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Socialist Action, Labour, and the Anti-imperialism of Fools.

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John Ross Weibo

Socialist Action ‘Guru’ John Ross.

In discussion about the Labour Party the name ‘Socialist Action’ often comes up.

We will not comment on the truth or otherwise of the details in this report,

Jeremy Corbyn acts as peacemaker between rival Labour factions after Neale Coleman quits

Labour insiders claim a pro-Livingstone group is battling for power with a camp led by John McDonnell, the shadow Chancellor and Mr Corbyn’s closest political ally.

The  Livingstone faction, dubbed “the Kennites”,  includes Simon Fletcher, a former Ed Miliband aide who ran Mr Corbyn’s leadership campaign and is now his chief of staff, the job he did for Mr Livingstone at City Hall. The “Kennites” are said to be less ideological and more pragmatic than the McDonnell group. They favour a conciliatory approach towards the Shadow Cabinet members and backbench MPs who have differences with Mr Corbyn.

The more hardline McDonnell camp includes Seumas Milne, a columnist on leave from The Guardian newspaper, who Mr Corbyn persuaded to become his director of communications after a shambolic start to his leadership. He is credited with injecting more discipline into the operation. But critics claim he is a divisive “control freak” who wants to be in charge of policy as well as communications and to supplant Mr Fletcher.

Mr Milne takes a less tolerant view of dissenting MPs than the “Kennites” and is said to have pressed Mr Corbyn to sack more Shadow Cabinet critics in this month’s messy reshuffle than he eventually did.  Shadow ministers angrily accused him of briefing journalists during a Shadow Cabinet meeting that Labour MPs would be whipped to vote against UK air strikes against Isis in Syria last December. When they saw the briefing on their smartphones, a rebellion forced Mr Corbyn to concede a free vote.

Team Corbyn have insisted there was “no row” between Mr Milne and Mr Coleman and dismissed as “complete rubbish” speculation that Mr Fletcher could walk out because of a rift with Mr Milne. One insider said: “Seumas is the conduit and gets all the flak. It’s not a clash, more growing into office pains. Everyone is learning as they go along, from Jeremy downwards. The stakes are high and everything gets magnified.”

The article continues,

Some Labour Kreminologists claim the current dispute can be traced back to a bitter split on the hard left in the 1980s when Mr Livingstone fell out with Mr McDonnell, his deputy as leader of the Greater London Council (GLC).  Mr McDonnell accused Mr Livingstone of selling out after he refused to defy the Thatcher Government by not balancing the GLC’s books. Mr McDonnell chairs the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), which he founded in 2004 to reach out to left-wingers outside Labour. LRC figures attacked Mr Livingstone’s Socialist Action group as “plastic socialists”. The rival factions have even been compared to Russia’s hardline Bolsheviks and more moderate Mensheviks, who split in 1903.

This is something in this.

Simon Fletcher was indeed a member of Socialist Action. as were other key members of the GLC team – in the 1980s and later when Livingstone returned as London mayor (200 – 2008). Redmond O’Neil, Jude Woodward,  and John Ross (who was his “Economics Adviser”) are the best known of the ‘org’. But it is rather more than ‘Livingstone’s group’.

Socialist Action learnt its trade in the 1980s, backing the Labour Campaign group,

This unusually close agreement between a parliamentary faction and an extra-parliamentary organisation resembles the alliance between horse and rider.

The MPs assure us that Socialist Action is cured of its youthful radicalism, and will cheerfully prostrate itself by selling the MPs’ abysmally boring Campaign Group News.

John Sullivan  As Soon As This Pub Closes

It is said that this prostration developed wider during Livingstone’s time as London Mayor. But being errand girls and boys is part of a broader strategy.

Socialist Action, as John Sullivan’s handbook on how to organise on the British left,  is at no pains to note,  is a descendant of the International Marxist Group.

But those of us on the left who were in the International Marxist Group in the 1970s – and others who took part in the split in the 1980s which gave birth to Socialist Action – have more fundamental reasons to be hostile to the ‘elite groupuscule’.

The leader of the IMG John Ross (also known as Alan Jones – note to journalists) and  founding figure of Socialist Action took an anti-European stand during the 1975 referendum. Even those in our opposing tendency who also supported a No vote accused him of nationalism. Those of us who were pro-Europe (we advocated abstention at the time, which was a serious error) could frankly feel this  in our bones.

