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Labour Party Democracy Review: Some Background.

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Labour’s internal democracy review aims to put members “in charge” and hand them a bigger say in campaigning, organising, internal structures and elections, according to the key official tasked with leading the process.

The review, launched this autumn as part of Jeremy Corbyn’s efforts to turn Labour into a “mass movement”, has already prompted “thousands” of activists to send in ideas, said Katy Clark.

Clark, a former MP who is now political secretary to Corbyn, is running the inquiry with “assistance” from Andy Kerr, chair of the NEC, and Claudia Webbe, who sits on the committee, and will report to the leader and Ian Lavery, the party chair and Wansbeck MP.

Labour List

Labour Party Democracy Review

Our Democracy Review’s Terms of Reference

Labour’s NEC agreed to a review of Party Democracy as set out by the Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

The terms of reference for the review will include the following areas:

  • The method of electing the Party Leader, including the role of registered supporters and the issue of nominating thresholds.
  • The composition of the NEC and the procedures for elections to it in its various elements.
  • Developing democratic policy-making procedures, including strengthening the role of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) and of Party Conference, the role of contemporary motions and the development of local and regional plans.
  • Looking at how the Party can better deal with CLP motions.
  • The role, accountability and transparency of regional structures.
  • The functioning of associated bodies like BAME Labour, Young Labour, Disability Labour and LGBT Labour etc.
  • Strengthening the involvement and participation of our hundreds of thousands of new members in constituency parties and other aspects of the Party’s work.
  • Recruitment of members to further develop a mass party.
  • The Governance of CLPs including the composition of CLP Executives and the training of CLP officers and members.
  • How freeze dates are applied in Selections and Conferences.
  • Strengthening the links between the Party and its trade union affiliates locally and nationally, and engaging more of their members in the Party’s life.
  • Developing the relationship between Labour’s local authority representatives and local parties.
  • Greater participation of women in CLPs and at other levels of the Party, gender representation throughout the Party, and the role of Labour women’s conference.
  • Improving diversity at all levels within the Party including looking at how to increase the involvement of BAME members, LGBT members, members with a disability and other groups.
  • Harnessing the potential of social media across all aspects of Labour’s democracy and political work.

Submit your thoughts now

Building a Mass Movement
How We Make Policy
Diversity and Participation
Your Local Labour Party

Momentum says,

“The Labour Party Democracy Review represents an unprecedented opportunity for party members and trade union affiliates to fundamentally remake the party so that it is equipped to provide deep and meaningful representation to millions of people, and to implement a socialist programme to transform the country.”

They add,

For a brief explanation of the forums Momentum will establish to allow our members to have the maximum contribution possible to the review, please see Momentum and the Democracy Review: A Brief Explainer.

For information on upcoming Momentum and Labour Party Democracy Review meetings where you can participate, please see our events page. If you have organised an event and you would like us to promote it, please let us know by writing to transforminglabour@peoplesmomentum.com.

For an idea of the types of proposals which grassroots Labour Party and Momentum activists have been making for some years now, please see Democracy Review: Ideas from Grassroots Activists.

Not sure how to hold a meeting to debate proposals? Have a look at out top tips for group facilitators.

Want to hear what Momentum’s randomly selected advisory body came up with? See  recommendations made the Members’ Council.

For suggestions for proposals on the Women’s Conference, please see recommendations by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD).

For suggestions on reconstituting Young Labour into a fully autonomous body, see this suggestions from CLPD.

For results of Momentum’s consultation survey of BAME members and supporters, see this summary.

Finally, please also check out s summary version of Momentum’s proposals to transform BAME Labour,  and a complete version of the finalised proposals hereIf you want to discuss BAME Labour in your CLP and make a submission to the Democracy Review through it, please see the Seema Chandwani Guide to Debating BAME Labour in your CLP

On the Labour Briefing site Pete Firmin writes,

JUST BEFORE LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE, the NEC decided that there would be a fundamental review of party democracy, conducted by Katy Clark (ex- Scottish MP, now political secretary to Jeremy Corbyn) and two left NEC members, Claudia Webbe and Andy Kerr.

The commitment to this review was used to persuade several CLPs to withdraw their proposed rule changes rather than having them voted on (and probably lost) at conference. In doing so, however, several delegates made clear they would be watching the review closely and would be back with their proposals if they did not feel their concerns had been adequately addressed. Now the remit and timetable for the democracy review have been announced. It is to be run in three phases, with staggered deadlines:

  • On the organisational aspects of Young Labour, BAME Labour and Women’s conference, the deadline is 12th January 2018.
  • For submissions on “all other aspects of diversity and participation, your local party and building a mass movement”, the deadline is 23rd March.
  • For submissions on “electing our leadership, how we make policy and the way we work”, it is 28th June.

It is clear that the intention is to have conclusions going to 2018 conference for voting. While this makes some windows for participation short, such a review is well overdue and the sooner some fundamental changes are made the better. And a holistic review is far better than changing rules piecemeal.

