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Galloway Number 3 in ‘House of Scroungers’ says Socialist Worker – er, Not.

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Socialist Worker says,

House of Scroungers

Tory MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind says it’s “quite unrealistic” to expect MPs to live on their salary of £67,000 a year.

They note that,

“Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, declared additional income of close to £1 million. Geoffrey Cox, the Conservative MP, declared earnings of £820,000—12 times the annual MP wage.”

And conclude:

As Jack Straw with great foresight said in 2010 “Their behaviour, prima facie, does indeed bring the Parliamentary Labour Party, as well as parliament, into disrepute, because it appears that former Cabinet ministers are more interested in making money than they are in properly representing their constituents.”

For an unaccountable reason George Galloway got left off Socialist Worker’s little list, so we have helpfully supplied the full one.

As Unite Against Fascism Meets UN Makes War Crime Charges against Syrian Regime and *all* Islamist forces.

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CCTV of the three girls

London Girls Go to Join War Criminals.

“Three east London schoolgirls have flown to Turkey and there are fears they may cross the Syrian border and join the Islamic State terrorist group.”

BBC.

“In a report published on Friday, the Commission stressed that both the Syrian regime and the main Islamist militant groups active in Syria – Islamic State (IS) and al-Nusra Front – had committed atrocities, as well as other smaller factions.

The report warned that despite the Commission’s “long-standing position” not to name suspects, maintaining that policy would “reinforce the impunity” of alleged war criminals.

Speaking on Friday, investigators said that they had increasingly been sharing information with countries to enable them to prosecute their own citizens for crimes committed in Syria.

They revealed that four of the lists of names of alleged war criminals had been passed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and a fifth would be handed over in March.

The five lists, compiled since the Commission began investigating in 2011, are understood to contain approximately 30 to 40 names each.”

BBC

The Guardian reports today,

A study released last month by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue found that women on the receiving end of that social media onslaught were captivated by the violence they saw. Examining the social media accounts of six European women who ultimately travelled to Syria and Iraq, they discovered that one described the brutal murder of the American aid worker Peter Kassig and 18 Syrian hostages as “gut-wrenchingly awesome”.

Another woman, who watched a different beheading video, wrote: “I was happy to see the beheading of that kaffir [non-believer], I just rewinded to the cutting part,” and called for “more beheadings please!”, according to the study.

“Umm Hussain”, alternately named in reports as mother-of-two Sally Jones from Kent, tweeted: “Know that we have armies in Iraq and an army in Sham [Syria] of angry lions whose drink is blood and play is carnage.”

The study concluded: “There is no doubt … that the women who migrate to the territory controlled by Isis revel in the gore and brutality of the organisation. They appear desensitised to the horrific nature of the violent acts being committed.”

Charlie Winter, of the Quilliam Foundation, said that although Isis propaganda sometimes suggested that women would have an active, and even armed role, the reality was that they were heavily controlled once they arrived.

Winter recently helped translate a long Isis communique that set out in great detail the designated role of women under the group’s version of sharia law. Circulated late last month and titled Women in the Islamic State: Manifesto and Case Study, the document railed against westernised notions of female liberation, damning fashion shops and beauty salons as the work of the devil.

“It is always preferable for a woman to remain hidden and veiled, to maintain society from behind this veil,” it said. It added that girls could marry at the age of nine, and “pure girls” should ideally settle with a husband by 17 and should not be “corrupted” by careers. It was also clear that women would not take up arms unless the survival of Isis depended on it.

Meanwhile ‘Unite Against Fascism’  is holding its conference.

You can follow it at  Live Blog: Unite against racism and fascism – UAF national conference 2015

It will be interesting to see if anybody there cares to comment on the BBC and Guardian reports.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 21, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Unite Against Fascism and the SWP’s ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’.

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SWP Leadership: One to Command and 921 to Obey.

Citizen Camembert: Charlie Hebdo Editor.

Paris, a surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions,  Laïcité , Islamophobia, republicanism and by the lust of vengeance and of hate.

Some little time before sunset, and the place, the West Barricade, Charlie Hebdo Offices The wicked journal was about to be published – again! A hideously ugly crippled former shoe-maker, the Vieux Cordelier was putting the paper to bed.

The same hour, back in England, in the SWP Headquarters, Sir Sir Percy Callinicos and his valet Charlie Kimber were talking. The pleasant oak-raftered coffee-room of the building.

A beautiful dusky French mademoiselle entered the room.

“And to whom do I owe my saving from the clutches of the Charlie Hebdo?”

“The Scarlet Pimpernel, Mademoiselle Caroline” he said at last “is the name of a humble English wayside flower; but it is also the name chosen to hide the identity of the best and bravest man in all the world, so that he may better succeed in accomplishing the noble task he has set himself to do.”s.

His manservant interjected.

“Gad, mademoiselle, that Charlie Hebdo!”

“Gadzooks!” continued Sir Percy. “That blaggard Camembert, the big cheese, is behind it all. It’s one thing to make fun of the almighty between chaps like us: but Charlie’s for the brutes in the street!

She paused, this band of young and dashing Englishmen had, to her own knowledge, bearded the implacable and bloodthirsty tribunal of Charlie Hebdo, within the very walls of Paris itself, and had snatched away condemned victims, almost from the very foot of the Weekly’s guillotine.