To be blunt us lot – called at the time Tendency A – hated his guts.

By extension, that means anybody associated with them, right to the present day. And it’s true to say that some of the people in the Labour Representation Committee  come from those opposed to the ‘Rossites’ from way way back. But many do not- age is the most obvious reason – and yet they hold equally forthright views about the organisation.

Why?

Well there are plenty of reasons and they are less and less to do with the past and a lot more to do with what Socialist Action stands for today.

These are a few:

A central part of their present ideology is the ‘anti-imperialism of fools‘.

This is their analysis of the “current phase of imperialism” (What is the current phase of imperialism? May 2014).

Michael Burke begins by observing that after the collapse of the USSR the US has tried to impose its power – from the Gulf War, to the attempted “hijacking” of the Arab Spring. But this was now at a  standstill. The US faces an impasse. Why?

…the economic rise of China has warranted a strategic ‘pivot’ towards Asia in an attempt to curb the rise of the only economy that could rival US supremacy in the foreseeable future. Given this absolute priority and the reduced circumstances of the US economy, it has been necessary to suspend new large-scale direct military interventions elsewhere.

This curb on US power has had immediate and beneficial consequences for humanity. Syria could not be bombed and neither could Iran. In these, Russian opposition to US plans was a key political obstacle, especially as the US wanted to deploy multilateral and multinational forces to do its bidding and needed the imprimatur of the UN Security Council. The US response to this blockage has been to increase pressure on Russia, most dramatically with its ouster of the elected Ukrainian government in a coup and its attempt to breach the country’s agreed neutrality by bringing it into NATO.

This curb on US power, however limited or temporary, should be welcomed by all socialists, by all democrats and simply by all those who desire peace. Instead, we have the strange spectacle that some on the left have raised the charge that Russia is imperialist, or that China is, or countries such as Brazil, or India or South Africa are ‘sub-imperialist’!

This is not a coincidence. In the US State Department’s frustration it has produced every type of calumny against Putin, including that he is an imperialist[i] and akin to Hitler. Self-styled socialists who simply echo these charges are not highly amenable to logical argument. But it is vital for socialists to understand the nature of imperialism and its current manifestation[ii].

Rather than echo the frustrations of the US State Department, socialists and communists welcome the current impotence of the US, for however long it lasts and however limited it is. In 1997 a triumphalist US imperialism set out its bold plan to brook no global or regional opposition and to be able to fight two major wars simultaneously[xii]. In 2013 the US and its allies were unable to begin bombing Syria.

Imperialism is the enemy of all humanity and its set-backs or defeats are a cause for celebration as they represent an advance for all humankind and the struggle for socialism.

So China and Putin have thwarted the US….. that is ‘anti-imperialism‘ for the modern day.

This is a recent screed by this genius of the world revolution, (Socialist Action John Ross. 29th of November)

How to really defeat ISIS

The effective measures that would really defeat ISIS are very simple – the fact Cameron doesn’t propose them shows he is lying about trying to destroy ISIS.

1. Turkey should be told it must close within 24 hours the main supply route across its border to ISIS at Jarablus and at other border crossings. If it does not a UN Security Council Resolution will be adopted imposing financial sanctions on Turkey, as with Iran and North Korea, and the UN Security Council will authorise coalition bombing for 5km inside the Syrian border with Turkey to cut supply routes to ISIS from Turkey.

2. Saudi Arabia should be told it must cease all transfers of money to ISIS. If proof is found of any further such transfers a UN Security Council Resolution will be adopted imposing financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia as with Iran and North Korea.

If these measures are adopted they would, unlike Cameron’s bombing, lead to the crushing of ISIS. A resolution of the House of Commons should be adopted to embody this.

If Cameron refuses to adopt this policy it shows he is not in fact trying to defeat ISIS. Therefore no support can be given to his proposed bombing.

No supplies no funds, ISIS will just disappear off the face of the earth.

No more slavery, no more torture, no more genocide.

Why didn’t World Imperialism think of it before?

Cretins…..

It’s also worth noting that Ross still loves his country,

Britain is also one of the world’s great historical nations. I love my country deeply, and the enormous contributions it has made to world culture and science, and in which struggles such as the Suffragettes or to create our health service are a source of great pride. There are regrettably some things in my country’s history, as with every great state, which I am not proud of. Some of these I mentioned and were crimes done by Britain to China.

