Tendance Coatesy

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Left Wing ‘Alternatives’ to Labour in the May Elections.

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A number of small left wing groups are running their own candidates in the May elections. They include the Communist Party of Britain, The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), and the Northern Independence Party (NIP). One would have expected that anybody trying to create a new left force, with an electoral presence, would have referred to the chequered past experience of the Socialist Alliance, and George Galloway’s Respect Party. That the last figure is now at the head of the red-brown ‘Workers’ Party of Britain, and is in alliance (“all for unity”) with Tories in Scotland, should merit at least a comment.

Sadly they have not. Amongst a sour list of gripes against Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party nobody seems to be able to offer an alternative organisation to the Labour Party. There is nothing wrong with criticising Labour’s policies from the left. But many of these people seem too wrapped up in the culture of complaint that they have not considered what alternative they can offer or what structures and vehicles they could build to do so.

Look at the state of the Canary chief,

The Socialist Alliance, formed in the late 1990s and active electorally the turn of the new millenium, involved the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party, smaller left groups, and independent radical leftists. It also attracted some Labour Left wing people disillusioned with Tony Blair’s leadership and the ‘Third Way’. It was designed to form a proper socialist party, with a green and feminist message.

Let us see how it worked out.

A certain Andrew Coates wrote in What Next?

The Socialist Alliance: A Regional View 2001.

“In The Retreat of Social Democracy John Callaghan suggested in his conclusion that the dropping of socialist policies by social democratic parties may eventually lead to the “recruitment of significant cohorts who subscribe to the new values”. He went on to state that this development becomes “path dependent”: “parties are changed permanently”.2 It is hard to deny that this is exactly what is happening with New Labour. It is difficult to gauge who reads the drivel pumped out by Millbank, and even Blair fans routinely bin the videos of the Leader’s speech that are helpfully sent to all Party officers. Yet they have gone along this far with the Project, and they are going a lot further at a swift speed. The Labour Party has mutated in directions far from its origins. The category of a “bourgeois workers’ party” cannot cope with the 21st Century Party proposals to end delegate structures and constituency links with the unions.3

Having lost over 100,000 members since the last election, the Party is increasingly dominated by a small number of professional politicians – able in many parts of the country to make a full-time living as councillors. Branch meetings are minuscule (my own last one, of a branch which comprises in theory around 180 members, had three people present, one a full-time regional official). Members’ Forums provided an excellent means of channelling discontent, until people realised the futility of sending in contributions that disappeared in final Party documents. The manipulation of the National Policy Forum was obvious to all but the most naïve. The purge of Grassroots Alliance supporters from that body is well underway. In local government, socialists and working class councillors – both a shrinking and ageing group – are marginalised by the Cabinet system.

….

The ability of the left of the Labour Party to mount any kind of serious resistance to these changes is severely limited. Seddon back on the National Executive won’t make much difference. The NEC has few powers and, as Liz Davies described it, is frozen in an ultra-Blairite time warp. Union General Secretaries may protest against Bush’s Missile Defence plans but they are caught up in the “new unionism” of John Monks and the TUC.”

The author expressed optimism that the British left could unite into Continental European style radical left party and win electoral representation.

In late 2001, the Network of Socialist Alliances was transformed into a one-member-one-vote political party called the Socialist Alliance (a title already registered for electoral purposes).

The Socialist Alliance was riven by political disagreements. The Socialist Party left the Alliance in 2001 (after the conference that adopted one member one vote) largely because they would subordinate their own ‘party building’ and attempt to replicate the traditional labour movement’s structures in a phantom form around their own party. while Workers Power left in 2003. Labour Left wingers faced repeated clashes with Leninists, and there were arguments about cheques, and a range of practices by those who put the interests of their own democratic centralist bodies above anything else. In short there was a deep cultural divide between democratic socialists, and variety of radical green leftists, and those from the larger Trotskyist, or in the SWP’s case, State Capitalist Leninist, groups.

In 2003, the SWP, supported by the ISG, led the SA into an alliance with George Galloway and other figures involved in the Stop the War Coalition, to form the Respect Coalition. A minority of the SA objected to the way this decision was carried out and argued that the SWP were using their block vote to push their line. Many of these dissidents objected to Respect on principle and all objected to the way the decision to join it was carried out, many forming the Socialist Alliance Democracy Platform.

That went well…

Bob Pitt was, alas, right when he had observed that, (What Role for the Socialist Alliance? 2021),

Firstly, “the development of the Alliance into a new multi-tendency socialist organisation, with the SWP at its core, would give the SWP leaders nothing but headaches. Not only would they gain little in terms of numbers from a fusion with the other, much smaller groups who make up the Alliance, but they would be confronted with a state of permanent factionalism in the new “party”, with tightly organised far left sects competing with each other and with the former SWP to promote their own political agendas. Having encouraged Sean Matgamna and his friends to join the International Socialists (the SWP’s predecessor organisation) during another, ill-fated attempt at “left unity” back in the late ’60s, and having suffered a couple of years’ continuous political disruption as a result, the SWP leadership is hardly going to risk repeating the mistake today.

