Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Nationalism’ Category

Political Confusion on the European Union Gains Ground on the Left: Jacques Sapir and the Front National.

with 8 comments

Selling Your Soul to Mr. Putin

Jacques Sapir: Red/Brown Alliance Against European Union. 

There is an excellent French Blog site which deals in “political confusionism”.

Back in July it picked up on a development that’s hit the headlines in France over the last few days: the call by “left” economist Jacques Sapir for an alliance with the Front National. (JACQUES SAPIR, UN HOMME DE GAUCHE ?).

Like many people (including we note floating voter Tariq Ali who got a column in Le Monde recently hinting darkly at ‘the left’ turning against Europe) he is claiming that the crisis in Greece shows the need for a left-wing anti-European Union stand.

Sapir has gone one stage further than the NO2EU UK left and indicated that he would be favourable to this:

 L’économiste «hétérodoxe» préconise une alliance des partis anti-euro, regroupant le Front de gauche et le Front national.

Like certain British Labour politicians he has a fondness for evoking memories of the Resistance.

Sapir gave the Conseil national de la résistance (CNR) as his model.

Sapir is no unknown: a prominent economist, and Director of the Centre d’études des modes d’industrialisation (CEMI-EHESS), he has been close to the Front de Gauche, to Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Parti de Gauche and to the “sovereigntist” former Socialist Minister (and leader of the left tendency inside the Parti Socialiste, CERES), Jean-Pierre  Chevènement.

On the Confusionisme site  Ornella Guyet adds,

Prominent in the current debate surrounding the Greek crisis, a prominent supporter of  “de-globalization” – whose theories inspired the Arnaud Montebourg’s (1) discourse on the question – he is also an expert on Russia, known for his softness towards  the Putin regime, equally famous for his careerism, his homophobia and his alliances with the far right in Europe. His site Russeurope, given legitimacy by legitimized by its academic pretensions Jacques Sapir is a frequent guest of  the salons of the Russian embassy, ​​as well as seminars of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, a think tank based in Paris to promote the image of Putin’s Russia in Europe. Not surprisingly, we find his name in several pro-Kremlin media, Voice of Russia and Sputnik News.

More recently, obsessed by the Euro, he has become ever closer to the “sovereigntists” of the Right:  the groupuscule Debout la République

Sapir claims that the Front National has “changed” from its far-right origins, and that in any case he was talking about an alliance of the right and left involving a party that has “come from” this transformed FN.

Immediate reaction on the left to Sapir’s ideas was not favourable.

Eric Coquerel, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s close ally,  called this strategy “an aberration”. He continued, “Given the scale of the current crisis, we must offer an alternative to  fascist and xenophobic reactions. Their nation is not ours. ”  Clémentine Autain (Ensemble), a leader of the Left Front  has said that “The phenomenon is not massive…but it  gives credibility to the FN . “

It is however well known that Mélenchon’s party is openly flirting with the idea of a “Plan B”, that is, leaving the Euro, “if a renegotiation of EU treaties fails .”

They plan an “internationalist summit for Plan B” to be held in late 2015 which bring together those in the like minded  “left” who agree to work together on the subject. (More here)

Sovereigntism, that is the belief that the “nation” has the supreme right to decide “its” fate – faced with international forces, from the European Union to NATO – appears to be gaining ground on the British left as well. The collapse of sections of the left to the belief that Scotland would be better off governed by its “ain folk”  in the SNP was one indication. After the Greek crisis, anti-European Union voices have become louder, promoting perhaps a return to a belief in a road to socialism outside of the EU.

At a time when fear of ‘foreigners’ – migrant workers, refugees in particular – is reaching an all-time high in Europe, playing with nationalism seems a dangerous gamble.

(1) Left-wing of the Parti Socialiste. Montebourg scored  17,19 % in the first round of the open PS French Presidential “primaries” of the party, which involved 2,700,000 voters who signed a declaration saying the backed the values of the left – without anybody wetting themselves about “infiltration”.

Populism, Popular-Democratic Fronts and Tim Farron.

with 5 comments


Tim Farron: New Populist Front – but don’t invite Gays!

Older left-wingers will remember the group, the Democratic Left.

It was the official heir of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and grew out of the magazine Marxism Today.

We have written on some of the theories and politics behind this group, Stuart Hall, Thatcherism, and Marxism Today (also published in North Star. June 2013).

One of the principal criticisms of the current that became the Democratic Left, was its its willingness to dissolve any form of class politics into a very nebulous form of “democratic alliance”. In the case of Stuart Hall this took the shape of looking for “new constituencies for change” to win over a hegemonic majority opposed to the ‘National Popular” configuration that cemented the electoral  the base of Margaret Thatcher’s ‘authoritarian populism”.

