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Labour Against the Witch-hunt Faces New Crisis over “member’s support for Holocaust denier.”

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The “procedure that Peter faced has been wholly unfair..” Tony Greenstein.  January 2019

Last November in the Weekly Worker, a leading force in Labour Against the Witch-hunt,  ‘Carla Robert’ of Labour Party Marxists wrote,

Similarly ridiculous is the case of Edinburgh Labour Party member Peter Gregson, who is currently “under investigation”. We will not be surprised if Gregson is also either told to undergo the JLM’s pro-Zionism training and/or referred to the NCC.

Anti-Zionism and self-censorship

By no coincidence whatsoever Labour Against the Witch-hunt publicly declared,

LAW Statement: Lift suspension of Peter Gregson from GMB, stop investigation

Labour Against the Witchhunt calls on Labour’s NEC to reject the allegations of anti-Semitism against Peter Gregson, condemns his suspension by the GMB trade union and calls for the immediate restoration of his full membership rights.

But, spotters of LAW’s tortured inner workings will have noticed at the time,

Although Peter’s petition is a good idea, challenging Labour’s NEC to revoke its adoption of the IHRA definition, we cannot support it. Firstly, we disagree with some of its wording – eg, before it adopted the full IHRA definition on September 4, Labour did not allow “full freedom of speech on Israel”. On the contrary, the witch-hunt was in full flow long before that. Secondly, some of the formulations in Peter’s supporting documents internalise the racism of Zionist ideology, failing to distinguish clearly between the Zionist movement and the Jewish population, and attributing a non-existent collective political identity to “the Jews”, eg, “the Jews have so much leverage here [in the UK]”.

LAW leading light Tony Greenstein wrote in January,

Although Labour Against the Witchhunt didn’t support Peter’s petition because of problems with its wording we recognise that it represents a significant opposition in the Labour Party to the attempt to curtail if not abolish freedom of speech.

Of course the corrupt and racist GMB has never had freedom of speech. The regional barons ruled without opposition. The union exists primarily for the benefit of its highly paid officials not its membership. However even Roache and co. will have difficulty defending this particularly iniquitous decision. If Peter’s expulsion is not revoked then GMB members should join another, genuine trade union.

Shop Steward Expelled for ‘anti-Semitism’ by a Racist and Corrupt Trade Union

In March Labour Party Marxists (another hat for LAW to wear) were saying:

Reinstate Peter Gregson 

 It goes without saying that, while Gregson is not anti-Semitic, he can certainly be criticised for his eccentric politics – in the words of Jewish Voice for Labour, he is a “loose cannon”. For example, he admits that his initiative can be described as a “death-wish” petition, in that it is “sticking two fingers up to the NEC” by “brazenly breaking the IHRA rule”. He adds: “It is important now for more of us to come out and openly breach the IHRA, whilst never being anti-Semitic in the true sense of the word.”

Such brazen defiance is a matter of tactics, of course, but it must be said that in current circumstances it is not exactly a wise move. Firstly, the forces opposing the witch-hunt are extremely weak and are hardly in a good position to mount a successful challenge of this sort. Secondly, the “death-wish” petition does the right’s work for it by identifying hundreds of Labour members as easy targets.

Gregson also makes himself a target through his inappropriate choice of words. For instance, he has claimed that “Jews” in Britain have “leverage” because of what he describes as a general feeling of guilt over the holocaust. When this clumsy phrasing was criticised by JVL – surely it is the Zionists, not undifferentiated “Jews”, who would try to turn any such sentiment to their advantage? – he was not prepared to admit his error or change his wording. His response is: “… we suffer in the UK from holocaust guilt. Thus, all Jews have leverage, whether they want it or not, because all Jews were victims.”

However, we must not let this hold us back from defending him.He is a victim of a rightwing witch-hunt, aimed at defeating the left and regaining control of the party for the Blairites.

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Now…

Emails reveal row within Labour Against The Witchhunt over member’s support for Holocaust denier

Pete Gregson insisted denier Nick Kollerstrom was ‘Holocaust sceptic’, and was condemned by fellow LAW member Tony Greenstein

Labour Against The Witchhunt (LAW) – which was launched to defend Labour activists accused of antisemitism – has been rocked by a bitter rift over one of its member’s open support for a Holocaust denier.

