Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘British Left

Leftist Trivia Quiz 2017.

with 4 comments

Image result for as soon as this pub closes left wing john sullivan


Following the a soaraway  success of Hatful of History’s quiz we have our own for 2017.

  1. Who developed an interest in Lenin’s support for Nudism this year?
  2. In 2016 Ben Chacko, Editor of the Morning Star, organ of the Communist Party of Britain,  sent a message of solidarity to a pro-Brexit  Trotskyist rally in Paris. What is the name of this Trotskyist group and why were they in the new again in 2017?
  3. What are the names of the groups that Gerry Downing’s Liaison Committee for the Fourth International has links with?
  4. Who is the former bag-man for George Galloway and now best mates with Counterfire, who was prepared to fight to the last French person against the Front National in this year’s Presidential election?
  5. The name of the former faction in the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) of Labour’s present Executive Director of Strategy and Communications was i) LGBT Left. ii) Straight Left.
  6. Which  issues of Socialist Worker in 2017 carried heartfelt denunciations of sexual harassment?
  7. Which group was ruled ineligible for Labour Party membership?
  8. What is the current name of Workers’ Power, British Section of the League for the Fifth International?
  9.  What is the name of the People’s Assembly 2017 Xmas song (hard one this).
  10. Who is the other member of the Monster Raving Greenstein Party?

Written by Andrew Coates

December 30, 2017 at 11:21 am

Momentum Crisis: The Steering Group Majority Answers Critics – some comments.

with 3 comments

Image result for momentum

What Kind of New Politics? 

I am a difficult position commenting on the crisis of Momentum.

Not a member, but sympathetic to its broad direction, not with a card, but knowing many of the people involved in the dispute, in some cases for many years..

Like many my basic principle is that  I would like to see a strong Labour democratic socialist left.

As Tony Benn often said, politics should be about issues, not personalities. He was optimistic, and perhaps ignored the history of democracies since Pericles, but in the Labour Party one ought to try to focus on this, rather than the merits, or otherwise of Jeremy Corbyn and the Shadow Cabinet.

Firstly, I would like to see some meat on the bones of anti-austerity politics. That is serious policies on issues like public ownership instead of private public services, social security (Labour has no developed ideas comparable to the TUC/Unemployed Centres’ Combine Welfare Charter), housing, education, health, renationalisation, union rights, low pay, local authorities,  what UNITE calls Brexit on our terms, that is trying to salvage what we can, (not the ridiculous denial strategy of those who propose a ‘People’s Brexit’ after the defeat of collectivism and Another Europe is Possible in the Referendum), and…. I could continue the list.

Campaigning on these topics in the wider community is a way of connecting with our electorate and helping make it grow.

Secondly, like many I am not prepared to be silent about the disagreements left-wing internationalists have with the party leadership on issues such as Syria  and the need to fight all forms – state or not – of  reactionary Islamism.

Finally I would like to see Labour win elected positions, from councillors to MPs.

Momentum has become central to this democratic socialist project and therefore I, and others, are bound to react to the present dispute.

I do not want a fight between different tendencies, factions, and let’s be frank, groupuscules.

The present dispute centres on this, “Lansman, the founder of Momentum, was tonight accused of behaving in an “autocratic” manner after the organisation voted to delay a meeting of its national committee to December and that the vote on its founding principles in February 2017 would be using a one member, one vote system rather than a delegate system.” (Steven Bush New Statesman.)

This decision was opposed. The following resolution explains why,

“This meeting of the London Momentum censures the national Steering Committee for cancelling the meeting of the National Committee that was scheduled for 5 November and for agreeing a method of organising the national conference without waiting for the National Committee to discuss it.

“We do not recognise the legitimacy of the Steering Committee to make those decisions.

“We call for these decisions of the national Steering Committee on the conference and the National Committee to be rescinded and for the NC to proceed as originally scheduled on 5 November.”

Christine Shawcroft  explains why Momentum decided as they did.

These are the key sections of her article published today.

