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After Morning Star Apology for “cartoon which was offensive to trans people” controversy continues.

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There have been further strong reactions to this cartoon, followed by a belated retraction.

Last Sunday the Morning Star issued a statement.

An apology for the cartoon published last Tuesday

The Morning Star apologises unreservedly for the publication last Tuesday of a cartoon which was offensive to trans people.

The cartoon had not been authorised for publication and its appearance in the print edition represents a failure to follow our own procedures for approving submissions. It was removed from online editions of the paper the same day, as soon as it was seen by the editor.

A notice was sent round staff on Tuesday reminding them of the process by which cartoon submissions must be approved before publication and we are determined that such a lapse in standards will not recur.

Again, we apologise for the offence caused by this cartoon, especially to our trans contributors and readers whom we have let down.

The Metro picked up the story:

Newspaper apologises after transphobic cartoon sparks outrage.  Lucy Middleton

A newspaper has been forced to apologise after printing a transphobic cartoon this week. The picture, published in socialist paper The Morning Star on Tuesday, shows a crocodile slithering into a small pond containing newts. In speech bubbles, the newts can be seen saying, ‘But you can’t come in here! This is our safe space!’ The crocodile then replies: ‘Don’t worry your pretty little heads! I’m transitioning as a newt!’

Critics of the cartoon, drawn by Stella Perrett, accused it of perpetuating false stereotypes about trans people being predatory and dangerous to others in society. One person on Twitter wrote: ‘Could barely believe my eyes seeing this dehumanising, fascist imagery in a socialist paper.

Mumsnet became involved in the controversy,

This statement is interesting:

Kristina Harrison (prominent gender. critical transwoman, WPUK supporter) just posted this on Twitter – apparently it was published in the Morning Star.

KH wrote “This cartoon appeared in The Morning Star earlier this week @M_Star_Online It is a horrific, generalised demonisation of trans people which does not belong in a civilised society, let alone a socialist newspaper. I condemn it utterly. Trans people & progressive opponents of identity politics are owed an unequivocal apology, an explanation & reassurance about what action is being taken to ensure that the line between fierce but legitimate argument and bigotry is never crossed again. Totally unacceptable. (not posting a direct link as I don’t want to facilitate any pile on against Kristina, clearly this is a sensitive personal issue for a transwoman).

Comments are supportive of KH so far. I thought it’d be a good topic for discussion here – does this ‘demonise trans people’ or does it baldly illustrate safeguarding concerns with self-ID? Is it different from the popular/accepted(?) ‘Fox identifying into the henhouse’ analogy? Hopefully we can keep things civil and respectful with no personal criticisms of Kristina.

The issue for many  has not been about the freedom to offend, but the why a self-identifying left daily chose to publish this material.

The Morning Star is no defender of the absolute right to say what you want about anybody.

This is what one of their columnists  said about the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper-Casher murders in 2015,

Muslims held to a double standard

….some faux-left journalists who gave enthusiastic backing to the Blair-Bush wars and are now equally gung-ho about giving the widest possible circulation of material intended to enrage Muslims.

B52 liberal Nick Cohen accuses of cowardice those choosing not to carry anti-Muslim cartoons and alleges that radical Islam is winning successive battles, including effective introduction of a blasphemy law by means of self-censorship.


Why should running images of Mohammed be seen as the acid test of commitment to press freedom?

Powerful people’s wealth has prevented more stories from being published than pressure from any religious quarter.

Charles Windsor’s recent success in the pulling of a TV programme examining his finances exposes the reality behind claims of unlimited media freedom.

Would our freedom of expression be enhanced by publication of cartoons depicting Jesus being buggered by the Holy Ghost or a naked Muslim woman with a piece of blue cloth protruding from her anus and the comment that burkhas can be worn but only on the inside?

The only thing worse than publishing such puerile work would be reacting repressively by banning it.


Why would any left-wing journalist or cartoonist jeopardise that essential by insulting fellow workers simply because they can?


Women’s Place UK  criticised the cartoon on reasonable grounds:

The crocodile cartoon that appeared in the Morning Star this week works against the respectful debate and discussion to which WPUK is committed – it was misjudged and offensive and it is right that the Morning Star has apologised.

WPUK has been calling for respectful discussion since our inception and it is to their credit that the Morning Star has hosted many articles from different viewpoints on the subject which have enabled this discussion to take place. These articles have brought a clarity to such discussions.

We are grateful to those trans people who have worked with us, spoken at our meetings and supported the sex based rights of women and girls. Their solidarity has meant so much to so many and we stand beside them now.

We have been the subject of much offensive imagery and we have always condemned it. We are happy to do so now.

Let’s move forward progressively and in solidarity.

23rd February 2020

UNISON has responded:

Left-wing newspaper that published ‘vile transphobic cartoon’ slammed by UK’s largest trade union

Pink News.

