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Portugal: Socialists and Left Bloc Reach Possible Governing Agreement.

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Negotiated Possible Governing Deal with Socialist Party.

Today began with Bernard Guetta on France-Inter. In Un message de Lisbonne he talked of the possibility of a left government in Portugal after agreement had been reached between the Left Bloc and the Portuguese Socialist Party.

Whether the pro-European Guetta is right about this signaling the growth of a “new left” in Europe, both hostile to leaving the EU and the right-wing economic policies pursued across the continent remains to be seen.

But the news of a possible governing agreement has been sending out waves across Europe.

Portugal opposition leader says any leftist government would honour international commitments

The leader of Portugal’s Socialist opposition sought to calm worried investors on Monday, saying any new government formed with the backing of far-left parties would still respect Portugal’s budget pledges.

Portuguese shares fell sharply on Monday as a second far-left party said it could back a Socialist-led government, raising concerns that the fall-out from last week’s election could lead to reversal of Lisbon’s strict budget policies.

Socialist leader Antonio Costa said his contacts with the Left Bloc and the Communists were aimed at working out a government programme that would ease austerity, but also had “the condition to respect Portugal’s international commitments”.

EU budget rules envisage countries keeping their deficits below 3 percent of economic output and working to reduce them further.

Costa spoke after meeting President Anibal Cavaco Silva who has to name the new prime minister in the coming weeks.

However, the far-left Left Bloc said Passos Coelho would fail to win enough backing to govern again.

“The (centre-right) government is over as of today, because it will not have support in parliament, but also because there is another government solution that corresponds to people’s expectations,” Left Bloc leader Catarina Martins said after meeting Costa earlier in the day.

“Conditions have been created for a basic consensus on the Left Bloc’s terms for allowing the creation of a government.”

Costa was more cautious, saying there were “possible points of convergence” with the Left Bloc, especially on how to give more disposable income back to the Portuguese.

“But it is premature to say whether an agreement is possible,” he said.


The inconclusive election result had left markets largely unmoved last week, with a leftist government seen as unlikely. But the prospect of prolonged political uncertainty unsettled investors on Monday.

Shares in banks were hit particularly hard. The largest listed lender, Millennium bcp, slumped more than 9 percent, dragging Lisbon’s stock index 3 percent lower. Bond yields, cushioned by the European Central Bank’s asset purchases, were little changed.

“The next few weeks will be a test for the political environment and risk is already up,” said Banco Best trader Alfredo Mendes. “Banks are the engines of the economy. If there are signs that the economy will be rudderless because there is no government, banks could be weakened.”

Economists fear that a change in economic policy or a long delay in forming a government could undermine the Portuguese economy’s revival after three years of recession made worse by harsh austerity imposed under a now-completed bailout.

Political scientist Adelino Matlez said the Communists’ stance was a big game-changer as the party had signalled it is ready to “enter the system and become institutional” rather than remain a constant opposition force.

“The possibility of a leftist government is beginning to loom,” he said. “Everything now is about the negotiations, about bargains … (centre-right leader Passos Coelho) by now knows that Costa is not just bluffing, so his next proposal should be bolder.


Then there is this:

Portugal’s three main leftist parties, including the Communists and an ally of Greece’s Syriza, have signaled a willingness to form a government following inconclusive elections that left the ruling centre-right coalition unable to secure a parliamentary majority.


And this: Socialistas y Bloco de Esquerda acercan posturas en Portugal. El Paìs.

António Costa, Secretary General of the Portuguese Socialist Party (PS), has  ended the first round of negotiations with the other leftist parties. And the possibility of a leftist government is growing. Both the PC and the Left Bloc (BE) will guarantee a stable government for the whole legislature, while the center-right seems to be on the lookout. The question remains the same as it has been for a week after the elections: a dalliance between the parties or the real possibility of a “largely sanctioning”  majority  as Costa himself has described it?

On the morning of Monday, Costa (32% of the vote and 85 seats) met Catarina Martins, the Left Bloc (BE, 10.2% of the vote, 19 seats). Both left the encounter content. The BE requires that the  PS halts the freeze on pension levels, stops the reduction of social security payments,  and the reconciliation process in dismissals.

“As far as we are concerned,  the government of Passos and Portas  ends today” were the first words of Martins, after the meeting. The Bloc leader said that they had put on the table their respect wage conditions, labour and pensions, and a lower of the rates of payments of rates under the European Budget Treaty. A journalists’ questions, she acknowledged that the Left Bloc’s election demand for a renegotiation of the country’s debt had been put back during the negotiations.

