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Morning Star Warms of Labour ‘Thermidor” and Attacks ‘Neoliberal” Keir Starmer’s “Bat Squeaks”.

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Communists Advising on Labour Strategy: “Starmer’s base is, “metropolitan stratum that derives from socially liberal and economically unadventurous middle-class values”.

The Morning Star, wholly independent of the Communist Party of Britain and owned by the Co-op gives prominent space to the views of one Nick Wright, responsible for the Communist Party of Britain’s media work, (and a former member of Straight Left)  on Labour Party “contradictions”.

Make no mistake — the competition is between the neoliberal wing and the class conscious wing of the party, writes NICK WRIGHT

Two poles of understanding seem to be emerging. On one hand we have a liberal pole of which the best exemplar is Starmer. This is gaining an impressive number of constituency nominations in meetings which, by some accounts seem older and reinforced by those who departed the scene after Jeremy Corbyn renewed his leadership and now see their Thermidor.

“Thermidor”, a word that has strayed from supporters of  Red Flag to the Morning Star (” Starmer represents the victory of the Thermidorian reaction”)

The word was used by Trotsky to refer to the way Stalin establish his power to rein in the Russian Revolution. It quickly fell out of use when it was pointed out that the ‘Thermidor’ which put an end to the Terror in the French Revolution, was not only inappropriate for a rule that vastly expanded the terror in the USSR, it  referred to the way one fraction of radical bpeurgeisie and its allies, during the bourgeois revolution was replaced by another, bourgeois,fraction. (1)

Is Wright suggesting that Corbyn led a bourgeois revolution, or a new Soviet Revolution  and that its gravedigger is in the wings?

One the other hand we have a more explicitly socialist pole given clearest expression by Rebecca Long Bailey.

What is important here are the bat-squeaks. These are emitted at such a high frequency that to hear them requires devoted attention. Comrade Starmer has doubled down on his pledges to respect the Corbyn heritage and presents a package of policies modelled in all surface appearances on the most distinctive elements in the 2017 and 2019 manifestos.

Cde Wright battens onto his favourite candidate,

These, by contrast,  are the politics we need,

 ….a more thoroughgoing critique of capitalism, encapsulated in classically class-conscious language and predicated on an assumption that fighting for these policies is an existential challenge to the main features of contemporary British capitalism……

Rebecca Long Bailey has made a good job of clothing this class perspective in the kind of thought-out detail that can convince the electorate. Her command of the Green New Deal, which she authored, must be a central feature of Labour’s pitch whoever comes out on top in the leadership contest.

The Green New Deal has not been a surefire winner for European left parties.

Benoît Hamon scored  6.36% of the vote in the French Presidential election, as the Parti Socialiste candidate,  after making this, dubbed “ecological transition”, a central part of his platform.

He won a 3,27% and no seats in the 2019  European election after his splinter group, Génération.s ran a list in co-operation with DieM25 and others,   which centred on the issues, called the “federalist European Green New Deal”.

The Podemos breakway Más País, led by  Íñigo Errejón has also given priority to the “La transición ecológica”.

After repeated failure (in the  2019 Spanish General Eleciton they got 2.40% of the vote  3 seats in the Spanish Parliament)  they have now retreated back to their Madrid bases, or “put in a draw” as the Spanish press puts it, “Errejón guarda Más País en un cajón“).

But nothing douses Wright’s ethusiasm for Long-Bailey.

What a contrast, he laments, with Keir Starmer,

Starmer’s particular appeal (as was Thornberry’s) to a spectrum of opinion that wants to move on from, away from, or even reverse Corbyn’s positions is clothed in the cultural and linguistic signifiers of a metropolitan stratum that derives from socially liberal and economically unadventurous middle-class values.

As they say down at the Slaughtered Lamb, “wot bleeding linguistic signifiers are these? How do they, deal with the Brexit “contradiction between working-class priorities and middle-class values”? More like Starmer embodies “the class interests of the dominant section of Britain’s capitalist class underpinned the Remain campaign and the People’s Vote device.”

In a master stroke Wright show’s the issues at stake, “if this leadership contest results in a more-clearly articulated distinction between the liberal pole in Labour politics and the class-politics pole so much the better.”

On Lisa Nanday he has these kind words,

But the logic of her challenge has compelled her to re-energise several strands of traditionally reactionary politics in British Labour. The result is a cacophony of conflicting messages which are acquiring coherence only by her now more-precisely articulated reactionary ideas.

This Blog will not deal with his further reflections as surely the news turns that, hope against hope, a window opens for Labour to “emulate Corbyn at his best.”

Rebecca long-Bailey is said to be gladdened at this response to her heartfelt appeal.

Labour can look forward to Corbyn’s winning advice for a long time to come!

Meanwhile in East Anglia:

The signatories include Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere, the leader of the Labour opposition at Suffolk County Council Sarah Adams and the Labour group leaders on both East and West Suffolk councils Peter Byatt and Diane Hind.

 

Here

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(1) On this point, and why Trotskyists questioned the term see: Chapter 1. Michel Lequenne. Le Trotskisme, une histoire sans fard (2018 edition)

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 21, 2020 at 1:20 pm

Internationalist Left: Laura Parker, former Momentum Chief and Jeremy Corbyn Aide, Backs Keir Starmer.

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The pro-European, internationalist, left is backing Keir Starmer.

The internationalist left, as indicated by Laura Parker’s public stand,  is moving towards Starmer.

 

Laura Parker: Why I’m backing Keir Starmer for Labour leader

She was at the 2018 AEIP National Conference.

Parker’s support reflects the way that radical human rights supporters and internationalists have their place in Starmer’s unity campaign.

