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Opposing British Intervention in Syria: A Democratic Socialist Stand.

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This Blog believes that Her Majesty’s Government’s plans to join armed intervention in Syria are fundamentally misguided.

We also consider that much of the furore against  the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corybn,  is manufactured.

It is beyond sadness that a decision which will affect the lives of Syrians is affected by those who wish to stoke up opposition to the Party’s democratically elected head.

Those who wish to join National Labour and support David Cameron over this issue do so on the basis of, firstly, a misleading reading of the Labour Party Conference’s decisions on the issue, and, secondly, on a willful misunderstanding of the effects of the military operations in the Syrian civil war.

There is a large constituency of people who are opposed to the government and the wider international ‘coalition’ on this issue.

To those who point to the French Socialist President’s support for war we say with our comrades within the Front de gauche and France’s internationalist left: Non à la guerre !

This does not mean absolute opposition to all forms of intervention, including support for armed democratic players, above all the Kurdish PYD.

The below offer some ideas for how democratic socialists might develop a stand in line with Labour Party policy.

Labour Party Conference position.

Conference notes the evidence of an increased Russian military build-up in Syria; the announcement of talks between US and Russian military leaders aimed at avoiding the risk of clashes in Syria on Friday, 18th September; the meeting between the Israeli PM and Russian President in Moscow on Monday, 21st September, focused on preventing accidental conflict between their forces in Syria; and the growing international diplomatic effort to achieve a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Syria.

Conference also notes the likelihood that David Cameron will seek House of Commons support to extend UK participation in the bombing of Iraq to Syria in the near future.

Conference believes the Parliamentary Labour Party should oppose any such extension unless the following conditions are met:

  1. Clear and unambiguous authorisation for such a bombing campaign from the United Nations;
  2. A comprehensive European Union-wide plan is in place to provide humanitarian assistance to the increased number of refugees that even more widespread bombing can be expected to lead to;
  3. Such bombing is exclusively directed at military targets directly associated with ‘Islamic State’, noting that if the bombing campaign advocated by the British government in 2013 had not been blocked by the PLP under Ed Miliband’s leadership, ‘Islamic State’ forces might now be in control of far more Syrian territory, including Damascus.
  4. Any military action is subordinated to international diplomatic efforts, including the main regional powers, to bring the Syrian civil war to an end, since only a broadly-based and sovereign Syrian government can ultimately retake territory currently controlled by ‘Islamic State’.

Conference believes that only military action which meets all these objectives, and thus avoids the risk of repeating the disastrous consequences of the 2003 war in Iraq and the 2011 air campaign intervention in Libya, can secure the assent of the British people.

Important Comment from Shiraz Socialist.

Corbyn Must Back Labour’s Policy, Not the Stop the War’s. 

So it is clear that, on the basis of  Labour Party policy, Jeremy Corbyn would have little difficulty in motivating his opposition to Cameron’s plan for Britain to join the bombing campaign. Unfortunately, all too often Corbyn’s approach seems guided not so much by Labour Party policy, but by Stop The War’s. This means that he comes over as opposing any military action against ISIS/Daesh under any conceivable circumstances – and indeed, often gives the impression of doubting that they need to be fought at all.

The Stop The War Coalition position is at best bourgeois isolationist/anti-internationalist and at worse – as exhibited  in this article by a founder of Stop The War  ‘defeat imperialism, not isis‘ and by Stop The War tame celeb Mark Rylance – on ISIS not being enemies and “sitting down with them” – simply apologism for the fascists.

Equally, the idea that if only we only left “them” alone “they” wouldn’t attack “us” at home (put forward in one form or another, by Stop The War, Diane Abbott, and Corbyn himself) not only ascribes rational motives to these demented fascist nihilists but also ignores and insults the thousands of Syrians, Kurds and Iraqis murdered, enslaved and raped by ISIS.

Corbyn should break with the bourgeois isolationism and appeasement of  Stop The War, and make it clear that if the conditions set out by Party policy were met, he would not rule out military action. In addition (as John McDonnell has very wisely advocated) he should allow a free vote to avoid a damaging split in the PLP and Shadow Cabinet over the wrong issue.

The Tory Motion (from Labour Briefing).

The Tory motion…and Cameron’s “plan”

That this house notes that ISIL poses a direct threat to the United Kingdom;

  • further notes the clear legal basis to defend the UK and our allies in accordance with the UN Charter;
  • notes that military action against ISIL is only one component of a broader strategy to bring peace and stability to Syria;
  • welcomes the renewed impetus behind the Vienna talks on a ceasefire and political settlement;
  • welcomes the Government’s continuing commitment to providing humanitarian support to Syrian refugees; underlines the importance of planning for post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction in Syria;
  • welcomes the Government’s continued determination to cut ISIL’s sources of finance, fighters, and weapons; notes the requests from France, the US and regional allies for UK military assistance;
  • acknowledges the importance of seeking to avoid civilian causalities; using the UK’s particular capabilities;
  • welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 2249 which determines that ISIL constitutes an ‘unprecedented threat to international peace and security’ and calls on states to take ‘all necessary measures’ to prevent terrorist acts by ISIL and to ‘eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria’;
  • notes the Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations;
  • welcomes the Government’s commitment to provide quarterly progress reports to the House;
  • and accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government in taking military action, specifically airstrikes, exclusively against ISIL in Syria;
  • and offers its wholehearted support to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.

Link to the plan document: PM-Syria-Plan

 None of which answers this:

This report just how far from reality talk of a ‘coalition’ uniting these forces is:

EDDAH: Saudi Arabia has a crucial role to play in uniting the opposition in war-torn Syria during an international conference to be held in Jordan in mid-December, a UN official has said.

“I believe that the conference is very important. It would have a direct impact on the efforts aimed at starting a political process in Syria to put an end to the atrocities being committed there,” Jan Eliasson, deputy UN secretary-general, told the Al-Arabia news channel.