Tony Greenstein, LAW’s vice-chair, who was himself expelled from Labour over his use of the word “Zio” and for mocking the phrase Final Solution, has clashed with another of the group’s supporters .

Peter Gregson – who has been backed by LAW since being expelled by the GMB union over alleged antisemitism – had urged Mr Greenstein and his allies to support a petition he started, which included links to an article by Ian Fantom of the conspiracy theory Keep Talking group.

In that article, Mr Fathom writes approvingly of Dr Nick Kollerstrom – author of The Auschwitz ‘Gas Chamber’ Illusion.

But in emails sent to LAW’s leading members – including expelled Labour activist Jackie Walker, her partner Graham Bash and Tina Werkman – Mr Greenstein initially attempts to persuade Mr Gregson to “cut links” with the Mr Fanthom and Mr Kollerstrom, saying the association “would be incredibly damaging” for LAW.

He writes: “I must ask you to remove all references to Ian Fantom’s article from your petition update which directs people to Kollerstrom’s holocaust denial article on the website of the well-known Holocaust denial site CODOH.”

In his March 22 email, Mr Greenstein also refers to wording in Mr Gregson’s petition saying: “It is bad enough that you yourself used the word ‘exaggerate’ in terms of the Holocaust.”

He writes on March 23 that Mr Greenstein is “exhibiting the kind of shrill neurosis for which the left is rightly famed. And is why of course so many in the left are doomed to obscurity, for they slam the door hard shut at every opportunity.”

Mr Fantom has previously shared conspiracy theories blaming Israel for 9/11. But Mr Gregson writes of him: “I have spent time with Ian Fantom. I believe he is OK. I do not have a problem with his politics.”

In his own furious response, Mr Greenstein writes back at 2.54 am, setting out detailed evidence of Mr Fantom’s support for Mr Kollerstrom, noting that the article Mr Gregson links to says Mr Kollertrom “had been targeted in a witch-hunt”.

“You can call me whatever you want but I am not going to have holocaust denial being debated or legitimised under the guise of ‘free speech’,” Mr Greenstein writes.

“It’s like debating the rights and wrongs of murdering 50 Muslims in New Zealand last week, or perhaps that too didn’t happen?

“I am removing you from the LAW Facebook and will leave it to the LAW Steering Committee as to whether you are removed from LAW membership too.”

In a further message on April 3 – still copying in much of the LAW leadership – Mr Gregson writes: “Tony is stating he will seek to damage my reputation by making LAW shun me if I do not do as he asks. If that is not a threat, then I’m a chinaman.”

No response to this article has yet been seen.

Informed sources suggest that since he began, earlier this year, being published by the racist Islamic Qatar  dictatorship’s Al Jazeera Greenstein  has become more careful with his ‘robust’ language.

We still expect some broadside…

On the up, a couple of days ago Labour Against the Witchhunt, was celebrating Ken Livingstone’s decision to join their campaign.

“Former London mayor is announced as Labour Against The Witchhunt’s honorary president”

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 16, 2019 at 5:22 pm

Euro Elections: An Opportunity for Labour to take an Internationalist Stand on Europe.

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Labour Will not Win by Competing for the Brexit Vote.

The Tories are in steep decline, and the Brexit Party (Farage, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, Spiked – Revolutionary Communist Party oddball, Dr Alka Sehgal Cuthbert to name but their best known candidates),  are slugging it out over ownership of the fear of god with UKIP.

UKIP has just distinguished itself with this:

I bet the chap below does not like rootless cosmopolitans:

Labour is a strong position to stand up for internationalism.

The anti-cosmopolitan Full Brexit crowd is still trying to drag the party into a competition with the three Brexit parties and adopt National Populist policies.

Skwawkbox, for it is he, says,

Labour’s leadership, following the party’s conference policy, tabled the option of a new referendum in Parliament – and it was decisively defeated, as it was when tabled separately.

But to those aware of working-class opinion, especially outside London, it’s always been clear that Labour had to see through Brexit or risk alienating huge tracts of its heartlands.

Labour’s current strong polling shows that the majority of its base understood that Jeremy Corbyn has played a difficult hand brilliantly. But if Labour wants to win power – as millions of suffering people in this country desperately need – it’s now time for the party to focus on delivering a Brexit that works as well as possible for everyone. Ultimately, that’s always been true.