More support for Starmer comes from Susan Press, a well-known and respected figure on the Labour left.

Susan Press, Keir Starmer for Labour Leader

It is hard to part company with comrades on the left but the truth is it was crystal clear we were heading for catastrophe and we didn’t have an oven-ready candidate experienced enough to replace Jeremy. Had the result not been such a disaster, there was a lingering if unlikely hope that John McDonnell (who had actually wanted to be Leader and would have commanded support still) might be persuaded to stand. But that ship sailed with Johnson’s 80-seat majority.

These days I am not just a Labour Left activist. As a councillor for the past six years I represent a ward in West Yorkshire with two food banks and a lot of deprivation. But there are also people who are doing OK, people who didn’t vote for us last time or even vote at all. We need all of them on board to stand any chance at all of clawing back ground – let alone forming a government.

Does the PLP bear any responsibility for this? Sure they do. However the turn the Party as a whole took after the so-called chicken coup by MPs didn’t just lose us support. It spawned a bunker mentality and understandable determination to protect the leadership from the top right down to the grassroots. It got toxic. Very. Any criticism of Corbyn and you were a Tory. Anti-semitism was an invention (trust me as a member of the NCC, it wasn’t). Any concerns about election prospects were dismissed on an increasingly hysterical social media amid the cries of ‘bring it on’ and JC4PM. To be frank a lot of it was delusional. And as much to blame as Brexit for what followed.

This is Susan’s analysis of what we face at present.

So here we are with another leadership campaign. But it is not 2015. What made that campaign so amazing was its message of hope and authenticity from someone who had spent his life in the labour movement. Someone who didn’t have to keep saying the s-word as everyone knew he was a socialist and always had been. We wanted a fundamental shift in the Labour Party after years of watering down our values and we were right even if it went wrong in the end. Hindsight is easy and luck wasn’t on our side as neither was the media but that has always been the case even if this time it was unprecedentedly vile. A lot of mistakes were also made by the LOTO office according to those closer to the coal face and all that will no doubt be revealed in due course. However there has been a game-changing shift. Which may help us in the difficult years ahead.

Not one of the leadership candidates could in all honesty be described as on the right of the Party. And whatever silliness is being said about ‘ true’ and ‘proper’ socialists, after 40 years on the left of the Party I am not buying the line there is only one candidate we can vote for. Truth is there is not a batsqueak policy-wise between them.

So like that well-known Blairite Paul Mason I am voting for Keir Starmer – the candidate who has best chance of inspiring trust and convincing the unconvinced to come home to Labour. Who can cope with the pressure and take Johnson apart at the dispatch box and hold him to account when Brexit unravels. And, with no disrespect to the others, someone with a much longer track-record of standing up for human rights and social justice.

 

When you wish upon a Starmer

Keir Starmer received another big boost to his leadership bid when Laura Parker wrote a piece for LabourList yesterday about why she was endorsing him. Why is this significant? Parker was national coordinator of Momentum until just two months ago, and previously worked as Jeremy Corbyn’s private secretary. As you will know, Momentum is backing Rebecca Long-Bailey for the leadership and its chair, Jon Lansman, is director of her campaign.

This news is also remarkable when you think that Parker was working in the Labour leader’s office at the time that the mass shadow cabinet resignation and subsequent leadership challenge took place in 2016. These factors make Parker’s support the clearest realisation so far of Starmer’s broad appeal within the party – and it offers another example of the recent fragmentation of the Labour left. Of course, it would be remiss not to note that Brexit – with Parker and Starmer being on the same side – continues to play a huge role in this shake-up of factional allegiances.

The warring fragments of the left opposed to Starmer are still at it!

The Morning Star compares Starmer to Neil Kinnock…..but in reality  they are speaking for Kinnock’s pro-Brexit son.

We have been here before. Back in the 1980s when Kinnock became leader he believed in public ownership, he believed in unilateral disarmament, he had principles — or so we thought. But by the time his second general election came in 1992 he had long jettisoned them (and we still lost).

At this stage I have less faith in Starmer than I did when Kinnock became leader in 1983. You see it all comes down to who appears more electable.

This ‘betrayal narrative’ shows just how desperate the old comrades of Andrew Murray (who has just left as a Corbyn top aide)  have got.

They ignore the damage their own pro-Brexit campaigns, reflected through the influence of the  ‘corridor clique’ around Corbyn, have been to Labour’s vote in the December election.

 

The revolutionary socialists of Counterfire are another group of crystal ball gazers.

They consider, after a heap of slurs on Starmer’s human rights record,  and the claim that being against the hard-right Brexit project was wrong, that,

If Keir Starmer were to win, he would take Labour back to the centre-ground that proved so disastrous for Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and social democracy across Europe and beyond. He is no friend of the left and no committed socialist should vote for him.

Unlike the left’s  friends of the less than a hundred strong Counterfire.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 20, 2020 at 12:06 pm

Progressive Patriot Long-Bailey, “Our role now is to set out a positive vision of what Great Britain looks like outside of the European Union.” as she fuels Trans Row.

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Path to Power: Positive Vision of Great Britain, and Continued Labour Row over Trans Rights.

 

Apart from these comments, which included a call, despite her “personal view”,and support for some voting rights,  to be “pragmatic” about ending freedom of movement, Long Bailey also poured petrol on the fire by announcing this,

Rebecca Long-Bailey says women’s refuges must accept trans women and urges Labour members to ‘stop having this debate’

Rebecca Long-Bailey has vowed to change the law to prevent women’s refuges excluding trans women, telling Labour members to “stop having this debate”.