The Vienna meeting has urged Jordan to host the conference to decide which were the terrorist organizations among the warring groups, he said, adding that the Kingdom has been given the task to forge unity among the Syrian opposition.

 Eliasson said the UN was preparing for talks on Syria, which would be at the earliest. There is hope for a political process in that country, as long as there is an intensive dialogue between Moscow and Washington, he said, adding that the presence of Saudi Arabia and Iran on the negotiating table was very important.

 “Insurmountable atrocities have been committed in this war, resulting in awful sufferings,” Eliasson said.

 “It has placed a heavy burden on the shoulders of neighboring countries. It also allowed Daesh to dominate and shake the political map of Europe,” said Eliasson.

 “In my view, this war affects all of us. I also believe that now there is an acceptance of this reality,” he added.

“We have a very practical agenda. I hope that with the help of Saudi Arabia, we can determine the representatives of the opposition for peace talks,” said Eliasson.

Arab news.

Draft Resolution (from Facebook left activists).

We express our outrage at the recent atrocities by the far right political-religious movement ISIS/Daesh – and our solidarity with its victims.

We oppose Western bombing in Syria, and Russian bombing. Russia’s bombing is intended to bolster the murderous Assad regime. US bombing will serve only the aim of containing the conflict, with continued bloodshed until maybe the big powers can negotiate some deal (if that). It is the continuation of a policy which we cannot endorse, including the US’s record of destructive interventions in the region and its alliance with the Saudi Arabian, Turkish and other reactionary governments. British bombing in Syria will serve only the purpose of maintaining the UK’s position as a US ally.

We note that party conference policy set down criteria for military action in Syria which have not been met. More importantly, bombing will cause death and destruction while being no more likely to improve matters than bombing was, for instance, in Afghanistan. It can serve no rational purpose from the point of view of democracy or human rights. We call on Labour MPs to oppose bombing in Syria.

We support the beleaguered forces of democracy, secularism and the left against the Syrian regime, ISIS and the other sectarian militias. We support the Kurdish movement in its fight for self-determination against Assad, ISIS and the Turkish government. We support military aid to the Kurdish forces.

On the Kurdish issue and Syria more broadly see this post for food for thought: Anti-Imperialism for Dummies: Ignoring Syrians and Their Own Contradictions.

Right on cue one of the biggest dummies writes,

Our job is to defeat imperialism, not Isis Alex Callinicos. Socialist Worker.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 1, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Ken Livingstone Remembers those who Gave their Lives to Protest against the Invasion of Iraq.

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Remembering those who gave their lives in Protest at the Invasion of Iraq.

There are two powerful voices pushing people to support bombing Syria.

A couple of days ago Giles Fraser wrote,

War in time for Christmas is David Cameron’s plan. Yes, exquisitely timed to coincide with the Christian message of peace and goodwill to all. Yes, a perfect accompaniment to all those half-forgotten carols: “And man, at war with man, hears not, / The love-song which they bring: O hush the noise, ye men of strife, / And hear the angels sing.” Translated into the prosaically secular: we have no vision of peace.

Now Ken Livingstone has intervened.

He said on Question Time this week,

Mr Livingstone argued that David Cameron’s proposed air strikes against Isis in Syria were “too indiscriminate” and that the only way to defeat Isis would be with tens of thousands of ground troops – a move repeatedly ruled out by the Prime Minister

Livingstone also said.

In a heated debate on BBC One’s Question Time, he recalled the start of the Iraq invasion, saying that Tony Blair was advised that joining the US would make the UK a terror target.

“He ignored that advice and it killed 52 Londoners,” Mr Livingstone continued…

Jeremy Corbyn’s Defence adviser said out loud what the SWP and others , er, say even louder: those killed by Islamist bombers are the victims of imperialism, in this case, its agent, Tony Blair.

The former London Mayor also had a theme of religious sacrifice:

“Go and look at what they (the terrorists) put on their website did those killings because of our invasion of Iraq…they gave their lives, they said what they believed,” the former mayor of London said.

“They took Londoners’ lives in protest against our invasion of Iraq.”


It’s hard to not feel that, yes, it was an act of generosity, of martyrdom, of truth speaking to power…

Perhaps Giles Fraser could continue the lines of his Christmas Carol,

Glory to God in the highest
Glory to God evermore
Good news, great joy for all
Melody breaks through the silence

Marina Hyde in today’s Guardian, with Christian Charity, dissects Ken’s finely honed remarks.

Like Austin Powers after the cryogenic unfreezing process, Ken Livingstone has no inner monologue. Or if he had one, it was extinguished some time around 2006. The absence of any kind of filter makes Powers say out loud: “My God, Vanessa’s got a fabulous body … I bet she shags like a minx.” With Ken, it’s contemporaneous stuff, like how the 7/7 London terrorists “gave their lives” in protest. Although he can do the sexytime too: he once leered at a female journalist: “You should come home with me – I’m like a broom handle in the morning”. And still people persist in the nonsense that politics is showbiz for ugly people. If you’re not turned on by that, you’re either dead or a Tory. Which is the same thing – amirite, comrades?

She concludes,

Ken’s political superpower is a total inability to feel even a scintilla of shame, which is why he was back on the horse for his Question Time outing so quickly after last week’s forced apology, and will doubtless have something else groan-inducing up his sleeve for the runup to Christmas. Maybe Labour’s merchandise unit could produce a Ken-themed advent calendar, with a piece of signature artless spite behind each door. On 24 December, you get to open his brain and reveal the festive message: “Jesus was a terrorist. Now either get undressed or piss off.”

As Ken Livingstone stonewalls calls for his good self to piss off perhaps he will seek advice from his one-time Policy Director of Economic and Business Policy, John Ross, of the International Marxist Group.

Ross is a dab hand at putting a spin on difficult issues.