As she prepared in her mind a speech at the Unite Against Fascism Conference Mademoiselle recalled her dramatic recuse. Sir Percy had explained it casually enough. “Yet, ’tis simple enough, m’dear,” he said with that funny, half-shy, half-inane laugh of his, “you see! when I found that that brute Charlie meant to stick to me like a leech, I thought the best thing I could do, as I could not shake him off, was to take him along with me.”

A charred copy of the rag still lay on the sumptuously carpeted floor.

With the help of the valet, Kimber, she  recommenced writing her Conference rallying-call against the vile Charlie Hebdo.

……

That Monday was held the brilliant wedding of Sir Richard Seymour with Mlle. Caroline de Tournay de Basserive.

Afterwards at the function at which H. R. H. the Prince of Wales and all the élite of fashionable society were present, the most beautiful woman there was unquestionably Lady Callinicos, whilst the clothes of Sir Percy Callinicos were the talk of the jeunesse dorée of London for many days.

They seek him here,

they seek him there,

Those Frenchies seek him everywhere,

Is he in heaven?

Is he in Hell?

That damned elusive Pimpernel!

Unite Against Fascism Unites Against French Anti-Racists’ Support for Charlie Hebdo.

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Racist Islamophobic Propaganda Says UAF.

This is how the leading French anti-racist, anti-fascist organisation, the MRAP (Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples  -Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples)  reacted to the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher at the Porte de Vincennes.

Restons Charlie : refusons le racisme et la haine 13th January.

We were on 11 January, millions who were “Charlie”: Stay “Charlie!”

Staying “Charlie” is to refuse racism and rejection of the Other. It is to reject scapegoating and to refuse to accept a ‘Patriot Act’ contrary to the values of the republic. The heinous crimes committed against the  kosher supermarket and  Charlie must be answered by the application of the law, but with even more urgency, more than “living together”, it needs solidarity. This requires us to ensure that the motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” are not mere words. This must become,  through our shared wills, the everyday  reality of life in our cities and in our neighbourhoods. Those who sow the seeds of racism,  considering one group as of lesser value, of exclusion,  sow the seeds of violence. We should adopt the words Zahia Ziouani, director of the Orchestra, “Divertimento”: “Obscurantism,  ignorance and intellectual poverty are the causes of the  tragedies we have just experienced. We have to overcome them through education and culture . “

Since 11 September 2001, the “war against terrorism” has only amplified chaos and led the world to a dangerous dead end. MRAP reiterates what it said 13 years ago: the war against terrorism cannot be won by individual action, it is the causes that must be addressed. We stand against the “war of civilizations” that has led the world to a catastrophic disaster. It is urgent to fight for a world of justice, peace and democracy!

And this is equally, if not more, important:

LES ASSOCIATIONS DE L’IMMIGRATION SOLIDAIRES AVEC CHARLIE HEBDO 11th January.

The Signatories of this appeal – Immigration associations – wish to denounce in the strongest possible terms these terrorist acts and salute the memory of the victims. We share the sorrow and grief of their families and relatives. We are in solidarity with the  whole team of “Charlie Hebdo”.

We take issue with wretched  attempts to trivialise or justify these crimes, and stand against conspiracy theories – already popping up on social networks-  and whose obvious motivation, a supposed defence of the sacred and efforts to deny the responsibility of the fanatics, is clearly based on a denial of the deadly reality.

We call for their total rejection and greater vigilance. Our condemnation  is clear and unambiguous We have complete solidarity with the families and relatives of the victims, and with the staff of “Charlie Hebdo”. We will not accept being lectured at, or being ordered around. We oppose any form of discrimination, lumping people and groups together, racism and Islamophobia.

Declaration of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo by:

Fédération des Tunisiens Citoyens des deux Rives – FTCR, Comité pour le Respect des Libertés et des Droits de l’Homme en Tunisie – CRLDHT,  Association des Tunisiens en France – ATF, Association des Travailleurs Maghrébins en France – ATMF, Association des Marocains en France – AMF,  Massira – Algérie,  Agir pour le Changement Démocratique en Algérie – ACDA, Association Citoyenne des Originaires de Turquie – ACORT, Association des Iraniens Républicains de Paris – AIRP, Comité Indépendant contre la Répression des Citoyens Iraniens – CIRCI, mmigration Développement Démocratie – IDD, Le Manifeste des Libertés, Forum de Solidarité Euro-Méditerranéen – FORSEM, Réseau Euro-Maghrébin Citoyenneté et Culture – REMCC, Union des Travailleurs Immigrés Tunisiens – UTIT, Mouvement Citoyen des Tunisiens en France – MCTF, Collectif 3 C, L’Association interculturelle de production, de diffusion, de documentation audiovisuelles – AIDDA, Association de défense  des Droits de l’Homme au Maroc – ASDHOM, Association Vérité et Justice pour Farhat Hached – AVJFH, Association Filigrane, Dynamique Citoyenne des Tunisiens à l’Etranger – DCTE,  Collectif des Femmes Tunisiennes – CTF, Arts et Cultures des Deux Rives – ACDR,  Union des Tunisiens pour une Action Citoyenne – UTAC, Association des Tunisiens du Nord de la France – ATNF , Association Na’oura ASBL – Belgique, SOS Migrants – Belgique, Comité de Vigilance pour la Démocratie en Tunisie – Bruxelles, Association des Tunisiens de Maine et Loire – Anger, Association des Tunisiens de la Sarthe – UTS, Association Tunisienne Culture et Solidarité, Association Démocratique des Tunisiens en France – ADTF, Centre Euromed Migration et Développement EMCEMO – Amsterdam, Association des Tunisiens en France  – ATF – Var, Plateforme Euro-Marocaine Migration et Développement Démocratie Citoyenneté, Association Zembra, Association des Tunisiens en France  –  ATF – Nord, Association Younga Solidaire, Association Appel Egalité, Droits Ici et Là-bas –DIEL, Association des Tunisiens en France – ATF – Bouches du Rhône, Coalition International des Sans Papiers et Migrants – CISPM, IMAGECOM, Afrique Survie Immigration – ASM, INTEGRATION 21 – Paris 19ème, Association des Tunisiens en France – ATF – 13, Union des Tunisiens de Suisse – UTS, Comitato Degli Immigrati Tunisini In Italia Italie, Plateforme Euro-Marocaine Migration développement démocratie et Citoyenneté, Réseau Maroc Euromed des ONGS Maroc, Association Culturelle Tunisienne pour l’Insertion et la Formation – ACTIF, Association Alif’s Bordeaux, Association Perspectives Nice, Association Tunisienne de Côte d’Or – ATCD, Association Ailes – femmes du Maroc, Association Tounssia Hourra, Institut de la Culture Arabe Moderne – ICAM