The leadership candidate explained her stance after signing up to a campaign to “fight” women’s groups deemed to be “transphobic” and for offending party members to be expelled.

“There is no conflict between rights of women and the protection of women, and safety in particular places, and trans rights,” Ms Long-Bailey argued.

“And we need to stop having this debate within this party on that basis….there doesn’t need to be a differentiation between the two.”

She called for changes to the 2010 Equality Act, which allows exclusions from women-only spaces, saying: “I want a right to self id [identification] for trans people, it’s not an easy journey to go on.”

It was put to Ms Long-Bailey that female victims of domestic violence have spoken of their “debilitating terror” and of the vital importance of a woman-only refuge.

But she replied: “We can’t use that as an argument to discriminate against transpeople.”

The BBC’s Andrew Marr suggested that – if holding such views triggered expulsion – “an awful lot of good feminists inside the Labour party would be caught by this”.

He quoted Jess Phillips’ support for women-only spaces, asking: “Jess Phillips could be kicked out of the Labour party if Rebecca Long-Bailey becomes leader?”

 

The contest’s leftwing candidate replied she didn’t believe her former rival had said “anything transphobic” and said it was “right to listen to concerns about domestic abuse”.

The interview laid bare how the controversy has exploded into the leadership debate, after Ms Long-Bailey signed the 12-point charter put forward by a group called Labour Campaign for Trans Rights.

Is the demand that people stop speaking Long-Bailey’s final word?

 

Women’s Place say,

Rebecca Long-Bailey on Marr this morning questioned about signing the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights pledge and repeatedly challenged over whether she thought WPUK was a transphobic hate organisation. She swerved a lot but one thing is clear: she supports self-ID and the removal of the single-sex exemptions in the Equality Act (even though the Labour Party manifesto says it will uphold them). From 49.46.

 

Will she answer this call?

Woman’s Place UK demands evidence for allegation on pledge card signed by some candidates

Labour leadership candidates who signed a pledge calling several organisations “trans-exclusionist hate groups” are facing demands to produce evidence for the allegation.

A row over a pledge card drawn up by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights group broke out last week after Rebecca Long-Bailey, Emily Thornberry and Lisa Nandy, as well as deputy leadership candidates Angela Rayner and Dawn Butler, all expressed support for the charter. It calls on Labour to expel “transphobic” members, and describes campaigns including Woman’s Place UK as “trans-exclusionist hate groups”.

Woman’s Place UK has now written to the leadership figures demanding to see the evidence behind the claim. The group has also written to the candidates who have not signed the pledge, asking to meet them to discuss the growing row. It said none of the candidates had yet replied.

Business Insider reported yesterday,

The Labour party will lose the next general election if it elects an “establishment” leader like Keir Starmer, the Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey has told Business Insider, in her strongest attack yet on the frontrunner to replace Jeremy Corbyn.

In a clear reference to Starmer, who is currently leading the race to become the UK’s official opposition party leader, leadership candidate Long-Bailey said that Labour risks making the mistake of thinking “you [can just] put on a nice suit and be a bit suave and think that’s a route into Downing Street.

She continued this personal attack.

Long Bailey seemed to suggest that the Tories love Starmer.

The above Toff, Stramer, has not signed up to the purge call but he has backed this:

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Communist Party of Britain Hails “achievement” of Leaving the European Union.

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Peoples of Britain Rise Up! Communists Hail Brexit “Achievement.

Thanks LH.

The leader of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), said to have influence on the independent daily, the Morning Star, owned by the “Co-op”, recently declared – two weeks ago……

EU, BREXIT, THE PEOPLES – communist party general secretary Robert Griffiths says,

“Today we begin the process of finally leaving the European Union. This achievement, which required many struggles, must not be underestimated. It certainly won’t be in the City and ruling circles of the EU.


The vote of 2016, demonstrated the desire of people for more democracy, self- government and an end to austerity. The result came as a shock to the ruling class in Britain and its allies abroad.


This year is an opportunity to fight for a Brexit that delivers legislation and policies that serve the people’s interests, not the City and big business.


There is much to play for. This is not a strong government. It can be stopped. The communists will play the leading role expected of them, in the struggle to come. We urge supporters to consider applying for membership to our growing party.

Message of Hope.


Britain leaving the EU sends a message of hope to beleaguered peoples on the continent who share our opposition to the Bosses’ Club and yearn for more democracy, rather than ECJ, ECB and Commission diktat.


The Communists will campaign for greater cooperation across all of Europe and beyond, for medical and scientific cooperation and coordinated measures to deal with the climate change crisis. This weekend, we reject the doom and gloom brigade and as a sign of our confidence in the future, announce a new edition of the CP programme ‘Britain’s Road to Socialism’, will be released on 15 March to coincide with the commemoration of Marx at Highgate cemetery.”

The CPB has sage words for the Labour leadership contenders.

In their party sheet they declare,

Labour would be wrong to argue for a close alignment to the EU as John McDonnell suggested on the andrew Marr show early this month.

This would tie the parliamentary left to the Labour right wing’s strategy and weaken the position of a future Labour government. it gives cover to those whose strategy made electoral
defeat inevitable. it is a slap in the face of working class commitment to Brexit, denies the lessons of the election defeat and erects new barriers to rebuilding working class political strength in the deindustrialised areas where Labour is weakened.

The Communist Party has joined with allies to strengthen the Leave – Fight – Transform, Campaign. LeFT makes the case for what can be achieved outside the EU and to fight to rebuild the left in our communities in all of Britain.

In particular, the Communist Party leader said the labour movement should spell out how Brexit could benefit working-class communities.