Recently he wrote, How China made the world’s largest contribution to human rights

China should be supported precisely because of its contribution to human rights. China has done more to improve the overall situation not only of its own people but of humanity than any other country in the world – as the facts show.

Ross, like Livingstone, is also a great patriot,

I love my country deeply, and the enormous contributions it has made to world culture and science…

The former London Mayor loves himself deeply as well.

Let’s hope that his Yuletide carol singing with Gilles Fraser is a happy one.

 Despite Fraser and Livingstone’s efforts the Tendance remains opposed to Cameron’s plans to intervene in Syria.

Meanwhile a very different left approach (which we signaled when it appeared in French) has now been translated.

It is absolutely essential reading:

Friday 27 November 2015, by François Sabado, Pierre Rousset.

Whatever the role of imperialism, the Islamic State is responsible for its actions.


All fundamentalist movements do not have the same bases, the same strategy. Are some of them, such as the Islamic State, fascists? They do not maintain the same (complex) relations with sectors of the imperialist bourgeoisies as in Europe in the 1930s, but they reproduce them with sectors of the bourgeoisie of “regional powers”, such as, in the Middle East, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey … They attract the “human dust” of decaying societies as well as elements of the “middle classes”, of a “petty bourgeoisie”, of educated workers. They use terror “from below” to impose their order. They dehumanize those who are different and make scapegoats of them, as yesterday the Nazis did with Jews, Gypsies or homosexuals. They eradicate all forms of democracy and of progressive people’s organizations. Religious exaltation occupies the same function as national exaltation in the interwar period and enables them, in addition, to deploy internationally


Written by Andrew Coates

November 28, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Say No To Blackmail: Oppose Bombing Syria.

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Say No to Resignation Blackmail: Labour Should Oppose Bombing Syria.

“L’objectif, c’est d’anéantir l’Etat islamique globalement”

The objective is to wipe out the Islamic State across the world.

John Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence. (Le Monde. 24.11.15)

The French government talks of a “hybrid world war” against Daesh. The first is on the battle-field in the Levant, against the Islamic “state being built”. The second is against terrorism, fought in the “shadows” world-wide, and by the state of emergency in France. The British government proposes to join the ‘coalition’ to play an aerial part in Syria. It will make Britain safer. Jeremy Corbyn refuses to take part in the conflict. It will male the UK less safe. Uniting with David Cameron leading figures in the Labour Shadow Cabinet, who back air strikes, threaten their Party and Leader. The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) brandishes the prospect of mass protests.

We have not been here before. Very few people are interested in demonstrating that the present US and French responses to the Syrian civil war are part of plans to extend the American Empire or the New Imperialism (Socialist Register. 2004 and 2005). Whether taking part in the conflict is integrated in a long-term strategy of “bomb and build”, covered by the rhetoric of humanitarian intervention, remains to be seen. For the moment minds are concentrated on the claims of the French government, made in response to the agony of the Paris murders, to take on Daesh.

Leading Labour politicians are, they say, standing on principle against Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to back the use of air power in Syria. The ability to find an incontestable line that will guide intervention amongst the multiple contenders, the external forces in play, is a rare talent. The belief that the way to resolve the conflict begins with wiping out the Islamic State (ISIS/Daesh) – is less common amongst specialists reporting and analysing the region.

The possibility of a democratic settlement sealed by the gathering coalition for military action has yet to be demonstrated. A list of those it would have to involve includes (to start with), the Baath Party and Assad, the Free Syrian Army, the non-Daesh Islamists, the Turkmen, Christians, the Kurds, free-lance militias, and all their contending backers, from the Gulf States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, the US, to France. The actions of Turkey alone, as shown in the last few days, with the shooting down of a Russian plane, indicate that the grounds for belief in an end to the fighting are not strong. That the players called to agree include tyrannies, religious or not, should encourage scepticism about their human rights intentions.

Anti-War Movement.

But if the Labour rebels are people of principle, then so are the StWC and its supporters.

The anti-war movement is still congratulating itself on condemning the Paris slaughter. These were ordinary people. They were not the wrong kind of leftists at Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish customers of the Hyper-Casher, murdered earlier this year in what many of them described as a response to French secularist Islamophobia. The StWC had, we have to say, tweeted about Paris reaping the “whirlwind” and the Socialist Workers Party had claimed that ultimately the dead were the victims of imperialist intervention in the Middle East. Some ventured that again it was AllAboutOil. But now they all condemn the attacks, if still trying to “understand” them. There even moral cretins around on the fringes who state, “The real terrorists are in power today across Europe and in the United States.” (Here) And many more are warning about more future murders at home if Britain joins in air strikes. Which concern them. Although the entirely justified US support for the Kurds, including air-strikes, which saved them in their hour of need,  does not get mentioned.

The anti-war movement is concerned about prejudice and attacks on Muslims in the wake of the Paris killings. Is it concerned about the deaths in Syria? Syrian democrats rightly point to the origins of the civil war in Assad’s refusal to contemplate democratic reform when the hopes of the Arab Spring reached their country. How will Jeremy Corbyn’s call for more negotiations produce a different result?

Violent Islamism is far from restricted to the Middle East. Its development there may well have been favoured by the failures of the Arab Spring, or, further back, of Arab left-wing nationalism. The West has its imprint. In the aftermath of Western intervention in Iraq, the sectarian conflicts (not least led by the Shiites), Daesh was born. But what of Tunisia, – latest bombing site – which now has a democratic state? Is this too experiencing ‘blow back’ for its imperialist involvement? Is Nigeria, scene of the largest number of Islamist terrorist killings, also caught up as a result of its place within the US Empire? Are Bangladeshi secularist bloggers paying the price for their country’s involvement in the Levant?