Those who can’t see beyond a desire to ‘stop Brexit’ to the greater prize of a country governed by Labour for the many cannot be allowed to dictate the party’s agenda, tactics or message.

The time has come for the internationalist left to strike another note:

The Huffington Post publishes this:

Jeremy Corbyn Handed ‘Remain, Reform, Rebel’ Manifesto For European Elections

Rachel Wearmouth

Calls for Jeremy Corbyn to back remain at the European elections have intensified as a strongly pro-EU manifesto penned by left-wingers was passed to the Labour leader.

Titled “Remain, Reform, Rebel”, the document was penned by Corbyn allies, including his ex-economic advisor Ann Pettifor, and has been endorsed by every sitting Labour MEP set to contest their seat should the Brexit deadlock trigger the May 23 poll.

It demands an EU-wide Green New Deal – similar to that advocated in the US by Democrat politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – to include a “European super-grid” and pledges to make the continent 100% served by renewables by 2050.

Labour’s official manifesto will be be decided separately by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee and the party has said it will consult with a range of stakeholders.

Talks between Corbyn and Theresa May were set to enter a third week on Monday as the pair attempt to thrash out a compromise after the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement was rejected three times.

While elections to the European Parliament are not yet certain, all parties have begun preparations to take part.

….

It comes as party insiders increasingly fear the European Parliament elections, which will be held almost three years after the 2016 vote, will inevitably morph into a proxy referendum on EU membership.

A Labour source told HuffPost UK MEPs see the Remain vote will split between the new Change UK party, the Lib Dems and Greens, handing Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party a path to victory.

Turning to the Commission’s draft manifesto, they said: “These talks are like a death dance with the first who stops accused of collapsing.

“This is the left’s bid to show that we aren’t afraid of fighting on an overtly pro-European election.

“We want to come out fighting and to be able to say we are part of a pro-European alliance that wants to push things in the direction of a socialist Europe.

“We are saying to Labour as a commission: bite the bullet, get behind where the membership are and the majority of Labour voters are.

Shambling Towards Shambles: Brexit, Alex Callinicos and the Socialist Workers Party.

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“If a breakthrough to the left occurs in a particular country, this would indeed require a left government defying the EU and introducing a programme of controls over the economy.”

Alex Callinicos.

Shambling towards the precipice Alex Callinicos.

International Socialism Issue 162. April the 8th.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 10, 2019 at 11:44 am

The Dead End of Lexit (“Left” Brexit).

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One for the Historically Minded Trainspotters.

Bob has written an excellent survey of the confusionist politics of the ‘left’ Brexit camp aka, Lexit, ‘People’s Brexit’,

Left nationalism and Brexit Bolshevism

I haven’t managed to keep up with the flood of sewage coming out of the nationalist left this past month. The cast of characters: a weird amalgam of Arron Banks-funded trade unionists (Paul Embery), Blue Labour’s Third Way centrists (Lord Maurice Glasman), old Etonian man of the people David Goodhart, the formerly Trotskyist libertarian contrarians of Spiked (Frank Furedi, Clare Fox, etc), media professors like Matt Goodwin, and old school tankie Stalinists at the Morning Star, young Stalinists shit-posting on social media, SWP splinter sects like Counterfire, and hipster leftists at Novara and in the machinery of Young Labour, and even a few ex-anarchists. None of these currents would be particularly significant alone,although some of them are increasingly called upon pundits on daytime TV sofas and Question Time debates. But the alignment of these different formations has become an increasingly toxic force on the left. This toxic force pulls the Labour Party away from internationalist, anti-racist and pro-migrant positions (e.g. promoting pro-Brexit positions and sacrificing our right to freedom of movement). And it is toxic in terms of the culture of our movements too, driving better people away from the left.

Another Europe is Possible published this at the end of last month,

BREXIT, FARCE, AND THE LEXIT LEFT

Neil Faulkner argues that Brexit is the British expression of the wave of nationalism, racism, and fascism sweeping the world – and Lexit is on the wrong side of history.

History repeats itself. First time, tragedy; second time, farce. It was an off-the-cuff remark by Marx, and it gets repeated too often. But how appropriate it seems as Britain’s small, shrinking, sectarian Left embraces Third Period Stalinism ever more completely.