This week they declared:

CP urges left to advance not retreat

Reporting to the Communist Party’s political committee on Wednesday evening (February 12), the party’s trade union organiser Andy Bain said the Labour leadership contests had so far been a ‘dispiriting fiasco’.

‘Too many candidates are capitulating to the witch-hunting demands of outside bodies that feminists and supporters of Palestinian rights should be silenced if not driven out of the Labour Party altogether’, Mr Bain charged.  ‘This comes on top of the willingness of most of Labour’s possible leaders and deputy leaders to press the nuclear button and cause millions of civilian deaths instead resolving the cause of the conflict’, he added.

At the root of the problem, the former president of transport staff union TSSA declared, was the shift away from a socialist class analysis of society to the non-class politics of personal and group identity.  ‘The seeds of disunity and intolerance are being sewn by people who in some cases are not interested in promoting unity against all the forms of oppression that assist capital’s exploitation of labour’, Mr Bain argued.

Instead of abandoning class-based left-wing policies, he urged labour movement activists to renew mass campaigning in workplaces and local communities for workers’ rights, the ‘Green New Deal’, public investment, a ‘people’s Brexit’, peace and nuclear disarmament.

‘The trade unions, trades councils, the People’s Assembly, CND, LeFT, Stand Up to Racism and similar movements have a vital part to play in the struggle for left, democratic and progressive policies’, the CP trade union organiser concluded.

Britain’s Communists urged big turnouts for events around International Women’s Day (March 8), International Anti-Racism Day (March 21) and May Day, and for the Marx Oration at Highgate Cemetery on March 15 when the main speakers will be CP General Secretary Robert Griffiths and Joginder Bains of the Indian Workers Association (GB).

 

There is more on the People’s Brexit!

 

What’s not to like!

BRITISH TRAVELLERS FACE BEING TURNED AWAY AT EU AIRPORTS OVER NEW PASSPORT EXPIRY RULES AFTER BREXIT.

Today:  Boris Johnson assembles DREAM TEAM with historic first – Brexiteers delighted

The far-right Express continues,

BORIS Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle means the Prime Minister now has a dream team of Brexit ministers – with all four great offices of state now occupied by Leavers.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 14, 2020 at 12:06 pm

As Support for Keir Starmer Grows and Grows Socialist Worker Attacks “Right-wing Labour Leadership Candidate.”

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Peter Tatchell, Starmer would make a “fine Labour Leader”.

The Newsnight debate yesterday.

This is highly recommended:

Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner and longtime acquaintance of Starmer, remembered him as always being “very open to representation from outside his own circle” as DPP.

“I was involved in helping to defend two Balochistan activists who the government of Pakistan was trying to frame on terrorism charges,” he said. “When I approached Keir about the case he immediately said ‘Come in and see me. Let’s talk about it.’ He was a very high-profile, busy man at the time but he took the time, you know, which I think is a measure of his character and integrity.”

Tatchell said Starmer would make a “fine Labour leader” but said he hoped he would take on some of the “very thoughtful, intelligent proposals” made by Clive Lewis, the left-wing Labour MP who dropped out of the leadership contest in the early stages.

“I think the Keir you see today is pretty much the Keir of 30 years ago,” Tatchell added. “He’s got a very sharp mind and is very articulate. I think it would be a great asset if he can work on a sense of humour as well. … Yeah, it’s a bit hidden.”

Keir Starmer Is Not Who You Think He Is. Emily Ashton.

James McAsh writes on Labour List.

Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner are in the lead by a considerable margin. Each has approximately 60% of nominations. Two in five CLPs have nominated both candidates, one in five have nominated each one alone, and only one in five have nominated neither.

……

 Perspective on the EU is still a factor. CLPs nominating Starmer and Thornberry are more likely to be in areas that voted Remain, while those supporting Long-Bailey or Nandy more often voted Leave.

Nonetheless, the Brexit vote does not disrupt the headline results: Starmer has won a majority of both groups, Long-Bailey is in second place, and Nandy is beating Thornberry to third place. Perhaps we’re not so divided after all.

It is all but impossible that Starmer and Rayner will lose. Moreover, their staggering leads make it clear that they have hoovered up support from both previous Corbyn supporters and his critics. Is this a new era of unity? A happy compromise between those who want the Corbyn project to enter a new stage, and those who want it to end? Or rather, will the expectations for the new leadership be ultimately irreconcilable? Only time will tell.

As the Labour Party looks to a new leadership to replace the failed pro-“People’s Brexit’ Corridor Cabal that damaged the party during the election.

From the SWP sidelines comes further reasons to back Starmer charging him, falsely with wanting to “move to the right”, and sneering at his human rights work, and, correctly, with having been pro-internationalist on the issue of the European Union.

The SWP no doubt thinks that if they repeat the claim that Starmer is a “right-winger” long enough people might believe them.

Right wingers lead as Labour leadership race enters final stage

Right wing Labour leadership candidate Keir Starmer looked set to enter the final round of the contest with the most nominations by far.

Starmer had won backing from 280 Constituency Labour Parties—local party organisations—as Socialist Worker went to press.

His nominations surpassed the left’s candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey, who had the backing of 131 CLPs, and the two other candidates Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry.

Among those nominating him last week was Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency Islington North—prompting gloating from the Labour right and barely concealed joy from political pundits.

The deadline for nominations was Friday this week. The final stage of the contest—a ballot of individual members and affiliated supporters—was set to run from Friday of next week until Thursday 2 April.

Yet the scale of the nominations for Starmer is an indication that the mass support that sustained Corbyn’s leadership may not become backing for Long-Bailey.

