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Counterfire, “Starmer is now following a Blairite directive to destroy the left in the party once and for all.”

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John Rees and Lindsey German on Farage and the Brexit Party – Don't mention George Galloway! | Tendance Coatesy

Counterfire leaders Rees and German with an old friend.

If there’s one thing worse than being lectured to by the Morning Star, it’s being hectored by Brexit backing Counterfire whose leaders, John Rees and Lindsey German,  played a prominent part in George Galloway’s Respect Party.

This is possibly German’s most famous intervention (she was at the time still a member of the SWP as well,

German supported the move to form Respect – The Unity Coalition, which included the SWP and other opponents of the war in Iraq, including Muslim groups and which stood as a left alternative to the Labour Party in elections. At the SWP’s Marxism 2003 event she commented: “I’m in favour of defending gay rights, […] but I am not prepared to have it as a shibboleth, [created by] people who . . . regard the state of Israel as somehow a viable presence.

Here is Counterfire’s latest, warm and cuddly, call to Labour activists.

Is there life outside Labour?

Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.

 

The immediate problem of course is that Starmer is now following a Blairite directive to destroy the left in the party once and for all. As John McInally says the right is prepared to pursue ‘a scorched earth policy and destroy the party rather that allowing the left to reclaim the party’. Angela Rayner’s outrageous comments at the recent Jewish Labour Movement meeting that she would be prepared to expel thousands of people show that the hostility to Corbynism extends quite far across the Parliamentary Labour Party.

..

Yet,

despite the hard work of many Labour activists, Labour Party branches are unlikely to be the main hubs for building solidarity and active resistance to government attacks. That job will fall to trades union branches, trades councils, solidarity groups and the wider movements like the People’s Assembly (Note, by Counterfire). The strengthening of these extra parliamentary type of institutions has to be a priority.

The actuality of the revolution:

Historically, revolutionaries have almost always played a central role in the big social movements in Britain. The Marxist left has also always made a very important contribution to the process of developing socialist theory and education that Laura so rightly flags up. An estimated 60,000 members have left Labour in anger and frustration since April. More will be leaving over the next weeks and months. As we fight together against the Tories’ attacks, and rally to Corbyn, at some stage I think we will need to come back to the question of a mass, socialist alternative to the Labour Party.

Counterfire, as hard-line Brexiteers, have the gall to claim that socialist internationalists were gulled by Starmer and the People’s Vote into campaigning against Brexit and for a Second Referendum

Here is what one-time George Galloway Bag-man, Kevin Ovenden said recently,

The continuity-Remain campaign was the instrument of turning it against left-led Labour – and having Boris Johnson as prime minister was a small price to pay.

To those genuinely of the left who pressed Remain: you’ve been had.

Be angry. Let’s direct that against this government in collective struggles.

Keir Starmer’s Brexit opportunism

Heaven forefend that those who enabled the Bosses’ Brexit to take place, and went to the ballot box to vote the same way as the hard right, should take a gramme of responsibility for the present disastrous exit from the European Union..

Yes, it was foreseen, and planned, a ‘directive’ from Blairites to destroy the left…

They would have got away with it were it not for those doughty pesky Counterfire stalwarts.

 

Here’s them in action in 2012.

George Galloway MP: Bradford win shows we were right to oppose war

Galloway victory: a landslide against war and austerity

George Galloway has won a sensational victory in the Bradford West by-election with a 10,000 vote majority.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 2, 2020 at 12:39 pm

Open Labour’s welcome proposals for “Member-led democracy”.

with 7 comments

 

Open Labour - Home | Facebook

Welcome Ideas.

Many people in the Labour Party are tired of constant attacks on Keir Starmer

The below comes from a site which claims a close link with one of Labour’s main backers, UNITE the union,

The constant attempt to undermine Labour’s new Leader extends to this:

Some left wing activists, inside and outside Labour,  refer, constantly, to Jeremy Corbyn, his socialism, and his achievements, which they contrast with today’s Shadow Cabinet’s policies and actions.

There is still a great deal of disappointment swirling around, and a search for targets to blame.

Many critics are activists who worked to get Corbyn elected and have long supported Labour.

But some influential voices who join in,and amplify, criticisms of Labour and who wish  to “defend our legacy” are from those who only supported Labour after Corbyn was voted leader.

Counterfire which runs the better known People’s Assembly, and has great influence on the Stop the War Coalition, is one. This was their call at the end of July “Starmer’s stampede to the right means that socialists will need to reach beyond the Labour Party to build a fighting left, argues Chris Nineham.” This message can be found debated amongst those who say they will “stay and fight” and those off for some new vehicle outside of Labour.

