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Brexit Support Shifts to Remain as Labour Activists Call for new Referendum.

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Opinion Shifting Against Brexit.

Major new analysis shows most constituencies now have majority who want to Remain

The analysis, one of the most comprehensive assessments of Brexit sentiment since the referendum, suggests the shift has been driven by doubts among Labour voters who backed Leave.

As a result, the trend is starkest in the north of England and Wales – Labour heartlands in which Brexit sentiment appears to be changing. The development will heap further pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to soften the party’s opposition to reconsidering Britain’s EU departure.

Researchers at the Focaldata consumer analytics company compiled the breakdown by modelling two YouGov polls of more than 15,000 people in total, conducted before and after Theresa May published her proposed Brexit deal on 6 July.

Corbyn hopes to avert call for public vote on Brexit at conference

Guardian 9th of August.

Labour members seeking second referendum could inflict damaging defeat.

Labour has been considering how to head off a concerted attempt by remain-supporting members to stage a vote at its annual conference calling for a second referendum, to avoid what would be an embarrassing defeat for Jeremy Corbyn on the party’s Brexit policy.

About 130 constituency Labour parties (CLPs) were understood to have expressed willingness to back a motion in favour of a second vote, drafted by the pro-Corbyn campaign group Labour for People’s Vote.

To avoid a damaging defeat, one option is to invite delegates to support a Brexit policy statement that would refer to holding a second referendum, but only in exceptional circumstances.

It could be similar to a watered-down resolution that was supported at Unite’s policy conference in July, which was offered by the union leadership to defuse a similar situation.

Major new polling of 10,000 people suggested Labour voters backed a second referendum by 63%, with just 8% opposed, in one of the largest surveys of public opinion since the referendum to leave the European Union.

Motion: (I have submitted this, for my CLP All Members’ Meeting).

Oppose Tory Brexit and win a radical Labour government.

This CLP supports the earliest possible election of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. The current government is putting Tory Party dogma first, not jobs first – and they have no mandate for their agenda.

We note and support Labour’s six tests for Brexit, which aims to ensure that the post-Brexit settlement preserves the benefits we currently get from collaboration with Europe, defends our rights and protections, and delivers for all parts of the UK. It is increasingly clear that the Tories’ Brexit deal will fail these tests.

We believe that only Labour can lead the British people into a progressive and economically sound relationship with Europe.The Brexit deal being pursued by Theresa May is a threat to jobs, freedom of movement, peace in Northern Ireland, and the future of the NHS and public services. Tory Brexit will wreck the British economy, will commit us to a series of long-term trade deals which will enforce American-style deregulation, and will undermine the rights, freedoms and protections currently enshrined in EU law. All of this will bind the hands of a future Labour government, and will make it far harder for us to deliver on our promises.

We therefore urge Labour to oppose the Tories’ destructive Brexit and unite the country behind a radical vision for the future. In government, Labour could rally left-wing parties across the continent, and create a Europe for the many, not the few.

The social problems that caused the Brexit vote – inequality, declining public services, falling pay, a lack of quality affordable housing, and so on – will be made worse, not better, by Tory Brexit and the continued austerity that would result. The problem is the policies of the political establishment, not immigrants, and the solution is a radical social and economic programme.

We must make the election of a radical Labour government our first priority.

We note that given the Fixed Term Parliament Act, the most likely route to a general election before 2022 is the collapse of the government’s Brexit agenda. This motion supports all available avenues to bring down the government: voting down the EU exit deal in Parliament, calling for a snap election, and a popular vote on the deal.

We note and support the 2016 Conference commitment to a public vote on the Exit Deal so the people have the final decision on whether to accept the government’s deal or to stay in the EU.

We call on the Labour Party to:

1. Oppose any Brexit deal that does not satisfy Labour’s 6 tests.

2. Call for an immediate general election, and make a manifesto commitment to call a public vote on the Brexit deal with an option to remain in the EU if the public rejects it.

3. If we cannot get a general election, to campaign for a public vote on the deal with an option to remain in the EU; and following a defeat for the government, to call for an immediate general election.

4. To place radical social and economic policies at the heart of our programme of government – taxing the rich and big business to pay for better public services, rapidly expanding common ownership, abolishing anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment.

Delegates from this CLP to Labour Party conference should vote in line with this policy.

While the old sovereigntist left and those claiming to back a non-existent “People’s Brexit’ are running out of steam, the anti-Brexit left is organising!

Labour set for policy shift as left and Labour grassroots turns against Brexit

Labour looks set for a strengthening of its Brexit position, as an unprecedented number of constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) look to submit motions in favour of a People’s Vote. The countdown to the conference begins in earnest on August 8th with the motion submission now open.

Labour for a People’s Vote, which launched in June with the support of key left wing figures within the party, has put forward its motion in well over a hundred constituencies across every region and nation of the UK.

Because of the Labour Party’s rules, CLPs only have a small window between August 8th and September 13th in which to pass conference motions. Nine CLPs have already agreed to submit the Labour for a People’s Vote conference motion before submissions even opened, with around 130 set to consider it prior to the deadline. Delegates at Labour conference will first decide whether to debate Brexit as a policy area, and then decide whether to support the motion.

The movement in CLPs follows a series of large town hall meetings held across the country last month. The ‘Left Against Brexit’ tour, run by Another Europe is Possible, has drawn hundreds of local activists to meetings in Manchester, London, Liverpool, Bristol, Nottingham and Birmingham with speakers including Ann Pettifor, Catherine West, Manuel Cortes, Zoe Williams, Billy Hayes and Marina Prentoulis. It will continue in late August and September with events in Glasgow, Leeds, York, Sheffield, Cambridge, Northampton, Newcastle, Norwich, Cardiff, Cornwall, Plymouth and Oxford.

The conference motion argues that “the Brexit deal being pursued by Theresa May is a threat to jobs, freedom of movement, peace in Northern Ireland and the future of the NHS.” It continues: “Tory Brexit will mean a future of dodgy trade deals and American-style deregulation, and undermine our rights and freedoms. This binds the hands of future Labour governments, making it much harder for us to deliver on our promises.”