Starmer says Labour has to move right to be electable—and activists worry that this is swaying members.

He has tried to cultivate an image as ­someone who supported workers as a campaigning lawyer.

Yet he also relies on his image as a “respectable” politician due to his background as Labour’s shadow Brexit ­minister and as Director of Public Prosecutions.

Starmer was one of those responsible for Labour’s slide towards backing a second referendum—which was central to the disastrous 2019 general election result.

He also ­publicly backed ­remaining in the European Union. Yet demoralisation among Labour members mean some are pulled by the idea that Labour needs a leader more acceptable to the right and the media.

Meanwhile, Long-Bailey was attacked for promising to ban bosses from forcing workers to answer emails out of working hours, and to ­support “every” strike.

Yet her campaign has also made concessions to the right—including ­backing MP Angela Rayner over the left wing Richard Burgon for deputy leader. She’s also backed rules that would allow left wing activists to be purged from Labour for anything more than the ­mildest criticism of Israel.

Labour lost the general election partly because its leadership under Corbyn consistently conceded to right wing arguments, allowing them to take hold and undermine him.

Now the pressures of “unity” and “electability” look set to drag the party even ­further to the right.

Fellow supporters of Brexit, Spiked, are also anti-Starmer.

On another identity issue, the ‘Trans pledge’, the leadership debate has seen Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey back calls to purge Labour of feminist dissent on the issue.

In thoughtful and reasoned comment Lindsey German said earlier in the week said that the issue should not be used to shout down debate,

No platform should only be for fascists

Laura Pidcock, the former Labour MP who has such a good record on the left, has come under attack in the past week for making the following statement as part of a much longer article: ‘The women’s movement needs space to talk about sex and gender without fear of being “no platformed”’. She has been called bigoted and transphobic. Yet what she says is absolutely true. There is no justification for refusing a platform to someone who wants to discuss these highly controversial issues. They are not fascists, indeed many have a long record of fighting oppression. Moreover, they are as resolutely opposed to attacks on, abuse of, or discrimination against trans people as are the people attacking them. So they cannot be lumped in with right wingers who want to deny trans rights.

The truth is there is no automatic unity of the oppressed and positions need to be argued and fought for. Demonstration against feminists who are concerned about transgender issues, shouting them down, trying to get them sacked or removed as speakers, should have no place on the left. It’s 50 years since the first women’s liberation conference in this country and, guess what, women’s oppression remains a major factor in our society.

Here is Starmer’s reaction to the calls for a witch-hunt on the issue of trans rights.

Instead he backs this democratic pledge:

 

 

 

Brexit and Analysing Labour’s “Disastrous Result”.

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Starmer Unites the Party After Election Disaster.

The Brexit supporting Morning Star declares,

The unity we need is a unity of the socialist left — including a willingness to stand up and fight for comrades who are targeted by a political right, inside and outside Labour, that is running rings around us.

Editorial: Britain’s left is facing a sustained ideological offensive.

There have been many articles looking in depth at the December General Election.

Can the left ignore the divisions opened up over Brexit?

This Blog has argued that the pro-Brexit wing of Labour, encouraged by groups like Counterfire, the Communist Party of Britain, and the Socialist Party, played a part in the defeat. They confused the issue of the Hard Right Brexit project, and gave false hopes in a ‘People’s Brexit’ that never existed.

Rohini Hensman looks at these ambiguities of the Party’s stand and how this contributed to election failure.

What are the Lessons of the UK Election? On two underemphasised factors

Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières

By 2019, the Labour Party’s Brexit position seemed designed to alienate Leavers and Remainers alike. Corbyn’s proposal for a soft Brexit encountered the criticism that although creating less economic disruption than a hard Brexit, it would leave the UK subject to EU rules in which it would no longer have any say, thus resulting in a loss, not gain, of control. In addition, Labour Leavers impatient to get Brexit over and done with were offered the prospect of yet another period of negotiations with an uncertain outcome. On the other side, the position offered nothing to Labour Remainers. The debacle was amplified by Labour MPs who voted in parliament for the Tory Brexit deals, leaving Labour Remainers in their constituencies – probably the majority of Labour voters even in predominantly Leave constituencies – with no one to vote for.

….

Corbyn’s advisors as well as some Lexiteers, rather than making these points, opposed even a confirmatory referendum until the ‘Brexit-embodies-the-people’s-will’ propaganda was too entrenched to challenge. In fact, their position throughout was a weaker version of Johnson’s ‘Get Brexit Done’. Their contention that Labour lost because it supported a People’s Vote is contradicted by the fact that Labour lost over 2.5 million votes while the Tories and Brexit Party picked up just 335,000, and Labour lost almost twice as many voters to the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Scottish National Party as the 700,000-800,000 they lost to the Tories and Brexit Party.

In January 2019, officials from Hope not Hate and the TSSA union had presented Corbyn with polling evidence that in the event of an election, Labour would get a lower share of the vote in every seat in the country with a pro-Brexit position than it would with an anti-Brexit position, but the warning was dismissed. Corbyn’s U-turn from his original position destroyed his credibility, and his personal rating slumped to -50.[14] Can you trust a leader who in 2016 argues cogently that Britain should stay in the EU and a few years later changes his tune? The advisors who recommended such a shift played a significant role in trashing Corbyn’s reputation, because it convinced many progressives – precisely the people who were less likely to be swayed by the right-wing media – that he was untrustworthy.