Members can vote for what ever kind of Momentum they want (Left Futures)

..what works as a temporary expedient when an organisation is first being set up and finding its feet is not necessarily what would work best in the long term. Like all new organisations, Momentum has had its teething troubles (as I run a day nursery, I know all about those!). The first people involved in trying to get it going were, by definition, more versed in the ways of the ‘old’ politics than the ‘new’. Working with enthusiastic young people with a different perspective on things has meant we’ve all been travelling along a learning curve. The temporary structures that were set up tended to be modelled on those of the Labour Party – decidedly not the new politics! Many local groups felt that a delegate structure tended to prevent grassroots participation by default.

The (temporary) Steering Group has therefore decided that the best way of involving all the members is to, well, involve them. Proposals for how we organise will be put out to the whole membership, any one of whom could also put their own proposals or amendments. There would still be a place for local groups and delegate structures, but final decisions on Momentum’s core politics, our code of conduct, and our democratic structures could be voted on by our greatest resource – the membership. A Founding Conference in spring next year could be live streamed and proposals voted for online.

On the Steering Group we feel that this could well answer the call for a new, inclusive and democratic way of doing things. And if the members disagree, and really want to ape Labour Party structures and have rigid decision making delegate bodies – well, it’s up to them. They can vote for whatever kind of Momentum they want: not only is that the new way of doing politics, that’s democracy!

Tony Greenstein has stuck is oar in and given the reasons for objecting to this idea.

Jon Lansman stages a Coup D’état in Momentum as the National Committee is cancelled by the Steering Committee.

The  Long Awaited Founding Conference of Momentum Will Be a Virtual Conference!

Describing this in typically restrained manner (“Coup D’état”)  Greenstein notes of Momentum’s way of evolving more permanent structures and policies,

Over the coming months, members will propose their ideas on Momentum’s aims, ethics, and structure. We will use digital technology to ensure that all members can be involved and shape Momentum’s future.”

This is the very opposite of democracy.” “It is designed to atomise individual members and undermine conference as the collective decision-making body of Momentum. It underlines the extent to which sections of the left have internalised the defeats of the past decades. It is Thatcher’s union ‘reforms’ writ large.

As somebody who respects (most, Greenstein being a major exception) individuals on both sides of this controversy (and if you look at the names who have backed Lansmann you will recognise that is not a straightforward division between ‘right’ and ‘left’), it would appear that there are merits in the majority’s decision.

It is also possible both to understand exasperation at it, and the way it was voted on.

At the same time many will harbour the feeling that some figures emerging in the local groups, including those with very very long histories of non- and even anti-Labour activism behind them, are not always greeted by people, like Christine, who have been Labour stalwarts for their entire lives.

One can also agree that  a meeting called with 19 hours notice is not the best forum for such a controversial decision.

But if a Conference is not to be the traditional sectarian bear pit there needs to be this kind of participation.

If it One Member One Vote (OMOV) was good enough to elect the leader of the Party it must have some virtues.

To repeat: I want to see a strong democratic socialist left, not the left of the party riven by factionalism. 

Update: Latest in the growing Row.

Dear Comrade, 31 October 2016

Re: A meeting of Momentum National Committee delegates to discuss the present situation & consider solutions

Over the past few days we have all been involved in discussions with Momentum members about the concerns which have arisen from the decisions of the Steering Committee to cancel the meeting of the NC due to take place on 5 November and to go ahead with a national conference with online voting of all members.

You will also know the consternation these decisions have caused and the response from London, Eastern, Northern and South East regions.

Below is an email sent yesterday (30 October) to the Steering Committee members from Matt Wrack who is a member of the National Committee and Steering Committee. We echo those observations and comments.

We are extremely concerned that we overcome this current difficult division that has arisen as quickly as possible. Therefore, we are proposing to convene a meeting of as many NC members as possible in Birmingham next Saturday 5 November to discuss the recent events and, most importantly, consider ways to overcome the resulting differences and to move forward together.

There is no desire or intention to create any separate or parallel organisation within or in opposition to Momentum. We are all committed to building Momentum, as we are all doing at a local level. We simply want to address what we perceive to be a democratic deficit in its decision-making at the present time.

Please let us know if you can attend. If you can’t, is there someone you can send in your place?

We will send out further information about the venue and starting time along with a provisional agenda as soon as we can.

In solidarity,

Matt Wrack
Delia Mattis    ) London NC delegates
Jill Mountford   ) “ “
Nick Wrack      )  “ “
John Pickard    ) Eastern NC delegate
Steve Battlemuch ) East Midlands delegate
Michael Chessum ) Member of national Steering Committee

More:  Momentum chiefs accused of “coup” over adoption of all-member ballot Conor Pope. Labour List.

