked calls “the counter-culture establishment”. (The birth of the culture wars.  This century-long conflict is born of the Western elites’ loss of cultural and moral authority. Spiked 19.6.20).

Sternhell, by contrast, defended neither cultural nor moral authority nor tradition.

His work was offers us landmark historical studies and a brilliant exercise of the “critical tradition” of the Enlightenment.

As he wrote, “Aucun ordre établi  n’est légitime du seul fait qu’il existe. La justice et le bonheur sont des objectifs valables et légitimes…l’homme est capable d’aller en avant, a condition qu’il fasse appeal a la raison.” (Les anti-Lumières: Page 796).

“No established order is legitimate by the mere fact that it exists. Justice and happiness  valid and legitimate objectives …humanity  is able to progress, on condition that we use our capacity to reason.

Let that be Sternhell’s epitaph.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 22, 2020 at 11:22 am

Labour Election Review 2019: Leadership and Brexit, initial Left Internationalist thoughts.

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Election Review 2019

“Concerns over the leadership, Brexit position and deliverability of the manifesto damaged Labour’s chances.”

It will take a while to digest the full report but these are some initial responses, from a left internationalist, that is, from an activist in the anti-Brexit left.

One of the reasons to speak as the impact is being felt is that there are already efforts to use the report to blame those opposed to the hard right Brexit project for our Party’s defeat.

Here was a view, expressed by somebody believed, not least by himself, to be one of Corbyn’s close friends(1st of June 2019),

 Vilayat Khan: So, let’s start with Corbyn and the Labour Party.  How would you assess Corbyn on Brexit?

Tariq Ali: I think Corbyn’s position is correct. I think to make Brexit into the major divide of the British politics is crazy. Given that whatever finally happens, whether it’s Brexit or Remain, the problems of ordinary people, working people are not going to be solved. Brexit is very much a debate, I think, within the elite, and I think people voted, large numbers of people voted for Brexit to kick the establishment and to say you can’t get away with everything.

..

And ever since it happened a large chunk of the English establishment has been trying to reverse the referendum. So that’s what is going on, and for Corbyn it’s a serious problem because half of Labour supporters voted for Brexit, especially in the north. So he can’t ignore them. The choice, which the right of the Labour party is offering him is to agree to a second referendum now, campaign around it and Remain, and basically ignore the Labour supporters in the north, in other words, send some working class supporters in the arms of the Brexit party. That’s unacceptable.

Tariq Ali on Corbyn and the British Media, Palestine, Kurdistan, Pashtun movements and how to revive Internationalism.

In the coming days we can expect a lot in this vein. There will be claims that the metropolitan liberal Labour “elite”,by pushing for a Second Referendum, ignored the Brexit proletariat and drove the working class into the hands of Johnson. They will be strongly made by those who themselves campaigned, like Ali, for a Leave vote. Given the track-record of the national sovereignty left it would not be surprising if they try to apportion blame to groups like Another Europe is Possible, which mobilised the internationalist left, and had a strong presence at the hundreds of thousand strong protests against Brexit, for the catastrophic election.

In a fact-denying exercise some are already trying to make the claim,

Jon Trickett and Ian Lavery, the two most outspoken proponents of Brexit in Corbyn’s deeply divided top team, said: “Let’s be clear, people lost trust in Labour after failing to deliver change after 13 years in government. This was brought to a head when the party ignored the democratic vote for Brexit; it was the excuse that allowed loyal Labour voters to finally break with a party they felt had been ignoring them for far too long. (Guardian)

This is not going to wash.

More broadly, as one of the authors of the Review, James Meadway, point out (below), the report avoids “superficial explanations”.

This the Election Review 2019.

Labour List notes that,

The project commissioners included MPs Ed Miliband, Shabana Mahmood, Lucy Powell, plus journalist Ellie Mae O’Hagan, TSSA’s Manuel Cortes and former John McDonnell aide James Meadway.

These are key findings,

The report notes that Labour “lost support on all sides” in 2019 – around 1.7 million Leave voters and around one million Remain voters in net terms, compared to 2017 – and failed to attract swing voters.

Labour lost roughly equal numbers of Remain (1.9 million) and Leave (1.8 million) voters between 2017 and 2019. But it also gained around 900,000 Remain voters, while only winning over around 100,000 Leave voters.

Although one of Labour’s aims under Jeremy Corbyn was to attract non-voters, it was also identified that the Conservatives were more successful than Labour in turning out non-voters in 2019.

