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

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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.

..

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.

As Support for Keir Starmer Grows and Grows Socialist Worker Attacks “Right-wing Labour Leadership Candidate.”

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Peter Tatchell, Starmer would make a “fine Labour Leader”.

The Newsnight debate yesterday.

This is highly recommended:

Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner and longtime acquaintance of Starmer, remembered him as always being “very open to representation from outside his own circle” as DPP.

“I was involved in helping to defend two Balochistan activists who the government of Pakistan was trying to frame on terrorism charges,” he said. “When I approached Keir about the case he immediately said ‘Come in and see me. Let’s talk about it.’ He was a very high-profile, busy man at the time but he took the time, you know, which I think is a measure of his character and integrity.”

Tatchell said Starmer would make a “fine Labour leader” but said he hoped he would take on some of the “very thoughtful, intelligent proposals” made by Clive Lewis, the left-wing Labour MP who dropped out of the leadership contest in the early stages.

“I think the Keir you see today is pretty much the Keir of 30 years ago,” Tatchell added. “He’s got a very sharp mind and is very articulate. I think it would be a great asset if he can work on a sense of humour as well. … Yeah, it’s a bit hidden.”

Keir Starmer Is Not Who You Think He Is. Emily Ashton.

James McAsh writes on Labour List.

Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner are in the lead by a considerable margin. Each has approximately 60% of nominations. Two in five CLPs have nominated both candidates, one in five have nominated each one alone, and only one in five have nominated neither.

……

 Perspective on the EU is still a factor. CLPs nominating Starmer and Thornberry are more likely to be in areas that voted Remain, while those supporting Long-Bailey or Nandy more often voted Leave.

Nonetheless, the Brexit vote does not disrupt the headline results: Starmer has won a majority of both groups, Long-Bailey is in second place, and Nandy is beating Thornberry to third place. Perhaps we’re not so divided after all.

It is all but impossible that Starmer and Rayner will lose. Moreover, their staggering leads make it clear that they have hoovered up support from both previous Corbyn supporters and his critics. Is this a new era of unity? A happy compromise between those who want the Corbyn project to enter a new stage, and those who want it to end? Or rather, will the expectations for the new leadership be ultimately irreconcilable? Only time will tell.

As the Labour Party looks to a new leadership to replace the failed pro-“People’s Brexit’ Corridor Cabal that damaged the party during the election.

From the SWP sidelines comes further reasons to back Starmer charging him, falsely with wanting to “move to the right”, and sneering at his human rights work, and, correctly, with having been pro-internationalist on the issue of the European Union.

The SWP no doubt thinks that if they repeat the claim that Starmer is a “right-winger” long enough people might believe them.

Right wingers lead as Labour leadership race enters final stage

Right wing Labour leadership candidate Keir Starmer looked set to enter the final round of the contest with the most nominations by far.

Starmer had won backing from 280 Constituency Labour Parties—local party organisations—as Socialist Worker went to press.

His nominations surpassed the left’s candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey, who had the backing of 131 CLPs, and the two other candidates Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry.

Among those nominating him last week was Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency Islington North—prompting gloating from the Labour right and barely concealed joy from political pundits.

The deadline for nominations was Friday this week. The final stage of the contest—a ballot of individual members and affiliated supporters—was set to run from Friday of next week until Thursday 2 April.

Yet the scale of the nominations for Starmer is an indication that the mass support that sustained Corbyn’s leadership may not become backing for Long-Bailey.

Starmer says Labour has to move right to be electable—and activists worry that this is swaying members.

He has tried to cultivate an image as ­someone who supported workers as a campaigning lawyer.

Yet he also relies on his image as a “respectable” politician due to his background as Labour’s shadow Brexit ­minister and as Director of Public Prosecutions.

Starmer was one of those responsible for Labour’s slide towards backing a second referendum—which was central to the disastrous 2019 general election result.

He also ­publicly backed ­remaining in the European Union. Yet demoralisation among Labour members mean some are pulled by the idea that Labour needs a leader more acceptable to the right and the media.

Meanwhile, Long-Bailey was attacked for promising to ban bosses from forcing workers to answer emails out of working hours, and to ­support “every” strike.