Further splits have emerged within Momentum amid claims of a “coup” after the introduction of reforms to the way it makes internal decisions.

The Corbynite group spent much of the weekend debating internal divisions over direction, structure and accountability while one senior member has forecast a “revolt for democracy” in the organisation, which recently marked its first anniversary.

The group’s founder, Jon Lansman, is at the centre of the row, having given his support to a controversial move to hand a vote to every Momentum member about how the organisation should function.

The latest tensions emerged over the decision to call an emergency meeting of Momentum’s small steering committee on Friday to discuss postponing a meeting of the much larger national committee, which had been scheduled for later this week.

See link for rest of the article.

Yet more:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Momentum in Crisis?

with 7 comments

Image result for momentum

We publish this without detailed comment.

We welcomed – in broad terms – the creation of Momentum and note that it played a very positive role in trying to win support for a left-wing campaign to vote Remain in the European Referendum.

This dispute has all the air of a typical fight between left political tendencies that ends in a great deal of bitterness and unpleasantness.

It is, naturally, as nothing if people heed this self-serving appeal and admit the Socialist Party (Labour), the actively pro-Brexit Socialist Party –  back in Labour: Readmit expelled socialists,

More than 60 socialists, with over 800 years of Labour Party membership between them, have signed the letter below calling for their re-admittance to the Labour Party. Many of them were expelled in the past for supporting the Militant Tendency. Others have been excluded or expelled in recent months as part of the right-wing Labour Party machine’s attempts to defeat Jeremy Corbyn.

Yes they were expelled, for forming a disciplined ‘leninist’ combat party inside Labour.

And since then they have stood candidates against Labour, up till the very very recent past, pouring scorn on Labour and……

A short statement for the press Jill Mountford. 

I’ve had a couple of requests for comment from journalists. Here is a statement people are welcome to quote (obviously I would urge anyone who does so to not edit it so as to misrepresent what I’m saying!) You can also contact me at jillmountford@rocketmail.com or on 07904 944 771.

“I take no pleasure in sharply and publicly criticising comrades in Momentum. But for the organisation’s National Committee to be cancelled yet again, so that at best it will not have met for seven months – and what months! – smacks at the very least of an inadequate appreciation of the importance of democracy.

“At a time when there is an urgent need for Momentum to take the lead in working for a democratic, campaigning Labour Party and labour movement, a shocking amount of energy is being wasted on these kind of totally unnecessary, bureaucratically-generated internal rows. Normal democratic functioning would allow us to redirect that energy to taking the fight to the Tories.”

Report of controversial 28 October “emergency” Momentum Steering Committee. 

Jill Mountford’s Momentum blog.

Dear comrades – apologies if anything in this report is unclear or confusing. In addition to the events themselves being quite confused, this was written late at night after a very long day at work and then a long meeting. Please feel free to email questions and comments tojillmountford@rocketmail.com. See also my initial brief report here, which includes basic decisions about the NC and who voted how, and Michael Chessum’s comments here.

This evening’s Steering Committee (28 October), called at 21 hours notice on a Friday evening, and against the wishes of several SC members, pushed through most of Jon Lansman and Sam Wheeler’s agenda. Ironically arguing that local groups, regional committees and the National Committee are dubious in their legitimacy. If it wasn’t so serious it would be funny.

The meeting was supposedly called to decide how the liberation groups inside Momentum elect their reps and on whether or not to cancel the long awaited November 5 National Committee. Michael Chessum, Jackie Walker, Matt Wrack and myself had all opposed an emergency SC for tonight arguing as Matt Wrack put it, it is “an outrageous way to do business”.

It soon became clear that Lansman and Wheeler were confident they had a strong majority to push through more than a cancellation of the NC.

Regardless of what you think about OMOV* of some sort vs a national conference based on elected delegates, how the majority on the Steering Committee behaved tonight is nothing short of total disregard for any democratic structures we have, however imperfect they may be, inside Momentum – again.

There was a reasonably quick resolution to the call for delegates from the liberation groups to be done by OMOV in time for the November 5 NC.