The idea that there is an alternative, progressive, type of populism, is not new. The present rise in the intellectual  popularity of “populism” on the British left, articulated in a “democratic” left-inflected way, woes something to another influence on the Democratic Left, the “post Marxism” of Ernesto Laclau, and, to a lesser extent Chantal Mouffe (she has since adopted a form of left republicanism or “agonistic pluralism” *).

Laclau developed the idea out of his studies of Latin America, including Peronism, and a critique of the Althussarian  and Poulantzian position on the class grounds of ideology. Ideology is something which only take a class alignment in specific configurations of discourse. This leaves open the possibility of “democratic” as well as reactionary forms of populism. That is ” the basis of populism in the creation of “empty signifiers”: words and ideas that constitute and express an “equivalential chain”. This “equivalential chain” is made possible only when a list of unfulfilled political demands create a ‘logic of equivalence” between them. ” To translate: populism can become ‘popular’ when the frustrated masses fuse their demands (through what mechanism?) together.

Like Castoriadis’ concept of the “social imaginary” this appears to encourage a great deal of political creativity. Unfortunately it also allows politicians to ‘creatively ‘ make alliances and launch campaigns around demand with whoever seems to advance their cause. It is also suggested that it lets political parties and activists lose sight of the need to give a voice to clear interests – like class – and to make “socialism” such a flexible ‘democratic’ signifier that it loses all specific meaning.

We hear that Laclau has had an impact of Podemos and (we are surprised at this) the more seriously left-wing Syriza (Why Ernesto Laclau is the intellectual figurehead for Syriza and Podemos In the Spanish case it appears to mean appealing to the “masses” against the “elites”, the “political caste” (la casta), and claims to have gone “beyond” the “old” divisions between left and right.

In a British left-wing  version, advanced by, amongst others,  Owen Jones, left populism appears to mean pandering to anti-European fears. It can, in fact, mean just about anything that is “popular”

This is the end result of the (soon to dissolve) Democratic Left:

The Democratic Left stated a belief in a pluralist and socialist society “incompatible with the structures and values of capitalism.” Beginning as a political party, it decided not to stand candidates but instead to support tactical against the Conservatives at the 1992 General election and soon become a non-party campaigning organisation. DL campaigned on modernising unions, including Unions21; anti-racism and cultural diversity; democratising Britain, including Make Votes Count; social exclusion and poverty, including the Social Exclusion Network; focussing on coalition building, and operating in effect as a ‘socialist anti-Conservative front’.


Hard-line critics of this approach dismissed it as an end to class politics, without any solid basis in society, and (for Trotksyists) a renewed “popular frontism”, without specific socialist politics.

The Democratic  Left withered away during the early Blair years, though we hear that some of them are still around in the New Politics Network (always something ‘new’…) and the journal Soundings.

We were reminded of these ideas when we read Red Pepper in June.

Many of the SNP candidates in the last election were chosen from or influenced by this movement, even though the movement is autonomous from the SNP. They have come to Westminster not with a nationalist but an anti‑austerity and pro-democracy agenda. As George Kerevan, now MP for East Lothian, said in the last issue of Red Pepper: ‘Watch out for SNP campaigners south of the border. If there are anti-austerity demonstrations in London, I will be there.’

He’s not alone. And although with Cameron in office there is probably little that he and his fellow SNP activists can achieve through sitting in Westminster and sticking to conventional procedure, there is much that a progressive anti-austerity alliance of MPs, including from Plaid Cymru, the Labour left and the victorious Green Caroline Lucas, can contribute to amplify the voices and demands of the movement across the country.

Hilary was once a critic of the Democratic Left and Marxism Today…..

It will be interesting to see this ‘populist’ left reacts to this generous offer:

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, began his first day in office by calling for progressive groups on the left to come together to forge a joint agenda on key constitutional issues such as electoral and Lords reform. He also revealed that defence of civil liberties, more social housing, climate change and continued UK membership of the European Union will be the primary issues on which he first intends to define his leadership.

This seems one of the – many – stumbling blocks to this new alliance (Guardian).

The new Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, on Friday night repeatedly avoided answering whether he regarded gay sex as a sin during a live television interview.

Just one day into his role as party leader, in an interview with Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News, Farron was asked whether he personally believed, as a Christian, that homosexual sex was a sin.

After replying that as liberals it was not “our views on personal morality that matter”, Farron said that to “understand Christianity is to understand that we are all sinners”.

* See the readable On the Political. Chantal Mouffe.  2005 and the, less readable, Agonistics: Thinking The World Politically. Chantal Mouffe. 2013.


Fighting Islamic State is not a Crime: Release Pablo and Álvaro!

with 4 comments


Release the Fighters Against Daesh!

As the UK media agonises about British recruits to Deash, repression of those internationalists willing to go and fight the genociders continues:

ANF – News Desk

Kurdish Question.

