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The Weekly Worker and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty: A Forgotten Love Affair.

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Spooky but True: the Untold Tale of Weekly Worker AWL Unity.

Followers of the minutiae of the left,  and there are them, will know that no bitterer enemies exist than the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee CPGB-PCC). and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

Both publish papers, which it has to be said, many on the left read, the former’s Weekly Worker for its articles on theory, socialist history its reports on Italy, Iran,  and some other European countries, curious letters, and serious book reviews. The AWL’s Solidarity has valuable – accurate – reports on trade union and welfare issues, the Labour Party, and covers the history of the left, and international topics. It  also carries good coverage of books.

The two groups are now locked in a never-ending battle.

“Social-imperialism” and  comparisons with ‘Stasi busybodies” are some of the milder terms used by the Weekly Worker to describe their foes in the AWL. The AWL dismisses the, admittedly groupusculaire  WW, and its key ally, the Monster Raving Geenstein Party.

Yet things were not always so….

It was in the year 2000.

Spring was coming. The world was full of daffodils and gamboling hares. And love.

Report of a partisan observer John Bridge and other Weekly Worker writers discuss the AWL 09.03.2000

Five observers from the Communist Party of Great Britain attended the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s 7th conference over the weekend of March 4-5. In general we met with a friendly reception. There was certainly a keen interest in our ideas, as witnessed by a sale of over 40 copies of the Weekly Worker. An impressive figure and much to the credit of the AWL – especially given that there were no more than around 80 of their comrades in attendance.

..

The AWL is a small organisation of serious revolutionaries – it has 110 full and a handful of candidate members – with a relatively long history in Britain’s Trotskyite milieu. Once they existed as a faction in Tony Cliff’s International Socialism organisation. That is, until they were bureaucratically expelled. Since then, led by Sean Matgamna, they have been through a labyrinthine series of name changes, primeval unities and fragile partnerships. However, what distinguishes the AWL from that which often falsely passes itself off as Trotskyism is its culture of comparative openness and a willingness to think.

..

We in the CPGB share and defend exactly that approach.

Love blossomed,

Rapprochement begins

Two representatives of the CPGB’s Provisional Central Committee and two representatives of the AWL’s National Committee met on Friday March 3.

Discussion began with Mark Fischer outlining the history of the PCC’s struggle for a reforged CPGB and why we put Partyism at the centre of our work. It was explained to the comrades from the AWL that we have no CPGB golden age. Our project is about the future, not the past.

We also discussed the importance of trade union bulletins and trade union work. CPGB comrades assured the AWL representatives that we had no objections to trade union work nor trade union bulletins. There was, however, the matter of priorities.

Blair’s constitutional revolution was raised, along with the national question in Wales and Scotland. One AWL comrade did not see why we were so concerned with such issues. This led on to what the CPGB’s PCC understands by economism.

The entry work the CPGB carried out in the SLP was praised and criticised by the AWL comrades. We replied that it was easy to criticise from the outside.

The commitment of the CPGB to a minimum-maximum programme was touched upon. CPGB comrades questioned the AWL about their project of a new Labour Representation Committee. We were told that this was for propaganda purposes and at the moment was of no particular importance.

The principles of democratic centralism were emphasised by the CPGB comrades, as was the need for a polemical communist press in the conditions of today. We stressed the necessity of engaging with advanced workers – ie, those susceptible to theory.

Both sides agreed to hold a further meeting in mid-March and to have a joint day school in early April on the Party question. The three headings of debate will be: economism; organising the class; party and programme.

Halcyon days!

CPGB-AWL rapprochement. 27.7.2000.

Representatives of the CPGB and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty have been meeting to explore areas of difference and agreement between us. Over the coming weeks, we will feature edited minutes, starting here with those of the March 3 meeting. Comments and criticisms are welcome.

Agreed in conclusion: to put economism; organising the revolutionaries to revolutionise the labour movement; and Party and programme – minimum-maximum and transitional – on the agenda for a day school (date to be fixed). Next four-hander discussion: Friday March 17, to cover minimum-maximum and transitional programmes, and the nature of the ‘official communist’.

CPGB-AWL cooperation. 15.11.2001.

The Communist Party of Great Britain and the Alliance for Workers? Liberty are continuing to explore areas of theoretical difference and agreement, and are looking at the possibility of joint work. Representatives of the executive committee of the AWL and the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB met recently to discuss a number of issues of current practical concern and issues of ongoing debate between the two organisations.

Alas.

The dalliance did not last, as this document (January 2003) indicates.

Followed by,

By Paul Hampton
The CPGB, those pretentious squirrels of left-wing tittle-tattle, outdid themselves by chickening out of a debate with the AWL over Iraq.

They have sought in vain to manufacture mischief with some AWL comrades who disagree with the group’s position on Iraq. After a series of private e-mails demanding that the AWL minority agitate to “clear out the leadership of the scabs”, the CPGB invited David Broder to debate with them at their overinflated “communist university”, under the title: troops out – but when? David referred the matter to the AWL office, which generously put up Sean Matgamna to speak for our politics.

The Weekly Worker responded in the shape of a piece by a certain Ian Donovan.

Workers’ Liberty: Descent into cultism

Ian Donovan assesses the current trajectory of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

Being “transnational Jewish bourgeoisie” Donovan one can imagine the angle he took on the Palestine Israel issue which divided the two groups.

Yet the vicarious-Zionist AWL has issued not one word of criticism or analysis of this ultra-reactionary phenomenon, which is one of the key, concrete manifestations of Zionism today.

He defended George Galloway,

the matter in hand is to defend Galloway against the bourgeois witch-hunt.

