Archive for the ‘SWP’ Category
Respect Mark ll ?
Following Left Unity extraordinary decision to unconditionally back Rabina Khan in the election to replace convicted frauster Lutfur Rahman as Tower Hamlets Mayor, Ian Donovan says, “Left Unity are to be congratulated on this brave and principled political stance.” He noted that this comes as a response to the “to a racist coup against the elected Mayor and council of Tower Hamlets, led by the Tory/Zionist minister Eric Pickles.“
Ian Donovan was expelled from the Weekly Worker group after, “espousal of views that can only be described as anti-Semitic: in his opinion, there is a Jewish “pan-national bourgeoisie”, which has constituted itself as ruling class “vanguard” in key imperialist countries, and it is this that accounts for US support for Israel. ”
Socialist Worker reports today on the immediate background
Mass rally in Tower Hamlets backs Lutfur Rahman, by Annette Mackin.
Over 1,000 people came to a Defend Democracy in Tower Hamlets meeting in east London on Thursday of last week.
It was called after Lutfur Rahman was removed as mayor of Tower Hamlets after an islamophobic witch hunt.
Councillor Alibor Choudhury was also found guilty of “corrupt practices”.
Commissioners have been sent in to run the local authority until a new mayor is elected on 11 June.
Rahman announced that councillor Rabina Khan will stand as an Independent. He said, “The establishment could not win at the ballot box—37,000 residents’ votes have been overturned.”
Other speakers included Salma Yaqoob, Lindsey German from the Stop the War coalition, local trade unionist John McLoughlin, Weyman Bennett, and Andrew Murray from the Unite union.
Socialist Worker has given up bothering to contest in any rational way whether the decisions of the electoral court were based on fact.
It’s all “Islamophobia”.
No doubt all that will cease once the SWP runs voting, supervises the ballot boxes, and local government, on the template they have set for internal party judgements in, say, the ‘Comrade Delta’ case.
East London Lines has its own take on events,
At a public event last Thursday titled “Defend Democracy in Tower Hamlets”, ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman introduced Khan as his Tower Hamlets First party’s new candidate for the position he had formerly held, until he was found guilty on April 23 of “corrupt and illegal practices” and removed from office.
This resulted in some confusion over which party Khan would represent, as Tower Hamlets First was delisted from the register of political parties last Wednesday – the day before the event.
An Electoral Commission spokesperson said the party was delisted because the financial scheme it submitted at the time of registration was not being properly implemented.
However, some residents are sceptical about how independent a candidate Khan will be.
Writing on his website Love Wapping, Mark Baynes referred to Khan as a “puppet” of Tower Hamlets First, saying: “All the bloc votes that were previously used for the benefit of the ex-Mayor are directed towards the new ‘front person’”.
In his judgment in Rahman’s case, Electoral Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC wrote: “The selection of candidates was made by Mr Rahman personally on the basis of the prospective candidate’s commitment to Mr Rahman personally.”
At the event on Thursday, Khan stated that she originally became a councillor because Rahman “gave [her] the confidence and the faith that [she] could do it as a woman.”
Some residents believe electoral fraud has been a recurrent issue for Tower Hamlets.
Stephen Jones, 22, a research assistant from the area, said: “Tower Hamlets has always had problems with vote-rigging, whichever party the MP or mayor represents.”
However, Tower Hamlets resident Peter Perren, a business consultant, said: “If every infraction of [Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act] PPERA was acted on, there’d be no political parties in the UK.”
In a statement on her website, Khan pledged to fight for a style of politics that puts “women, families and ordinary people at the heart of policy and decision-making.”
New political party Left Unity have pledged their support for Khan. In a statement on their website, they said: “She is standing… at a time when the council is being taken over by Tory government agencies [who are] whipping up Islamophobic scare stories.”
Left Unity have called upon those on the political left to support Khan’s campaign.
Mitch Winehouse, father of late singer Amy, has also endorsed Khan’s run for mayor. A Twitter user called @LutfurForMayor tweeted a picture of Winehouse and Khan together today.