Texte à l’initiative du Forum des Associations des Luttes Démocratiques de l’Immigration – FALDI

By contrast we see this in Britain:

Unite Against Fascism (UAF):

NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Saturday 21 February Congress Centre, TUC, Great Russell Street, London.

Notably this:

2.00 – 3.30 Session: Je ne suis pas Charlie: incitement of hatred is not freedom of speech.

Chair: Alan Gibson NUJ; N’Della Paye (France); Azad Ali MEND; Jude Woodward UAF.

Alan Gibson, NUJ “the branch chair Alan Gibson, states: “Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons lampooning Islam, and particularly the depictions of the Prophet Mohammed, have been racist”. (More here) Gibson is a member of the Socialist Workers Party.

Jude Woodward, a member of the groupuscle Socialist Action, on Charlie Hebdo (Here) “Rather it is a populist right-wing libertarian rag, which delighted in producing the most offensive possible images to accompany its outpourings of spleen. Its targets were the marginalised, primarily Muslims but often it was sexist and homophobic too.” ” extensive version of the right to freedom of speech is limited by the other great liberal principle that individual freedom, including that of speech, can and must be curtailed by the prevention of harm to others.” “Rather than get pulled into defending Charlie Hebdo or others to publishing provocative, racist, sexist, homophobic and Islamophobic material, the correct response to the murderous assault in Paris is to come to the defence of the beleaguered Muslim community.“Je ne suis pas Charlie Hebdo, je suis Musulmane.”

Assad Ali,

We must not call Charlie Hebdo killers ‘terrorists’, says boss” (Here)

“AZAD ALI, Islamic Forum of Europe (undercover footage): Democracy, if it means that, you know, at the expense of not implementing the sharia, of course no one agrees with that.” “Mr Ali has also threatened journalists – not Parisian cartoonists, but an undercover colleague who secretly taped his “no one agrees with democracy” quote – though there is, of course, no suggestion that he has carried out the threat or any other act of violence.” (from Here).

N’della Diouf represents the very small group the Mamans Toutes égales (compare with list of immigrant associations above) who protest against educational establishments  that will not let veiled women accompany their children on school trips. We let others to judge her wisdom in being seen in this company.

I note however that she signed with members of les Indigènes de la République –   the  militant wing of post-colonial studies, who specialise in homophobic barracking of the gay writer Caroline Fourest – this appeal in 2011 after Charlie Hebdo was firebombed: Pour la défense de la liberté d’expression, contre le soutien à Charlie Hebdo !

More in this band of haters of French secularism in Medipart.

Straight to the point: Unite Against Fascism (UAF) has not a single representative of a mainstream and respected French anti-racist, anti-fascist organisation at its conference.

Instead it indulges those with a gripe against Charlie Hebdo, notably a member of the SWP, a notorious Islamist, and a representative of the groupuscule Socialist Action.

More anti-racist cartoons from Charlie  Avec Charlie, l’immigration autrement.

The SWP (Socialist Review) Instructs Charlie Hebdo on How to do Satire.

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Tim Sanders * in Socialist Review tells satirists how they should do satire….

“The savage killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and journalists by terrorists in Paris is utterly contemptible, but not inexplicable.”

And,

There’s been a vocal campaign extolling the “western values” of free speech and the right to offend, claiming that satire should be free from constraints and able to offend indiscriminately. This is where I part company with the satirists of Charlie Hebdo. The point of satire is to attack the powerful, to expose their hypocrisy and absurdity, and of course to be funny. If satire is directed downwards it is not satire, it’s bullying.

And, on Charlie (which he suddenly on expert on),

Sadly Charlie Hebdo had been drifting away from its roots in the revolutionary events of France 1968 for some time. In the aftermath of 9/11 its output became blatantly Islamophobic and increasingly Zionist. They carried cartoons which were vile racist caricatures of the sort I haven’t seen since the National Front and BNP published such stuff in the 1970s and 1980s. Worse, some of the anti-Arab cartoons are so stereotypical that the addition of a Star of David would immediately turn them into the sort of anti-Semitic filth produced by the Nazi Third Reich. These are images designed to offend and humiliate a marginalised and persecuted minority. Yet they went largely unchallenged.

Ach…Zionist – what would racism be like without ‘Zionism’?

Not that there is any evidence of this, or the rest – gleaned no doubt from Sander’s quick Google of the Front Pages of (16 page long) Charlie Hebdo.