The Marxist Leninist Communist Party-Rojava (MLKP) has released a statement condemning the arrest by the Spanish state of two Spanish revolutionaries soon after return from the battle in Rojava, West Kurdistan.

MLKP Rojava stressed that only enhancement of the international solidarity would defeat these attacks on those putting up a fight against ISIS.

Remarking that the struggle waged in Rojava and Shengal against ISIS is being strengthened with heroic resistance admired by the oppressed all over the world today, the statement said that Rojava is a territory where the oppressed peoples and humanity longing for freedom, equality and justice are realising their dreamed future bit by bit.

The statement said: “This is why it is being defended with self-sacrificing resistance. Our Spanish communist comrades have also been a part of this dignified struggle by putting up a fight at many fronts in Rojava to defend it against fascistic ISIS gangs. The presence of Spanish communists in Rojava is at the same time a call to progressive humanity to ‘enhance this dignified struggle’ against fascistic ISIS gangs, an enemy to all the world’s peoples”, the statement said.

MLKP Rojava emphasised that the struggle and fight against ISIS, enemy of humanity, women, oppressed peoples, faith groups and nations, was a fair and legitimate one. It also stressed that defense of Rojava was a fight of honour and freedom and represented human dignity.

“The arrest by the Spanish state of our two Spanish comrades is as illegitimate as the defense of the Rojava revolution is legitimate and right”, it underlined.


Condemning the Spanish state for arresting revolutionaries in addition to failing to adopt an attitude against the ISIS fascism, MLKP Rojava said they assessed the arrest by the Spanish state as an attack targeting not only Spanish communists but also the anti-imperialist and anti-fascist struggle growing around the Rojava Revolution.

Stressing that it is only enhancement of the international solidarity that will defeat these attacks, MLKP Rojava ended its statement by conveying sincerest feelings of solidarity to the Marxist Leninist Rebuilding Organisation and the two Spanish comrades arrested.

The French Initiative Communiste-Ouvrière  (a left group with origins in the Iranian ‘Hekmatist’ current (here), which has no relation to ‘Marxism-Leninism’) also appeals for the comrades’ release.

Combattre Daesh n’est pas un crime ! Relaxe pour Pablo et Álvaro !

Pablo D.O. et Álvaro F.R. alias ‘Paco’ sont deux militants communistes espagnols, membres de l’organisation Reconstrucción Comunista. Ils ont été arrêtés le lundi 6 juillet à Madrid et inculpés le mardi 7 juillet de « participation à une organisation terroriste » pour avoir combattu aux côtés de l’YPG au Kurdistan syrien contre les obscurantistes fanatiques de Daesh.

En attente de leur procès, les deux militants communistes sont placés en liberté surveillée : ils ont du rendre leurs passeports, ont l’interdiction de quitter le territoire espagnol et doivent pointer toutes les semaines au tribunal.

Défendre la population civile de Rojava contre les bandes fanatiques de Daesh n’est pas un crime ! Pablo et Alvaro ont lutté au Kurdistan au nom de l’internationalisme contre Daesh, une organisation responsable de nombreux crimes contre l’humanité tant en Syrie qu’en Irak.

L’ héroïque résistance de la population de Rojava, de Shengal et d’ailleurs contre la barbarie des fanatiques de Daesh a été et continue d’être soutenue dans le monde entier par tous ceux et toutes celles dont le cœur bat pour les valeurs de liberté, d’égalité et d’humanité. En partant se battre en Rojava pour défendre la population civile contre les bandes terroristes de Daesh, Pablo et Alvaro n’ont commis aucun crime bien au contraire ! Il est en plus, non seulement injuste, mais particulièrement délirant d’inculper de « participation à une organisation terroriste », deux militants qui justement ont combattu Daesh, une des principales organisations terroristes.

L’Initiative Communiste-Ouvrière affirme sa solidarité avec Pablo et Alvaro et demande leur relaxe immédiate et inconditionnelle.

L’Initiative Communiste-Ouvrière appelle toutes les organisations, ouvrières, féministes ou de défense des droits humains, tous ceux et toutes celles qui ont manifesté leur soutien à la résistance de Kobanê, à interpeller les autorités espagnoles pour demander la relaxe de Pablo et Alvaro.

Syria: Air Strikes on the Way? How Should the Left React?

with 7 comments

Two RAF Tornado GR4's

Is ISIS massacre of 30 UK holidaymakers in Tunisia only the beginning?

Comments Paul Rogers on the Stop the War Coalition site.

He notes:

“..the great majority of people in the UK are hardly aware that this is a major war – and that Britain is at the centre of it.”


While one intention was seriously to wreck the Tunisian tourist industry, leading to higher unemployment and more anger and resentment, providing a better environment for recruiting young people to the IS cause, it was probably part of a much wider intention to bring the conflict home to the coalition of countries now engaged in the air war.

