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Posts Tagged ‘Christine Shawcroft

Once More on Anti-Semitism and the Labour Party.

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Jeremy Corbyn at Liberation AGM 2018: Standing up For Universal Human Rights.

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour must “do better” as a row continues over how the party deals with hostility to Jews.

BBC.

In a Passover message, he said it was easy to denounce anti-Semitism abroad but sometimes harder to see it closer to home.

It came as Jewish Labour peer Lord Winston said Mr Corbyn had “encouraged and endorsed” anti-Semites.

Dozens of Labour politicians are urging him to suspend a senior Momentum figure amid further anti-Semitism claims.

In an open letter, the 39 MPs and peers call for Mr Corbyn to suspend Christine Shawcroft from the party’s governing body after it emerged she had sent an email showing support for a council candidate accused of Holocaust denial.

After the letter was first published, four more MPs and Lord Mendelsohn added their signatures.

In the letter, they say it is “utterly wrong” and “highly offensive to the Jewish community” that she remained a member of the National Executive Committee.

Posting on Facebook, Ms Shawcroft said that she would not be seeking re-election to the NEC and that her term would end this summer.

There is an atmosphere of contrived hysteria on Labour and anti-semitism. For all this Blog’s fundamental differences with the extreme wing of  ‘anti-Zionism’ – as opposed to differences over Israeli policies – we want absolutely not part of it.

This letter by long-standing comrade Stan Newens means a lot to this Blog,

Before being elected as Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn chaired Liberation (formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom) in succession to me. Liberation, founded in 1954 on the initiative of Fenner Brockway, was in the forefront of the struggle against all forms of racism. When Jeremy took the chair it was accepted that one of our continuing fundamental purposes was opposition to racism – including antisemitism. Liberation has been critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians – and often had Israeli or Jewish speakers at meetings arguing the case.

It is patently obvious that criticism of Corbyn and the Labour party on grounds of antisemitism is being encouraged by individuals who – unlike the Labour leader himself – have rarely participated in the general struggle against racism. Most are motivated by opposition to Labour under Corbyn and any excuse to harass him will be taken.
Stan Newens
President, Liberation.

Liberation apart from carrying on the historic legacy of Fenner Brockway, has, by defending universal human rights, offered an independent voice on MIddle Eastern issues, and to those determined to defend Islamism and other “anti-imperialist” states.

Liberation AGM – Summary

Ararat Ratoosi, Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights and member of Liberation

Ararat presented the Liberation resolution on Solidarity with the Iranian people noting with concern: Iran’s theocratic government’s continued abuse of democratic rights; non-recognition of the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ILO conventions; the continued economic and social crisis; reports of torture and maltreatment of people arrested following recent street unrests throughout Iran.

He also talked about the importance of understanding the Iranian people’s deep-seated belief of rejection of any outside intervention in the internal affairs of Iran under any pretext, based on their own history and their experience of recent tragedies in the Middle East, and believe that the future of Iran should be decided only be the Iranian people themselves.

It was also noted that Liberation is totally opposed to the use of threat of military attacks or the imposition of economic sanctions on Iran. Liberation believes that all disputes in the Middle East should be resolved in accordance with international law, the UN Charter and through diplomatic channels and negotiations.

Liberation believes that that realisation of the demands of ordinary people for peace, progress and social justice is the best guarantee for Iran’s independence and for genuine popular sovereignty.

Ihsan Qadir, Secretary of Kurdistan Regions

Ihsan expressed his organisation’s deep concern about the current situation of the people of Afrin, who have been subjected to Turkish government’s aggression. He noted that Afrin has been one of the more stable parts of Syria, and like other parts of Rojava, it is run democratically and peacefully with an emphasis on religious and ethnic pluralism; Pointing out that the recent actions have worsened the prospects for peace in Syria and the wider Middle East. The resolution condemned the use of violence by Turkish army on the people of Afrin and the Kurdish forces in Syria, and asked the conference to support calls on the government, as a matter of urgency, to press the importance of respect for fundamental Human Rights and rule of international law.