In summary,

It says the “broad consensus” across the party, reflected in the survey results, is that concerns over the leadership, Brexit position and deliverability of the manifesto damaged Labour’s chances.

The report, Election Review 2019, says,

  • There is a broad consensus across our Party – mirrored in the results from our survey of Labour members – that a combination of concerns about the leadership, Labour’s position on Brexit and our policy programme damaged Labour’s chances in this election. Our weaknesses going into this election were interlinked, and indivisible. They catalysed long term trends between Labour and our voter coalition.
  • This was an election where people were more often voting against the scenario they feared most, rather than for the party they liked best. We failed to provide a believable narrative for change, that enough of the electorate could vote for.
  • Concerns about Labour’s leadership were a significant factor in our election loss in 2019. ‘Stop Jeremy Corbyn’ was a major driver of the Conservatives’ success across all their key groups including previous non-voters, and among all the swing voters Labour lost to the Tories.
  • In 2017, Jeremy Corbyn’s personal poll ratings dramatically improved over the campaign.  Had these levels been maintained, Labour’s vote share in 2019 would have been 6 points higher. The very low poll ratings on leadership going into the 2019 election cannot easily be disentangled from the handling of issues like Brexit, party disunity and anti-Semitism.
  • The Tories won the 2019 election primarily by consolidating the Leave vote. In contrast, Labour lost support on all sides. Compared with 2017, in net terms, Labour lost around 1.7 million Leave voters; and around 1 million Remain voters. We also failed to attract swing voters, winning over far fewer swing voters than at any other recent election, and turning out fewer new non-voters than in 2017.
  • Non-voters (both those who did not vote in 2017 but turned out in 2019, and those who voted in 2017 but not in 2019) played a critical role in the Conservative success. According to analysis conducted by Datapraxis, well over 4 million voters turned out in 2019 who had not voted in 2017. In 2017 Labour benefited much more from 2015 and 2016 non-voters but in 2019 the Tories overtook Labour among 2017 non-voters, by turning out many older and Leave voters as well as some younger voters.
  • Whilst individual policies polled as popular, resistance to Labour’s reform programme came as people evaluated the overall package in our manifesto. Affordability, and the negative impact on the economy or their own personal finances were raised as concerns by voters. Unlike in 2017 many thought our manifesto was considered as unrealistic, risky and unlikely to be delivered.
  • Labour suffered a meltdown in Scotland, polling well below even the Tories, with the SNP making significant gains. The SNP gained at Labour’s expense among key swing voter tribes. Brexit, the UK leadership and our position on a second Independence referendum were key factors in our loss.

 

The Guardian puts two issues at the heart of the defeat,

 Jeremy Corbyn was deeply unpopular

The report is unflinching in its analysis of how the leader’s appeal to voters plummeted between 2017 and 2019. Had his popularity stayed at its peak level, it says, Labour’s vote share in 2019 would have been 6 percentage points higher.

By September 2019, it finds, 67% of voters disliked Corbyn, most strongly, and only 12% liked him. It links this to issues including Corbyn’s handling of complaints of antisemitism in the party, Labour’s Brexit position, and a perception of disunity due to events such as the defection of MPs to the short-lived Independent Group.

The report says research suggests an “intense” dislike of Corbyn was a key factor among voters who switched from Labour to the Tories; they raised issues such as antisemitism, perceived support for terrorism, and unaffordable policies.

The views of one 52-year-old woman who voted Labour in 2017 are summarised in the report as: “Frightened at the possibility of a Marxist government. Disgusted at Corbyn being a terrorist sympathiser. Most disturbed about plan to nationalise BT as I fear it would allow a Labour government to spy on internet users.”

4. A confused Brexit policy

In a poll of Labour members carried out for the report, 57% named the Brexit policy of promising a second referendum on any departure deal as the single most unpopular and challenging idea to sell to voters, citing views such as “dithering”, “dire”, and “reflecting division”.

This, the report finds, repelled both leave and remain voters. Of those who voted Labour in 2017, the party lost 1.9 million remain voters and 1.8 million leave voters in 2019. Given the generally pro-remain views of Labour voters, this represented a much higher proportion of leavers.

For many of those who changed their choice between 2017 and 2019, voting for another party in the European elections in May provided “a conveyor belt” away from Labour, the authors say.

Even those who stayed with Labour seemed to do so despite the party’s Brexit policy rather than because of it, with majorities of remain and leave backers saying they preferred to either stop Brexit entirely, or “get Brexit done”, respectively.

Comments.

Corbyn’s Popularity.