But there are rules of satire – which is seems have to be followed.

Expliquez-nous les règles cher Maître de conférences…..

“Satire should spear the powerful.”

 But printing nasty and bad taste cartoons, attacking religious authority,  is beyond the pale.

They get a magic card, if they are ‘Muslims’ (as if all people from an Islamic background remain ‘Muslims’ for ever) showing that they are not “rich and powerful”.

Many might indicate that the Islamists and other religious bigots have both of these qualities.

The Mosque’, like ‘The Church’ (all exceptions counted), has wealth, whatever the believers’ money.

Back to the “rules”:

Satire: Do not do anything that might help ‘the state’.

Satire: do not laugh at Muslims,

This is worse than bullying; it is satire in the ideological service of the state (and Charlie Hebdo receives a hefty subsidy from the French government). Islamophobia is not satire. Laughing at Muslims is like sharing a joke with the Nazis of the Front National. And I don’t think any cartoonist worth their salt would relish the idea of their deaths being mourned by the likes of Netanyahu, Hollande, Merkel and the other world leaders who headed up the march in Paris after the killings.

There are some things – religious figures (Charlie only attached gods, prophets, religious dignitaries, and fanatical activists, from Catholic ‘ultras’ to  Islamist ‘barbus’ ) – which are too sacred for SWP supporters to satirise….

Any laughter is…bullying – from a small circulation weekly which nobody is obliged to read.

Charlie is apparently proved guilty by the character of those who (officially) mourned the deaths….

Oh, and Charlie received money from the French state after the atrocity.

But Tim Sanders can’t be bothered to mention this fact.

The sight of these champions of free speech (the same ones who have banned Muslim women from wearing the veil and outlawed pro-Palestine demonstrations) marching in the name of free expression seems almost beyond parody. Fortunately many cartoonists and satirists have already proved this fear wrong with merciless exposure of these hypocrites. I have a radical, non-satirical idea to prevent further atrocities like this: How about not invading other people’s countries?

No mention of the Jewish victims in the Kosher supermarket: Yoav Hattab, 21, the son of the Chief Rabbi of Tunis, Philippe Braham, in his 40s, Yohan Cohen, 22 and Francois-Michel Saada, in his 60s.

Perhaps they were also “Zionists”.

One assumes that they should have stopped invading ‘other people’s countries’ as well.

In any case, Charlie was ridiculing a “a marginalised and persecuted minority” (what is the evidence for the persecution by the way – are Muslims as Muslims prevented from following their religion in France?).

The slaughter was not “inexplicable”.

For the SWP it is eminently explicable.

They had it coming to them.

*****

No doubt following this, and in line with the policy of “unconditional support for Muslim communities”, the SWP will back the prosecution of Charlie Hebdo for blasphemy in Ireland,

The sale of the Charlie Hebdo magazine published after the Paris atrocity is threatening to become the first major test of the Irish Republic’s blasphemy law, Muslim representatives and secularists have warned.

Ireland’s Islamic Cultural Centre has said the presence of a depiction of the prophet Muhammad on the front page of the satirical publication, on sale now in Irish shops, is a clear breach of the country’s blasphemy legislation.

The Irish Republic is the only nation in Europe to have introduced a blasphemy law in the 21st century. Secular and atheist groups in Ireland have been campaigning for its abolition since it came into being in 2010 – the last year of the Fianna Fáil-Green government.

The advocacy group Atheist Ireland is to meet the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, in Dublin next Tuesday, to urge the taoiseach to hold a referendum on abolishing the law before the general election in 2016.

Ahmed Hasain, the executive secretary of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin, said: “In our view, the sale of this magazine is a breach in Irish law. It is blasphemous and it is illegal under the legislation. It’s against the law here in Ireland, that is quite clear.”

Hasain said that while the centre has not decided whether or not to lodge a complaint to the Irish authorities, individuals or groups have the right under Irish law to use the legislation to prosecute those distributing the magazine since last week.

He described the law introduced by the former Fianna Fáil justice minister, Dermot Ahern, as very helpful. “It’s good that the law is in place as it protects every faith,” he said.

Michael Nugent, writer and co-founder of Atheist Ireland, agreed with Hasain that technically speaking the sale of around 1,500 copies of the Charlie Hebdo edition in the state had breached the blasphemy law.
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He said: “The Charlie Hebdo cartoons seem to meet the first test of the Irish law, that is that it is ‘grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion’. The next test in the law is ‘thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion’.

“So if anyone wants to try to have a prosecution brought, [cases must be brought by the state ] what they would have to do is demonstrate that outrage has been caused. But it would be irresponsible to encourage or show outrage at a time like this. People who are offended should respond more proportionately than by showing outrage. That is a major flaw in the Irish law – it encourages outrage.”

Ahead of its meeting with the taoiseach, Atheist Ireland announced a new international campaign against blasphemy laws. The organisation has joined forces with secular groups from Britain, Canada, Iceland, the US and New Zealand. They are organising an online global petition against laws which they say “legitimise mob violence, vigilantism, and persecution of minorities”.

Prof Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion, has advised Atheist Ireland to keep up the pressure in the republic to repeal the law.

“Of course you are right that the major damage done by this legislation is the international one,” he told the organisation. “I wouldn’t expect any harsh verdicts being handed down in Ireland, but those countries that continue to have an intimidating anti-blasphemy practice like to quote European countries to unmask western hypocrisy.”

Blasphemy in Ireland is a crime punishable with a fine of up to €25,000 (£19,000).