The report indicates that the Socialist leader, António Costa, was more prudent about the results of the talks. He spoke of them as “very interesting” “very constructive”, estimating that there were areas of common ground. He added that everybody knew that they came from different backgrounds, and had their own policies, but the two parties were searching for a solution that would create a stable government that corresponded to the majority of voters’ expressed wishes in the election.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 13, 2015 at 11:37 am

Is this the end of the Turkish Republic? Davutoğlu Blames Ankara Bombings on Islamic State and Resumes Bombing Kurds.

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Downing Street Protest at Ankara Peace Rally Bombing.

Turkey blames Ankara bombings on Islamic State


Prime minister says authorities close to identifying one of suicide attackers who killed at least 128 at peace rally

Turkey is focusing on Islamic State in its investigation into a twin bombing that killed at least 128 people in Ankara, and are close to identifying one of the bombers, the prime minister has said.

Speaking on the Turkish broadcaster NTV, Ahmet Davutoglu said the attack was an attempt to influence the outcome of the country’s general election, due to take place on 1 November, and that necessary steps would be taken if security failures were found to have contributed to the bombing.

“It was definitely a suicide bombing,” he said. “DNA tests are being conducted. It was determined how the suicide bombers got there. We’re close to a name, which points to one group.”

At least 128 people were killed and more than 200 wounded on Saturday when two explosions hit a peace rally organised by several leftist groups, including labour unions and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic party, to call for an end to the escalating violence between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK).

The attack is the deadliest in the country’s recent history and was labelled a terrorist act by the government, which declared three days of national mourning.

Then there is,

Turkish air strikes on Kurdish PKK rebels as mourning continues

The Turkish air force has pounded Kurdish militants a day after a deadly bomb attack on a rally for peace in the capital Ankara.

Planes hit Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in both the south-east and over the border in northern Iraq.

Saturday’s twin bombing in Ankara killed at least 95 people, making it the deadliest such attack ever.

Security sources say they suspect the so-called Islamic State (IS) group was behind the attack.

The air force struck after the government rejected a new ceasefire announced by the PKK on Saturday.

Tensions in Turkey were already high, with a general election looming on 1 November.

The governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its overall majority in June after gains by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which was involved in Saturday’s rally.

PKK positions were destroyed in the Metina and Zap areas of northern Iraq in Sunday’s air strikes, the Turkish military said.On Saturday, the air force targeted the PKK in Turkey’s Diyarbakir province. Forty-nine people were reported killed in the strikes, but these figures could not be verified independently.

“The PKK ceasefire means nothing for us,” one senior Turkish security official told Reuters news agency. “The operations will continue without a break.”

Whether there was Turkish state complicity in the Ankara atrocity – which continues to sear the hearts of millions throughout the world – is not clear.

Islamism, in all its shapes and forms, is the enemy of the left and all people of good will.


This is well worth reading:

Ankara bombing and the end of the Turkish Republic

What we have witnessed in the last two years, culminating in the horrible scenes of 10 October in Ankara, is the end of the Turkish Republic as we know it.

..the last of these moments was experienced during the rule of none other than Erdogan when his Justice and Development Party (AKP) embarked on a peace process with the Kurds, the so-called “democratic opening” process which lasted in fits and starts until the beginning of 2015. True, the reforms the state undertook were more cosmetic than concrete; the process itself was top-down, opaque and subject to the whims of two “men”, Erdogan and Abdullah Öcalan, the incarcerated leader of the PKK. Yet the ceasefire between Turkish armed forces and the PKK lasted more than two years, and many believed that the process was irreversible, whatever the (real) intentions of the actors involved.

In the long-run, it probably is irreversible. That it was not in the short-run has been proven by the events that have unfolded since the collapse of the ceasefire in the wake of the now defunct June 7 elections.

What is more, it is not only the Kurds that the AKP and its unquestioned leader Erdogan have alienated. Trampling on every faultline that divides the society, the AKP has managed to turn the liberals, leftists, ultra-nationalists (of all hues), Alevis, secularists, other political Islamists (including its one-time ally, the Gulen community) against itself, running the country relying only on a loyal constituency which is still enough to give it a majority in the parliament.

But the country it runs is not the country it took over in 2002. “The rusty wire that holds the cork that keeps the anger in” (be it the army, or common ideals, common symbols – you name it), to borrow from the lyrics of a famous Pink Floyd song, is no longer there. The armageddon, if it has not already happened at Gezi or Suruc, or indeed Ankara, is nearby.