Next came the call to cancel the NC on November 5, Sam Wheeler, from the North West, argued we had to cancel the NC because it clashed with the NW Regional Labour Party Conference. Now bear in mind a) the date of the NC has been out for more than five weeks and b) the North West region of Momentum has more members than Scotland and the North East put together, and they only have three delegates. Yet Sam Wheeler said he feared the clash would be of detriment to both events. The arguments went back and forth with Sam refusing to a) to explain why we had to cancel as the NW regional committee given it would only take out three people from the NW and b) tell the meeting how many people from North West Momentum groups were due to go to NW Regional Labour Party Conference.

Sam Wheeler and Jon Lansman spent far too much time arguing that local groups and the regional committees were undemocratic and unrepresentative. Lansman illustrated his point by telling us he’d attended one meeting recently where the Chair hastily proposed himself and another incumbent to continue to be the delegates to the regional committee from that group. He said someone from the floor of the meeting asked if there was to be a vote and the Chair swiftly went to the vote without asking for other nominations. When I asked him which group this is and who is the Chair, he said “Southwark and Nick Wrack”. Lansman has it in for local groups, always has had because he knows local groups often represent serious activists who both campaign in their localities, want to transform the Labour party and understand the need for an actively participatory membership to do this.

Throughout the debate arguments for a form of OMOV were frequently put by Lansman, Sam Wheeler and Sam Tarry. Lansman then moved a procedural motion that the meeting goes to a vote on conducting the National Conference by OMOV. Michael and myself argued that this was not the business of the meeting, that it had not been put on the agenda, either as a discussion item or a motion to be voted on and that it was therefore not legitimate business. Regardless of what you think of OMOV, this committee did not have the legitimate power to make this decision.

Lansman pushed his procedural motion to go to the vote, confidently knowing he had a majority; and he won his procedural motion by 7 votes for, 2 against and 1 abstention (Martyn Cook – Abstained, Darren Williams, Cecile Wright, Sam Tarry, Marsha Jane Thompson, Christine Shawcross, and Jon Lansman in favour and Michael and myself against). Then we went to the vote on an OMOV conference with the same votes cast. This should have been the legitimate business of the National Committee.

Sam Tarry ended this part of meeting by asking: “Why bother with a national committee, let’s go straight to an OMOV conference!” And who sorts out the OMOV conference? Not a National committee made up of 50 or so recently elected delegates, but a steering Committee made up of a dozen people who were elected in February supposedly until August when a new Steering Committee was due to be elected and, of course, it never was because we haven’t had a national committee for six months.

Next Sam Wheeler moved his motion to cancel November 5 National Committee and the votes were same with the exception of Cecile Wright who voted with Michael and myself against the cancellation of the NC.

The only thing left at this point was for me to propose a date for another an NC on Saturday 3 December. This was carried by 6 votes in favour and 4 abstentions. The votes were cast as follows: In favour – Darren Williams, Martyn Cook, Cecile Wright, Michael Chessum, Christine Shawcross, and myself, while no one voted against, Sam Tarry, Sam Wheeler, Jon Lansman and Marsha Jane Thompson all abstained on a new NC date set for December 3.

This date has since been changed – by text! – to December 10.

A fine example of how to bureaucratically carve up an organisation of 20,000 members while arguing what they were doing was all about democracy and everyone having their say. What it will mean in reality is that a small clique will seek to run Momentum, calling the odd electronic plebiscite and or survey of the membership, in between members being called upon to defend the leadership at the next challenge. Such manoeuvres cannot build an open democratic organisation that is active on the ground, organising in the Labour Party to transform its structures, and building community and labour movement wide campaigns.

Time for the membership, activists, groups and regions of Momentum to fight back for democracy.

* To clarify what I mean by OMOV (One Member One Vote). Jon Lansman and co are not always clear, but it seems what they mean is that delegates to Momentum conference will not take any decisions but votes will instead be taken by an online ballot of all members afterwards. This is bizarrely reminiscent of Blairism, bureaucratic manipulation veiled in plebiscitary pseudo-democracy.

We are aware that support (including from forces wider than the above, that is, people I know) is gathering for a campaign to support a motion based on this:  Emergency motion for London region Momentum network (29 October) and this, “condemns the decision of yesterday’s Momentum SC to cancel the scheduled NC for 5th November and its decision to abandon a delegate conference in February.”