Guardian.

* Background:

Tim Sanders was born on 8 October 1957 in Castle Donnington, Leicestershire. He attended the King Edward VI School in Lichfield from 1970 to 1976, and studied at the Harrow School of Art from 1976 to 1979, specialising in illustration and leaving with “a perfect ability to draw fire extinguishers”.

Sanders draws pocket cartoons and political cartoons, using the signature “Tim”. He was cartoonist for the Socialist Worker, and in 1995 a collection of his cartoons was published as “In the Heat of the Scribble.” In 1999 Sanders began working as pocket cartoonist for the Independent, replacing Chris Priestley.

As well as working for The Independent and Independent on Sunday, Sanders has drawn cartoons and illustrations for a range of publications, including The Guardian, Observer, Daily Telegraph, Mail on Sunday You Magazine, Nursing Times, Broadcast, and Red Pepper. Sanders is also a Spanish speaker and a scholar of Hispanic art.

Sanders is not cited, I note, as a fluent French speaker.

Syriza: Some European Left Reactions.

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Syriza: Hope in Europe.

Un souffle d’espoir 
pour tourner la page 
de l’austérité L’Humanité – closely aligned to the Parti Communiste Français, Front de Gauche.

The breath of hope in place of austerity.

Il y avait hier soir à Athènes quelque chose de léger dans l’atmosphère, qui éclairait les visages et réchauffait les cœurs.

Last evening there was something happy in the air, which lit up people’s faces and warmed their hearts.

Eine Alternative ist möglich Die Linke (German Left Party).

Die deutsche LINKE steht an SYRIZAs Seite.

Die Linke stands on Syriza’s side. 

Meine Erfahrungen aus Athen: Es herrscht eine Riesenbegeisterung in den Straßen, Aufbruchsstimmung, Demokratiebewegung. Vor allem junge Menschen sind begeistert. Davon sollten wir in Deutschland uns ebenso begeistern lassen, wir brauchen in Deutschland nicht weniger, sondern mehr linke Politik!

“My experience in Athens: there reigned an atmosphere of holiday enthusiasm, of optimism, of democratic movement. Above the youth are enthusiastic. So, we in Germany should also be equally enthusiastic, we need not less, but more, Left-wing politics!

Parti de Gauche - Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Front de Gauche (France).

Grèce. Pour la première fois, un peuple européen a porté à la tête de son gouvernement un parti de l’autre gauche pour se débarrasser de l’austérité.

For the first time a European people has brought to the head of government a party of the ‘other’ left in order to get rid of austerity.

Podemos (Spain) Pablo Iglesias, de Podemos, felicita a partido Syriza por triunfo en Grecia

Pablo Inglesias, of Podemos, congratulated the Syria party for its Greek victory.

Podemos dice que Grecia marca un nuevo tiempo que llegará a España. (El Païs)

Podemos says that Greece has marked a new era which will come to Spain.

Ensemblepart of the Front de Gauche, France.

L’espoir a gagné !

Hope has won!

Cécile DUFLOT (Députée EE-LV, ex-ministre de l’Egalité des territoires et du Logement) – French Green Party.

Il est l’heure de l’alternance européenne.

Now is the time for the European Alternative.

John McDonnell, Labour Representation Committee,

“Take heart from the scale of the #syriza
vote & recognise that the revolt against austerity across Europe is growing as each cut bites.”

Socialist Party, Belgium (le Soir),

Elio Di Rupo, a salué « la victoire éclatante de Syriza » et « espère qu’elle rendra espoir au peuple grec ».

The Socialist Party, former Prime Minister, Elio Di Ropo, saluted the “stunning victory of Syriza” He “hoped it will give hope to the Greek People.”

Socialist Workers Party (UK).

A new day for Greece and Europe

THE VICTORY of Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left, or SYRIZA, in parliamentary elections is a long-awaited breakthrough against the ruling class agenda of austerity and repression that has inflicted suffering across Europe and plunged Greece into an economic and social crisis unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Note: as Socialist Worker tries to crawl on the Syriza bandwagon it’s worth remembering that the SWP, as is their wont, did not back Syriza but a collection of sects,  the miniscule Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow ANTARSYA cντικαπιταλιστική Αριστερή Συνεργασία για την Ανατροπή, ΑΝΤ.ΑΡ.ΣΥ.Α.) The reasons include the fact the Syriza is pro-European and  “For some time Syriza has been moving to the right, but it’s difficult to do that during the election.” (SW) This gaggle of groupuscules received 0.64 of the vote in the election.

The Weekly Worker, which seems to have been converted to John Holloway’s politics of “how to change the world without taking power”, said a few days ago,

“Our duty is to warn about the danger of Syriza being a 21st century version of the popular front governments of the 1930s … and express solidarity with the working class and people in Greece who have had their living conditions savaged by the troika, leading to a situation where wide sections are surviving on food parcels and other forms of charity. ” What if Syriza Wins?

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty carried an article by Nicos Anastasiadis which noted,

The first reaction to a Syriza victory will be great joy from the working people and poor who have suffered from Memorandum policies. We will see great wave of expectation of change.

And this (on Shiraz Socialist): After the Syriza victory: for a United Front of the left throughout Europe!

Left Unity says,

Syriza victory shows a different Europe is possible

Responding to Syriza’s victory in the Greek elections, Left Unity’s Salman Shaheen said:

“Finally Europe is set to have a government that will stand up against austerity.

“We send our warmest congratulations to our sister party and the people of Greece.