Ian Donovan’s views in Winehouse’s ethnic background are, so far unavailable.
Sacha Ismail makes, amongst others, this important point,
Rahman’s left supporters are very bothered about the law preventing “undue spiritual influence” in elections. Counterfire claims that this law was “introduced by the British in Ireland to stop Catholic preachers rallying the Irish! One doesn’t need much imagination to see how this legal relic will be used against Muslims.” In fact, it was introduced by Gladstone, as he was becoming a supporter of Irish Home Rule, and as part of a package of measures which also, for instance, outlawed bribery and checked employers’ ability to coerce their workers to vote a certain way.
Despite the oppressiveness of British rule in Ireland, the law was not used to repress Irish nationalists; cases were brought by more radical and anti-sectarian nationalists against less radical and more sectarian ones (by a Parnellite against an anti-Parnellite nationalist in the Co. Meath case referred to Mawrey). The Catholic Church in Ireland was not an anti-imperialist force! It waged war against the most radical and left-wing nationalists.
And here we come to the fundamental problem with the whole approach of the left. The fact that an organisation has its base in an oppressed community does not necessarily make it progressive. Counterfire (and not only Counterfire) make arguments that tend towards assuming Catholic = anti-imperialist. In the same way, they assume Muslim = anti-imperialist or in this case really left-wing. CF’s John Rees argues that Rahman has been prosecuted “not for what he has done wrong [making cuts], but for what he has done right”. The Socialist Party also implies that all would be well with Tower Hamlets council if only it fought cuts.
On Sunday 26 April I saw a Facebook posting which carried the pithy comment “anyone still Charlie”? The posting shared a story from “OurAfricaBlog” about an allegedly outrageous cartoon which, the blog claimed, appeared in the French satirical magazine whose leading staff members were brutally murdered by religious fascists earlier this year.
The cartoon dealt with the horrific drowning of migrants in the Mediterranean the previous week. It featured roughly-drawn black figures falling to the bottom of the ocean under the headline “Regroupement Familial En Mediterranee”. The blog translated this as “Family reunion in the Mediterranean”, described the cartoon as “Charlie Hebdo ridiculing the African migrants who drowned whilst on the way to Europe” and finished their commentary on the item as “speechless”.
This Facebook status was from an SWP member. After a bit of research it became obvious that this link was being shared widely on social media and that most people were responding with the full range of outrage, moralism and, most of all, demands that those who had shown solidarity with the French publication apologise, recant and accept the claim that CH is a racist publication.
There are two problems with this story. And they are the same problems that dogged all attempts to smear Charlie Hebdo immediately after the murders at their offices.
Problem number one: the story isn’t true.
Charlie Hebdo didn’t publish the cartoon. It was drawn by a cartoonist called Ali Dilem and published in an Algerian paper called Liberté. There is a link, in that Ali Dilem had recently been appointed to work for CH. (Note by Andrew Coates: here is the cartoon, it is indeed by a more than well-known Algerian cartoonist).
Problem number two: the cartoon is an attack on a racist immigration policy introduced by the French government.
“Regroupement Familial” is a policy for non-EU residents in France being joined by other family members from abroad. This requires an 18 month initial stay (12 for Algerians) before they can come and be given formal status.
The point being made by the cartoonist is that this policy has contributed to the Mediterranean disaster and there is likely to be more such tragedies if the policy is not overturned. This, the satirist’s argument goes, is what “regroupement familial” really means. Whether people agree that satire and cartoons can properly deal with an issue of this gravity and misery, the purpose of this particular example was very plainly anti-racist and for more open borders.
Another aspect of this latest attempt to whip up a scandal was the lack of any attempt to examine the context, to investigate what the magazine’s attitude to the Mediterranean tragedy was.