France’s ‘war of the shadows’ against Jihadist terrorism is equally unclear. Gilbert Achcar points to a domestic origin in France’s ‘banlieue’, the territorial, social and ethnic apartheid Prime Minister Valls has himself denounced. (Le Monde.26.11.15). The day before Olivier Roy talked of a restricted generational revolt, both by those of a Muslim background against traditional faith, and by converts who (unwilling to read left-wing literature) find it the only “radicalism” on offer. Their path is towards nihilism: fascination with death, pride in killing, and the accumulation of sexual slaves. In Daesh’s utopia, detached from Muslim society and religious tradition, is one long battle, in which they play the role of lowly troops. (Le Monde. 25.11.15) How any, by necessity, long-term plan to end the social exclusion that may have encouraged these willing recruits to the Islamic State’s Einsatzgruppen, could bear results is yet to be debated.

In Jafar Panahi’s Taxi Tehran (2015) the laws of an actually existing Islamic State, Iran, are discussed inside a cab. Film censorship, correct dress, hanging for theft, the film opens a window into life in a country ruled by religious law. The Sunnite version of this oppression, in Saudi Arabia, is even better covered in the media. The bigotry of political Islam, that is faith made into law and enforced on people’s daily life, is all too known across the world today. Countries like Iran, which still tries to export its ‘Revolution’, and Saudi Arabia, whose financial weight extends into Europe’s mosques and other Islamic institutions, have spread the belief that the Sharia and an ‘Islamic society’, are utopias. Their community has little place for non-Muslims, who have little place in these worlds. They are based on punishment. They united against unbelief. Whether there is an existential gulf between the ideology of the rulers of Tehran or Riyadh and that of Daesh and the world’s Jihadists, is hard for most people to tell.

Oppose Bombing.

What is certain is that David Cameron’s plans for Syria are as clear as mud. France has switched from Laurent Fabius’ (French Foreign Secretary) strategy of toppling Assad to allying de facto with him in weeks. President Hollande’s Defence Minister is open in advocating putting troops on the ground – how and which troops is not announced. (Le Monde. 22.11. 15) Yet moral outrage at those who urge caution is building. Moral indignation at bombing – when war is already raging, and when the indignant have less than straightforward alternatives – may not have a great echo. Nobody has any solid plans, for all the welcome US air support for the Democratic Forces of Syria, to help one of the few forces in the maelstrom the left can support, the Kurds of Northern Syria in the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), above all faced with Turkey. But let’s put it simply: the Coalition against Terror has no effective and sustainable solution that it can enforce militarily without massive loss of life and unsure future prospects.  We hope that Parliament refuses to go along with them.


Note: This is the Crucial Point in Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to Labour MP’s:

…the Prime Minister did not set out a coherent strategy, coordinated through the United Nations, for the defeat of ISIS. Nor has he been able to explain what credible and acceptable ground forces could retake and hold territory freed from ISIS control by an intensified air campaign.

In my view, the Prime Minister has been unable to explain the contribution of additional UK bombing to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian civil war, or its likely impact on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK.

For these and other reasons, I do not believe the Prime Minister’s current proposal for air strikes in Syria will protect our security and therefore cannot support it.

Labour List.

ISIS (Daesh) Must be Eliminated: Kurdish Worker-Communists’ Declaration.

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ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled

ISIS (Daesh) must be eliminated. This is our task. This is the task of the working class and its socialist movement

Address by Dashty Jamal, of the Worker Communist Party of Kurdistan to the AGM of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. November the 22nd.

Published by the, highly recommended,  libertarian Marxist site La Battaile Socialiste.

Dear Comrades,

I am glad to be here with you on behalf of Worker-communist Party of Kurdistan and Worker-communist Party of Iraq- Abroad Organisation I express our gratitude at being invited to your conference. We hope that this conference steps forward towards radical changes for workers. The AWL and our party have always had joint points in our struggle for gaining a better life for working people regardless of where they come from. The cooperation between us has ever helped us be keen to fight for our goals. At the same time we adopted necessary constructive criticism about any political stance we thought we needed to change for the benefit of our class struggle.

Today you are holding your conference at a chaotic time when working people are put under the military boots of the world bourgeoisie. Just look at what happens from the very heart of Europe to the Middle East and North Africa. There are many who think that we are experiencing a third world war. The warmongering policies of the American, European and Russian bourgeois governments directly led to military and political intervention in counties in the Middle East and North Africa. This policy has caused carnage; death of hundreds of thousands; havoc; displacement and devastating any trace of modern and urban society in those countries.

The world bourgeoisie supported the reactionary states of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Qatar, it has helped many Islamic groups under the name of “moderate Islamists” rise in America and Europe. These groups get massive financial supports either from the reactionary Islamic countries or American and European countries. These governments build mosques and other religious foundations under the name of multiculturalism and “respecting tolerance”? The paradox is clearly visible when we see that some of these foundations recruit for IS and other terrorist groups or nurture many suicide bombers in Europe itself. As we see this also revives racism in European countries in a very extreme level.

All this is the outcome of the aims of the world bourgeoisie and the imperialistic blocs, the USA and its allies in Europe and Russia and its allies. Their race is all about having control over the world, and divides the world between themselves. They compete on having their hegemony over other countries and expand their capital markets. They don’t care about the death of hundreds of thousands and destroying many parts of the world. It is not important for them to plunge the whole world in blood. As Marx put it this system is a like a vampire which sucks the life out of the working class.. But we have to do something. They must be stopped. They don’t fight IS; this vicious Islamic force is a project and they use it as a justification to achieve their goal. IS must be eliminated. This is our task. This is the task of the working class and its socialist movement.

We need a socialist platform to end the chaotic humanity lives in. We have to have a clear stance against imperialistic policy of the bourgeoisie and their state allies in the world and in the area. It is our duty to defend freedom, safety and stability of these societies. The working class and deprived mass must restore the political will to decide about their future and the political system, which can guarantee a dignified life. The freedom-loving people and the civilised humanity have the intention to put an end to this savage stage we are in. But the communists and the socialists must be in fore front of this struggle.