The false claim that the “working class backed Brexit”is taken apart,

It is important to challenge the argument of the Labour right and Lexiteers that the working class supported Brexit and abandoned Labour. This presupposes an obsolete definition of ‘the working class’ as mainly engaged in industrial labour, mainly white, and mainly in permanent employment, whereas the new working class is mainly employed in the service sector, often on insecure contracts, and much more diverse in terms of ethnicity, age and gender. Many do not earn enough to support a decent standard of living. As Phil Hearse observes, these sections of the working class voted massively for Remain in the 2016 referendum, and did not abandon Labour in 2019. It was mainly a cross-class section of white pensioners in towns in the North and Midlands who were won over by the UKIP/Brexit Party/Tory right, voted heavily for Leave in 2016, and abandoned Labour in 2019. Hearse concludes, ‘The December 2019 election showed a working class divided on key issues of nationalism, immigration, and the xenophobia currently undergoing rehabilitation as “patriotism” … Labour’s Brexit position got mangled because it tried to… unite the working class behind incompatible positions… The right-wing offensive can only be countered by fighting, not by capitulation and accommodation.

The Editorial Board of Socialist Resistance offers an analysis of the election disaster.

It offers a critical overview in a similar vein on the issue of Brexit.

Analysing a disastrous result

In a wide-ranging, in-depth, account, they highlight this,

Brexit will now be completed, and in the most hard-line and reactionary form available to the Johnson government. Free movement has ended. New racist immigration laws will be introduced. A no-deal crash-out of the EU at the end of the implementation period is also highly probable because it is the model that key figures in the ERG always wanted.

The Tory Party, in the course of all this, has been transformed, into Brexit Party mark II. It is now an English nationalist/populist party with a racist as its leader and Tommy Robinson as a new recruit – with many more of his ilk to come. Maybe Farage as well? One-nation Toryism, to the extent that it still existed, has been roundly defeated.

While we may doubt that the populist surge behind Get Brexit Done will maintain the party in power the reactionary character of the Johnson regime is clear.

SR cites the same Phil Hearse article as Hensman underlining the complexity of the class vote. They say, “As Paul Mason argues in his pamphlet After Corbynism, the strongest agent of change today is now the working class in the big cities.”

In this context it is worth looking at Paul Mason’s  After Corbynism.

Remember that when you hear them blame the internationalist left for this defeat.

In the end, the reason we lost is the reason Labour voters gave for deserting us: Corbyn destroyed his own reputation for honest and principled politics; he surrounded himself with bureaucrats who could suppress dissent but never work to professional standards. The Brexit position was muddled. And people didn’t believe real change was possible. Unfortunately this resulted in an estimated 300,000 Labour Remain voters also switching to the Tories simply to keep Corbyn out. This was something never factored into the polling of the pro-Remain camp. In hindsight, it means the only way we could really have won is if Corbyn had been replaced in the May-June crisis – and there was no support for that anywhere.

We wasted half a year trying to fudge the issue of Brexit; we tried to assuage our traditional voters’ worries over crime, migration and national security with an economic offer that was too big to be believed.

Now the Tories have an 80 seat majority. The strategy of “one more heave”, which has underpinned every election campaign since we lost in 2010 – will no longer work.

To go forward we have to deal honestly with the new class dynamics of Britain, break with nostalgia and form a new social alliance.

Mason concludes,

Corbynism was an alliance of three political ideologies that cannot cohere around the new political reality described above:
• The economic nationalism and anti-imperialism of an older generation of activists, who were let back into the party after years of exclusion and alienation under Blair
• The networked anti-capitalism of the generation inspired by the student revolts of 2010, and subsequent generations attracted by Labour’s openness to antiracism, feminism and eco-socialism
• The highly effective but hierarchical left trade unionism of Unite, the CWU and the GMB.

What worked in 2017, against a disunited and incompetent May government, and a demobilised far right, failed in the face of a competent and ruthless populism of Johnson and Farage.

Over the next five years we need a realignment, both within the party and without, around a new political strategy.

“Overwhelmed  by Brexit”.

SR chimes with part of this approach:

The real problem, however, was that the manifesto did not resonate because it was overwhelmed by Brexit. Under different circumstances the presentational problems would not have had the same impact.

They emphasise this point,

The most powerful force behind Brexit – as in the 2016 referendum – despite the effort of the Labour right (and most of the radical left) to deny it – was racism and xenophobia taking the form of a visceral hatred of the most progressive aspect of the EU structures the free movement of people. Labour, unfortunately was unable to counter it with, for example, a strident defence of free movement. Racism was packaged as populism, of which Johnson, Trump, Bolsonaro, Orban and Salvini are prime examples. Simple slogans in complex situations presented as anti-politics, anti-political correctness, anti-regulation, with dog-whistle appeals to racism and bigotry.

Turning to the corrosive impact of the Brexit wing of Labour and the Lexit Left the article notes,

The role of the Lexiteers also needs comment. Brexit has not only brought down Jeremy Corbyn, and transformed the Tory party into a hard-right populist cult, it also split the radical left – with the bulk of far-left organisations, including the CPB, the Socialist party, the SWP, and Counterfire on the wrong side. Those supporting a Remain position were the smaller groups including ourselves as SR (critically), the AWL, and those involved in the campaign for a second referendum and the AEIP campaign. RS 21 were split on it.

The position taken by the Lexiteers represents a major, indeed historic, mistake with political consequences both immediate and long-term. It led them to be in denial of the fundamental politics and class nature of the Brexit project from the outset. The general election itself represented a conundrum for the Lexiteers. They could not vote for Johnson, for reputational reasons, though some individually did, because that meant explicitly supporting the most right-wing government Britain has ever seen. But they supported exit from the EU at every stage – in full knowledge that it was Johnson’s central project. During the Parliamentary battle against a no-deal Brexit they implicitly supported this reactionary option throughout.