This makes for uncomfortable connections, especially as most people in Britain simply do not recognise that the country is part of a large coalition that has been waging a major air offensive on IS forces in Iraq and Syria for almost a year.

He concludes,

One of the grim ironies of the Sousse attack is that the appalling loss of life might alert more people in the UK to the true extent of the war. Equally, IS will no doubt encourage further attacks on the countries at war with it; counterterrorism forces in countries as far afield as the US, Australia, Canada, France and Britain will accordingly be intensifying their work.

It is just possible that the Sousse massacre will turn out to be an isolated attack on British nationals, but it’s very unlikely. The reality is that the war with IS in Iraq and Syria is beginning to extend beyond those countries and the region – even beyond the established battlegrounds ofAfghanistan and Libya. What happened to the holidaymakers in Sousse may only be the beginning of a new phase.


If it is a “war” against Daesh we can be sure we know today where the UK government stands.

Consider Syria IS strikes, defence secretary urges MPs

MPs should consider allowing Britain to bomb Islamic State targets in Syria, the defence secretary is to say.

The RAF has been carrying out strikes in Iraq since September but Michael Fallon will say Parliament should look at the case for missions in Syria too.

The UK does not need the backing of MPs to launch raids but Mr Fallon has said the Commons will have the final say.

He will suggest terrorist attacks, such as Friday’s tourist murders in Tunisia, may have been planned by IS in Syria.

Thirty of the 38 tourists killed on the beach in Sousse on 26 June have been confirmed as British. Student Seifeddine Rezgui, 23, said to have had links to IS, was shot dead by police after carrying out the attack.

Prime Minister David Cameron later said IS posed “an existential threat” to the West, and its members in Iraq and Syria were plotting “terrible attacks” on British soil.

The Mirror also notes,

Britain edged closer to bombing Islamic State extremists in Syria after the Defence Secretary said it was “illogical” to attack jihadists in Iraq but not over the border.

Michael Fallon said a new Commons vote would be needed before the RAF carried out air strikes against Islamist fighters in Syria.

But he insisted there was no “legal bar” blocking Britain from attacking extremists in either country.

RAF Tornados and drones have been bombing the jihadists in Iraq since last September as part of a US-led alliance.

But Mr Fallon said: “ISIS is organised and directed and administered from Syria and there’s an illogicality about not being able to do it there.”

Where does the StWC stand?

Will it ‘defend’ the genociders of Daesh, and the European volunteers for its racist Einsatzgruppen from this bombing?

We say:

Another foreign intervention in Syria and Iraq is a bad idea, ethically and in terms of Realpolitik. The UK and the West have not opposed support for the reactionary forces of Al Nusra and other Islamist murderers. Their allies, such as Saudi Arabia, actively back these reactionaries. They have not stood against the threat of Turkish ‘Neo-Ottoman’ policy. They had not stood against Shia sectarian killings in Iraq.

The possibility that they will encourage any kind of democratic outcome to the civil war, and a replacement for the Assad regime with a progressive alternative is non-existent.

But to make opposition to this  bombing our chief objective is wrong.

We should be backing the democratic, largely Kurdish forces, of the People’s Protection UnitsYekîneyên Parastina Gel,, battling the genociders and their International volunteers on the ground.

There is little we can do in this tumult, but we are must use all the resources we can to help our Kurdish sisters and brothers who are fighting for dear life.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 2, 2015 at 11:28 am

Moazzam Begg: Back Islamists of Al Nusra and from Al-Qaeda to Defeat Daesh.

with 22 comments


Al-Nusra: Stopping Daesh Narrative, Says Moazzam Begg.

David Cameron will not engage the only people able to stop the IS narrative writes Moazzam Begg on the Middle East Eye (Tuesday 30 June 2015).

Hat-tip: David T.

In this article these are the sentences that matter:

Ahrar al-Sham – part of the Islamic Front coalition – and Al-Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front are the largest, most effective opposition forces in Syria. They have been at the forefront in the fight against IS. Thousands of their members have been killed in battle, tortured, beheaded and crucified. Despite Al Nusra’s confirmation that Syria would not be used as a launchpad for attacks on the West both groups have been bombed by coalition forces.

Arguably the most credible voices against IS have been Islamic clerics traditionally associated with Al-Qaeda. These include Jordanian scholars Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and Abu Qatada. Cameron’s government fought very hard to deport the latter from Britain where he had been imprisoned on the basis of secret evidence, without charge, for over a decade.