As far as Britain is concerned, we are overtly witnessing two different poles in our society. The Conservatives, who merged themselves into the imperialist pole and are a part of what happens in the Middle East, want to drive the British society into more dismal conditions. See how they cut the budget; follow austerity policies; cut social and housing benefits; increase tuition fees and so on. They are definitely supporting political Islam in Britain. We should undoubtedly stand against the Conservatives’ policy.

This is a chance to turn to the other pole, the working class, the left, and the socialists in Britain. Let me honestly say something about Labour Party. The election of Jeremy Corbyn is a turning point for the party and the whole society. His policy, for instance against cutting budget, refusing nuclear weapons, suggesting national education service, better health service, and so on, is good for the society. We have to support these and any other suggestions, which can lead to the betterment of people’s life. But we still need to ask ourselves: is the Labour Party socialist? Does it work for abolishing wage labour and thus gaining full equality between all humans? We are now talking about reformism and socialism. Is what is going on inthe Labour Party enough? To have a better life conditions is good, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to essential changes if we don’t have a strategy to do that. Reform can pave the way to socialism, but itself is not socialism. This is the boundary between us, as socialists, and the reformists. We need a worker revolution to end all what we have seen and experienced, a revolution leading to socialism.

We need now, more than ever, to polarise British society into capitalism and socialism. We need more than what is suggested till now. A socialist platform needs to be put before society: higher wages; lower work hours; better housing, free education and health services; stopping imperialist agenda; stopping support to the reactionary governments in the Middle East…. can be among many other demands. If we don’t have such a party that carries out such a strategic agenda, we might try to make the Labour Party a tribune for an independent socialist platform and strengthening a political and theoretical struggle to prevent that Labour Party goes towards right wing moreover.

We hope that your conference would insist on such a socialist strategy and platform. Good luck!

Long live socialism.

Comrade Jamal has also written this in June 2015 (Workers’ Liberty)

Where did ISIS come from?

His conclusions are important.

Some points worth fighting for

1. Mass resistance against ISIS, follow the example of Kobani people.

2. Establishing a secular and progressive government to guarantee the influence of the mass of people.

3. Changing the laws, all over the world, in favour of freedom and prosperity for all the humanity (wherever they are)

4. The universal support for freedom, secularism and mass resistance in the Middle East.

5. Immediately help all who have been displaced disregard from their religion or race. Any country which supported ISIS and especially Turkey must not only be condemned; but also  be interrogated.

6. To ask the France and European countries to grant asylum to Yazidis, Christians and every one forced to flee from ISIS.

7. Any activities and demonstrations by ISIS supporters must be opposed by the trade unions, community groups and political organisations. What they do does not constitute freedom of political thought; they advocate hatred and killing.

Tolerating these groups may give justification to other racist groups to flourish and spread hostility towards people from Muslim backgrounds.

8. As a part of maximum combat against ISIS, and its ideology, any financial support to the Islamic organisations and centers who work under the name of Islamic community must be cut. Their activities must be put under control. The religious schools must be shut down and mosques must not be allowed to be used as centres for nurturing terrorists.

After last night’s Channel Four, ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled  point 7 has particular resonance.

Tomorrow night, Channel 4 will broadcast an undercover investigation which has uncovered some of the key British women who are supporting Isis – right here in the UK. Led by young British Muslim reporters, the production team managed, over 12-months, to infiltrate an inner circle of British women glorifying jihadis and promoting extreme Isis ideology both online and directly to women and young impressionable girls – often in the presence of very young children.

Captured before the deadly attacks in Paris, the undercover footage shows female Islamic State sympathisers in Britain who, in weekly two-hour lectures in London, are: using racially abusive language to describe Jews and Israelis, telling young Muslim women Britain is waging a war against them and urging them to abandon democracy and travel to Syria to join ISIS.

One of the women the programme identifies is the former leader of the female wing of the banned terror group once known as al Muhajiroun whilst another is known to have resided with an extremist preacher, also a former member of Al Muhajiroun.

The three women, identify themselves as Umm Saalihah, Umm L and Umm Usmaan on Twitter. Two operate in positions of authority within their circles and lecture women in secretive study sessions.

They are first identified in the investigation after promoting pro-Isis ideology on social media platforms. After extensive direct messaging on Twitter and making key contacts at a demonstration outside Regents Park Mosque, the undercover reporter is able to meet them face-to-face at an Islamic roadshow on Lewisham High Street, London. Gaining their trust, she is able to join them at their closely-guarded women-only study sessions which are strictly by invitation only.

The investigation was brought to a close four weeks before the attacks on Paris when the women – who were all established close contacts – became suspicious of the undercover reporter. The leader of the study circles Umm L challenged the reporter, preventing her from leaving unless they can look through her possessions. Eventually the reporter was able to leave but was banned from future contact and attending future sessions.

You can Watch the Documentary Here.

This is also extremely important: Les attentats du 13 novembre à Paris : la terreur de l’Etat islamique, l’état d’urgence en France, nos responsabilités 22 novembre 2015, par ROUSSET Pierre, SABADO François – the authors of some of the best writing and thinking in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper-Cacher massacres.  The present analysis is simply brilliant., working with the premises of solidarity with the victims and “ Quel que soit le rôle de l’impérialisme, l’Etat islamique est responsable de ses actes”.

Left Unity Conference: Leading Figures Leave, LU to Remain a Party, but not Stand Parliamentary Candidates.

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Influential Republican Socialists Predicted Split.

At its Conference Left Unity had decided to remain a party but for time being will not stand in any parliamentary elections, in order to support Jeremy Corbyn.

In the lead-up to the debates Steve Freeman, the leader of the important Republican Socialist tendency, argued, in his hebdomadal column in the Weekly Worker, that,

Left unionists and anti-unionists cannot be in the same party – that much is obvious. It is also clear that Labourites and republicans should not be in the same party. We have mixed and matched these politics in one organisation for a while. That time has now come to an end. Objectively it is time for a split. I do not see this happening at Left Unity conference. The most likely outcome is that the hard right will defeat the soft left and LU will agree to try to affiliate to the Labour Party. This will prove one more step on the road to dissolution. Better to have a clean break.