The bottom line may not be pleasant to hear for some, but it needs to said out loud: what we have been witnessing in the last couple of years, the culmination of which were the horrible scenes we were exposed to on 10 October in Ankara, is the end of the Turkish Republic as we know it. This does not mean that the territorial integrity of the country will be forfeited. But the anger that pits half of the society against the other is too intense, the divisions that run through various ethnic, religious or ideological groups are too deep to paper over. Moreover, as I have alluded to above, the quest of the Kurds for the full recognition of their identity and rights, especially in the context of the developments in Iraq and Syria, is in the long-run irreversible. Whatever the results of the forthcoming November 1 elections (assuming that they will be held), Turkey will embark on a long and possibly painful journey to a “less unitary”, less centralized system.

On 10 October, Simon Tisdall observes in the article I have mentioned earlier, “Turkey, suffering the impact of the worst ever terror outrage on its soil, is a nation in shock. But it is also a nation living in fear.” Unfortunately, Tisdall is wrong, for Turkey is not a nation in the conventional sense of the term any more.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 12, 2015 at 11:52 am

After Ankara Massacre: Solidarity with our Sisters and Brothers in Turkey.

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An injured man hugs an injured woman after the explosion

Peace Marchers in Ankara: our Kith and Kin.

Thousands protest in Istanbul after Ankara attack

Istanbul Protest After Ankara Bombing.





Thousands of people, many chanting anti-government slogans, gathered in central Ankara on Sunday near the scene of bomb blasts which killed at least 95 people, mourning the victims of the most deadly attack of its kind on Turkish soil.

Two suspected suicide bombers hit a rally of pro-Kurdish and labor activists near Ankara’s main train station on Saturday, three weeks before an election, shocking a nation beset by conflict between the state and Kurdish militants.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a major presence at Saturday’s march, said police attacked its leaders and members as they tried to leave carnations earlier at the scene. Some were hurt in the melee, it said in a statement.

“Murderer (President Tayyip) Erdogan”, “murderer police”, the crowd chanted in Sihhiye square, as riot police backed by water cannon vehicles blocked a main highway leading to the district where parliament and government buildings are located.

The government denies any suggestion of involvement. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, exposing a mosaic of domestic political perils, said Islamic State, Kurdish militant factions or far-leftist radicals could have carried out the bombing.

Some have suggested militant nationalists opposed to any accommodation with Kurds seeking greater minority rights could have been responsible.

Turkish investigators worked on Sunday to identify the perpetrators and victims of the attack. Newspaper headlines reflected the mixture of grief and anger.



Demirtaş: The state has become a mafia and serial killer

HDP Co-President Selahattin Demirtaş said today’s bomb attack in Ankara came during a period of debates of an imminent ceasefire.

ANF News.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul before leaving for Ankara in the wake of today’s massacre of demonstrators for peace, HDP Co-President Selahattin Demirtaş said the bomb attack came during a period of debates of an imminent ceasefire.

Demirtaş said “We are facing a state mindset that became a mafia, murderer and a serial killer.”


Pointing out that police forces attacked the scene with tear gas soon after the incident and hindered the access of ambulances, Demirtaş said it was not ambulances but riot police that mobilized after the massacre in the heart of the Turkish capital. “It is obvious that there is an intention to increase the number of deaths. And now representatives of the government and the Prime Minister will say ‘maintain your common sense’ in our faces, while the police forces under their command attack the wounded people. What sort of a government has this become as its police fire tear gas on the people, just like what happened in Diyarbakır? I do not know what kind of a bomb has caused this massacre but it was definitely a malicious one. A highly effective bomb was used here to ensure a high number of casualties, as was the case in Suruç and Diyarbakır. The forces behind this massacre will not be revealed either, because there is an explicit force behind it, just like in Diyarbakır and Suruç”


Demirtaş asked; “Is it possible for a state, whose intelligence organization is this powerful, to not have any information on this incident?, and continued; “There is a bitter situation in question. We are facing a state mindset that became a mafia, murderer and a serial killer which wants to take the society captive. We will overcome these days with the resistance of those not surrendering to persecution. Yet, we will bring those responsible to account within the scope of the law. We will not allow these incidents to go down in history as just a cruelty. We are assured that this mindset will not last forever.”


HDP Co-President said the party has cancelled all its election program everywhere which they cannot possible run while dozens of people have just been killed. He said they will be dealing with the casualties and manifest everywhere that they will be resisting these attacks. “Freedom and peace is much more important than elections”, he added.



Our people who said “guns should be silenced without buts and only ifs”, who organized demonstrations and hit the streets to make this demand real were attacked viciously.