In the end, Abu Qatada opted to return to Jordan, of his own accord, where he was acquitted of terrorism charges against him. During and after his imprisonment in the UK and Jordan Abu Qatada made repeated calls for the release of British aid workers and journalists held by militant groups – including IS. He declared their consequent murders unlawful and subsequently issued scathing fatwa [religious edicts] denouncing IS:

“This group [IS] does not have the authority to rule all Muslims and their declaration [the caliphate] applies to no-one but themselves. Its threats to kill opponents, sidelining of other groups and violent way of fighting opponents constitute a great sin, reflecting the reality of the group.”

Cameron must be wondering how many young Britons would have joined IS if Abu Qatada made these statements from the UK instead of Jordan?

Many people will consider Begg’s intervention as part of the effort to “re-brand” Al-Nusra (The rebranding of the Nusra Front.Mehdi Hasan).

But in this case it appears to be part of an attempt to extend this to elements within Al-Qaeda.

It’s not as if there is a lot to white-wash.

I am at present about half-way through this important book: Al Qaeda’s Global Crisis. The Islamic State, Takfir and the Genocide of Muslims. V. G. Julie Rajan 2015.

This book focuses on the crises facing Al Qaeda and how the mass killing of Muslims is challenging its credibility as a leader among Islamist jihadist organizations.

The book argues that these crises are directly related to Al Qaeda’s affiliation with the extreme violence employed against Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the decade since 9/11. Al Qaeda’s public and private responses to this violence differ greatly. While in public Al Qaeda has justified those attacks declaring that, for the establishment of a state of ‘true believers’, they are a necessary evil, in private Al Qaeda has been advising its local affiliates to refrain from killing Muslims.

To better understand the crises facing Al Qaeda, the book explores the development of Central Al Qaeda’s complex relationship with radical (mis)appropriations and manifestations of takfir, which allows one Muslim to declare another an unbeliever, and its unique relationship with each of its affiliates in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The author then goes on to consider how the prominence of takfir is contributing to the deteriorating security in those countries and how this is affecting Al Qaeda’s credibility as an Islamist terror organization. The book concludes by considering the long-term viability of Al Qaeda and how its demise could allow the rise of the even more radical, violent Islamic State and the implications this has for the future security of the Middle East, North Africa and Central/South Asia.

It would be very complex to go into the various alliances and conflcists between the different groups in Syria and Iraq – though there have no doubt been convergences between the so-called “opponents” of Daesh – Al-Nusra and the Islamic Front.

Perhaps a simpler way of dealing with Begg’s lies about Al-Qaeda and the Al-Nusra Front is to cite Patrick Cockburn in yesterday’s Independent.

 Because Isis publicises and boasts of its atrocities in order to spread fear, it masks the fact that official al-Qaeda affiliates, such as Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria or AQAP in Yemen, are just as dangerous.

Their basic agenda is very similar to that of the self-declared caliphate, with al-Nusra carrying out the enforced conversion of Druze and the massacre of those who resist. This attempted rebranding of extreme but non-Isis Sunni jihadis is opportunistic and often directed at making them more palatable as proxies for Sunni states such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

 There is more in Begg’s ideology: the reference to the importance  of the ‘Caliphate’.

He ends his piece with this distasteful observation:

…why did Seifeddine Rezguie kill 38 innocent tourists? Warped as his ideas must have been, he saw the tourists as representatives of Britain. Britain that had wanted to destroy the caliphate past, and, the caliphate present. The only ones who can successfully challenge the IS narrative, however, are the only ones the government will not engage with.

‘Caliphate John’ would doubtless agree.

Elderly working class tourists are indeed ‘targets’ for vengeance against the destruction of the ‘Caliphate past’, the “dismembered and occupied” Ottoman Empire.

But what exactly was this past?

The Caliphate – if we can condense so many different forms together,  as Begg does was marked by the treatment of   non-Muslims  as second class citizens and women as second class citizens. The caliphates were for most of their history based on slavery and landowner  exploitation. The Caliphate empires were grounded on the oppression of peoples, from Eastern Europe to North Africa. They regularly engaged in massacres of minorities, the torture and the murder of political opponents.

The clue perhaps lies in the word “empire“, not the word “Ottoman”.

Most people who are acquainted with the real – not fairy-story – history of the Caliphate, will feel sick in the stomach at  the thought that the Caliphate should be revived.

Whether it’s by Daesh or the forces Begg appears to favour, it is a potent symbol of tyranny, of class, sexual and religious oppression.

It is to hoped that this is the last time we will hear anybody on the left defending Moazzam Begg

End Austerity Now Demonstration: a Personal Report from Ipswich.

with 14 comments

Protesters flood Parliament Square (Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire)

Protesters flood Parliament Square (Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire)

End Austerity Now Demonstration: a Personal Report.

Around 80,000 people (the Tendance’s estimate) marched in London on Saturday. They protested against the newly elected Conservative government’s plans to continue, and deepen, austerity.