He loves China too,

Note for Jeremy Corbyn – How China made the world’s largest contribution to human rights

By John Ross. October the 20th. 

Sections of the British media present a supposed choice that Britain has to choose between either pursuing purely economic interests or criticising China over ‘human rights’. This posing of the issue is totally false – China should be supported precisely because of its contribution to human rights. China has done more to improve the overall situation not only of its own people but of humanity than any other country in the world – as the facts show.

Who doesn’t love Ross.

Well, us lot still loathe him and his mates.

But it’s more important to say this. A group that rejoices in Putin’s ‘anti-imperialist’ foreign policy – not to mention anybody who foils the  power of ‘imperialism’ and any set-back for the US (without specifying why this is in itself good) – is part of the “political confusionism” our French comrades talk about. A group that celebrates the Chinese regime, on the basis of some kind of ‘economist’ reductionist view of human rights,  has no place on the democratic socialist left. And why on earth does Ross feel the need to talk about his deep love for his “country”?

**************

See also this virulently  hostile account of the groupuscule. The strange history of Socialist Action Martin Thomas.

“Progressive Alliance” Mania: Green MP, Caroline Lucas Calls for Alliance with Labour, *and* the Liberal Democrats.

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https://yorkshireandhumber.greenparty.org.uk/assets/images/yorksimages/caroline-splash.JPG

For a Progressive Alliance of Greens, Labour and…..Liberal Democrats.

Peter Hyman, former key Blair speech writer and strategist, has called for a new alliance of the centre of British politics.

In the Observer on Sunday this appeared,

In a devastating critique of the party’s recent failures, from New Labour’s second term onwards, Blair’s former speechwriter and chief strategist Peter Hyman suggests its plight is now so desperate that it may even be necessary to form a new party with others, including the Lib Dems, to fill the “gaping hole in the centre and centre-left of British politics.

But Hyman is not alone is courting the Liberal Democrats.

Leading Greens are making eyes in that direction.

A progressive alliance of Labour, Lib Dems and Greens should be formed to take on the Tories in the 2020 General Election, Caroline Lucas has claimed.

Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, the Green MP called on anti-Conservative parties to band together to stop the “terrifying” prospect of a further decade of Tory rule.

Ms Lucas, who increased her Brighton Pavilion majority in May’s General Election, said one of the key principles those in the alliance should agree upon is to introduce proportional representation in order to end the “logjam” of the current “archaic voting system.”

The Green MP refused to say this year’s election was a missed opportunity for her party, and instead blamed the campaign of fear run by the Tories for the party’s failure to secure anymore MPs.

Not so long ago the Greens also admired the nationalist parties.
March 2015. Scottish Herald.

UK Greens back ‘progressive alliance’ with SNP at Westminster.

THE Green Party’s only MP has backed Nicola Sturgeon’s claim that a ‘progressive alliance’ could be formed between their parties at Westminster.

Caroline Lucas, who defeated Labour to win in the Brighton Pavilion constituency at 2010, told a conference of the Green Party for England and Wales that she wants to “forge a new grouping in Parliament” with the nationalists.

Like the SNP, the Greens have increased their membership substantially since the last General Election, with the party rivalling the Liberal Democrats in recent polls.

Ms Lucas said: “With the rise of the SNP, and with our own Green surge, we have the chance to forge a new grouping in Parliament. A progressive alliance.

This latter, a link-up with centrist pro-business Scottish nationalists, Plaid Cymru, and the Greens, found an admirer in the shape of Red Pepper’s apparently left-wing Editor.

Hilary Wainwright on the 7th of May wrote in Red Pepper.

These smaller parties – the SNP (Scottish National Party) Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalists) and the Greens are already talking about forming a ‘progressive anti-austerity alliance’ with left wing Labour MPs – there are still some but not many – and using their bargaining power to push Labour to the left.

This kind of alliance combining parliamentary and extra-parliamentary sources of power, is my dream

The growing network of militant extra-parliamentary, direct action campaigns are also insisting that these MPs give support to their struggles and not confine themselves to the shenanigans of parliamentary politics. All three parties and many left Labour MP’s have a strong record of engagement in campaigning politics outside of parliament. The new contingent of SNP MPs who will arrive at Westminster are mainly the product of the radical movement for Scottish independence which had real roots in working class communities and was hitherto largely autonomous from the SNP. And the one Green MP, Caroline Lucas, gains her inspiration more from outside parliament than inside. Many of the leadership of the Welsh Nationalists spent time in prison as a result of direct action in support of the Welsh language.