Abdel Malik Elobeid, Sudanese human rights defender

Abdel Malik gave his report on Human Rights situation in Sudan and expressed his deep concern about the continued and worsening violation of Human Rights by the government of Sudan. The government violations include: the use of extensive force against the peaceful street demonstrators calling for the lack of freedom of expression, freedom of association in particular Trade Unions, freedom of press, food and decent living.

The resolution called upon Liberation to support the demand that upon the Government of Sudan stop harassing and intimidating Sudanese citizens including Human Rights Defenders, peaceful activists, journalists, and all others who seek to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly including freedom of the media.

Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour MP

Rosena began her talk on Rohingya refugee crisis, particularly on refugee camps in Bangladesh. She accounted for the devastating situation of these refugees – orphans, widows and elderly – who fled guns and fire from Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh. The Rohingya refugees face daily struggle for lack of food, water and shelter. She talked about her plans of travelling to Bangladesh to visit those camps and reporting back to the Parliament which she hopes will be translated into immediate actionable plan for immediate humanitarian assistance.

There are many more letters in the Guardian.

Such as this,

The Board of Deputies of British Jews – drawn from synagogues and Jewish organisations – does not speak for the thousands of individual Jews in the UK who do not belong to these groups. The mass of Jews are probably liberal. However, the board’s president, Jonathan Arkush, told the Times of Israel that the last election results represented a “loss” and described the Tory-DUP agreement as “good news”. And he told the Jewish Chronicle that there must come a point when even groups like the Jewish Labour Movement or Labour Friends of Israel feel “it’s over” for Jewish links with the party.

He also supported Donald Trump’s moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem and has condemned criticism of Israeli settlers. His views are not necessarily mainstream Jewish views. For him to make it a precondition for meeting Corbyn that Labour should adopt all 11 examples illustrating the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism is a cynical political move.
Tracy Lindner
London

In the light of the relentless attacks this is worth considering, 

Hi everyone, in case anyone has been misled by the Press coverage, I am not a Holocaust denier and I would not support a Holocaust denier. I have been trying to support members who have been affected by all the shenanigans around Council selections, and thought this case was just another one of those. I had not seen the appalling and abhorrent post which was shared, and if I had seen it I would not have sent the supportive email. As soon as I saw it I told the member that he should have antisemitism training. It is entirely right that having made the initial mistake, I should resign as Chair of the Disputes Panel (which never meant I had to power to overturn suspensions anyway).This whole row is being stirred up to attack Jeremy, as we all know. That someone who has spent his whole life fighting racism in all its forms should find himself being accused of not doing enough to counter it, absolutely beggars belief.

Christine Shawcroft. FB.

In  case you thought some ill-considered remarks are a Shawcroft speciality there is this image shared by Alan Sugar, a harmless  bit of fun according to some.

Still there is this which is serious.

Leaked Minutes Show This Labour Councillor Proposed A Candidate Knowing He Had Shared An Anti-Semitic Facebook Post

Minutes of a local Labour Party meeting in November last year, seen by BuzzFeed News, show that Alan Bull was proposed by the Labour group leader Ed Murphy.

The broader impact of this climate is also greatly concerning,

In defence of Stan Keable!

On March 27, the day after he attended the counter demonstration in Parliament Square, organised by Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Party Marxists secretary Stan Keable was suspended from work by Hammersmith and Fulham council. The suspension letter states that there are “serious allegation(s) which, if substantiated, could constitute gross misconduct under the council’s disciplinary procedure” and which “could result in your dismissal from the council’s service”.

Some of the background (for full information go via link).

Stan has not yet been informed of the exact nature of the alleged “inappropriate comments”. However, it seems very likely that they relate to a short video clip tweeted by BBC Newsnight editor David Grossman. It seems that Grossman – without asking for permission – filmed Stan on his mobile phone while he was talking to a supporter of the anti-Corbyn demonstration.