It’s unnecessary to list the faults of these policies. It’s enough to see the people begging in the streets, a few hundred metres from the office of Ipswich Tory M.P. Benedict Gummer. Without the response of the People’s Assembly, the unions, the diverse groups and parties on the demonstration, and the wider public, Cameron and Osborne will have free rein to create a mean-spirited free-market Britain.

From Ipswich and Stowmarket 42 people piled in our coach – there were more travelling to London by train. Up to 70% were under the age of 40, with a large percentage in their teens and twenties. This was reflected amongst the marchers, with a strong presence of young people.

While assembling by the Bank of England we were addressed by various speakers. Those advertised included Kate Hudson (Chair, Left Unity, CND) and Diane Abbott (Labour MP and candidate to represent the party for the London Mayoral contest). They and others made good, rousing, contributions on the need to fight austerity.

Weyman Bennett (SWP/Unite Against Fascism) linked people being rude to women wearing the Islamic veil to the massacre at Charleston and the heart-rending plight of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean. Lee Jasper (Respect Party), the ‘controversial’ former Director for Policing and Equalities under Ken Livingstone’s Greater London Authority Assembly continued in this vein.

Someone (one can imagine who) compared his peroration  unfavourably to Ali G.(1)  One Suffolk comrade remarked that on what she called the “shouting”.

It was to be regretted that there was nobody from the National Shop Stewards Network – a group which, whatever one’s political differences, represents a lot more than the former two users of the demo microphone – was not invited to speak.

The route of the protest, which began next to the City, took us from Ludgate Circus, down the Strand, past Trafalgar Square. This was the venue of a – poorly attended- commercial beano, a pop radio concert. It symbolised the use of public space for corporate gain.

Local People’s assembly groups (like Suffolk People’s Assembly) unions, Left Unity, anti-cuts organisations, disabeld rights groups,the SWP, the Socialist Party, and other (even) smaller left parties, the Labour Assembly Against Austerity , the Green Party …to Class War, were present.

In Parliament Square there were more speeches. Again there were solid well-argued arguments against the Cabinet’s plans, from Steve Turner (UNITE and the People’s Assembly) onwards. John Rees included a reference to the rights of atheists in a call for to defend the freedoms of different beliefs. His claim that the demonstrators were from all ethnic backgrounds was perhaps not fully substantiated by a glance at the overwhelmingly  white crowd.

Charlotte Church made an exceptional contribution.

The Mirror called it an “incredible speech“.

The Conservatives’ intention was to create a society around their principles, of private profit and public loss.

Describing the idea that Britain needs austerity as “the big lie”, Charlotte said: “They will sell off our schools and our hospitals. When it’s done, it will he hard to reverse.

“One aspect of this that really gets under my skin is that it’s all wrapped up in a proud-to-be-British package.

“I’m proud to be British because of the NHS and David Bowie, not because of the Union Jack.

“Be proud for the right reasons. We need to win back these young minds and save ourselves from years of yuppie rule.

“If you are ashamed that you have to use a food bank, because this Government would rather see you starve than put a note in your pocket, walk tall. You have the moral high ground.

“We are not afraid of national debt and we will not let our public services be attacked.”

She added: “What this country needs is economic stimulation – most economists around the world would say the same. We need to get the blood pumping.”

Earlier, she said: “I’m here today in a show of solidarity with everyone here – it is a massive turnout – everybody who thinks that austerity isn’t the only way and thinks it is essentially unethical, unfair and unnecessary.”

It was hard not to be moved by Charlotte’s clear and heart-felt words.

Her call for positive alternatives and hope will resonate across the country.

For many present, Jeremy Corbyn, standing for the Labour Party leadership, made a decisive call to make sure there is a strong left, anti-austerity,  vote in this election.

End Austerity Now was a success.

Where we go from now is the subject of serious discussion.

One way forward can be seen in the multitude of protests against welfare reform: from the continued campaign against the Bedroom Tax, Benefit cuts, Workfare, to the – still not fully implemented – psychological treatment of some claimants.

It is to be regretted that some parties see groups like the People’s Assembly as a recruiting ground.

In Suffolk the Green Party does not appear to publicise this:

Suffolk’s best-known Green Party politician has pulled out of the battle to become Ipswich MP in next May’s general election – because he hasn’t “got the heart” to take on Tory Ben Gummer.

Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of the Green and independent group on Suffolk County Council and an experienced election campaigner, was chosen earlier this year to fight for the Ipswich seat, but has now dropped out.

“Although I find Conservative policies odious and overly focused on free market fundamentalism, crass cost-cutting measures and ecological destitution, I am of the view that the current MP Ben Gummer is dedicated and hardworking.

“I respect his honest endeavours for the town. And, therefore, I can’t drum up sufficient energies to really take him on. I like my politics to work on a human level, and not in a tribalist way.

Ipswich Star.

The day was an achievement for the organisers.

It was, as they say, only a beginning.