Counterfire’s leadership were key figures in George Galloway’s Respect Party.

What kind of politics did they have? In 2004 Counterfire leader John Rees declared in 2003, “”Socialists should unconditionally stand with the oppressed against the oppressor, even if the people who run the oppressed country are undemocratic and persecute minorities, like Saddam Hussein.”(Guardian).

Rees stood on a Respect slate in the European elections and in 2006 in a local election in East London (coming second against Labour). Do they defend that legacy?

Instead of looking to the past – and this Blog could continue for a long time in this vein…..- we should perhaps take a different approach.

Yesterday Open Labour published these proposals,

Open Labour’s 11 party reform proposals for the Forde Inquiry

Our party has never been more inward-looking in this century. But this gives us an opportunity for serious self-reflection, so that we can get our own house in order, rather than continue to allow internal crises to threaten to implode our party and rupture the labour movement.

For several years, Open Labour has been pushing for internal culture change and a healthier democracy within the Labour Party. We have repeatedly expressed solidarity and support for Jewish members and sought to put pressure on the party to root out antisemitism. During the initial coronavirus lockdown, we hosted an online workshop for Young Labour members where we discussed the need for the party to become a more welcoming environment where no one is left behind

In summary these are

  1.  Co-operate with the EHRC investigation and implement its findings in full.
  2. The Labour Party should make a statement clarifying that it considers the matters of antisemitism, all other forms of prejudice, and sexual harassment to be squarely above sectarian politics; that they must be taken seriously regardless of the factional allegiances of the alleged offenders.
  3. The Labour Party must make clear at all levels that members must not dismiss the antisemitism issue as an anti-Corbyn or anti-left conspiracy.
  4. The Labour Party should implement an independent complaints procedure to depoliticise these processes .
  5. Welcome Keir Starmer’s promise to deliver antisemitism training to staff. We would also like to see equalities training delivered to party staff covering multiple forms of racism and other prejudices.
  6. The Labour Party should carry out regular staffing audits and push to diversify party staff at all levels, to identify and solve particular areas of underrepresentation.
  7. The Labour Party must work with its own affiliates, such as the Jewish Labour Movement, and other BAME Labour groups, when reforming internal processes.
  8. The NEC must draft and publish a clearer code of conduct for staff and ban explicitly sectarian behaviours of the type we have outlined, for as long as people are on the party payroll.
  9. Labour Party staff at all levels should act as neutral civil servants in carrying out the party’s democratically agreed aims, and promote a professional rather than sectarian culture.
  10. The Labour Party should formally distance itself from social media campaign accounts that propagate antisemitism or any other prejudice, and/or undermine the party’s ability to campaign against racism, whilst purporting to speak in the name of the Labour Party or parts of the Labour Party.
  11. The Labour Party should extend the use of the single transferable vote (STV) in internal elections that party members participate in.

The authors note,

This summer, we won a landmark campaign for a fairer, less sectarian, more democratic voting system for members to elect their Constituency Labour Party (CLP) representatives to Labour’s governing body, the national executive committee (NEC). Our organisation democratically selects preferred candidates for internal elections, and our members have overwhelmingly endorsed Ann Black and Jermain Jackman for CLP Reps on the NEC, along with George Lindars-Hammond as the new disability rep and Alice Perry for the local government section. For us, democracy must be at the heart of our approach to politics. It’s good to see other groups starting to catch up to us.

 

This is their conclusion.

We must make our party a welcoming environment for all, enforce zero tolerance for bigotry and bullying, and bring our member-led democracy into the 21st century.

We need to look outwards, beyond our own ranks and we need to have a bold, radical offer to the people of these islands. If we can’t do that, then why are we here? We don’t have all the answers, and we don’t pretend that we do, but we know that these 11 proposals are key to a more tolerant and democratic party that can live up the ambitions of our supporters.

Open Labour will continue to play our part in making the Labour Party.

These are welcome ideas above all the call to “look outwards”.

See also Open Labour Site.

We hope that within the Party all sides will be interested and that, specifically, the influential group Momentum will take note of the proposals.

Here is a report from their representatives on Labour’s National Executive Committee – it has not been widely circulated, beyond inner Momentum circles, and certainly has not been seen by ordinary party members who voted in the NEC elections.

It’s from the end of July 2020.

