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Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Corbyn

Fringe Warns, “Corbyn’s leadership in danger” after NEC reaches agreement on Anti-Semitism Issue.

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Tony Greenstein appears at a pro-Jeremy Corbyn protest outside Labour HQ

100 fringe Protesters failed to Stop NEC reaching agreement on the fight against Anti-Semitism.

The UK Labour Party’s ruling body has agreed to adopt in full an international definition of anti-Semitism, after months of rows.

It will incorporate all the 11 examples of anti-Semitism cited by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance into its code of conduct.

BBC.

There are some who are less than happy at this.

Corbyn’s leadership in danger

Written by John Rees. Counterfire.

The defeat for the Palestinian cause at the hands of the Labour Party’s NEC should not be underestimated

Who thought they would see the day when a left-led Labour Party would ignore the voices of Palestinian civil society, the highly respected former Palestinian ambassador to the UK, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, prominent figures in the anti-war movement, of Jewish socialist groups, and of 4,000 Labour Party members who lobbied the NEC online?

Who thought that this defeat would be delivered in part by mistakes made by Momentum’s national leaders, and the trade union leaders of Unison, Unite, GMB and Usdaw?

And there is the importance of this episode for the future. This reverse was the result of a divided left.

The leader of the Counterfire  revolutionary socialist groupuscule generously offers his advice to the Labour Party, the divided  left and the world at large:

Why were the left leaders either absent or actively working to get the IHRA examples adopted?

The short answer is that they imagine that they can buy off their enemies by surrendering to them. But that didn’t and won’t work. Not without getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn.

And there’s a danger that the argument will become, even from those who claim to support Corbyn, ‘oh, I support Jeremy, but he’s too much trouble’. This is dangerous nonsense. There is no candidate B and the very process of getting rid of Corbyn would demoralise and further split the left. It would, even if there were a period with another left leader, pave the way for the return of the right.

The full impact of the NEC decision is that they have set a pattern for compromise.

Socialist Worker is also going full froth.

Stand with Palestine after Labour Party accepts antisemitism definition Nick Clark

The Labour Party’s ruling body has adopted a definition of antisemitism that restricts criticism of Israel.

The decision by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) on Tuesday is a betrayal of the Palestinians. It is the result of relentless smearing by the right, and is a humiliating climb-down for Labour’s left wing leadership.

And Monster Raving, well what can you say?

“John McDonnell’s stupid and cowardly statement that Labour should adopt the IHRA in its entirety in order to put the false anti-Semitism campaign to bed beggars belief. “

Having talked about the decision with a number of people this looks a much more realistic assessment than these, and other, melodramatic attempts to stir up division.

The tussle over the IHRA shows neither Corbyn nor his opponents realise how secure he is

STEPHEN BUSH New Statesman.

The only thing that matters is that the NEC’s reccomendation means that IHRA, along with the Code of Conduct itself, will recieve an expedited passage through the rule-making institutions of Labour party conference and is essentially certain to pass unamended.

Bush continues with a carefully weighted analysis:

That’s provoked dismay among those within the Corbyn project who believe that IHRA has a chilling effect on free speech. Are they right to worry? Well, no. Ultimately both the NEC and the NCC are interpretative bodies: the NEC is not only the Labour party’s sovereign body but effectively its supreme court as well. Any ambiguities in the text are within the control of the NEC, which is dominated by Corbyn supporters and will be for the foreseeable future. Bluntly, should the Corbynsceptics retake control of the NEC – a near impossible prospect in my view – they will reshape the rules to expunge the party of some of Corbyn’s supporters anyway regardless of what a Corbynite majority NEC has done or not done. The only change to the day-to-day life of the Labour Party that would result from inserting caveats would be continuing the row over IHRA.

The Jewish Leadership Council and the European Jewish Congress have both welcomed the move, but both organisations have, as you’d expect, criticised the time it took Labour to get here. The European Jewish Congress have said it does Labour “no credit” that it took this long, while the JLC have said that “under a competent leader” the row would never have gone on so long. But while Corbyn won’t be framing either of those statements on his wall, the Labour leadership will be relieved at least that both organisations want to move on to the remaining five requests made of the Labour leadership when the JLC and the Board of Deputies met with Corbyn in April.