..

The Lexit Left, on the other hand, is an alliance of 1970s fossils, unrepentant Stalinists, and former Trotskyists. It represents an abandonment of revolutionary internationalism and solidarity, a retreat into the fantasy-world of ‘socialism in one country’, and a capitulation to the nationalism of the Far Right.

The Morning Star keeps at it:

What would a ‘clean break’ with the EU mean for the economy? Alex Gordon.

Any Brexit withdrawal agreement negotiated between the EU and Theresa May is by definition not going to be acceptable to socialists. The EU wishes to tie Britain into its single market and customs union, which embeds austerity, cuts and privatisation, super-exploitation of migrant workers (and wage depression), a Fortress Europe, racism and a growing far-right across Europe as a consequence.

A “clean break,” managed no-deal Brexit on WTO terms will allow a future Labour government to challenge these policies. Labour’s current policy to embrace “a customs union” with the EU would prevent implementation of its 2017 general election For Many Not The Few manifesto and could lose them the next general election.

As in this prospect:

But, fortunately,  this looks prospect has not won friends inside the Labour Party, today.]

Face the facts, Labour leftwingers: Lexit is dead

(Described as being on the soft left of the Labour Party, with the “Daily Mirror noting Smith’s politics “largely overlap when it comes to policy” with Corbyn’s.)

The key sections are these:

But the Lexiters had one argument that was never completely rebutted. There was a grey area in the law about whether EU competition laws and state aid rules would prevent us from renationalising the railways or subsidising other key industries. Even though most legal experts thought this was surmountable, it was a point that lingered in the public debate. Not any more. In supporting a customs union and a single market alignment, our party leadership is saying it would bind the UK to the very rules the Lexiters are against. And, if we’re outside the political structures of the EU, we will have very limited say in how those rules are made or how they will operate.

As George Peretz QC, co-chair of the UK State Aid Law Association, has said: “In a customs union, we are asking the EU to give up the weapon that WTO rules (countervailing measures) give it against UK subsidies. There were always going to have to be cast-iron state-aid rules in consequence.” The EU has already imposed a state-aid clause in the proposed withdrawal agreement for this very reason.

The truth is there can be no leftwing Brexit. It is an oxymoron. It’s irreconcilable with those values of freedom and equality that are at the heart of what we stand for. There is no freedom without an end to poverty, said Bevan; it is our job is to pursue equality and freedom, said Crosland. To them, a leftwing Brexit could never have been born; to me, Lexit is now dead.

….

Crucially, Jeremy is fighting for a significant extension of the Brexit deadline with the EU. This additional time is needed not only to prevent a no-deal departure from the EU but also to scrutinise any new deal and allow for a confirmatory referendum so that the people, as well as MPs, can have their say. Labour is finally making the right case for its values of equality, internationalism and freedom. Our party can remind the country the Brexit right doesn’t have to have its way. If we stay in the EU, we can work with other socialist parties to build a fairer and more democratic Europe.

Lexit is dead. Democracy is alive. Labour is waking up. Now the British people know the real facts about the costs of leaving, that many of the promises made for Brexit will be broken and that any deal will not give clarity – just a crisis that goes on and on – our voters deserve a new say.

The wind is turning.

The letter was organised by the Love Socialism Hate Brexit campaign.

The fight continues:

If a deal is passed, Brexit never ends. We must put a stop to it

Brexit threatens all of the progress we have made. The public rightly regards this episode as an exercise in politicians wrangling over a chaotic process and neglecting the real issues. Unless it offers a sharp alternative on Brexit, Labour will not be immune to that sentiment. Meanwhile, our national discourse is becoming increasingly poisonous. Racists the far right are on the rise, feeding off the idea that the 2016 EU referendum put them on the winning side of history.
The two MPs continue,

We have now joined with a host of other radical and socialist Labour MPs to form Love Socialism Hate Brexit. Together, we are campaigning for the socialist Labour government we all need. And we are taking a stand with Labour members, and with the communities we represent, to fight against the disaster that is Brexit. We, and other members of Love Socialism Hate Brexit, will write a column every Thursday for LabourList.