This is a collective report on behalf of NEC CLP reps: Yasmine Dar, Huda Elmi, Rachel Garnham, Ann Henderson, Jon Lansman and Darren Williams from Labour Party National Executive Committee meetings taking place in June/July 2020.

30 June – Emergency NEC

CLP reps thanked Keir for the work Labour was doing to hold the government to account, which should be Labour’s priority. Keir was asked again about his strategy for unity, asking if he agreed with the quote from Harold Wilson that ‘the Labour Party needs two wings to fly’, and how he planned to engage the 44% of party members who didn’t give him their first preference.

The report contains this extraordinary passage: 

Keir was asked if he would take the opportunity to apologise to the black community in Britain and the rest of the world, for his interview on BBC Breakfast which reduced Black Lives Matter to a ‘moment’ and it was pointed out that this did nothing to alleviate the just concerns that the black community have about the police.

It was stated that Keir’s comments emboldened the Far Right such as Nigel Farage, dishonoured George Floyd’s memory and those organising to eradicate racism across the world.

The question was a request for a simple Yes or No answer to apologise in an attempt to rebuild trust.

Those who crafted, carefully, this “report” with this strident, hectoring, language, do not represent the opinions of many Labour members.

Instead of disagreeing with a remark about a “moment” – “an exact point in time, an “appropriate time for doing something, an opportunity, a “stage in the development of something or in a course of events” (Oxford Dictionary) – the  called for Keir Starmer to “apologise to the black community in Britain and the rest of the world.”

Momentum representatives on Labour’s NEC took a strong  stand against the SIngle Transferable Vote.

The fourth discussion was about whether Single Transferable Vote should be used for the CLP section for the NEC. A whole series of concerns were raised by left NEC members, including the most important of all that such a significant decision should be made by annual conference. Other concerns included the need for an equality analysis as the new system appeared likely to have a detrimental impact on representation, the lack of any detail about how the new system would work including the women’s quota, the potential impact on turnout given the new system could cause confusion, and a serious request for a proper argument in favour other than ‘in line with commitments made by the Leader and Deputy Leader during the recent leadership election’ it was pointed out that it was by no means a central plank of their campaigns, and most members would not even have seen any pledges made on this issue.

THis is how the report presents the change.

As one CLP rep put it, the proposal appeared to be ‘another nail in the coffin of Keir’s commitment to Party unity.’ Nevertheless the NEC voted to approve STV for the CLP elections.

It will be interesting to see if Momentum responds to Open Labour’s proposals.

Labour members will make up their own minds about whether the group’s candidates for the NEC merit their vote.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 15, 2020 at 11:24 am

Far-Right Fringe Protests: Will the Culture War Still Take Place?

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Image

 

Evan Smith (see, Toppled statues and the free speech culture war) asks:

 

Yesterday’s clashes in London centred on the antics of a few thousand far-right piss-heads.

London protests: More than 100 arrests after violent clashes with police

They behaved true to type.

For those reading this Blog who are not familiar with the name Keith Palmer, the man was a true hero in every sense of the word.

Keith PalmerGM (1968 or 1969 – 22 March 2017) was a British police officer who was posthumously awarded the George Medal, the second highest award for gallantry “not in the face of the enemy“. Though unarmed, he stopped a knife-wielding terrorist from entering the Palace of Westminster during the 2017 Westminster attack; he died from wounds he received in this attack

The BBC states,

MP Tobias Ellwood, who gave first aid to PC Palmer as he lay dying after being stabbed in the grounds of Parliament by Khalid Masood in 2017, said the image of the man urinating next to the memorial was “abhorrent”.

He told the BBC: “He was fully aware of what he was doing, he should step forward and apologise.”

For many people, beginning with leading figures involved in the Black Lives protests, and extending to the left and  independent anti-fascists, it was not a good idea to engage in confrontations with the far right rabble.

PM Boris Johnson had been inciting opinion against BLM protests and the left.

It seems as if the Tories are more than willing to engage in a US style “culture war” – at a time when a massive recession looms .

The Guardian headlined on its front page yesterday, “Boris Johnson ‘stoking fear and division’ ahead of BLM protests

Critics say PM’s claim that George Floyd protests ‘hijacked by extremists’ is dangerous”.

In the same daily, Johnathan Freedland offered an account of how these cultural clashes work in the very different political culture of the US, and how they might develop in the UK,

The right loves a culture war, because such a battle changes the subject – almost always shifting from ground on which they would lose to ground on which they can win.

Let’s imagine the initial focus had remained instead on a demand to tackle discrimination in policing and criminal justice, expanding to include the higher death rates from Covid-19 among black Britons. Johnson and others in power would now be on the defensive, forced to promise action.