New alliances for the Greens have shifted since then, or have they not?

Who knows?

Caroline Lucas and Hilary Wainwright may consider the idea of a tie-up between Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru is still on the cards.

But the competition for the attention of the Liberal Democrats is already there.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 21, 2015 at 5:28 pm

Benedict Anderson Dies.

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Benedict Anderson dies in his sleep in Indonesia.

Benedict Anderson, a Cornell University scholar who became one of the most influential voices in the fields of nationalism and Southeast Asian studies, died Sunday in Indonesia. He was 79.

Anderson died in his sleep during a visit to the city of Malang, Indonesian media reported. His death was confirmed on the Facebook page of Thai historian Charnvit Kasetsiri, his close friend and colleague. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Anderson is best known for his 1983 book “Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism,” whose controversial thesis is that nationalism is largely a modern concept rooted in language and literacy.

“Many readers of ‘Imagined Communities’ did not know that his knowledge of Southeast Asian languages gave him insights into Indonesian, Thai, and Philippine political culture and history,” said Prof. Craig J. Reynolds of Australian National University.

Anderson’s influence was not limited to the sphere of theory, as he engaged with the contentious issues of the day with a rigorous analysis and dry wit that inspired his students.

“Throughout his life, he inspired successive generations of students to brush history against the grain by similarly marshaling every ounce of their intellectual creativity and courage to look at history and politics in totally new and greatly more profound ways,” said Steve Heder, a research associate at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies who studied under Anderson at Cornell.

Born to Anglo-Irish parents in 1936 in Kunming, China, Benedict Richard O’Gorman Anderson grew up in California and was educated at Cambridge and Cornell, where he studied Southeast Asian politics.

His early specialization in Indonesia turned out to be both a curse and a blessing. A curse because a near-forensic analysis of Indonesia’s bloody 1965 coup that he wrote with fellow scholar Ruth McVey led to him being banned from that country until 1999. The “Cornell Paper,” as it came to be known, questioned the conventional wisdom that the coup was the consequence of an abortive communist uprising, suggesting instead premeditation on the part of the army.

But while retaining an active interest in Indonesia, Anderson’s enforced absence from that country encouraged him to turn his energies elsewhere, with Thailand becoming another specialization by the mid-1970s. He learned enough Thai to co-author a 1985 collection and study of translated modern Thai short stories.

Anderson’s most influential work on Thailand was his 1977 essay “Withdrawal Symptoms,” which analyzed the social forces behind a 1976 counterrevolution in Thailand just three years after a student-led revolt toppled a military dictatorship.

“His scholarship and commitment to progressive political change meant that he was an icon for scholars in the region and for all those who have studied the region,” said Kevin Hewison, a professor of politics and international studies at Australia’s Murdoch University. “His analysis of Thailand’s 1970s political turmoil remains unsurpassed and is as important today as it was when published.”

Thailand is currently under military rule after another coup last year.

Anderson later turned his attention to the Philippines — learning Spanish so he could study colonial-era documents — which led to his last major book, 2005’s “Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination.”

ABC

For many on the left Anderson’s study Imagined Communities remains deeply influential.

T.J.Clark observed,

Great titles are especially dangerous. Imagined Communities is one of the greatest, and I shall be arguing that the cluster of concepts it sums up deserves still to be central to our thinking about the world. But it is understandable, and touching, that the first footnote to Benedict Anderson’s afterword to his new edition should read, in explanation of the trimming of the title in his text: ‘Aside from the advantages of brevity, IC restfully occludes a pair of words from which the vampires of banality have by now sucked almost all the blood.’

Part of the force of Imagined Communities as a title – as an idea – comes from the way the two words immediately set the reader wondering whether they are meant as oxymoronic, and if they are, with what degree of irony or regret. The words bring to mind the true strangeness, but also the centrality, of the human will to be connected with others ‘of one’s kind’ whom one will never meet, and never know. Connected with them in the present, by blood or language or difference from a common enemy (or combinations of all three); and connected through time by a shared belonging to something that seems to emerge from a steadier, thicker, more grounded past and be on its way to an indestructible, maybe redeeming future.