(1) This is what Jasper said (Charlie Hebdo and Europe’s rampant racism. 17th of January) about the massacre at Charlie Hebdo  (he doesn’t even mention the anti-Semitic murder at the Hyper-Casher):

“JeSuisCharlie in this context is nothing more than appeal from right wings white’s to be allowed to be racist without opposition in the name of free speech.  It’s a sort of ‪#WhiteLivesMatter statement particularly when viewed in the context of the tragic violence and world silence about the Nigerian massacre by Boko Haram.

This privilege allows them to disregard the social environment and political context of such satire and its consequences.  Writing in this flawed tradition is the perogative  of white, middle class Libertarian anarchists. Charlie Hebdo is for me,  a silly magazine and quintessentially an exercise in white privilege and arrogance.

Left Kurdish Party HDP Celebrates Breakthrough as Erdoğan’s Islamists Face Set-Back.

with 16 comments

Our Sisters and Brothers Celebrate Break-through of HDP Party.

The Kurdish news agency, Rûdaw, reports,

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Democracy won over dictatorship in Turkey’s general elections on Sunday, said Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the HDP that looks set to become the first Kurdish-rooted party to enter parliament.

“In this election, supporters of peace and the democracy won against dictatorship and autocracy,” Demirtas said at a news conference after initial results showed the HDP had beaten the 10 percent required to get into the 550-seat parliament.

“Our victory was the victory of the proletariat, the working class and the exploited people of Turkey,” Demirta said. “It was the victory of those who intend to raise the Kurdish question.”

Demirtas reiterated that he would stand by promises made during the election campaign.

“Whatever we said during the election campaign will come true. From now, the HDP is a real party in Turkey. Thousands of people have a share in such an outrageous victory.”

With 99 percent of the votes counted, preliminary results showed that the HDP had won 12.6 percent of the votes across Turkey. With 10 percent of the votes, the HDP would win about 80 seats in the next parliament.

The victory means that the HDP, which is a pro-Kurdish party, had managed to win the votes of many non-Kurds, ending the single party rule enjoyed by the AKP since 2003.

It also means that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who angered the political parties by going against the constitution and virtually campaigning for the ruling party, will not have the pliant parliament he wanted to change the constitution, place himself as head of government and obtain unprecedented executive powers.

“There was a high inequality and the attacks they conducted against our supporters during the election campaigns was against peace and democracy,” Demirtas said, referring to deadly bombings and attacks on HDP offices and rallies in the run-up to the polls.

Latest news on the results (Guardian),

Opposition party leaders appear to be in no mood to discuss forming a coalition with the AKP.

The pro-Kurdish HDP party, which won 80 seats have repeated its unwillingness to do a deal with Erodogan’s party. Its leader Selahattin Demirtas, said:

“We have promised our people that we would not form an internal or external coalition with the AKP. We are clear on that.”

More significantly the nationalist MHP is also in an uncooperative move.

MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said:

“Nobody has the right to sentence Turkey to an AKP minority government. Whenever there can be early elections, let them take place.”

The Republican People’s Party [CHP], which came second with 25% of the vote, says it is ready to form a coalition if the other parties honour their pre-election promises of not forming a government with the AKP.

This Le Monde headline sums up the results.

Législatives en Turquie : Erdogan voit son rêve de sultanat lui échapper.

Elections in Turkey. Erdogan sees his dream of a sultanate escape him.

As we have already  posted during the election campaign Erdogan has railed against the opposition with exceptional virulence.

The Guardian reports,

Even by his shaky standards, Erdoğan’s behaviour during the campaign was exceptionally boorish. As president, he is expected to adopt a neutral stance. Instead, he barnstormed across the country holding rallies in support of the AKP. The results thus look like a very personal rejection.

Erdoğan directed insults, accusations and threats at his political opponents, female activists, the media, non-Muslims, and ethnic and cultural minorities of all descriptions.

Last week Erdoğan dismissed the HDP as a party of gay people and atheists, a description apparently designed to pander to the prejudices of the AKP’s largely poor, devoutly Muslim working class base. He suggested the HDP supported terrorism and was in league with the PKK.

Erdoğan notably failed to condemn more than 70 reported violent attacks on the HDP’s candidates, rallies and offices. After bombs killed two people and wounded more than 200 at an HDP rally in Diyarbakir, in the mainly Kurdish south-east, on Friday, Selahattin Demirtas, the HDP leader, condemned Erdoğan’s silence.

“He should go to Diyarbakir. Is he not the president of 77 million people? He ought to leave flowers where people were killed,” Demirtas said in Istanbul. Erdoğan later offered condolences but said it was Demirtas who should apologise over Syria-related violence last October.

Erdoğan has also been engaged in a vicious slanging match with opposition media, accusing reporters and commentators who criticise him of being part of a conspiracy to undermine Turkey.