It would take a fully hyped up fan of the 2018 Jez-fest to ignore that Jeremy Corbyn was not liked by the electorate.

It is hard to criticise the former Labour leader about this, above all because it was made clear (at least to those who cared to know) that he had initially not wished to stand for that position.

But doubts were always there.

One aspect that was visible was an approach to the issues on which he made a mark, within the Labour and wider left.

Corbyn’s political history is tied to a particular vision of internationalism.

For some activists on the left his campaigning had an edge of the ‘anti-imperialism’ which always measured international issues through the lens of supporting, however ‘critically’ states and movements opposed to the USA, from Venezuela to Cuba, the Palestinians en bloc, even Iran, when they were standing up to Washington. Issues such as human rights, evoked in abstract, tend to melt when conflicts with America arise.

More to the point electorally what kind of appeal does this campaigning have for either activists or for the wider public?

Chatting to Tariq Ali and Roy, Corbyn recently referred to his work with the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) which has done precisely nothing to defend the Kurds, the Yazidis  and Syrian democrats against Islamist genociders, and the Assad regime,

 Like you, I wish that Stop the War didn’t have to exist, but it does, and here we are all these years later. And the derivation of those wars has been the refugee flows of the Middle East, has been the wars all across the Middle East, has been the refugee camps in Libya and Lebanon and so on.

This is his lament and call,

….the arms still flow to Saudi Arabia that have been used to bomb the people of Yemen, the war carries on in Yemen. The refugee crisis of the Rohingya people moving into camp (inaudible) continues. The refugee crisis in Libya, and Lebanon continues and others do. And so we do need a global movement that recognises the real threat to world security is health and poverty inequality. The real threat to global security are wars based on the abuse of human rights and the thirst for grabbing somebody else’s resources. The real threat to our security is actually the environmental crisis. That we should be facing in the future.

7th of June: Coronavirus, War & Empire: Arundhati Roy & Jeremy Corbyn in Conversation w/ Tariq Ali

Charitably this illustrates a wide-ranging concern with global issues.

Another, less favourable judgement is that Corbyn come across, even in a friendly environment, as a bit of talker, a high-pitched waffler, not a doer.

Even less kindly, most electors would have given up listening early on.

Brexit.

Was Labour’s confused position the result of pressure from ‘liberal metropolitan elites’?

Was it an honest effort to reconcile largely pro-Brexit working class voters with the views of the majority of Party members?

Many people in a position to know doubt this.

There is old mucker again: Jeremy Corbyn ‘would be campaigning for Brexit if he was not Labour leader’, says long-time ally Tariq Ali (Independent May 2016.)

“The Labour leader was forced to refute comments by his brother Piers that his pro-EU stance is a ‘party management’ issue.”

These claims did not disappear after the Referendum.

When Jeremy Corbyn announced on Tuesday that he would back a second EU referendum in all circumstances and campaign for Remain against a Tory Brexit, it marked a victory for the pro-EU movement inside the Labour party. The Labour leader resisted pressure to make the shift for months, worried about the potential loss of voters in Leave-supporting areas. He was persuaded to make the move by an alliance of MPs, grassroots members and union leaders.

But he has still refused to clarify whether Labour would campaign for Remain or Leave in a general election, a sign of the considerable influence of his four key allies, dubbed “The Four Ms”. The group — Karie Murphy, Seumas Milne, Andrew Murray and Len McCluskey — have been the strongest advocates for Labour to back Brexit.

Reported the Financial Times in July 2019.

The “compromise” that resulted was not just for a Second Referendum.

It was for a renegotiated deal for Brexit which would then be put to a popular vote.

If it wins the election, Labour wants to renegotiate Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and put it to another public vote.

Rather than backing either Leave or Remain during the election campaign, the party will remain neutral until a later date.

Should a referendum under a Labour government be held, voters would be able to choose between a “credible Leave option” and Remain.

The party would organise the referendum within six months and decide which position to back at a special conference in the build up.

BBC.

In other words, you could back Labour to get a better Brexit, or because you wanted a ballot on whether Leave should take place.

It was this which looked, for the obvious reason that it was ” “dithering”, “dire”, and “reflecting division”.

Few bothered to go into this for the obvious reason that if you wanted Brexit there were other alternatives on offer.

Others may suggest that the Four Ms, with Corbyn behind them, equally played a major part in what the Guardian calls, the “dysfunctional ‘toxic culture’ (that) led to defeat…”

More to follow…

Written by Andrew Coates

June 19, 2020 at 11:09 am