There was an element of wilful blindness behind the Brexit left’s stand:

They refused throughout to accept that Brexit was a right-wing project driven primarily by racism, even when rising levels of racist violence was plain to see at every level of society. This included the SWP, the organisation that built the Anti-Nazi League in the 1970s and early 1980s, that now finds itself unable to identify blatant racism in the Brexit project from Boris Johnson himself to large numbers of Brexit voters, and have ended up tail-ending the CPB. They also refused to accept that racism is most strongly located in the traditional sections of the white industrial (or de-industrialised) sections of the white blue-collar working class.

During the battles over Brexit they avoided addressing either the class content or the implications of the 2016 referendum or the of the Johnson’s election victory. Nor does John Rees’s assessment of the Tory victory on the Counterfire site address Brexit as such, which he supported, and what its impact might be in terms of the future direction of the country and of the workers’ movement but focuses on the election and why Labour lost – which was a result, he argues, because of disloyalty from McDonnell and others by expressing differences with Jeremy Corbyn over Remain and a second referendum – and who are paving the way for the Blairites.

SR concludes on the impact of Brexit.

In hindsight, a Tory majority was probably inevitable, and the reason, as John McDonnell has insisted was Brexit. The centre-ground was already gone and no-one was listening – if they ever had been.

In in such a polarised situation, Jeremy Corbyn’s stance of uniting the party (and/or the country) across the Brexit divide was doomed. If Labour had taken a firm Remain position much earlier, which it should have done because it was right, it would haemorrhage votes to the Tories and to the Brexit party. If it had taken a Brexit position – which would have been politically disastrous since it would have meant supporting a reactionary Tory project – it would have haemorrhaged support to the LibDems and the Greens which it did anyway. As Richard Seymour puts it: ‘There seems to be no obvious solution on Brexit, nothing that would not be taken as ‘treason’ by someone.’

From the outset, Labour’s divisions over Brexit were more damaging and intractable than for any other party. While 60 per cent of its supporters (and 90 of its members) supported Remain, 70 per cent of Labour’s constituencies supported Brexit and many of these were prepared to desert Labour for the Tories or the Brexit Party to achieve that aim. This mean that unless something shifted, Labour could not stop a Tory majority – and when the results came in it became clear that nothing had shifted.

How does this all affect the current Labour leadership contest?

SR switches to warnings about a come-back for Labour’s right, whose achievement under Blair and Brown was  to be in government and run the country.

The Labour right is as dedicated as ever to smashing Corbynism and all it stands for. They are convinced that this leadership election gives them the best opportunity they have had to shift political discourse and practice to the right and to accommodating to the system. They are not necessarily wrong – which means that defeating them and electing those that best represent the gains of Corbynism is an absolutely essential task.

Weighing up the merits of the candidates they conclude,

The best choice we have as things stand – would be Rebecca Long-Bailey with Richard Burgon as deputy. The key word is ‘continuity’, and Long-Bailey represents this best in the leadership contest.

The big danger is Keir Starmer. He is presenting himself fraudulently as a continuity candidate when he is in effect the candidate of the right.

To back this negative assessment of Starmer they cite – genuine – concerns about his record as DPP (but he was after all DPP,  not a post that it’s easy to hold without making serious errors), and his obedience to the whip in abstaining on the Welfare Bill.

Apparently Long-Bailey is  a woman.

She has also waded, unwisely, into the debate over transexuality and called for a purge of feminists who do not accept the arguments of one side in this bitter dispute ( Long-Bailey backs call to expel ‘transphobic’ members.)

SR says,

In reality, the leadership is mainly a contest between Starmer and Long-Bailey and a win for Starmer will be seen, and would be, a total rejection of Corbynism and a huge victory for the right.

We have yet to see this.

To accept this claim would be to contribute to it, not to mention they unsteady assertion that ‘progressive patriot, aspirational Long-Bailey is the standard-bearer of the left.

Here are Starmer’s ten pledges – they look pretty left-wing to most people, while having a wider appeal.

He said: “Labour must stand by its commitment to end the national scandal of spiralling student debt and abolish tuition fees. We lost the election, but we did not lose our values or determination to tackle the injustice facing young people going to university.”

The shadow Brexit Secretary also promised to increase taxes on the richest 5 per cent of Britons, reverse the cuts in corporation tax and abolish Universal Credit, as well as establishing a “green new deal”.

Backing Jeremy Corbyn’s nationalisation plans, he added: “Public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water; end outsourcing in our NHS, local government and justice system.”

Unlike SR this Blog agrees with Paul Mason, and the above reinforces this judgement,  that Keir Starmer represents the best choice for Labour leader.

Long Bailey comes from the political stable that gave us the Labour confusion and the political space for the Lexiteers to see within the Party’s position an opportunity for them to argue for”a weaker version of Johnson’s ‘Get Brexit Done’.”

Their campaigns against the internationalist left have caused enduring damage.

That “corridor cabal” has wreaked havoc on Labour’s capacity to organise as a united force.

Many strongly doubt that Starmer will give an opening to right-wing factionalists.

But most are sure that he represents a Party without the pro-Brexit left in a commanding position of influence over the party leader.

So much the better.

Update:

No photo description available.

 

Russian Anti-Fascists Imprisoned. Defend our Comrades!

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You can support the “network” case defendants by sending them solidarity messages, donating to the support campaign, and spreading the word about the case.

See the Rupression site for details

Russia jails members of ‘non-existent’ terror group Set

BBC.

Seven Russian anarchists and anti-fascist activists have been handed lengthy jail terms on terror charges.