It wouldn’t have taken much effort. Last week’s edition of Charlie Hebdo carried a full front page cartoon of a crowded boat called Titanic sinking with a female figurehead singing Celine Dion’s song from the movie of the same name. The figurehead looks very much to me like Marine Le Pen. The headline is “Une Titanic Par Semaine” (A Titanic Every Week). The message is that the racist attitudes toward refugees promoted by the likes of Le Pen will lead to more deaths at sea.
The determination of much of the British left to smear Charlie Hebdo, months after the murderous attack on their office can seem incomprehensible at times. The persistence and desperation has all the appearance of an especially odd obsession. We should resist that conclusion though. It is nothing of the sort.
The attack by religious fascists on journalists and cartoonists who dared publish material they find offensive really was an affront to humanity and to liberty.
Political questions don’t get any easier than “how should we respond to this”? Socialists, democrats, anyone with a shred of humanitarianism owed these victims a basic duty of solidarity. That didn’t have to mean enthusiasm for everything (or indeed anything) they published or necessarily declaring that “we are all Charlie”. But it did mean understanding that were clear sides here, there was a barricade, and there was only one side we could possibly be on.
Instead a far-too-large portion of the British left at best ducked the issue and at worst took the wrong side. Attempts to change the argument and portray Charlie Hebdo as racist before the victims were even buried were shameful and indefensible but they were also widespread. These attempts failed and discredited all those who took part in them.
But the persistence of the attack on the magazine is not an odd obsession and nor is it incomprehensible. Rather it is the inevitable product of a political and moral collapse on sections of the left. Until CH can be proven to be what its enemies say it is, until the smears can be made to stick, those that failed to show it any solidarity cannot recover the ground they lost after the attacks. They don’t deserve to.
A socialist politics that equivocates on issues like free speech and fascism is worthless and can play no role in the liberation of the working class.
The same story is covered here(Homo economicus’ Weblog) : No Charlie Hebdo Did Not Publish That Mediterranean Drowning Cartoon.
Meanwhile Emmanuel Todd, whose most recent political incarnation (there are too many to count) was to support François Hollande, on the basis of a “hollandisme révolutionnaire” has decided the take up arms against Charlie Hebdo.
His main charge is the demonstrations in support of Charlie were a sign of “false consciousness”. That Charlie has attacked the weakest people in society (les gens les plus faibles de la société), and, apparently, many of the marchers came from the “least republican regions of France”.
While he admits that anti-Semitism is a problem in the French banlieues, Todd considered that the actions of a few mentally ill individuals should not mean that the whole Muslim population should be shunned – as the Jews were in the 1930s.
That is indeed true.
But there is no reason to sneer at Charlie.
The reasons are simple: Charlie is anti-racist, anti-discrimination and against the very people who would tread underfoot any oppressed minority whatsoever.
This morning on France-Inter the gay feminist secularist Caroline Fourest defended, against Todd (and one assumes, the notorious “dégonflé(e)s” authors who protested against PEN’s decision to honour the beloved martyers of Charlie), the ‘right to blaspheme’.
(Hear this on the radio station: Caroline Fourest : “Défions-nous de ceux qui utilisent l’islam pour diviser et asservir”)
She pointed out simply that (1) Charlie attacked the most powerful people in France, from the President to the Front National. (2) Islamists, from Boko Haram and Daesh onwards, were not the “weakest”, but oppressors of the powerless and frail.
As the marchers: it was a magnificent display of social solidarity – something a ‘republican’ like Todd should welcome.
On the wider issue of Charlie’s right to poke fun at religion Fourest has just published this: Eloge du blasphème.
Demonstrators outside Holloway prison condemn charges against Shilan Ozcelik: No Backing from SWP.
Right whip up Islamophobia over Isis reports the latest Socialist Worker (17th March).
by Annette Mackin
Detainee rights campaign group Cage and its director Moazzam Begg have been the target of more Islamophobic smears.
The Mail on Sunday newspaper claimed it had evidence that Moazzam visited the camp where Londoner Mohammed Emwazi allegedly trained as an Isis fighter.