Firstly, we wish God’s mercy and grace to 97 lives we lost, and send our condolences to their families and our people, and  hope that hundreds of people who got wounded get better soon.

It is obvious that this attack isn’t different from the massacre in Suruc and bombings in Adana, Mersin and Diyarbakir. These are the results of the language of hatred that the political power used against the ones who worked to bring peace. This attack targeted the ones who struggle for equality, freedom and justice and remained persistent about peace and democracy. This attack is against the dissemination of the language of peace and its actual realization.

In this country, a mafia leader who is fed by the government and some state institutions can organize a demonstration in Rize and announce his commitment and support to the Palace. He states that “they will bleed in streams” and a day after people who demand peace in Ankara are murdered by bombs. Unless the political power cut their ties with these mafia organizations within the country, and global gangs like ISIS and Ahrar es Sam, we will experience these kinds of massacres.

We are sure that all the people who didn’t lose their inner conscience and pride feel the pain in their hearts. We will overcome these difficult days with their and peace activists’ solidarity and union.

We will never let these massacres buried. Those days will come that  the people who instigated and planned these massacres and also the politicians who are responsible for them and actual executors of these actions would be taken to court.

HDP Central Executive Committee

10 October 2015

The Guardian reports,

There were no claims of responsibility for the attack, which came as external threats mount for Nato member Turkey with increased fighting across its border with Syria and incursions by Russian warplanes on its air space over the last week.

The Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, exposing a mosaic of domestic political perils, said Islamic State, Kurdish or far-leftist militants could have carried out the bombing. Experts have said it is unlikely left-wing groups would be behind the attack.

The two blasts happened seconds apart on Saturday morning as crowds, including pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP) activists, leftists, labour unions and other civic groups, gathered for a march to protest over the deaths of hundreds since conflict resumed between security forces and the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) in the mainly Kurdish south-east.

Hours after the bombing, the PKK as widely expected beforehand ordered its fighters to halt operations in Turkey unless they faced attack. It said it would avoid acts that could hinder a “fair and just election” on 1 November.

It was distasteful to watch the BBC reportsafter lengthy items on such important things as the death of a former Minister of Margaret Thatcher.

Davutoglu’s suggestion, that the Turkish far-left has attacked…..the Turkish far left and the broad left, was given, unchallenged.

By contrast a reporter was able to parrot the government response to the following

The pro-Kurdish HDP party has blamed the state. That is undoubtedly a reference to the so-called “deep state” often talked about here: a shady mix of nationalist forces either colluding with or supporting the government in power

The party has previously blamed the government for colluding in attacks on Kurdish activists, which the government denies.

Cemalettin Hasimi, director of press and information at the prime minister’s office, told the BBC that such allegations were “a disgrace, unacceptable”.

AKP inspired mobs, with even further right groups involved,  have attacked HDP offices in recent months.

Violent mobs have attacked Kurdish and other targets in towns across Turkey as the fighting between the government and PKK guerrillas worsens, prompting fears of renewed civil war.

Headquarter offices of the main pro-Kurdish party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which has 80 seats in parliament, were set on fire in the capital Ankara, the southern city of Alanya and more than 100 towns across the country.

There were also attacks on newspaper offices, with the headquarters of Hurriyet, one of the country’s biggest papers, surrounded by a mob chanting slogans in support of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They accused the paper of misquoting the president in a report on a speech which discussed the crisis.

Telegraph 9th of September.

With this background it is understandable that the Turkish left, and the HDP in particular, points the finger in President Erdoğan’s direction.

There have been, nevertheless, unconfirmed reports that the Islamic State, Daesh, has released comments referring to the deaths of “communists and atheists” in Ankara.

Suicide bombings bear all the hallmark of that organisation.

Whether the slaughter was carried out at the instigation, or complicity of the ‘moderate’ Islamists of the AKP Turkish government, or independently  by the genociders of Daesh, remains to be determined.

The most important thing is for international solidarity with the families, the friends and the comrades of those struck down in this atrocity.

They are our sisters and brothers. Our loved ones.

They will not be forgotten.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 11, 2015 at 11:06 am

Ankara: Murderous Bomb Attack on Peace March.

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Hundreds assembling at Wood Green for solidarity march for victims of bombing in Turkey (Photo. G.H)

Our hearts go out to the families, friends and comrades of our beloved sisters and brothers murdered in this attack.

Embedded image permalink

We Came with our Banners of Peace: They Served to Cover our Dead (Libération.)