And,

Whether over Galloway, the question of the Iraq war, Israel-Palestine, the Socialist Alliance (where it has squandered an enormous opportunity to be joint initiators of a genuinely broad paper of a pro-party minority), the AWL is retreating headlong back into the most bizarre and unsavoury forms of sectarianism.

Our interest in this tale is waning, so I will end there, yet it remains etched on many a broken heart.

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Leftist Trainspotting Fun from Labour Party Marxists, from “bewildered” LRC, “silent Corbyn”, to AWL Stasi “busybodies”.

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Labour Party Marxist in the Thick of the Class Struggle.

The Irish Socialist Workers Party has dissolved itself into a “network”. “The change in name to Socialist Workers Network reflects a decision to focus on building People Before Profit, and within that to win and educate as many members as possible in revolutionary socialist politics.” (SW Ireland)

Now while the SWN is honest about what it is doing, and has good reasons to do so given that People Before Profit has some, limited, political presence, we cannot say the same for Labour Party Marxists.

This is from its mission statement,

  1. The central aim of Labour Party Marxists is to transform the Labour Party into an instrument for working class advance and international socialism. Towards that end we will join with others and seek the closest unity of the left inside and outside the party.

No doubt about that  which it trumpets – if that’s the right word for declarations that practically nobody ever reads.

But  there’s nothing about LPM’s inks with the Weekly Worker and the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee CPGB-PCC).

The Weekly Worker is a paper which produces some interesting material, some indeed very useful articles, but whose owners, said CPGB-PCC, have taste for political stunts not to mention an alliance with cascadeur  in chief, Tony ‘Monster Raving’ Greenstein Party. 

Not much closest possible unity with the rest of the left from that quarter!

They have just issued a spate of articles on the site of Labour Party Marxists  which may perhaps indicate this….

Cde Stan Keable (today, 15th of February)  sums up last week’s Labour Representation Committee Meeting, 

Labour Representation Committee: Reduced to a think tank?

Around 120 Labour Representation Committee members gathered in London’s Conway Hall on February 10 for yet another angst-ridden ‘special’ general meeting (SGM), in which a bewildered leadership shared with its rank and file its own failure – like most of the left – to draw into membership or engage with the ‘radicalised’ mass intake of Corbyn supporters into the Labour Party.

Perhaps they ought to have debated this  other 15th of February recent article?

Clause 4: Why revive a stinking corpse?

Jack Conrad (Chamberlain) questions the worth of the ‘Labour4Clause4’ campaign being promoted by Socialist Appeal. Instead of fostering illusions in Fabian socialism, surely the task of Marxists is to win the Labour Party to Marxist socialism.

But the prize must go to this chef d’oeuvre by Carla Roberts, also on the 15th of February (a busy day for LPM indeed!)

Witch-hunts: When chickens come home…

Roberts begins by citing the case of  “Jeremy Newmark, until recently chair of the Jewish Labour Movement” now embroiled in a corruption case after his swindles came to light. A particular gripe is that the Jewish Chronicle reported the affair in depth, “The enthusiasm with which the pro-Zionist Jewish Chronicle has attacked Newmark is quite breathtaking”.

That over we get attacks on the real enemies.

Jeremy Corbyn, “Corbyn has silently stood by, allowing pretty much any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel to be branded as evidence of anti-Semitism.”

 Jon Lansman ” who literally owns Momentum”. Selecting candidates for the Momentum list for Labour’s NEC, “Jon Lansman did what he does best: went nuclear.”

And,

Hope Not Hate, while not playing an active part in the witch-hunt, is a rightwing version of the Socialist Workers Party’s ‘Stand Up To Racism’.

At the conclusion there is the inevitable: The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, (AWL),

the AWL lacks the numbers and finance for that type of campaign. It represents more the type of busybody who would report their neighbour to the East German Stasi for watching West German TV.

Oddly some people in the Labour Party, including the left, are not fond of Labour Party Marxists or their antics.

But their drive to make the Labour Party into a Marxist Party, guided by their own interpretation of Lenin, proceeds apace.

Alternative Models of Ownership: Cleaning the Augustan Stables of Public Services.

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“Democratically owned and managed public services” at heart of Labour Policy.

It is hard for those who backed Tony Blair and Gordon Brown during their terms of office to come to grips with the legacy of a “what works” policy that favoured private business involvement in public services and did not challenge the Conservative dismantling and sell offs of the nationalised industries.

During the Blair years, before and as Prime Minister, and under Gordon Brown’s term of office, there were however critics on the left who pointed criticised the outsourcing and privatisation policies they continued.

David Osler wrote in Labour Party PLC (2002),

Tony Blair transformed the relationship between Labour and the private sector to the point where Labour now claims to be the natural party of business. This new friendship has been cemented through a series of huge donations to Labour, from top business people and leading companies. Corporate supporters—including multinationals with questionable track records on union recognition, human rights, and the environment—have reaped the rewards of lucrative privatisation contracts.

Owen Jones observed in this context ten years later that (Independent 2012) ,

“Blair failed to establish a new political consensus. He accepted the fundamentals of the Thatcher settlement: low taxes on the wealthy, weak trade unions, the dominance of the market over all. His great departure from Thatcherism was a desperately needed boost to spending on public services.”

“Labour’s current opposition to what the Coalition is doing is hobbled by the fact that Blair laid the foundation for so much of it.”