Anderson defined a nation as follows,

“I propose the following definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community-and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign. It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion…. Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined…. Finally, [the nation] is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately, it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willing to die for such limited imaginings.”

For Anderson the ‘imaginary’ of nationalism is the result of a number of historical developments: the declining importance of elite classical languages such as Latin or Sanskrit, because of mass literacy in  spoken languages; the  erosion and movements of state legitimacy based on divine right and hereditary monarchy; and the emergence of printing press capitalism (“the convergence of capitalism and print technology… standardization of national calendars, clocks and language was embodied in books and the publication of daily newspapers”—all phenomena occurring with the start of the modern industrial capitalism.

A nation emerges within these emerging networks of power and communication.It becomes a community because,

regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings.

Anderson , some writers have suggested, underplayed the class dimensions of the social imaginary, the neglect of the way ruling classes have cultivated – deliberately or unconsciously – national imagery – and his lack of sustained analysis of the French Revolution (which had a strong ‘universal’ appeal) as a ‘model’ of nationalism.

His work is also perhaps only suggestive in tackling the importance of ‘trans-national’ imaginaries’ and communities, from democratic socialism, early Communism, liberal internationalism to the anti-‘national’ and genocidal dreaming and practice of Daesh.

To our mind Anderson stands out for this double-edged description of the importance of language in shaping our sense of social being,

“What the eye is to the lover — that particular, ordinary eye he or she is born with – language – whatever language history has made his or her mother-tongue — is to the patriot. Through that language, encountered at mother’s knee and parted with only at the grave, pasts are restored, fellowships are imagined, and futures dreamed.”

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 13, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Turkish General Election Approaches: Erdoğan Inspires More And More Fears.

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Another Try for the Caliphate? 

Uncertainty abound as Turkey election approaches

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The streets of Ankara are quiet as Turkey’s general election on Sunday approaches, says Rudaw’s Hejar Berenji, reporting from the capital.

Berenji, the agency’s chief technical officer, is working with a team of reporters to deliver comprehensive coverage of the upcoming elections from Ankara and Diyarbakir.

Coverage will focus on the participation of Bakur (a Kurdish term used to describe Turkish Kurdistan) in the elections.

The Turkish general parliamentary election on June 7 did not give any party, including the ruling AKP, a majority, which would have enabled it to form a government alone. In June’s elections, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, made it into parliament for the first time with more than 13 percent of the vote.

The special coverage started on October 23 and will continue until November 3.

“Inside Turkey, Rudaw media network has a massive audience and for that audience it is important to be aware of every step of the election, and the debate of the political parties,” Berenji said.

Rudaw is here.

Demirtaş denounces ’mafia-like’ actions against media

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş paid a visit to the İpek Media Group’s offices in İstanbul to show solidarity with the group, which was stormed by police early on Wednesday, denouncing the police forces acting like a mafia in their actions against members of the media.

Turkish riot police stormed the headquarters of İpek’s media outlets in İstanbul on Wednesday morning, after authorities appointed several trustees to replace the management of the İpek Koza Holding business, which houses media outlets that include Bugün TV, the flagship station that has emerged as a main platform for opposition politicians over recent months.

In his remarks from the group’s broadcasting room, Demirtaş said he is not surprised by the seizure of the companies and media outlets under Koza İpek Holding as these incidents took place many times under the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

“It is unbelievable that a state; a government’s acting rudely, like a mafia, like an illegal organization… right in the public eye, during a live broadcast…The appointment of a board of trustees turning into seizure, police forces’ cutting the cables of [broadcasting cameras] is not stated in any law. You may appoint the board of trustees for a temporary period… Spraying pepper gas, using batons, cutting the cables are mafia-like, gang-like practices,” Demirtaş stated.

Demirtaş called Wednesday’s raid “a serious attack against people’s right to information.”

“This is a show of force being made, made via police force; it is a reflection of a government’s mindset based on forced power. It also raises suspicions [as it comes] just a couple of days before the election. It raises questions about their having a plan or some hesitation about the broadcast that would have been made during election day,” Demirtaş stated.

President Erdoğan justifies appointment of a board of trustees to Koza-İpek group

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has seemingly justified the appointment of a trustee board to manage the Koza-İpek group, 23 companies of which have been seized by a local court as part of a crackdown on followers of the government’s ally-turned-nemesis Fethullah Gülen.