Like other LPM comrades, Stan had approached the Zionists with the intention of engaging with them. He handed out Labour Against the Witchhunt leaflets and spoke to numerous people. Most discussions were friendly, if a little one-sided: “People on the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration were a mixture of Tories, Labour Party members and ex-members,” says Stan. “They told me they were there because of the ‘huge problem’ of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, but when I asked if they themselves had experienced discrimination, they could not give me any concrete examples.”

The conversation in question was several minutes long “and the guy and I shook hands afterwards”. The 105 seconds that Grossman has published – again, without even asking for permission – are entitled: “Anti-Semitism didn’t cause the holocaust and Zionists collaborated with the Nazis”. As we show in the transcript below, this is seriously misleading. But, as you would expect from such a headline in the current climate, the short clip has caused quite a stir on social media.

Outraged Progress leader Richard Angell has called for Stan to be expelled from the Labour Party, only to be rather disappointed when somebody pointed out that he had, in fact, already been booted out under Labour’s witch-hunting rule 2.1.4.B. This automatically bars from membership anybody “who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or unit of the party” and has led to the expulsion of dozens, if not hundreds, of Marxists and socialists, including supporters (or alleged supporters) of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and  Socialist Appeal, as well as Labour Party Marxists.

Angell then demanded that Jeremy Corbyn should “make clear to him that he never wants to see him in a Labour sticker ever again and that he does not speak for the Labour leadership. Corbyn could tweet at him, write to him and make it clear beyond any doubt.”

Somebody then alerted local Tory MP Greg Hands, who sprang into Twitter action, demanding that Hammersmith and Fulham “investigate and urge action. Enough is enough.” And they quickly did his bidding. Less than 18 hours after the demo, Stan was suspended by the council (which is run by Labour, incidentally).

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Christine Shawcroft quits over anti-Semitism case. What is anti-Semitism in the UK Today?

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Christine Shawcroft

Shawcroft: Facing Calls to Step Down from the NEC.

Christine Shawcroft resigns and becomes the first casualty of Labour’s new civil war. Stephen Bush.

Shawcroft is facing calls to step down early from the NEC, from Richard Angell, the director of the Corbynsceptic pressure group Progress, and Jennifer Gerber, head of the Labour Friends of Israel. She will be loath to do so as that would mean giving a position on the NEC to Eddie Izzard, who ran on the Corbynsceptic slate, but ultimately even if she is forced to stand down, it will make little difference to the balance of power on the NEC.

More important, though, is what it means for the composition of the vital NEC officers group, which among its wide powers has a vital role to play in selections, particularly selections in parliamentary by-elections. Shawcroft’s role as chair of the disputes panel gave her a seat around the NEC officers table, and although there is a “left” majority in the NEC officers, that is not the same as a majority for the Labour leadership and is different again from a “Momentum majority”. Shawcroft was the only true-blue Momentum representative on that group, with the major power brokers the representatives of three of Labour’s biggest trade unions: Unite, Unison, and the GMB.  Shawcroft’s departure may mean that the Momentumites find themselves shut out should a parliamentary seat fall vacant over the next few months.

That will put further pressure on intra-left relations in the Labour party. Shawcroft’s email was only sent to fellow members of the Labour left, and Jeremy Corbyn’s office had already backed sanctioning Bull. The leak, as well as doing further damage to Shawcroft’s reputation, comes at a time when the Labour leadership is under renewed pressure over the party’s failure to deal robustly with anti-Semitism in its ranks. That such unhelpful leaks are coming “from inside the house” as one senior Corbynite put it to me tonight, is a sign that while the Labour left may have won the civil war with the party’s right, its own internal battle may only just be beginning.

John McDonnell says Labour antisemitism will now be eradicated

McDonnell said: “We woke up to it two years ago when it was pointed out to us, we launched the Chakrabarti report, they [its recommendations] have not been implemented effectively. We have now brought in a new general secretary, they will be implemented.”

McDonnell added: “We will deal with it firmly and severely. We will not accept it, Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear. We are now meeting with the various representative groups of the community. We will be taking their advice, they will assist us in rooting out this problem and we will eradicate it from our party.”