Take the privatisation of the NHS. Under Blair, private sector involvement began to flourish and a commercial directorate was set up in the Department of Health. Gove is now expanding Blair’s Academy schools programme, and free schools are a logical extension of them. The Coalition trebled the tuition fees that Blair introduced. Across public services, Blair expanded the role of the private sector – though not as fast as he would have liked, thanks to internal party opposition. But Cameron is taking this “reform” (the Blairite and Tory code word for “privatisation”) ever further. “Public sector reform” has come up in the many conversations Blair has apparently had with Cameron, and I’m sure the ex-PM has had much advice to offer.

It seems as if a new approach, grounded on thought-out alternatives, is now being developed to the “private firms work best” policy.

Text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech today at the Alternative Models of Ownership Conference.

Labour List.

It is a pleasure to close today’s conference, which has shown once again that it is our Party that is coming up with big ideas.

And we’re not talking about ideas and policies dreamed up by corporate lobbyists and think tanks or the wonks of Westminster, but plans and policies rooted in the experience and understanding of our members and our movement; drawing on the ingenuity of each individual working together as part of a collective endeavour with a common goal.

Each of you here today is helping to develop the ideas and the policies that will define not just the next Labour Government but a whole new political era of real change.  An era that will be as John said earlier radically fairer, more equal and more democratic.

The questions of ownership and control that we’ve been discussing today go right to the heart of what is needed to create that different kind of society.

Because it cannot be right, economically effective, or socially just that profits extracted from vital public services are used to line the pockets of shareholders when they could and should be reinvested in those services or used to reduce consumer bills.

We know that those services will be better run when they are directly accountable to the public in the hands of the workforce responsible for their front line delivery and of the people who use and rely on them.  It is those people not share price speculators who are the real experts.

That’s why, at last year’s general election, under the stewardship of Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, Transport Secretary Andy McDonald and Environment Secretary Sue Hayman, Labour pledged to bring energy, rail, water, and mail into public ownership and to put democratic management at the heart of how those industries are run.

This is not a return to the 20th century model of nationalisation but a catapult into 21st century public ownership.

The failure of privatisation and outsourcing of public services could not be clearer.

From Carillion’s collapse and the private sector’s chronic inability to run the East Coast Mainline to the exorbitant costs of PFI and the hopeless inability of G4S even to handle basic security at the London Olympics the same story is repeated again and again; costly, inefficient, secretive.

Unaccountable corporate featherbedding, lubricated by revolving door appointments between Whitehall, Westminster and private boardrooms as service standards and the pay and conditions of public service workers are driven down. This obsessive drive to outsource and privatise has been tried and tested to destruction.

Carillion’s meltdown is a watershed moment. We need to take a new direction with a genuinely mixed economy fit for the 21stcentury that meets the demands of cutting edge technological change. Public services that reflect today’s society and the industries of the future.

We need to put Britain at the forefront of the wave of international change in favour of public, democratic ownership and control of our services and utilities.

John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, has said that the plan of the Labour party to bring services including energy, rail, and water under public ownership would be free of cost.

Report: ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF OWNERSHIP.

Finance Co.uk

At a conference that was held in London on “alternative models of ownership,” he told the audience that Carillion’s collapse attested that privatisation had failed.

McDonnell stated that taking essential infrastructure assets out of private ownership is “an economic necessity,” and could be achieved while not bring additional costs to the taxpayers.

On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, McDonnell stated: “It would be cost-free. You borrow to buy an asset, and when that asset is producing profits like the water industry does, that will cover your borrowing cost.”

In his speech, McDonnell also said: “The next Labour government will put democratically owned and managed public services irreversibly in the hands of workers, and of those who rely on their work.

“We will do this not only because it’s right, not only because it’s the most efficient way of running them, but also because the most important protection of our public services for the long term is for everyone to have and feel ownership of them.”

The Conservatives have since denounced the said plan, saying that it will cost billions of pounds and result to worse services. Meanwhile, the CBI, a business group, said that the cries for nationalisation “continue to miss the point.”

Neil Carberry of the CBI stated: “At a time when the UK must be seen more than ever as a great place to invest and create jobs, these proposals would simply wind the clock back on our economy.

“If Labour turns its back on good collaboration between the government and the private sector, public services, infrastructure and taxpayers will ultimately pay the price.”

John McDonnell also revealed the creation of a working group that is tasked to study how cooperatives and organisations that are owned and run by their members could be developed.

It continues,

Later in the said conference, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said that nationalising energy companies was essential in order to avoid a “climate catastrophe.”

Corbyn stated: “People have been queueing up for years to connect renewable energy to the national grid. With the national grid in public hands, we can put tackling climate change at the heart of our energy system.

“To go green, we must take control of our energy.”

However, the Centre for Policy Studies said that the suggestion of Corbyn that nationalisation was essential to encourage small-scale renewable energy “suggests that Labour will have to borrow billions more to pay for the necessary infrastructure, or else pass the cost on to consumers via their fuel bills.”

The director of the Centre for Policy Studies, Robert Colville, stated: “The shadow chancellor claims that nationalisation would be cost-free because the state would be acquiring an asset – repeatedly using the analogy of taking out a mortgage on a house. Yet who would buy a house without knowing its price?

“McDonnell dismissed our £86bn estimate of the cost of nationalising the water industry as ‘laughable’ – even when the Social Market Foundation came out with a near-identical estimate. Yet neither he nor any Labour figure has disputed the detail of a single one of our estimates.”

The Left is  now debating these important and, very welcome, policy changes.

Chartist Magazine.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 14, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Hard-right Millionaire Arron Banks Donated to Trade Unionists Against the EU.

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Arron Banks: Donated to ‘left-wing’ Trade Unionists Against the EU.

George Galloway’s article this week on the far-right Westmonster site ranting about ‘Zurich Gnome’ Soros has stimulated interest in other activities of the would-be British Breitbart’s joint owner (with far right outrider,  Michael Heaver) , Arron Banks.