Ankara (AFP) – At least 86 people were killed Saturday in the Turkish capital Ankara when twin blasts ripped through groups of leftist and pro-Kurdish activists gathering for an anti-government peace rally, the deadliest attack in the history of modern Turkey.

The attack, near Ankara’s main train station, ratcheted up tensions ahead of Turkey’s November 1 snap elections which were already soaring amid the government’s offensive on Kurdish militants.

Bodies of the slain activists were seen strewn across the ground after the blasts, with the banners they had been holding lying next to them for the “Work, Peace and Democracy” rally.

Sixty-two people died at the scene of the blasts and 24 more then succumbed to their wounds in hospital, Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu told reporters in Ankara. He said another 186 people had been injured in the attack, 28 of them seriously.

Agence France Presse.

Death toll at 86 in grisly Ankara bombing

By RUDAW 15 minutes ago

ANKARA – Two explosions at a peace march in central Ankara on Saturday have killed at least 86 people with the death toll expected to increase due to the high number of wounded, according to officials.

The blast occurred at 10:05 am local time near a train station in the Turkish capital. TV footage shows scenes of panic and people lying on the ground covered in blood, amid protest banners.

“After the explosions there was a clash between families of the victims and police,” Rudaw reporter Mashalla Dakak reported live from the scene of the blasts.

“No party has claimed responsibility for the attack,” he added, saying at least 100 people were wounded besides those who had been killed.
Turkey’s president condemned the attacks as “terrorist acts”.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced what he called “this loathsome attack that targeted our unity and our togetherness”.

Government officials are investigating reports that a suicide bomber was behind at least one of the explosions.

The rally was called by the Confederation of Public Sector Trades’ Unions to demand an end to the fight between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK.
The pro-Kurdish HDP party, which was was among those attending the rally, said in a statement that it believes its members were the main target of the bombings.

Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the HDP has blamed the state for the attack, which he called “a huge massacre. The opposition party has called off all its election rallies.

Demirtas said that whenever his HDP party kick offs an election campaigns an attack occurs.

“Unfortunately, another massacre happened and those rallying for peace were brutally wounded and killed. It reminds us of the Suruc explosion,” Demirtas added, referring to a mid-July attack that killed 27 people at a student rally in the southern Turkish town of Suruc.

Turkey’s new polls are scheduled to be held Nov 1.
Turkey is holding a re-run of June’s inconclusive parliamentary elections on 1 November.

Later on Saturday, the PKK called on its fighters to halt its guerrilla activities in Turkey unless attacked first.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Paty (HDP), said Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) must take the blame for Saturday’s twin blasts at an Ankara railway station that has left at least 40 people dead and 100 wounded.


“The AKP’s hands are red with blood and they support this terror,” said Demirtas to a crowd of reporters at HDP headquarters in Ankara.

Turkish government officials described the blasts as a “terrorist attack” and said they were investigating claims that a suicide bomber was responsible.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is to reportedly scheduled to hold a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan, government officials and security chiefs in response to the attack.

Demirtas alleged that the people of Turkey have no right to freedom of expression and are forced to support the government.

“In this country, whoever speaks out against the government will be shot…[I]if you don’t support the government you will be deprived from basic human rights and means of prosperity,” Demirtas told the press.

“If a child throws a stone at the police, they will answer him with a bullet.”

Demirtas said that whenever his HDP party kick offs an election campaigns an attack occurs.

“Unfortunately, another massacre happened and those rallying for peace were brutally wounded and killed. It reminds us of the Suruc explosion,” Demirtas added, referring to a mid-July attack that killed 27 people at a student rally in the southern Turkish town of Suruc.

He continued: “[The government] wants to silence us but we will continue our peaceful struggle until the last drop of our blood. And I told them, ‘If you want to stop us with these cowardly explosions, you cannot.’”

Turkey’s new polls are scheduled to be held Nov 1.

There will be a solidarity march on Sunday 3pm Trafalgar Sq to Downing st.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 10, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Momentum: a Mass Movement for real Progressive Change – we hope.

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Welcome to Momentum!

Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader has transformed into Momentum – a network of people and organisations that will continue the energy and enthusiasm of Jeremy’s campaign.

What does Momentum want to do?

Organise in every town, city and village to create a mass movement for real progressive change.

Make Labour a more democratic party, with the policies and collective will to implement them in government.

Bring together individuals and groups in our communities and workplaces to campaign and organise on the issues that matter to us.

How will Momentum do this?

Organise events, rallies, meet ups and policy consultations to encourage mass mobilisation for a more democratic, equal and decent society.