We want to turn this from a moment of stagnation and frustration into a moment of hope. By uniting, Labour can end the Brexit chaos, bring down the government, and rebuild and transform Britain. We can live up to our role as an internationalist party, leading the left in Europe to fight climate chaos, bring forward a compassionate refugee policy, and combat and regulate capital. We need to remain and transform the EU.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2019 at 10:36 am

Communist Party of Britain (Morning Star) Denounces “Saboteur” Labour MPs and Calls for Hard Brexit, “on World Trade Organisation terms .”

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Be Vigilant! Communists Warn of Labour MPs’ “sabotage” against Brexit on April the 12th on World Trade Organisation terms.

Communists condemn ‘saboteur’ MPs and demand April 12 EU exit

3rd of April.

Monday evening’s votes in the House of Commons confirm that a substantial number of MPs remain determined to bind Britain as closely as possible to the EU and its rules and institutions if they cannot stop Brexit altogether.

These MPs show utter contempt for the EU referendum result – the biggest democratic vote in our history – and make a mockery of their past pledges to ‘honour’ the decision made by a clear majority of voters.

A majority of MPs have no genuine disagreement with the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement which ties Britain to the EU Single Market in most goods, keeps us permanently aligned with the EU Customs Union through the unnecessary Irish ‘backstop’, maintains EU Court of Justice sovereignty in large areas of economic and social policy and pledges to pay the EU at least £39bn in a bogus divorce settlement.

However, a substantial number of these are also holding out in the hope of locking Britain permanently into a customs union or overthrowing Brexit altogether in a second referendum that would exclude a real exit from the ballot paper.

Tragically, many of these would-be saboteurs are Labour MPs who put their loyalty to the EU above any loyalty to democracy, popular sovereignty and the Labour Party.

Many are opposed to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and have no concern that by painting Labour as an anti-Brexit party they are jeopardising the prospects of a left-led Labour government. Some openly support the possibility of an all-party ‘national government’.

The priority now must be to allow Britain to exit the EU on April 12 on The priority now must be to allow Britain to exit the EU on April 12 on World Trade Organisation terms and secure an early General Election and a Labour victory.and secure an early General Election and a Labour victory.

That government would then be free to carry out Labour’s left and progressive policies, which include aid for manufacturing industry and mutually beneficial trade agreements with European and developing countries.

What, some wreckers and saboteurs might dare to ask, is a Brexit on WTO terms?

Brexit: What is the ‘no deal’ WTO option?

One of the terms that keeps cropping up in the Brexit debate is “the WTO option”.

If the UK left the European Union without a deal, it would automatically fall back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

So what would that mean?

First, the basics. What is the WTO?

The WTO is the place where countries negotiate the rules of international trade – there are 164 members and, if they don’t have free trade agreements with each other, they trade under “WTO rules”.

Which are?

Every WTO member has a list of tariffs (taxes on imports of goods) and quotas (limits on the number of goods) that they apply to other countries. These are known as their WTO schedules.

The average EU tariff is pretty low (about 2.8% for non-agricultural products) – but, in some sectors, tariffs can be quite high.

Under WTO rules, after Brexit, cars would be taxed at 10% when they crossed the UK-EU border. And agricultural tariffs would be significantly higher, rising to an average of more than 35% for dairy products.

The government has set out its plans for tariffs in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Its temporary schedule would mean that 87% of imports by value will be tariff-free, compared with 80% before Brexit.

There will be some protection for companies producing cars in the UK, farmers producing meat and the UK ceramics industry. The government has attempted to balance the benefits of free trade in getting cheaper products for consumers, with protecting the livelihoods of some UK producers.

Some groups, which claim to be on the left, still cling to the idea of a “People’s Brexit”.

The Full-Brexit supporting Counterfire publishes today this;

Neoliberalism and Brexit: why Brexit is about more than just Brexit

“Brexit is about more than just Brexit” says Dragan Plavšić, “it’s about the wider crisis of neoliberalism and the long-diminishing authority and standing of the British state and ruling class.”

However, if Corbynism is indeed to be true to the discontented mood shift of which it is the most authentic expression, then it has to advocate a Brexit – a People’s Brexit – that provides a future Labour Government with the necessary freedom to undo the destructive and devastating effects of forty years of neoliberalism. A People’s Brexit is therefore the only real alternative to the neoliberals who wish to leave the EU or remain in it. A general election is feared by them all; the sooner we have one the better.