Secondly, “he revolutionary socialist groupings behave like this all the time! Stupid sectarianism runs through the far left like the letters through a stick of Blackpool rock. It’s all-pervasive. Their sectarian outlook lead them to indulge in propagandism designed primarily to advertise, and gain adherents to, their own group – they’re not actually interested in winning anything in the real world. Because of this, they show an almost complete inability to organise any effective campaigns, whether of an electoral or non-electoral character.

Finally, …the problem with the groups comprising the Socialist Alliance, as I say, is not that they have made some isolated error in connection with the general election; rather, their blundering over electoral strategy is part and parcel of a false political methodology. What we have on the far left in Britain is a number of groupings who, under the banner of Marxism, are engaged in building precisely the kind of sects which Marx and Engels spent their lives fighting against. If the Socialist Alliance is to have any positive outcome, it will only be if some of the more serious comrades involved with it reassess that approach, renounce sectarianism and resolve to return to the methods of Marx and Engels. But, frankly, I’ll believe it when I see it!”

TUSC is the vehicle for the Socialist Party, with the connivance of the RMT Trade Union, and some (not very visible) backing from red-browner Chris Williamson. There are 300 candidates standing under the TUSC umbrella, comprising of three regional lists and three constituency candidates for the Scottish Parliament elections; all the regional lists for the Welsh Senedd; a regional list and three constituency candidates for the Greater London Authority assembly; two city Mayoral candidates – in Bristol and Liverpool; and 285 local council candidates contesting seats in 90 local authorities.

Here is Williamson at work, railing against the ‘Israel Lobby’ and its power:

This is their modest ambition, (The Socialist).

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was set up as a vehicle to enable trade unionists, community activists and socialists to stand up and fight at the ballot box against the austerity measures being put forward by all the establishment parties. As such it can be a step towards a future new mass workers’ party.

The Communist electoral campaign is they say, the biggest for years: “the party is actively campaigning in over 40 seats for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Senedd, London Assembly and various English county and district elections.” With a gravitas barely equally the Whippet Northern Independence Party they add, The East will be red

“Nowhere more clearly shows the renewed vigour of the Communist Party than the mobilisation of effort and energy by its eastern district for the local elections.

District secretary Phil Katz said: “The east of England is normally written off as one big Tory stronghold. Yet the region suffers as badly as others in terms of expensive and substandard housing, insecure jobs, poor public transport, environmental degradation and an education system that fails working-class students at every turn.”

In spite of no communists having stood in the area for generations, the party is fielding three highly respected activists this time around: Mark Jones (Felixstowe Coastal) and sitting CPB town councillor Darren Turner (Bury St Edmunds Tower) for Suffolk County Council and Marcus Kearney (High Town) for a Luton Borough Council by-election.”

They conclude,

Steve Handford who is standing in the Heaton ward of Newcastle City Council said, “It’s our time now. The elites had their go and what a mess they’ve made of things. The CPB will transform society for the common good, so that every day the workers win.”

Both the CPB and TUSC are hard line Brexiteers. The Northern Independence Party view on Brexit is not clear, but like the two other ‘alternatives’ to Keir Starmer and Labour they are also, by definition, a more borders party. They therefore will attract neither the internationalist left nor many young people with left-wing views.

None of these groups or their candidates are in a serious position to win national political power they are either marked by the faults outlined by Bob Pitt, or, in the Whippets’ case, by the heavy responsibility of making political gestures in conditions beyond their ability to grapple with. TUSC/SP have been building for a future mass workers’ party for several decades….The SP’s most recent split, after a damaging international feud and the splintering of its ‘international’ the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), occurred only few years ago in 2019. Sections of their group set up their own rival local body, Socialist Alternative.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 5, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Anti-Blasphemy Protests in Pakistan Reach New Pitch: All French Citizens Advised to Leave Pakistan.

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Image

A Reminder of what Blasphemy Laws Can Bring.

Pakistan Islamists clash over French cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad

Reuters two days ago,

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -Thousands of Pakistani Islamists clashed with police for a second day on Tuesday in protest against the arrest of their leader ahead of rallies denouncing French cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad, officials said.

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At least one activist and one police officer died from wounds suffered overnight after Islamists blocked highways, rail tracks and main entry and exit routes, paralysing business in almost all major cities.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters, government official Naveed Zaman told Reuters, adding that they had refused to leave until the release of their leader, Saad Rizvi, who was arrested on Monday.