“There are different things behind the support lent [to the group],” Erdoğan said late on Oct. 28. “The reason for appointment of a trustee should be thoroughly deliberated because its number one is on the run,” he said in a live interview with Kanal 24 news channel.

As Akın İpek, CEO of the Koza-İpek group, suggested there was no irregular transfer of money abroad, Erdoğan asked why he was on the run.

October/29/2015

Now there is this:

Turkey will “do what is necessary” to prevent US-allied Syrian Kurds from declaring autonomy in the town of Tel Abyad near the Turkish border, which includes conducting further military operations, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday.

NATO member Turkey is part of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in Syria, but it sees advances by autonomy-seeking Kurds, led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as a threat to its own national security, fearing they could stoke separatism among Turkish Kurds.

Turkish jets recently hit the Syrian Kurds’ armed People’s Protection Units (YPG) targets twice after they defied Ankara and crossed west of the Euphrates River.

“This was a warning. ‘Pull yourself together. If you try to do this elsewhere — Turkey doesn’t need permission from anyone — we will do what is necessary,'” Erdoğan said, signaling that he could defy Washington’s demand that Ankara avoid hitting Syrian Kurds and focus his military might on ISIL targets.

Zaman.

More background: The battle for Turkey: can Selahattin Demirtas pull the country back from the brink of civil war?

An excellent article on the Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP), by . (Guardian today).

And this French report: Turquie : l’irrésistible ascension du Kurde Selahattin Demirtas, cauchemar d’Erdogan.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 29, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Seumas Milne: Enemy of the North African Left and Secularists.

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Opponent of North African Left and Secularists. 

Seumas Milne  has a new job.

Guardian columnist Seumas Milne has been appointed as Labour Executive Director of Strategy and Communications. The appointment is considered controversial in Labour circles.

The appointment of Milne is the surest sign yet that Jeremy Corbyn will fill senior positions with hard left allies in an attempt to assert his dominance. Milne is considered one of the most left wing commentators in the media. He has worked as comment editor and labour editor for The Guardian, as well as writing for The Economist, and has spent 10 years as an executive member of the National Union of Journalists. He has also written several books, including one about the miners’ strike of the 1980s.

Milne will join the Labour leader’s office on the 26th October, next Monday, on leave from his position at The Guardian.

Labour List.

Much will be made of Milne’s various political stands, including, no doubt the time when he stood as a ‘Marxist-Leninist’ candidate in mock elections at his exclusive public school, Winchester College (information from an Old Wykehamist).

These are just two which make him unfit to represent Labour to an important section of the world left, his opposition to the North African left and support for their Islamist allies, and, as he showed with his reactionary anti-Charlie Hebdo rants, his hostility to secularists and lovers of freedom of expression everywhere.

The first issue is Tunisia:

, Guardian Comments Editor, has described the Ennahda party (right-wing Islamists)  as “progressive” and gave space to pro-Islamist views during his time as Comment Editor (for six years, 2001-7).

In October 2011 he said this (Guardian)

The once savagely repressed progressive Islamist party An-Nahda (Ennahdha)  won the Tunisian elections this week on a platform of pluralist democracy, social justice and national independence.

In January 2011 the Guardian published this – reflecting Milne’s enthusiasm.

We are building a Tunisia for all  

Oddly this had happened in February that year, (BBC)

Police have cleared crowds of Tunisians who marched through the capital Tunis on Friday demanding the resignation of interim PM Mohammed Ghannouchi, a long-time ally of the ousted leader.

It was the biggest rally since Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia last month after 23 years in power, after being toppled by weeks of unrest.

Mr Ghannouchi’s interim government has promised elections by mid-July.

But crowds marched down Tunis’ main avenue chanting: “Ghannouchi leave.”

Later police fired tear gas and warning shots as they cleared the demonstrators from in front of the interior ministry .

Witnesses said one protester was injured when police fired warning shots at the crowd which some estimates said was 100,000-strong.

By the beginning of 2013 this was happening:

Tunisia: Islamists Kill Secularist Left Leader, General Strike Today.

Milnes did not support the left-wing Tunisian Front Populaire. Or (presently ruling, left-of-centre secular party) at the head of a coalition with the Islamists and nationalist parties,  Nidaa Tounès, of PM Habib Essid. 