But once the focus shifted, they could exhale with relief. Not only is a debate about statues or faulty TV shows a handy distraction from the specific injustices at the heart of all this, it also splits the coalition, even the consensus, that had, remarkably, formed in revulsion at Floyd’s killing. Once statues of Gandhi and Mandela are also boarded up for their own protection, as they now are, it means precious unity has been lost.

Boris Johnson’s polarising statue tweets are pure Trump

In France the Comité Adama has taken up issues of discrimination in policing and the legal system, focusing on justice against the police (Death of Adama Traoré) See also, yesterday: Comment le comité Adama est devenu le fer de lance de la lutte contre les violences policières. BFMTV.

ITN carries the story:

Assa Traoré wears a t-shirt which says “Justice for Adama, without justice you will never have peace.”

She knows the price of peace – Adama is her brother.

He died four years ago detained by French police after running away from them because he wasn’t carrying his identity documents.

She has been campaigning ever since.

All these years on, the officers involved in his detention have just been cleared of any involvement in Adama’s death.

That decision has triggered protests across France and led to her brother being dubbed the ‘French George Floyd’.

Yesterday they also demonstrated.

Not without difficulties, as this self-policing against would-be ‘casseurs’ (those who attack and smash after marches)  illustrates.

Far right ‘identitaries’ tried to disrupt the protest.

 

David Lammy has taken up one of the issues  Feedland highlights:

Lammy takes an approach to the statue issues which many will agree with:

After the scuffling and fighting it is unlikely that anybody is going to want to side with yesterday’s would-be defenders of Churchill.

Yet there are those who not only wish to fight the culture wars but to oppose the far-right (on this issue) in the streets,

Weyman Bennett, co convenor Stand Up To Racism said

“It is right to take a presence on the streets – we should not let the fascists go unopposed. For the past two decades we have been told when Nazis march ‘ignore them and they will go away’. This simply is not true.

“Without the encouragement of Boris Johnson pretending that the issue of Bkack Lives Matter is reduced down to statues. He has not engaged on the key point about racism and its systemic nature in this society.

“Johnson’s callous disregard for black people’s lives in the current Coronavirus crisis and also for the mistreatment by the police and the court system, is an other attempt to reinforce racism and we must reject reject this and demand justice. No justice no peace”.

Weymann Beynett is a leading member of the SWP.

Here is his plea during the EU referendum, when the SWP and the ‘Lexit’ left stood on the side of the hard-right and backed the Johnson, Cummings and Farage Brexit project and opposed internationalists.

SocialistWorker

Stand up to Racism: Keep racism out of the EU Referendum – Weyman Bennett

His party paper reports today:

 

Around 5,000 Nazis and racists gathered in Parliament Square, central London, on Saturday. Hundreds of the thugs tried to carry out a violent attack on Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters.

It’s a warning of how the British far right is hoping to initiate a right wing backlash against the BLM movement.

But they can be humbled. That was underlined late in the day on Saturday when several thousand people who had seen the pictures of the far right answered calls from musician Megaman and others to come to central London to oppose them.

Up to 300 supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) joined a counter-protest in Hyde Park where they faced abuse and intimidation from the far right.

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The fascists’ 5,000 was small compared to the 50,000 that came out last Saturday and the monster march last Sunday.

BLM organisers had planned another central London demonstration for this Saturday. But called it off out of fears of clashes with the far right and coronavirus concerns.

The far right may feel confident after their protest. But seeing tens of thousands of people—black, white, overwhelmingly young, and militant—on the streets is the best way to demoralise them and make sure they cannot regroup.

There are others who take an even more forthright position.

These responses do not look like calls for unity:

And there is this:

The Malcolm X Movement has a web site.

Its last pubic event was in 2017.

Here is one in 2016,

The Malcolm X Movement proudly hosts the premier of a hard-hitting, informative and inspiring look at African and Libyan popular anti-imperialist resistance entitled Nato War on Libya (53mins). We are also hosting at the same event a book launch of a collection of writings about the martyrdom of Muammar Gaddafi entitled On the Martyrdom of Muammar Gaddafi: 21st Century Fascism and Resistance. One of our MXM coordinators – Sukant Chandan is the editor of the book and the filmmaker of the doc.
The event takes place this Sat 29th Oct at 6pm at Marx Memorial Library,  EC1R 0DU (£5 suggested entry). The Libyan community are kindly and generously providing free Libyan snacks and refreshments at this event.