Labour’s Disciplinary Chief Christine Shawcroft Quits Amid ‘Holocaust Denial’ Row

Shawcroft said she was “wrong and misguided” to have sent an email calling for Alan Bull to have his suspension lifted as she had not been aware of all the information in the case.

According to the Press Association, Shawcroft said: “I sent this email before being aware of the full information about this case and I had not been shown the image of his abhorrent Facebook post. Had I seen this image, I would not have requested that the decision to suspend him be re-considered. I am deeply sorry for having done so.

“This week we have seen a clear expression of the pain and hurt that has been caused to Jewish members of our party and the wider Jewish community by anti-Semitic abuse and language, and by the reality of anti-Semitism being denied and downplayed by others. In light of this, I have decided to stand down as Chair of the Disputes Panel to ensure my wrong and misguided questions on this case do not cause doubt or anxiety about our processes.

“We must eliminate anti-Semitism from our party and wider society. To do this we must make sure our processes are as robust as possible and have the faith and confidence of our members.”

Over a quarter of British people ‘hold anti-Semitic attitudes’, study finds.

BBC. September 2017.

More than a quarter of British people hold at least one anti-Semitic view, according to a study of attitudes to Jewish people.

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) said the finding came from the largest and most detailed survey of attitudes towards Jews and Israel ever conducted in Britain.

But it said the study did not mean that British people were anti-Semitic.

Researchers also found a correlation in anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes.

The study found a relatively small number of British adults – 2.4% – expressed multiple anti-Semitic attitudes “readily and confidently”.

But when questioned about whether they agreed with a number of statements, including “Jews think they are better than other people”, and “Jews exploit holocaust victimhood for their own purposes”, 30% agreed with at least one statement.

Despite this, the researchers said they found that levels of anti-Semitism in Great Britain were among the lowest in the world.

The report said about 70% of the population of Britain had a favourable opinion of Jews and did not hold any anti-Semitic ideas or views.

Muslim views

The JPR’s researchers questioned 5,466 people face-to-face and online in the winter of 2016/17 – 995 of these were Muslims, although a smaller number of Muslims were included in the statisticians’ nationally representative sample.

They found more than half of Muslims (55%) held at least one anti-Semitic attitude.

Dr Jonathan Boyd, director of the JPR, said: “Our intention here was not to make any broad generalisations about the Muslim population and their attitudes towards Jews.

There does seem to be some relationship between levels of religiosity in the Muslim population and anti-Semitism.”

..

The researchers also questioned people about their views on statements about Israel and the conflict with the Palestinians.

Their report said fewer than one in five people questioned (17%) had a favourable opinion of Israel, whereas about one in three (33%) held an unfavourable view.

The report said: “The position of the British population towards Israel can be characterised as one of uncertainty or indifference, but among those who hold a view, people with sympathies towards the Palestinians are numerically dominant.”

Dr Boyd said: “Anti-Israel and anti-Jewish views exist both together and in isolation.

“The higher the level of anti-Israel attitudes measured, the more likely they are to hold anti-Semitic views as well.”

The study also revealed that anti-Semitic attitudes were higher than normal among people who classified their politics as “very right-wing”.

Among this group they were two to four times higher than among the general population.

The researchers said the prevalence was considerably higher among right-wingers than on the left.

So there are two groups, those who are “very right wing” and some Muslims who are a particular problem.

Contemporary anti-semitism cannot be reduced to these categories, as some of the “conspi” themes of the far-right have crept into a fringe of the left.

The classic far-right is well known and their anti-Jewish racism is part of a wider set of prejudices, against black people,  Muslims, and against all foreigners

But this is also important to look at the issue of Islamist anti-Semitism, both classically religious and in its modern Salifist and Jihadist forms.

The following caused controversy in  April 2016.

C4 survey and documentary reveals What British Muslims Really Think

Between April and June 2015, polling company ICM undertook research on the views of British Muslims for Channel 4 and Juniper Television, including polling of British Muslims on their attitudes towards Jews and antisemitism.

44%

of British Muslims think Jews have too much power in the business world

90%

of British Muslims do not know how many Jews died in the Holocaust

26%

of British Muslims think antisemitism is a problem, compared to 46% of the general British population.