Encourage those inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to get involved with the Labour Party. Assist members in making their voice heard in Labour Party debates.

Facilitate and coordinate people to build new and support existing organisations that can make concrete improvements to people’s lives. Through these actions, we aim to demonstrate on a micro level how collective action and Labour values can transform our society for the better.

Who runs it?

Formed as a successor to the Corbyn campaign, Momentum is in the process of setting up governance arrangements to represent its supporters amongst the Labour Party membership as well as the wider social movement which is springing up. As it grows, Momentum will develop democratic governance structures at every level of the network.

What is the relationship to Labour and Jeremy Corbyn?

Momentum is the successor entity to the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader campaign but it is independent of the Labour Party’s leadership. It will work with everyone who supports Jeremy’s aim of creating a more fair, equal and democratic society.


The Guardian reports,

Activists to harness Corbyn campaign energy with Momentum

Volunteer activists in Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign are to try to harness the campaign’s energy by setting up a movement called Momentum to back his ideas and politics.

But the idea was denounced by Labour critics of the leader as part of an attempt to mobilise factionally, leading to the deselection of moderate MPs and councillors “who are not judged politically correct by the veteran Bennite organisers behind Momentum”.

Momentum, which launched yesterday, has the approval of the Labour leader as well as John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor and campaign manager for Corbyn.

The group is designed as a grassroots network to create “a mass movement for change, for real progressive change in every town and city”.

Momentum describes itself as the successor to the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader campaign, but it is independent of the party’s leadership. It will work both inside the Labour party and organise in broader civil society.

This is a key point:

While all of the individuals setting up Momentum are members or supporters of the Labour party, the group anticipates that many thousands of people who are not will be involved in the wider social movement through their communities and workplaces.

Does this mean members of other political parties? Greens, those involved in TUSC and other left groups?

MPS seem more concerned about another topic.

Jeremy Corbyn-backed Momentum group is ‘a threat to sitting MPs’

The group has the backing of Mr Corbyn’s Labour party and will act as a campaigning arm, but there are fears it will seek to purge moderate MPs.

The group will also seek to “transform the Labour party into a more democratic party with the policies and collective will to make that change. The individuals and groups will also campaign on issues that matter to Momentum, including by holding rallies and the encouragement of mass mobilisation”.

Labour has seen tens of thousands of people join the party and there is a concern that the energy generated by Corbyn’s victory could be dissipated by the more bureaucratic structures of local constituency parties.

But Corbyn critics in the Labour First group said Momentum was unnecessary, and designed to trawl through the contact details raised by the Corbyn campaign and then effectively become a party within the party.

In a letter to Jon Lansman, one of the Momentum organisers, Luke Akehurst, the secretary of Labour First, wrote: “We find it strange that the winning candidate in a Labour leadership election would sustain the life of their campaign after winning, rather than seeing their role now as having responsibility to unite the whole party.”

It is understood that Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, was not informed of the Momentum plan.

But a spokesman for Momentum said: “The idea is to develop the promise of new politics made by Jeremy in his campaign by linking up to people outside the Labour party as well as inside. We are associated with the Labour party, and incredibly supportive of it, but not under its control.”

The new campaign is a formal successor company to the Corbyn leadership campaign. Many new MPs associated with the leadership drive, such as Clive Lewis, Richard Burgon and Kate Osamor, will act as directors before a proper democratic structure is established.

Momentum says its campaign is designed to “assist members in making their voice heard in Labour party debates”, as well as support existing organisations that can make real improvements to people’s lives rather than wait for four years for a Corbyn-led government.

One idea under consideration is private sector tenancy advice, and also building networks interested in specific issues such as mental health or education.

Corbyn, welcoming the launch of Momentum, said: “Now, more than ever, we need to unite and continue to build our movement to change our politics and to win together in 2020. We need us to put our values, the people’s values, back into politics. To do this, we need to keep up the momentum we have built over the last four months.”

McDonnell said: “We need the campaign’s momentum to continue to transform our democracy and our way of doing politics. We are part of this wider social movement, running an economy in the interests of society.”

Senior Labour MPs have warned a new campaign group, set up by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, is a “threat to sitting MPs” and will “undermine” the party.

Momentum, a collective set up with the backing of the Labour leader and the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, aims to influence party policy but MPs are worried it is the beginning of a purge of moderate members who don’t support the leader.

One Shadow Cabinet Minister said: “They are setting up a party within a party and I fear that they will use it to take control of conference, policy-making and mount a purge.”