“We believe the best way to support them is to spread solidarity across Europe and construct similar left wing parties everywhere.

“Later this year we could see Podemos come to office in Spain. This is just the beginning.”

European Left Party (which represents numerous left parties in the European Parliament and outside of it).

The struggle for change in Europe has begun.

The overthrow of the Greek memorandum government is an important step that will be completed on January 25th, 2015 by  the imminent grand electoral victory of SYRIZA.

This victory will not be confined only to the restoration of democracy in Greece. It will be expanded to stop the humanitarian disaster inflicted on the Greek people.

It will send a strong message to all the peoples of Europe and especially of the southern countries that would portray the following:

“The Merkelism is not invincible. Austerity can stop. Europe can change”

We, the representatives of political parties, social movements, trade-unions and other social activists of the European South that met in Barcelona, on at the 1st European South Forum, express our determination, in common, to work together, in order to defeat the neoliberal austerity strategy that has been brutally imposed in our countries through the Troika’s Memorandums,  extreme national austerity programs and the structural counter-reforms. Together, we promote a collective and concrete alternative for a progressive exit from the crisis, in the direction of the re-establishment of Europe on the basis of democracy, solidarity, and social and environmental sustainability.

We do not face the current crisis as if it were either a series of “national abnormalities”, or as a conflict between Northern and Southern Europe. Instead, starting from the south, our priority is to enlarge the European front of resistance against neoliberalism and push forward European solutions that will strengthen the unity of the peoples of Europe, against the current resurgence of austericide, reactionary, chauvinistic, and extreme right-wing projects and forces.

The future of the Eurozone is not jeopardized by our plan for an immediate break from austerity and an alternative strategy for economic and social development. On the contrary, it is jeopardized by the destructive austerity that is being imposed by the neoliberal establishment, under the guidance of the present conservative majority in Europe.

Therefore, in order to put an immediate end to the European crisis and to rescue the idea of the European peoples’ unity, we urgently need a policy change:

1. A Green New Deal for Europe. The European economy has being suffering 6 years of crisis, with an average unemployment around 12%. The dangers of a 1930’s style deflation is on its doorstep. Europe could and should collectively borrow at low interest rates to finance a program of economic reconstruction, ecological transition, and sustainable and social development with emphasis on investment in people, social protection, public services, energy, technology and needed infrastructures. The program would help crisis ravaged economies to break free from the vicious cycle of recession and rising debt ratios, to create jobs, and to sustain recovery.

2. Defeating unemployment. The average European unemployment is today the highest since official records began. Today, almost 27 million people are unemployed in the European Union out of which more than 19 million belong to the Eurozone. The official unemployment Eurozone average has risen from 7,8% in 2008 to 11,5% in August 2014. For Greece, from 7,7% to  26,4% and for Spain from 11,3% to 24,4% during the same period. We urgently need a major job creation plan, which will create, through targeted European and national public investments supported by the ECB, secure, stable and dignified employment and viable life-prospects for millions of Europeans, especially young people, women and immigrants who have been brutally victimized and relegated to social exclusion.

3. Credit expansion to cooperatives and small and medium-sized firms. Credit conditions in Europe have deteriorated sharply. Small and medium-sized firms have been hit especially hard. Thousands of them, particularly in the crisis-hit economies of the European South, have been forced to close, not because they were not viable, but due to the absence of credit fluidity and the lack of demand. The consequences for jobs have been dire. Extraordinary times require non-conventional action: the European Central Bank should follow the example of other Central Banks all around the world and provide cheap credit to banks, on the strict pre-condition that those same banks increase their lending to small and medium-sized enterprises by a corresponding amount.

4. Suspension of the new European fiscal framework, as a pre-condition for the exercise of a truly sustainable and developmental fiscal policy.

5. A genuine European Central Bank – lender of last resort for member-states, not only for banks. The commitment to act as lender of last resort should be unconditional and should not depend on the conditioning or submission of a member state’s agreement to a reform program with the European Stability Mechanism.

6. Macroeconomic and social readjustment: Countries with surpluses should do as much as deficit countries to correct macroeconomic imbalances within Europe. Europe should monitor, assess and demand action from countries  with current account surpluses, in the form of stimuli, in order to alleviate the unilateral pressure on deficit countries. The current asymmetry in the adjustment between surplus and deficit countries does not harm the deficit countries alone. It harms Europe as a whole.

7. A European Glass-Steagall Act. The aim is to separate the commercial from the investment banking activities and prevent such a dangerous merging of risks into one uncontrolled entity.

8. Effective European legislation to tax offshore economic and entrepreneurial activities.

9. A European Debt Conference, with the participation of all the public members involved at a state, European and international level, inspired by the London Debt Agreement of 1953, which essentially relieved Germany of the economic burden of its own past and thus assisted the post-war reconstruction of the country. Such a conference must come up with a solution negotiated and adapted to each country, for each creditor and bondholder including the partial restructuring of terms and interest rates, the abolition of a large part of the public debts and the introduction of a “growth clause” for the repayment of the remaining parts. In that context all available policy instruments should be employed, including the European Central Bank, acting as last resort lender to issue special Eurobonds that would either replace national debt or lead to a significant debt forgiveness.

10. A resolute fight against fraud and corruption, and the crony capitalism suffered by our countries.

All these must go hand by hand with a committed struggle against patriarchy, inequalities, and against racism and xenophobia.