The below is a critique of these findings.

Trevor Phillips’ research on British Muslims is dangerous and wrong. No wonder Islamophobia is on the rise.

Channel 4 irresponsibly released its deeply flawed study. To claim, without sufficient evidence, that British Muslims are a separate “nation within a nation” – that they are not, or do not perceive themselves to be British – is to suggest that Islam and the West are at odds.

This is not to deny legitimate concern about extreme levels of social conservatism, anti-Semitism or alienation from mainstream society within some western Muslim communities. But the consistent misrepresentation of European and North American Muslims is likely to increase a worrying trust deficit and the “clash of civilisations” that Isis and right-wing xenophobes are keen to promote.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 29, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Behind the Shawcroft Row: The Labour Party as Social Movement and Political Trade Unionism.

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Image result for labour momentum a social movement

 

The Labour Party as Social Movement and Political Trade Unionism.

In one of his lesser-known works, L’Éternité par les astres (1872) the 19th century socialist insurrectionist Louis-Auguste Blanqui announced that there were millions of stars and worlds like our own. In each of them lived our personal doppelgänger. Those who have reflected on this discovery would deduce that our alter egos would each have minor differences, slightly different points of our view, that would end in distinct narratives about our existence.

Recent events in the Labour Party have brought similar differences about what has happened during a number of events, from goings-on at the National Policy Forum, to the National Executive Committee (NEC). The same meeting the same people, but very different takes on what took place.

The most recent, and, politically, the most important, is the latest NEC meeting. Christine Shawcroft’s dissatisfaction with a decision to submit allegations of anti-semitism to further disciplinary procedure has tumbled over into disagreement about the role of trade union representatives on Labour’s ruling body. She is reported to have expressed the view, amongst other things, that union delegates are unreliable allies of the left. Shawcroft suggested on social media that the Labour-union link should be re-examined. Those hostile to her intervention, and no doubt Momentum, in which the long-standing NEC member is a leading figure, have claimed that she called for a break with the organised working class. Since then everybody has united on keeping the union link (Labour unites behind trade union affiliation).

The row in the wake of these comments takes place against the backdrop of a contest for Labour’s General Secretary. This, a post, unlike, in other European parties (such as the French Parti Socialiste’s similar sounding position) has organisational and not directly political responsibility. The Secretary is appointed by the Party’s upper structure and is therefore, in principle, not an issue that involves the wider membership. But the different candidates, above all Jon Lansman, on the NEC but best known as a founder of Momentum, and Jennie Formby  from the union UNITE, have increasingly been seen in a political light. It is known that Lansman was not happy with a union ‘shoe in’ into the position. What is clear now is that UNITE’s leadership is unhappy with any questioning of their political weight in the party. These, and other issues about the candidacies, have been echoed amongst those Labour activists interested in the future direction of the party.

Momentum: Labour as social movement.

It should be clear that while there are no real differences about the primary need to campaign to get a Labour government elected, and to work out policies to achieve this, the dispute could be seen in the light of some important differences. For some Momentum is not just a pressure group to build support for Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn. It is, grandly, a project designed for Labour to gain a “collective transformative” capacity. It may be seen, as Hilary Wainwright put it “having a creative capacity and transformative power” “distinct from (not opposed to) electoral politics”. As such as, “a party as a means of experimenting and prefiguring in the represent” “the relations we envisage in the future”. Less inclined to an extra-terrestrial discovery to rival Blanqui’s, Momentum is seen “grassroots politics” with activists, many of them youthful, pouring energy and enthusiasm into Labour’s campaigns. In this capacity – that is a means to help bolder the party’s capacity to root change in the wider society, – the group is highly welcome. (1)

Momentum’s own difficulties include an ‘on-line’ democracy that critics allege does not function, conferences and decision-making process which resemble the centralised aspect of the equally ‘social media’ and Web hub based La France insoumise (LFI) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. In its defence it could be said that Momentum is not LFI, out to ‘federate the people’ by means of a virtual political party, but has become an auxiliary of one with the goal of helping Labour get elected. It has avoided becoming embroiled in the worst aspects of left in fighting and sectarian recruitment politics. Momentum, unless one reads Shawcroft’s NEC intervention in the most hostile possible way, has shown no inclination to indulge the – ultra-minority – strain of Judophobia that has become an issue in left politics.