But Corbyn is also under fire for the 500 word statement he wanted the NEC to pass, which did apply caveats to the definition. Obtained by Robert Peston, who has posed it on his Twitter feed – this has been sharply criticised by the JLC.  While that row won’t help rebuild trust between Labour and the majority of Britain’s Jews, that Corbyn was rebuffed means that row isn’t going to rumble on. The correct outcome – as far as the bulk of community organisations and the party’s official Jewish affiliate, the Jewish Labour Movement are concerned – has been reached and no-one is going to litigate the last hours before Labour got there.

But what Corbyn’s attempt to insert an extra statement reveals is a strange point of unity between him and some of his vociferous opponents within Labour: an inability to recognise that he is the party’s hegemonic leader and therefore all his proposed statement would have brought was hassle. (It was that calculation that was decisive in persuading the left members of the NEC to defy Corbyn and speak against the statement, though the strength of feeling in the room was enough that it did not come to a vote.)

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Written by Andrew Coates

September 5, 2018 at 1:20 pm

David Aaronovitch’s Voodo Smear Againt Corbyn ‘link’ with Red Action.

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Many people on the left knew Red Action.

They were capable of talking the arse out of an iron pot on solidarity with the “Irish Struggle”.

I am not writing this off the top of my head…..

Apparently this is news to the above:

But  what of the link between Corbyn and the group?

As I mentioned many people on the left came across Red Action, and the group it helped create in 1995, the Independent Working Class Association.

Many suggest  Aaronovitch looked into his own oeuvre – Voodoo Histories: How Conspiracy Theory Has Shaped Modern History  (2009) – before writing this

Zelo Street answers this.

I make no apologies for re-posting to add to the audience to this excellent piece of work:

Murdoch Corbyn IRA Bomb Smear BUSTED.

This is not a new idea from the Murdoch mafiosi: back in September 2015, the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, who claims to be the Sun’s Westminster Correspondent, claimed “JEREMY CORBYN TRIED TO FUND IRA BOMBER’S FLIGHT … The embattled new Labour leader handed over £45 to Irishman Sean O’Regan, who approached him inside Parliament to claim he was part of an IRA active service unit”.

Sadly, Master Cole was peddling a pack of lies: it was one of Corbyn’s staff who ponied up the £45, and as soon as Jezza found out, he called the cops. But now has come a new twist on the IRA claim from allegedly sensible pundit David Aaronovitch: “Finally, for a completely different reason, I’ve been going back over the 1993 Warrington bombing. There’s a big possibility that it was carried out by far-left people associated with a group called Red Action. I offer no prizes for which Labour figure was close to Red Action”.

Nudge nudge, wink wink, nod’s as good as  a wink to a blind hack,eh? But let’s take this pointless smear one step at a time. The Provisional IRA admitted responsibility for the Warrington bombings (plural) – that is, the gas works bombing in February 1993, and the town centre bombing the following month. It was speculated by a BBC Inside Out Broadcast in 2013 that it could have been an English “rogue” IRA unit.

The programme suggested that those who planted the town centre bombs were members of Red Action, despite the gas works bombing the previous month most certainly being carried out by an Irish IRA unit – some of whose members were caught in the aftermath of planting their device. And where does Jezza come in?

Indeed.

The Murdoch press is unequivocal in telling readers of its ultimate objective in attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn: it wants him removed from the leadership. This reinforces the admission from the Mail last week. But thus far, the campaign has been ineffective, and so it is being stepped up. That means a new smear exercise in which Jezza gets blamed for IRA activity on the British mainland. I kid you not.

You’ll love this. The claim of a connection between Corbyn and Red Action was made last weekend in the Sunday Times, under the by-line of … Andrew Gilligan. Yes, Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan, the clown who fouled up the reputation of the BBC Radio 4 Todayprogramme single handed, but still managed to escape censure from his press pals for his part in the outing of weapons inspector David Kelly.

So what’s his best shot? “Corbyn spoke at at least three Red Action meetings between 1985 and 1992 and the group sometimes met at his then constituency office, ex-members said”.

Convenient hearsay, just in time to start the next wave of smears. Oh, and “Jeremy Corbyn came to the attention of police after becoming involved with Red Action” might sound dead good until the obvious reality check is made on the claim.

Note: everybody on the left who knows about Red Action finds this direct Corbyn tie-in beyond any credibility

The post continues:

Corbyn had to undergo an extensive security vetting to become a Privy Counsellor. If there was anything like that in his background, he wouldn’t have passed muster.