If passed, it would commit Labour to voting down Theresa May’s deal in October, and then calling for a general election, with a commitment in its manifesto to holding a People’s Vote. If a general election could not be achieved, Labour would campaign for a People’s Vote as a means of bringing down the Tory government.  The motion also argues for “taxing the rich to fund better public services, expanding common ownership, abolishing the anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment.”

The push for motions at Labour conference comes alongside a major shift inside Momentum, the grassroots group set up to support Jeremy Corbyn in 2015.  A petition, started by Tower Hamlets Momentum activists Alena Ivanova, has ostensibly now obtained the 4000 signatures it requires to trigger a vote of Momentum members on backing a strategy to stop Tory Brexit.

BREXIT BROMIDE

While a Brexit bonus is a lie Peter Kenyon checks out progress and sees opportunity at this year’s Labour Annual Conference.

Feeding the groundswell of discontent with the Tories – and it must be the Conservative Party as a whole that is targeted – should be the leitmotif of Parliamentary Labour Party activity until a Brexit deal is delivered, whether dead or alive. Voters need reminding repeatedly – there is no Tory Brexit bonus – it was a lie. There are no alternative trade deals under the Tories – it was a lie. National sovereignty will be surrendered with a Tory Brexit, and so on.

This will not be achievable in current circumstances. Too many of Labour ‘s elected representatives in Parliament are Brexit bromide dependents. For Labour’s electoral ratings to enjoy another major uptick, Labour MPs in so-called Leave constituencies need to be working over the summer wising their voters up to the realities of the Tory mess – surrendering our right to have a say, continuing to pay into the Brussels budget, accepting European Court of Justice rulings. We should be relaunching that old rallying cry from across the pond – no taxation without representation – to justify the Remain option, when the time is right.

Constituency Labour Parties have an opportunity to table so-called contemporary resolutions to Party conference.

Chartist editor Mike Davis has tabled one for his local party:

Labour & Brexit –

Conference notes:

*British households are £900 worse off following the vote to leave the EU;

*the economy is now 2% smaller than forecast before the referendum;

*a rise in racist attacks and abuse since the referendum;

*an almost 20% devaluation of the Pound in relation to the Dollar and Euro;

*a relocation of many businesses to European states;

*the threat to the peace process and Good Friday Agreement with the introduction of a hard border in Ireland;

*the HMRC estimate of a cost of over £20b to leaving the EU in addition to the £39b settlement:

*Trump’s election and declaration of a protectionist trade war:

This BLP/Conference further believes the Tories will either exit with no deal or manage a bad deal that will not protect jobs or workplace rights or safeguards for environmental and human rights including full citizenship rights for EU citizens in Britain.

This branch/BLP/Conference resolves to:

Call on the party in parliament to reject any deal which fails to sustain these current rights and conditions.

Support the proposal to negotiate for as long as it takes to secure these terms, through a transition period for continued membership of a Customs Union and single market.

Campaign in a general election for the option of retaining membership of a reformed EU.

To work with our European partners for:

– an end to EU austerity policies with

– a European recovery programme for jobs, rights, benefits and economic security that the British

and other European peoples deserve, after ten years of austerity, worsened employment, reduced pay and welfare deprivation.

The affiliated trade unions also have rights to table such resolutions. In the face of mounting evidence of the job losses in the UK arising from Brexit uncertainties, it would seem negligent in the extreme if they did not link staying in the EU Customs Union and possibly the Single Market to Labour’s ambitious and necessary anti-austerity programme for jobs and investment. What is certain is they will not seek to embarrass Labour’s leadership. Nor should rank and file members, but that is an idle wish. As long as Labour has dropped any pretense of negotiating a ‘Better Brexit’ or delivering a Brexit bonus, an open debate at Conference can only help seal the idea in the electorate’s mind that ‘Brexit means a Tory mess’.

The Left Against Brexit.

Time is running out. Theresa May’s Brexit deal will go to the vote in parliament in autumn.

The closer we get, the clearer it becomes that Tory Brexit is an attempt to deregulate our economy, sign our future over to dodgy trade deals and allow bosses to cash in. It is all-out attack on the rights, freedoms and prosperity of working class people and the communities that the left is supposed to represent. And it is built on an agenda of racist scapegoating.

We have been quiet for too long. The fight back starts now.

This summer, join us for a nationwide tour — with inspiring speakers, and an in depth discussion about how we can stop Brexit

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Written by Andrew Coates

August 12, 2018 at 10:58 am

As Controversy Rages on Boris Johnson, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Backer of the Burqa Ban, is invited to Momentum Labour Fringe.

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Image result for Photo by Yemeni photographer Boushra al-Moutawakel.

‘Disparition’ by Yemeni photographer Boushra al-Moutawakel.

Boris Johnson should be kicked out of Conservative party for burka comments, Muslim peer demands.

Plenty of people have commented on the words of former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party’s relationship to Islam, not to mention those who’ve joined in, with glee at the opportunity to attack the prejudices revealed amongst the Tories and their supporters.

In a different vein I began writing on the wider European and international context of the controversy this morning.

Johnson may speak for a ‘liberal’ attitude peppered with a  few rude words (personally I find his handling of the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe case, prisoner of the Islamic Republic of Iran far far worse).

An obvious point to begin with is that  that the Danish Social Democrats,  Socialdemokraterne, backed the public ban on the burqa,

“The Liberal, Conservative and Danish People’s parties all voted in favour of the bill, as did the opposition Social Democrats with the exception of MP Mette Gjerskov, thereby securing the majority.” The Local. 

The full law needs looking at it:

Another issue would be the silence of most of the people now shouting about Johnson faced with this: (March 2018): Iranian woman who removed headscarf jailed for two years. “Prosecutor says woman took off obligatory hijab in Tehran street to ‘encourage corruption’.”

But, to return to the issue of the burqa in general,  France, the best known secular country,  has, with the support of many sections of the left, prohibited the full face veil since 2011 (Loi interdisant la dissimulation du visage dans l’espace public.The bill was passed by the National Assembly by a vote of 335–1.

Amongst the left who backed the ban was Jean-luc Mélenchon, vocal in his enthusiasm for Laïcité, secularism.