Instead he backed full-square the Muslim Brotherhood franchise, the pro-business, pro-liberal economics, Islamists of Ennahda.

The second issue is Charlie Hebdo.

Charlie: Pornographic Humiliation of Muslims.

Paris is a warning: there is no insulation from our wars writes, in the Guardian.

The attacks in France are a blowback from intervention in the Arab and Muslim world. What happens there happens here too
Nothing remotely justifies the murderous assault on Charlie Hebdo’s journalists, still less on the Jewish victims singled out only for their religious and ethnic identity.

But…….

What has become brutally obvious in the past week, however, is the gulf that separates the official view of French state policy at home and abroad and how it is seen by many of the country’s Muslim citizens. That’s true in Britain too, of course. But what is hailed by white France as a colour-blind secularism that ensures equality for all is experienced by many Muslims as discrimination and denial of basic liberties.

What of Charlie?

Charlie Hebdo claims to be an “equal opportunities offender”, abusing all religions alike. The reality, as one of its former journalists put it, has been an “Islamophobic neurosis” that focused its racialised baiting on the most marginalised section of the population.

This wasn’t just “depictions” of the prophet, but repeated pornographic humiliation.

I will not dignify this with longer extracts but note this conclusion, and note it well,

Europeans are fortunate that terrorist outrages have been relatively rare. But a price has been paid in loss of freedoms, growing anti-semitism and rampant Islamophobia. So long as we allow this war to continue indefinitely, the threats will grow. In a globalised world, there’s no insulation. What happens there ends up happening here too.

In brief, the slaughter was terrible, but Charlie Hebdo was so awful that there was bound to be a “blowback”.

For in plain English: they (and one assumes the victimes at the Hyper-Cacher) had “it coming to them”.

The failure to back the left, and instead support the right, during the important events in Tunisia, and his misinterpretation of Charlie Hebdo’s satire,  are enough to make Milne unsuitable to represent the Labour Party for important constituencies.

That is, on Tunisia he stands against the majority of the North African and European left, and to the overwhelming majority of the Francophone left which mourned the Paris slaughter in January this year. 

He has already mightily annoyed Kate Godfrey (“Mr Corbyn, I have spent my life in conflict zones. Prior to becoming a Labour PPC I worked in Somalia, in Sudan, in Libya, in Algeria, in Lebanon when the Israelis were shelling the passes, in Yemen, in Iraq, in Georgia, in Azerbaijan and in the DRC”), who criticises a much wider field of misjudgment on international issues.  ”

“So Mr Corbyn, what made you appoint fascism-apologist Seumas Milne?”

Bob’s view:  Three reasons why Milne’s appointment was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Millionaires, Tory, UKIP and Labour MPs Unite to Campaign to leave the European Union.

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Who Else Will Join Labour MP Kate Hoey in Alliance with Tories and UKIP? 

A new cross-party campaign for Britain to quit the European Union in the referendum due by the end of 2017 has been launched, with millionaire donors to the Conservatives, Labour and Ukip named as its treasurers.

Former Tory treasurer and banker Peter Cruddas, Labour donor and mail-order millionaire John Mills and spread betting tycoon Stuart Wheeler, who was a major donor to the Conservatives before becoming Ukip treasurer, are expected to give significant financial backing to the Vote Leave campaign.

Vote Leave has also signed up MPs from the Conservatives, Labour and Ukip, as well as prominent business people including another former Tory treasurer, the former Dixons chairman Lord Kalms, and former Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson. Other prominent supporters include author Frederick Forsyth, Green Party peer Baroness (Jenny) Jones, historian Andrew Roberts and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lord Trimble.

More on the Guardian site.

Vote Leave, whose supporters include Labour’s Kate Hoey and UKIP’s Douglas Carswell, says it wants to negotiate a new deal based on free trade and friendly co-operation.

It is competing with a rival group, UKIP-backed Leave.EU, to be the official Out campaign in the referendum promised by the end of 2017.

BBC

It is not known what campaign ‘left’ supporters of an independent capitalist UK will launch, or whether they will follow Kate Hoey’s example and join up.

Perhaps No2EU, which scored an impressive score in the 2014 European election, of 31,757 votes or 0.2% of the total.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2015 at 1:21 pm

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

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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”.