Yet her campaign has also made concessions to the right—including ­backing MP Angela Rayner over the left wing Richard Burgon for deputy leader. She’s also backed rules that would allow left wing activists to be purged from Labour for anything more than the ­mildest criticism of Israel.

Labour lost the general election partly because its leadership under Corbyn consistently conceded to right wing arguments, allowing them to take hold and undermine him.

Now the pressures of “unity” and “electability” look set to drag the party even ­further to the right.

Fellow supporters of Brexit, Spiked, are also anti-Starmer.

On another identity issue, the ‘Trans pledge’, the leadership debate has seen Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey back calls to purge Labour of feminist dissent on the issue.

In thoughtful and reasoned comment Lindsey German said earlier in the week said that the issue should not be used to shout down debate,

No platform should only be for fascists

Laura Pidcock, the former Labour MP who has such a good record on the left, has come under attack in the past week for making the following statement as part of a much longer article: ‘The women’s movement needs space to talk about sex and gender without fear of being “no platformed”’. She has been called bigoted and transphobic. Yet what she says is absolutely true. There is no justification for refusing a platform to someone who wants to discuss these highly controversial issues. They are not fascists, indeed many have a long record of fighting oppression. Moreover, they are as resolutely opposed to attacks on, abuse of, or discrimination against trans people as are the people attacking them. So they cannot be lumped in with right wingers who want to deny trans rights.

The truth is there is no automatic unity of the oppressed and positions need to be argued and fought for. Demonstration against feminists who are concerned about transgender issues, shouting them down, trying to get them sacked or removed as speakers, should have no place on the left. It’s 50 years since the first women’s liberation conference in this country and, guess what, women’s oppression remains a major factor in our society.

Here is Starmer’s reaction to the calls for a witch-hunt on the issue of trans rights.

Instead he backs this democratic pledge:

 

 

 

After Theresa May’s Defeat on EU, Labour still stuck in ‘Negotiations’ for a Better Brexit.

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May’s Deal Defeated: Back the Left Bloc for a People’s Vote!

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, speaking in the House of Commons after Theresa May’s Brexit deal was defeated by 149 votes.

“The government has been defeated again by an enormous majority and it must accept its deal is clearly dead and does not have the support of this House.

“No Deal must be taken off the table. We’ve said that before and we’ll say that again.

“The House has got to come together with a proposal that could be negotiated. The Labour Party will put forward that proposal again.

“The Prime Minister is threatening us all with the danger of No Deal, knowing full well the damage it will do to the British economy.

“The Prime Minister has run down the clock and the clock has been run out on her. It’s time that we have a General Election and the people can choose who their government should be.”

Corbyn’s lack of support for a Referendum, and the absence of any other possibility than future – endless – “negotiations” – is deeply disappointing.

Corby, his inner circle, and their supporters, lack any positive perspective on Europe.

At first sight they might as well be spouting this strategy, aimed at fuelling Labour Party internal fighting:

Nothing but a general election can change this. Either extending Article 50 or holding another referendum only gives the Tories more time to govern without governing. The Tories are facing an existential crisis – but that can only be exploited through a general election. A general election would give Labour the possibility of winning a majority to put forward its vision for Brexit, but also to immediately put an end to austerity.

It’s a disgrace, but unsurprising, that at this time when there is the best-ever possibility of getting rid of this failing Tory government, Tom Watson and his Blairite cabal are intent on wrecking Corbyn’s leadership. The left inside and outside the Labour Party must unite to defend Corbyn and push for a general election now.

Counterfire.  Shabbir Lakha. May’s Brexit deal is dead: we need a general election now

“In the Guardian Michael Chessum unravells today the details of Labour’s Strategy, which is not just a call for an election but is, he argues, entangled in a plan for a Common Market 2.0.” which is if anything, even more of a dead end.

Why Labour must not fall for the charms of a Norway-style deal

For the group of shadow cabinet ministers and prominent union leaders who have spent months pushing back against the idea of a fresh public vote in spite of party policy, there are sharper, more factional benefits. Soft Brexit would deny their opponents on all wings of the party, and in the grassroots, a victory.