Most people will have forgotten what a ‘People’s Brexit’ was ever meant to be – and Plavšić does not enlighten us in this reheated rhetoric.

But Counterfire has published articles arguing that WTO rules are better than the EU’s,

“The WTO Red Herring

WTO anti-subsidy provisions are a completely different kettle of fish from EU state aid rules – being far narrower in their scope, far less stringent in their implementation and fundamentally different in how they operate.

The radical case against the single market is no myth February 2019. Reuben Bard-Rosenberg.

So the ‘left’ Brexit or People’s Brexit camp has adopted versions of the Tory ‘Hard Brexit’ position, with the UK negotiating free trade deals with other states through the World Trade Organisation.

There is the minor problem that not only does this prospect go against present Parliamentary votes,  Labour policy, and the views of nearly all but the fringe of the fringe of the Party, but that it runs up against this prospect:

UK cannot simply trade on WTO terms after no-deal Brexit, say experts

The UK will be unable to have frictionless, tariff-free trade under World Trade Organization rules for up to seven years in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to two leading European Union law specialists.

The ensuing chaos could double food prices and plunge Britain into a recession that could last up to 30 years, claim the lawyers who acted for Gina Miller in the historic case that forced the government to seek parliament’s approval to leave the EU.

It has been claimed that the UK could simply move to WTO terms if there is no deal with the EU. But Anneli Howard, a specialist in EU and competition law at Monckton Chambers and a member of the bar’s Brexit working group, believes this isn’t true.

Pro-Brexit Morning Star Wades into the “Eddie Dempsey Affair” and Mounts Campaign Against Anti-Brexit Labour MP Clive Lewis.

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StalinAssasin

Full Brexit supporter Eddie Dempsey also has a poetic bent.

The fall out from last Monday’s Full Brexit meeting continues.

This event was organised by an alliance of the “family, faith and flag Blue Labour,”, the Arron Banks funded Labour Leave and Trade Unionists Against the EU, The Communist Party of Britain, Counterfire, Spiked contributors, and a wide range of odd-balls and sovereigntists.

As in this:

This was the event:

It became notorious when this chap spoke, Eddie Dempsey, RMT rail union national executive member.

Dempsey said the following.

The one thing that unites [the people who turn out for Tommy Robinson]…. is their hatred of the liberal left. And they are right to hate them.

This was met by strong criticism.

Paul Mason wrote in the New Statesman,

If there is one thing people who go on the Tommy Robinson marches have in common, Dempsey told the audience, “it’s that they hate the liberal left – and they are right to hate them, they are correct.” When called out by a fellow Labour member who works for Another Europe is Possible, Dempsey replied that his critic was “flush with money from Soros”.

This goes a lot further than the 1970s-style economic nationalism of the Morning Star and the RMT union, of which Dempsey is a member. The entire argument – that the “working class” has been robbed of a voice in their own movement by liberals – echoes precisely the drivel against political correctness, “luvvies” and “citizens of nowhere” that is pumped out daily by papers like the Sun and the Daily Express.

It relies, as I’ve argued here before, on a definition of the British working class as white, manual, unskilled, culturally dispossessed and possessing citizenship of this country. In fact 44 per cent of people in work are managers, professionals or “associate professionals” like nurses; when it comes to education 47 per cent have a degree or above. Just 10 per cent of the workforce are in manufacturing. Of the 32 million people employed, nearly four million are from ethnic minorities, while two million are EU nationals without a vote.

Once you understand that this is the real working class, and that the one Dempsey is talking about is an ideological construct of the far right, the next thing he said was even more shocking. He claimed there are “too many in the Labour Party who 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 the liberals: that’s enough to get them into power” – and that they can disregard “all the working class people that have been driven away by the neoliberals”.

Dempsey persisted,

He got defended, from a dependable ally.

The reference to fishing was not the end of it.

The Morning Star used to controversy to mount a campaign against the Labour Party’s Clive Lewis.

Clive Lewis branded ‘out of order’ by RMT’s Mick Cash

CLIVE LEWIS was branded “out of order” by RMT general secretary Mick Cash today after the Labour MP promoted an article calling a leading trade unionist a “Tommy Robinson apologist.”