Steve Freeman
Left Unity, Rise and Old Southwark Against the Corn Laws.

On Friday the Morning Star reported.

A LEADING member of Left Unity has called for the party to be dissolved in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.

Salman Shaheen, one of four principal speakers, has tabled a motion ahead of tomorrow’s party conference that would pull the plug just two years after it was founded with the support of director Ken Loach.

The motion calls for Left Unity to “dissolve itself as a political party which contests elections at any level” and form a network of activists that could include Labour members.

Mr Shaheen said: “We are committed to doing what we can to support the politics Jeremy Corbyn stands for, and that we have in common with him.

“The question is how best to do it and that is what we will be discussing.”

It is more likely though that Left Unity and CND general secretary Kate Hudson’s motion will be passed.

She suggests the national executive should “reassess” the party’s electoral strategy but continue as a party.

Morning Star.

On Slugger O’Toole, Barton Creeth comments on the Conference itself,

Despite an acknowledgement of common cause, Left Unity, the party that last year tabled a motion to recognise the “progressive potential” of ISIS, decides not to formally dissolve and join Labour.

Left Unity, a far-left political party set up with the help of filmmaker Ken Loach, debated today whether to dissolve and join Labour. The party, set up in 2013, stood candidates against Labour in May, but since Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership election victory, Left Unity has experienced mass resignations.

Noting similar aspirations and common cause, Motion 2A states that “We believe the movement that swept Jeremy Corbyn to victory has its manifestation both inside and outside the Labour Party and this will continue to be the case.” Some Labour Party activists on Twitter expressed support for Left Unity to join forces as part of Corbyn’s Labour. Despite this, only 10 Left Unity members voted today to dissolve the party, as reported by party secretary, Tom Armstrong on Twitter.

During the conference last year, members of Left Unity debated a motion recognising the “progressive potential” of Islamic State. The motion added that the Islamic State’s call for a pan-Islamic caliphate to replace other Muslim states was “an authentic expression of … anti-imperialist aspirations”. The motion, which noted that the Caliphate represented an alternative political vision to other “brutal regimes” in the region, argued “the European Left has to acknowledge and accept the widespread call for a Caliphate among Muslims as valid and an authentic expression of their emancipatory, anti-imperialist aspirations.” The motion was voted down.

The conference also saw a motion today calling for the dissolution of the army the the formation of popular militias. The motion reads, “Left Unity is against the standing army and for the armed people. This principle will never be realised voluntarily by the capitalist state. It has to be won, in the first place by the working class developing its own militia.”

As of writing, I’m not sure which direction the party has chosen take on this issue.



Left Unity has attracted many respected and dedicated activists. It has had many important policies – including an internationalist approach to backing a transformed European Union and broader opposition to nationalism.

Their decision to work closely with Momentum raises a number of interesting questions.

If LU is not standing Parliamentary candidates against Labour, will it continue to stand council candidates against the Labour Party on a pick and choose basis? How will this help Momentum  win support inside the Party?

Perhaps the public threat of rival candidates will both increase its audience amongst the mainstream of the Party and win over wavering councillors to adopt LU’s opinions……

We await for the full report from Labour Party Marxists – in the Esperanto original – explaining the way out of this conundrum.




Written by Andrew Coates

November 22, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Andrew Fisher: Solidarity!

with 9 comments

Andrew Fisher, Respected and Much-Liked Comrade.

Everybody has had a go at Andrew Fisher over the last few days.

I haven’t heard complaints from Ipswich yet, a non-1% elite town which Andrew visited earlier this year.

He came and talked to the Ipswich Trades Council and the Suffolk People’s Assembly on anti-austerity economics.

Fisher’s message is summed up in this review of his book, The failed experiment and how to build an economy that works. (2014)

With eloquence and passion Fisher argues debt and growth are not the real issues, the economic problems we face are in fact “the consequence of political decisions”. The conditions that neoliberalism demands in order to supposedly free human beings from the slavery of the state – minimal taxes, the dismantling of public services and welfare, deregulation, the breaking of union.

Those listening to him didn’t go to Cambridge. But they included trade unionists, teachers, clerical and manual workers, retired people, Labour Party members, and supporters of socialist groups, Greens and anti-cuts activists.

We were distinctly impressed – and he’d travelled all the way from the wilds of Sarf London to speak to us.

As Labour Briefing is one the best read left weeklies round here we are equally pleased to see his contributions in the paper.

The Guardian lays down the present charges:

Jeremy Corbyn is under mounting pressure to dismiss his policy adviser, Andrew Fisher, as a second, stinging letter of complaint about his past support for candidates from other parties was leaked to the Observer.

Fisher was suspended by Labour general secretary Iain McNicol on Friday, two weeks after Emily Benn, former parliamentary candidate for Croydon South, lodged a complaint to the party, saying Fisher backed the Class War candidate in her constituency ahead of the general election in May.

In a move that angered many at the top of the party, Corbyn said he still “had full confidence” in Fisher who would continue to work for him, though he respected the “integrity” of the general secretary’s office.

But in a new blow to Corbyn’s defence of his aide, the Observer has obtained another letter sent on Tuesday to McNicol from a former treasurer and executive member of the Labour party in Brighton, Peter van Vliet, about separate alleged instances of Fisher backing rival candidates. Van Vliet protested “in the strongest possible terms” that Fisher had encouraged people to back Green candidates before the 2010 general election. The Greens’ Caroline Lucas went on to take the Brighton Pavilion seat from Labour with a majority of just 1,252 votes.

Van Vliet told McNicol he found it “unacceptable that Mr Fisher is now allowed to remain a party member” because he urged people to consider supporting parties other than Labour.