I would like to hear the reasons for these decisions from those who made them, but in principle I personally would be wary of going to, or delegating people to,  a conference that was a rally pure and simple or, as seems possible, could easily be a sectarian bear-pit.

It is unlikely that this view is not shared by others.

Update:  Jon Lansman branded “autocratic” as Momentum splits turn acrimonious. Steven Bush New Statesman.

Lansman, the founder of Momentum, was tonight accused of behaving in an “autocratic” manner after the organisation voted to delay a meeting of its national committee to December and that the vote on its founding principles in February 2017 would be using a one member, one vote system rather than a delegate system.

The move will make it harder for the Alliance of Workers Liberty, Lansman’s major internal opponents, to win key votes, as they are well-organised but have limited numbers.

Michael Chessum, a member of Momentum’s steering committee and a regular contributor to the New Statesman, accused elements of Momentum of having “absorbed the modus operandi of Blairism” in a post on Facebook.

The meeting was held with less than 21 hours notice, which led to Matt Wrack, the head of the Fire Brigades Union, and Jackie Walker, who has been stripped of the role of vice-chair but remains a member of Momentum’s steering committee, being unable to attend.

Jill Mountford, of the Alliance of Workers Liberty, said the decision to delay the national committee meeting again  “smacks at the very least of an inadequate appreciation of the importance of democracy”, and that a “shocking amount of energy” is being wasted on “totally unnecessary, bureaucratically-generated internal rows”.

Separately, Cecile Wright, who sits on Momentum’s steering committee as a representative of the organisation’s ethnic minority wing, has come under fire after replacing Walker as a vice-chair. One figure accused her of being “desperate for a seat”. However, Wright voted against cancelling November’s national committee meeting.

The divides within Momentum have spilt out into the open, with the removal of Jackie Walker as vice-chair the catalyst. Although the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty did not support Walker, they have cited the row as an example of their wider criticisms of the organisation’s democratic direction.

On a lighter note people may be amused by this weighty correspondence, from the august pages of the Weekly Worker, (Correspondence)

October 13

Hi Norrette

Please renew the affiliation of Labour Party Marxists to the LRC. I paid £50 affiliation fee online today (October 13), using the ‘donations’ button on the LRC website. Our contact details are unchanged.

Stan Keable

October 13

Dear Stan

You might recall that at the SGM earlier in the year the rules for national affiliates changed – as a result organisations are required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the NC that there is evidence of a membership base proper to a national organisation. When the current list of affiliates were reviewed, several were not deemed to have met this test, including Labour Party Marxists.

Whilst individual members of those organisations are welcome to renew their membership and attend the AGM, they will as a result not be able to attend as delegates from those groups.

If any payment has already been processed I’m sure we can arrange for a refund.

Michael for the EC

October 13

Dear Michael

No, I was unaware of such a rule change. This is the first time I have heard that Labour Party Marxists has been excluded from affiliation to the Labour Representation Committee. Surely I should have been informed, as LPM secretary?

May I ask which are the “several” other affiliates which were disaffiliated in this way?

Stan Keable

October 23

To: Michael Calderbank, secretary, Labour Representation Committee


Dear comrade Michael,

Renewal of Labour Party Marxists affiliation to LRC

I am writing to appeal against the disaffiliation of Labour Party Marxists from the LRC.

Labour Party Marxists has been an affiliate of the LRC for several years now – at least since 2011, when we submitted our contribution to Peter Hain’s ‘Refounding Labour’ consultation – ‘Refound Labour as a real party of Labour’ – published in the first issue of the LPM broadsheet, and distributed at the November 2011 LRC annual conference.

Our members and supporters have participated in every LRC conference since then, including the special general meeting in February 2016, and have routinely paid our annual £50 affiliation fee in the period before each annual conference.

It therefore came as a surprise, when I paid the £50 affiliation fee on October 13 2016 to renew our affiliation for the coming year, to be told that LPM’s affiliation was rejected.

You wrote: “You might recall that at the SGM earlier in the year the rules for national affiliates changed – as a result organisations are required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the NC that there is evidence of a membership base proper to a national organisation. When the current list of affiliates were [sic] reviewed several were not deemed to have met this test, including Labour Party Marxists.”