Rizvi is the head of an extremist group, Tehrik-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), that rose to prominence making the denunciation of blasphemy against Islam its rallying cry.

Pakistan to ban Islamist TLP party after deadly clashes Deutsche Welle.

The Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party, which has widely denounced perceived acts of blasphemy against Islam, has organized three days of protests in which more than 100 police officers have been injured. The group opposes the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in France, and also the French response reaffirming the right to “blasphemy” after schoolteacher Samuel Paty was beheaded last October.

The TLP has demanded that the government expel the French ambassador and endorse a boycott of French products.

Anti-French sentiment has been simmering for months in Pakistan since the government of President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for Charlie Hebdo’s right to republish the cartoons, deemed blasphemous by many Muslims.

France 24. Today,

Clashes erupted on Tuesday between TLP supporters and police officers after the group’s leader, Saad Rizvi, was detained hours after encouraging thousands of his supporters to take to the streets in cities across Pakistan.

Two police officers died in the clashes, which saw water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets used to hold back crowds.

Rizvi has been charged with instigating murder.

TLP supporters brought the capital Islamabad to a standstill in November last year for three days with a series of anti-France rallies.

Announcing the decision to outlaw the TLP, Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid told reporters in Islamabad that the government did not want “to be known as an extremist nation at international level”.

But the TLP is backed by a majority Sunni sect of Islam with a massive following in Pakistan, that will make it difficult to enforce any ban.

Pakistani extremists groups also have a history of popping up with different names after being outlawed.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in conservative Pakistan, where laws allow for the death penalty to be used on anyone deemed to have insulted Islam or Islamic figures.

Islamist racists in Street Protests.

Pakistan’s Imran Khan slams French President Macron’s views on Islam

The Pakistani prime minister has also sought a ban on “Islamophobic content” on Facebook. Imran Khan’s criticism of Emmanuel Macron comes at a time when he is under scrutiny for rising religious intolerance at home.

Pakistani Islamists have a long history of attacks on Freedom of Expression. Here demonstrators express support for the racist killers who attacked Charlie Hebdo and murdered our comrades: 2015.

Thousands Protest against Charlie Hebdo in Pakistan — Naharnet

Thousands marched in several Pakistani cities on Sunday against the publication of Prophet Mohammed cartoons by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, two days after similar protests were held across southern Asia.

The largest rally on Sunday was held in the financial center of Karachi by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Pakistan’s main Islamic party, and according to police estimates it was attended by some 25,000 people.

This indicates a wider lesson:

Written by Andrew Coates

April 15, 2021 at 3:58 pm

Tendance Coatesy: Annual Leftist Trainspotting Quiz.

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Tendance Coatesy: Annual Leftist Trainspotting Quiz.

Tip-top Quiz for leftist Trainspotters.

1) When did the most recent issue of Workers’ Hammer, organ of the British Spartacists, appear?

  • 1917
  • 1968
  • Spring 2000.

2) What was the born name of James Heartfield, top Spiked type, would-be Brexit Party candidate, and former leading cadre of the Revolutionary Communist Party?

  • Kevin Alger.
  • James Hughes.
  • James I of Aragon.

3) Who was going to celebrate victory in the 2000 elections for Labour Party leader with a Vegan burger and a non-alcoholic beer?

  • Morrisey.
  • Richard Burgon.
  • Piers Corbyn.

4) Which group has been described as a “party of lechers”?

  • PSL.
  • Workers World.
  • WRP.

5) Who chaired the launch of a book by anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner Paul Embery?

  • Maurice Barrès.
  • Brendan O’Neil.
  • Mary Davis (Communist Party of Britain).

6) Which group said that Antifa and Black Lives Matter are a threat to working class?

  • SWP (UK)
  • SWP (US, no relation to above)
  • The Proud Boys.

7) Who does Gerry Downing/Socialist Fight reckon is the “the prime super-grass for the AWL”.

  • Lord Rothschild.
  • Cde Coatesy.
  • Jim Denham.

8) The Socialist Party and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)  were cock-a-hoop at their newest supporter. Who is he?

  • Lord Voldemort.
  • Chris Williamson.
  • George Galloway.

9) What did Tariq Ali do when Norman Finkelstein began praising Holocaust denier David Irving as a “good historian” at a Zoom meeting he was at?

  • Looked sheepish.
  • Nothing.
  • Less than nothing.

10) Many British alt-right Tory MPs began ranting about ‘cultural Marxism’ this year. What are the origins of this expression?

  • US far right.
  • Anti-Semitism.
  • Loony bins conspiracy theorists

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 27, 2020 at 10:58 am