Mr Cash demanded the Norwich South MP apologise for sharing an article that labelled RMT activist Eddie Dempsey a supporter of the far-right, anti-Muslim activist.

The article, which was written by Jim Denham, a member of the Trotskyite organisation Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL), accused Mr Dempsey of being “far right” over comments he made criticising “liberal” Labour members at a left-wing anti-EU rally on Monday.

It also called on co-panellists, School of Oriental and African Studies economics professor Costas Lapavitsas and Institute for Public Policy Research economist and journalist Grace Blakeley, to condemn him.

Mr Dempsey insinuated (!!!) that this was an attack on him by the AWL and Mr Lewis, who are both anti-Brexit.

..

For the moment I leave out the following section (see below), said to be reproduced from the Weekly Worker, or Tony Greenstein’s Blog, attacking the AWL, Alliance for Workers’ Liberty of which Comrade Jim Denham is a longstanding member.

The article continues,

More than 100 trade unionists have publicly criticised Mr Lewis.

Norwich Labour county councillor Jess Barnard said she was “shocked” Mr Lewis would share an AWL member’s article, claiming that she had already raised concerns with him about the organisation.

Mr Cash added: “Clive Lewis should apologise and retract his comment.”

Mr Lapavitsas told the Star: “I consider Eddie Dempsey to be one of the most reliable socialists, trade unionists and anti-fascists in this country.

“I’m proud to share panels with him.”

Mr Lewis responded: “When a white trades unionist stands up at a Brexit rally and tells an audience he feels the same hatred for parts of the ‘liberal left’ as Stephen Yaxley’s supporters; and that ethnic minorities are being used by the same liberal left to enable ‘the working class’ to be ‘disregarded’ – as a black person, that sets alarm bells ringing.

“I’ve heard this language before and it’s the language of the far right. You don’t beat the far right by parroting their tropes. You beat them by standing in solidarity with all working-class people – whatever their colour, wherever they’re from.”

The first reaction must be that not a single one of the Morning Star’s comments criticises the speech Dempsey made.

Next, is that Clive Lewis was singled out for sharing an article, in fact a Blog Post taken from the (widely shared) Labour for a Socialist Europe statement which Jim reposted. (Sharing platforms with social-conservatives, reactionaries and nationalists: Open Letter to comrades Lapavitsas and Blakeley)

Finally, on what basis did Cash, whose union the RMT organised the anti-Labour No2EU electoral slate for the European elections in 2014, (153,236 votes, or 1%)  with the support of the Communist Party of Britain and the Socialist Party  have to “demand” an apology from an MP of the Party they stood against on the issue of Europe?

The AWL have replied,

A recent article in the Morning Star defended remarks made by Eddie Dempsey at a recent “Full Brexit” rally by way of inaccuracies and misleading remarks including about Workers’ Liberty. A copy of the response we are sending to them.

To the Morning Star,

Your article of 29 March (“Clive Lewis branded ‘out of order’ by RMT’s Mick Cash) contains a number of inaccuracies and misleading statements which are an affront to basic journalistic rigour, as well as the standards of democratic debate which the labour movement should set for itself.

The article reports on debate surrounding comments made by RMT activist Eddie Dempsey at a rally organised by “The Full Brexit”: “The one thing that unites [the people who turn out for Tommy Robinson demos] beyond whatever other bigotry that’s going on… is their hatred of the liberal left. And they are right to hate them.” At the same rally Dempsey also says: “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”. However, the Morning Star article refers to the substance of that debate only tangentially, and instead proceeds by deflection and “whataboutery”.

You refer to an article shared by Clive Lewis MP which criticised Dempsey’s remarks, but without linking to it to give your online readers the opportunity of reaching their own conclusions about its content. You inaccurately attribute it to AWL supporter Jim Denham; in fact, Jim had no part in writing it. It a collective statement agreed by the steering committee of the Labour for a Socialist Europe campaign, on whose website it was originally posted on 27 March. Jim, who does not sit on the Labour for a Socialist Europe committee, reposted the article on his own blog a day later, providing a link to the original.

The Morning Star refers to AWL’s position on the Jyllands Posten cartoons of Mohammed from 2007. What this has to do with the rights and wrongs of Dempsey’s remarks it does not explain.