Another MP asked not to be named but described the new group as “a worrying sign” while respected Labour MP Stephen Pound told The Telegraph: “This is basically a parallel organisation as far as I’m concerned, it’s against the principles of the Labour party and I think less of Jeremy Corbyn for endorsing it.

“It will inevitably be seen as a threat to sitting MPs and the Labour party in parliament – it is a retrograde step.”

Welcoming the group, which is also backed by a group of Labour MPs including Katy Clark, Clive Lewis, Richard Burgon, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Kate Osamor, Mr Corbyn said: “Now, more than ever, we need to unite and continue to build our movement to change our politics and to win together in 2020.

This is a welcome move.

Socialism has to built democratically, from grass-roots campaigning. The Labour Party is not going to face up to the challenges presented by the present hard-right government without a movement in the country at large, with strong trade union and civil society involvement. This means people, with a variety of backgrounds and opinions, working together beyond the institutional confines of the Party – but still focused on the need to get councillors and MPs elected who can carry out left politics.

It is perhaps unnecessary to point out that problems may arise with this initiative.

Momentum will not only attract  from new supporters from independent civil society campaigns, individuals, and those who are labour movement activists in the broader left. It is more than probable that left groups who have very different ways of organising to the Labour party and mainstream labour movement, and distinct views on a variety of issues, will be eager to be part of the movement.

The potential for difficulties is obvious, and already being discussed on the left.

Divisions on the left on perhaps one of the most important democratic issues of the coming year, the Referendum on the European Union (EU), are serious and are not going to disappear.

One section of the left is viscerally opposed to the EU and stood candidates against Labour under the banner of No2EU in last year’s European election. This stand was continued by the majority (with important exceptions, from Left Unity) of the groups who presented candidates under the banner of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, as an alternative to Labour in the General Election.

Another part of the left supports the TUC and others in campaigning for a reformed EU and for staying inside in. This corresponds to official Labour Party, and has been endorsed by Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

It does not take a political wizard to see that this subject has the potential for division inside Momentum – adding to those already existing inside the Labour Party, with sections of the right and ‘sovereigntist’ left prepared already to ally with the Tories, UKIP and millionaire donors in the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 10, 2015 at 11:36 am

100, 000 Demonstrate Against Austerity in Brussels.

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Our Belgian Comrades on the March. 

The United front of Belgian Trades Unions (Christian union ACV (green colour), the socialist union ABVV (red) and the liberal ACLVB (blue)   has announced that 100,000 marchers took part in a national demonstration against Austerity  in Brussels yesterday (the Police estimate 81,000) (reports from Le Soir and  En Belgique, une immense manifestation contre l’austérité. Le Monde.)

They were joined by two leaders of the francophone Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste), Elio Di Rupo  and Laurette A. J. Onkelinx  (of Kabyle origin).

Members of the civil platform ‘Hart Boven Hard’ also participated in the protest.

The principal slogan of the unions was “Que des miettes pour nous ” – only crumbs for us. It symbolised the inequalities in the country.

Other slogans took up, in a humorous vein, this theme, mocking the – admittedly odd looking, – Federal Prime Minister Charles Michel,

©Sylvain Piraux

Washing Powder Michel Guaranteed to shrink your spending power. 

©Dominique Duchesnes

Mr Potato: He Reduces us to Mash. 

The media spoke of the success of the event, which many expected to draw smaller crowds (Le défi de l’après-manif? Inclure la rue). There were some strikes in public bus services to accompany the protests.

There were a few violent clashes between protesters, some said to be anarchists, and the police.

Des manifestants antiaustérité jettent des pierres en direction de la police mercredi 7 octobre à Bruxelles.

Affrontements entre quelques manifestants et forces de l'ordre lors d'une marche contre les mesures d'austérité du gouvernement de Charles Michel.

Austerity for the trade unions means direct attacks on their membership.

Last year a series of “reforms”, ending indexing of salaries to the cost of living pushed back (meaning effectively wage cuts as they drop behind price rises) , pension age put back to 67 years, reform of early retirement plans and savings in public spending without any taxation of capital.


The march  demanded improved purchasing power, a tax shift that includes a fair share of the burden for the rich, and job schemes to get the vulnerable groups in society at work (English language report here).

Little has appeared in the British media on this important protest.




Written by Andrew Coates

October 8, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Bahar Mustafa to Face charges on claim about Tweet, “kill all White Men”.

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Bahar Mustafa, welfare and diversity officer at Goldsmiths Students' Union

Bahar Mustafa: to Organise Encounter Group  for all Tweeters? 