This is not limited to relations with ‘left wing’ figures who have also written for his propaganda vehicle, such as Paul Embery (FBU).

At the end of last year it was revealed that Banks had generously donated to Trade Unionists against the European Union.

The Morning Star gives a lot of publicity to this group and its advice on pursuing Brexit….the latest occasion being on February the 6th.

A certain Enrico Tortolano  Campaign Director for Trade Unionists against the EU (TUAEU), expressed the view in 2016 that,

As a trade unionist, this is why Britain must vote to Leave.

A vote to leave would be very radical because it would express our confidence that a new alternative world is really possible. A resounding No to continued membership of the EU should be coming from the working-class socialist movement.

That’s why no doubt the campaign attracted Aaron Bank…..

Thanks John Rogan.

The Independent reported in November:

Key Brexit funder Arron Banks is being investigated over allegations that the former Ukip donor breached finance rules during the EU referendum campaign.

The Electoral Commission announced it had opened an inquiry into whether Nigel Farage’s close ally “committed offences, in relation to donations and/or loans made to campaigners”.

It said it would probe whether Better for the Country Limited – his campaign firm – “was the true source of donations made to referendum campaigners in its name, or if it was acting as an agent”.

Better for the Country donated around £2.4m, including to the Grassroots Out campaign group, which was supported by some Tory MPs, including Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Donations were also made, between March and June 2016, to Trade Unionists Against the EU,Veterans for Britain, WAGTV Limited and Ukip, led at the time by Mr Farage.

Mr Banks – who no longer donates to Ukip – also lent £6m to the Leave.EU campaign, fronted by Mr Farage, to avoid inheritance tax he later claimed. That loan is due to be repaid at the end of this year, and is believed to be still outstanding.

There is a plenty of background here:  How did Arron Banks afford Brexit?  ALASTAIR SLOAN and IAIN CAMPBELL 19 October 2017

The self-styled ‘bad boy’ who bankrolled the Leave campaign appears to have exaggerated his wealth. So how did he pay for his Brexit spree?

 ..

Over the past four months, openDemocracy has conducted an in-depth review of Bank’s business dealings since he first started out in business in the early 2000s. As well as his own public statements about the sources of his wealth, we have spoken to his former employers, and obtained and reviewed court documents. There are of course a number of perfectly innocent ways that Banks could have obtained the extra funds, but given Banks’ significance to British politics, what we have found so far is extremely troubling.

….

The following outlines the Banks ‘operation’ from which he helped fund the ‘left wing’ Trade Unionists Against the EU.

One of his most lavish donations was some £2 million to Grassroots Out via Better for the Country Ltd, which was categorised to the Electoral Commission as “non-cash” – a designation usually reserved for the provision of office space or in-kind services to political parties. In reality, even this “non-cash” donation cost Banks significant amounts of hard cash. In a letter to openDemocracy, Banks’ lawyers say Better for the Country bought “merchandise, leaflets, billboards, pens, badges and other paraphernalia,” before donating all of this to Grassroots Out.

In early 2016, he used Better for the Country to make cash donations to Trade Unionists Against the European Union, and another pro-Brexit group called Veterans for Britain. Banks also provided £100,000 to Martin Durkin, a climate change sceptic and producer of “Brexit: The Movie,” a controversial online documentary produced to support the campaign. The sum was equivalent to a third of the documentary’s reported budget.

This is, without irony, from the Trade Unionists Against the EU‘s, view of itself:

The working peoples of Europe are clearly not happy with the direction the EU is taking. The failure of the mainstream parties to represent this feeling has led to a political vacuum.

We want to see a Europe of democratic states that value public services and does not offer them to profiteers; a Europe that guarantees the rights of workers and does not put the interests of big business above that of ordinary people. We believe this is not possible within the EU.

We say…

  • Yes to workers’ rights
  • No to TTIP
  • Exit the EU on the basis of socialist policies

(More via above link).

We note that a strange nationalist organisation called TRADES UNION CONGRESS FOR ENGLAND also publishes this statement.

 

Labour Party Democracy Review: Some Background.

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Labour’s internal democracy review aims to put members “in charge” and hand them a bigger say in campaigning, organising, internal structures and elections, according to the key official tasked with leading the process.

The review, launched this autumn as part of Jeremy Corbyn’s efforts to turn Labour into a “mass movement”, has already prompted “thousands” of activists to send in ideas, said Katy Clark.

Clark, a former MP who is now political secretary to Corbyn, is running the inquiry with “assistance” from Andy Kerr, chair of the NEC, and Claudia Webbe, who sits on the committee, and will report to the leader and Ian Lavery, the party chair and Wansbeck MP.

Labour List

Labour Party Democracy Review

Our Democracy Review’s Terms of Reference

Labour’s NEC agreed to a review of Party Democracy as set out by the Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

The terms of reference for the review will include the following areas:

  • The method of electing the Party Leader, including the role of registered supporters and the issue of nominating thresholds.
  • The composition of the NEC and the procedures for elections to it in its various elements.
  • Developing democratic policy-making procedures, including strengthening the role of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) and of Party Conference, the role of contemporary motions and the development of local and regional plans.
  • Looking at how the Party can better deal with CLP motions.
  • The role, accountability and transparency of regional structures.
  • The functioning of associated bodies like BAME Labour, Young Labour, Disability Labour and LGBT Labour etc.
  • Strengthening the involvement and participation of our hundreds of thousands of new members in constituency parties and other aspects of the Party’s work.
  • Recruitment of members to further develop a mass party.
  • The Governance of CLPs including the composition of CLP Executives and the training of CLP officers and members.
  • How freeze dates are applied in Selections and Conferences.
  • Strengthening the links between the Party and its trade union affiliates locally and nationally, and engaging more of their members in the Party’s life.
  • Developing the relationship between Labour’s local authority representatives and local parties.
  • Greater participation of women in CLPs and at other levels of the Party, gender representation throughout the Party, and the role of Labour women’s conference.
  • Improving diversity at all levels within the Party including looking at how to increase the involvement of BAME members, LGBT members, members with a disability and other groups.
  • Harnessing the potential of social media across all aspects of Labour’s democracy and political work.