Before and after the outburst of the crisis, ideas as those proposed above were treated by the neoliberal establishment as “illusionist” and “populist”. Today, such ideas that formulate a concrete alternative against austerity are becoming more and more assumed and defended by our peoples and compete for social and political majorities in a number of European countries. It’s high time we transform popular discontent and aspiration into a massive political wave of change, for the establishment of economic democracy, popular sovereignty and environmental sustainability. The year 2015 can signal a new historical cycle of progress for our countries and Europe.

It’s time to make markets pay! The drift to increased inequality and precarious employment is not a real option for working people in Europe. Market structures affect protective institutional arrangements (welfare states, industrial relations rules, political systems, and other societal arrangements) in a way that Europe is stepping back from human rights and the burden of economic adjustment is not at all shared equally across European societies.

Therefore, we, the forces and organizations gathered here, commit to:

Work in coordination and provide the political and social momentum to achieve these changes;

  • Monitor the social and economic performance in our countries and our continent;
  • Foster the European Conference on Debt; and
  • Ensure continuity to the work of this Forum. And from this promoting team, and with the incorporation of all parties and organizations here gathered and the ones still to come, bolster new and future editions of this Forum.

Barcelona, 24th January 2015

 The Guardian reports,

Greece is headed into a new era of anti-austerity as the radical leftist Syriza successfully formed a government with the Independent Greeks party after falling agonisingly short of an outright majority in Sunday’s landmark elections.

“I want to say, simply, that from this moment, there is a government,” the Independent Greeks leader, Panos Kammenos, told reporters after emerging from a meeting at Syriza’s headquarters.

“The Independent Greeks party will give a vote of confidence to the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. The prime minister will go to the president and … the cabinet makeup will be announced by the prime minister. The aim for all Greeks is to embark on a new day, with full sovereignty.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Ian Birchall Publishes On Why the SWP Deteriorated So Quickly.

with 11 comments

Let Party Skullduggery Run Rampant.

Ian Birchall’s resignation from the SWP was announced in December last year.

The news was quickly broadcast on this Blog (not to say all over the left).

We posted under the heading “A greatly respected comrade”.

“Ian Birchall’s resignation is …. something of great significance  for the left. It is perhaps a sign of the respect in which Ian is held that his critics, like myself, feel that we have to make our appreciation of him clear.”

Today we learn (from Louis Proyect) of, “SO SAD (TO WATCH A GOOD PARTY GO BAD). Ian Birchall.

On 15 December 2013 I resigned from the Socialist Workers Party, after some fifty years membership. I was no longer prepared to trust the party leadership with my money, nor to accept its discipline. I said at the time that I would make no further public criticism of the SWP and I have tried to stand by this. There are many more useful and interesting things to do than engage in arguments between small far left groups. Polemics about splits in small revolutionary organisations tend to be very tedious; I have no desire to add to that literary genre.”

Now we have Ian’s further thoughts on the “the problem as to why it happened. Why did an organisation which, though I knew its imperfections, seemed to me to be by far the best thing going on the British left, and of which I was proud to be a member, deteriorate so quickly?”

People will have to read the full – heartfelt – article but these are some extracts and observation.

So Sad centres, without dissimulation, on the core of the recent SWP crisis:.

Edward Platt in the New Statesman earlier this year summarised the initial spark for the party’s deterioration (on the left we would talk of its ‘degeneration’),

The first complaint against Comrade Delta was made in 2010. A woman who was referred to as “Comrade W” accused him of sexually harassing her, and he stepped down as national secretary while remaining part of the party’s leadership: its central committee, or CC. The party was told about the allegations at its conference in 2011.

This is Ian’s account of how he reacted,

On the basis of information available to me I don’t know if Delta was guilty of rape (though the evidence is that few women make false accusations of rape). What is clear on the basis of accounts accepted on all sides is that he behaved inappropriately and irresponsibly, and abused the privileges of the party office he held. (Here I should mention the suggestions made, not by the CC but by some CC supporters, that one or both of the women complainants could have been state agents. I think this is clearly megalomania: there is no evidence that the current SWP poses the sort of threat that would lead the state to use such measures. But if there were any possibility that such means might be used, then Delta, as a senior party official, was grossly culpable in not being much more careful about the relationships he entered into.)

I do not question the sincerity of the members of the Disputes Committee. But it is clear that they failed in their task. It was essential that justice was not only done, but was seen to be done, both by the membership and by the world outside, which undoubtedly would be watching what was happening. Both in the selection of personnel and in the procedures adopted, the Disputes Committee signally failed to convince that justice had been done.  The CC must share responsibility for this situation.

This seems to me to be a better response than those who scatter round accusations of “rape apologists” or “rape deniers” (a remark which I know will not make me popular either).

Ian sums up what it the nature of the SWP’s offence, “What some comrades clearly were guilty of is what might be called “rape trivialisation”.”

This is Platt’s observation which was exactly what most of the left thought at the time.

The party’s decision to investigate the allegation internally, through its disputes committee, rather than referring it to the police, is the most remarkable aspect of the affair: it has astonished people outside the SWP, and some within it, too. “What right does the party have to organise its very own ‘kangaroo court’ investigation and judgment over such serious allegations against a leading member?” wrote the former Socialist Worker journalist Tom Walker in his resignation letter. “None whatsoever.”

There is a great deal of detail of how the internal party crisis unfolded, which I find less than interesting.

But this rings completely true.