But it would be a profound mistake for Labour to go down this path. Soft Brexit is the least popular policy with the public. It would oblige the UK to take all of the rules and regulations – including the state aid rules so often cited as problematic by pro-Brexit figures on the Labour left – while abandoning a seat at the decision-making table. The only people who think that this outcome would “deliver the result of the referendum” are remain voters desperately attempting to triangulate out of the situation.

The common market 2.0 position has been sculpted carefully by a cross-party group of former grandees from both main parties. It is not backed by anything like a grassroots movement. Unlike the movement against Brexit, it has organised no massive marches, no campaign of motions through party branches, no stalls and door-knocking in the rain. If a Norway-style Brexit deal does eventually win out, it will be because it commands the support of the Westminster bubble. It will neither solve the material problems that caused the Brexit vote, nor satiate anyone who voted for it.

Pause.

Some of the strongest supporters of the present Labour line, are in favour of Brexit, pure and simple.

Their “vision of Brexit” is, like Counterfire’s a “People’s Brexit”. Free from being a “colony” of the EU rivers of gold will flow,  austerity will be ended and Britian will become a socialist beacon for the rest of the world.

The Communist Party of Britain, which Corbyn adviser on Brexit, Andrew Murray supported until a couple of years ago, even backs the hardest of Brexits.

‘Britain should leave the EU on WTO terms’, Communists propose.

cpb brexit sticker

But what of Common Market 2.0?

At first sight it appears a reasonable strategy – setting aside the issue of why go to the trouble of leaving the EU only to remake the old Common Market.

On second sight there is this to get over, not least for the loyal supporters of Corbyn:

Image result for common market 2.0

Here is the summary:

The UK needs a Plan B.

One that can be negotiated quickly.

One that both Leavers and Remainers can back.

One that delivers on the referendum result.

That plan is Common Market 2.0

known as ‘Norway Plus’ by Michel Barnier.

It’s the only alternative plan that the EU might sign up to at this late stage

It’s the only alternative plan which might win a Parliamentary majority

It’s the only alternative plan that would protect jobs and preserve the Union of the UK

The plan has numerous critics.

The most obvious is the following,

Critics of the plan – including People’s Vote campaigners – said “this ship sailed some time ago”.

Labour MP Peter Kyle said: “Some people believe the Norway model is as simple as signing up to Netflix, it isn’t. Negotiations would be as complex as the last two years and result in the same challenges. Norway shadows the ECJ, it pays more fees into EU countries as part of its settlement per capita than Britain currently does for full membership, and Norway is very honest about the downside of taking rules whilst having little influence over their making.”

He added: “It’s now clear there is no form of Brexit, including this one, that can fulfil all the promises made for it. And there is no Brexit deal, even this one, that is as good as the deal we’ve got inside the EU.”

‘They think it’s like signing up to Netflix’ – Plan for Norway-style Brexit alternative criticised

Michael Chessum continues,

There is now a mass movement against Brexit. October’s People’s Vote march was the biggest demonstration in Britain since the Iraq war, and it could be eclipsed by a much larger one on 23 March. An army of campaigners, many of them new to politics and instinctively on the left, are leafleting, running stalls and knocking doors all over the country. This is a movement whose demands are supported by the overwhelming majority of Labour’s members, including those on the left – despite the prominence of establishment politicians within the official People’s Vote campaign.

On paper, a Norway-style deal might not look like the worst outcome. Many remainers would be relieved to have close ties to Europe and to retain free movement. But for Labour, delivering a Brexit of any kind will be ruinous. It would demoralise the Labour membership, and hand a stack of ammunition to Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents on the right of the party and in the Independent Group. It would fail the test of delivering the referendum for anyone who voted leave.

For Labour, there is now only one option: to join the mass movement and fight for the big ideas, not the Westminster fudge.

As Left Unity have pointed out, the only way forward is with our comrades on the European left, to “remain and transform” the EU.

The EU is as much a terrain of struggle for socialists as the individual capitalist states which comprise it.  The radical left in Britain needs to build on the emerging struggles by Europeanising and internationalising the fightback.

Socialists should still oppose Brexit: Remain and Transform!