Submit your thoughts now

Building a Mass Movement
How We Make Policy
Diversity and Participation
Your Local Labour Party

Momentum says,

“The Labour Party Democracy Review represents an unprecedented opportunity for party members and trade union affiliates to fundamentally remake the party so that it is equipped to provide deep and meaningful representation to millions of people, and to implement a socialist programme to transform the country.”

They add,

For a brief explanation of the forums Momentum will establish to allow our members to have the maximum contribution possible to the review, please see Momentum and the Democracy Review: A Brief Explainer.

For information on upcoming Momentum and Labour Party Democracy Review meetings where you can participate, please see our events page. If you have organised an event and you would like us to promote it, please let us know by writing to transforminglabour@peoplesmomentum.com.

For an idea of the types of proposals which grassroots Labour Party and Momentum activists have been making for some years now, please see Democracy Review: Ideas from Grassroots Activists.

Not sure how to hold a meeting to debate proposals? Have a look at out top tips for group facilitators.

Want to hear what Momentum’s randomly selected advisory body came up with? See  recommendations made the Members’ Council.

For suggestions for proposals on the Women’s Conference, please see recommendations by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD).

For suggestions on reconstituting Young Labour into a fully autonomous body, see this suggestions from CLPD.

For results of Momentum’s consultation survey of BAME members and supporters, see this summary.

Finally, please also check out s summary version of Momentum’s proposals to transform BAME Labour,  and a complete version of the finalised proposals hereIf you want to discuss BAME Labour in your CLP and make a submission to the Democracy Review through it, please see the Seema Chandwani Guide to Debating BAME Labour in your CLP

On the Labour Briefing site Pete Firmin writes,

JUST BEFORE LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE, the NEC decided that there would be a fundamental review of party democracy, conducted by Katy Clark (ex- Scottish MP, now political secretary to Jeremy Corbyn) and two left NEC members, Claudia Webbe and Andy Kerr.

The commitment to this review was used to persuade several CLPs to withdraw their proposed rule changes rather than having them voted on (and probably lost) at conference. In doing so, however, several delegates made clear they would be watching the review closely and would be back with their proposals if they did not feel their concerns had been adequately addressed. Now the remit and timetable for the democracy review have been announced. It is to be run in three phases, with staggered deadlines:

  • On the organisational aspects of Young Labour, BAME Labour and Women’s conference, the deadline is 12th January 2018.
  • For submissions on “all other aspects of diversity and participation, your local party and building a mass movement”, the deadline is 23rd March.
  • For submissions on “electing our leadership, how we make policy and the way we work”, it is 28th June.

It is clear that the intention is to have conclusions going to 2018 conference for voting. While this makes some windows for participation short, such a review is well overdue and the sooner some fundamental changes are made the better. And a holistic review is far better than changing rules piecemeal.

Of course, none of this guarantees an outcome favourable to the left. For that to happen, activists have to encourage as many members as possible to submit proposals, win CLP and union support, lobby review and NEC members and carefully scrutinise proposals which come from the review.

While the review is far-ranging, and covers many important areas, there are also gaps in the remit which need questioning. Among these is the issue of a full democratic selection process for parliamentary (and council) candidates, ending the current procedure of trigger ballots. (Katy Clark has said this is outside her remit.) Disciplinary procedures, the Compliance Unit and issues of natural justice do not appear to be covered, either.

There is no reason why we should accept these limitations. Submissions should be made on anything and everything which concerns members about the functioning of the Party. And if this is outside the remit, let the review team explain why they will have ignored hundreds of submissions on an issue – and we can use that impetus to push for additional changes through rule changes if necessary.

On many issues it will be a matter of knowing the right questions to ask rather than simply being led by the review’s guidelines. So, for instance, in the section “how we make policy,” it asks “What are your views on the National Policy Forum and how it works?” Many (especially newer) members will not know how the NPF works, or that it was introduced as part of Blair’s counter-reforms precisely to take power away from conference. The Labour Representation Committee has long had a policy of scrapping the NPF and restoring full power to conference. The earliest deadline is for some areas that need the most fundamental changes.

Many members have raised doubts about democracy in both BAME Labour and Young Labour. The recent re-election of Keith Vaz to the BAME Labour place on the NEC was certainly questioned. At conference a young delegate raised the issue of the privileged position Labour Students hold within Young Labour and the fact that Young Labour does not have a constitution and standing orders decided on at their AGM.

Women’s conference is a large bone of contention, pitched in recent years as a mere add-on to national conference with no right to submit resolutions to conference, no policy-making powers of its own, and no structures. An urgent need is to ensure the empowerment of women members throughout the Party.

There are other grossly undemocratic areas of the Party, especially around local government, with no ability for the Party to elect the local leader, write the local manifesto or decide local policy in relation to local authorities.

We encourage readers to make submissions to all areas of the review. There will, without doubt, be suggestions for submissions from campaigns and the likes of Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and Momentum, and these should be used where appropriate. Briefing also asks readers to send articles or letters covering areas of the review which can be printed over the next months. The review is probably a one-time opportunity to seriously transform the functioning of the Party. We have to use it to the utmost.