It did not take long to draw some connections here, and the Spectator had got there before me:

Man who supported a burka ban to speak at Corbynista festival

Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The French socialist veteran who ‘inspired the European left with his radical campaign for the presidency in 2017’ will be speaking to a Momentum-heavy crowd at the event. And what is his view on Muslim dress? Well, it turns out he has advocated a full face veil ban, as well as stating that the burkini was ‘a provocation’ – and the ‘fruit of a Salafist religious offensive’:

‘It is not impossible or contrary to public freedoms and fundamental rights to legislate on dress practices if the defence of public order and human dignity justifies it. The complete concealment of the face is problematic from this dual point of view. It prevents any recognition of the persons concerned, which disturbs public order. And it also deprives them of social existence and undermines their physical and moral integrity which puts into question the dignity of the human person. It is therefore on this double basis that the law could affirm the obligation to have the face discovered in all public places.’

The Spectator gives no source for this quote but it a pithy and accurate summary of the views of the leader of La France insoumise (LFI).

Here is the site of The World Transformed 2018.

As a service to those attending the rally here are Some further indications of his stand:

From Tendance Coatesy: (2016).

Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the Burkini : “C’est une provocation”.

Dans Le Monde d’aujourd’hui, JLM condamne les “militantes provocatrices en burkini”.  Michelle Guerci.

«L’instrumentalisation communautariste du corps des femmes est odieuse. C’est un affichage militant, mais quand on est l’objet d’une provocation, mieux vaut ne pas se précipiter dedans […] La masse des musulmans est excédée par une histoire qui les ridiculise. Valls a eu tort d’en rajouter. »

The ‘communitarian’ * exploitation of women’s bodies is vile. It’s a militant badge, but even so when we are the target of a provocation the best thing to do is not to get involved…The majority of Muslims are frustrated by this row, which makes them look ridiculous. Valls (Prime Minister) is wrong to add to it.

Il ressort de cette interview que JLM, ne condamne ni les maires qui ont pris ces arrêtés, ni Manuel Valls qui les a soutenus,  ni la droite sarkoziste qui a orchestré cette campagne, ni le gouvernement qui laisse faire (3), mais des femmes accusées d’instrumentaliser leur propre corps ou de l’être par leurs maris, pères, cousins… Bref la fameuse COMMUNAUTE.

It is apparent in this interview that JLM neither condemns the Mayors who have instituted these by-laws, nor Manuel Valls (Prime Minister) who backs them, nor the (ex-President) Sarkozy’s right-wing which has orchestrated the campaign, nor the the government which has allowed this to happen, but the women involved, who have used their own bodies, or have been ‘used’ by their husbands, their fathers, their cousins…to put it simply, the famous “community”.

Le burkini est le fruit d’une offensive religieuse salafiste qui ne concerne qu’une partie de l’islam […] La question politique à résoudre reste celle du combat des femmes pour accéder librement à l’espace public.

The burkini is the product of a Salafist religious offensive which only affects a part of Islam….There still remains the political issue of women’s struggle for free access to the public sphere.

Michelle Guerci points out that the Burkini is in fact a relatively new phenomenon, which would itself be prohibited under the rule of severe Wahhabist codes.

******

When the law banning the bukha was first debated in 2010 this post was on Tendance Coatesy.

French Left Leader Backs Secular Freedom Against Religious Garb.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Here

On proposals to ban the Burka.

What is wrong with the Burka (voile intégral) ?  “D’abord parce qu’il est obscène.”

To start with it’s obscene.

“Si l’objet de la nouvelle loi est bien de garantir la liberté, l’égalité et la dignité de toutes les femmes qui vivent sur notre territoire, d’autres mesures seraient opportunes dans ce cadre.

If the object of the new law is  to guarantee freedom, equality and dignity of all women who live in our land, there are other measures which should be taken within this structure.

The Parliametary Left should amend the law (he is a Senator).

The aim should be to extend secularism.

It is time to impose the principle of ‘mixing’ (that is women and men should allowed to be together) in all public places. Today this principle is not guaranteed by law, even in schools.

For example, one cannot accept the rule that reserves certain hours in swimming pools for one gender. Or that certain types of sport should be reserved for one gender.

Finally, if the legislators are really coherent they should extend secularism to French overseas territories and to Alsace Moselle (where there is still recognition of religion as part of the state and the education system).

The LFI chef has not dropped his hostile views on Islamic ‘modest’ dress, as can be seen in this furious attack on his opinions on the veil  in 2017.

Sur la question du voile, les propos choquants de Jean-Luc Mélenchon dans « L’émission politique »

During the 2017 Presidential elections the (now)  Candidate for the  Élysée emphasised his backing for banning the burka (voile intégral).

Jean-Luc Mélenchon est pour l’interdiction du voile, s’il est intégral, mais n’envisage pas de légiférer s’il ne l’est pas.

And in May 2018 the LFI leader criticised the fact that the new leader of the student union Unef, Maryam Pougetoux,, who has a veil, comparing it to himself advertising religion by wearing an enormous cross.

Mélenchon sur le voile de la présidente de l’Unef à la Sorbonne : “C’est comme si j’arrivais avec une énorme croix”.

Many people will be uncomfortable with legislation on the issue of the face-veil, the burqa.

And with La France insoumise’s vision of a top-down administered secularism.

But from that to go and speak of this as if it’s simply a fashion choice, or worse, ‘celebrating’ it as a sign of diversity, is both insulting and reactionary.

The blood-stained tyrannies which have enforced this dress remind us that it is not, in the view of some currents of Islam, a ‘choice’ but an obligation.

As Terri Murray has put it, Why feminists should oppose the burqa.

The claim that covering yourself up in public is an empowering choice insults the intelligence and dignity of women everywhere, just as the theological claim that the burqa is a necessary defence against predatory male sexuality insults Muslim men insofar as it treats them as fundamentally incapable of responsibility for their sexual behaviour.

The reason Western feminists (male or female) object to seeing women in burqas is not that we can’t tolerate diversity, but that the burqa is a symbol of patriarchal Islam’s intolerance of dissent and desire to contain and repress female sexuality.

Without challenging the burqa we cannot challenge the oppressions it is bound up with.

At the minimum it is hard to disagree than nobody in a public function should  enforce their religious ideas of “Purity” and sexual segregation through the display of this oppressive costume.