Andrew Gilligan doesn’t know any better. But David Aaronovitch should. And he should be ashamed of himself. But in the end, all this proves is that the purchasing power of the Murdoch shilling remains undimmed after all these years. I’ll just leave that one there.

Then there is the issue of the “big possibility ” that  Red Action rather than the IRA carried out the Warrington Bombing.

It is widely noted that the Wikipedia entry on this was altered the day Aaronovitch made his assertion,

This is another source:

Anti-Fascist Archive

THE LARGEST PUBLIC COLLECTION OF ANTI-FASCIST ACTION MATERIAL

The Warrington Bomb and Red Action.

2003.

Recently, BBC North West’s Inside Out programme conducted an investigation into the 1993 Warrington bombing. Ending the police’s embarrassment of not catching the killers of Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry was, seemingly, the motivation. Inside Out speculates that the perpetrators of the lethal bombing were Jan Taylor and, Red Action member, Patrick Hayes. Inside Out asks that when the police were looking for Irish suspects; should they have been looking for a rogue IRA active service unit made up of Englishmen.

The documentary’s evidence supporting their claim leaves some questions. First is the linking of the bin bombing and gas works bombing in Warrington to the Harrods bin bombing and the bombing of a gas works in Tyneside. They are linked by target but, it is also implied, by suspects. The Tyneside gas works was bombed by an Englishman; the Warrington gas works by Irishmen. That the Warrington gas bombing was conducted by Irishmen wasn’t mentioned in the documentary. Partially based upon this faulty evidence the programme reasons that the Warrington bin bombing was carried out by the Harrods bin bombers: Hayes and Taylor. The film insinuates that English IRA active service units were attacking similar targets but Warrington gas bombing was done by Irishmen.

Another problem with the same targets, same nationality of suspects theory is that Hayes and Taylor were also convicted of bombing a train. Where does the train attack fit in to Inside Out’s story?

Inside Out uses Hayes’ Red Action membership as more evidence of guilt. Firstly, the programme doesn’t make it clear that only Hayes was a Red Action member, Taylor wasn’t. The programme also points out Red Action favoured “chicken-box bombs”, like the one used by Hayes and Taylor. The fact is that Red Action has never been found to have bombed anything. The implication is that Red Action had a bombing campaign but they did nothing of the sort. Why would Red Action favour a certain bomb when they had nothing to do with bombing?

Red Action is painted as a shadowy organisation. Whilst certainly secretive it was hardly unreachable. The IndependentITV and the BBC had all interviewed Red Action. The organisation was very openly pro-IRA, it was on the front of its newspaper and on its stickers; it wasn’t a secret. It was not the underground network Inside Out would have us believe.

Another claim is that the (or these?) English IRA active service unit were rogue or not in the loop. It is pointed to that the IRA was already at the peace table so why would they need to continue bombing? Furthermore, the polices’ claim that the IRA didn’t use the correct code words is their evidence of the bombers being rogue. But the IRA disputed that the wrong codes were used at the time. It’s a ‘he said; she said’ situation in which the truth may never be known.

Inside Out’s own evidence can be used to dispute the rogue unit idea. To provide evidence that there was a campaign to bomb certain targets in England they discuss how the IRA’s top man in England was caught with a list of targets, including gas works, and semtex. If the orders were coming from the IRA’s leading volunteer in England how were the active service units rogue or acting alone?

The evidence presented implying the guilt of Patrick Hayes and Jan Taylor is hardly clear cut. The idea that English IRA units were bombing the same targets isn’t true and the idea they were rogue has little evidence. I believe the documentary provides more questions than answers. The simplest being what was the purpose of documentary? And why now?

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]

The Independent Backs Referendum on Brexit Deal.

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Image result for Left anti-=Brexit tour

 

Britain in the EU is the best chance to constrain the power of big money and big business.

Amongst continuing chaos on the Brexit right and left this is worth flagging up: how some of the leading ideologues of Leave are now becoming disaster theorists.

In the Great Deception (643 pages long, long) Christopher Booker (who is also a climate change denier) and Richard North argued that that British membership in the EU is a “slow-motion coup d’etat” with an “agenda of subordination” to invasive centralised regulation that is economically harmful to the UK. “an entirely new form of government, one which was supra-national’ beyond the control of national governments, politicians or electorates” Everything else would become subordinate to this entity.