In any case, our view on those cartoons is a matter of public record. While not endorsing their content, we viewed calls by ultra-conservative political-religious forces for their suppression and censorship as reactionary. Those “calls” came accompanied by death threats against the cartoonists, court cases against editors who republished the cartoons, sacking or jailing of several editors, especially those brave editors in the mainly-Muslim countries who took a stand for freedom of expression, and closings-down of newspapers. We said: “We protest against the suppression of these cartoons on the same grounds as we protested against the suppression of the play Bezhti (written by a Sikh, but offensive to conservative Sikh authorities) or the attempts of some Christians to suppress ‘Jerry Springer – the Opera’.” Readers are welcome to read our statement from the time, which, again, the Morning Star did not link to, and judge it for themselves.

The article goes on to say that “More than 100 trade unionists have publicly criticised Mr Lewis”, a seemingly arbitrary figure for which it provides no evidence. A large number of trade unionists have also supported Clive Lewis in the online debate, and condemned Eddie Dempsey’s remarks.

More seriously, the article says: “Many drew attention to the fact that last year, it emerged that a child AWL member had been sexually assaulted by an older member, and the organisation’s full-time officials did nothing to help the victim. The organisation admitted severe wrongdoing, but no members faced any repercussions or disciplinary measures.”

It is disappointing that the Morning Star would exploit a serious incident to intervene in a political debate, not by means of engaging with the arguments, but by deflection, distortion, and smear-by-association.

The allegation to which the Morning Star refers, and AWL’s subsequent investigation into it, is a matter of public record. In early 2018 a claim was made in an anonymous public blog post in which the blog-poster said he had been sexually assaulted in 2005 (when he was 16) by someone else who was then a member of AWL. Both the people involved parted ways with AWL (for different reasons) in 2008. We instituted an investigation independent of our leading committees and communicated with the blog-poster to offer help if he wanted to take the matter further.

Our investigation showed that in the years following 2005 the blog-poster had talked about the incident with other young members of AWL, but they had followed his expressed wish that they not report it to the committees. But it also concluded that this failure to bring the case to the committees showed an inadequacy of procedures. All the documents pertaining to the matter are available online. We had the investigation scrutinised by independent individuals, not members of the AWL, one with a professional background in safeguarding. The discussions we have had and the measures we have taken to mend the failings are likewise publicly documented on our website.

Throughout the process of investigation we remained as open and transparent as possible, with publicly accessible contact addresses for anyone to raise issues with the working group leading the process. We continue that openness and transparency. The working group remains available for contact at workinggroup@workersliberty.org.

How we respond to allegations of abuse within our organisations are an extremely serious matter for the entire left and labour movement. The issue should not be exploited in a misleading fashion as part of an intervention into a political debate. At no point has any journalist from the Morning Star contacted AWL for comment on these matters, as journalistic rigour and ethics should have compelled them to do.

The issues which are actually at the centre of the debate around Dempsey’s remarks – how the left responds to nationalism; how to relate to far-right movements; the issue of “identity politics” and the relationship of struggles against oppression to economic struggle against capitalism; and more – are issues of vital and current importance that the entire left must debate openly. The Communist Party of Britain has its own views in those debates, and is entitled to use its organ, the Morning Star, to express them. But it should do so openly, and by engaging in the debate on political terms, not by deflection, slander, and insinuation against its political opponents.

Yours, the Executive Committee of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty

Today there is this from Another Europe is Possible:

More on Dempsey’s politics and political allies,

 

 

 

Pro-Brexit Rallies, Political Confusionism, from Tory Right, National Populist Left, to Anti-Semites.

with 8 comments

Star of the Anti-Brexit Show (Thanks Martin)

Paul Embery, FBU and the Arron Banks Backed Trade Unionists Against the EU.

…this does not mean that communists line up with Nigel Farage’s march on London. Then again, we do not mock it either – by the time it arrives in the capital on the symbolically significant date of March 29 it could be around the same size as the PV event.”

Weekly Worker. March for a national government

Some more of the democratic  chaps around yesterday:

 

Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, ex-Revolutionary Communist Party:

Institute of Ideas, ex-Revolutionary Communist Party Clare Fox.

 

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing

 

Such a contrast with this event:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 30, 2019 at 12:24 pm