Solidarity writes,

The Labour Party is doing yet another democracy review.

This time, however, the review comes under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, and its coordinator is Katy Clark, formerly a left-wing Labour MP and someone we on Solidarity have known as a solid socialist back to her student days in Aberdeen and Edinburgh in the late 1980s and early 90s.

The deadline for Phase 1 submissions is 12 January, and they are to cover BAME (black and minority-ethnic) Labour, Young Labour, and Labour Women’s Conference.

Phase 2 (submissions by 23 March) covers more diffuse topics, such as strengthening the involvement and participation of members, but also specifically the governance of CLPs [constituency Labour Parties] and the place of Labour’s twenty affiliated socialist societies.

Phase 3 (by 29 June) will deal with the election of the party leader, the composition of the National Executive (NEC), the policy process, local government, and Labour’s links with trade unions.

A first report is scheduled for Labour Party conference in September 2018. This should also include all remitted rule changes from the 2017 Labour Party conference. Delegates were assured they would all be considered during the review.

Ensuring that the democracy review is in itself run on democratic principles is important. We would encourage all CLPs, and union affiliates to put forward proposals, invite relevant NEC members and Katy Clark to address meetings and promote participation particularly from young members on the future of Young Labour.

Previous reviews have almost totally ignored the submissions put forward. There is good reason to believe that this time will be different, but we should not be complacent.

Fundamentally any move to greater democracy in the party must mean structures that put basic democratic controls into the hands of members and local party units, with a responsive and accountable national structure that includes oversight of the parliamentary Labour Party and the way the leader and her or his team operate.

One of the great differences since Harold Wilson has been the increasing size and weight of the staff around the leader.
It was previously very easy for other insiders to speak to the leader. Now almost anyone can find it difficult to get past the praetorian guard of staff.

There is a remedy: the sovereign decision-making body of the Labour Party. A conference with meaningful power that set the policy agenda and passes motions that are then included in the manifesto.

At the 2017 conference, Labour passed a number of good polices including the repeal of all existing anti-trade union laws since the conference there has been complete silence on the issue. Most members will not know about the policy, let alone plans for it be enacted by a Labour government. How and where can members get involved to turn the conference resolution into a living campaign, that can draw in support from the wider labour movement and local parties?

There is no method at the moment for the policy to be realised. The frankly hollow and seemingly inept National Policy Forum never appears to consider conference policy when it submits its report to conference.

Conference is only one of several aspects being discussed. Already the scope of the review excludes selection procedures, which are one of the primary principles of a democratic and member-led party. We can see no good reason to be restricted by the official terms when submissions are made to the review.

At this stage we do not know with what level of scrutiny different submissions will receive. We have formulated a series of proposals covering the three stages of the review ,and would be keen to work with others to promote these principles and discuss any other proposals.

Submissions opened on 1 November and can be made either online or by email.

More via above link.

Progress.

The Katy Clark ‘democracy review’ wears its faction on its sleeve, believes Conor Pope

It is true that a mass movement behind the Labour party is desirable and provides a convenient well for a range of fresh ideas; new technology allows the opportunity for that mass movement to be participatory and grassroots-led in a way never before capable; and the party certainly needs to be more diverse to thrive and make the most of this opportunity.

In this regard, there is little to disagree with in Katy Clark’s argument. She is rightly vague about the outcomes; if she were not, it would not be much of a review. But it is fair to have concerns about what the end results are likely to be.

The review is very close to Jeremy Corbyn’s office. Clark, on secondment from her role as the Labour leader’s political secretary, is assisted by Claudia Webbe, elected to the National Executive Committee on the Momentum slate, and Andy Kerr from the Communication Workers’ Union, which officially affiliated to Momentum earlier this year.

In the past, such reviews into party reform have retained at least modicum of independence. This one wears its faction on its sleeve. To look to the leadership’s past form as a potential guide to the future, therefore, may not be unreasonable.

In late 2015, Corbyn sent out an email to Labour members, canvassing views on the upcoming vote on military action against Isis in Syria, in what was briefed at the time as an unprecedented sign of engagement with the grassroots. Yet Corbyn had already made his view known – reiterating it in the email itself – and it is hard to see the move as anything other than an attempt to wield the supportive feedback as leverage in shadow cabinet battles. It was not ‘involving members’, it was utilising them as a tool in an internal dispute.

Party reform was such an integral part of Corbyn’s first leadership campaign in 2015 that when I interviewed him that summer I questioned him over his support for making annual conference the main body for deciding policy. I put it to him that surely that would give greater power to people who just like going to lots of political meetings, rather than truly opening politics up? ‘At the moment it’s made by people who don’t go to political meetings and are just experts,’ he replied.

In that same 2015 interview, Corbyn suggested to me that the 1988 leadership contest between Neil Kinnock and Tony Benn – in which the Islington North member of parliament backed Benn – was a potential model for how future leadership elections might work. Yet when he himself was challenged for the leadership a year later, the precedent set by Kinnock that the incumbent should seek fresh nominations was no longer enough.

The NEC backed Corbyn on that, as it did on the plan to expand by three places to give new members a say, for which Momentum founder and owner Jon Lansman has been chosen for the hard-left slate.

It seems, then, that Corbyn and his supporters are not above using the language of democratisation for their own political ends.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 13, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Spiked-on-Line and Stephen Potter: The Praxis of Lifemanship.

with 10 comments

Image result for Lifemanship potter

Spiked-on-Line’s Manual.