Of course, we accept that the LRC national committee has the right, within the LRC constitution and in line with its aims and objectives, to accept or reject applications to affiliate. But I confess that, although I personally attended the February 2016 SGM along with other LPMers, we were unaware of the rule change, and unaware that LPM had been disaffiliated, or that our affiliation had been “reviewed” by the NC.

We were not informed of this decision, whenever it was taken. Indeed, we were not asked to provide “evidence of a membership base proper to a national organisation” – whatever that means. In these circumstances, perhaps you can understand my suspicion that this might be simply a bureaucratic method of excluding unwanted political views, instead of sorting out differences through open debate. The immediate effect of our disaffiliation is that we are unable to submit amendment(s) or nominations to the forthcoming October 29 annual conference.

May I ask some relevant questions:

l Which are the “several” affiliates which were disaffiliated, being “not deemed to have met the test”?

l Have they been informed?

l When was that decision taken – at which NC meeting?

l Why was LPM not informed that it had been disaffiliated?

In a subsequent email message, on October 16, you explained: “if you are able to provide the NC with supporting evidence that you meet the criteria (eg, evidence of your national membership, minutes of national meetings, etc), they would be able to reconsider on appeal.”

In fact the LPM steering committee (presently five comrades) meets regularly, usually weekly, on Skype. Please see below, as a sample, the agenda and notes/minutes of our October 3 meeting, and agenda for October 10. Some comrades use cadre names. As you can see, we have members and cells in different locations around the country, not just in London.

We produce a widely circulated, irregular LPM broadsheet with increasing frequency, and produce frequent articles on our website and Facebook page, and in the Weekly Worker.

LPM national membership aggregates are held, jointly with the CPGB, roughly every two months (eg, January 24, March 6, May 8, June 26, September 4, October 16) and reports of these meetings can be read online in the Weekly Worker. Likewise, LPM organises, jointly with CPGB, the annual Communist University in August, which attracts a wide range of supporters from around Britain and beyond.

Membership is open to those who accept the LPM ‘Aims and principles’ (available on our website and in every issue of the LPM broadsheet), who contribute financially, and who actively participate in the work of the organisation through one of its cells. Isolated members meet regularly on Skype.

I trust this information satisfies the NC that LPM is a small, but effective, national organisation, with a positive contribution to make to the work of the LRC. If the NC requires further information, please ask.

Stan Keable

LPM secretary

October 23

Dear Stan

Thanks – I acknowledge receipt. It will be forwarded to the incoming national executive committee, once they are elected from the AGM.


Corrected: had problems with the Library’s computers yesterday: the main ones were out of of order and I was using ones limited to 30 minutes.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm

British Left’s Brilliant Strategies, from May to Eagle.

with 8 comments

Cartoon 12.07.2016

Steve Bell’s comment.

The British left is famous for its brilliant strategists.

First we had ‘Lexiters’ relishing the thought that  a Leave vote would divide the Tories.

A crisis for the Tories most definitely is equivalent to an opportunity for the left. It is possible to claim otherwise only by detaching the left from the basic wisdom of the working class movement upon which the left has claimed to base itself. That’s fine for the Greens and those leftists whose conclusion from the defeat of the working class movement in the 1980s was precisely to pursue a déclassé progressivism.

Cameron’s tactical purpose in calling the EU referendum was to undermine UKIP and to unite the Tory party on its hard Thatcherite course of class confrontation at home. He has succeeded only in dividing the Tory party from top to bottom….

Counterfire. Kevin Ovenden. 

Now we have Teresa May uniting the Conservative party.

Second we have, from the right of Labour,  Angela Eagle claiming that she is running a campaign against Jeremy Corbyn because she can “unite the party”.

Labour leadership: Angela Eagle says she can unite the party.


Written by Andrew Coates

July 12, 2016 at 11:10 am

Charlie Hebdo is Back and Kicking! Rumour that British Left will be on Future ‘Une’.

with 3 comments


The Pack is on Charlie’s Heels Again!

More than a month after two gunmen attacked French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris, killing 12 people, the newspaper’s newest issue is due to be released on Wednesday as it resumes publication.

The paper rushed out a “survivors’ issue” the week after the shooting, which took place on January 7. Since then, however, Charlie Hebdo has been absent from newsstands.