A court in the city of Penza sentenced the men – said to be part of a group known as Set, meaning Network – to between six and 18 years in penal colonies.

Russian authorities say they were plotting to overthrow the government.

But rights groups and lawyers say the charges were fabricated, and the men were tortured into confessing.

Prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny described the sentences as “horrific” in a tweet, and called the Set group a “fictitious terrorist organisation”.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly said he was aware of the case and had ordered authorities “to make sure everything is in line with the law”, but would not intervene.

The Guardian says,

Rights activists criticise trial, saying members of the Network were tortured.

A Russian court has issued harsh sentences to seven antifascist and anarchist activists in a controversial domestic terrorism case marred by claims that investigators tortured the defendants to elicit confessions.

The court in Penza, a city about 390 miles (630km) south-east of Moscow, sentenced the men to terms of six to 18 years in penal colonies for allegedly forming an organisation called Set, which translates as the Network, which prosecutors said planned to carry out future attacks inside Russia to overthrow the government. The men were also charged with an assortment of weapons and drugs charges.

Influential human rights groups have called the case fabricated and said the men may have been targeted for their political activism. Four of the men on trial said they had been tortured with beatings and electrocution during the investigation. In December, Memorial human rights centre, one of Russia’s oldest civil rights organisations, had called for the charges to be dropped.

The French Communist daily l’Humanité, runs the story,

RUSSIE LOURDES PEINES DE PRISON POUR DES ANTIFASCISTES

The left blog People and Nature reports,

Russia: “network” case anti-fascists jailed for 6 to 18 years

A military court yesterday convicted seven Russian anti-fascists of trumped-up charges in the “network” case, and sentenced them to between six and 18 years imprisonment. The trial of two more defendants continues in St Petersburg.

The frame-up of the “network” case defendants by security services (FSB) officers – and the repeated use of torture to obtain bogus confessions – has been denounced by human rights organisations. The jailed anti-fascists have been supported by an international solidarity campaign.

Here is a report from court yesterday, translated by the Russian Reader from Bumaga newspaper:

The Volga District Military Court, [sitting in Penza], has [convicted and] sentenced seven defendants in the Network Case.

Dmitry Pchelintsev was sentenced to 18 years in a maximum-security penal colony. Ilya Shakursky was sentenced to 16 years in a penal colony and fined 50,000 rubles.

Investigators claimed they were organizers of a “terrorist community.” Both men alleged that FSB officers had electrocuted them in order to obtain confessions.

Maxim Ivankin was given 13 years in a maximum-security penal colony, while Andrei Chernov was sentenced to 14 years, and Mikhail Kulkov, to 10 years. They were found guilty of involvement in a “terrorist community” and attempting to sell drugs.

Vasily Kuksov was sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony. He was accused of involvement in a “terrorist community” and illegal possession of a weapon. Another defendant, Arman Sagynbayev, received 6 years in prison.

The verdict handed down by the court in Penza suggests that the acquittal of the Petersburg defendants in the case is less likely, Viktor Cherkasov, the lawyer for Viktor Filinkov, a defendant in the Network Case, told Bumaga. “It sends a message,” said Cherkasov. “It is difficult to hope [for a positive outcome], but we are still determined to protect Filinkov’s interests.”

Cherkasov said that he planned in court to point to the faked evidence in the case. He also that he would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if Filinkov were found guilty. The next hearing in the Network Case in Petersburg should take place between February 25 and February 28.

[In October 2017 and January 2018], antifascists and anarchists were detained in Penza and Petersburg. They were accused of organizing a “terrorist community,” allegedly called “the network”.

……

At the end of the court hearing, Mediazona, the human rights defenders’ web site, reported:

The session is over. The sentence was read out in complete silence. Now, behind the court’s closed doors it is very noisy. Those who came to support the defendants are shouting: “Free political prisoners!”

“Stay strong, we are with you”, one of the support group shouted out.

“No, it’s we who are with you!” answered Dmitry Pchelintsev, one of the defendants. […]

People shouted “shame!” and “freedom!” […]

Outside court, a crowd gathered. Some people played drums, others sang, waiting for those convicted to be taken away in prison vans. Alongside stood security services officers in masks.

Vehicles left [the court] in a convoy. According to Mediazona’s correspondent, OMON [riot police] officers threw their coats over the convicts, so as to pass the crowds unseen. The supporters then began to go their separate ways.

 

More information:

ABOUT THE CASE

In autumn 2017 6 people were arrested in Penza – to some of them weapons and explosives were thrown up. Then FSB tortured antifascists right in the pretrial detention center: connected electrodes to different parts of body and put the electricity on, beaten, hanged upside down. While torturing security chiefs forced activists to learn by heart the testimony which FSB wants, that they had founded and participate terrorist community “Network”. At the end of January 2018, three more antifascists were arrested in St. Petersburg. They were also beaten, electrocuted and forced to incriminate themselves – to confirm that they are members of the “Network”. And in July 2018 there was a last arrest of two persons in Moscow.

By forging the evidence and tortures, the FSB fabricates a case about terrorism against antifascists. The FSB claims that the detainees planned to arrange explosions during the presidential elections and the World Cup. All this – allegedly in order to “shake the masses to further destabilize the political situation in the country” and raise an armed rebellion. Now there are ten antifascists behind the bars. Arrested face from five years up to life sentence in prison.

After the case against antifascists and tortures became widely known- actions of solidarity took place in Russia and abroad. However, this led to new repressions. The participants of the actions from Moscow were detained and criminal proceedings were opened against them. Antifascists from Chelyabinsk were detained, electrocuted and a criminal case was also opened against them.

 

More

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2020 at 12:59 pm