It quotes unnamed “official sources” speculating over the identities of men wearing balaclavas in a photo from around 2012.
The paper had already attacked Cage and Moazzam for saying that it was Western imperialism and state terror that helped make Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John”, into an Isis fighter.
Mohammed Tasnime Akunjee, the solicitor for the students from east London who have allegedly travelled to Syria to join Isis, has also come under attack.
Andrew Gilligan in The Telegraph newspaper said that he is an “extremist” with links to “terror apologists” Cage. This was after the solicitor criticised police handling of the case.
The sisters of the students also now face “radicalisation” tests as the tide of Islamophobia grows higher around such cases.
This week three teenagers from Britain were arrested in Turkey on “suspicion of preparing terrorist attacks”. They were bailed pending further inquiries.
Is the SWP complaining that those who go to support Isis, a murderous reactionary group, are arrested?
That nobody should do anything to stop people – enthused at the idea of participating in their ethnic cleansing, and genocides – joining them?
This contrasts with the complete absence of any Socialist Worker coverage of the plight of Shilan Ozcelik (from the Kurdish news site Rudaw).
LONDON – Demonstrators converged outside London’s Holloway prison in support of Shilan Ozcelik, a British girl of Kurdish descent who is believed to be the first UK citizen to be arrested for trying to fight against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
Saturday’s demonstration followed a statement signed by various Kurdish organizations, among them the Roj Women’s Association, the Kurdish Youth Assembly and the Kurdish People’s Assembly.
”The Kurdish community and supporters of the Kurdish struggle are incensed at the arrest and imprisonment of 18 year old Shilan (Silhan) Ozcelik, who is accused of wanting to join the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS),” the statement said.
”The UK government has been criminalising the Kurds for at least 13 years, yet not one Kurdish individual has been charged and convicted of being a PKK member, despite many raids, arrests and intimidations,” it added.
”The case of Shilan Ozcelik is the most recent chapter of this story and the Kurdish community are now concerned that the UK government will once again criminalise the community who have been the biggest supporters of the international fight against ISIS terror and fascism,” Friday’s statement declared.
The PKK, which is in peace negotiations with the Turkish government after a three-decade guerrilla war for greater rights for the country’s large Kurdish population, remains banned in Turkey and is regarded as a terrorist group by the European Union and United States.
However, calls have been growing for months for a reappraisal of the group, since its YPG affiliate in Syria has had a frontline role in fighting ISIS and has been backed with limited arms supplies and airstrikes by the US-led coalition.
Firat News, which is close to the PKK, has called the charge against Ozcelik a “scandalous decision.”
Ozcelik has been charged with a terrorist offence under the UK’s 2006 Terrorism Act.
The teenager from London was arrested earlier this year at Stansted airport. Her supporters say she travelled to Brussels in an attempt to try to join the YPG or its women’s YPJ wing. She was arrested on January 16 as she returned from Brussels.
Neither the YPJ or YPG are themselves banned in the UK.
Campaigners have condemned the charge against Ozcelik and launched a petition, writing to British Prime Minster David Cameron and Home Office Minister Theresa May to call for the immediate release of Ozcelik.
Several foreign fighters have traveled to Syria and neighboring Iraq to fight with Kurdish forces battling ISIS.
Last week, Ivana Hoffman, a native of South Africa with German citizenship, was killed fighting alongside Kurdish forces in Syria in the war against ISIS, according to agency reports.
Before that, a British man, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, and an Australian Ase Johnson, were reported killed while battling ISIS.
Foreign fighters also have joined the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, which remains a staunch US and Western ally in the war against ISIS.
All the SWP has to say about ISIS (Ignoring completely the heroic struggle of those fighting them, above all the Kurds), is this: Isis – the real problem is Western imperialism.
There is no need to read any more.
As Unite Against Fascism Meets UN Makes War Crime Charges against Syrian Regime and *all* Islamist forces.
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.”
“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.”
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.
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!