 I won’t go into detail about the pre-conference period. Some supporters of the CC acted extremely badly – for example making fraudulent phone calls to cancel room bookings for perfectly legitimate opposition meetings. Maybe the CC did not positively encourage such actions, but it made no attempt to rein in its more enthusiastic supporters. However, it seems to be a fact of history that in faction fights everybody behaves badly, and doubtless some opposition members conducted themselves in less than an ideal fashion.

The CC won the conference, with many supporters of the majority doing their best to encourage the opposition to leave, with moronic foot-stamping – something I do not remember from party events in earlier years. Not surprisingly some hundreds of members decided to depart.

Anybody with Ian’s life-long commitment would have already  left the party.

But, he stayed for a while.

Then,

For me the final straw came in September, when the CC announced that every single member of the CC that had screwed up so badly would be standing for re-election on the CC slate. After that I went through the motions of the pre-conference period, but I was clear that there was no future for me in the party.

Throughout 2013 the style of leadership offered by the CC seemed to be summed up by a song by the late Pete Seeger, “The Big Muddy”  (originally written as a comment on the Vietnam war). A platoon of soldiers on manoeuvres are ordered to ford a river by their captain, and though it becomes clear that the river is too deep, the captain obstinately refuses to change his instructions: “We were waist deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool said to push on”.

We note with concern that far from crawling away to a hole to lick his wounds – never to come out again - Martin Smith (Comrade Delta) – is at present running a Blog with the cooperation of at least some in the SWP orbit (based in France). 

Many of the details of how the SWP organisation has been run (or come to be run) are of wider interest,

In more recent years, when the number of a district’s conference delegates has been based on vastly inflated and totally unrealistic membership figures, districts have often been unable to find a full complement of delegates. At the North London report-back meeting in January 2013 Weyman Bennett very frankly admitted that most years he went to sleep during CC elections; obviously he found them boring and irrelevant. And yet his position in the organisation and his right to make decisions derived from such elections. That a CC member should have such contempt for the democratic process is obviously a matter of some concern. But the real problem is the fact that the membership – myself included – paid so little attention to the democratic processes within the party.

This claim could perhaps be contested,

Indeed the SWP in general has been a very tolerant organisation, much more so than most far left organisations I know of. I’ve spoken at most Marxisms and at hundreds of branch meetings,  and never been given more than the vaguest indications of what the CC wanted me to say. I’ve written repeatedly for the party press. Occasionally articles were changed or even blocked, but very rarely.  Of course I exercised a degree of self-censorship. But I generally felt trusted and able to try and exercise a degree of influence. I should add that when I submitted the first draft of my biography of Cliff, I confidently expected to be asked to withdraw a few passages which I thought would be seen as excessively critical. It is greatly to the credit of the CC and of Alex Callinicos in particular that my draft was published virtually unchanged.

Outsiders have not noticed this tolerance when they got closer to the actual party apparatus.

My own experience is that a vocal minority of the SWP are the grip of the hallucination that they are steel-hardened Bolsheviks

The following anecdote is only one of many I could cite.

Nonetheless over the years there have been worrying indications of an unhealthy style of debate. Let me give just one example which has stuck in my mind. When the decision to join Respect was made, there was an aggregate meeting in London to endorse the decision. It was an enthusiastic, optimistic meeting – we felt that the party was on the brink of a significant step forward. Almost all the contributions from the floor favoured the strategy; I certainly shared the meeting’s enthusiasm.

Then one woman who spoke raised the question of Galloway’s flattery of Saddam Hussein (“Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability”). Several people began to heckle her and one particularly thuggish young man in front of me attempted to shout her down. She was unable to finish her speech. This was of course entirely pointless; there was no danger that the massive majority in favour of Respect would be affected. It also occurred to me forcibly that this was precisely the sort of question that might be asked in the course of an election campaign, which is what we were about to enter. I suspect the hecklers would have run a mile if asked to campaign on the doorstep; heckling when the majority is on your side is an easy option. Neither the chair nor the CC member delivering the main report reprimanded the hecklers. I have always regretted that I did not speak to criticise the hecklers; so I bear as much responsibility as anyone else for what was a symptom of a declining standard of debate.

Not that the left, or indeed any political party, is immune from similar behaviour.

Comrades from the Labour Representation Committee will find these comments about “heckling” resonating all too clearly.

As I said Ian Birchall is greatly respected.

His article in New Left Review No 80 (2013) Third World and After, takes up (amongst other things) the contribution to the left by the anarchist-Marxist-libertarian Daniel  Guérin (a figure mentioned previously in Andrew Coates reviews: Revolutionary History Vol 16, No4: Ian Birchall (guest editor) European revolutionaries and Algerian independence 1954-1962).

I would like to think that Guérin‘s ‘centrist’ democratic socialist principles have something to contribute to the list Ian ends So Sad on,

The International Socialist stream will take certain ideas and attitudes into the river, in particular:

a)      The rejection of not only Stalinist state capitalism but of the very idea that state ownership is any part of the definition of socialism;

b)      The insistence that our starting-point must always be the actual struggle of workers at the point of production/exploitation rather than any abstraction such as “workers’ parties” or “workers’ states”;

c)      The stress on beginning with actual struggles, not preconceived strategies or programmes: in Rosa Luxemburg’s words “Mistakes committed by a genuine revolutionary labour movement are much more fruitful and worthwhile historically than the infallibility of the very best Central Committee.”

Here at least Ian has the last word.

For many years the SWP defended those ideas within the socialist movement, and I remain proud of what we achieved. The débâcle of 2013 was profoundly sad, but the fifty years before that were not in vain. Like Edith Piaf, I regret nothing.