London woman charged after alleged #killallwhitemen tweet 


A student diversity officer who came to prominence in a race row after allegedly tweeting the hashtag #killallwhitemen has been charged by police with sending a threatening communication.

Bahar Mustafa, of Goldsmiths, University of London, is set to appear at Bromley magistrates court on 5 November.

The 28-year-old from Edmonton, north-east London, faces two charges. One is sending a communication conveying a threatening message between 10 November 2014 and 31 May 2015. The second is for sending a grossly offensive message via a public communication network between 10 November 2014 and 31 May 2015.

Mustafa was initially accused of racism for asking white men not to attend a students’ union meeting intended for ethnic minority women and non-binary attendees.

She then became embroiled in a separate row, accused of using the hashtag #killallwhitemen on her Twitter account, which has since been deleted.

A Met police spokesman said in a statement: “A woman interviewed under caution regarding a complaint of racially motivated malicious communication made on a social media network has been summonsed to court.”

Mustafa is neither an employee of Goldsmiths nor a student, but an employee of the independent students’ union, elected by union members.

Mustafa remained in her position as welfare and diversity officer after a petition for a motion of no confidence fell short of the 3% of union members required to trigger a poll.

After the furore, Mustafa denied that her initial request for white men to stay away from a union meeting was racist or sexist, and said she had received rape and death threats.

  • This article was amended on 7 October 2015. It originally referred to “non-binary” women. That should have been non-binary attendees. This has been corrected.

First of all: it is ridiculous that the law is brought in to deal with people’s brain seepage on Twitter.

I am not a lawyer – outside the Barracks – but from the 6 week sentence for Jake Newson for grossly offensive tweets onwards there are serious concerns about these laws.

At the time of that particular prosecution this comment was made. (Guardian)

Thomas Hughes, executive director of free speech organisation Article 19, said the charity is “extremely concerned by the number of arrests and prosecutions for comments made online in the UK. Nobody should go to prison simply for causing offence. This is not only our view but a violation of international legal standards that protect speech that shocks, offends or disturbs.”

There are many other examples of courts cases, and this summary indicates the far too broad scope of the legislation:

Number seven: menacing tweets

A tweet that is grossly offensive, or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character, will offend the Communications Act 2003. The Crown Court considered Paul Chambers’ tweet “… I am blowing the airport sky high” to be menacing, however the High Court overturned its decision. The High Court ruled that the Communications Act would not prevent satirical, iconoclastic, or rude comment, expression of the unpopular, unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, humour, comments that are distasteful or even painful to those subjected to them, silly jokes or jokes in bad taste that a person would be likely to brush aside or empty bombastic or ridiculous banter. A tweet that is indecent, obscene or menacing in character could result in a fine or a prison sentence of up to six months.

The test: If a tweet could create fear or apprehension in the minds of anyone who may reasonably be expected to see it the tweet could be considered a menace and an offence under the Communications Act.

Twitter and the law: 10 legal risks in tweeting from or to the UK.

There is no need to be a top Barrister to see that these criteria are wide enough to invite both malicious prosecution and to allow an intolerable degree of snooping into people’s expression of opinion.

More on this:  Freedom Of Speech (Even For Bahar Mustafa).

Secondly, as a white woman and former postgraduate (MA in Gender Media and Culture) of Turkish origin who is now a full-time student union officer at the very bourgeois Goldsmith’s College Mustafa is not exactly on many people’s lists of oppressed minorities in London.

This is not her opinion. She has stated earlier this year (Independent),

“I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist towards white men because racism and sexism describe structures of privilege based on race and gender and therefore women of colour and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist, since we do not stand to benefit from such a system.”

This Blog is all in favour of nostalgic revivals of 1970s identity politics, apparently where the Goldsmith’s MA course finished.

But this should be on a kind of Sealed Knot basis, between consenting adults.

It may be hard for those of Turkish origin, probably of an orthodox Sunni background,  to claim victimhood in Turkey itself, for reasons that the name Kurd will indicate, not to mention the Alevis. But that is no reason for white middle class and prosperous Londoners of Turkish origin who have paid for expensive courses in Gender Media and Culture not to join in the fray when they can.

Mustafa has been, apparently, a “diversity and welfare officer”.

Our own judgement is that Goldsmith’s should organise a special diversity event for black, ethnic minority, white trash, and white men (one hopes, not those already killed), not to mention every gender there is, and non-binary attendees.

People will be able to call each other every name under the sun.

In the spirit of 1970s revivals I would call it an “Encounter Group”.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 7, 2015 at 12:32 pm