Of course, none of this guarantees an outcome favourable to the left. For that to happen, activists have to encourage as many members as possible to submit proposals, win CLP and union support, lobby review and NEC members and carefully scrutinise proposals which come from the review.

While the review is far-ranging, and covers many important areas, there are also gaps in the remit which need questioning. Among these is the issue of a full democratic selection process for parliamentary (and council) candidates, ending the current procedure of trigger ballots. (Katy Clark has said this is outside her remit.) Disciplinary procedures, the Compliance Unit and issues of natural justice do not appear to be covered, either.

There is no reason why we should accept these limitations. Submissions should be made on anything and everything which concerns members about the functioning of the Party. And if this is outside the remit, let the review team explain why they will have ignored hundreds of submissions on an issue – and we can use that impetus to push for additional changes through rule changes if necessary.

On many issues it will be a matter of knowing the right questions to ask rather than simply being led by the review’s guidelines. So, for instance, in the section “how we make policy,” it asks “What are your views on the National Policy Forum and how it works?” Many (especially newer) members will not know how the NPF works, or that it was introduced as part of Blair’s counter-reforms precisely to take power away from conference. The Labour Representation Committee has long had a policy of scrapping the NPF and restoring full power to conference. The earliest deadline is for some areas that need the most fundamental changes.

Many members have raised doubts about democracy in both BAME Labour and Young Labour. The recent re-election of Keith Vaz to the BAME Labour place on the NEC was certainly questioned. At conference a young delegate raised the issue of the privileged position Labour Students hold within Young Labour and the fact that Young Labour does not have a constitution and standing orders decided on at their AGM.

Women’s conference is a large bone of contention, pitched in recent years as a mere add-on to national conference with no right to submit resolutions to conference, no policy-making powers of its own, and no structures. An urgent need is to ensure the empowerment of women members throughout the Party.

There are other grossly undemocratic areas of the Party, especially around local government, with no ability for the Party to elect the local leader, write the local manifesto or decide local policy in relation to local authorities.

We encourage readers to make submissions to all areas of the review. There will, without doubt, be suggestions for submissions from campaigns and the likes of Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and Momentum, and these should be used where appropriate. Briefing also asks readers to send articles or letters covering areas of the review which can be printed over the next months. The review is probably a one-time opportunity to seriously transform the functioning of the Party. We have to use it to the utmost.

Solidarity writes,

The Labour Party is doing yet another democracy review.

This time, however, the review comes under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, and its coordinator is Katy Clark, formerly a left-wing Labour MP and someone we on Solidarity have known as a solid socialist back to her student days in Aberdeen and Edinburgh in the late 1980s and early 90s.

The deadline for Phase 1 submissions is 12 January, and they are to cover BAME (black and minority-ethnic) Labour, Young Labour, and Labour Women’s Conference.

Phase 2 (submissions by 23 March) covers more diffuse topics, such as strengthening the involvement and participation of members, but also specifically the governance of CLPs [constituency Labour Parties] and the place of Labour’s twenty affiliated socialist societies.

Phase 3 (by 29 June) will deal with the election of the party leader, the composition of the National Executive (NEC), the policy process, local government, and Labour’s links with trade unions.

A first report is scheduled for Labour Party conference in September 2018. This should also include all remitted rule changes from the 2017 Labour Party conference. Delegates were assured they would all be considered during the review.

Ensuring that the democracy review is in itself run on democratic principles is important. We would encourage all CLPs, and union affiliates to put forward proposals, invite relevant NEC members and Katy Clark to address meetings and promote participation particularly from young members on the future of Young Labour.

Previous reviews have almost totally ignored the submissions put forward. There is good reason to believe that this time will be different, but we should not be complacent.

Fundamentally any move to greater democracy in the party must mean structures that put basic democratic controls into the hands of members and local party units, with a responsive and accountable national structure that includes oversight of the parliamentary Labour Party and the way the leader and her or his team operate.

One of the great differences since Harold Wilson has been the increasing size and weight of the staff around the leader.
It was previously very easy for other insiders to speak to the leader. Now almost anyone can find it difficult to get past the praetorian guard of staff.

There is a remedy: the sovereign decision-making body of the Labour Party. A conference with meaningful power that set the policy agenda and passes motions that are then included in the manifesto.

At the 2017 conference, Labour passed a number of good polices including the repeal of all existing anti-trade union laws since the conference there has been complete silence on the issue. Most members will not know about the policy, let alone plans for it be enacted by a Labour government. How and where can members get involved to turn the conference resolution into a living campaign, that can draw in support from the wider labour movement and local parties?

There is no method at the moment for the policy to be realised. The frankly hollow and seemingly inept National Policy Forum never appears to consider conference policy when it submits its report to conference.

Conference is only one of several aspects being discussed. Already the scope of the review excludes selection procedures, which are one of the primary principles of a democratic and member-led party. We can see no good reason to be restricted by the official terms when submissions are made to the review.

At this stage we do not know with what level of scrutiny different submissions will receive. We have formulated a series of proposals covering the three stages of the review ,and would be keen to work with others to promote these principles and discuss any other proposals.

Submissions opened on 1 November and can be made either online or by email.

More via above link.

Progress.

The Katy Clark ‘democracy review’ wears its faction on its sleeve, believes Conor Pope

It is true that a mass movement behind the Labour party is desirable and provides a convenient well for a range of fresh ideas; new technology allows the opportunity for that mass movement to be participatory and grassroots-led in a way never before capable; and the party certainly needs to be more diverse to thrive and make the most of this opportunity.

In this regard, there is little to disagree with in Katy Clark’s argument. She is rightly vague about the outcomes; if she were not, it would not be much of a review. But it is fair to have concerns about what the end results are likely to be.

The review is very close to Jeremy Corbyn’s office. Clark, on secondment from her role as the Labour leader’s political secretary, is assisted by Claudia Webbe, elected to the National Executive Committee on the Momentum slate, and Andy Kerr from the Communication Workers’ Union, which officially affiliated to Momentum earlier this year.

In the past, such reviews into party reform have retained at least modicum of independence. This one wears its faction on its sleeve. To look to the leadership’s past form as a potential guide to the future, therefore, may not be unreasonable.

In late 2015, Corbyn sent out an email to Labour members, canvassing views on the upcoming vote on military action against Isis in Syria, in what was briefed at the time as an unprecedented sign of engagement with the grassroots. Yet Corbyn had already made his view known – reiterating it in the email itself – and it is hard to see the move as anything other than an attempt to wield the supportive feedback as leverage in shadow cabinet battles. It was not ‘involving members’, it was utilising them as a tool in an internal dispute.

Party reform was such an integral part of Corbyn’s first leadership campaign in 2015 that when I interviewed him that summer I questioned him over his support for making annual conference the main body for deciding policy. I put it to him that surely that would give greater power to people who just like going to lots of political meetings, rather than truly opening politics up? ‘At the moment it’s made by people who don’t go to political meetings and are just experts,’ he replied.

In that same 2015 interview, Corbyn suggested to me that the 1988 leadership contest between Neil Kinnock and Tony Benn – in which the Islington North member of parliament backed Benn – was a potential model for how future leadership elections might work. Yet when he himself was challenged for the leadership a year later, the precedent set by Kinnock that the incumbent should seek fresh nominations was no longer enough.

The NEC backed Corbyn on that, as it did on the plan to expand by three places to give new members a say, for which Momentum founder and owner Jon Lansman has been chosen for the hard-left slate.

It seems, then, that Corbyn and his supporters are not above using the language of democratisation for their own political ends.

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 13, 2018 at 1:34 pm

George Galloway Writes about ‘Gnome of Zurich’ Soros in Far-Right Westmonster.

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George Soros: ‘Gnome of Zurich’ Says Galloway.

GALLOWAY: GEORGE SOROS’ MEDDLING IS A TRANSPARENT FOREIGN ATTACK ON BREXIT

Westmonster.

He thinks any pro-EU group that received Soros’ money must give it back.

Galloway is clear is he is, oh no, not at all, anti-Semitic, not one little bit. not an ounce, or a smidgen, or a wisp.

George Soros is not despised by all right-thinking people because of his origins or his faith (except by the legion of far-right anti-Semites in the east and central zones of the European Union).

Not he just hates Gnomes, not all gnomes, just ones from Zurich.

Or even because he has bled billions out of other peoples’ economic woes as a “Gnome of Zurich”. There are plenty of such people, indeed they love the EU so much precisely because it has allowed him and them to flourish mightily.

Galloway stands up for Russians, dead and now….live ones,

Soros’s unwillingness to sit counting his money in favour of using it to interfere in other countries political affairs is what is unacceptable. But you know what, my ire about the £700,000 he has put into the wreck Brexit campaign is as nothing compared to my contempt for his enablers in Britain.

The hypocrites who have raised hell over “Russian interference” in Brexit but trigger the foul charge of anti-Semitism when American-Hungarian interference in Brexit is brazenly declared.

The liars who stand up in parliament and have a “Kremlin-diplomat” removed from the public gallery only to find the poor man was American not Russian and not a diplomat but a tourist.

He hates subversion,

What is different about the Soros money is not just the quantum – the largest foreign donation by far and if I’m any judge a fraction of what he will spend in the next weeks and months – but that this is not an attempt to sway the vote before it is cast. This is a transparent foreign attack on a decision we have ALREADY TAKEN. That’s subversion in any democracy.

He hates ex-Communist “satraps”.

How much more has there been, will there be? And what price do we put on our national dignity? Are we to be bought and sold by Soros gold like some ramshackle ex-Communist satrapy?

And, above all, people who are rude to Galloway,

And lastly: for the first time since the referendum I have personally been under 24 hour a day incessant Twitter attack by accounts (robots or no, how could one tell?). Starting this week I have had to mute hundreds of EU-fanatic propaganda accounts all attacking with the same message. That we are not fit to be an independent country. Its time we showed them that we are, and we will be again.

Poor old todger fighting ’em off ..alone…

Not so !

Galloway, has a friend, if not in Jesus at least Westmonster and businessmen, one Aaron Banks.

 

Westmonster: News website supporting Brexit, Farage and Trump set up by political donor Aaron Banks.

Westmonster describes itself as: “Pro-Brexit, pro-Farage, pro-Trump. Anti-establishment, anti-open borders, anti-corporatism.” January 2017.

It said: “In an age of transformative political change that has been spearheaded by groups like Leave.EU, the media landscape is quickly changing too. And so here we are.

“Westmonster is part of the growing movement in the UK and right across the world that wants to see radical political change.”

Banks gave £7m to the campaign for Britain to leave the EU.

He told the BBC: “The internet and social media has changed the world and the mainstream media is lagging a long way behind in the way it communicates. We want to shake things up a bit.”

The site is co-owned by Michael Heaver, former press secretary for Nigel Farage.

He said the site will be “speaking to people in a way they understand in language they understand”.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2018 at 4:55 pm

As Women Arrested In Iran for not wearing the Veil, Foreign Office promoted ‘World Hijab Day’ .

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Iranian Students Protest Against “liberation, respect and security” enforced by Religious Police.

Foreign Office employees invited to wear headscarves to work to mark World Hijab day

In an internal memo, the Foreign Office said that the headscarf is worn by some women who see it as representing “liberation, respect and security”

According to reports, an email sent to staff said: “Would you like to try on a hijab or learn why Muslim women wear the headscarf? Come along to our walk-in event.

“Free scarves for all those that choose to wear it for the day or part of the day.

“Muslim women, along with followers of many other religions, choose to wear the hijab. Many find liberation, respect and security through wearing it. #StrongInHijab. Join us for #WorldHijabDay.”

Evening Standard.

How Iran uses a compulsory hijab law to control its citizens – and why they are protesting

In 1985, it became mandatory for women to wear the hijab with a law that forced all women in Iran, regardless of their religious beliefs, to dress in accordance with Islamic teachings. The hijab became a tool for implementing the government’s strict religious ideology.

A symbol of oppression

The new law marked an ideological way of governing that continues today. The compulsory hijab law has been used to exclude women from various areas of public life, either by explicitly banning women from certain public spaces such as some sports stadiums, or by adding restrictions on their education and workplace etiquette. More generally, it is also used to exclude anyone who disagrees with the ideology of the regime, who are branded as having “bad-hijab”. Not adhering to hijab continues to be seen as a hallmark of opposition to the government.

The law is also used to justify the regime’s increasing involvement in citizens’ private lives. From an early age, girls are forced to wear headscarves in school and public places. Teenagers and young people in Iran are routinely stopped by the “morality police” responsible primarily for policing people’s appearances and adherence to wearing the hijab.

For women it is the way they wear their headscarves and the length of their overcoats. Men are prohibited from wearing shorts, having certain haircuts that could be seen as Western, and wearing tops with “Western” patterns or writings. In recent years, it has become common practice for the police to raid private parties, arresting both girls and boys on the basis of not adhering to the hijab law. Punishments range from fines to two months in jail.

NSS criticises Foreign Office for “fetishising” the hijab

The National Secular Society has criticised the Foreign Office for “fetishising Islamic head coverings” after it encouraged staff to mark ‘world hijab day’.

The Foreign Office sent an internal memo offering employees the chance to wear free hijabs on 1 February. Since 2013 some have called this ‘world hijab day’. Others have responded, particularly on social media, by declaring ‘no hijab day’.

The memo claimed “many” women see the headscarf as representing “liberation, respect and security”.

“Would you like to try on a hijab or learn why Muslim women wear the headscarf? Come along to our walk-in event. Free scarves for all those that choose to wear it for the day or part of the day.

“Muslim women, along with followers of many other religions, choose to wear the hijab. Many find liberation, respect and security through wearing it. #StrongInHijab. Join us for #WorldHijabDay.”

A Foreign Office spokesman told the Evening Standard the event was for staff at its London office who wanted to learn about ‘other cultures’.

‘World hijab day’ was created by a woman in New York in 2013. Its organisers say they created it “in recognition of millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty”. They also say it is designed to “fight discrimination against Muslim women through awareness and education”.

They claim the support of politicians including Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland.

Stephen Evans, NSS chief executive, said: “This appears to have been a well-intentioned event, but it is dubious whether civil service staff need their bosses to educate them on religious issues.

“If government departments wish to teach their staff about religion, they should do it warts and all. That means understanding that women are forced to wear the hijab across large parts of the world. And it means understanding the social pressure that encourages many others to wear it as a sign of ‘modesty’, submission to male-dominated religious authorities and a visible sign of commitment to one particular faith and community.

“Women who choose to wear the hijab should be able to do so in peace and without facing discrimination. But a critically-informed assessment of Islamic head coverings would not fetishise them. At a time when women in Iran are fighting for the right to remove their hijabs, the Foreign Office should be the first to realise this.”

More solidarity with the Iranian religious police:

On Feb. 1, Rabea Ali brought World Hijab Day to perhaps an unlikely place – Manhattan College, the Roman Catholic school she attends in the Bronx. Nazma Khan, who grew up in the borough, started the annual event in 2013 to promote religious tolerance and encourage non-Muslims and non-Hijabis to wear the hijab for a day.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2018 at 12:40 pm

Spiked-on-Line and Stephen Potter: The Praxis of Lifemanship.

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Spiked-on-Line’s Manual.

“Soros does not believe in the legitimacy of borders nor in the authority of national electorates. Consequently he feels entitled to influence and if possible direct the political destiny of societies all over the world. “

The Telegraph  Living Marxism (LM).

They claim that the headline of the Telegraph piece is an anti-Semitic trope: it says Soros is ‘backing secret plot to thwart Brexit.’ That’s anti-Semitic? That would be a more convincing argument if the Telegraph and others hadn’t also regularly written about other plots – of which there are many! – to overthrow the democratic vote for Brexit, including those that do not involve donations from billionaires who happen to be Jewish.

Brendan O’Neill. Spiked on Line.

Nick Timothy liked the story so much he re-tweeted it.

 Retweeted

 

The role of Spiked-on-Line in the hate campaign against Soros has received attention on the left for the simple reason that this group, with origins on the far-left, is now popping up all over the right wing (not to say far-right)  British press.

They are above all celebrated as “contrarians”.

Brendan O’Neill in particular.

Having left behind Marxism, Socialism and indeed any form of the left, the crew have found a new ‘look me up to’ in the works of Stephen Potter.

Potter (whose books, it goes without saying are on all serious leftists’ shelves) is best known for this,

It was the first of his series of books purporting to teach ploys for manipulating one’s associates, making them feel inferior and thus gaining the status of being one-up on them. From this book, the term “Gamesmanship” entered the English language. Potter said that he was introduced to the technique by C. E. M. Joad during a game of tennis in which Joad and Potter were struggling against two fit young students. Joad politely requested the students to state clearly whether a ball had landed in or out (when in truth it was so obviously out that they had not thought it necessary to say so). This nonplussed the students, who wondered if their sportsmanship was in question; they became so edgy that they lost the match.

But that is not the end of the method.

Sport is only one case of always being “one up” on your opponents.

The Master defined the objective, “How to be one up – how to make the other man feel that something has gone wrong, however slightly.” Or, if you “are not one up, you are one down”.

Rosie Bell once outlined a key aspect of  the Potter praxis:

In his series Lifemanship (1950)  Stephen Potter invented a reviewer called Hope-Tipping who, in order to make a splash, would take a writer to task for not doing something he was famous for,  e.g. accuse D H Lawrence of showing  a neglect of “the consciousness of sexual relationship, the male and female element in life”.   So Hope-Tipping would be severely disappointed with Irving Welsh’s lack of interest in Edinburgh’s low life and he would castigate Dick Francis for not drawing on his knowledge of horses and horse-racing

The advice for what Potter called “Newstatesmaning”, that is reviewing, is at the centre of Spiked on Line’s approach. Sitting down with a dog-eared copy of the book and its sequel, One-Upmanship: Being Some Account of the Activities and Teachings of the Lifemanship Correspondence College of One-Upness and Games Lifemastery (1952) the team can write any number of articles.

The New Statesman writer Jonn Elledge recently found a few, or rescued them from the waste bin,

The campaign against the so-called “Black Death” has exposed the liberals’ true agenda.

The misogyny of the Suffragettes.

The witch-hunting of Jack the Ripper

There is are tired and trusted techniques. A master stroke is “Yes, but not in the South”, which “with slight adjustments, will do for any argument about any place, if not about any person and render any of your opponents’ assertions suspect.

There has been much justified celebration this week of that historic enfranchisement of around 8.4million mainly middle-class women. Far less attention has been paid to the other victory for democracy in the 1918 Act – the granting of the vote to virtually all males aged over 21, which enfranchised some 5.6million working-class men for the first time.

That side of the Act does not fit the fashionable script, which depicts the democratic victory of February 1918 as a triumph for modern feminism.

Mick Hume Spiked on Line 7th of February 2018

Or to imply that you are somehow in the highest realm of intellectual debate, but that you are also in touch with the common taste – lowbrowmanship.

2018 heralds the 80th anniversary of the longest running comic book in history – the Beano. For generations, working-class kids have grown up with the characters in the Beano. And supreme among them is the eternally naughty 10-year-old, Dennis the Menace, who first appeared on 12 March 1951.

Denis Hayes. Spiked on Line.  4th of January 2018.

Unfortunately if we thought that the professional contrarians were a joke they have their admirers, from Sky News, to here:

 

Here.

 

Campaign to Support Afrin, as Turkey is alleged to recruit ISIS Genociders to attack the Kurdish YPG.

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Turkey using ISIS fighters for Afrin invasion – newspaper

Turkey is deploying Islamic State (ISIS) fighters to Afrin to help it fight the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) there, a former ISIS fighter told The Independent’s Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn.

“Turkey at the beginning of its operation tried to delude people by saying that it is fighting ISIS, but actually they are training ISIS members and sending them to Afrin,” he quoted the man, named Faraj, as saying.

Turkey was using members of the extreme jihadist group because of their fighting experience, and because there are few likely consequences for Turkish domestic opinion if they suffer casualties, Cockburn said.

ISIS, meanwhile, is trying to regain a foothold in Syria, and dealing damage to the U.S.-backed YPG would be an important strategic move, he said.

“The fighting between Turks and Kurds and the growing confrontation between the U.S. and Turkey are all in the interests of ISIS,” Cockburn said.

“It does not have the strength to recover from its crushing defeats last year, but the opponents it faced then are now fighting other battles.”

Turkey’s state news agency has also said that the YPG has freed jailed ISIS fighters in return for the militants joining the fight against Turkey.

There is growing international concern, as this campaign illustrates.

 A group of intellectuals, professors, academics and human rights activists launched world campaign against the Turkish occupation of Afrin and signed a petition against the Turkish occupation.

The petition called on the United Nations, America, Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from violating the Syrian territories and allowing the people of Afrin to live in peace, and demanded an end to attacks by the Turkish state against Afrin.

Afrin is surrounded by al-Qaeda, jihadist groups and the Turkish state

According to the petition, the majority of Afrin residents are Kurds, the most secure areas in Syria. The population of the Afrin region has doubled over the past five years; the population is about 400,000. The petition noted that Afrin is now besieged by the jihadist groups affiliated with Turkey, as well as al-Qaeda and the Turkish state.

People’s Protection Units alone protect peoples

The petition also addressed the Turkish threats against People’s Protection Units in Afrin. These units, participated with US against IS, have opened the way for the establishment of democratic civil society councils in the areas under their control. It stressed that People’s Protection Units defend the Kurds and other peoples living in northern Syria.

The lives of thousands of civilians are threatened

The intellectuals also emphasized Erdogan tries to eliminate the safe and stable Afrin canton, pointing out any possible attack that would threaten the lives of thousands of civilians and displaced people. Stressing at the same time that any Turkish attack will be with the permission of Russia, Iran and Syria, and America’s inaction.

Supporting Kurds, who sacrificed thousands of their martyrs in the war against IS, is a moral responsibility

The petition signed by intellectuals and academics said that the Kurdish people sacrificed thousands of their martyrs to save the world from IS mercenaries. “The moral responsibility is imposed on the international community and on America to stand by the Kurdish people.”

The petition called on the United Nations, the United States, Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from violating Syrian land and to allow the people of Afrin to live in peace. It also called for an end to attacks by the Turkish state against Afrin.

Among those who signed the petition were Noam Chomsky, Michael Walzer, Charlotte Bunch, Todd Gitlin, David Graeber, Nadje Al Ali, David Harvey, Michael Hardt, Marina Sitrin, David Phillips, Ann Snitow, Bill Fletcher, Joey Lawrence, Meredith Tax and Debbie Bookchin.

Full text of the petition:

We, the undersigned academics and human rights activists, insist that the leaders of Russia, Iran, and the U.S. ensure that the sovereignty of Syrian borders is not breached by Turkey and that the people of Afrin in Syria, be allowed to live in peace.

Afrin, whose population is predominantly Kurdish, is one of the most stable and secure regions in Syria. With very little international aid, Afrin has taken in so many Syrian refugees in the last five years that its population has doubled to 400,000. Afrin is now surrounded by enemies: Turkish-supported jihadi groups, al Qaeda, and Turkey.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to attack the U.S. military’s Kurdish partners – the Kurdish YPG or People’s Protection Units – with which the US has been allied against ISIS. Turkey accuses the YPG of being “terrorists” despite the YPG’s long track record of setting up local democratic governing councils in each of the towns it has liberated from ISIS and its repeated statements that it has no interest in Turkey and wishes to function only as a defense force for Syrian Kurds and other ethnicities living in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), also known as “Rojava”, which includes Afrin.

Turkey has massed an enormous military force on the Afrin border and President Erdogan has promised to attack the Kurdish-controlled canton with full force, annihilating a peaceful enclave, and putting thousands of civilians and refugees at risk, all in pursuit of its vendetta against the Kurds.

An attack of this kind against the peaceful citizens of Afrin is a blatant act of aggression against a peaceful and democratically-governed region and population. Turkey cannot carry out such an attack without the approval of Russia, Iran and Syria – and inaction by the U.S. to stop it. The Kurdish people have endured the loss of thousands of young men and women who joined the YPG, and YPJ women’s force, to rid the world of ISIS. The U.S and the international community have a moral obligation to stand behind the Kurdish people now. We call on U.S. officials and the international community to guarantee Afrin’s stability and security and prevent further Turkish aggression from within Syria and across the Syrian border.

There is also this:

*Urgent call for Demo:
#STOPAFRINGENOCIDE#

Since 20 January Turkish army and its mercenaries are brutally continuing attacking Efrîn Canton bombing civilians homes and shelling hospitals and schools to destroying the peaceful co-existing people of northern Syria. To protest these attacks by Turkish State, we call everyone to join us and protest outside the Prime Minister Office in London, where leaflets and information will be distributed everyday for a week long desk with a tent/ Afrin resistance comp.
Start Date : 10/02/2018 Saturday
Time: 12:00am-6pm
Address: 10 Downing Street
Closest station: Westminister Station
Kurdish People Assembly
Roj Women Assembly
Democratic Union Party (PYD)-UK

2 of ISIS’ Infamous British Fighters Are Captured by Syrian Kurds

New York Times.

Syrian Kurdish fighters have detained two British men infamous for their role in the Islamic State’s imprisonment, torture and killing of Western hostages, according to American officials.

The men were part of a group of four Islamic State militants known as the Beatles because of their British accents. Officials identified the two men captured as Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh. They were the last two members of the group to remain at large.

The ringleader, Mohammed Emwazi, was killed in an airstrike in 2015 in Syria after an intensive manhunt. Known as Jihadi John, he beheaded American and British hostages. A fourth man, Aine Davis, is imprisoned in Turkey on terrorism charges.

All four had lived in West London. Mr. Kotey, born in London, is of Ghanaian and Greek Cypriot background, while Mr. Elsheikh’s family fled Sudan in the 1990s. Both men have been designated foreign terrorists by the United States.

The British extremists were known for their brutality. They repeatedly beat the hostages they kept imprisoned in Raqqa, Syria, formerly the Islamic State’s self-declared capital, and subjected them to waterboarding and mock executions. Mr. Emwazi was believed to have killed the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as Abdul-Rahman Kassig, an aid worker. The American government says the group beheaded more than 27 hostages.

 

 

Here

Written by Andrew Coates

February 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm

Nigel Farage and Spiked-on-Line Join in Campaign against “Secret Plot” George Soros.

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Related image

Soros and ‘Secret Plots’.

The Telegraph led this story today with a memorable headline,

George Soros, the man who ‘broke the Bank of England’, backing secret plot to thwart Brexit.

The article has already got this reaction from the Jewish Chronicle,

Theresa May’s former aide accused of using antisemitic slur in Brexit article on George Soros.

The use of the phrase “secret plot” to describe the activities funded by Mr Soros has sparked claims of antisemitism, with critics accusing the authors of using a traditional trope of shadowy Jewish political influence.

It also dubbed the 87-year-old “the man who broke the Bank of England”, a reference to the role Mr Soros’ Quantum Fund played in the Black Wednesday run on the pound in 1992.

In recent years Mr Soros has been targeted by negative advertising campaigns by nationalist parties in Eastern Europe, many of which have been described as antisemitic.

 

Steve Bush in the New Statesman sums up further problems with this article by Nick Timothy, PM Teresa May’s former Joint Chief of Staff,

Why is Nick Timothy’s Telegraph column on anti-Brexit billionaire George Soros so disturbing?

Within its coverage, the paper has seen fit to uncritically repeat a series of anti-Semitic conspiracies about Soros.

Today’s Telegraph column from Nick Timothy carries an account of a meeting between George Soros, the billionaire and funder of various liberal causes, and Conservative donors, and the theme continues on the paper’s frontpage, where “Man who ‘broke the Bank of England’ backing secret plot to thwart Brexit” is the splash.

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The reason that many find the Telegraph‘s treatment so disturbing is that Soros, who is Jewish, has been at the centre of a series of anti-Semitic conspiracies by the increasingly authoritarian governments in Poland, Hungary and Turkey – and the paper has seen fit to uncritically repeat those accusations in its write-up of the story. That Timothy was the author of that “citizens of nowhere” speech only adds to feeling among many that the original speech was a coded way of talking about “rootless cosmopolitans”; aka the Jewish people.

The controversy is making waves,

 

Leading Mr Secret Plot to claim,

Mr Timothy rebutted allegations of antisemitism, saying they are “as absurd as they are offensive”.

He tweeted: “Throughout my career I’ve campaigned against antisemitism, helped secure more funding for security at synagogues and Jewish schools, fought to lift the cap on faith schools, and supported Israel.”

There’s no hesitation from Farage from defending the original tall tale:

He’s got form, Farage has,

Arrest George Soros! Nigel Farage ORDERS the EU Parliament

Not much reticence from Spiked on Line either.

Amd their Guru.

 

No Platform for Fascists and the International Marxist Group in the 1970s.

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Image result for National front protests 1970s

Smithfield Porters March Against Immigration, 1968

“The fascists specialise in organising street demonstrations, pickets, strikes and petitions in favour of their reactionary policies.”

“The aim of ‘No Platform’ is therefore to deprive the fascists of the weapons they are relying on to develop. The streets, the pickets lines, and the factories must be denied to fascists. That is what ‘No Platform’ means.”

The policy is not “to break up private meetings of the (National) Front”

“The essential aim must be to prevent the major propaganda functions of the Front, marches, meetings and demonstrations”.

Fascism- How to smash it International Marxist Group. October 1974.

From  Anti-fascism, anti-racism and ‘no platformThe Red Mole.

‘BY WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY’: THE ORIGINS OF THE ‘NO PLATFORM’ POLICY. Evan Smith.

In the early 1970s, the term ‘no platform’ was first used to describe the anti-fascist strategy of denying fascist organisations the public space to organise and disseminate their propaganda. The denial of public space had been an integral part of the militant anti-fascist movement since the 1930s, employed by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), various Jewish groups and other assorted anti-fascists.

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The Red Mole was the newspaper of the International Marxist Group (IMG), a Trotskyist organisation that built quickly amongst the student and anti-Vietnam War movements in the late 1960s. In the issue for September 18, 1972, the front page headline declared ‘NO PLATFORM FOR RACISTS’. It described the NF and the Monday Club (a pro-empire and anti-immigration grouping within the Conservative Party) as ‘mortal enemies of the working class’ and stated that these two groups ‘must be stopped in their tracks’. The newspaper argued that these groups needed to be confronted and were ‘not going to be convinced by rational argument’, calling for ‘a concerted counter-attack’ at meetings of both groups.

The IMG proposed that groups like the NF could not be afforded ‘free speech’ because ‘their racist campaigns are a means to destroy the organisations of the working class which defend such bourgeois democratic rights’. The same issue claimed:

the only way to deal with fascist type organisations like the National Front is to break up their activities before they grow to a size where they can begin to smash the activities of the working class.

While acknowledging that ‘[w]e are nowhere near a threatened Fascist coup yet’, but said ‘the methods necessary on preventing such a threat must be explained and demonstrated in practice now… We must begin to adopt the right tactics right from the start.’

Evan Smith is now writing a comprehensive study of No Platform in the UK, titled, “No Platform: A History of Universities, Anti-Fascism and the Limits of Free Speech’.

I have just this to add to the study – something that shows the distance from present debates about free speech and No Platform.

After  the Red Lion Square events of 15 June 1974, in which a student sympathiser Kevin Gately was killed in clashes over the National Front (NF) Meeting in Conway Hall,  in  the IMG stepped up its anti-fascist activity. (1)

Action against the NF was, they explained, not a matter of suppressing ideas that we did not agree with. Nor was fascism an imminent danger.

The threat was of a different kind.

Fascist groups, like the British NF, the Italian MSI, or France’s Ordre Nouveau, were part of a wider push towards a ‘strong state’: they were outriders attempting to build ‘mass movements’ that would demand more and more repressive measures against the working class movements that (in the 1970s) were on the rise, flexing real industrial muscle through strikes (as in mass stoppages and demonstrations against the Industrial relations Act).

Racist workers had struck, the IMG noted in Fascism – How to Fight it – against immigrants, in Mansfield Hosiery Standard Telephone and Cables,  and Imperial Typewriters. There had been strikes against admitting the Ugandan Asians, expelled by the racist African regime. The NF organised public protests against them on a scale hard to gauge today. The first far-right anti-European (EEC) campaigns had begun. There was virulent hostility to Irish nationalism.

For the IMG and others on the left the National Front”s acts could be considered to have some kinship with the ‘strategy of tension’ of the Italian far right, a ratcheting up of social conflict in order to establish itself as an effective pressure group on the state to take repressive measures that would bolster their own strength. It had something in common with the ‘strong state’  developed by the Marxist theorist Nicos Poulantzas, “from a “parliamentary State” to a strong State (Etat fort) in which the executive predominates.” in which the extreme right could play a guiding role.

An IMG education session on fascism that I attended circa 1975 involved showing a film about the French Ligue Communiste’s efforts to present the fascist group Ordre Nouveau from holding a meeting at the salle de la Mutualité on the 21st of June 1973 on the theme of  « Halte à l’immigration sauvage ». Violent clashes took place, which led to both groups being officially dissolved (the LC became the  Ligue communiste révolutionnaire, LCR and ON became the Parti des forces nouvelles).

The importance of these events for the LCR is outlined here:  Dissolution de la Ligue communiste (1973)

For the IMG  their action gave us a way of putting the importance of street battles with the far right.

Whether the IMG was right, wholly, or partially misguided, – all at the same time, perhaps, given the arrival of Thatcher – one can see a gulf between the strategy of ‘No Platform’ of the time and the controversy today.

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(1) RED LION SQUARE AND THE DEATH OF KEVIN GATELY

Note: I was at the Red Lion Square protest.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2018 at 6:43 pm