The Morning Star was condemned this week for printing a “dehumanising, fascist, transphobic” cartoon – and now, Britain’s largest trade union has said that the newspaper has sunk to “a new low”.

UNISON, which represents staff who provide public services, said the “shocking, vile, transphobic cartoon” saw “the paper sink to a new low”.

“When I saw the image shared on social media over the weekend, I assumed it had been published in the Daily Mail, not for one moment did I think the dreadful drawing had appeared in the Morning Star,” wrote Liz Snape, UNISON’s assistant general secretary, in an open letter to the newspaper’s editor, Ben Chacko.

Snape added: “Images like this peddle the dangerous myth that trans people are a threat, when they’re the ones whose safety is most at risk. The irresponsible publishing of such appalling images does nothing to make them feel more secure.

“By publishing this hurtful cartoon, the publication so many trade unionists support and hold dear risks appearing no better than the right-wing media they despise.”

Solidarity has published this analysis:

The Morning Star (linked to the Communist Party of Britain) has been forced to apologise for printing a transphobic cartoon by Stella Perrett, published in the print edition of Tuesday 18 February.

The cartoon depicting a slavering, slithering crocodile ogling terrified and defenceless newts and invading their “safe space” with the excuse that the crocodile is “transitioning to a newt”. The cartoon is grossly offensive, showing trans people as predatory and deceitful and cis women as weak and in need of protection.

As the cartoon circulated online, trade union LGBT+ groups began to organise against the Star, calling for withdrawal of union funds. A petition was set up by PCS Rainbow Collective which attracted hundreds of signatures in a few hours. The Morning Star was called out on Twitter.

The cartoon was removed from the online version of the paper with an apology claiming it “had not been authorised for publication and its appearance in the print edition represents a failure to follow… procedures for approving submissions.” The apology doesn’t explain how the cartoon was commissioned and printed without the editor noticing. The apology also skirts around the fact that the cartoon was not an aberration, but a logical conclusion of a longstanding pattern of the Morning Star publishing transphobic articles. The moral panic around “protecting women’s spaces” from trans women stems from seeing trans women as innately dangerous and threatening to cis women.


The cartoon has shone a light on the official labour movement’s extensive funding and support for the Morning Star. According to the Star, Community, CWU, FBU, GMB, NUM, POA, RMT, and Unite are represented on its management committee.

It has yet to be seen if the apology is enough to dampen the calls for unions to distance themselves from the paper. I certainly hope not. The Morning Star should be made to account for its scapegoating of an oppressed minority, dividing workers against each other and propagating the myth that our rights run counter to each other.

Though our unions fund the paper, most of us do not regularly read it and would be shocked by the lies that flow readily from its pages. As well as transphobic cartoons, activists in Boycott the Morning Star have unearthed cartoons by Stella Perrett containing antisemitic caricatures which were published in 2016.

The paper repeats Chinese state lies to cover the persecution of the Uyghur people, one of the Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region. It celebrated the “liberation” of Aleppo by Assad. It repeated right wing lies about migrants driving down wages.

Reactionary, conservative politics dressed up as left-wing are the bread and butter of the Morning Star. It is about time our unions stopped paying for it.

While this furore continues the following event in planned.

The presence of  anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner and stalwart of the Arron banks backed ‘Trade Unionists’ Against the EU (supported by the Morning Star and the Socialist Party)   Paul Embery is causing concern.

This is a recent Embery tweet:



Written by Andrew Coates

February 27, 2020 at 2:10 pm

Labour Leadership Election: No More Heroes.

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Image result for no more heroes strnagklers


“ The symbolic unification of the group around an individual – and here I agree with Freud – is inherent in the formation of the formation of a ‘people’.”

Ernesto Laclau.

“..a collective will cannot be constructed without some form of crystallisation of common affects, and affective bonds with a charismatic leader can play an important role in this process.”

Chantal Mouffe. (1)

“The big story of the election was not that the Conservatives imploded, but that Labour pulled off the most stunning surge in British political history”. Alex Nunns concluded The Candidate (2018 edition) by saying, “Inside the Labour Party the election result destroyed the three pretexts used by Corbyn’s opponents to justify their recalcitrance: that he was unelectable, incompetent and not a leader….As for leadership, Corbyn not only inspired millions of new voters, he had changed the political weather. “(2)

Hailing the “ascendancy of the socialist left in Britain” Corbyn adviser Andrew Murray warned of the threat of a “culture war” on the left, “rancid identity politics”, and “Brexit derangement syndrome” from those opposed to Boris Johnson’s hard right Brexit. He took comfort, “polling figures aside” – Labour’s 2019 European election disaster – at “establishment panic at the prospect of a Corbyn-led Labour government”. It is said that the Leader’s office, LOTO, believed that a last minute surge, replicating the rallies and enthusiasm of 2017, would push the Party forward. (3)

Labour Saints and Heroes.

In the Observer yesterday Andrew Rawnsley suggested otherwise (A keep-it-dull campaign is a risky way to win the Labour leadership). . In the Labour leadership campaign none of the contenders have the courage to say it was madness for Labour to fight the election with the most unpopular leader in the history of polling. This is the truth they dare not utter for fear of offending those party members who still worship of the shrine of St Jeremy.”  While Rebecca Long-Bailey and others are said to have expressed some doubts over the holy relics, it has been left to Alan Simpson to express the view that the “corridor cabal” around Corbyn, the cadres and structure running the leadership operation, was deeply flawed.

It would be unkind to dismiss the hopes placed by large numbers of people in Jeremy Corbyn. A better way of looking at this would be to question whether left politics needs “charismatic leaders”, not as symbols, but as power-points dominating politics. Thomas Carlyle considered Hero Worship the opposite of the Sceptical World, and the Hero, “a son of Order” who recognises the “necessity of authority”. Left-wing Heroes in the Twentieth century included one “strong daring man”, who bridled in a revolution more radical than the one placed under halter by Carlyle’s hero, Napoleon. Even Saints have not fared well, as Latin America and decolonised societies indicate. The “gift of grace” is not widely seen as a quality that helps left governments achieve their goals. (4)

Political Logic of Populism.

What Laclau called the “political logic” of populism appears to favour those who appeal to the authority of the sovereign nation. If the British Conservatives’ dabbling in populist rhetoric has dampened down after their victory the rise of national populism in Europe continues. Left political adventures in “constructing the people” against the Oligarchy have reached an impasse in France. Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI), a “point de rassemblement”, that is a rally, not a party with a democratic internal structure, looks set to remain on the margins. Appeals to patriotism, a revolutionary trait we are instructed by Jacobin’s European Editor, have fallen on deaf ears. As in 6,3% of the vote last year in the European elections. The uncontested leader of LFI’s humble adoption of Chantal Mouffe’s lessons on charismatic leadership, tempered by virtue,  continues regardless. By contrast the evolution of Spain’s Podemos into a democratic, collegiate, radical left party, standing as Unidas Podemos and prepared to compromise with their rivals in the Spanish Socialists, the PSOE has borne fruit – if a reduced electoral score at 12,9%, after a split with Mouffe’s friend,  Íñigo Errejón whose Más País got 2,4% (Podemos had 21,2% in 2016). (5)

In the era of the people it is perhaps better to deal with real individuals than with the forces of destiny. Labour leaders need popularity, they need radical fire, and they have to have a platform than can inspire the membership, from elected officials, activists, to card-carriers. They have to reach out to the public. In the era of the people they should, perhaps, like Podemos, appeal to individuals. That is, with reasonable not charismatic, appeals. If Keir Starmer is the front-runner in this contest for Labour leader one can say that all the candidates have taken this approach. This Blog backs Starmer but…No more heroes…..



  1. Page 100 Ernesto Laclau. On Populist Reason. Verso. 2005. Page 70. For a Left Populism. Chantal Mouffe. Verso. 2018.
  2. Pages 376 and 382. The Candidate. Jeremy’s Improbable Path to Power. Alex Nunns. O R Books. 2018 Edition.
  3. Postscript. The Fall and Rise of the British Left. Andrew Murray. 2019.
  4. On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History. Thomas Carlyle. J.M Dent. 1926.
  5. De La Vertu. Jean-Luc Mélenchon. L’Observatoire. 2017. L’ère du peuple. Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Pluriel. 2017.

Saints have

Morning Star Attacks John McDonnell and Labour’s “disastrous embrace of the EU.”

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Should Labour Have Adopted this strategy?

The Morning Star, independent of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and the Young Communist League (YCL), and wholly owned by the Co-op are at it again: attacking John McDonnell, the Labour Party,  and the internationalist left.

Editorial:A culture war is no substitute for class politics

Making clear their support for  the “Socialist Campaign Group’s nomination for deputy leader Richard Burgon ” and their hope he “gains the necessary trade union nominations to get onto the ballot to ensure there is a contest and a full debate on the party’s direction and priorities” the daily  looks at John McDonnell’s ” seminar programme on Labour’s future.”

They state, looking at the election disaster,

For McDonnell the culprit is the “era of the finance, data-media complex, capable of combining the traditional financial clout over economic decision-making by governments with the ability to use its ownership and influence of the various media platforms to decisively influence decision-making and even elections.”

The Boycott Labour call of the CPB (during last year’s European election) and the support for Brexit by the paper, had, they modestly assume, no influence on voters who decided to support a Boris Brexit.

Instead, behind Labour’s defeat, were those who opposed Brexit.

One of those weaknesses in Labour’s case was its approach to Brexit. With 52 of the 54 seats lost to the Tories being Leave-voting, the commitment to a second referendum must rank among the mistakes that McDonnell describes as “pretty obvious.”

The disastrous embrace of the EU reflects a failure to do exactly what McDonnell argues we must — analyse the evolution of capitalism itself and how it is changing the political game.

The European Union is an integral part of that network and its “four freedoms” relating to capital, goods, labour and services massively restrict the freedom of governments to determine independent economic policies.


McDonnell argues for a “culture war” which we can win with “leading edge creativity.” But that is no substitute at all for challenging the actual existing mechanisms by which corporate power is exercised. Socialism entails public ownership and control of the economy.

A serious strategy for confronting capitalism cannot ignore this. But so far Labour largely has.

Jim, at Shiraz , offers an excellent overview and history of how the Morning Star and the Lexit left helped the Tories win, by confusing people on the nature of the Hard Right Brexit project. and holding out false hopes of a workers’ or People’s Brexit.

They also ignore their own contribution in creating what became Labour’s hard-to-explain election stand.

“Left” Brexiteers re-write history

Labour’s final policy – negotiating a new Brexit deal and putting it to a referendum without stating which side it would take, “was actually drawn up by none other than, er, Dave Ward and Unite leader Len McCluskey, in an attempt to [prevent] Labour backing Remain outright.”

And in a New Statesman article last November Ward and McCluskey declared “Labour’s policy on Brexit is not only clear – it could and should be a vote-winner … it’s strengths are obvious … it offers both ‘leavers’ and ‘remainers’ what they want. It places Labour as the only party trying to speak to the whole country on this matter, looking beyond the binary division which so poisoned political life over the past few years. And it offers a democratic end to the national debater, putting people themselves in the driving seat.”

The confusion, hypocrisy and downright dishonesty of these “left” Brexiteers appears to know no bounds. But, I suppose, if you want to re-write history (including your own political history), your natural home will be amongst the specialists in that particular subject – the Stalinists of the CPB and the Morning Star.

The Full Brexit, which brings together Brexit Party members, the ‘left’, including members of the Communist Party of Britain, and a variety of oddballs,  is holding this event tonight.

No doubt Morning Star supporters will be welcome guests.

As The Full Brexit consistently warned, the left’s failure to lead a campaign for leaving the EU has resulted in electoral disaster for the Labour Party. The Corbyn project lies in ruins while the Conservatives have captured dozens of “Labour heartland” seats. Britain will finally leave the European Union, but with Boris Johnson at the helm.

What next for the British left after its disastrous handling of Brexit?

Can the Labour Party repair its relationship with working-class voters, or are they lost for good? If Labour is to be rebuilt, on what basis? Should “Corbynism” be ditched for “social conservatism”, as some are arguing? Is the future of Labour “blue”? Or is Labour’s implosion an opportunity for the left to build something new and better?

To discuss all this and more, join our panel debate, featuring:

  • Costas Lapavitsas, professor of Economics at SOAS and former member of the Greek parliament, (member of tiny group, Popular Unity , that scored 0,28% in the 2019 Greek election)
  • Maurice Glasman, founder of the Blue Labour movement, (‘Burkean”, Work, Family and Flag’ patriotic social conservative’).
  • Philip Cunliffe, senior lecturer in politics at the University of Kent, Spiked network (1) and
  • Eddie Dempsey, trade union activist. (needs no introduction).

Let’s hope the Fat Boy Who likes to make your flesh creep Dempsey does not make an exhibition of himself, as he did when he appeared at this  Full Brexit public meeting March 2019)

Eddie stated that “whatever you think of people that turn up for those Tommy Robinson demos or any other march like that – the one thing that unites those people, whatever other bigotry is going on, is their hatred of the liberal left and they are right to hate them”. He also remarked that “too many in the Labour Party have made a calculation that there’s a certain section at the top end of the working class, in alliance with people, they calculate, from ethnic minorities and liberals, that’s enough to get them into power.”

Full Brexit.



  1. Dr Cunliffe is a Senior Lecturer in International Conflict at Kent University, “it is well known that he is closely associated with the former Living Marxism or LM network, known for promoting libertarian and anti-environmentalist ideas. Cunliffe with his Sovereignty And Its Discontents (SAID) Working Group, has been a sponsor of The Battle of Ideas organised by the Academy of Ideas (Institute of Ideas), since at least 2004, and he has participated and presented several times more recently. He like the former director and founder of the Institute of Ideas, Claire Fox, who is now an MEP for the Brexit Party, is a passionate supporter of Brexit. He describes himself on Twitter as a “Brexit Bolshevik”. He helped to found the “The Full Brexit”, a pro-Brexit campaigning network. He will be a speaker at The Battle of Ideas in September 2019.