“Soros does not believe in the legitimacy of borders nor in the authority of national electorates. Consequently he feels entitled to influence and if possible direct the political destiny of societies all over the world. “

The Telegraph  Living Marxism (LM).

They claim that the headline of the Telegraph piece is an anti-Semitic trope: it says Soros is ‘backing secret plot to thwart Brexit.’ That’s anti-Semitic? That would be a more convincing argument if the Telegraph and others hadn’t also regularly written about other plots – of which there are many! – to overthrow the democratic vote for Brexit, including those that do not involve donations from billionaires who happen to be Jewish.

Brendan O’Neill. Spiked on Line.

Nick Timothy liked the story so much he re-tweeted it.

 Retweeted

 

The role of Spiked-on-Line in the hate campaign against Soros has received attention on the left for the simple reason that this group, with origins on the far-left, is now popping up all over the right wing (not to say far-right)  British press.

They are above all celebrated as “contrarians”.

Brendan O’Neill in particular.

Having left behind Marxism, Socialism and indeed any form of the left, the crew have found a new ‘look me up to’ in the works of Stephen Potter.

Potter (whose books, it goes without saying are on all serious leftists’ shelves) is best known for this,

It was the first of his series of books purporting to teach ploys for manipulating one’s associates, making them feel inferior and thus gaining the status of being one-up on them. From this book, the term “Gamesmanship” entered the English language. Potter said that he was introduced to the technique by C. E. M. Joad during a game of tennis in which Joad and Potter were struggling against two fit young students. Joad politely requested the students to state clearly whether a ball had landed in or out (when in truth it was so obviously out that they had not thought it necessary to say so). This nonplussed the students, who wondered if their sportsmanship was in question; they became so edgy that they lost the match.

But that is not the end of the method.

Sport is only one case of always being “one up” on your opponents.

The Master defined the objective, “How to be one up – how to make the other man feel that something has gone wrong, however slightly.” Or, if you “are not one up, you are one down”.

Rosie Bell once outlined a key aspect of  the Potter praxis:

In his series Lifemanship (1950)  Stephen Potter invented a reviewer called Hope-Tipping who, in order to make a splash, would take a writer to task for not doing something he was famous for,  e.g. accuse D H Lawrence of showing  a neglect of “the consciousness of sexual relationship, the male and female element in life”.   So Hope-Tipping would be severely disappointed with Irving Welsh’s lack of interest in Edinburgh’s low life and he would castigate Dick Francis for not drawing on his knowledge of horses and horse-racing

The advice for what Potter called “Newstatesmaning”, that is reviewing, is at the centre of Spiked on Line’s approach. Sitting down with a dog-eared copy of the book and its sequel, One-Upmanship: Being Some Account of the Activities and Teachings of the Lifemanship Correspondence College of One-Upness and Games Lifemastery (1952) the team can write any number of articles.

The New Statesman writer Jonn Elledge recently found a few, or rescued them from the waste bin,

The campaign against the so-called “Black Death” has exposed the liberals’ true agenda.

The misogyny of the Suffragettes.

The witch-hunting of Jack the Ripper

There is are tired and trusted techniques. A master stroke is “Yes, but not in the South”, which “with slight adjustments, will do for any argument about any place, if not about any person and render any of your opponents’ assertions suspect.

There has been much justified celebration this week of that historic enfranchisement of around 8.4million mainly middle-class women. Far less attention has been paid to the other victory for democracy in the 1918 Act – the granting of the vote to virtually all males aged over 21, which enfranchised some 5.6million working-class men for the first time.

That side of the Act does not fit the fashionable script, which depicts the democratic victory of February 1918 as a triumph for modern feminism.

Mick Hume Spiked on Line 7th of February 2018

Or to imply that you are somehow in the highest realm of intellectual debate, but that you are also in touch with the common taste – lowbrowmanship.

2018 heralds the 80th anniversary of the longest running comic book in history – the Beano. For generations, working-class kids have grown up with the characters in the Beano. And supreme among them is the eternally naughty 10-year-old, Dennis the Menace, who first appeared on 12 March 1951.

Denis Hayes. Spiked on Line.  4th of January 2018.

Unfortunately if we thought that the professional contrarians were a joke they have their admirers, from Sky News, to here:

 

Here.

 

Campaign to Support Afrin, as Turkey is alleged to recruit ISIS Genociders to attack the Kurdish YPG.

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Turkey using ISIS fighters for Afrin invasion – newspaper

Turkey is deploying Islamic State (ISIS) fighters to Afrin to help it fight the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) there, a former ISIS fighter told The Independent’s Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn.

“Turkey at the beginning of its operation tried to delude people by saying that it is fighting ISIS, but actually they are training ISIS members and sending them to Afrin,” he quoted the man, named Faraj, as saying.

Turkey was using members of the extreme jihadist group because of their fighting experience, and because there are few likely consequences for Turkish domestic opinion if they suffer casualties, Cockburn said.

ISIS, meanwhile, is trying to regain a foothold in Syria, and dealing damage to the U.S.-backed YPG would be an important strategic move, he said.

“The fighting between Turks and Kurds and the growing confrontation between the U.S. and Turkey are all in the interests of ISIS,” Cockburn said.

“It does not have the strength to recover from its crushing defeats last year, but the opponents it faced then are now fighting other battles.”

Turkey’s state news agency has also said that the YPG has freed jailed ISIS fighters in return for the militants joining the fight against Turkey.

There is growing international concern, as this campaign illustrates.

 A group of intellectuals, professors, academics and human rights activists launched world campaign against the Turkish occupation of Afrin and signed a petition against the Turkish occupation.

The petition called on the United Nations, America, Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from violating the Syrian territories and allowing the people of Afrin to live in peace, and demanded an end to attacks by the Turkish state against Afrin.