People with memories (and not long-term ones at that) will recall that Erdogon and the AKK have been lauded as the moderate face of Islamism….

Update: “The election represents a watershed in Turkish politics, writes Constanze Letsch Istanbul and Ian Traynor in an analysis of the success of the leftist Kurdish HDP.”

The election result brought forth an embryonic new Turkey, but not the one the president wanted.

It produced what is tantamount to a cultural revolution in Turkish political life. Women will pour into the 550-seat parliament in Ankara in unprecedented numbers, 98 up from 79. Openly gay candidates won seats for the HDP. Most of all, the long-repressed Kurdish minority (one in 5 citizens) will be properly represented in the parliament for the first time with 80 seats.

“This is the first time that feminists in Turkey actively supported a political party,” said feminist activist Mehtap Dogan. “Up until now we have always done politics on our own, away from parliament. But this time we ran a campaign supporting the HDP because we believed in their sincerity when it comes to defending the rights of women, LGBTs and ethnic minorities.”

The HDP is the first party to introduce a quota of 50% female politicians, and all party offices and HDP-run municipalities are chaired by both a man and a woman.

The party’s successful attempt to break out of ethnic identity politics and broaden its appeal well beyond the Kurdish issue owes much to leader Selahattin Demirtas’ magnetism and his message of outreach.

But the mass protest movement born in a central Istanbul park two years ago and which mushroomed into national protests which Erdogan crushed mercilessly also fed in to the HDP’s support.

“During the Gezi [park] protests, many got an idea of what Kurds had to go through for years: the violence, the repression, the unjust arrests. It opened our eyes to the Kurdish suffering,” said Dogan. “At the same time, we saw how the pro-government press tried to turn our legitimate, peaceful protests into acts of terrorism.”

Just as Erdogan branded the protesters two years ago “riff-raff”, “terrorists” and “foreign agents”, in the election campaign he stoked division and malice by repeatedly smearing his HDP opponents as “terrorists, marginals, gays and atheists.”

He asked religiously conservative voters not to cast their ballots for “such people who have nothing to do with Islam.”

The tactic backfired as many religiously conservative Kurds shifted their votes from the AKP to a party that promised to represent everyone’s interests.



The Peoples’ Democratic Party (Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP), Kurdish: Partiya Demokratik a Gelan) is an anti-nationalist[3][10]left-wing political party in Turkey, acting as the fraternal party to pro-KurdishDemocratic Regions Party (DBP). It was founded in 2012 as the political wing of the Peoples’ Democratic Congress, a union of numerous left-wing movements that had previously fielded candidates as independents to bypass the 10% election threshold. The party operates a co-presidential system of leadership, with one chairman and one chairwoman. As of 22 June 2014, these chairpersons are Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ respectively. The HDP is seen as the Turkish version of SYRIZA and Podemos.[11]

The HDP is a democratic socialist party that adheres to anti-capitalism and aspires to end religious, gender and racial discrimination. The party has a 50% quota for women and a 10% quota for the LGBT community when fielding candidates. The party is also environmentalist, opposing the introduction of nuclear power in Turkey and also speaking out strongly in favour of the Gezi Park protests in 2013 that began as an environmentalist demonstration. It is said to resonate with liberal, middle-class Turks.[12] Despite their anti-nationalist stance, the party has been perceived by some to be a Kurdish nationalist party due to their affiliation with the Democratic Regions Party and their support for minority rights. While the HDP maintains that the party looks beyond the traditional ‘Turkish or Kurdish’ dichotomy, it has openly participated in talks with imprisoned PKK rebel organisation leader Abdullah Öcalan.

More background: Turkey: Kurds, the working class and the new left — interview with Erdem Yörük.

Do not forget this: 12 YEARS OF MASSACRES IN AKP’S TURKEY.

The bomb attacks against the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Amed (Diyarbakir) on 6th June has once again revealed the Turkish government’s (AKP’s) plans to massacre civilians in order to stay in power. Erdoğan and his team came into power with a discourse of advanced democracy but committed 17,153 murders during their time in power.

Human Rights reports reveal that AKP has offered nothing but death and massacres to the public since it came into power in 2002. Human Rights Association, Turkey Human Rights Foundation, and Labor and Social Security Institution reports between 2002 and 2014 shed light on the 12 years of AKP history characterised by murders. The reports of these three non-governmental organizations show that a total of 17,153 people were murdered through unresolved assassinations, extrajudicial executions, custody and prison, and work accidents during AKP’s time in power.

An important detail from the reports reveal that these murders have been constantly increasing since Erdoğan and AKP came into power with the promise of advanced democracy, particularly in Kurdistan since Erdoğan acknowledged the existence of the Kurdish issue in 2005.


Written by Andrew Coates

June 8, 2015 at 10:45 am