After Benn’s complaint, Fisher apologised for putting out a tweet in August 2014 which said: “FFS if you live in Croydon South, vote with dignity, vote @campaignbeard.” @Campaignbeard was the Class War candidate’s Twitter account. Fisher maintained that the tweet was a joke and did not indicate his support for Class War at the time, a line since backed in public by Corbyn’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

The Sun helpfully adds to the list,

JEREMY Corbyn’s top aide was suspended last night over footage of him admitting he was tempted to beat up a former Labour bigwig.

The Sun played the party a video of Andrew Fisher saying he was tempted to “thump” ex-cabinet minister James Purnell for not being left-wing enough.

He was filmed saying “It took every sinew of my self-discipline not to thump him” over his views on welfare reform.

The wider context is well-covered by Phil here: Andrew Fisher’s suspension isn’t about rule-breaking – it’s about factional struggle.

These are some more points.

  • James Purnell – involved in a serious Expenses scandal – was Work and Pensions Secretary from 2009 – 2009 (when he resigned, claiming disagreements with Gordon Brown – but see previous link). As such he presided over the Flexible New Deal – the precursor of the present Work Programme. It was based on the principle that rpivate companies would ‘provide’ the programme for the out of work, and that they would be put into “work placements” – unpaid work. This is how the Guardian represented his policy in 2008, “James Purnell accused of introducing US ‘workfare’ with benefits reform. Work and pensions secretary says under white paper proposals virtually everyone claiming benefits will have to do something in return”. It may be imagined that it was not only Andrew Fisher who took a dislike to the man.
  • The ‘Class War Tweet was made in August 2014. That is pretty far outside of the General Election. Now, much as the Tendance likes Ian Bone, Class War is generally considered something of a joke on the left. Not, indeed, as funny as the Posadists. But pretty amusing.  Note to Labour Party, the Tendance  has tweeted backing for J. Posadas’ views on Communist Flying Saucers and intelligent dolphins.
  • That Andrew said some nice things about Carolyn Lucas and some Green Party policies,  is something he shares with about 99% of the British left – excepting steel-hardened comrades like Andrew Coates. He did not back the Green Party.

There is quite a list of other notorious “tweets” (here).

For once Ken Livingstone has followed the Tendance’s lead (on our own Tweets and Facebook).

He suggested on Channel Four yesterday that Andrew Fisher was ‘aving a larf.

As also suggested here: Andrew Fisher’s comedy career is all over. David Osland.

Odd, innit, that when right-wing gits make off-colour remarks this is proof of what great characters they are.

When a lefty shows a bit of rancour, and humour…all hell breaks lose.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2015 at 12:56 pm

Another small group, Independent Socialist Network, to join Labour: is this the way to win backing for Marxism?

with 8 comments

Another Group Joins Labour? 

Rethinking Labour: More of the same or change of course?

Nick Wrack is a respected socialist activist who has long argued for a new Marxist party in Britain.

He is part of the Independent Socialist Network.

The history of that current is extremely complex even by the high left’s standards (for those who so wish they can look at its site,  here.)

Like many he is deeply impressed by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, which he describes as a “game changer for left-wing politics in Britain”.

If I may jump over the article this is something he is not impressed with,

We have considered it worthwhile participating in TUSC and standing candidates against Labour in the hope that this could be a springboard to the formation of a new party. However, that is clearly not going to happen. It puts a negative over the whole project, even more so now that Corbyn has won the leadership of the Labour Party. TUSC will obtain even worse votes in the short term and standing to obtain risible votes cannot even be justified with the argument that it is to lay the basis of building a new party. In these circumstances it is time, in my opinion, to draw a line in our participation in TUSC.

A similar situation exists now with Left Unity. Left Unity has politics no different from Corbyn, so why would any of them join it? Why join a party of 1,500 when you can join a party of hundreds of thousands, with millions of affiliated trade unionists? Its perspective for any meaningful contribution to the socialist cause is minimal, if that.

It is unlikely, we note, that these failures are due to the following, causes which he mentions,

  • No group will give up its claim to be “the one true socialist party”. As result they cannot achieve, “unification of Marxists into a single organisation.”
  • The various socialist groups have sought to limit the nature of the project to essentially reformist policies, while presenting themselves as the ‘real’ socialists.
  • In Left Unity, Socialist Resistance and other non-aligned Marxists actively prevented clear socialist aims and principles being incorporated into the party constitution, preferring to blur the distinction between socialists and social democrats because they don’t want to put anyone off.

A simpler explanation is that these ideas have little connection to social reality and popular thinking.

One might say (with reference to, Lars T.Lih. Lenin Rediscovered. 2008) that Wrack’s view is based on the common ground of Erfurt Marxism (which could be said to be shared by the pre-Third International Lenin and social democratic Second International). That is,  that the “good news” of socialism has to be brought to people by democratic politics  ((Wrack’s group has always insisted on this point, in distinction from vanguardist Leninist groups),  debate on Marxist analysis (or socialism more widely) and activism.

In this respect it is clearly false for Wrack to claim that there are “two incompatible political ideologies – revolutionary socialism-communism versus reformist social democracy (which) – have existed in opposition since the second half of the 19th century.”

It would take many pages, of earnest theoretical and scholastic debate to determine what is ‘Marxism’, but the line between “revolutionary socialism-communism” and “reformist social democracy” is pretty minor compared to the distinction between Stalinism and democratic socialism.

In reality there is no one ‘Marxism’. There are Marxisms.

Where there is a fault line on the left and between Marxists, it lies in the difference between those who wish to emphasise the importance of political liberty, before and after the winning of political power by socialist parties, and those who believe that everything – including liberty – has to take second place to gaining and sustaining that power. We could go further and say that some of the latter still believe in the ‘actuality of the revolution’ – its continued presence ready to spring into life and led to victory the right manoeuvres of small left groups. Democratic socialism is the belief that we proceed by consent and by voting to a “revolution” in social structures and culture, not an imposed political leadership, or by violence – which as our founders said, was only justified against  “slave holders'”.violent opposition.