These positive achievements do not prevent another set of concerns at the place of such a body in drawing up lists in local Labour Parties with the sole aim of getting approved candidates elected to internal positions and councillor selections. In some case, Haringey stands out, this is part of a justified and broader effort to change very wong council policies. But in others this polarising practice, right up to clashes over the most minor positions, many complain, overrides debate of policy issues.

Political Trade Unionism.

What has also come to light is that the trade unions have a distinct idea about their role in the Labour Party. The TUC and affiliated unions have always seen the party as a means to get legislation passed in their favour, most recently by some who give priority to restoring collective bargaining in negotiations. Apart from these classical demands some, above all UNITE, have their own ideas about “political unions”.

Andrew Murray, a key figure in Len McClusky’s circle, and a consultant to Jeremy Corbyn, argued in 2014, for rebuilding the left around the People’s Assembly. This national campaign against austerity, Murray noted, drew the unions, ant-cuts activists and left-wingers from Labour and a variety of small left parties, with the objective of creating “rooted movements for change” “re-establishing the basis for mass socialist politics”. Behind this, based on the working class movement, was a strategy to “reclaim Labour” for the left – a prospect Murray saw – in 2014 – that could be thwarted by the “Blairite undead”. (2)

Murray may have his own eccentric ideas about ‘anti-imperialism’, and the positive side of the Soviet past. But, Labour has been largely (not entirely) been wrenched from the Blair/Brown legacy. In this the importance of initiatives such as the People’s Assembly stands out. It was one of the factors that prepared the ground for Corbyn’s election. The alternative strategy, which his article thoroughly took to pieces, of various left electoral challenges, from Left Unity, to the (continuing) Trades Union and Socialist Alliance (TUSC) faded into oblivion.

The problem now is whether the trade union movement, dedicated to achieving goals through electoral power, can sustain a relation with those who see ‘Labour as a social movement’. This is not a just a matter of ‘control’, which unions do not have over Momentum. A central policy issue equally divides the left. Some still see the future in terms of a “People’s Brexit’. Some decades later, on another planet, Tony Benn’s call for “genuine national sovereignty” – is proposed by the Morning Star, and, in a souped up form, by the ‘revolutionary’ remnants of the People’s Assembly reduced to the mouthpiece of the groupuscule Counterfire (The why and what of a People’s Brexit). But it is unlikely that inside the party, in Momentum or anywhere else, apart from the far from dynamic minority of ‘patriotic Labour’ is attracted to this prospect. Many remain strongly opposed to Leave. A few respond to the demand for a new referendum. The compromise over the Customs Union is a stop-gap a more detailed set of policies on Europe remains to be settled.

The differences between Labour-as-a-social-movement and Political Trade Unionism are far from irresolvable. Those, like this writer, who rejoined Labour, are intensely conscious that for Labour to be elected compromises and a great deal of respect is due for those activists, councillors and MPs who have kept membership over the years. Their concerns focus on issues such as the funding for local government, housing, welfare reform and …Europe. It would be better if disputes took place over policy, in a collaborative fashion, and not over jostling for internal positions in the party.

*******

(1) Radicalising the party-movement relationship: from Ralph Miliband to Jeremy Corbyn and beyond. Hilary Wainwright. Socialist Register. 2017. Merlin Press. Beyond the Boundary, Momentum’s role in the #GE2017 Campaign, Puru Miah. Chartist. 277. July/August 2017.

(2) Left Unity or Class Unity? Working class politics in Britain. Andrew Murray. Socialist Register 2014. Merlin Press.

(3) On this aspect of Tony Benn’s politics see: Chapter 6 A Party with Socialists in it. A History of the Labour Left. Simon Hannah. Pluto Press. 2018