New Row on Antisemitism Looms as Jean-Luc Mélenchon to speak at Labour conference Momentum fringe.

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« La révolution citoyenne a déjà commencé » - L'interview des interview

Mélenchon to Learn from Labour Party “Shining Beacon”.

Why we’ve invited Jean-Luc Mélenchon to The World Transformed

Next month, The World Transformed will be welcoming Jean-Luc Mélenchon to speak at its Labour conference fringe. The French politician who inspired the European left with his radical campaign for the presidency in 2017 won more than seven million votes. Since then, despite only commanding 17 MPs in the National Assembly, Mélenchon has emerged as the main resistance to the neoliberal ‘Jupiterian’ presidency of Emmanuel Macron.

It was the promise of a Sixth Republic, based on the principles of justice and democracy, which saw young and old flock to Mélenchon’s campaign. Likewise, Corbyn promised a constitutional convention as part of his quiet political revolution. Both seek to distribute power to the people.

Shifts in political power will, however, achieve little without an attendant transfer in economic power. The resurgent left is based above all on one thing: the return of class to politics. As Corbyn put it in a speech last month, Labour is back as the party of the working class. Mélenchon was at the heart of recent protests against Macron’s zombie neoliberal ‘reforms’ targeting the once-powerful French public sector (particularly rail workers). Both would repeal restrictive trade union laws, move to protect people from precarity and rebuild national industry following the ravages of neoliberalism.

Corbyn’s Labour is a shining beacon to the left, in Europe and beyond. As parties across Europe, including the PS, suffer from Pasokification, a resurgent Labour demonstrates the need for a strong, socialist alternative to a decaying neoliberalism.

Mélenchon’s presence is not simply a result of similarities between him and Corbyn. It is a sign of a rising internationalist left building socialism from the grassroots. In learning from and debating with one another, as TWT allows us to do, we can help build a world for the many, not the few.

Angus Satow is an organiser for The World Transformed.

Was the promise of a 6th republic in France the cause which attracted French voters to back the – failed – candidacy of Mélenchon in 2017?

Is a British “constitutional Convention” capable of bringing about a “citizens’ revolution”?

Can we see the invitation to one section of the fragmented and divided French left a sign of building “socialism from the grassroots”?

Can we say that a new left being created through a return to class politics?

French trade unionists, in the ‘intersyndicale’ (joint unions committee which led the recent strikes against Macron’s plans for the country’s railway service will no doubt be pleased to hear from The World Transformed  that their efforts were overshadowed by Mélenchon’s efforts on their (and his)  behalf.

Those who follow French politics will perhaps ask questions about the ‘grassroots democracy’ inside Mélenchon’s rally, La France insoumise.

It declares that it is not a party but a “un mouvement de citoyens individuels qui se reconnaissent dans la démarche de Jean-Luc Mélenchon “, a movement of individual citizens who identify with the approach laid out by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

A bit like Momentum’s claim to be supporters of Corbyn rather than the Labour Party itself...

At ‘conferences’ (‘Convention, December 2017) of the movement up to 60% of the “delegates” were chosen by lot and the others by a process which makes the old British Tory Party’s way by which leaders ’emerged’ look transparent.

There were no clashes between opposing motions, or organised currents of political opinion.

There is however plenty of ‘cyber-democracy’ (votes for all on a narrow spectrum of pre-prepared ideas) …tweets, FB groups and Memes….

Critics…..

Unsurprisingly there is dissatisfaction with the way things are run inside this Rally (A La France insoumise, la démocratie interne fait débat).

On paper it’s a ‘horizontal’ movement.

In reality, critics say, that it is “vertical” with decision-making in the hands of Mélenchon’s key advisers.

LFI’s strategy is often called  ‘left populist’, drawing on sources such as Chantal Mouffe’s extensive writings (the latest, For a Left Populism. 2018).

It is said that they are engaged in a ‘Battle for hegemony’. At  present they have not in a long-term ‘war of position’ but a frenetic ‘war of movement’ against not just Macron, the ‘elite’, and ‘the media’, but to win leadership over the rest of the French left and ‘federate the people”.

There are many other things to say, such as Mélenchon’s continued support for the Maduro regime in Venezuela, his dreams of a Bolivarian revolution, and a position on the European Union that while formally pro-European keeps slipping into assertions of French sovereignty,  sovereigntism than the pro-Other Europe views of many Labour members.

In their favour it must be said that LFI’s most recent proposals in migration have included a defence of asylum seekers and an ambitious plan to cope with global migration. Propositions alternatives au projet de loi sur l’immigration et l’asile. 28th of May 2018.

 

The real problem is that the invitation to  Mélenchon’ is probably going to get embroiled in the Labour row over anti-semitism.

Why?

Mireille Knoll: Crowds jeer French far-right, far-left leaders after ‘anti-Semitic’ murder.

BBC. 28 March 2018

France’s far-right and far-left leaders have been booed during a Paris rally after a Jewish woman was killed in what is being treated as anti-Semitic crime.

Marine Le Pen of the National Front (FN) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon of France Unbowed joined the silent march, defying wishes of Jewish groups.

The groups accuse the two parties of having anti-Semites in their ranks – a claim denied by both organisations.

Mireille Knoll, 85, was stabbed and then burnt in her Paris flat on Friday.

As a child in 1942, she evaded the notorious Vel d’Hiv round up of some 13,000 Jews in Paris, who were then deported to Nazi death camps.

Two men have been held and placed under formal investigation over her murder.

……

On Wednesday, Ms Le Pen and Mr Mélenchon met a hostile reception from a number of protesters marching from Paris’s Place de la Nation to Ms Knoll’s apartment in the east of the French capital.

The two political leaders had to leave the rally as tensions threatened to boil over. Ms Le Pen later rejoined the protest, the AFP reports.

Ahead of the rally, Crif, an umbrella organisation of France’s Jewish groups, asked the far-right and far-left politicians not to join the event.

“Anti-Semites are over-represented in the far-left and the far-right, making those parties ones that you don’t want to be associated with,” Crif director Francis Kalifat told RTL radio.

“Therefore they are not welcome,” he added.

This dispute has long-standing roots:   including the LFI leader’s charge against the Crif’s “aggressive communitarianism” )Le communautarisme du Crif est particulièrement agressif”   Mélenchon et le Crif, un désamour de longue date. In return the CRIF has, in the past, made claims (strongly contested)  that Mélenchon  was in some manner implicated in anti-semitic demonstrations that followed public protests over Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2014, (” les complaisances de Jean-Luc Mélenchon pour les manifestations antisémites de l’été 2014). The Communist daily, l’Humanite   was the venue where the accusations of anti-semitism have continued to surface, firstly in a column by Jean Rouaud, and then, in his defence, by its Director, Patrick Appel-Muller. (Quand Jean-Luc Mélenchon est accusé d’antisémitisme dans L’Humanité. Marianne. 13.12.2017).

The controversy, with obvious echoes in present day UK disputes, centred over the language used.

 

Many, while they would perhaps not always agree with the wording of the leader of LFI’s criticisms of Israel, find some of the claims of the CRIF hard to swallow. It is  hard to imagine that somebody who comes from the tradition of Laïcité (as this Blog does) and who has never shied away expressing his hostility to  anti-semitism, can be accused of….. anti-antisemitism

No doubt it did not help that he referred to his opponents in the CRIf as “la secte CRIF on his Blog in the article L’antisémitisme et « La France Insoumise ».

Nor that his ‘republican’ patriotism lead him not long ago to deny that “France”, that is the French republic, was responsible for Vichy anti-Jewish legislation and complicity in Nazi war crimes.

This kind of language and disassociation is hard to echo outside of France.

As an illustration of his position on these issues Mélenchon expressed his “total opposition” last year when one of the MP’s of his rally, La France insoumise (LFI),  Danièle Obono., expressed her support for the anti-semitic racist groupuscule, le Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR):  Mélenchon met les choses au clair avec le Parti des indigènes de la République.

He and his party condemned her remarks.

It is doubtful nevertheless that in the present climate that we will see a rational – favourable or critical – reception of Mélenchon when he addresses a Labour and Momentum audience.

 

 

 

Sahra Wagenknecht Launches German Populist Left Movement, “Aufstehen”.

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Image result for aufstehen bewegung

 

Der Spiegel – our correspondent in Germany informed us yesterday – reports that the new ‘populist’ law and order left party of leading Die Linke Sahra Wagenknecht is going public.

“Aufstehen” – linke Sammlungsbewegung formiert sich.

Called Aufstehen (Rise Up/Stand UP) the movement is now being organised with a web presence a first formal step.

Der Spiegel notes that one of New Left Review’s top writers,  Wolfgang Streeck, is involved in the movement, whose key policies include greater law and order and a rethink of Germany’s openness to refugees and migrants. Wagenknecht has made many calls for a reduction in immigrant workers (“Einschränkungen der Arbeitsmigration” 10.6.18) and end to left backing for ‘open borders’.

German press accounts underline, as our Watcher on the Rhine has observed, that preparations for this movement (Bewegung) have been going on for some time:

Die seit längerem angekündigte neue linke Sammelbewegung nimmt deutliche Konturen an.  (NTV)

Wagenknecht, the same piece notes, has run up against heavy criticism inside the Left Party, Die Linke, for her stand against Germany’s migration policies.

Wagenknecht war zuletzt etwa mit ihren Positionen in der Flüchtlingspolitik innerhalb der Linken auf Kritik gestoßen.

As an illustration of its wider ambitions, Aufstehn has got the support of these figures: Marco Bülow (SPD MP), Sevim Dagdelen (Linke MP) the former Green MP,  Antje Vollmer (Taz).

Taz notes that Aufstehn is the title of a Protest song, by the Dutch popsters,  Band Bots.

The website informs us that a formal public beginning will take place on the 4th of September.

It wishes people to become part of the movement!

WERDE TEIL DER BEWEGUNG!

Here is an English language account (the only one that could be found this morning).

The high-profile faction leader of Die Linke, Sahra Wagenknecht, has been working for months on a movement to unite left-wing politicians across party boundaries. The movement now has a name and is about to go online.

 

The Local. basing itself largely on the Spiegel article states,

The new left-wing political movement first proposed by Wagenknecht in early 2018 is to be called Aufstehen (stand up). Its website, aufstehen.de, will go live on Saturday, Spiegel reports.

Political observers in Germany are eagerly awaiting the launch of the new movement, due to the fragile state of left wing politics in the country at the moment.

With the Social Democrats (SPD) haemorrhaging support, Wagenknecht has stated that she sees her movement as a solution to the woes of social democracy in Germany. In view of the fact that no left-wing party has led the country since 2005, Wagenknecht has stated the aim of Aufstehen is to lift the left back into power.

The movement is not supposed to pose a threat to the parties which currently reside on the left of the political spectrum. Instead Wagenknecht sees it as a platform for discussion outside of parliament and has invited politicians from Die Linke, the Green Party and the left-wing of the SPD to join in.

“It is of course our intention to achieve a different political majority and a new government with a social agenda,” Wagenknecht told Spiegel. “If the pressure is big enough, the parties will see it is in their own interest to open their lists to our people.”

The idea was initially met with suspicion on the left, with Die Linke’s chairpeople fearing that Wagenknecht was attempting to create an organization which would usurp their authority.

But Die LInke co-chair Dietmar Bartsch said on Friday that he was now open to the idea.

“On the right they are fighting a cultural battle. We need to take every idea seriously that can oppose them,” he told Spiegel. “Perhaps this provides a chance to to strengthen the left so that we can once again have a political majority.”

Other influential politicians on the left joined the chorus of support for the movement.

“The idea is good, the timing is right, the need for far-reaching chance is enormous,” an article penned for Spiegel by MPs from the Greens, Die Linke and the SPD argued.

Whether this is intended as the nucleus of a new party or a ‘Momentum’ type movement that presses within the existing German left for tough policing and a halt to open German migration policies,  is not yet certain.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 4, 2018 at 11:36 am

Backlash at Momentum Withdrawing Backing for Peter Willsman Exposes Deeper Left Rift.

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New forms of international solidarity, based on democratic human rights, should replace unconditional support.

Momentum withdraws support for Corbyn ally Peter Willsman for ‘deeply insensitive’ remarks about Jews

Independent.

The present crisis in the Labour Party over anti-semitism is a mess with which most people would recoil from.

The underlying problem is not this or that charge: it is a fight over Jeremy Corbyn’s politics.

Although the majority of the left stands with the anti-austerity programme, and for democratic socialist measures  to replace neo-liberal politics – give or take some divisions about how to respond to Brexit – there is no consensus about the politics of the Middle East and, above all, on the Israel-Palestine issue.

Is this  the central question of the age? In most people’s minds it is not. We could begin with the civil war in Syria, where massacres continue after genocides.

But there is no getting away from it.

Jeremy Corbyn comes from an honourable tradition on the left which puts international solidarity at the forefront of left campaigning.

It is part of his marrow.

Jeremy Corbyn has put the Palestinian people’s rights at the centre of his work.

It is scandalous to accuse him of underhand behaviour when he has acted in the plain light of day.

Or that Corbyn is of the same mind as everybody he’s been found in the company of.

Nobody can doubt that this involves cooperating, or at least appearing on the same platform,, as people he disagrees with.

But not everybody on the left accepted, or does now accept, the idea that solidarity means not taking a critical distance from the leadership and activists of liberation movements.

A thoughtful piece this year on the New Socialist site begins with a premise that seems very much of a different time:  Antisemitism and Our Duties as Anti-Imperialists. (The Editors April 2018)

The claim that groups like Hamas in the Gaza Strip, are liberation movements reflects a position of the 1960s and 1970s left on such struggles which has not worn well.

But in a wider sense what are the “duties” of “anti-imperialists”? Opposing colonialism, the occupation of whole swathes of the world by European powers, US intervention in Asian wars, ended by the 1970s.

The term ‘anti-imperialism’ was visibly coming apart after the the Khomeini  victory in Iran in 1979, which heralded a wider rise in diverse forms of political Islam – virulently opposed to the left. Yet these were, in Tehran,  ‘anti-imperialist’, as a whole section of the Iranian left claimed, before being executed or put in gaol.

Opposition to US-led intervention against Iraq, the Gulf War onwards, and in Afghanistan, had some meaning.

But it failed to inspire much support on the left for Baathism or the various Islamist groups that took power in Afghanistan

The idea of moral obligations to support positively anti-imperialist countries or movements opposing ‘imperialism’ has even less  meaning today when ‘anti-imperialism’ or ‘campism’ in the post-Soviet world has led some on the left to claim the mantle of ‘internationalism’ for support for a variety of repressive and reactionary states and movements opposed to the ‘West’.

Despite its obvious bankruptcy the influence of this stand can be seen at present far beyond the Middle East, with some continuing to back the blood-stained and  corrupt regime in Nicaragua on ‘anti-imperialist’ grounds.

The hollowness of this position is not hard to see. For those who wish to see them taken apart read Dan la Botz Nicaragua’s Popular Rebellion Stopped—For Now. (1)

Just as we would not tolerate unconditional support for Israel, above all in the form of the Israeli government, it is hard to see why why we should tolerate the – well-known – faults of the backward looking right-wing  Muslim Brotherhood ally Hamas.

This has its domestic translation.

In the present Labour Party row the issue keeps returning to the influence of anti-democratic, and prejudiced forces that style themselves ‘anti-Zionists’ operating in movements calling for  support for the Palestinians.

These range from those who have lost all sense of decency through their use of  ‘Nazi’ rhetoric against ‘Zionists’, Islamist and classic far-right anti-semites, to the probably more numerous, “conspiratorialist” individuals and groups.

But the Labour Party is not, as Labour Against the Witchunt and the its backers would like it to be, a playground where these individuals can engage in ‘debates’ on the template of the Letters Page in the Weekly Worker.

It is equally  true that the Labour Party is not going to be taught lessons about racialism from people like the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, who declared in June 2016,

Our freedom from the EU will make extremism less, not more, likely, as the pressure cooker is released.

Brexit: It’s a wonderful day for Britain – and its Jews

But we are not going to resolve our difficulties without a coming to terms with the need for forms of international solidarity, based on democratic human rights, to replace the old unconditional support. for movements we think are ‘anti-imperialist’ or progressive.

In the deeper senses outlined above this is simultaneously a foreign policy issue and a domestic one, so that this analysis by Steve Bush in the New Statesman is right at both ends put together:

The issue at stake is that Corbyn himself regards the row as a foreign policy issue, confined to the question of how Labour members can talk about Israel, while his critics primarily see it as a domestic issue, confined to the need to reassure British Jews of Labour’s intentions and to take the sting out of the row, which risks derailing a summer of detailed policy interventions from the opposition.

Momentum dump Peter Willsman from their NEC slate – in direct defiance of Jeremy Corbyn’s office

The backlash at Momentum’s decision illustrates all these issues coming to the surface:

Momentum drops Pete Willsman – support the comrade!

 

And so it goes….

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Skwawkbox launches an organised wrecking operation against Momentum.

LOCAL MOMENTUM GROUPS COME OUT FOR WILLSMAN AND THE #JC9YES9

National Momentum – or rather the officer subset of Momentum’s ‘NCG’ (National Coordinating Group) – made the widely-condemned decision yesterday to withdraw support from left-slate member Peter Willsman in the vital National Executive Committee elections, over antisemitism claims that do not stand up to scrutiny.

The decision sparked a major online backlash, with large numbers announcing they had ended their membership.

But others are staying within the organisation yet still making clear that the NCG has not spoken for them.

****

(1) Notably,

Many of my generation, the generation of 1968, who supported the Nicaraguan revolution of 1979 (as I did), may have found these arguments appealing, reflecting as they did the situation forty years ago, but not only do they have little factual or logical merit, but they are based on a specious reasoning that denigrates ordinary people and idolizes strongmen. Such arguments are based upon three fundamental suppositions:

1) Nicaraguans and other Latin Americans cannot have legitimate grievances against the “Leftists” governments and would any case be incapable of creating their own movement, so they must be manipulated by some other force;

2) the United States masterminds and controls all political developments in Latin America from Argentina and Brazil to Venezuela and Nicaragua, and it is the real force behind any apparent popular opposition;

3) existing “anti-imperialist” governments (Russia, Syria, Nicaragua), whatever their character, must be supported against the world’s only imperialist nation, the United States.

These arguments can only appeal to those who have no understanding of the complexity of international political developments, of a world where, for example, people can organize themselves, a left can develop critical of a so-called leftist government, and the United States, powerful as it is, cannot always call the shots. That these authors provide shameful support for an authoritarian, capitalist government murdering hundreds and wounding thousands of its citizens is not surprising, given their support for Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia, Iran’s theocratic dictatorship, and Assad’s dictatorship in Syria. Zeese and Blumenthal represent what writer Rohini Hensman has called a neo-Stalinist current that came out of the left but now has little that is even vaguely leftists about it.[18]

Fortunately, the international democratic left has rallied in defense of the Nicaraguan people’s rebellion. Noam Chomsky spoke out against Ortega’s “authoritarian” government on Democracy Now.[19] Dozens of leftist intellectuals and political activists  principally from Europe and Latin America signed a statement strongly condemning the Ortega governments and containing these demands:

The unconditional release of all political prisoners; the transfer of information from the authorities to human rights organizations about the real situation of the persons declared missing; disarmament of the paramilitary army organized by Ortega and his government; an independent international investigation into the various forms and facets of repression, with appropriate sanctions; the constitution of a transitional government — with a limited mandate, — leading to free elections; and the end of the Ortega-Murillo government.[20]

Labour NEC Elections. Vote Ann Black!

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Image result for ann black Labour party

Ann Black: the Members’ Voice.

As the Labour Ballot papers arrive I am voting for Ann Black and am deciding who else to back.

Many of us are unhappy about being called to vote for a left slate for which we – that is the overwhelming majority of the left activists – have had no say in drawing up.

No doubt like other left-wingers I will put a cross by some from the JC9. But how they were ‘selected’ remains a mystery, well it’s not a mystery, but it had nothing to do with 99% of the voters.

In these conditions while it is clear that many of the JC9 candidates are fine people it is up to us to decide who to cast our ballot for-just as it was for those who decided on the list to decide who was on it and who was not

Loyalty to ‘Jeremy’ is not enough.

Clearly a left-wing European socialist is not going to support long-standing right-wingers – a list which includes admirers of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Some may have a soft spot for Eddie Izzard, who has made a point of standing up for the pro-European left.

But his other views are not particularity left-wing.

As I say, I make one choice already, independent of the JC9: Ann Black.

I have known Black since the Original Grassroots Alliance (and Labour Reform) in 1998.

Like many I would then, and now, not agree with her views on everything.

But Ann has made it her business to stand up for ordinary members.

She has continued this while many of us left the Party.

Ann Black is a great people’s tribune: she stood up to Blair acolytes, and is now smeared for not being at a different group of people’s beck and call.

These are some of her guiding themes:

When I joined the NEC Tony Blair was the leader, followed by Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and now Jeremy Corbyn. Throughout that time my personal politics continued firmly on the left. I voted against austerity, privatisation, selective education, war in Iraq, Trident, and for public services, fair taxation, decent pensions and social security benefits, restoring funds to local government, and large-scale social housing, sometimes in a minority of three or four, now, with the popular 2017 manifesto, in the party mainstream.

While I have my own views, I consult widely and listen to what you tell me. All of us, particularly those with public profiles, owe loyalty to Jeremy Corbyn as our democratically-elected leader. However our party is a broad church, and In these polarised times it’s particularly important that every member is heard with respect, not treated as the enemy within.

Exactly: she is an independent centre-left voice who listens to the grassroots.

This is her reply to one of the best known smears against her:

The veteran activist, who lost the support of Momentum last month, said that the grassroots group had falsely accused her of robbing 125,000 members of a vote in the leadership election of 2016.

She countered that in fact Corbyn himself was to blame, after he appeared before the TV cameras instead of backing an NEC move to enfranchise thousands of members in that year’s ballot.

..

The ruling NEC infuriated Corbyn supporters that year when it voted to impose a ‘freeze date’ of January for eligibility for the ballot.

But Black said that she had proposed amending the cut-off date to June but her plan failed because the vote was tied.  Corbyn and fellow MP Jon Trickett left the meeting to give TV interviews about winning an earlier vote to put the leader automatically on the ballot paper

“If Jeremy had stayed, many thousands of additional members would have been able to vote,” Black wrote. “I may have committed other crimes, but that is not one of them.”

Huffington Post. 20.2.2018.

I talked to her properly at the Chartist AGM a few weeks ago: she is 100% approachable.

She is great.

Whatever else: Vote Ann Black!

Here are some reasons why:

Why Non-Factional Members Are Supporting Ann Black For The NEC

You’d be forgiven for thinking the Labour Party can be divided simply into the two camps that tend to dominate our internal affairs discourse. For the current NEC elections, on the left, there’s Momentum with Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) and Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA), and towards the centre, Progress and Labour First. But there is a growing number of middle-of-the-road members paying their annual subs, socialists appreciative of the leftward shift catalysed by the consecutive elections of Jeremy Corbyn yet loyal to neither slate and looking for a broad, pluralist left. In this year’s NEC elections, this group is presented with a highly appealing option in Ann Black and Open Labour.

Formerly the NEC chair and head of the disputes panel, and currently the National Policy Forum chair, Black’s non-factional bid for re-election to the NEC has been launched without the support of either key slate. This marks a change, given that Black had previously stood on the left slate before being (falsely) accused of supporting the exclusion of new members in the 2016 leadership election, and subsequently being removed.

Instead, she now stands independently on a decisively proud record of commitment to socialist policies and party democratisation. She has the respect of individuals from all parts of the party, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. She spoke truth to power throughout the New Labour years, opposing privatisation, the Iraq War and the centralisation of power; she fought for the extension of one-member-one-vote elections to different parts of our party and secured increased funding for CLPs. When some opposed Corbyn’s automatic inclusion on the 2016 leadership election ballot, Black voted for his inclusion, giving members a say.

With the political backing of only Open Labour – an impressive group that, since renewing its strategic aims, is emerging as a directional and potentially influential section on the left of the party, calling for diverse, tolerant socialism – Black stands distinguished as a formidable, experienced candidate able to represent large swathes of our membership and to build a broad, radical left where the two main factions cannot do this alone.

Although Momentum and Progress can be applauded for offering cohesive and consistent choices to some members in line with their values, this duality inevitably means that complex issues are condensed and independent thought is limited to parameters set by those leading the factions.

And what about those members who I spoke about earlier, socialists who may not be factionally engaged? We are a democratic socialist party of over 500,000 members, and many of us don’t relate entirely to a faction. There are valid criticisms of the dominant left and centrist wings of the party – and this doesn’t amount to rejection of them completely, or their contributions.

Without outspoken, independent socialists like Ann Black on the NEC, a large section of our party risks being deprived of representation. There is a reason that turnout in our internal elections is consistently so low. Debate is restricted and voting options are few. Members are expected to pledge allegiance to one of two factions, which do not represent plurality and breadth of opinion.

This can change. An organised, diverse left in the Labour Party is emerging and this is why the activity of Open Labour and activists like Ann Black is so important. As we debate our future relationship with Europe and how to rebuild Britain after eight years of Tory destruction, we should realise that our future lies in the enfranchisement of as many activists as possible – not just those who are factionally engaged. I genuinely look forward to using one of my votes to re-elect Ann Black to our NEC.

Luke Hurst is Co-Chair of Leeds Labour Students.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 28, 2018 at 12:47 pm

Kate Hoey MP, Faces De-Selection Call – “a highly principled woman I have known for 40 years” – George Galloway.

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“..a highly principled woman I have known for 40 years.” – George Galloway.

Hoey is in the news today,

Kate Hoey vows to face down local activists over bid to deselect her

Activists in Vauxhall, south London, unanimously backed a motion of no confidence in the MP and called for party bosses to suspend the whip from her.

They also said she should be made “ineligible for re-selection or endorsement as a Labour party parliamentary candidate”.

And they accused her of “collaborating” with Tory Brexiteers and the DUP and “propping up a failing government”.

Ms Hoey has faced a barrage of internal criticism after she was among four Labour MPs who helped the Government defeat an attempt to force Britain to sign up to a customs union with the EU.

The no-confidence motion claims that defeat in the Commons vote could have brought down the Government and led to a general election that Labour was “widely expected to win”.

However, the backbencher vowed to take on attempts to push her out, despite conceding that those in her Lambeth seat voted overwhelmingly in favour of staying in the EU.

The MP told the Guardian in a statement that the motion was “not a surprise”.

“My local party activists are solid EU remainers. I will always put my country before my party and helping my constituents is a priority,” she said.

“After 29 years as an MP I am quite relaxed about the vote and it won’t influence in any way how I vote in future.”

The motion carries no official force, but local members hope it will pile pressure on the leadership and that it could lead to a so-called “trigger ballot” to remove her ahead of the next election.

The Constituency Labour Party motion on Thursday read: “In June 2017 Kate Hoey was elected on a manifesto which explicitly rejected Theresa May’s approach to Brexit and pledged in a letter to constituents that she endorsed Labour’s plans.

“This CLP censures Kate Hoey MP for repeatedly reneging on those commitments, and ignoring the clearly stated views of her constituents and the national and local Labour Party.”

In her report to the meeting, Ms Hoey said: “Whilst many of you may disagree with my views, I have voted in line with the manifesto and the result of the referendum – to leave the single market and the customs union.

“All my votes are on the issue being debated and not in support of the Government.”

Yes, she had nobody to back her as Shiraz also points out.

 

That’s as may be, but Hoey has the comfort of the backing of her comrade George Galloway:

Kate Hoey has, as the former leader of Respect’s Tweet picture indicates, a past on the radical left.

She was a member of the International Marxist Group (IMG).

There are a number of anecdotes about those days and the affiliation, such as this,

 

Living in London in the early 1970s she became a vice-president of the NUS.[Jack Straw was NUS president at the time]. Returning from an overseas conference, she found herself sitting next to Tariq Ali on the plane. Tariq persuaded her to join the IMG, which she did in summer 1971.

In subsequent years she used to muddy this connection by claiming that she was in the Spartacus League, a short lived youth wing of the IMG. She was never at ease with the Irish Republican Trotskyism of the IMG and was also very inimical to Gery Lawless an IMG member at the time.

She felt that having Lawless as a member discredited the IMG. Under the influence of Brian Trench [political influence of course!] she joined the IS in 1972 but her stay there was also limited.

She joined Hackney Labour party and supported the Troops Out Movement for a period before becoming a supporter of the BICO front organisation, Campaign for Labour Representation in Northern Ireland.

This is what she now says of this experience, (2nd of January 2016. Guardian)

She also became vice-president of the National Union of Students, and was briefly was a member of the International Marxist Group, because it “probably had better-looking young men” than other radical-left groups.

As ex-IMG myself I can’t disagree with that.

During the Europe Referendum Hoey made herself conspicuous by appearing with Nigel Farage, and,  at the risk of repeating the message of the picture which heads this post, popped up with Galloway at least once on his RT ‘show’.

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "george galloway and kate hoey"

Her views were informed by these ideas, attacking Labour’s failure to stand up for Country and lack of patriotic fibre, which she shares with figures such as Paul Embery of the Arron Banks backed Trade Unionists Against the EU,

Hoey blames her party’s “extremely unpatriotic” outlook for its increasing alienation from its traditional working class supporters. “They feel very strongly about their country and we have been extremely unpatriotic as a party to our country. There’s just a feeling that we’re half-hearted about being British, we’re half-hearted about the monarchy, we’re half-hearted about the way we see our country in the world. I’m very proud of being British and I think the United Kingdom is a force for good in the world and we seem to feel all the time that we have to put ourselves down because somehow that might upset people”.

New Statesman. 17th of June 2015.

Another prominent supporter of Brexit was the man who recruited her to the IMG, Tariq Ali.

LIke Kate Hoey Ali was happy at the Leave vote, “Tariq Ali ‘Pleased’ Brexit Has Given EU ‘Big Kick’ up ‘Backside'” reported the Venezuelan repressive regime mouthpiece TeleSur on the 24th of June 2016.

Ali’s expressions of solidarity to his old comrade-in-arms Hoey are yet to be made public.