Afrin is surrounded by al-Qaeda, jihadist groups and the Turkish state

According to the petition, the majority of Afrin residents are Kurds, the most secure areas in Syria. The population of the Afrin region has doubled over the past five years; the population is about 400,000. The petition noted that Afrin is now besieged by the jihadist groups affiliated with Turkey, as well as al-Qaeda and the Turkish state.

People’s Protection Units alone protect peoples

The petition also addressed the Turkish threats against People’s Protection Units in Afrin. These units, participated with US against IS, have opened the way for the establishment of democratic civil society councils in the areas under their control. It stressed that People’s Protection Units defend the Kurds and other peoples living in northern Syria.

The lives of thousands of civilians are threatened

The intellectuals also emphasized Erdogan tries to eliminate the safe and stable Afrin canton, pointing out any possible attack that would threaten the lives of thousands of civilians and displaced people. Stressing at the same time that any Turkish attack will be with the permission of Russia, Iran and Syria, and America’s inaction.

Supporting Kurds, who sacrificed thousands of their martyrs in the war against IS, is a moral responsibility

The petition signed by intellectuals and academics said that the Kurdish people sacrificed thousands of their martyrs to save the world from IS mercenaries. “The moral responsibility is imposed on the international community and on America to stand by the Kurdish people.”

The petition called on the United Nations, the United States, Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from violating Syrian land and to allow the people of Afrin to live in peace. It also called for an end to attacks by the Turkish state against Afrin.

Among those who signed the petition were Noam Chomsky, Michael Walzer, Charlotte Bunch, Todd Gitlin, David Graeber, Nadje Al Ali, David Harvey, Michael Hardt, Marina Sitrin, David Phillips, Ann Snitow, Bill Fletcher, Joey Lawrence, Meredith Tax and Debbie Bookchin.

Full text of the petition:

We, the undersigned academics and human rights activists, insist that the leaders of Russia, Iran, and the U.S. ensure that the sovereignty of Syrian borders is not breached by Turkey and that the people of Afrin in Syria, be allowed to live in peace.

Afrin, whose population is predominantly Kurdish, is one of the most stable and secure regions in Syria. With very little international aid, Afrin has taken in so many Syrian refugees in the last five years that its population has doubled to 400,000. Afrin is now surrounded by enemies: Turkish-supported jihadi groups, al Qaeda, and Turkey.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to attack the U.S. military’s Kurdish partners – the Kurdish YPG or People’s Protection Units – with which the US has been allied against ISIS. Turkey accuses the YPG of being “terrorists” despite the YPG’s long track record of setting up local democratic governing councils in each of the towns it has liberated from ISIS and its repeated statements that it has no interest in Turkey and wishes to function only as a defense force for Syrian Kurds and other ethnicities living in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), also known as “Rojava”, which includes Afrin.

Turkey has massed an enormous military force on the Afrin border and President Erdogan has promised to attack the Kurdish-controlled canton with full force, annihilating a peaceful enclave, and putting thousands of civilians and refugees at risk, all in pursuit of its vendetta against the Kurds.

An attack of this kind against the peaceful citizens of Afrin is a blatant act of aggression against a peaceful and democratically-governed region and population. Turkey cannot carry out such an attack without the approval of Russia, Iran and Syria – and inaction by the U.S. to stop it. The Kurdish people have endured the loss of thousands of young men and women who joined the YPG, and YPJ women’s force, to rid the world of ISIS. The U.S and the international community have a moral obligation to stand behind the Kurdish people now. We call on U.S. officials and the international community to guarantee Afrin’s stability and security and prevent further Turkish aggression from within Syria and across the Syrian border.

There is also this:

*Urgent call for Demo:
#STOPAFRINGENOCIDE#

Since 20 January Turkish army and its mercenaries are brutally continuing attacking Efrîn Canton bombing civilians homes and shelling hospitals and schools to destroying the peaceful co-existing people of northern Syria. To protest these attacks by Turkish State, we call everyone to join us and protest outside the Prime Minister Office in London, where leaflets and information will be distributed everyday for a week long desk with a tent/ Afrin resistance comp.
Start Date : 10/02/2018 Saturday
Time: 12:00am-6pm
Address: 10 Downing Street
Closest station: Westminister Station
Kurdish People Assembly
Roj Women Assembly
Democratic Union Party (PYD)-UK

2 of ISIS’ Infamous British Fighters Are Captured by Syrian Kurds

New York Times.

Syrian Kurdish fighters have detained two British men infamous for their role in the Islamic State’s imprisonment, torture and killing of Western hostages, according to American officials.

The men were part of a group of four Islamic State militants known as the Beatles because of their British accents. Officials identified the two men captured as Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh. They were the last two members of the group to remain at large.

The ringleader, Mohammed Emwazi, was killed in an airstrike in 2015 in Syria after an intensive manhunt. Known as Jihadi John, he beheaded American and British hostages. A fourth man, Aine Davis, is imprisoned in Turkey on terrorism charges.

All four had lived in West London. Mr. Kotey, born in London, is of Ghanaian and Greek Cypriot background, while Mr. Elsheikh’s family fled Sudan in the 1990s. Both men have been designated foreign terrorists by the United States.

The British extremists were known for their brutality. They repeatedly beat the hostages they kept imprisoned in Raqqa, Syria, formerly the Islamic State’s self-declared capital, and subjected them to waterboarding and mock executions. Mr. Emwazi was believed to have killed the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as Abdul-Rahman Kassig, an aid worker. The American government says the group beheaded more than 27 hostages.

 

 

Here

Written by Andrew Coates

February 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm