Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Brexit

The Brexit Left’s Responsibility in Labour’s Defeat.

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Image result for another europe is possible demonstration

The Internationalist Left.

With a solid Tory majority the results of the General Election are still sinking in. It would take a mind as large as a web cloud to take account of all the writing on the reasons for Labour’s defeat. Much of the debate has been dominated by the claim that the Party was able to sustain support among  “cosmopolitan” and pro-European urban centres, while being unable to reach out to the rooted communities which backed Brexit.

Don Flyn offers a glimpse into these, the pro-Brexit working class voters (After the Deluge. Chartist) The dispute over Brexit “offered people who had lost the habit of digging in and fighting back the chance to at least take sides in an argument that was driven by splits in the ruling class. Rebellion, in pursuit of its own interests had ceased to be a part of the daily life of these communities, but at least they could now take on a foot soldier’s role in someone else’s revolt.”

This football fan politics gave hope to Farage’s Brexit Party, but did not end with it getting any seats. The Conservative Party, having flirted with populist appeals to “Get Brexit Done” against a hung-Parliament, has now settled down to the more modest strategy of offering a few sweets to their new friends in the North and getting the chimes of Big Ben ringing at the end of the month.

“Given the divisions within the electorate, as well as within the Parliamentary Party and wider party membership”, Duncan Bowie writes, it was difficult for the Party to develop which avoided further divisions.” (Retrospect and Prospects Chartist.January 2020). The ambiguities, and near impossibility to explain on the doorstep, Labour’s position, a call to renegotiate a  (‘better’) deal and then to put it a referendum, was the result. Another was that Labour’s policies, many of which, such as tax reform and social ownership, had been worked out in some depth under Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s direction, failed to strike a chord. They were overshadowed by what Unite chief Len McCluskey called an “incontinent stream” of new promises which appeared during the election campaign.

Many writers have explored these areas, from the sociological profile of new Tory voters (always remembering this: The myth of the working class Tory: Just three in ten voted blue) and the electorate as a whole, to the reception of Labour’s manifesto. In many ways this parallels the debates, and systematic critiques of the one opened up around the polemics of Christophe Guilluy, on La France périphérique. One of Guilluy’s central points, that the many of the “popular classes”, in France and across much of Europe, have become detached from long-established political loyalties on the left, is undeniable. But the set up pitting the  “peripheral”, versus the “metropolitan” – “elite” areas, the Somewhere, and the Nowhere, people (the words of the pro-Brexit David Goodhart, The Road to Somewhere. 2017), all heavily loaded terms, leads to national populist inflection only the “real” rooted people, not the city living cosmopolitans, matter. (1)

One area that few have tackled is the way the left; aligned to the Corbyn leadership, or independent of it, has acted.

From its beginnings Momentum described itself as the flag bearer of Corbyn. Faced with the genuine prospect of factionalism, and oddities such as the Socialist Party’s brief attempt to create its own ‘Trade Union Momentum’, it centralised control. Momentum came to resemble a mini-France insoumise, run by virtual digital ‘democracy’ behind a ‘charismatic leader’. It encouraged the atmosphere of a ‘cult’.

The failure this left-populism in France, and the limits of a more genuinely popular party, Podemos, in Spain, had little effect on them. They have launched a plebiscite behind the “Corbyn continuity” candidate, Rebecca Long-Bailey, in the Labour leadership election. They may not have adopted in full Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s picture of a “people’s epoch” (l’ère du peuple. 2017) but they support a candidate embodying a not distant vision of “progressive nationalism”.

Not many have looked into the contribution of the pro-Brexit left on Labour’s defeat. Not only did the ‘Lexit’ campaign legitimate Leave voting in the communities now at the centre of attention, but the Brexit left helped confuse Labour’s strategy. Counterfire, unknown to the general public, but which headed the Anti-Austerity People’ Assembly, and made a welcome and serious contribution to its organisation, advanced the view that a movement to “take back control” would be one result of the Referendum vote.

The Morning Star, the echo chamber of a wider group of national sovereigntists, pursued its dream of a socialist Britain, a beacon the world, independent of the European Union. In bad faith, having helped create the conditions that confused the nature of the hard-right Brexit, they have pleaded for consideration for working class voters whose anti-EU thrust they support. Counterfire argued, to diminishing effect, for ‘mobilisation”, that is street protests. This did not happen, and the  slogan of the pro-Leave factionalist, a ‘People’s Brexit’, ended up as a headline in Daily Telegraph.

Counterfire were also amongst the loudest voices calling for a General Election as soon as possible. None of their leaders takes any responsibility for their advice being listened to. It can be assumed that Corbyn’s call for Labour to be the Party of Resistance reflects what it left of the strategy of Counterfire.

An article in the populist US magazine, Jacobin, by the Deputy Editor of New Left Review, Daniel Finn, puts the blame for Labour’s defeat on “The Obsessive Remainers“. Voices from these quarters have been keen to criticise the internationalist left of Another Europe is Possible (AEIP). John Rees, of Counterfire, talked of the EIP “clique”, “whose only practical effect is to have forced Labour into a position which materially assisted in its election defeat.”

In fact, the alliance of the radical left, greens and Labour centre, has every reason to be proud of its record. AEIP led the way in unmasking the confusion offered by the pro-Brexit forces within the left, pointing to the hard right nature of Brexit. . Only by making clear what was in store for the country with Brexit would it have been possible to win over electors undecided about the future. It argued that internationalism couldn’t begin by cutting the UK loose from the EU. That rhetoric about Fortress Europe was cheap when the only alternative on offer was a state aligned around the policies of European Reform Group. The left needed to back transformations, in partnership with the rest of the European left, of the existing institutions.  It participated in the movement for a Second Referendum, demonstrating in our own ‘left bloc’.

AEIP’s resolutions were widely supported within Labour, bringing together different sections of the party. Thwarted by bureaucratic manoeuvres, it laid the basis for longer-term co-operation within the labour movement.”

Counterfire  says, “”These motions were drawing inspiration from a plethora of organisations such as Another Europe is Possible (a cross-party ‘stay in Europe but reform’ outfit), Love Socialism, Hate Brexit (around which soft left Labour MPs coalesced such as Clive Lewis, Anneliese Dodds and Chi Onwurah), Labour for a Socialist Europe (driven by Labour grassroots organisers) (The Corbyn Project was defeated by the historic strengths of conservatism and liberalism Mark Wayne). The fault was that the membership backed them, “The tragedy for Labour was the strength of liberalism inside the membership and not just inside the Parliamentary Labour Party.”

At present the Labour leadership contest dominates the politics of the left. It is important to judge the politics of the contenders in wider terms than Brexit. But those who stand for the generous internationalist and human rights agenda, that is not too far from the politics of AEIP, something the remnants of believers in the ‘actuality of the revolution” in Counterfire call “liberalism”. With more radical socialist input needed we will still be looking to those who support this kind of politics, and, for all that we can both admire and question some of his record,  it’s Keir Starmer who looks the best in the running.

Or perhaps Counterfire could elect a new Labour Party membership.


(1) His latest book No Society, La fin de la classe moyenne occidentale. Flammarion. 2018. See also his Le Crépuscule de la France d’en haut. Champs. 2017.

Morning Star Promotes ‘Socialist Patriotism’.

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Image result for Morning star brexit

The Patriots of the Communist Party of Britain.

One of the best known takes on patriotism and nationalism comes through the concept of ‘imagined communities’.

Benedict Anderson said, a nation is “an imagined political community”.

regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings.

Anderson’s definition, based on substantial arguments in  Imagined Communities, (1983), puts concepts like the ‘invention of tradition'( Eric Hobsbawm) in the context of this ‘comradeship’.

It has obvious echoes of the right wing French republican and philologist Ernest Renan’s (1882) claim that, the “spiritual’ (that is ‘imaginary) principle  of a nation is based on  these common thoughts and emotions, “The existence of a nation (you will pardon me this metaphor) is a daily referendum, just as the continuing existence of an individual is a perpetual affirmation of life.”

There is a whole library of books  trying to distinguish patriotism (good) from nationalism (bad).

George Orwell made these famous comments,

Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality..

Notes on Nationalism 1945

More recently Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe have talked of ‘articulating’ nationalist  sentiment into the construction of an opposition between the ‘People’ and the the Elite, the Caste…

In her most recent book, For a Left Populism t2018) she talks about constructing a “collective will”. Left populism, she asserts, draws into its orbit by a “chain of equivalences” a variety of progressive demands, open citizenship. This is the ‘construction of the People”, a collective political agency, “ opposing the ‘people’ against the ‘oligarchy’. For this to work Mouffe follows the late Ernesto Laclau. There has to be “some form of crystallisation of common affects, and affective bonds with a charismatic leader… “ In this way left populists can challenge the right-wing, national populist, claim to be the real patriots.

The only way to fight right wing populism is to give a progressive answer to the demands they are expressing in a xenophobic language. This means recognising the existence of a democratic nucleus in those demands and the possibility, through a different discourse, of articulating those demands in a radical democratic direction..

Populists are on the rise but this can be a moment for progressives too

Amongst Mouffe’s left populist movements, Jean-Luc Mélenchon led La France insoumise, made patriotism a central theme, beginning some time back.


Mélenchon, or M. 6,31% as he is known after his score in last year’s European elections, has not had much success with this idea, or any other part of his own, or Mouffe’s strategy

Talk of a “democratic nucleus” to patriotism in present day conditions can mean just about anything.

It can imply as Orwell stated, the quiet love of people and things dear.

Or, as we have seen during the Brexit disputes, a violent claim, coloured by xenophobia,  to assert sovereignty in the service of a hard right Brexit. In this case it is nationalism , or as we would now say, by national populism.

There is very little quietness about this.

That is after all what “imaginary communities” are like, you can dream up just about anything to put behind the label.

Matt Widdowson, a member of the hard-line pro-Brexit Communist Party of Britain, (Reform and Revolution by Matthew Widdowson) has, defending Rebecca Long Bailey’s defence of “progressive patriotism”  now joined this game.

In this story populism seems to have vanished and all we have left is “articulating” patriotism, towards the left.

There is no contradiction between patriotism and socialism

We need to articulate socialist patriotism a genuine love of our country and its people — in opposition to the militarism and imperialism, writes MATT WIDDOWSON

REBECCA LONG BAILEY’S call to “revive this progressive patriotism” (Guardian, December 29 2019) appeared to be greeted with horror by “Left Twitter.” While Long Bailey’s article did not expand further on what she meant by “progressive patriotism” or what policies would be guided by this slogan, it appeared to be the very word “patriotism” that was so shocking.

Social media was awash with a mixture of liberal disdain (mainly from those with EU flags in their Twitter handles – apparently, not all flag-waving is bad) and the typical ultra-leftist complaints about “socialism in one country.”

What exactly is this ‘love’, what does it mean?

Perhaps there is also fear among the opponents of “progressive patriotism” about ceding ground to reactionary nationalism (particularly the ethno-nationalism of the far right). This is perhaps understandable as there has been a noticeable and troubling shift towards the hard right around the world. But again, this misses the difference between the “official” nationalism promoted by the ruling class and the potential for a socialist patriotism based on popular sovereignty and international solidarity.

Indeed there is little evidence of any other amorous feeling around the topic. Official nationalism is bad pararently but look to the people and it can turn to pure gold.

Nationalist sentiment relies on stories and symbols and, a progressive vision needs to rely on the peoples’ counter-narrative to the official story of Britain. This is the radical history of Britain. It is the story of the Levellers, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Suffragettes, Red Clydeside, the Greenham Common camps and the miners’ strikes.

In other words, something the Morning Star’s old Euro Communist enemies called “the national popular”.

Nobody doubts that from this genuine history one can make up as many stories as one likes.

The Brexit Party backing Spiked site  already entered the race last year in this event to commemorate the Peterloo massacre.


But what are the politics behind, “a socialist patriotism based on popular sovereignty and international solidarity?

With a left-wing government in power, an alternative patriotism would need to build on this radical past in order to look to the future: what sort of society should we build? How should we strive towards a more peaceful and co-operative world?

Patriotism then becomes a commitment to a national project; a patriotism which is inclusive as it would not be dependent on ethnicity or the country of one’s birth, but on commitment to the collective goal. What else was the NHS but a collective national project involving people from around the world who were galvanised by a commitment to its founding principles?

If the left is to succeed then we need to start talking about concepts such as patriotism and nationalism without simply reaffirming inflexible dogma or resorting to hysteria. In a world where the nation state remains a reality and the only realistic path to socialism, the British left needs to articulate its own socialist patriotism in contrast to the chauvinism, conservatism and militarism which characterises the nationalism of the right.

Nobody has any idea of what this means, other than a trip to the dream time of imaginary communities built around a left wing government.

Nobody has a clear idea of what “popular sovereignty” means in a post-Brexit Britain dominated by the business interests behind Johnson. Not to mention a globalised basis to the economy.

But everybody can be sure that at the moment the patriotism evoked here is in the service of national sovereignty, sovereigntism, in a world where the British nation state is a vehicle for the capitalist  and the Conservative Party  converted to serve a Hard Right Brexit.



Morning Star Pushing Brexit and ‘Leave-Fight-Transform’ Campaign linked to Red-Brown ‘Full Brexit’.

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Still Backing Brexit.

Morning Star Retweeted

Leave Fight Transform

The origins of this campaign lie in the Red-Brown Front  Full Brexit, which brings together supporters of the Brexit Party, the Communist Party of Britain, Labour Leave, sovereigntists, and an assortment of odd bods, from Lambertists to Larry O’Nutter (better known under his pen name of Larry O’Hara), and funny money chaps.

Co-founders of The Full Brexit are pleased to be part of a new grassroots campaign supporting Brexit and the subsequent transformation of British society. It is called “Leave – Fight – Transform: The LeFT Campaign”, and launched today with a letter and accompanying article in The Morning Star.

Its site has been dead for some weeks now, but has sprung into life anew.

“Join us for a day of discussion and planning, as we reflect on the General Election result and the Brexit process to date, the lessons it has for us in the labour movement, and begin planning the fightback to transform British society in the interests of the working class.”

These meetings are obviously aimed at weighing on the Labour leadership campaign.

Note the list of those involved in these events.



Written by Andrew Coates

January 7, 2020 at 12:43 pm

Comrade Keir Starmer – ‘Socialist Alternatives’ – takes lead in Labour members’ poll.

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Comrade Keir in the late 1980s (group active in the Ralph Miliband  and Hilary Wainwright Socialist Society).

Poll of Labour members suggests Keir Starmer is first choice

Keir Starmer has emerged as an early frontrunner in the Labour leadership race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn after a poll of members suggested he was the first choice in all regions of the UK, age groups and social classes.

The shadow Brexit secretary is yet to formally launch his campaign but is expected to do so in the first few weeks of the new year. The new leader will be elected in March after Corbyn said he would step down following the party’s catastrophic general election defeat.

Polling by YouGov for the Party Members Project put Starmer as winning with a 61% vote share to 39% for the shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long Bailey, in the last round.

We agree with the members:

Not only does Bastani and the rest of the ‘alt’ crew loathe him, which is all to the well,  but comrade Keir was an activist on the left,  a ‘Pabloite’.

So much for this rubbish about his “centrist” background.

Europe, Internationalism, Socialist Alternatives (Pabloism), and…Keir Starmer.

More here:  The British Pabloites


His legal career was marked by this, “Starmer became a barrister in 1987. He advised Helen Steel and David Morris in the McLibel case, which went to court in 1997.”

With this honourable background, and many other feathers to his bow,we would say that Starmer looks a good candidate.

There are many other reasons to back him.

See here:


Written by Andrew Coates

January 2, 2020 at 1:11 pm

Morning Star Puffs Long Bailey as Counterfire Attacks “Another Europe is Possible clique”.

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John Rees: Another Europe is Possible clique, Starmer and John McDonnell,  Responsible for Labour Defeat.

In today’s Editorial the Morning Star, wholly owned by the Co-op and independent of the Communist Party of Britain, argues for ‘left unity’ against any part of the left which opposes their own pro-Brexit line.

Left unity and the Labour leadership contest

The  response to Rebecca Long Bailey’s clearest pitch yet to succeed Jeremy Corbyn at the helm of the Labour Party shows that the contest is going to be difficult to navigate — not just for the candidates, but more importantly for the socialist left.

The Editorial does not pull its punches.

It’s plausible to see the most vocally pro-Remain shadow cabinet members as having accepted positions under Corbyn because they saw it as the best way to shift Labour to a pro-Remain position.

It has praise for Long Bailey but cautiously refrains from mentioning a single reason why the left criticise her.

Long Bailey’s first intervention in the race lays down a number of markers, in support for radical economic change and the crucial importance of trade unionism, which show she does not intend to accommodate to the status quo.

Watch  out the saboteurs are about…

It also holds out hope that the role of anti-socialist MPs in sabotaging the Corbyn project has been noted, pledging to democratise the Labour Party.

The the wrecking centre has a name and it is…..

But advocating unity cannot become an excuse to avoid the hard questions. The left has frequently pulled its punches in the name of unity since 2015, whether over reselection or in the battles over Brexit where elite-funded campaigns such as the People’s Vote were able to exercise a huge and distorting influence on Labour, dragging it towards a liberal accommodation with market principles and resulting in the absurd contradiction where the party of the organised working class was demanding that the Conservatives do more to ensure the frictionless movement of capital and goods across borders free of the threat of economic policy being changed by elected governments.

The Editorial  concludes that the working class must be vigilant!

That the interests of working-class people and those of capitalists are diametrically opposed.

A movement which forgets that, which cites Bank of England and big business concerns to oppose popular sovereignty, cannot authentically speak or fight for workers. That truth will need articulating as Labour picks its next leader.

Unpicking this ‘articulation’ this means than anybody who is an a pro-European internationalist should watch out!

The leader of the groupuscule Counterfire is another one who fancies he is a player in Labour Politics.

He is somewhat clearer not limiting his ire at the People’s Vote, but extending it to the internationalist left as a whole.

Another struggle is possible

Jeremy Corbyn’s perceived weakness as a leader is partly related to the issue of Brexit, although actually his stubborn insistence on retreating as slowly as he felt he could from the 2017 position of respecting the Leave vote speaks to the opposite case.

The forces ranged against him on this issue, from Sir Keir Starmer to John McDonnell, are actually to blame for the debacle. They and the Another Europe is Possible clique ran a uniquely unsuccessful campaign whose only practical effect is to have forced Labour into a position which materially assisted in its election defeat.


The  sage concluded with swipes against two Labour leadership contenders.

Sir Keir Starmer is the real candidate of the right, since they know the ridiculous Jess Philips is not a realistic option. He, and Emily Thornberry, are the architects of the Remain policy that wrecked Labour’s chances in this election. Both are mainstream economically and Trident/NATO Atlanticists…which is entirely consistent with a bit of Democrat-inspired Trump baiting.

Clive Lewis is an even more enthusiastic NATO supporter, attempting to steer left by backing a reselection scheme which won’t get past a first PLP meeting.

Many people will be hoping that this sectarian rant by Galloway’s old best friend mark a welcome return to the margins of politics for Counterfire.

His own groupuscule’s responsibility for encouraging illusions in Brexit, in their imaginary “People’s Brexit”,  should be a warning about indulging illusions that led to the only actually existing Brexit, the right-wing Brexit.

The Morning Star  is a more power visibly still a player, but one suspects that influence is bleeding away from its nationalist camp.

Seriously, who is going to back “progressive nationalism”?

Written by Andrew Coates

December 31, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Tribune ‘Culture’ Editor’ attacks Internationalist Left (“Workers’ Power” and “Trots”) in the Guardian.

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Guardian Publishes Sectarian Rant.

This article, to say the least odd, drew an immediate response from comrade Paul Mason,

If you must compare Corbyn to a past Labour leader, it isn’t Michael Foot

In fact the drift of this rant is not that peculiar.

Hatherly is the author of “Landscapes of Communism: A History Through Buildings.” 

As he says at the outset, he comes from a family of the left. His grandparents were communists, and his parents were members of Militant Tendency. One childhood holiday was spent at the Militant Labour summer camp on Mersea Island, Essex. The book is in these ways personal. Part of its mission is to find “what socialism is”, to recover from its disappointments, abuses and atrocities what was good about his family’s convictions. He is therefore keen to puncture ideas of western superiority and exonerate where he can the alleged failures of communism.

So Hatherly is pretty patronising and bizarre himself, to begin with.


Let’s begin with his ‘cultural ‘editorship in Tribune….

The magazine is owned by the US  populist Jacobin magazine, and run by a group of toffs.

Their European Editor is a fan of M. 6,3%  JeanLuc Mélenchon, Dave Broder.

He has developed his own loathing of ‘trots’ over the years, though a different faction to the one pretentious architectural critic Hatherly dislikes.

Home Countries Broder,  immediately after the British election, launched into an attack on the internationalists after the UK, by denouncing the “liberal denunciation of Brexit.”

Fellow upper-cruster, and deputy  Editor of New Left Review, Daniel Finn, blamed Labour’s defeat on the internationalist left:

The Obsessive Remainers Have Scored a Massive Own Goal.

His painted a picture taking of a Remain plot to scupper Labour’s Chances.

Continuity Remain could call upon its own army of foot soldiers, a “political assets” as the conspis call them,

Daniel Cohen continued, his Gentleman’s Relish spluttering over the text,

Remainists are the people who keep bringing the conversation back to Brexit. They point out that the referendum was only ever meant to be advisory, and insist that another one is just around the corner. They go on protests. They have strong opinions about Guy Verhofstadt and Sabine Weyand. They worry about chlorinated chicken. They have acquired detailed knowledge of electoral law and can list the Leave campaign’s violations. They light up at any mention of the 2012 Olympics. They wonder what Orwell would have made of all this. They hang the EU flag in their windows.

Trainspotting notes.

Workers’ Power,  were a split from the SWP/IS long back.

The League for the Fifth International was perhaps their crowning moment,

They have minimal influence on the internationalist pro-EU left, whose breath extends from the Greens, Left Labour MPs, Open Labour, Chartist, Red Pepper to more radical left groups, such as Socialist Resistance, and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty – none of which are friends of WP/Red Flag

We do however agree with comrade Paul mason on the fight against National Populism, National neoLiberalism.

This Blog also agrees with Paul Mason on the importance of universal human rights.

Things have changed, we need a bloc of the internationalist left, around human rights (the greatest movement for human rights in modern history is the trade union movement) in  defence of internationalism against the national populists, Johnson, Blue Labour and their objective allies, the  ‘left’ populists’.

And we are united against the kind of rubbish that the minions of Jacobin and its UK branch are trying to spread








Written by Andrew Coates

December 28, 2019 at 1:37 pm

After Nigel Farage Brendan O’Neill Set to be Knighted.

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Image result for brendan o'neill caricature

Boris Johnson’s Favourite Marxist Brexiteer in the Offing for Knighthood?  

Rumours are flying that NIgel Farage is going to be knighted.



Nigel Farage Set To Be Knighted In The New Years Honours List According To Sources

This Blog can exclusively reveal, before Skwawkbox, that Heavyweight columnist Brendan O’Neill is also in the running after this amazing critique of multiculturalist elites.

Insiders say that the distinguished  pundit is in line for the The Order of the Companions of Honour.


Companion of Honour.jpg



Written by Andrew Coates

December 23, 2019 at 12:04 pm