That kind of democratic Marxism is only one strand amongst an increasingly bewildering number of other left themes, third-wave feminism, the renewed  egalitarian social democracy of the people around Pierre Rosenvallon in France,  of the vast variety of Greens, radical democrats, other-globalisation theorists, supporters of décroissance and a host of other other left ideologies,  from the broad appeal of democratic secularist anti-racism, to other ideas, with a more limited audience, such post-Negri autonomism and the tradition stemming from Cornelius Castoriadis.

To varying degrees all these ideas exist within trade unions (the ultimate ‘reformist’ bodies), and parties like the Labour Party, the French left bloc, the Front de gauche, and a long list of European left and social democratic parties.

If Marxist ideas have any value it is not because they are ‘Marxist’ but because there are Marxist researchers and activists who can help develop a democratic socialist strategy and practical policies for achieving  – amongst a very very long list:

  • an egalitarian and socialist  response to neo-liberal economics based on the classical premises of class struggle politics: in the conditions of vastly changed class structures.
  • policies that offer a democratic transformation of the European Union.
  • policies that democratise the state: end the system of farming public functions (welfare, health onwards) off to private rentiers and take them under democratic control.
  • Workers’ rights, social rights, and the whole galaxy of human rights based on popular movements, not NGO’s lists of ideas.
  • the goal of the “an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

A creative left current, with an input from all these sources cannot be reduced to ‘Marxism’.

  • There is no evidence that “true” socialism exists in which the left can unite on the basis of Marxist doctrine. There are varieties of socialist politics and parties, many of which are incompatible No democratic socialist would want to be part of a party based on the kind of democratic centralism practised in the SWP or Socialist Party. Their version of Leninism is not accepted as ‘true’ Marxism either.
  • Out of experience many on the left would not touch these parties and their various ‘fronts’ with a barge pole.

We can imagine that it’s the fact that Wrack is part of the movement, and an activist, which had the main pull in the following analysis.

Having said that, there is an enormous battle taking place now within the Labour Party and the Trade Unions. This battle is going to intensify over the next year. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are principled social democrats. They do not, in my opinion, put forward a programme for overthrowing capitalism or for establishing a socialist society. But they are sincere and honest supporters and defenders of the working class and its interests. They support workers on strike; they support workers in protest; they stand up for the poor, the migrant and those on welfare. Arrayed against them is the whole of the capitalist class, the media and their echoes in the Labour Party and trade unions.

Marxists cannot stand aside in this battle and say, “It’s nothing to do with us.” Marxists participate in all aspects of the class struggle. Marxists must do everything we can to defend Corbyn and McDonnell, while engaging in a thoroughgoing criticism of their programme. We must defend Corbyn and McDonnell but fight for socialist policies. I do not have the space here to develop details points of programmatic criticism but fundamentally the issue boils down to what Corbyn is attempting to do differently from Syriza. How can Corbyn succeed where Tsipras failed? In my opinion, the weaknesses of the Syriza approach are present in Corbyn’s programme. How can we alter this to strengthen the movement for change?

Or perhaps not.

Activism seems to get downplayed in favour of, the no-doubt to be welcomed, “through-going criticism”

I spelled out some aspects of disagreement in an earlier article. I think that both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have already made too many concessions or compromises, in a vain attempt to appease their opponents in the Parliamentary Labour Party, where they are in a small minority. But they cannot hope to win the battle they face in the Labour Party on the basis of the PLP. It seems that they have understood the need to base themselves on their support outside the PLP and have set up Momentum to organise that support. Momentum has to develop into a genuinely democratic organisation in which its members can influence policy and tactics.


For all these reasons I am now of the opinion that all Marxists should, at the very least, join Momentum. We can play a key role in helping to defend Corbyn and defeating the right. Where possible, therefore, Marxists should also join Labour. This is best done as an organised group, rather than as individuals. The purpose of joining is two-fold: to strengthen the forces in defence of Corbyn and against the rightwing in Labour and the trade unions and to argue for a Marxist ideas in the mass movement around Corbyn. There is no knowing how long this battle may last or what the outcome will be. Those coming into Momentum and into the Labour Party will include thousands of people who simply want change. But many will have no clear idea of what that change should be or how it can be accomplished. Marxists have to engage with the debate. What change? How can it be achieved? What programme is necessary?


The ISN will seek to organise all independent socialists in and out of the Labour Party who want to fight for Marxist ideas in the labour movement and we will work with all who see the need ultimately to build a mass united socialist party based on Marxist ideas.

It is hard to not see just how far this analysis from the ILN is from reality.

  • How is Momentum going to change the Labour Party? Is is going to act as an organised group that will take control over local Labour parties, and Council groups, on the basis of ‘debate’? How will this work within the slow process of Labour Party internal democracy? How on earth will this group actually oeprate within, say Policy Forums, CLPs? As an alternative party or as a simple current of ideas?
  • How will they cope with set-backs? The experience of ‘new’ politics, from Podemos onwards, indicates that ‘new’ democratic methods are hard to create, and frankly, the rhythm of Labour Party internal life is going to be an obstacle to anybody wanting instant political gratification.
  • How will they appeal to the large centre-ground inside the Labour Party which has to be convinced on solid grounds of the reasonableness of the new politics? The sudden arrival of new people, who campaigned against Labour in the General Election, eager to give advice, is, perhaps not likely to impress everybody. A simple thought: you have show respect for your opponents, even work for their election in councils, and so forth. Will the ILN manage that?

It is hard to not to think that some people on the left, with limited experience of how the Labour Party actually works, and the inevitable disappointments for those with simple and clear goals of “defending” Corbyn, are going to get frustrated and bitter very quickly.