Those who have plodded through its weary pages, and bothered to retain more than the name of Jean Monnet (there are 3 other apocalyptic horsemen, Arthur Salter, Altero Spinelli and Paul-Henri Spaak), will probably remember only that the project the authors refer to was a United States of Europe. 

And that it was doomed, “…like the vision of Le Corbusier and a much grander scale, it would eventually leave a great devastation behind it: wasteland from which it would take many years for the peoples of Europe to emergence.”

The Great Deception, Can the European Union survive? Christopher Booker. Richard North. 2017 ‘Referendum’ Edition (First published 2005).

It seems, nevertheless, that now it’s the Brexit victory that can claim to have created a desert and called it their peaceful victory.

As both authors now say.

Theresa May’s Brexit proposal is so detached from reality that it can only end in disaster. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER (1)

It is this context which makes the Independent’s call today make sense.

The referendum gave sovereignty to the British people, so now they deserve a final say on the Brexit deal

Independent.

Morally, emotionally even, another referendum is needed to help bind up the wounds of the past two years

The Independent today launches a campaign to win for the British people the right to a final say on Brexit. Come what may in the months ahead, we maintain our commitment to our readers to retain balance and present many different points of view. But on this subject we believe a referendum on the final deal is right. We do so for three reasons.

First, amid the chaos of recent months, one thing has become increasingly clear: Theresa May’s approach – and indeed the chaos in parliament – is not working. We are simply not close enough to resolving so many big issues about which people care so much. The enormity of the task, the contradictions in both major parties and the ferocious divisions in their ranks have now stretched our parliament to its limits, to the point where the impasse leads us ever closer to an “accidental” Brexit, as foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt most recently acknowledged, without a deal.

Second, sovereignty rests with the people – the people should have the opportunity to finish what they began, to pause and consider whether they still want to go ahead with the Brexit course we’re on, just as they would any other major decision in their lives.

Third, while there are questions about the validity of another referendum – shouldn’t the original outcome be delivered? – we clearly know more now than we did in 2016, amid such deeply flawed campaigns on both sides. Ignoring these shortcomings and ploughing on regardless is a far bigger problem for democracy. Faced with the current turmoil in our politics, and with dangers ahead coming into focus, it is surely undemocratic to deny people a chance to express their opinion afresh.

The Independent also publishes this important commentary on Corbyn’s Labour Brexit speech by Nick Dearden, director of UK campaigning organisation Global Justice Now.

It makes many of the points those backing The Left Against Brexit would make, but is too sanguine about the lingering influence amongst the Labour leadership of the view that Parliament, embodying Popular Sovereignty, can effectively work socialist wonders free from the kind of pooled sovereignty the EU works with. Those Corbyn listens to include influential voices from the ‘British Road to Socialism’ tradition which believes not only that, but that the EU is a particularly hard form of what used to be known (pre-Trump) as “neo-liberalism”.

Corbyn was brave enough to tackle the reasons why people voted for Brexit – and now he’s being savaged for it.

Nick Dearden

The real criticism you might make of Corbyn’s speech is that it’s not radical enough. After all, much of this analysis is common sense in many parts of Northern Europe where “industrial strategy” and “economic intervention” have not been dirty words for the past four decades. But Corbyn pushes the envelope, for instance insisting that those businesses who benefit from government intervention must be held to account for their levels of pay equality, for their climate impacts, for what happens in their supply chain.

This couldn’t be further from Donald Trump’s vision of the world. In fact, Corbyn explicitly eschews Trump’s protectionist trade wars. But, as economist Dani Rodrik consistently argues, if you want low tariffs and an open economy without high levels of inequality and poverty, you must have strong regulation on big business, coupled with high levels of investment and welfare. The alternative is a free-for-all for big money.

That’s what we’ve lived through in Britain – a “market knows best” approach in which all that mattered was slashing regulation and liberalising the economy. That’s what drove Brexit, and indeed it’s what is driving far-right votes in the US and elsewhere. Sadly, it’s not being listened to by the government because the hard Brexit being successfully pushed by Liam Fox and Jacob Rees-Mogg would turbocharge this model.

I want the EU to survive because I believe it can fulfil the dream of some of its founders to promote peace and equality. I want Britain in the EU because I believe it’s the best chance to constrain the power of big money and big business, to fight climate change, and to offer an alternative to the rise of Trumpism. That’s why I’m speaking at the Left Against Brexit tour in Liverpool tonight.

But it is a fantasy to think the EU can do any of this without serious top-to-bottom transformation. The EU has embraced far too much of the “market knows best” philosophy – often pushed by the British government. As a result it is coming apart at the seams, and before too long, Brexit will be the least of Brussel’s worries.

That’s why the policy direction Corbyn announced yesterday should not be seen as an attack on the EU. Rather it gives much-needed direction for the union as a whole. Only a Europe which embraces some of the changes set out by Corbyn yesterday has a hope of surviving. There is no going back to the day before the EU referendum— we either embrace fundamental economic reform, or we lose to the false promises of the growing far right.

John Rogan  signals this useful thread on the issues the speech dealt with.

A Party with Socialists in it. A History of the Labour Left. Simon Hannah. A Democratic Socialist Review.

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Image result for a party with socialists in it

 

A Party with Socialists in it. A History of the Labour Left. Simon Hannah. Pluto Press 2018.

(This review article appears in the latest Chartist magazine).

The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party in 2015 victory and his re-election in 2016 have been followed a number of pacy biographies. There have larger number of efforts to explain the victory, often as part of a global rise of “outsider” politics. By contrast Simon Hannah’s A Party with Socialists in it, is an account of the North Islington MP’s leadership within the long history of the Labour left inside the party.

An issue hangs over A Party with Socialists in it. There may be socialists in Labour but can Labour become a vehicle for socialism? The late Ralph Miliband, Hannah observes, came to consider the party unfit for socialist purpose, unable to create a “radically different social order” (Postscript to Parliamentary Socialism. 1973)

The Labour Party, Hannah states, was created as a Broad Church designed to represent the “entire labour movement”. He suggests that the seating is arranged around two wings. There is the ‘transformative’ current – the socialist left – which aims to change society radically, facing sustained opposition from the Establishment. Seated separately have been the ‘integrative’ battalions in the Parliamentary party and major trade unions. Outside and inside office, they try to avoid friction by making peace with the Powers that Be.

A Party with Socialists in it ably covers more than a century of differences between right and left from the foundation of the Labour Representation Committee in 1900 onwards – a vast sweep. But historical reminders are often extremely relevant.

To explain the background to Blair and Brown’s modernising project it is useful to look at the 1950s ‘revisionist’ debate, between figures such as Anthony Crosland and Aneurin Bevan. This centred on the balance between social and private ownership and making property serve “social purposes”. In the 1970s this again became a live issue. While the first stirrings of the neo-liberal privatisation agenda could be seen inside the Conservative Party, Labour appeared to be rethinking the “balance” between public and private in the opposite direction.

Alternative Economic Strategy.

The Alternative Economic Strategy (AES) came onto the Labour agenda. Stuart Holland’s version of the AES aimed to create a “new public ownership and social controls in the meso-economic sector”. It included nationalising the 25 top manufacturing companies to “harness the market power of big league firms”. Along with planning and rights to workers’ participation, it aimed to tackle inefficiency, to create jobs and end the decline in British profits and competitively. Hannah notes that the AES included protectionist measures. (Strategy for Socialism. Stuart Holland. 1975)

As Hannah notes, capitalists were unlikely to welcome the AES without ferocious opposition. Wilson, the figure of the ‘integrationist wing of the party, never intended this to happen. Only a shadow of the AES, a National Enterprise Board, that helped prop up some failing enterprises and the Bullock Report’s plans for corporatist works’ councils, “torpedoed” by the unions themselves, remained. (Pages 146 – 152) Avoiding ruffling the established powers ended with accepting an austerity programme in response to IMF demands. For Hannah this was “capitulation to international finance”. Efforts to bring together companies and workers through ‘Social Contract” wage restraint ended in the 1979 Winter of Discontent.

The 1980s rise and fall of ‘Bennism’, and the narrowly thwarted deputy leadership bid in 1981, saw the left rally around the former Cabinet Minister. Benn’s socialism, in Hannah’s account, was that of a “constitutionalist political reformer”. He based his ambitions on “genuine national sovereignty” and wider democracy including extra-parliamentary activism. Some saw this as a transformative ground for socialist activism; others considered that it placed too great a hope in a reformed Parliamentary system. It encouraged the belief that if the levers of the Labour Party were won, a sovereign left government could detach itself from the world economy, and bodies such as the IMF and implement the discarded AES. This idea remains popular on the left amongst those who wish for an independent Britain ‘taking back control’ from the European Union. 

Hannah surveys the left’s defeats in the 1980s. The first pitched battle was on the question of inner-party democracy (Page 164) The Chapter The Broad Church Collapses is valuable in covering with a critical eye on the main players, the inward looking and often fractious activities of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLDP) and the Labour Coordinating Committee (LCC).

Neil Kinnock’s modernising ambitions, a move to the centre, are widely said to have foreshadowed the 1990s dominance of Tony Blair’s team. Did Neil Kinnock isolate the left only by ditching radical policies and purging organised factions? (Page 197) Certainly Kinnock’s moves to remove policy making from Conference and NEC control were important to activists.

Forward March of Labour?

Others suggest that the search for policies adapted to the new constituencies appearing with ‘post-Fordist’ times played a part in the modernising agenda. A fierce inter-left polemic took place on the decline in the power of the industrial working class. (The Forward March of Labour Halted? 1981) Ideas about a post-Fordist production or a postmodern world may have had a limited appeal. But wholesale industrial run down, the defeat of the miners’ strike, and the wholesale closures that followed, saw the pillars of the labour movement disappearing. .

There were efforts to develop a response through new left policies in the late 80s, notably at the Socialist Movement Chesterfield Conferences called by Tony Benn, the Socialist Campaign Group and the Socialist Society, including Labour left journals and radical non-Labour forces. They attempted to learn from the experiences of municipal socialism shut down by Thatcher and the balance-sheet of the 1980s class conflicts. This initiative merits more coverage than the many pages devoted to the expulsion of the Militant platoons that claimed to represent the socialist vanguard

The Blair leadership appeared to cut off any chance of these Labour left or these ideas continuing as a serious ‘transformative ” current in the party. Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, dedicating their book to the independent left-wing academic, concluded, at the zenith of New Labour, that the “route to socialism does not lie in transforming the Labour Party” (The End of Parliamentary Socialism 1997).

Nevertheless the mid-1990s the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA), broke the ‘sealed tomb’ of the left under Tony Blair, and in 1998 got 4 left-wingers elected to the Labour’s NEC. The CLGA was broader than the CLDP or, Labour Briefing. There is no account of the role in the CLGA of Labour Reform and other ‘soft left’ forces, including Tribune and contributors to the present magazine.

Progressive Umbrella. 

Blair and Brown may have ended in a progressive umbrella hard to distinguish from a liberal desire to inject justice over market outcomes. Yet they were not only an acceptance of the neoliberal consensus but also a response to its appeal and to changing class configuration. Their relaxed attitude to finance and acceptance of privatising public services, not to mention participation in the invasion of Iraq, were disasters. The Third Way ideology was vapid cover.

But not every single policy was unwelcome, as can be seen as Universal Credit replaces Tax Credits. Stealth redistribution, nevertheless, means little as the modernisers’ centre-ground has dried up. There is little space for Labour in a “neo-liberal” consensus following the 2007-8 banking crisis. Accepting Conservative austerity plans, apparently eternal fiscal features means attacks on bedrock public services. Put simply, why indeed should the majority pay for their mistakes?

Hannah states that the 1940s left tended to assume that their main disagreements with the Labour leadership was over the speed of change, not over principles. The collapse of the Ecumenical endeavour during the Blair-Brown years, largely put an end to this way of thinking. For many on the left the turn to “social liberalism” cut the ground under the feet of any common endeavour.

In the light of this those who had given up on transforming the Labour Party would also deserve a mention, not least because many of them are now against party activists. A Party has nothing about the short-lived Socialist Alliance (its main challenge in the 2001 election, with derisory votes), Respect (George Galloway MP), or the more recent Left Party. All of these bodies involved Labour left-wingers. Many could offer not entirely happy experiences of working directly with left-factions and the larger Leninist groups which shape their take on Corbyn’s Labour left and Momentum. This gap contrasts with the large space devoted to Militant. No doubt it was “witch-hunted” but Militant’s top-down discipline and claims to lead the socialist fight have long limited its impact within the Labour left and more recent attempts to form electoral alternatives to the party.

Another initiative, which Hannah could have mentioned, is that the People’s Assembly movement of protest against austerity united trade unionists, the Labour and non-Labour left with a wide range of activists. The status of affiliated supporters allowed many to have a voice within the party, which it was easy to transfer into full membership after Corbyn’s election.

It is striking that British Labour is alone amongst established European left parties to have undergone change in the wake of Corbyn’s victory, perhaps indicating that its structures are not such an obstacle to the left after all.

An “invaluable account”.

A Party is an invaluable account not just of the history of the Labour left but of the future prospects of the Corbyn leadership. Hannah ends with hope that ‘capitalist realism’ is ending. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership may open up many possibilities As John McDonnell puts it in his Introduction, Labour can be a “genuinely transformative party”.

Momentum, in this view, is not just an effective electoral machine to support Jeremy Corbyn. It helps extend Labour’s influence amongst the public, and tips towards being a social movement for change. It would be to equip the practical idealists with the Parliamentary muscle to carry open-minded socialist ideas into effect. If Labour came to power would it also be needed to counter business and right wing attempts to sabotage the project? Could it develop a new better, version of the AES that avoids its pitfalls? The alternative, offered by the factionalising remnants of the modernisers, is an attempt to jump on a ‘progressive’ bandwagon driven by French President Emmanuel Macron. It is a bit of everything, except a realistic way of tackling a decade of government austerity.

Postscript 2nd of June.

 

The present Labour Party debate and splits on the fall-out from Brexit can can be seen in the light of the lingering influence of the ‘Bennite’ claim that the objective of the party should be ““genuine national sovereignty”. Those , a shrinking but still influential current,  advocating a ‘People’s Brexit’,  with the bare bones of a 20th century version of an national Alternative Economic Strategy, seem to reproduce the same difficulties and, in their sovereigntism, fall well short of an internationalist democratic socialist goal.

Pressure Grows on Labour to Oppose Brexit.

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Image result for brexit cartoon june 2018

#StopToryBrexit – A Final Say For The Many.

The Conservative Party is now in open warfare over the terms of Brexit,

Michael Gove has literally ripped up Theresa May’s plan for a new customs partnership with the EU. To the surprise of the officials present, Gove tore the document in two at a meeting on Wednesday night.

Customs will be one of the biggest bones of contention at the Chequers. I understand that there is talk that the model favoured by Brexiteers, MaxFax, might be altered to include tariff alignment with the EU.

But if that’s the case, then Britain won’t be able to have a proper, independent trade policy. One of the Brexiteers close to the discussions warns that this is the ‘breaking point of what people are prepared to accept’.

Michael Gove rips up Theresa May’s customs plan 

Meanwhile the call for a People’s Brexit from anti-EU left (A People’s Brexit that unites the left is the only way to confront an increasingly bold neoliberal mafia, argues Lindsey German) is increasingly marginalised.

The assertion that shouting  “taking back control” would inspire a post-Brexit radical movement  is dead in the water.

Only the far-right has benefited, launching its own campaigns.

The idea that a Sovereign Parliament, free from EU rules will be then able  to turn the capitalist system into a Beacon of Socialism is crumbling faced with the prospect of disrupted production and distribution chains. What kind of ‘independent tariff policy’ with bargaining power is possible in the post neo-liberal world of Trump’s Trade Wars.

Only on the fringes  only those still wedded to the idea of ‘ourselves alone’, a Britain perhaps reinvigorated by Pharaonic  irrigation projects –  the removal of the surplus urban population to dig canals and grow rice in the countryside, continue on, regardless.

Then there remains the issue, which the pro-Brexit Trade Unionists Against the EU campaign and their allies in the Morning Star and the Socialist Party have failed to respond to, of the £54,000 donation the front received from far-right millionaire Arron Banks donated to their cause.

The Labour Party is now debating the serious issues that Brexit creates.

In the New Statesman PATRICK MAGUIRE comments,

 

The campaign for a second Brexit referendum is fatally flawed but it could still hurt Labour

There is undoubtedly a significant gap between Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit and the softer one most of the membership would prefer. Recent polling shows that 87 per cent would like to see the UK remain in the single market, and 78 per cent want a referendum on the final deal.

 

In other words, the only thing keeping the line behind Corbyn is fear of public division, not any popular left wing support for a Popular Brexit tailored to help a radical left government implement its programme.

 

Some in Labour are now speculating the campaign for a second referendum – or People’s Vote, to use its sickly-sweet brand name – could similarly dominate this year’s conference.

There is good reason to think so. The failure of Tory rebels to deliver MPs a meaningful vote on the final deal has given impetus to the campaign at the grassroots. Lots of constituency Labour parties are largely Europhile, and activists from 62 of them have already promised to table a motion demanding a second referendum.

As my colleague Stephen says in his column this week, it’s a given that the leadership won’t acquiesce. If it is voted on, then it may well be that Corbyn’s distance from his members on Brexit will be much harder to hide. If chicanery from his allies prevents a potentially embarrassing vote on Brexit for the second year in a row, then attention will be drawn to the gap anyway.

The campaign has many shortcomings. There is no majority in the parliamentary Labour party, nor the Commons, for a second referendum, and its advocates are making the same mistake as David Cameron: what happens if they lose? While the 2016 referendum left room for ambiguity on the shape of the Brexit deal, there would be no doubt as to what an endorsement of the government’s deal meant. Despite them, it is still likely to cause headaches for Labour.

The probable shape of a  ‘final deal’ is something no Labour leadership should accept.

What can we then do?

The last paragraph makes some serious strategic points, but faced with disaster that is Brexit you can’t help feeling that many will consider that the gamble is worth it.

Growing pressure on Jeremy Corbyn from Momentum to turn against Brexit

Financial Times. , (today)

Momentum, the grassroots political movement that helped to sweep Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of Britain’s Labour party, is putting growing pressure on him to turn against Brexit and even push for a referendum on the final deal.

At last September’s Labour conference, Momentum played a key role in preventing delegates from voting on the party’s Brexit position (and we note, specifically on Freedom of Movement).

But this year, by contrast, several Momentum members said it could take the opposite role and force a vote among delegates on whether there should be a “people’s vote” on the final Brexit deal.

“Labour’s leadership fears that any tilt towards being anti-Brexit could cost the party the support of working-class voters in Wales, the Midlands and the North.” – not to mention that key Corbyn’s advisers such as Andrew Murray of UNITE are pro-‘People’s Brexit’.

This is the crucial point, “But the leadership of Momentum, while currently supporting Mr Corbyn’s position, is facing an upswelling of anti-Brexit sentiment among its membership of largely younger, more urban, supporters. One member of the shadow cabinet said the mood was changing and a general election could be won without the support of Brexiters. “There are people who want to keep the strategic ambiguity, there is a fear that if we are pushed too far on this it could screw up Labour’s electoral chances,” added one senior figure inside Momentum. “It’s possible that there could be an electoral route through being pro-Remain and that wouldn’t lose us votes, but it would be a risk.”

At a meeting of the Momentum version of its Central Committee,

Sam Tarry, political officer from the TSSA union, made an argument for a second referendum, while Mr McDonnell spoke against. With the attendees at odds over the issue they eventually agreed to put off a final decision until September.

The  petition of Momentum members calling for a second referendum stands (today) at 2,703 Signatures Collected. It needs just above 4,000 — 10 per cent of the group’s membership — to oblige a vote of all members.

It appears that Momentum supporters, as befits a left-wing organsiation, are more pro-Remain than even the heavily pro-EU Labour membership.

Political Satire and its Critics: From Spitting Image to Tracey Ullman.

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Image result for Tomorrow belong to me, SPitting image

Trigger Warning: Satire!

The reaction to Charlie Hebdo in the English-speaking world has always been marked by po-faced people telling the cartoonists what should and what should not be satire.

The usual hostility to French secular leftists by the likes of Giles Fraser, the ex-SWP supporting Priest, now a Patriot with a wanion, is one thing.

Now we see the same kind of reaction to Tracey Ullman.

As somebody who tabled a resolution at Warwick Students’ Union in the late 70s mocking Larry O’Nutter (something like, “we shall smash the trumpeting bourgeoisie; throwing the error-strewn imperialists apologists into smithereens i.e. into the gutter”) and got a counter-resolution in return taking the piss out of Andrew Coates (First line, “Marxism is all-powerful because it is true, it is not true because it is all-powerful – Louis Althusser), perhaps I have a decades old thick skin.

Ullman’s sketch on Corbyn last week raised the hackles of a swarm of his supporters.

It only offended me because her feeble attempt to give him a North London accent – speaking as Geezer born in his constituency.

 

Now there is this:

Being made of stern stuff I recall this, which I may guess few leftists would object to.

 

So there we have it.

Defeat of the po-faced.

 I fucking hate Tories!