“We needed a break, a rest… There were those who needed to work again straight away, like me, and those who wanted to take more time,” says Gérard Biard, the publication’s new chief editor. “So we reached a compromise, and agreed on February 25… to start off again on a weekly basis.”

If the cover of Charlie Hebdo’s next issue says anything, it’s that it will be business as usual at the publication. It features an illustration of a range of political and religious figures, including former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, a jihadist and the pope, as a pack of rabid dogs over the headline, “… Here we go again!”

France 24.

On France-Inter this morning the new editor of the trusty and much-liked weekly, Gérard Biard, expressed concern that their cartoons sparked more indignation today than in the past.

Phooey! We would like to see more outrage!

There is a rumour that the British Left will figure on a future Cover with the same theme as today’s issue.

Tariq Ali, clothed in a dead-sheep, will lead the charge against the lovable Charlie mutt.

Ten Afghan Arabi sheep were sacrificed to make this coat.

Behind him follows the SWP’s Alex Callinicos, in his Scarlet Pimpernel outfit,  and Unite Against Fascism’s leadership, dressed in altar girl and boy costumes.

SWP Leader Prepares to Rescue Dusky Maidens from Charlie’s Evil Grasp. 

Unite Against Fascism: ‘Shocked’ By Charlie’s Blasphemy.

Will Self, snorting cocaine, will be arm-in-arm with Assad Ali, Seumas Milne, George Galloway  and Salma Yaqoob.

Will Self: Heavyweight Critic of Charlie Hebdo. 

Talking of heavy-weights (former) in the background one can glimpse Sebastian Budgen with one of his family’s excellent Hampers – they kept him popular during his years at Greyfriars.

Budgen at Greyfriars.

On Soundings and Reinventing the Left in Britain.

with 3 comments


After the Crash: Reinventing the Left in Britain. Edited by Richard S. Grayson and Jonathan Rutherford.

As the General Election approaches the left is hesitant. Support for Labour, the few score candidates endorsed by the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUCS) or the handful of other left candidates, is debated. On Saturday the 10th of April activists have been demonstrating to defend the welfare state. What would be a re-elected Labour government be like? How can we fight a Conservative one? What would a Coalition mean? There is little clarity about the left’s future course of action faced with any of these possibilities. A post-election conference is simply called “Join the Resistance!” In other words, continue to do what we’ve done up till now, but try a lot harder to do it better.

In an effort to bring some strategic sense to the left Soundings, has published an E-Book (here). It is a collection of essays around the theme of ‘reinventing’ the left.  This claims to think beyond the election to where forward-looking politics could stand on a different basis. It calls for “ New kinds of transformative political alliances.” The Editors announce, “we need to create a common ground for a progressive coalition of ideas and action.” “We need to rediscover our capacity for collective change. Our task is to reverse the decades-long transfer of wealth and power from the great majority of people to the financial sector, global corporations and a tiny rich elite.” For this, “We believe that now is the time for a new coalition of ideas and action on the centre left, working together to find common ground for change. At the heart of such a coalition is the belief that social democrats, liberals, greens and civic nationalists share a wide range of concerns. The processes by which we negotiate our alliances with one another will define the democracy of our movement, our acceptance of pluralism and our recognition of difference. It will be our commitment to a plural and democratic politics that will make us truly radical.”

What does this imply for the General Election? To put it simply, Soundings is thinking in terms of hedging its bets. The issue of what an incoming government will do is less important than establishing “common ground” for these forces. For the 6th of May this reduces to a hope. The signs of the times indicate, they claim, that a realignment of the left is emerging. If any part of this hypothetical “progressive coalition” does well in the ballot box this is to be welcomed.

Transformative Alliances.

The model here is not centred on affirming traditional labour movement politics against the Conservatives or New Labour. The new fault lines are broader. “On one side are those who continue to believe that the market and individual choice are the most effective means of governing people and maximizing individual freedom. On the other side are those who believe that individual freedom must be rooted in greater equality, social relationships and the democracy of public action.” Straddling the categories may be both ‘compassionate conservatism’, with its own ‘social’ dimension (strong communities) and New Labour, which had/has is own vision of how to equip people for the market-place, public sector reform, and if not equality, then equal opportunity. But Soundings would like, if rather indirectly, to set both in the former camp and itself and its (wished-for) allies in the latter. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew Coates

April 11, 2010 at 10:56 am